WEEK 12 – Generative: Intimate Transactions

“We now live under the enduring mantle of a global crisis, a self-imposed act of unparalleled and seemingly irrational self-destruction, which we misname as ecological – WE are the crisis” (Armstrong 2005). Don’t you worry? Let’s be ‘armed’ with ‘body shelf ’ for Intimate Transactions to combat the crisis!

Intimate Transactions is a dual site network installation for two people. It is designed for the possibility of developing a sense of intimacy with someone across the network when you actually can’t see that person or hear that person. Instead of using hand, mouse and keyboard, Intimate Transactions is processed by being equipped with body shelf and a haptic component sitting on your stomach as well as the back of the book shelf, you use your body, feet, back to interact with the works. Using back, feet and body to feel the vibrations that is passed across the network from the other person during the process of Intimate Transactions, you get a real embodied sense from the works.

Keith Armstrong (2005) applied the approach ‘ecosophical’ for Intimate Transactions to develop new processes for conceptualizing and developing media art works. The purpose of Intimate Transaction is to find out the capacity of such media art works in creating contexts for participants to reflect on connections between the ‘problem of ecology’ and the proposed problem of human subjectivity.

Intimate Transaction makes the world of each individual closer through physically connecting one person with the other. This kind of connection strikes me to think about face-to-face physical communication in real time via network as a form of communication in the future. Just like what Keith Armstrong said, “it’s work about shifting balances, it’s work about ecologies, and ultimately it’s work about relationships and collaborations”. However, as Guattari (1995) suggested, the key question facing us today is the production, enrichment and reinvention of a subjectivity including “our own attitudes, beliefs and emotions”, which might be corresponding with “a universe of changing values” (1995, p.124).

The significance of Intimate Transactions not rests on the incredible high-tech equipment for the experience; instead, the marriage of one’s own life and online interactive space creates a ‘desirable inseparability’, which implies the ecological thinking and action within a networked context.



Armstrong, K 2005, ‘Intimate Transactions: The Evolution of an Ecosophical Networked Practice’, the Fibreculture Journal 7, <>.

Guattari, F 1995, Chaosmosis: An Ethico-Aesthetic Paradigm, Indiana University Press, Bloomington & Indianapolis.

Team of Transmute Collective: Intimate Transaction, Youtube, accessed 19 May 2012, <;.



WEEK 11 Internet of Things – Gaming can make world better?

Most of people play online games, and just playing with it. Nothing makes them feel necessary to play online games. However, it really impresses on me the way Jane McGonigal (2010) thinks about the potential of online game plays – “Gaming can make a better world” (Ted Talks). Jane states that gaming has the potential to solve the world’s most urgent problems, such as famine, poverty, climate change, global conflict etc. Jane emphasizes that, if we want to survive the next century on this planet and if we want to solve the world most urgent problems, we need to increase the hours of game playing up to 21 billion hours every week. Jane’s statement initially sounds unbelievable to me and even irrational. Because it would be a huge challenge to fill up the gap between virtual world of online games and the real world of our everyday life.

Later on, I found something rational in Jane’s presentation in Ted Talks. She points out four kinds of superpowers that online gamers have based on her research. Firstly, Urgent Optimism- “the desire to act immediately to tackle an obstacle combining the belief that we have a reasonable hope of success” (Ted Talks). Secondly, Social Fabric- lots of research shows that we like people better after we play games with them. Jane said playing games builds up bonds, trust and cooperation. As a result, we build stronger social relationship. Thirdly, Blissful Productivity- we are happier playing games than relaxing, hanging out etc. – “we are optimized human-beings to do hard and meaningful work” (Ted Talks). It suggests that gamers work hard all the time if you gave them the “right work”. Fourthly, Epic Meaning- the second biggest wiki in the world is the World of Warcraft Wiki with 80,000 articles, and 5 million people use it every month. According to Jane, “they are building an epic knowledge recourse about World of Warcraft (Ted Talks).

However, personally, the four kinds of “superpowers” that online gamers have are space limited. It means the optimism, the passion, the productivity and so called epic wins are only well provoked within the virtual space because there is no real-life observation, no real-life judgers and no real-life pressure and intention in the online gaming world. When it comes to urgent real-life problems, the “superpowers” may disappear and the morale may decrease in real time. Just as some follow-up comments on Jane’s blog (you found me.) – “the only way you can compare real life to online games is if humans had ‘superpowers’ and could have as many lives as they want”.

Additionally, although gaming for a better world seems irrational and hard to believe for most of people now, quality online games are capable to train people to solve real-life problems though simulation and collaborative online forums. As a training tool, I think gaming can empower human-beings.

Here is the video clip of Jane McGonigal’s presentation in Ted Talks:


Gaming can make a better world, Ted Talks, Youtube,

McGonigal, J 2010, you found me.,



Week 10 – Open Science

Are you willing to publicly share online the findings of your project spending months or years of time to complete with others study in the related field or similar interest for further development? If your answer is yes, then that is pretty much what open science tries to achieve – sharing data online for massive collaboration. Platforms for open science have been gradually emerging, such as ResearchGate and social network for scientific community like and Scitable. However, issues around whether open science tends to lead low quality research outcome or simply be a short cut for people who need grant project needs great concerns (Pisani 2011).

In 2009, one of the world most renowned mathematician and also a professor in Cambridge University, Timothy Gowers, used his blog to post a striking question: Is massive collaborative mathematics possible? He was actually proposing to use his blog to tackle an unsolved mathematical problem. He issued an open invitation inviting anybody in the world if they think they had an idea to post in the common section of the blog. Initially, there was no reply; gradually, more and more people replied; finally, the mathematical problem had been solved.  His thought was by combing the ideas of many minds, he can make the easy work of the mathematical problem – he called the method the ‘Polymath Project’ (Nielsen 2009). The idea of ‘Polymath Project’ (Gowers 2009) implies that we can use Internet to build tools that actually expand our ability to solve the most challenging intellectual problems. We can actively build tools that amplify our collective intelligence is similar to using physical tools to amplify our strength.

However, open science debate held in Oxford University on the 29th February 2012 points out some real problems of open science that worth thinking for its further development. Problems of open science inter-connect with each other, such as quality, credibility and economic barriers. The representative of nature brand journal underlines in the video clip that the inevitable ‘pay model’ is mainly because the rejection rate of nature brand journals is as high as 90% each year. It implies that it is necessary for the full-time editorial staffs to guarantee the quality of the published journals. The representative emphasizes the high price of these editorial staffs. It is unfair for the public to consume the great effort made by the editors for free. So it seems to be a highly challenging goal for the complete open science. More content regarding open science debate can be found in the video clip below:



Evolution of Science: Open Science and the Future of Publishing, Youtube, <>.

Gowers, T 2009, wordpress,

Nielsen, M 2009, blog, “The Polymath project: scope of participation”

Pisani, E 2011, ‘Medical science will benefit from the research of crowds’, The Guardian, January 11, <>

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 6, 2012 in Uncategorized


Week Eight Organize

If Government 2.0 became a widely used tool for governance, it means everyone becomes part of the government, and everyone is available for groups of action. It does not mean everyone has to participate, it addresses on the equal rights of residents’ participation. How are you going to engage with government on the platform of Government 2.0? Think from the trivial part of life, just like what the reading (Styles 2009) guides us to think- ban sticky labels on fruit. People with different expertise can interact with Government 2.0 distinctively. So Govenement 2.0 is more like a collective knowledge ground, where people come together to think, discuss and decide. It is an efficient tool that government can use and benefit from the collective thinking as opposed to hierarchical decision. Just like what Charles Leadbeater (UsNow), the author of We-Think, said in the documentary film UsNow: hierarchy is very inefficient, they concentrate the information and power at the top, and they often deny people’s opportunities to take initiatives to share ideas and seek solutions themselves, rob people a sense of agency.

Another form of Government 2.0 has long been used by government and taken for granted, that is open source software. It is a public good provided by volunteers. The source code used to generate the programs is freely available. Political organisations around the world have been using this kind of source to improve governmental system. the notice here is that the the government fails to expand groups like these volunteers to the whole public as participants in the governmental workings.

Empowering the public and collecting the public intelligence as a way of modern-day governance will relieve the tension of ‘Sleepless in Canberra’ (The Drum Opinion) –  politicians and governors are able to get a bit more sleep and longer life expectancy for a healthy, innovative and efficient governance in the long term.


Ellis, Bob (2010) ‘Sleepless in Canberra’ The ABC, Drum Unleashed <>

Styles, Catherine (2009) ‘A Government 2.0 idea – first, make all the functions visible’ <>

UsNow, Documentary on Youtube, <>.



Week Seven (week beginning April 16) – Transversally

In most parts of a person’s life, the general action or state might be pursuing or exploring. Pursuing for something we don’t have, exploring for something we want. When people find a kind of ‘short-cut’ for what they want in an environment like Second Life, an escape from real/first life, will you join the group? People may argue that what they have in second life is temporary and disappearable when there is no electricity, but how about the state of mind of people who play the second life? Will it disappear as well? In the editorial article on transversality written by Murphie (2006), it points out Arnold, Gibbs and Shepherd’s thinking about body-technology relations in an entirely different direction – the importance does not lie in the functionality and affordances of the media technologies, instead, the key rests on how human conceptually and transversally interact with the new media technologies – ‘a kind of fetishism that makes us question basic assumptions about the everyday use of new media – the roles they play in everyday lives, and the new forms of economy they provide’ (Murphie 2006).

Here is an example of a documentary film called LIFE2.0 ( It follows a group of people whose lives are dramatically transformed by the virtual world, Second Life. The virtual avatars and inhabitants enable the digital alter egos, satisfying and exploring something that people are missing in their real lives. This is the focus of the documentary – the transversal and sometimes interchangeable relations between reality and virtual reality, a kind of fulfillment in the second life on what people want to become in the first life. You can see the expanding parameters of ‘coefficient of transversality’ (Genosko in Guattari, 2000: 118) when the love affairs in the second lives are transposing to real lives, a man playing a 11-year-old girl in the second life…in the documentary LIFE2.0 (

This is an interview with the producer Jason Spingarn-Koff of the documentary LIFE2.0.

‘The results are unexpected and often disturbing: reshaping relationships, identities, and ultimately the very notion of reality. Mixing high drama and quirky humor, the film uniquely explores the promise, perils, and implications of virtual worlds for society at large’ (


Genosko, G 2000, ‘The Life and Work of Félix Guattari: From Transversality to Ecosophy’, in Guattari, Félix The Three Ecologies trans. Ian Pindar and Paul Sutton, Athlone, London.

LIFE 2.0, ‘Virtual World, New Reality’, < >.

Murphie, A 2006, ‘Editorial’, [on transversality], the Fibreculture Journal, 9 <>.



Week Five (week beginning March 26): How we know what is real

When we are sitting in the library and looking through the window, how do we know the trees outside are real rather than artificial? The answers vary. For most of the time, it could be the colour, the texture, the growing pattern, the structure and their surroundings. The criteria are based on our knowledge, and depend on our vision or a sense of feeling that helps us to decide whether the trees outside the window are real or not. However, is seeing really believing? My answer is no. Because the physical limitation of humans’ vision fails to fully see what are actually there and tell what is reality. Sometimes illusion creates a sense of reality in which the illusionary scenes go beyond humans’ vision ability. As a result, illusion is considered as reality. Interestingly, people tend to blur the boundary between virtual reality and reality in the networked society nowadays. It seems that reality is no more restricted in the meaning of sense, rather, it has been updated to the affordances of objects. That is to say the functionalities of an agent regarding what can be achieved tend to be considered as the criteria of reality in today’s technology-intensified world. The reading’s example of monkeys only using brain and virtual body to “move an avatar hand and identify the texture of virtual objects”, try to achieve the fully interaction between the world of virtual reality and reality (ScienceDaily, 2011). To the monkeys, the reality is achieved and ‘sensed’ when the monkeys’ consciousnesses simultaneously move with the avatars’ hand.
How about our meaning of reality? Is it similar to the reaction of monkeys’ consciousnesses and avatars’ hand? My answer is similar and humans can do better. Here is an example of virtual reality training for coal miners.

The mining simulation dramatically reduces the potentiality of life risks during mining process, and increases the efficiency of mining. Moreover, if the presupposition of Nicolelis et al. (2011) (the ones did the ‘monkeys-VR’ experiment) became true – i.e. “Someday in the near future, quadriplegic patients will take advantage of this technology not only to move their arms and hands and to walk again, but also to sense the texture of objects placed in their hands, or experience the nuances of the terrain on which they stroll with the help of a wearable robotic exoskeleton,” then what I assume is that some day in the near future, miners will not participate in the underground risky mining process; instead, mining robots will complete underground mining tasks via merely humans’ brain commanding the avatars on the screen.
In this sense, the combination of Neuroengineering and media technology enable us to participate differently in the virtuality of the world, meanwhile, achieving the result that means reality to us is how we perceive reality in the technology-intensified world.
Anon. (2011) ‘Monkeys ‘Move and Feel’ Virtual Objects Using Only Their Brains’, ScienceDaily, October 5, <;.

O’Doherty, JE, Lebedev, MA, Ifft, PJ, Zhuang,KZ, Shokur, S, Bleuler, H, Nicolelis, MAL 2011, ‘Active tactile exploration using a brain–machine–brain interface’, Nature, 479, pp. 228–231.

‘Roof bolter’,, <;.


Tags: ,

Week Four (week beginning March 19): “Global Mnemotechnics”—Globalising Memory, Thinking and Action ; Key Word: Embodied

Think about the historical advancement of mobile phones to the domination of Iphone generations nowadays. Think about the advent of television to the micro-device enabled ‘walking TV’. Think about the numerous chips inserted into a computer to the chip transponder implanted into humankind to be a cyborg… We are constantly in relation with mnemotechnological apparatuses (Stiegler) of all kinds. Human beings themselves update their knowledge and skills of using technologies from zero to interactively immersing into the elements embodied in them. As a result, these technologies become integral parts of human body, which exteriorize the embodied thinking of humans. The tech-devices extend the visible by extending where we are as well as the reenactment of the basics of life and presentation of the mind as socially situated beings (Noë et al., 2008). However, humans’ increasingly dependence on technologies makes them more restricted within the capacity of the tech-devices as opposed to the further growth of memory and knowledge by individuals’ brains. Interestingly, this does not mean the fall-behind of human-beings. Instead, human-beings are now exploring alternative ways to try to upgrade human species by implanting the high-tech embodiment into human bodies.

Here is an example of the world’s first cyborg, Kevin Warwick, a researcher and professor of cybernetics at the University of Reading in England. He implanted a silicon chip transponder into his left arm and connected it to his nervous system in 1998 (Warwick).

What Warwick emphasizes and is trying to achieve is to make the external information physically inserted into human body with the connection to tech-devices to upgrade human species. Warwick implanted a silicon chip into his nervous system with 100 electros, which can plug into the computer and then send neuron signals from his brain to computer to control things. Excitingly, Warwick’s wife also implanted a chip into her neuron system, which link their nervous system together. As a result, their communication is telegraphically − nervous-system to nervous-system. Warwick claimed that “brain-to-brain communication will be the next step”.

One of the interesting point Warwick made is that we may not need schools or universities if knowledge could be downloaded into our brains. If brain-to-brain communication was achieved, individuals could improve or upgrade their own capabilities and intelligence that they were not gifted with by connecting with other better-developed brains. As a result, globalising memory, thinking and action were connected like a ‘global brain village’. Everyone within the globe could communicate super-efficiently through implanted chips, and that would be the legendary human revolution.

Noë, Alva and Solano, Marlon Barrios 2008, ‘dance as a way of knowing: interview with Alva Noë’, <;.
Stiegler, Bernard (n.d.) ‘Anamnesis and Hypomnesis: Plato as the first thinker of the proletarianisation’,  <;.
Warwick, K (n.d.) ‘CYBORG LIFE – Talking to Kevin Warwick’, <;.

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 18, 2012 in Arts3091


Tags: , ,