Master By Project: Artists Investigation

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Researching ideas, works, artists and installations in relation to my Master by Project of virology, the work of Bournemouth based artists Boredom Research Afterglow surfaced. Afterglow is Vicky Isley and Paul Smith, 2016 Lumen Award-winning work surrounding epidemiology combines many aspects of big data, biology, technology into a beautiful enchanted experience, breaking down the barriers of art and science through a conjuring of light and motion. Working along Dr Paddy Brock, the piece transforms real data into and visual feats, however, the artists I that this is not a data iterate visualisation but an artistic representation of a biological form traversing within a landscape.

The piece clear connections to current hot topics with the art, media and science sectors. The piece won the esteemed Lumen Prize 2016 but the research paper alongside provides insight into the nature of the work and its intended insight, articulating that the experience is designed to represent this complex, scientific, algorithmic, process in a way that is understandable to the many and not the few.

“Here, emphasis is on the visual representation, not of the results but of the process; viewed in real time. This presents a completely different temporal experience of the model’s output. Unlike the abstract graphs and charts of science, the data takes a form immediately familiar to an audience accustomed to the moving image.”

The way which each element visual appears make it far more understandable, interlinking with the behaviour and process. The buzzing light representing the congregating mosquitos frantic spiralling motion like swarms and the undulating terrain representing different areas and communities across a landscape within the epidemic reach.

I think the piece in many drives the connection between areas of art and science. Both sections work with very different models of precision, data, representation and information. The section of biological science predominantly based on facts, percentages, calculations and specific understanding. While arts is basted on questions, ideas, imagination and visualisation. Afterglow directly connects these areas together of art powered by science deep scientific exploration, that can be added to and expressed in potentially in new and exciting ways.

 

Master By Project: The Viral

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Viral refers to Behaviour like that of a virus, a small infectious agent. Viral is denotive of the word virus that refers to an infectious agent which uses a process of self-replication in order to reach an intended outcome. This outcome in many cases is one of distribution and destruction.

Biologically a viral infection is contracted through absorbing the virus through an organ exploiting such process such as inhalation, injection, digestion etc. The virus once entered the body begins to exploit a cell iterating through the process of division and multiplication. This replication process allows many more viral bodies to be created. The process of iteration continues with the assembly and release, infecting ever more cells within the host. The virus’s will continue to effect more cells until it reaches the objective, this objective could be critical to the survival of the host. Either the virus continues to destroy the host or the host begins to fight the virus the help of the immune system or possibly man-made antibodies.

This process of viral infection is represented in many man-made instances of infection and destruction, for example, computer viruses. Digital virus use a similar process of infection through a weakness in the system, duplication creating interference which pushes the host to critical malfunction or destruction. Digital viruses differ as they not only intend to cause irreversible damage but additionally advance or profit from it in a financial way. Digital viruses such as the “ILOVEYOU” virus was developed to intentionally destroy and cause irrevocable damage to machines, however many virus’s seek to exploit the host rather than just damage it.

The viral phenomenon also refers to the behaviour of a piece of media e.g. the spreading of a piece of information or artefact that rapidly expands and develops, propagating through a particular media platform or series of hosts. This rapid propagation in the media is controlled by the interacting and interaction of hosts, engaging with the media. Biologically, the exchange of viruses between host and cells is controlled by the severity of the virus and the method of contraction. Viruses such as Ebola rapidly onset and in a matter of hours the virus has propagated its way through the body transferring to new hosts via bodily fluids. Similar to this a computer virus’s known as “CryptoLocker” propagates to new hosts using’s the previous host contacts and emails to further infect and distribute itself. This wider propagation between host is how infection spreads within a network, both in biological bodies and technology networks.

Richard Dawkins coining it the word “meme” suggesting this viral propagation or multiplication of media is through host is a meme. In an article The Origin of mems he suggests this in the following way:

“Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation.”

The arguments clearly interlink with the propagation of viruses in each form discussed as far. William Burrows describes this in a less subjective and more abstract way to further articulate the process of infection.

Using the term junk he refers to the level of propagation and constantly increasing and requirements of the host to provide for the virus. This either makes the host stronger thus removing the junk or further degrades the host. This discussion refers to the reaction or interaction of the host body fighting and rebelling the virus’s actions and how the host will respond.

As discussed the process of viral phenomenon originated out of a biological scientific concept but has been reapplied to many digital aspects of technology.

Burroughs, W., 1998. Naked lunch. New York: Grove Press.

Dawkins, R., n.d. The selfish gene.

Propagating Light

Reflecting on the context discussed above the work I’m making in response to this uses many ideas such as propagation. I’m interested in the idea propagating light around a space reflecting elements of biology, technology and natural forms. I have begun by testing a method of propagating detailed light around a space.

Master By Project: Exploration

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Developing ideas is progressing as more exploration and investigation is taking into the chosen area of virus’s, hosts and technological-biological interplay. Exploring biological and physical viruses I have been investigating different viral diseases which critical endanger humans. They are ranked in order of the most critical to the host.

Ebola (1st)

  • five known Ebola viral strains cause Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF), which has killed thousands of people in sub-Saharan African nations since its discovery in 1976.
  • The deadly virus is named after the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where it was first reported and classified as a CDC Biosafety Level 4 making it one of the most dangerous pathogens on the planet.
  • Spread through close contact with bodily secretions. EHF has a 50 to 90 percent mortality rate, with a rapid onset of symptoms
  • Start with a headache and sore throat and progress to major internal and external bleeding and multiple organ failures.
  • There’s no known cure, and the most recent cases were reported at the end of 2012 in Uganda.

Marburg (2nd)

  • 1967, a group of lab workers in Germany (Marburg and Frankfurt) and Serbia (then Yugoslavia) contracted a new type of hemorrhagic fever from some virus-carrying African green monkeys that had been imported for research and development of polio vaccines.
  • The Marburg virus is BSL-4. Marburg hemorrhagic fever has a 23 to 90 percent fatality rate.
  • Spread through close human-to-human contact, symptoms start with a headache, fever, and a rash on the trunk, and progress to multiple organ failure and massive internal bleeding.
  • There is no cure, and the latest cases were reported out of Uganda at the end of 2012. An American tourist who had explored a Ugandan cave full of fruit bats known to be reservoirs of the virus contracted it and survived in 2008. (But not before bringing his sick self back to the U.S.)

Hantavirus(3rd)

  • hantavirus is an airborne in the wake of rodents that carry the virus. Different strains, carried by different rodent species
  • hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS)—first discovered during the Korean War—and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), which reared its ugly head with a 1993 outbreak in the Southwestern United States.
  • Severe HFRS causes acute kidney failure, while HPS gets you by filling your lungs with fluid (edema).
  • HFRS has a mortality rate of 1 to 15 percent, while HPS is 38 percent. The U.S. saw its most recent outbreak of hantavirus—of the HPS variety—at Yosemite National Park in late 2012.

Lassa(4th)

  • BSL-4 virus, Lassa is carried by a species of rat in West Africa called Mastomys. It’s airborne from rat’s fecal matter.
  • Humans, can only spread it through direct contact with bodily secretions.
  • Lassa fever, which has a 15 to 20 percent mortality rate, causes about 5000 deaths a year in West Africa, particularly in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
  • It starts with a fever and some retrosternal pain (behind the chest) and can progress to facial swelling, encephalitis, mucosal bleeding and deafness.
  • Fortunately, researchers and medical professionals have found some success in treating Lassa fever with an antiviral drug in the early stages of the disease.

Rabies (5th)

  • Rabies dating back to 2300 B.C.
  • While this virus itself is a beast, the sickness it causes is now is wholly preventable if treated immediately with a series of vaccinations delivered with a needle in the abdomen.
  • Exposure to rabies these days is through bites from infected animals. If left untreated after exposure, the virus attacks the central nervous system and death usually results.
  • The symptoms of an advanced infection include delirium, hallucinations and raging, violent behaviour in some cases, which some have argued makes rabies eerily similar to zombification.
  • If rabies ever became airborne, we might actually have to prepare for that zombie apocalypse after all.

Computer Virus’s

Furthermore, I have been researching digital computer virus and their processes of infection, development and resulting damage to hosts.

ILOVEYOU (1st)

  • ILOVEYOU virus is the most virulent computer virus ever created.
  • The virus managed to cause damages totalling in at an estimate of $10 billion
  • 10% of the world’s Internet-connected computers were believed to have been infected.
  • governments and large corporations took their mailing system offline to prevent infection.
  • created by two Filipino programers, Reonel Ramones and Onel de Guzman.
  • used social engineering to get people to click on the attachment; in this case, a love confession. The attachment was actually a script that poses as a TXT file. Once clicked, it will send itself to everyone in the user’s mailing list and proceed to overwrite files with itself, making the computer unbootable.
  • The two were never charged, as there were no laws about malware. This led to the enactment of the E-Commerce Law to address the problem.

CryptoLocker (new !st)

  • Released in September 2013, CryptoLocker spread through email attachments and encrypted the user’s files so that they couldn’t access them.
  • The hackers then sent a decryption key in return for a sum of money, usually somewhere from a few hundred pounds up to a couple of grand.
  • if the victims didn’t pay up they’d lose all their files. Now is a good time to remind you to always back your files up!
  • The cost of the malware: With 500,000 victims, CryptoLocker made upwards of $30 million in 100 days.

Code Red (2nd)

  • The worm targeted computers with Microsoft IIS web server. It leaves very little trace on the hard disk as it is able to run entirely on memory, with a size of 3,569 bytes.
  • Once infected, it will proceed to make a hundred copies of itself but due to a bug in the programming, it will duplicate even more and ends up eating a lot of the system’s resources.
  • launch a denial of service attack on several IP address, famous among them the website of the White House.
  • It also allows backdoor access to the server, allowing for remote access to the machine.
  • The most memorable symptom is the message it leaves behind on affected web pages, “Hacked By Chinese!”, which has become a meme itself.
  • A patch was later released and it was estimated that it caused $2 billion in lost productivity.
  • A total of 1-2 million servers were affected

Melissa (3rd)

  • Created by David L. Smith in 1999.
  • Started as an infected Word document that was posted up on the alt.sex usenet group, claiming to be a list of passwords for pornographic sites.
  • When it was downloaded and opened, it would trigger the macro inside and unleash its payload.
  • The virus will mail itself to the top 50 people in the user’s email address book and this caused an increase of email traffic, disrupting the email services of governments and corporations. It also sometimes corrupted documents by inserting a Simpsons reference into them.
  • Smith was eventually caught when they traced the Word document to him.
  • Smith served 20 months and paid a fine of $5000 of his 10 year sentence.
  • The virus reportedly caused $80 million in damages.

Sasser (4th)

  • Created by Sven Jaschan, who also created the Netsky worm.
  • The worm took advantage of a buffer overflow vulnerability in Local Security Authority Subsystem Service (LSASS), which controls the security policy of local accounts causing crashes to the computer. It will also use the system resources to propagate itself to other machines through the Internet and infect others automatically.
  • The effects of the virus were widespread as while the exploit was already patched, many computers haven’t updated. This led to more than a million infections, taking out critical infrastructures, such as airlines, news agencies, public transportation, hospitals, public transport, etc.
  • Damage was estimated to have cost $18 billion.
  • Jaschen was tried as a minor and received a 21 month suspended sentence.

Zeus (5th)

  • Zeus is a Trojan horse that will perform various criminal tasks.
  • The most common of these tasks are usually man-in-the-browser keylogging and form grabbing.
  • The majority of computers were infected either through drive-by downloads or phishing scams.
  • Identified in 2009, it managed to compromise thousands of FTP accounts and computers from large multinational corporations and banks such as Amazon, Oracle, Bank of America, Cisco, etc.
  • Controllers of the Zeus botnet used it to steal the login credentials of social network, email and banking accounts.
  • In the US alone, it was estimated that more than 1 million computers were infected, with 25% in the US.

Installation Concepting

Working on developing ideas through iterations of a previous post, developing as discussed ideas concepts works have progressed. Worksheet designs and further exploration have begun to draw together ideas and deeper points of exploration. Some interesting work on structures to project onto and ways of doing so have been fruitful as seen from the designs and test below.

 

 

Installation Testing

 

Masters By Project: Idea Deep Dive

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Diving into developing ideas further, exploration of words and concepts have been investigated further to gain a better understanding. Reflecting upon all previous mood boards, ideas and project proposals as far, the following topics of host, virus, digital and biological, resonates with my overal artistic expresion of “Systems and Process”

Concept Flow

Concept areas which I’m investigating in this project will explore ideas in relation to the processes of:

Virus –> Host –> Infection –> Digital & Biological –> Processes

Processes –> Systems –> Liner Steps

Absorption –> Entry –> Replication –> Assembly –>  Release

 

Key Points & Words

Virus

  • an infection or disease caused by a virus
  • a harmful or corrupting influence

Computer virus

  • a piece of code which is capable of copying itself and typically has a detrimental effect, such as corrupting the system or destroying data.

Host

  1. Biology an animal or plant on or in which a parasite or commensal organism lives. Also, host cell a living cell in which a virus multiplies.
  2. A person or animal that has received transplanted tissue or a transplanted organ.
  3. A host computer, a computer which stores a website or other data that can be accessed over the Internet or which provides other services to a network.
  4. A website or other data stored on a server or other computer so that it can be accessed over the Internet: Columbia University currently hosts some 400 websites.

Process

  • a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end
  • a natural series of changes
  • a systematic series of mechanised or chemical operations that are performed in order to produce something
  • Computing an instance of a program being executed in a multitasking operating system, typically running in an environment that protects it from other processes.

System

  • a set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network
  1. Physiology a set of organs in the body with a common structure or function: the digestive system.
  2. the human or animal body as a whole: you need to get the cholesterol out of your system.
  3. Computing a group of related hardware units or programs or both, especially when dedicated to a single application.
  4. Geology (in chronostratigraphy) a major range of strata that corresponds to a period in time, subdivided into series: the Devonian system.
  5. Astronomy a group of celestial objects connected by their mutual attractive forces, especially moving in orbits about a centre: the system of bright stars known as the Gould Belt.

Working Through Ideas

I have begun working through some of the ideas which I have in order do dive in and explore them on a deeper lever of thinking around my outset concepts. Based on this one idea, I have been exploring variations, translations and extensions of each aspect of the mockup.

Masters By Project: Idea Development

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Working on the idea of virus as discussed in the previous post, I have been exploring ideas and imagery in relation to the topic area. The idea intends to explore the bridging between virus in the digital and biological. Much exploration has investigated the relationship and similarities between the two different forms of virus’s. Some similarities between them is the need for a host to exploit with an intended purpose of intentional destruction and overtake. Additionally, the process both take is comparable e.g. entry, replication, assembly and release.

Looking at the visual expression of the term “virus” suggest a bright and artificial illumination which a is used in the expression of these microorganism’s forms. Some of the infographics and digital representations of viruses including glitches reflected the biological forms. The infographics provided insight into the complex behaviours of the digital viruses particular the process and intentions which each one was designed to have. This idea made it clear that virus in both cases are a result of human intention and interaction even when biological development produces its own super bug that comes as a result of humans over use of antibiotics.

Using the imagery above I have been thinking about potential projects which could emerge exploring ideas of virus’s, cyborgs, body’s media and light. To further generate a solidified idea some testing into practical techniques has be explored.

One concept within the virus imagery which interested me was the isometric sphere that was used in many representations. Based on this I want to test some imagery upon this shape model.

Secondly the mode of moving imagery has interested me as a technique which I would like to explore. This could fit well with the generative and unexpected nature of viruses.

Master By Project: Idea Testing

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Based on one of the initial ideas construction ideas in the pervious post, I have thought about a quick initial tests to see the idea in action. Thinking about the ideas of components, body, viruses a structure of movement, flow and pattern was created.

 

Masters By Project: Ideas

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In developing ideas surrounding the initial concept mood boards in the previous post a series of mind maps and development sketches have been produced.  This process is further developing a further artistic direction and conceptualisation that follows previous work and new ideas that have been developed upon.

Below is sketches and ideas which have started to emerge reflection on the conceptual ideas.

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As part of developing ideas I produced some product simulations and visualisation attempting to understanding if they would physically work in order to gauge how and if they would provide a visual interesting artwork. I find this process the most interesting as it truly allows you to test if the concept will work in reality. The drawing process doesn’t always provide enough insight into the feel of the work.

 

 

Masters By Project: Planning

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Initial Thinking

Masters by project I’m developing a final cumulative exhibition piece as part of MA Creative Media Arts. This Post develops my initial thinking and inspiration as part of this project. Using digital and physical mood boards, I explore themes to which relate to the artists own work, themes, medium, context and inspiration.

Refining Mood Boards

Simplification Process

Mood Board Simplification

Exhibiting Juxtaproject

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After many weeks of working on Juxtaproject, I finally exhibited the piece as part of MA Creative Media arts at Bournemouth University. The piece worked fantastic, far exceeding my expectation as its fluidity and playfulness was clearly seen through the interactions of participants.

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Device Setup & Sound

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Setting up each device has taken a series of steps in order to get them exhibition ready. Each device contains a lot of technology which has required preparation in advance. The diagram below simply describes how each element within the installation connects together.

  1. The server is running a Node application on a hosted network.
  2. The device accesses the network via a wifi connection.
  3. 12V DC power runs each device powering the projector and Raspberry Pi simultaneously.
  4. The Pi runs an openFrameworks application which connects to the server and node application.
  5. The Node application tells the Pi via a Socket what media to play.
  6. The media is then projected out of the projector.

Each devices media is specifically tailored to meet the requirements of the box outlined. Visual and audio media was all individually mixed and edited based on these requirements.

Character/device 1 (fluffy box) has eyes and sound media which is more appealing and pretty in appearance. The eyes were selected based on them being the most natural and fresh looking. The Audio is a mixture of harp loops and sounds adding to the pleasant feel and visual appearance of the character.

Character 2 (rubber box) has mouths moving and miming words to the audience alongside audio making squelchey sounds and broken up spoken words. The audio is designed to accentuate the slightly disturbed and unnerving visuals on top of the tactile surface of the device which provides a humanistic fleshy texture.

Character 3 (pin box) has more serious, angry and distraught eyes that is accentuated with a high pitch piercing audio. The high pitch audio tantalises and disturbs the tranquility of the other devices. The pointy surface of the device, mixed with the media aims to challenge the audience’s senses to withstand the contrasting of emotions on display.

The success of the installation will be based on the feel and discussion it creates within the exhibition. The overall aim is to create an uneasy and unsettling environment that audiences can move, play and experience using the movement of light and sound.

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