26 July 2017

Living History is a 360º virtual reality ‘documentary’ film from the future, about the present.

Film from the earliest days of cinema is magical: grainy moving images of people working in fields, or men in ornate hats walking along streets crowded with animals. These scenes were mundane everyday sights at the time, yet just over a century later they’re full of pathos; the ‘earliest surviving images of a bygone era’.

Living History tries to take a perspective on our present, from some future. What will the people of two centuries hence think when viewing the images we’re creating in these early days of virtual reality?

I made Living History while doing a residency at the Asia Culture Center, Gwangju, South Korea.

You can watch it on the MilkVR Platform on the Samsung Gear Virtual Reality headset, or on an old fashioned flat screen here (use your ‘mouse’ to look around)..

360º still frames from Living History

The specifics of our beliefs will have been forgotten. The details of our wars and triumphs, will be of interest only to academics, or will be reduced to sweeping generalisations made about ‘the peoples of the late Holocene’… Our most advanced technology will be yellowed by age, in glass museum display cases.

Probably. Or perhaps in two centuries the world will be such that no person will be interested in the ruins of our civilisation. But we have to hope that one day, someone in the future will wonder about us.

As installed at Asia Culture Center

On location at a Korean dairy farm.

I tried to become a goat to escape the angst inherent in being a human. The project became an exploration of how close modern technology can take us to fulfilling an ancient human dream: to take on characteristics from other animals. But instead of the ferocity of a bear, or the perspective of a bird, the characteristic most useful in modern life is something else; being present in the moment perhaps.

Anyway I ended up in the Alps, on four legs, at a goat farm, with a prosthetic rumen strapped to my chest, eating grass, and becoming a goat.

I wrote a few paragraphs about the project. I sent them to Princeton Architectural Press, who said if you write the rest of the project up, we might publish it, and lo and behold, a book! My second book in fact. I’m pleased with it, but krikey, I’d forgotten how difficult writing is! Anyway… some links:

Amazon (US)
Princeton Architectural Press (Publisher)
Barnes & Noble (US)
IndieBound (US)
Amazon (UK)
Abrams & Chronicle Books (Europe)
Waterstones (UK)
Books at Manic (Australia)
Amazon (Canada)
Chapters (Canada)

Oh yes, once again thank you to the Wellcome Trust for supporting this project.

26 July 2014

In the 21st Century BC, Nebo was the Babylonian God of wisdom and writing. He determined the lives of every human being by writing their story on to sacred clay tablets, and thus was responsible for the ultimate fate of mankind.

Now in the 21st Century AD, Nebo has been resurrected in a new guise, to free each of us from false choices and false aspirations. Together with Nebo, we will determine our own fate once again.

Nebo is an online service and range of objects that employ some of the techniques of marketers and advertisers not to make you buy things, but to make you lead a more fulfilling and happier life. Nebo is advertising that influences you to act in your own best interests.

Nebo will come to know you better than you know yourself.

This project is a ‘tech start up from the near future’. It was progressed while I was one of the Design Museum’s Designers In Residence 2013.

Object # 1, Gateway Router
You begin with Nebo by receiving the Gateway in to your home. It is a computer and wireless router, that ‘over powers’ existing wireless internet connections, becoming the gateway through which the devices in your home connect to the internet. When they connect to the Gateway, Nebo will install itself on to all your households’ computers, tablets and smartphones. In the beginning it’ll just track your patterns and habits, observing what you read, buy, and watch online, where you go and what you do with your phone, as well as gathering login details for the various online services you use. After around four weeks you will start to notice changes in what influences you’re exposed to.

Object # 2, TV Controller
Nebo Object # 2 plugs in to your television. It knows what influences you’re currently seeing, and will intervene as necessary. It will change the meaning conveyed by adverts, show you content you need to see and occlude content that is of no benefit to you.

Object # 3, Purse Strings
‘You are what you buy’, so you and Nebo will change what you can buy, when, and where by taking control of your cash and cards. This wallet will influence what you buy, and even won’t let you spend money on certain things, at certain times at certain places.

Object # 4, Resoled Shoes
Depending on the changes you and Nebo need to make, you may be required to send us a pair of boots for resoling. We’ll send them back with a GPS tracker and Nebo embedded in the new soles. You’ll be set destinations to wear them to and Nebo will know if you get there.