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I already wrote on augmented reality tattoos once before, so I will keep it brief. This video shows a client receiving a QR code tattoo, which then links to Youtube and plays a little cartoon of a singing man. Now, although the artist is off in proclaiming it as the “first ever” of its kind, it once again highlights a growing trend in the body modification community. Not only does the fusing of technology and the body create unique cyborg bodies, it also reveals the importance of such new technologies for the expression of our selves and identities. For instance, will people begin tattooing QR codes on themselves that link to their personal blogs and Facebook accounts? This would make a very interesting case of self-branding!

Another trend I have observed in my own research on tattooing is the role of the prosumer. This video shows the tattoo artist K.A.R.L. livestreaming his tattoo appointment online, communicating with observers in a chatroom format while tattooing his client. Now this is nothing new. In fact, some of my close friends have been doing this for years and I myself have been tattooed in front of an internet audience several times. But what makes this example interesting is the fact that the internet audience, as a body of prosumers, helped K.A.R.L. determine the tattoo design itself. This is unheard of. I have yet to see tattooers take such a “crowd-sourcing” approach to their work.

But this video does speak to the importance of Web 2.0 to contemporary tattoo fame. In a media-saturated environment, tattoo artists now must aggressively market themselves online through SNS like Facebook and Myspace, and through livestreaming tattoo events like this. At a time when tattoo collecting itself has become globalized (Irwin 2003), tattoo artists can no longer afford to become a “big fish in a small pond” as one tattoo artist told me. In order to survive in an increasingly media-saturated community, tattoo artists themselves must become hypervisible online, showcasing their work across several online avenues and building a client pool that spans several continents. Such is the nature of contemporary elite tattooing (Irwin 2003).

Mediating Mediums, an architectural augmented reality video. Via Wired’s Beyond the Beyond.

Costas K is a graphic designer who used Cyborgology Editor Nathan Jurgenson‘s post on digital dualism as part of a design project. The physical book explores the intersection of atoms and bits. The creator was invited to write a short essay about the project.

As kids, we were told to stop ‘wasting’ our time with electronic devices and that we should be outside, engaging with the ‘real’ world. Early on, the idea was planted into us that what we do using a computer is an alternative false state that bears no value. To still believe this is naive. Personally, I have met some of my best friends online. I make transactions, articulate opinions, receive feedback and get commissioned professional projects. How is this not real?

Still, when approaching the topic the first expressions that came to mind were ‘physical world’ and ‘digital world’ – the cornerstones of digital dualism. Nathan Jurgenson’s text ‘Digital dualism versus augmented reality’ helped me put things into perspective, before exploring them visually.

It is my belief that online activity is a continuation of what we do physically, more...

Washington D.C.-based musicians Bluebrain created an album that is actually a location-aware iPhone app called The National Mall (out today via Lujo records). Open the app while on the National Mall in Washington, DC and the music reacts to how you move about your surroundings. As reported on Wired UK,

approach a lake and a piano piece changes into a harp. Or, as you get close to the children’s merry-go-round, the wooden horses come to life and you hear sounds of real horses getting steadily louder based on your proximity.

We have previously looked at augmented reality art on this blog, such as Jon Rafman’s compelling Street View images,  Google’s Street Art View and Clement Valla’s “Postcards from Google Earth, Bridges” project. The National Mall is an augmented album, imploding digital media with your specific movements within physical space. The listener-turned-cyborg’s experience of the album comes in the form of the codetermining interaction of media and physical space.

The artists will release their next location-aware augmented albums for Brooklyn’s Prospect Park followed by another set to the length of Rt1 in California.

Shepard Fairey, that designer most famous for creating (stealing?) the iconic Obama image, has designed the cover for the new edition of Marshall McLuhan’s famous book, The Medium is the Massage. Fairey is known for creating art that often makes reference to the way propaganda is used by the powerful to control the masses into obeying. In fact, Fairey’s famous “OBEY” graphic is a reference to John Carpenter’s brilliant 1988 film about consumer culture, They Live (plot: with the help of special sunglasses, advertisements are revealed as actually reading, “obey,” “consume” and so on). Be it advertising, print, television or social media, McLuhan’s points remain important.

“Electrical Information Devices for universal, tyrannical womb-to-tomb surveillance are causing a very serious dilemma between our claim to privacy and the community’s need to know”. more...

Would you be willing to give up your DNA data as part of an identification system? Cool design project by Jamie Thoms.

Product Designer Jamie Thoms has released a new public engagement project which invites the general public into the world of science and identity. The D.N.A Stamper, offers the public the chance to contemplate the impact of granting someone access to their biological data. The aim of his project is to challenge the public to think about how much they value their identity. Who should have access to this information. Your partner? Family? The police?

The D.N.A. Stamper simulates extracting a sample of the users D.N.A. and uses this to stamp a consent form, to verify the user’s identity and offer tissue for hypothetical testing. The owner of the sample will have to fill in the consent form expressing how much of the information in the D.N.A. the holder will be privy to.

Mr. Thoms has taken inspiration from companies such as “23andMe” which process peoples D.N.A. for a fee and films such as “GATTACA” which offer an extreme view of where we could end up if the use of the information contained in D.N.A. becomes public.  more...

Theorizing the Web 2011 featured several projected installations.  In this post, I want to highlight the Twitter visualize produced by Vicky Lai, an undergraduate at the University of Maryland. Vicky explained her project to me, saying:

The tweet cloud generator was inspired by research with the Social Media Micro-Modeling group at UMD and started as a final project for a Digital Cultures and Creativity course. Originally designed to visualize popular words in a Twitter user’s social network (of followers/following to a certain depth), the project was modified to collect tweets containing “#ttw2011” and visualize the most frequent words. Word clouds are generated by IBM’s word cloud generator, the program used on the popular Wordle site.

The visualization automatically regenerated a couple times each minute, which enabled attendees to watch different words trend over time as the conversation in the conference itself shifted. more...

Installation at TtW2011

Saturday was Theorizing the Web, the culmination of weeks, nay, months of planning, organizing, and seemingly endless design work. In addition to building the website, laying out the programs, designing collateral and getting personalized nametags completed, I added on another project to my list called Public/Private. Projected in the main atrium, it consisted of a Twitter feed styled to match the TtW branding, and an ever-changing image next to it.  This project was far more experimental than anything I’d attempted before, and like many experiments it had mixed results.

Functionally, it did exactly what I wanted it to do; it took all of the conference-related tweets with the hashtag #ttw2011 and performed a Google image search for non-common words, then displayed the first medium-sized result along with the feed. As I hoped, some of the images directly illustrated the words searched while others left us either scratching our heads or laughing.  One of the great aspects of the search function is the image cache, which has left me with a permanent record of what words were searched and all the images displayed with them. more...

PJ: First, begin by telling us the title of your installation. Then, please give brief description of what you are trying to accomplish and of the mechanics behind it.

Artist: Ned Drummond

Ned: The title of the installation is “Public/Private,” which refers to the increasingly public nature of our private data. On a daily basis we offer up intimate details of our lives to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Myspace. It’s really amazing how much we’re willing to share with strangers over the internet, and how it can wind up being profitable in some cases and damaging in others. What I want to achieve with this installation is a visual distillation of that.

The heart of the Public/Private is a website that displays a twitter feed and a set of images pulled from the content of that feed. Twitter is the perfect venue for this because of its hashtag feature which allows users to search for given topics, and anyone who knows the hashtag can participate. The code for the installation takes that data and uses Google Images to search the words in the tweets, in essence taking them completely out of context. The most important part of the search to me is the “anything goes” mentality; there’s a size filter on the image results, but otherwise it displays the first image from that set of results. Sometimes it’s humorous, other times it’s gross or offensive. For example, in the testing phase for this project, I tweeted the phrase “some of the weirder art related stuff is falling into place”. The image result for the word “falling” was an icon image of a man falling from the World Trade Center in NY on September 11. This is the sort of random association I wanted, because at the end of the day, anything you say in a public forum can be taken out of context. more...