Reflections on Week 1

[W]e do not live in a kind of void, inside of which we could place individuals and things. We do not live inside a void that could be coloured by diverse shades of light, we live inside a set of relations that delineates sites which are irreducible to one another and absolutely not superimposable on one another.

— Michel Foucault


My starting goal upon beginning the Convergent.Studios was simple (although the answer not so simple): Have sensors that communicate with each other to establish proximity between them. This goal, in support of my project Invisible Threads are the Strongest Ties  —conceived during graduate studies at Emily Carr University of Art + Design and have had in my back pocket ever since—  was one that was technically nuanced, and required programming and development expertise to achieve the original vision that I had for it, that I have been given through this opportunity.

As such, addressing and taking down the technical barriers was first on my list, and I have made progress made to date with these technical elements, and interactions both through learning directly from my mentors, and indirectly from co-workers and others has already brought forth the realization of new starting points and directions for the work to expand into.

Briefly, the current approach developed during my first week at the residency primarily included using a combination of GPS, Wifi/Cellular, and lights to create wearable beacons to communicate with each other via their own server and database, for which I have mobile prototypes that I have successfully taken for walks and have collected GPS data from.

We have liftoff. I have something tangible now to hold, to carry, to test and to show.

2 Prototypes: USB Battery packs, Particle Photons, Adafruit Flora GPS.
2 Prototypes: USB Battery packs, Particle Photons, Adafruit Flora GPS.

(And now for the tricky part.)

In the words of artist Jan Svenunsson: “The function of the imagination — the function of art — is to not accept words —or facts — as final, but to use them as starting points, or triggers, for speculation into further meaning.”

The necessary movement of this work between the realm of art and business has its fulcrum here.

I’ve reflected on this quote many times in the development of my artistic practice, and particular to this work. Coming into this experience, this work exists as a starting point for further engagement in community and behaviour to seek out meaning triggered by others, and nurturing the collective responsibility (for sensation) extending to responsibility for community.

As such,  paramount consideration for this work is the place (opposed to space) through the forefronting of the startup community context and the development process and co-working environment as an avenue through which this engagement to exist.

Beyond the obvious differences between the art and business —emphasis on product, evaluation and local economy— that comes with the startup community and emphasis on collaboration is the nuances of language and meaning attached to it. How I speak to people about this work adapts:

Audience/Participant/Client
Participation/Investment
Art object/Product
Affect/The Kano Model
Community/Community

Starting points. New words, new meaning, new ways for this work to exist. I’m curious and excited by the possibilities. (Stay tuned.)

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