UCL Multimedia Anthropology Lab is proud to present Multimedia Encounters, our latest exhibition and experiment created to coincide with UCL MAL’s first academic conference: Multimedia Encounters: Experimental Approaches to Ethnographic Research. 

Multimedia Encounters attends to the relationship between anthropological thought and computer intelligence. Algorithms and the anthropological mind both operate recursively, dismembering knowledge as we know it, re-calculating and birthing alternative manifestations of ethnographic data. Our exhibition seeks to probe and push this formal equivalence, exploring its limits and creating new ground for future multimedia encounters.

The exhibition aims to dissect and examine our own systems of value, to re-think how knowledge is produced, and to create spaces for re-imagining what it means to be (more than) human in a 21st Century mediascape. In addition to presenting the work of conference panellists, our exhibition features work from UCL MAL’s global network of anthropologists, artists and researchers.

VIRTUAL EXHIBITION

MULTIMEDIA ENCOUNTERS

EXPERIMENTAL APPROACHES TO ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH

HOW TO NAVIGATE THE EXHIBITION

Below is an outline of the three possible linear journeys together with indications of where the portal to the next space is located. These are titled route 1, route 2 and route 3.

Each route's journey will start and end in the default ‘crater’ setting (Wade Wallerstein's Room), where you will be invited to recursively explore alternative routes. This information is also available to be downloaded in a PDF format below. However, we also encourage you to take on the challenge of locating these portals yourselves: you may find unexpected encounters...

You can also directly access the individual exhibition rooms in the descriptions below.

ENTER THE BEGINNING OF THE VIRTUAL EXHIBITION THROUGH ROOM 0

ROOM 0: Wade Wallerstein


ENTER ROOM HERE Virtual Phenomenology is an ongoing investigation into the lived experience of traveling through, inhabiting, or otherwise interacting with virtual and simulated spaces, landscapes, and software environments. Wallerstein has spent time traversing virtual environments and conducting ethnographic field research across various computer-generated realities. Wallerstein’s research is grounded by Tom Boellstorff’s assertion that the virtual is not reducible or opposed to the real; instead, the virtual is opposed to the actual. Both the virtual and the actual are very much real, but rooted in the affordances of their material singularity. Further drawing upon Christopher Tilley’s definition of phenomenology as encompassing the relationship between Being and Being in the World, this project seeks to uncover how the material affordances, aesthetic conventions, and social mechanics of commercial 3D interactive virtual worlds shape social understandings of space as well as cultural relations amongst online communities. In this iteration of Virtual Phenomenology, Wallerstein presents a selection of field note recordings inside Ghost of Tsushima, a single-player game developed by Sucker Punch Productions and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 4 system. Noted amongst gaming communities for its sharp computer-generated graphics, engaging gameplay, and hyperrealistic environments, Ghost of Tsushima presents an interesting case study in virtual landscape phenomenology in both its fantastical symbolic representation of late 13th Century Japan, high-caliber world simulation, and built-in tools for environment modulation and recording. The site-specific installation in Mozilla Hubs for Multimedia Encounters presents a kaleidoscopic view into this world, showcasing a number of overlapping videos from inside the game world recorded using virtual camera software. The overwhelming barrage of overlapping visual information displayed in this installation in turn simulate the over-stimulating and massively multiple qualities of these kinds of 3D virtual worlds, which uniquely offer opportunities for players/users/visitors/travelers to experience rapid nonlinear movement through an unimaginable number of high-fidelity environments at once. The experience engendered by these immersive imaging technologies, software environments, and gaming interfaces is ultimately one of fragmentation or context collapse. To find the path forward, walk through the screen to the terrain beyond. You will find three portals scattered around the outskirts of this default landscape on the outside of the installation. The blue portal marks the start to route one, the purple portal is for route two, while the red portal initialises route three.





To find the path forward, walk through the screen to the terrain beyond. You will find three portals scattered around the outskirts of this default landscape on the outside of the installation. The blue portal marks the start to route one, the purple portal is for route two, while the red portal initialises route three.

ROUTE 1

Was macht ein Hybrid-Event aus?


Hybrid-Events sind die perfekte Symbiose aus Live-Veranstaltung und digitalem Event. Sie bringen das Beste aus zwei Welten zusammen: das Präsenzpublikum bei der Live-Veranstaltung und Online-Teilnehmer im digitalen Raum. So entsteht ein Austausch auf Augenhöhe. In der Variante Hybrid+ erweitern wir auch die Referentenebene in den digitalen Raum: Live- und Remote-Speaker erscheinen gemeinsam auf der Bühne.




Könnt ihr auch rein virtuelle Events umsetzen?


Virtuelle Events meint eigentlich Veranstaltung im virtuellen Raum – denn die Veranstaltung findet ja statt, wenn auch ausschließlich in der digitalen Welt. Aktuell ist das häufig die einzige Möglichkeit, wie Events stattfinden können. Mit Digitalveranstaltungen hat unser Partner NIKKUS Digital Solutions seit vielen Jahren Erfahrung. Wir beraten Sie gerne, mit welchen Produktionsformaten und interaktiven Lösungen Sie Ihre Veranstaltung im virtuellen Raum umsetzen können.




Welche technischen Voraussetzungen brauchen Teilnehmer*innen, um den Live-Stream zu betrachten?


Für die Umsetzung mit der von uns empfohlenen Eventplattform vidivent empfehlen wir die Nutzung eines aktuellen Geräts (Computer, Laptop, Tablet, Mobile Device) und der aktuellen Version der Browser Google Chrome oder Firefox. Gleiches gilt bei der Einbindung auf Ihrer eigenen Website oder in Social Media wie Facebook oder YouTube.




Wie kann das Online-Publikum aktiv am Geschehen teilnehmen?


Interaktion schreiben wir groß, denn nur so kann Online-Vergemeinschaftung gelingen. Entscheidend sind die Tools, die zum Einsatz kommen. In unserer empfohlenen Eventplattform vidivent sind das zum Beispiel ein Live-Chat im Streambild, Emojis für Stimmungsbekundungen sowie ein Tool für Q/A und Umfragen. Sogar Live-Fragen von Teilnehmern mit Audio und Video können wir nahtlos implementieren. Fragen Sie uns.




Können wir den Live-Stream an unser Corporate Design anpassen?


Direkt im Stream können wir Wasserzeichen einblenden, wie Sie es vom Fernsehen kennen. Natürlich verwenden wir je nach Bedarf auch Bauchbinden, Wischer und Trenner in Ihrem Corporate Design. So unterstützen wir Ablauf und Bilddramaturgie gleichermaßen. Maßgeblich wird das Branding zudem über die Einbindung des Streams in die Eventplattform oder Ihre individuelle Website bestimmt. Eine wichtige Rolle spielt auch das Studiodesign – immerhin ist es ja die gesamte Zeit im Bild zu sehen.




Wie können Live-Zuschaltungen umgesetzt werden?


Live-Zuschaltung setzen wir auf zwei Wegen um. Eine Möglichkeit ist die Zuschaltung per gängigem Videokonferenzsystem (Zoom, Teams, Skype etc.). Hierfür verlässt der Online-Teilnehmer allerdings die Streaming-Oberfläche. Die professionelle Variante setzen wir mit unserer empfohlenen Eventplattform vidivent um: Hier stellt der Teilnehmer seine Frage in Audio und Video per Klick – medienbruchfrei und ohne ein weiteres Programm zu öffnen.




Wie stark kann das Hybrid-Studio individuell angepasst werden?


Im Spreespeicher-Studio haben wir drei fest eigebaute Real-Studio-Szenarien installiert, nämlich Präsentation, Moderation und Talk. Mit geringem Aufwand können wir diese in Szenarien für Workshop und Band verwandeln. Fernab dieser Standards bietet unser Partner KALUZA + SCHMID auch komplett individuelle Lösungen für Ihr Studio-Setup an. Die Integration von Elementen Ihres Corporate Design gelingt über die integrierte Medientechnik. Weiterhin ist als Ergänzung oder auch als einziger Produktionsort ein Greenscreen-Studio verfügbar.




Wie viele Personen dürfen aktuell an Streaming Events vor Ort teilnehmen?


Streaming-Veranstaltungen sind rechtlich wie Filmdrehs bzw. Fernsehaufzeichnungen zu betrachten und fallen daher in die Kategorie der "regulären Berufsausübung" i.S. der "Ermöglichung einer Veranstaltung". Für diese Veranstaltungen gelten nicht die in § 9 der SARS-CoV-2 Infektionsschutzmaßnahmenverordnung genannten Personenhöchstgrenzen für Veranstaltungen. Selbstverständlich gelten dennoch die Abstands- und Hygieneregeln. Zudem dürfen keine regulären Zuschauer physisch anwesend sein. Alle Anwesenden müssen unverzichtbar für die Erstellung der Veranstaltung sein (Kameraleute, Kabelträger, Tonassistenten, Kosmetiker, etc.).





ROUTE 2

ROOM 0: Wade Wallerstein


ENTER ROOM HERE Virtual Phenomenology is an ongoing investigation into the lived experience of traveling through, inhabiting, or otherwise interacting with virtual and simulated spaces, landscapes, and software environments. Wallerstein has spent time traversing virtual environments and conducting ethnographic field research across various computer-generated realities. Wallerstein’s research is grounded by Tom Boellstorff’s assertion that the virtual is not reducible or opposed to the real; instead, the virtual is opposed to the actual. Both the virtual and the actual are very much real, but rooted in the affordances of their material singularity. Further drawing upon Christopher Tilley’s definition of phenomenology as encompassing the relationship between Being and Being in the World, this project seeks to uncover how the material affordances, aesthetic conventions, and social mechanics of commercial 3D interactive virtual worlds shape social understandings of space as well as cultural relations amongst online communities. In this iteration of Virtual Phenomenology, Wallerstein presents a selection of field note recordings inside Ghost of Tsushima, a single-player game developed by Sucker Punch Productions and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 4 system. Noted amongst gaming communities for its sharp computer-generated graphics, engaging gameplay, and hyperrealistic environments, Ghost of Tsushima presents an interesting case study in virtual landscape phenomenology in both its fantastical symbolic representation of late 13th Century Japan, high-caliber world simulation, and built-in tools for environment modulation and recording. The site-specific installation in Mozilla Hubs for Multimedia Encounters presents a kaleidoscopic view into this world, showcasing a number of overlapping videos from inside the game world recorded using virtual camera software. The overwhelming barrage of overlapping visual information displayed in this installation in turn simulate the over-stimulating and massively multiple qualities of these kinds of 3D virtual worlds, which uniquely offer opportunities for players/users/visitors/travelers to experience rapid nonlinear movement through an unimaginable number of high-fidelity environments at once. The experience engendered by these immersive imaging technologies, software environments, and gaming interfaces is ultimately one of fragmentation or context collapse. To find the path forward, walk through the screen to the terrain beyond. You will find three portals scattered around the outskirts of this default landscape on the outside of the installation. The blue portal marks the start to route one, the purple portal is for route two, while the red portal initialises route three.





ROUTE 3

ROOM 1: YoungEun Kim


ENTER ROOM HERE In Red Noise Visit, YoungEun Kim resurrects the ‘sounds of the past’, spotlighting two characteristic sounds at the backdrop of Korea’s modernization. The first sound is of the siren: over the course of 36 years, the curfew siren gradually instilled within the nation a strict temporal discipline, dominating the space, time, and minds of individuals. In tandem with the memory of the siren’s sound is the rigid visuality of the siren tower (formerly, a Japanese-occupation era watchtower) which stands as the tallest redbrick watchtower in existence. The second sound is the radio, which carried deliberate propaganda and ordinary transmissions to and from each side of the border. The perceived sound of all radio signals was thus labelled ‘Red Noise’: two vexed sounds—two ‘red noises’—one oppressively striking down upon the flow of time, the other permeating across spatial borders. Towards composing Red Noise Visit, Kim utilised news articles, interviews, and essays describing echoic memories of the siren and radio. In this room, Kim’s work is enveloped in a totalizing, almost oppressive, red space, inviting you to be completely taken over by a vivid collective memory and Korea’s ‘sounds of the past’. Discover your next portal by going past the video on one of the ends of the tunnel.




ROOM 3: Stefan Voicu and David Farrow


ENTER ROOM HERE Stefan Voicu’s Don’t come home this year and David Farrow’s Sounding Disorder in Police Riots are both video-based works that navigate through landscapes of uncertainty and protest. Voicu’s video creates a virtual dialogue out of publicly sourced footage of Romanian migrants stuck on the border between Austria and Hungary. While Farrow explores sonically-mediated encounters with police rioting, where counter-protesters and the police collide in a disturbed soundscape of police sirens, LRAD (Long Range Amplification Device) speakers and chants. The two works communicate with each other in a heightened language of anxiety, manifesting an environment where restrictive walls and roadblocks hark back to vernacular manifestations of urban protest. Continue the exhibition by going inside the black cube behind the roadblocks.




ROOM 4: Penelope Watson & Yiannis Christidis


ENTER ROOM HERE In dialogue with one-another, Penelope Watson’s visual works and Yiannis Christidis sonic composition A Final Preparation communicate rich traditions of passage and transcendence. Blending ‘documental’ and imaginary soundscapes, Christidis creates an immersive sonic experience centring around the funerary preparations of a body. In Watson’s works, the aesthetic tradition of the Greek Orthodox Church is contemplated through artistic practice, serving as an ethnographic process of reflection, iteration, and communication. Inspired by the synthesis of these works, the cloud-like formations in this room interplay with themes of ‘ethereality’ and touch upon the non-textual communication of lived tradition. To find your portal to the next room, continue past the central light which is illuminating the floor.




ROOM 5: Ezgi Sonmez


ENTER ROOM HERE What does it mean to be living and dying at the same time? In Ezgi Sonmez’s film Memento Mori, the ‘untethered’ potential of life must reckon with the inevitable finality of death. Arising from her ethnographic fieldwork on the interwoven stages of grief, Sonmez contemplates mortality and loss through rich verbal and visual expression. Lapping gently like waves, Somnez’s solemn and rhythmic delivery navigates us through what it means to be aware of death during life. Step through the film to discover the black cube with the portal to the next room.




ROOM 6: Funa Ye


ENTER ROOM HERE In Funa Ye’s work Beauty+, beauty apps and filters –– otherwise known as beautification software –– are central to contemporary notions of the self and the proliferation of facial recognition and data surveillance in China. As the world becomes ‘filtered’ and smoothed over with the click of a button, ‘flaws’ become conditions of a reality left behind. The three-dimensional models have been built on this premise –– all of the faces that you see are merely products of beautification software such as Meitu and Instagram filters. To enter the next exhibition room, make your way to the chin of the upwards-facing model and step inside it.




ROOM 7: Zlata Mechetina


ENTER ROOM HERE Zlata Mechetina’s Computer Vision as Digital Baroque mediates the surplus time that many have compounded as the result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mechetina’s photographic series has been made entirely through Zoom and then subsequently edited into collages. Historical connotations of the Baroque period and its ornamental visual language have been repurposed for deformed assemblages. The result is accidental renderings by three-dimensional modelling software as it tries to create more vertices out of a flat photograph. As part of an ethnography on surplus time and furloughed populations, Mechetina made audio recordings from online webcam modelling websites which can be heard throughout the scene. Teleport yourself into the next room by entering the floating black cube north-west to the spawn point, behind one of the floating collages.




ROOM 8: Makda Iyasu


ENTER ROOM HERE Mx Chiquita is an exploration of gender fluidity in the Amazon and was part of The Third Space exhibition that looks at themes of spaces and marginality. The room consists of a futuristic backdrop for showcasing a series of intimate interviews, simulating a grand billboard experience. Behind the seductive imagery is a documentation of the struggles of a queer movement in contemporary Brazil. The viewer is transported into the story of a party of resistance for over 40 years, happening alongside the religious Círio de Nazaré celebrations. The space is balanced with colourful devotional objects and showcases the famous banana from the American company Chiquita. Step into a world of imagination and queer emancipation in an invigorating, simulated space. Look for a green rectangle next to the image of a beauty mask for the next portal.




ROOM 9: Tess Baxter


ENTER ROOM HERE In the work The avatar and the artist; collaborations across space and time, Tess Baxter explores massive multiplayer online spaces (such as Second Life) as a collaborative realm of embodied ‘residence’. By bridging together ‘creative commons’ performance pieces and exhibitions with public domain material - in this case, Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ Symphony no. 3, Heiligenstadt Testament and Second Life - Baxter seeks to demonstrate how digital space is not separate from ‘reality’, and to explore the ways in which it is both used and outwardly conveyed. Drawing on the aesthetic utilised by Baxter, this work is displayed in front of a group of flames and within an infrared, encompassing space. To access the next exhibition room, go into the middle of the fire.




ROOM 2: Zach Mason and Joseph Clark


ENTER ROOM HERE Pretend AI, Pretending to be People This virtual space presents an ongoing conversation and collaboration between artists Zach Mason and Joseph Clark both who are interested in data collection, visualisation and the transformations of artificial intelligence. In a bedroom, inspired by the setting that many conversations between us have taken place, we will take on the role of AI where we limit ourselves to responding only to what has been said through the information present in the room, without the context of each other's prior intentions or personal lives. Text, 3D models and video works will be systematically produced in response to one another and placed in the room. Neither of us take the same view on the benefits, dangers and possible governance of AI but through this ongoing collaboration, and quasi-performance, we will experiment with how an AI would question itself and interpret others. The room will gradually become cluttered with objects and images - overlapping, merging and colliding with each other. Those who access the space may view each object as a conversation, or statement, in itself or step back and view the bedroom as a larger dialogue. http://www.jfclark.space/ https://oogbrain.com/