Notes from the JTA Symposium

Wednesday March 25th 2015


Warehouse9, Copenhagen







Instead of the announced PS2 presentation by Martin Koplin, who was ill, Michael Johansson introduced the symposium by asking Why here? Why the collaboration between Kristianstad University and Warehouse9?


Short PRAMnet introduction:

The PRAMnet group met in the late 90s. At that time new media was boring, it was more about forcing the digital material to act as physical media. PRAMnet worked with narrativity and virtual spaces in a practical, explorative and theoretical way.


Live performances + technology -> making the room into a more dynamic space.


Journey to Abadyl – a collaborative project building on performances, theises, etc.


10:15 Presentation of project related cases invited guests


Niels Birk – Area Manager, Kødbyen


The Kødbyen area is divided in three parts, the brown, the grey, and the white area. The first being the oldest. The brown area was constructed between the 1870s and 1901 when Øksnehallen was built. It was a visionary construction which implied regulations and a structure to the city. The white area was constructed in the 1930s, and was built upon the new thinking of an area “only made for butchering”. The whole Kødbyen area is listed, the brown and white areas being on the highest degree.


The Meat-packing district shall continue to be a unique attraction in Copenhagen with a dynamic city life, which is home to both butchers, creatives and artists.

  • Meat & Creativity
  • Changeable international destination of experiences
  • Opening of the district
  • Active and open spaces
  • Creative growth


The tendency is towards more openness in the literary sense.


Challenge: The district is listed as one of 25 national industrial memorials. In the brown and white areas everything is listed. Not only the buildings are listed, but also the way things are working/functioning.

  • Well defined in space and use
  • Political attention
  • Development is regulated by the political vision and strategy


Potential leasers are scrutinised in order to ensure that they contribute to the fulfillment of the overall vision.



Ulrich Gehmann – Ideal Spaces


Journey to Abadyl is about world construction.


Spaces imagined – Idea, eidos (an image of something)


  • Spaces perfect –

ideal as aim

ideal as mythic longing

ideal as perfect(ed) functionality


Conceptions of spaces


  • Ideal as aim – perfect end-stage
  • Mythic longing – a narrative, a tale of the world as it is. What is the meaning (can be an enterprise, etc.). A fundamental tale.
  • Ideal as perfect(ed) functionality – We want to create a world that functions. What is the functionality of the function?


Spaces abstracted – Utopia

models, maps, technical networks…


A utopos does not exist in the real sense. It is a space to be made yet. Artificially created spaces. Ideal spaces (e.g. park areas, ideal cities, the capitalist world)



Conceptions of the world as it should be.


The current utopia of functional cities: smart cities, the internet.

Space and Gestalt


Gestalt: expresses the essence of something, its nature

  • is a systema, a system – unity whole
  • is a morpho-logical context – logos, con-textus


def. of Gestalt:

  • whole related to its parts
  • relation of parts to each other
  • relation of parts to the whole


“We look at the world in a functional sense. Not looking at the Gestalt.”


Space as Gestalt


Garden cities.


We can create an artificial world, if certain parameters are fulfilled we can replace it somewhere else. In the same way you can create enterprises, etc.


Ideal cities as Gestalten


City: civitas, communitas


Classical idea of ideal city

  • for all, not just for individuals
  • community


Civi – an individual living in a community, all with equal rights.


City as a whole: social + architectural


City of equals


City of civitas



New idea of ideal city

City: not civitas, but pool of resources for individual use.

  • city not as a whole, but as assemblage of fragments -> urbanism, smart city
  • Gestalt-matters do not matter
  • ideal city is not city, but space of resources


USE, USERS (e.g. the company Monsanto creating a filial in Copenhagen, not because they are interested in Copenhagen, but in the USE of the city.)



The funcionalist way – individual use. Material for my personal use. I use the world for my own personal purposes (think apps, networks, etc.)


The ideal city vanished with modernity.

Now: Users of the world. Functionality.





No real groupings – all acting as individuals in a fragmented way

(e.g. Hipsters – an abstraction in our cultural mindset. Not really existing. Certain ideas in common, otherwise only individuals functioning in certain patterns.)



Kristoffer Åberg – Design Fiction Empires of the Mind




Science fiction

Gadgets from the future



Creativity & Imagination


“Design fiction as I am discussing it here is a conflation of design, science fact, and science fiction. It is an amalgamation of practices that together bends the expectations as to waht each does on its own and ties them together into something new.” (Julian Bleeker, Design Fiction)


[here should be Kristoffer’s model on the following]

Science <–> Science fiction

Science <–> Design

Design <–> Science fiction

Science –> Design Fiction

Science fiction –> Design Fiction

Design –> Design Fiction

Science – Scientists, scientific method, truth.

Science fiction – is about the unreal –> what could happen. Driven by imagination.

Design – elements of both science and science fiction. Creativity, imagination, new method, experience.



[here Kristoffer’s model on the following]



Co-creators Design fiction methods

Design fiction


What could be: Alternate reality

Design fiction

Near future



“Design fiction objects are totems through which a larger story can be told, or imagined or expressed. They are artifacts from someplace else, /…/” (Julian Bleeker, Design Fiction)


From a doodle a universe is unpacked!


Kristoffer’s model of : Unreality / Unknown (Known Unknown, Known Known, Unknown Known, Unknown Unknown).


We can rely on our intuition, etc, but sometimes we need to be pushed in certain directions.



Helene Kvint – Performance Art Duo – CoreAct (by Helene Kvint & Anika Barkan)




House made of coloured plexi-glass parts in a Mondrian style.

Poems by a Danish writer: Vagn Steen (constructivist poems)


This was a participatory work. The visitors had to send back a poem, making people from all of the world very creative.


“Moving Garden”

Invited people for tea.

An animal (dressed actor) – helped opening up conversations.

Performativity when moving the garden around the city outskirts.

Gathering people’s stories about their experiences of gardens, then re-telling the same stories as their own for other audiences.

In the end –> recalling some of the stories –> mp3 –> installation (in the Kødbyen area) where visitors can listen and spend time in the garden.
A Facebook page for the garden.
Sound artist creating sounds for the garden.


Work with elderly people.

Re-telling the stories in present or future tense.


Always working with settings.


Now working on a piece: “Sorrow”



Bombina Bombast – Emma


“What’s left” & “Strange Days”


Performance, Storytelling


“What’ left – Work in progress” – Video installation (available on Vimeo or BB website)


Concept: video walk – iPad showing the same space as you are in, a guide, a video, structured dramaturgy, the same for every site.
Started out with a play with presence and absence – what’s real in the virtual world? Real but not physically close.
Reality & non-reality.


BB have developed an aestethic. First-person, long takes, follow the characters as it is live, no cuts (like in first-person games).
The easier to follow the video, the more abstract to create the narrative.


Six tents. iPad with choices (right, left, forward)

The participants were activated by both the video and the choices. When choosing one direction, always the feeling of missing out something else.

People moved around in a structured way. (Games, choreography.)

The interesting thing was that the video was experienced as the reality for the participants.


The real virtual reality.


BB working with oculus rifts. One step further into the virtual reality.
What is imagination? What is real?


The technology BB are using aims for the game industry. BB use it in a more abstract way.


We don’t yet know how to tell stories in this media. How to tell stories in a 360° media.



Albin Werle – NYXXX


NYXXX – a group of artists (visual artists, writers, game designers, etc.) based in Scandinavia, making reality games.


Games that take place in the physical space but using virtual and physical objects.


Avatar condition! – Techno-biological beings.


The games we make:

  • Human participants (players, avatars)
  • Sound instructions (radio, mp3, etc)
  • Interactive environment



The game


[here: Albin’s model on the following]

Human body + Sound instruction –> Avatar

Interactive environment + Sound ambience –> Narrative space


Human participants – players and avatars



When we hear the world “avatar” we may think of the film “Avatar”, game avatars, or material manifestations of deities. Bodies controlled by outer forces.


Nyxxx avatar:

Human body + sound instruction


a mechanic, a test, an evaluation, a new suggestion


As an avatar you are not making your own decisions.


A different perspective –> like first-person perspective but using your own body in a physical state.


The story is not told to you, but through you!

Instruction difficulty levels

  • Easy – following simple instructions is really nice, makes it easy to accept the game and its rules. Accepting the easy level makes it more likely to accept the next levels.
  • Choice based – choose one object (“Do you take the red pill or the blue pill?”) It is nice to feel that your choices have consequences. Choices makes the player care. Even if you are following rules there are several ways to act out.
  • Hard – Find the problem and solve it.
  • Observation – sometimes it’s just great to observe other players, the environment or yourself.

Taking off your headset after a session is a pretty weird feeling.


Flickering between physical and virtual reality.


The doubleness is interesting.


Some concepts:

  • Simple technology
  • Simple design
  • Task complexity
  • Interactive environment
  • Enjoy ability




Doll/Human interaction

Exploring concepts like subject/object, dominant/submissive, master/slave, etc.




Magnus Wallón & Johan Salo – Do-fi Interaction Design


Do-fi (do fidelity)







“Blindfarm” – Game for stick-training – Target group: Blind children.


It taught us:

  • Learning is so much
  • Designing for disabilities gives possibilities
  • Give the people that will use it the power to control it
  • And much more…


It’s about how to motivate and engage with new technology.



Cultural & Heritage place

Create an outdoor walk

  • Online admin
  • All platforms
  • A tool for everyone
  • Research goes to product


What’s next?: 2 new offsprings that will take the locative media to the next level.



The best way to explore locations is through your ears.



Afternoon sessions


Journey to Abadyl



Michael Johansson


In 1997 research on a project how different ideologies manifested themselves into architecture and monuments. The ideologies were no longer present, but the monuments remained.


Led to a database including approximately 5000 3D-models

How could I reuse this?


Five architecture students built the base of the city. The infrastructure based on 16 Formula-1 tracks (loops). A city you cannot escape, only go around.


Could I invite people into this city?

At this time there were no narratives.


How can I find out what is on the street level? Find out what’s inside?


Coined the term Fieldasy – Field study / Fantasy.

Look at things, etc. as is. And at the same time play with it.


The Unknown!


Fieldasy method – scenario based method.


Lack of information is my strategy!


The people invent through their actions.


The scenarios are about artifacts. I give them a narrative. The physical objects let people create their stories.


A strict rule-set inside Abadyl:

  • 16 objects
  • 7 specific scales
  • 16 Formula-1 tracks


Unknown unknowns!

To take people from the familiar into the fantastic, and they still think it’s for real…


Frame of fiction!

Lean on the story-frame and act out things they would never do in the real life.





  1. Take a city part from Abadyl
  2. Take the instructions in Abadyl
  3. Paper prototype – make a walk in a real city (based on the Abadyl “map”) with the Abadyl instructions.



Thore Sonesson (PRAMnet)


A basic story frame “The Piper of Hamelin”


How to design the Anatomy of Choice.

How do you make the space into a democratic space?


“The space as an interface”

Should be a synergy of expressions.


Design a world in a different sense. An interactive drama must be experienced.

The participants creates!


Designing a stage for users. A stage to be used. The space is an interface.


“In order to play freely, clear rules are required.”


“We could be anyone, we are everywhere.”



Marika Kajo (PRAMnet)


Prototypes with a purpose.


How could we work with different sensors?


Group dynamics.




Spirits on Stage



Jørgen Callesen (Warehouse9)


Virtual puppets


Physical actions / Presence

Virtual representation


When you work with virtual representations you have to make believe. Believing a puppet is real. You have to create the illusion that they are alive.


Loops with different expressions.
Generative piece.



Journey to Abadyl – Anatomy of choice

8 parts

4 dynamic 4 static

(dynamic) can be played

in 4 different ways


Makes it 32 ways of going through Abadyl.


The static parts are known, the dynamic are not.


Full day event (8 hrs)







 Fieldasy is a process for engaging multiple perspectives in the creation of a world, and the mapping of its virtual space. While the final outcome lies ahead, the process has already produced a series of artistic expressions that drives the overall project forward. Fieldasy refers to the methods of field working and invoking imagination by using physical objects. The objects constitute a shared ground for collaborative creativity, serves as nodes in a complex narrative and as a basis for the creation of the world. In the paper, we describe the process, methods and the artifacts developed in this project. We also show how this approach can host and facilitate artistic development in a complex production environment such as the one of digital media, supported by invited artists, researchers (computer science) and students (interaction design), enabling diverse parties to transfer their knowledge into the project in an ongoing manner.

Three aspects of the project are discussed: The Framework; the city of Abadyl, The Method; fieldasy and The Output; a series of artifacts eventually displayed in a series of exhibitions.

The Framework: Have you ever wanted to build a world of you own? In 1999 we ended an art project called “from an indefinite point in the Cartesian space” that had generated 2000 low-res and 550 high-resolution models of buildings, interiors, objects and exteriors split up in over 50 scenes. Here was a unique possibility to do just that. Therefore, we extracted all of the models from the separated scenes and placed them on top of a superimposed infrastructure of sixteen different formula one tracks. We show how we used personas, role-playing (GURPS) and conceptual mathematical formulas to be able to explore and furniture the world. We named the virtual world “the city of Abadyl”, and made it to the initial venue for the project.


 The Method: How do you go about exploring a complex digital space in a setting that suggests participation? We show how a detailed, yet open and complex world can utilize and refine the creation of scenarios, which are handed over to temporary invited co-creators of Abadyl. They then act out the scenarios in an, by themselves chosen, environment that in the end will help them to produce new artifacts. We called this method fieldasy. While the major part of research on interactive narratives has been aimed at the exploration of interactivity in experience of finished art works, fieldasy aims at exploring the perspective of collaboration in production of new media.

The Output: How do you stage involvement and ongoing development? We try to point out the specific qualities that occur when transferring artefacts and scenarios between the physical and virtual space in a series of iterations. We also show how a multi-threaded open work that consists of mixed materials is communicated amongst its participants as a series of exhibitions, and how we recreate and use a furniture like structure as a playground for the participants, as well as the main exhibition gathering the artefacts created.


Fig 1. map of the city of abadyl (work in progress)


 Against the self-evident – a thorough indefiniteness, a defined obscurity

A ”wild thinking” aiming to undermine the present and prevalent must nevertheless have a starting point, and a location in which to perform its laboratory work. Such a location was placed unintentionally on the map of the possible in the mid-seventies when Swedish Public Broadcasting, educating their listeners how to manage the new stereo technique, were establishing that:

– my voice will now be coming from the right
– my voice will now be coming from the left
– my voice will now be coming in between the loudspeakers
– my voice will now be coming from an indefinite location in the room.

This indefinite location in the room is something completely different than the outside location of the natural sciences, the point from which reality is measured and translated into objectivity. [This point too has proven itself absurd (even if strikingly efficient). Gödel, Heisenberg, Bohr etc] Then instead an indefiniteness within the room, and a voice imperatively calling forth its own elusive presence. Within the room but not clearly where, in many ways resembles the location of the potential in the prevalent, given. A floating possibility hidden in the persistently present.

Our voice is now supposed to come from an indefinite location within the room.

This location is The City of Abadyl.

The project was initiated around 1997 as an investigation of a series of locations all having in common their state of being established by recognizable senders – dictatorships, religious and political ideologies, different kinds of utopias realised, or at least regarding themselves as realised. This work under way, the idea materialised to somehow be able to destabilise these implemented utopias without destroying their utopian qualities altogether, their boldly thrown out suggestions of something else.

 To save these utopias from themselves by reprogramming them, introducing a constant distortion in their implementation. We chose to digitally reconstruct these locations, “erect” them as 3D-models. Partly because this in fact is and is not implementing, but most of all because it rendered us the possibility of hands-on experimentation with these architectonic manifestations, joining them and exposing them to practical philosophy (or for that matter, some kind of living ). And through the utopias (always pointing too toward the prevalent) and the virtual tools a way of engaging in dialogue with the world, examining its possibilities as well as those of the tools, without replacing presence with another as determining presence.

This experimenting-thinking within the potential can be summarized in the term “fieldasy” – a coinciding of field study and fantasy, an expedition out of the actually actual and into the actually possible.

Building a world

Even if the intention was not the establishment of a so called great narrative, inspiration has been retrieved from the art of novel writing and its practice in constructing worlds. In “Postscript to the Name of the Rose”, Umberto Eco writes on the generative logic he has adopted, a logic both limiting and expanding creativity. The fundamental parameters guide what can and what cannot be included in a fictional but historically plausible universe. A detective story in mediaeval settings requires shrewd index-construing and an advanced enough semiotics, this being developed by Roger Bacon and the Ockhamists – thus it must be no earlier than the 12th century. To work out the reference to the blood at the second trumpet blow of the Apocalypse, a pig must be slain – pigs were only slaughtered during winter, but since Michele of Cesena already in December is in Avignon, the story must occur in November etc. In The City of Abadyl we have chosen to focus more on the generative itself in this logic; that is to say, it is not about parameters resulting in a watertight consistent universe, but the main interest is in what can be generated from a large number of predetermined parameters.(Söderberg, 2003)


 Abadyl is a kind of utopia. It attempts as Michael Sorkins Local Code “to imagine a city via a code, a regulatory prescription for an urban fantasy. Such theories lodge in a space between nature, culture, technology, politics and economics on the one hand, and a set of physical visions, on the other. All cities are formed by this relationship, whether simple or complex, acknowledged or unconscious.” (Sorkin, 1993) But where he ends in theory we actually started in the creations of a mixed reality space –the city of Abadyl.

As a space of “unthinkable complexity,” the matrix is simply too vast, too dense, too complex to be comprehended in its entirety, There is, moreover, no external perspective from which it could be grasped as a whole; the matrix can only be viewed from within. Thus, there can be no map that would chart its overall space, no schematic diagram that would trace its complete circuitry. Any attempt to take in the matrix globally, as a whole world, can only yield a vague sense of it as a mutated, techno­logical space (a cyberspace) beyond representation, a sense that is very much like the experience that Kant described as “the sublime?’ Yet, given the technological status of the matrix, a status that would have excluded it from Kant’s notion of the sublime, it is perhaps more appropriate to speak of the matrix as the space of, to use Fredric Jameson’s provocative phrase, a “technological sublime.” (Rutsky, 1999)

In 1997 we got a grant from the art council in Sweden for making a project called “from an indefinite point in the Cartesian space”. Here we went around the world and visited different places and locations that have had very specific ideologies, that been abandoned but have left some traces in forms of monuments and buildings behind. The focus was to see how people on the different locations delft with the very present past in forms for example abandoned buildings and monuments. How their everyday life was influenced. Based on that we tried to developed new stories and expressions in relation to the actual place itself, this was later overlaid back onto the site itself in forms of video drive-b-bbby video projections. The bad thing with this approach was that is was very hard to document the final outcome of the project. The project was shown both as a gallery exhibition and on Internet in 1999-2000.



Fig 2. A sketch of the drive by video projections

My computer is 36 m2.

 At a certain point after visiting over 20 locations, we concluded that now was the time to finish collecting new material. The material had been mostly directly digitized into a single computer, which at that time had become quite extensive according to its database. One day my colleague at that time said to me:

I do not know what is inside of that computer anymore, let’s print everything out.

So we did. It covered a 4 to 9 meters big wall and it occupied us for four days going through every image, sound, 3dmodel, video sequences and animation: But in the end we didn’t create the overview of the project that looked so promising in the beginning. The overall structure there on the wall was very inviting for the people that came and went in the studio. They Stopped for a while, started to look at the material, reading the text and by moving in parallel they created their own stories and navigation through our unordered references.


Fig 3. The 36m2 wall (computer printed out)

Since we knew that the project would run for three years and we also knew that the technologies that were going to be part of the project wasn’t developed yet, we focused on the hard work of building the content of a series of databases instead. This strategy was put up because we didn’t want to be restricted by any hardware or software, instead working in general file formats that could easily be transferred to any software/hardware later on.

The framework: Creating a world of their own are many peoples wet dream but it seldom leads to any action. The task is much too complex, to demanding and the risk of being disappointed on what you could achieve is evident. But since we already had generated 2000 low-res and 550 high-resolution models of buildings, interiors, objects and exteriors, we saw a unique possibility to get a good start at least. The basic idea was to establish a space where we practice a critique of art, culture and society, through an in­vestigation of philosophy and criticism in a dynamic material in a mixed reality space.


Fig 4 A schematic for the framework based on the numbers 16, 7 and 100

So to be able to create such an infrastructure,that could host the already developed models we came up with the idea to set up a closed but yet complex space, an area with blurred boarders to the surrounded unknown. So to support this we looked for metaphors that could host this delimited space. The analogy to racing tracks was obvious; with roads that just looped themselves through their environment; We had to find, write and draw a set of characteristics for every part of the city to be able to see which of our former material that could be transferred to the different parts of the city. A sort of simplified pattern language (Alexander, Ishikawa, Silverstein, 1977) had to be developed.


Fig 5. The sixteen formula one tracks put on top of each other

The numbers 16, 7 and 100

16 formula one tracks became our point of departure, they where put on top of each other shaping an interesting ornamentation of roads just waiting for be driven on. The city then divides in sixteen parts with their own separate ideology, architecture, fashion, lifestyles etc.


Fig 6. Schematic number 16

7 scale system that we introduced to handle the event space of the city it described the different levels on which objects and events can occur.

  1. Environment

  2. Building

  3. Room:

  4. Furniture

  5. Tools

  6. Interfaces

  7. Ideas

Schematic_number_7Fig 7. Schematic number 7

100 objects to represent the city or the world, was matched Greenaways idea of an encyclopaedic approach. “This one mocks human endeavour by seeking to be totally representative encyclopaedically but in brief. It takes care of scale and time, masculine and feminine, cat and dog. It acknowledges everything—everything alive and everything dead. It should leave nothing out every material, every technique, every type of every type, every science, every art and every discipline, every construct, illusion, trick and device we utilise to reflect our vanity and insecurity, and our disbelief that we are so cosmically irrelevant. Since every natural and cultural object is such a complex thing and all are so endlessly interconnected, this ambition should not be as difficult as you might imagine. And in its vainglorious self mocking ambition to be so embracingly encyclopaedic lies perhaps the greatest representation of the human endeavour that has got us so far”. (Greenaway, 1992)

These objects will help us shape the differences on a broader range of levels in every part of the city and serves as a series of obstacles. The purpose is to interfere with both the already built objects and the activities that are going to occur here later on.

Fig 8. Schematic number 100

The detail makes the difference, so to start the process of deciding on what level of representation that would constitute the city we decided to go with the scale 1 to 2 in the first round. We also made an architectural profile to each of the sixteen parts of the city. The first one was on a conceptual level shaped like a mathematical formula. We used the different programming proposal by Bernhard Tschumi (Tschumi, -94) that was implemented on a conceptual level for the 3d modellers. It described a series of Boolean operations with a different design formula for each part of the city. We also included a chart with profiles or silhouette of each part, which supported both the modelling and the distribution of the architectural models in the city. The main architectural expression was then combined with the textures from other location than its

origin, to create a both familiar and strange atmosphere in the different parts of the city.

Fig 9. Street view the city of abadyl 1999

We also started a parallel much more long-term project together with the computer science department at LTH. We called it Procedural cities. Here we are looking at a more mathematical way of modelling and creating a city like structure from scratch. We was able to get them interested by showing our more conceptual and time-consuming approach. This helped them to get a very clear vision on what we had done so far and on what level we could cooperate.

This framework will help us establish a tension between story and objects. As in animation we tried to work with every object based on these notions stated by Victor Navone, Pixar Studios that flaws, desire, contrast and motion, are important qualities when designing characters.

This framework is like Sol Lewitts sentences on conceptual art. It provides us with a backbone with enough gravity attached to it, so it easily can support the involvement of co-creators in the city. A space where we can be in a constant dialogue with the material that is interlinked here regardless of its incompatibilities through the architecture of the city. Here we can stage both immediate and long-term projects.

We also decided that this was going to be an iterative process where the co-creators activities produced new objects continuously. They where gathered into a library of physical artefacts and digitized equal where put into the city itself. We also decided that to extract more detailed plots from the city it has to contain the other 5 scales as well. We had to provide a method or process for this.


To start to explore different methods of handling the future events in the project we looked at The GURPS (Generic Universal RolePlaying System). Together with four interaction design students at Malmo University the department of art and communication we developed a system for handling the design of objects in both the physical and virtual world. By constructing a board game where had the possibility to explore and set up rules on different levels in the city of Abadyl. The case that we then choose to test our approach on was an interface and a database for the creation of characters in abadyl, a system that provided an integrated set of tools for the “minds” and “bodies” of the future citizens. They suggested that the under laying character generation should be based on one super character for each part of the city.

Fig 10. The xml based character generator that the interaction design students built


Together with the interaction design students we also tried to make use of personas (Cooper, 1999) but did not find it useful for actual creating our first sixteen characters. It is design to drive and control the process by creating hypothetical archetypes that plays vital parts in the design process by articulate the persona with singular detail and precision. So instead of connecting personas to future objects and processes, we went the other way around and try to connect artefacts to the future characters of Abadyl by getting to know them by their artefacts – in some kind of reverse archaeology.

The idea is to let the co-creator deal with problems of another scale than it’s normally works in. In Art and Design, Art meets Science and Spirituality where a series of interviews conducted with different authorities in the field; The Dalai Lama, Fritjof Capra, Robert Rauschenberg, H J Witteveen, David Boom, (Art and Design, Art meets Science and Spirituality, 1990) The beginning question is always on a very interesting but pretentious level:

– What is your vision of the world in which we live?

But by placing these type of “hard-to-answer questions” in a scenario where the co-creator isn’t fully in control or responsible for his or her actions, they can actually take responsibility for those kind of questions and find ways and means to act out the given problem in a given material.

While collaboration and interaction has been the topic of a huge amount of research on artistic use of digital media in the last years, the focus have been mainly on the meeting between viewer and art pieces that are either fixed or evolving. Methods for asynchronous collaborative creativity have yet to be thoroughly explored. Another aspect of conducted research has been on how digital technologies can support collaboration and interaction in physical space. Fieldasy reverses the question and asks how real life collaboration and physical art objects can support the creation of real-time virtual characters and worlds. Using representations of real objects and movements for creating 3D worlds is not new, but has not been used as much for representing psychological features of characters.


Fig 11. Fieldasy01 exhibition view

The role of scenarios in design has been that of writing up narrative descriptions of use. Other cultural domains have generated more speculative methods for collaboration. Originating from the idea of autonomous writing the surrealists borrowed methods from academic disciplines such as sociology, anthropology and psychology to elaborate methods in the form of games for exploring the mechanism of imagination and intensifying collaborative experience. They subverted academic modes of inquiry to undermine rationality and invented playful procedures to release collaborative creativity (Gooding, 1991). The role of procedures and systematic strategies, while still being playful makes a creative constraint. Research on creativity points to processes, which not stems from a vacuum in the individual mind, but that they are a result of serious and known strategies. This applies to many aspects of artistic work. Changing a constraint might be at the core of creative thinking (Boden, 1997). Other researchers stress the process of association, how one item by acts of creative association creates a new item (Brown, 1989). The scenarios acted very much as constraints, but also as a first generator in a chain of associative artistic work that produced the artefacts.

An interview with one of the participators revealed that; “Imagination was tickled by the knowledge of being part of a networked mapping I didn’t know in detail. The scenario got me going, but I felt no repressing obligation towards it and also felt more liberated that in the situations of my own work where I’m the responsible and potential object for critique”

Fig 12. Annika Urbansdotter, co-creator paper shredding all of her teenage literature in one of the scenarios

The Fieldasy method of using scenarios as probing for imaginative efforts of the co-creators aimed at creating a platform for collaboration which didn’t depend on control of the communication channels. Rather the idea was to have an open-ended way of working where the original scenarios originated, at beforehand unknown artefacts, that would be assimilated into Abadyl. The open-ended nature and unknown results are important. Representing the complexity of a city is perhaps not suited for work by individuals or homogenous teams.

for there is a powerful analogy between the mind and the city. Is it not true that the city is also a collection of specialized homun­culi, each conjoined in fluctuating strategies and hierarchies, each with a past that can be


traced, both geographically and biologically? Society is about a type of human connectedness: The complexity of the city or a global system is massive: consider the charting of our human module’s simple geo­graphical location and interaction with the fabric of the city, let alone that of its infinitely more complex neural (perceptual) counterpart.” (Spiller, 1998)

In the novel The Invisible cities by Italo Calvino Marco Polo answers Kublai Khan “Even I have elaborated a model of a city that could be legible for every city. It is a city made up only of exceptions, obstacles, constraints, incongruence and non-existency” (Calvino, 1972). This model relies on negatives that can hardly be foreseen by a single creator.

The co-creator imports qualities into the world, which do not and cannot stem from the world itself.

Fig 13. Jonas Larsen, co-creator in his glass workshop working with a first price in one of the scenarios.

The assimilation of objects into Abadyl is not done by simply rendering the artefacts into virtual shapes, but to let them form basis of rendering of characters that inhabits Abadyl. This creates a multi-levelled structure of meaning of the objects. While they are at one hand part of constituting virtual characters, they are also art objects in their own right. Thus the method for collaboration also creates a platform for co-operative expressions.

For example was one scenario about inner voices. Here the co-creator was put in the situation of being a man waking up on a hospital and finds out that his been part of an accident (Damasio, -99) where his skull had been injured and a metallic implant has replaced part of his scull bone. (Hooper,1986). After a couple of weeks he starts to hear a voice inside of his head. He tries to consult different kind of physicians to get rid of the problem but no one finds anything wrong with

him. He goes through a series of test one after the other. He finally finds himself in conflict with everyone in his surroundings. The outside worlds lack of trust in his experience makes him isolated. The voice however gets more and more present and he decides to eventually construct a recording machine that will be able to record the voice and finally communicate it back to his real world again.

The transference from physical to virtual is different from that of the Situationist movement’s use of psycho-geographical maps, while still having a resemblance. While they were using the maps to render tangibility to the psychological experience of a city, fieldasy goes the other way around. Designers Gaver & Dunne was influenced by the Situationist’s maps when designing a kit of cultural probes to be used within the Presence project. Instead of the traditional scientific survey, they sent out disposable cameras, postcards with provocative questions, maps to be filled in etc. for exploring a specific context of relevance to the project. One of their experience was that the probes should be carefully designed (Gaver et. al, 1999).

Fig 14. Recording device for inner voices, Pia Skoglund (industrial designer)

The fieldasy scenarios was designed with respect to stage a conflict that has a mind triggering influence on the co-creator with a set of problems that only can be captured in an artefact. In fieldasy01 (the first exhibition of the project) we worked with the theme of language as a process of contamination and strategies on a personal level to handle that. All of the first twelve scenarios delft with issues of that kind.


Fig 15. Scenario sheet example

The role of technology in art not only has that of the tool. Electronic media has also raised consciousness of an incidental flux in our culture where cultural production combines fragments, dislocates them and re-combines again. The cut-up of Burroughs or the game of Exquisite corps by the surrealists are no longer weird for ordinary people. The concept of sampling takes it’s older relative the montage some giant steps further. While collage or montage is a kind of juxtaposition where you disrupt elements to put them in new combinations, the sampling technique works on a more genetic level. Since all media objects share the same foundation (Manovich, 2001) the can establish a other kind of interpolation. Here the virtual object can challenge the physical with qualities that is very hard to achieve in the physical world, and in that conflict new expressions can fruitfully be developed. Hybrid creations have become a method for working with cultural production not only with different elements of form, but as blending identities of the creators as well. Musician and sampling artist Dj.Spooky writes about the flux in his notes on a digital agora; “It’s kind of like moving in a strange organic, neurochemical soup composed of thousands of distinct kinds of macromolecules with open bonding sites” (Miller, 2000). So the role of the artist/designer is not only about creating art/design objects, but also one of setting up processes that creates platforms for collaborative forms of creativity. Fieldasy as method benefits from the notion of the flux and works a bit like the game of Exquisite corps, providing a fragment that generates new artefacts that eventually combine. In this sense the scenarios works as prototypes. This is also a special view on art, that it builds on common

data that suggests new experiments (Francastel, 2000).


As mentioned before there is a demand for a deeper challenge between the virtual and the physical objects, a will to explore their incompatibilities rather than merging them together into one. And by letting them evolve in different media and materials the final hybrid will host an interesting comprehension of the two perspectives. This kind of work actually incorporates surprising visual and technical proposals that are unusual, enriching and engaging.

Fig 16. Iteration sequence of a character c.e.s.k (cryo emergency spy kit) 1999-2003


The continuous flux has also been the model for the archetypical narrative form of digital media. Networked non-linear narratives have many predecessors from the Chinese oracle text I-Ching to Joyce’s Finnegans wake. The most recognized metaphor is perhaps the rhizome conceptualised by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari; “The rhizome itself can take all sorts of different forms, from branching out in all directions on the surface to the compression into knots […] Any point of the rhizome can and must be connected to any other point” (Deleuze and Guattari,1977). Likewise much referred to, by the same authors, is the concept of desiring machines. “Desiring machines are binary machines obeying a binary rule or set of laws, governing associations, one machine is always coupled with another” (Deleuze and Guattari,1983). The associative chain is at the heart of the concept.

There is a blurring between product and producing, they are inevitably coupled. The product generates producing and the different identities melt into an enormous undifferentiated object.

Fig 17. Pre-visualisation of the furniture like object for the exhibition fieldasy01

The term ‘machine’ does not refer to industrial apparatus or computers, but are still not just a metaphor. The machine can be defined as a series of interruptions. The interruptions does not oppose the continuous flow, they condition it. Incorporating meaning to put together within a body is the act of organizing the objects in the different shelves of the furniture like object The objects all run at the same time, but going from shelf to shelf they can never be conceived as a whole.

Fig 18. Fieldasy01 exhibition view

Like in the case of the 36 m2 computer, the viewer side-steps from shelf to shelf arranging their own stories of the objects, the shelves and body movements create disruptions like rhythms. Jaleh Mansoor refers how Kurt Schwitters in the first meeting with Hans Richter walked up to him and introduced himself as “I’m a painter and I nail my pictures together” (Mansoor, 2002). Painting and nailing seems to belong to different domains, but was integrated in his Merzbau, a gigantic project giving physical form to an assemblage of objects and spatial configurations. While side-stepping the furniture in the fieldasy01 exhibition, the body framed the viewing in an a laborious way – nailing, and at the same time performed an act of imaging, in combining the objects into visual stories – painting.

Fig 19. Fieldasy01 exhibition view

Digital art has come to focus, and rightly so, on the interactive meeting point between viewer and the art object, the way the viewer becomes an agent of change and participator by using interactive technologies. This is of course necessary to explore one of the intrinsic characteristics of new media. But in doing so there’s also a focus on singular moments extracted from time. Other definitions might give way to how the metaphors and models


could integrate how art can evolve over very large temporal spans. There’s slowness on the border of inertia in the way the city of Abadyl develops. Involving many actors in the process develops nodes of expressions that may have meaning for the actors themselves in their work. That meaning gears into other levels and speed, when put together with other nodes from other actors. The exhibition situation is one such moment, when the speed of the artefacts implodes. They enter into a realm where they can be contemplated and juxtaposed into new stories for the viewers. The term ‘floating work of art’, with references to Eco maybe better depicts this openness, not only in directions of the narrative but also the character of work-in-progress (Dinkla, 2002). Fieldasy01, the exhibition, does not increase speed going from object to signs and representations. It stops time to put forth material objects that are generative rather that produced. Generative in the sense that they have nor original nor final form. They are sprung out of a chain of association that generates new forms, which in it’s turn re-combines into new stories by the side-stepping act of the viewer.

Fig 20. One of the sixteen parts of the city, presented as a map


Fieldasy attempts to understand and redefine our world in a situation where information is lacking. This lack of information is used as a resource. By providing ambiguous fragments as a starting point, the scenarios put no constraints on imagination.

Fieldasy serves as a vital part in the creation of a space where we can be in a constant dialogue with, a large database of material that is interlinked through the architecture of a city, regardless of its incompatibilities. That space is a continuously evolving platform for staging both immediate and long-term projects. The method establish a multidisciplinary common ground for a art practice, interaction design and technology development, through an in­vestigation of philosophy and criticism in a dynamic material.


Fieldasy as a method is an open-ended way of working where the original scenarios originates, at beforehand unknown artefacts. Scenarios relation to the over all project is loosely defined as to allow the creation of art works, that though enriching the database, still are autonomous from the mother project in the sense that they can be exhibited by themselves. They also act as generators while they generate new and unforeseen processes which extend into new and likewise unforeseen contexts. So the participators disseminate their knowledge into the platform, but they also extract something which can inform their own future practice. Choosing the exhibition as format the both internal and external communication of the overall project seems very fit.Michael JohanssonArtist/Senoir lecturer/researcherDigital experience LABHKR291 88

Per Linde PHD

K3 Malmo university

Beijerskajen 8

205 06 malmo,