AN ACCOUNT OF THE LONDON STUDY TRIP WHICH OCCURRED ON FRIDAY THE 18TH OF OCTOBER.

Firstly, I went to the small ‘ROSL Annual Scholar’s Exhibition’ at Southbank, London. The works seemed to carry a running animal theme. Leilah Babirye’s ‘On Target’ depicted an antlered deer with a target below it. Jordy Hamilton, a Canadian artist, used many small canvases with paintings depicting famous works in a line, and even turning round a corner. The work took you on a journey, and ‘forced’ you, out of curiosity, to walk across the gallery to see every painting. I recognised an image resembling Cezanne’s ‘The Card Players’. 

southbanklondon

Next,  the Freud Museum in London: ‘Mad, Bad and Sad: Women and the Mind Doctors’ 

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In promotional material online, I saw Sarah Lucas’s ‘Bunny’ included in some images. 

I was intrigued to see the fusion of art and psychoanalysis, however Freud himself was never particularly impressed with art, and considered it more of a juvenile sexual extension, or as completely narcissistic, rather than a meaningful, fulfilling pursuit. 

Whether or not Freud would’ve considered the inclusion of art in his London museum appropriate, his insights into the realm of the subconscious have left an indelible mark on all creative movements. 

Philippe Pinel helped develop a more humane treatment for psychiatric patients. 

Scene at La Salpetriere in Paris

My curiosities had been piqued at the prospect of visiting the Wellcome Collection in London. The website is deliberately abstruse so as to filter out those without a curious mind from visiting the exhibitions. 

I visualised my biometric identity by inputting data into a machine. I discovered later that a biometric identity is a collection of data corresponding to your vital statistics – the identification of humans relating to their characteristics. I placed my finger in a hole so it could measure my heart rate, which turned out to be 51 bpm. Apparently, for an individual that is fit and healthy, this measurement is good.  The normal resting pulse rate is 60-100 per minute. Since I regularly walk and jog, and my pulse was lower from the beginning, it seems to be a good measurement, as ‘the lower it is the better’.

summaryoflondon

I wasn’t entirely certain how the circular and ‘star’ shaped images corresponded to the characteristics of the human user. This could’ve been made more apparent for a user. However, I have just researched the machine itself and found this information: 

‘The Wellcome Collection is a major new public venue for London. Ico Design were commissioned to design and produce interactive installations that would intrigue visitors and cause users to question preconceived ideas of biomedical data and what it means to be human.

The brief for this permanent exhibit was to create a biometric identity, a visual representation of a visitor generated by their bodies data.

Outcome
The visitor uses the touchscreen to go through a step by step process of building up their visual identity. First their pulse is taken, then their fingerprint scanned, height measured, age entered and iris photographed. At each stage the visitor can see how their data is constructing the logo graphic. Various attributes are designed based on the data, such as shape type, line thickness, fingerprint rings and colours from the iris scan. Visitors can then compare their identity to others created previously.

Finally you can email your results to yourself or a friend. The visitor could print their identity on to t-shirts, use in mobile phone wallpapers, Myspace icons or as a tattoo in Second Life.

Behind the interactive is a large attractor screen that shows a visualization of various biometric identities, how they were constructed and how they group together.

My role
Technical lead on the project. This included writing all software, specifying hardware and sensors, microcontroller programming, advising on mounting, circuit design, specifying database development and overseeing attractor screen development, install and robust testing.

The interactive software was programmed in Adobe Director. Arduino was used for height sensor inputs and to fade the LEDs behind the white corian surface. The exhibit used two connected computers, one to run the interactive and the other for the attractor screen animation. Images were automatically formatted for online publishing and for display on attractor screen.’ 

 

Chris O’Shea

My height was measured at 170 cm, which is much lower than the measurements I have been given by my doctor (177cm) and the measurements I have obtained from self-measurement (176-77cm). An assistant working at the gallery told me that the measurements weren’t particularly accurate with regards to height. 

I thought the circular aesthetic of the visualised biometric data was particularly relevant to my practice, as much of my work has been ocular in shape, and I have already created to do with recording a video of my eye dilating: 

eyeshaveit

I experienced a sound installation with a friend. Putting our heads in boxes, we couldn’t see anything, but sounds were played in the boxes without reference to images, and we were encouraged to respond to the sounds by writing on notepads hung next to the boxes. I thought the exhibit could’ve been made more effective through careful editing of the sounds to make it less obvious what the noises were being made by, for example, a rollercoaster ride – the initial climb, where the passengers were silent, was the most evocative part of the recording for me, as you couldn’t hear the screams of the passengers and the ‘clack clack clack’ sound was still minimal enough to be ambiguous… the inevitable sound of the passengers yelling from fright and elation made the experience less surreal and streamlined. 

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