Michael Day

Testing, Testing Symposium Presentation

Friday 1st September 2016

interdisciplinary dialogue is at the centre of my research
Intro to my research/practice
my own work is concerned with attention and distraction, and compulsive internet and device usage (although it’s moving)
all about the capture of attention
attention studies is the backbone of the interdisciplinarity in my study
UI/UX, stuff from design
psychology and the study of behaviour, neuroscience
also media studies, sociology, cultural studies, wellbeing - even transhumanism

impossibly broad, impossible to get full expertise in these areas
scientific research: doing a survey, finding an untouched area, drilling for oil
artistic research: cleaning up an oil spill over a wide area, aggregating and recombining knowledge leaked from other disciplines
This is how interdisciplinary dialogue works for me
Wrote about compulsive internet usage, online/offline borders, gamification in the book so won’t repeat that here
Online/offline borders led me to use modified Augmented Reality software
Pokemon Go: Augmented Reality consists of live video and digitally rendered elements that ‘augment’ the live scene
the software I have modified uses markers like this to orient the scene.
It uses a modified computer vision system to locate markers in a video scene, which is playing in the background
but, based on these markers, it can only make a best guess about the orientation of them,
leading to a level of indeterminacy or error in its interpretation of reality.
It wobbles because it’s processing every video frame in sequence, and each one comes out a little different
results in a restless image, flickering, and making visual the uncertainty of the computer system
Analysis of form
Installed on infrastructure wall - everything on that wall is supposed to be invisible
As John Durham Peters and others write about, infrastructure is supposed to be invisible:
“The bigger the infrastructure, the more likely it is to drift out of awareness.” p36
Their invisibility is not accidental:
when we consider this, they foreground what they are ‘infra’ to:
in this case, the white-walled institutional gallery space with all its structures of engagement, expectations of behaviour, attentional norms
it’s a sign that you’re supposed to ignore
is it a status readout? is it measuring? What is the subject of the measurement?
whether they know what they’re comparing or not, making a comparison between two images positions the viewer as an active empowered overseer
unlike compulsively designed interfaces, which reduce agency, invoke habit
visually, presents the output of a system rather than a visual proposal - the output just happens to be visual.
aesthetics are almost completely incidental to the work, comparisons with Albers, minimalism etc might not yield much
Background slowly shifting to emphasise the passage of time and the focus of attention for the audience
my method - tinkering with existing libraries and reflecting on the results as if they were artworks - allows something like insight to turn up through crossing disciplines, through defamiliarisation
How is this understood? One way:
What’s emerging here is the uncertainty of computational representations of reality
If it can’t decide which way up a square is, why defer to it in other contexts? uncertainty is a false binary in this piece -
computational modelling of reality is much more sophisticated than that
multiple data points are used to create profiles with which to build things that attempt to grab your attention
One way of understanding this: Louse Amoore, Cloud Geographies:
criticises the ‘observational paradigm’ that is present in art, and in fact, all empirical research:
argues that the appearance, the making visible, isn’t enough when there are invisible processes that are creating actionable decisions

the question here is ‘how does it work’ not what does it look like role of the gallery as a context to talk about computational issues ?
questions about when UI can’t rely on visual interaction alone to invoke compulsion
voice interface
Alexa, Siri, Cortana
Eliza - that’s what will go into the next book?