the other me…

Much of what I have done is connected…though at first site it might not appear so. This page describes my ongoing fascination with human empathy. This ranges from, imaginary friends, ventriloquism, virtual realities and the concept of magic (whatever you choose that to mean). It includes objects, concepts, dreams and fictional invention. In short, I don’t know where the boundaries are…if I read more perhaps I would but I’m a practical person really, an experimenter and a bohemian one at that. What is here is some of the ‘enquiries’  into the empathy and the parameters of perceived reality. A bit fragmented, hope it makes some sort of sense?

 


Installation: paul birkeland-green 1993
” Much of how I perceive myself is controlled by how others see me.When I look in a mirror or a shop window (for instance) I see my own reflection. I have learned to recognise myself, and the image I see corresponding to the actions I make. These actions are on general view; open to others gaze.

This self-awareness is an integral part of feeling in a real situation. I rely on the coded interactions between myself and others to best understand my position in an environment. If I react to them and they to me, I feel part of the event. This installation attempts to achieve a combination of these facets. A virtual space that allows the free transfer of body language, dialogue and self-reflection, with the minimum of intrusion by the apparatus.The environment suggested, is that of a shopping mall; a showcase of high technology goods. A logical and accessible site for people to be. A place where the flaneur or purchaser is welcome to browse at leisure.I wish the viewer to participate in the experience of virtuality, become part of the event.”Prospectus University of Wales (Newport) 1994  All material (c) paul birkeland-green commercial/exhibition Windowtalk (summary)

 

I produced an interactive screen that projected my ‘real time’ image into a translucent semi-mirrored glass screen.It could be viewed from 360 degrees and viewers were invited to interact with myself in a ‘Virtual Shop’.

What I noticed, much to my delight, was that the experience became ‘real’. Viewers in the space afforded me space and position that would only be expected of a real person. This they did automatically and I suspect without their conscious knowledge. This leads me to my current project which I generically call, ‘Leo’.

Leo is a psychological interface that uses the devices of interaction I have explored over the last two years.

The purpose of Leo is to better explore the potential of cyberspace. The area of cyberspace I want to explore is the ability to create a new site for the human memory. This is because I see this as the area that would best enhance my
capacity. The drive for Artificial Intelligence seems pointless. Surely the purpose of machines is to increase personal capacity not replace it.Fortunately the machine best suited to just this task is the computer, but not
with icons,TV’s and typewriters.Human beings (as far as I can tell) think with language. We create concepts
and construct rational arguments with words. Coupled with this we use other aspects of language such as body language, para language and those we haven’t identified yet. In addition the skills of language are ones we are very familiar with. So why not use them?
Surely it makes sense to use the most accessible medium.I believe language to be the fundamental human process, but I stress that this is purely a personal opinion.
I have applied some of the linguistic research , particularly the research done in the early 1980’s that relates to voice activated systems. This has allowed me to develop a system for Leo on which I can build. I have based my system on the premise of a neural net that ultimately will be self learning It would have been easier to have a created a rabbit out of the hat 20 word system, but I think it would be better to plan for the future at the outset.After all voice recognition is not exactly new. I can always use more advanced systems at a later date if it seems appropriate.So now I will introduce Leo. In fact you are the first to see him. He was still being put together an hour ago.
Leo allows me access and store ,using voice activation, anything on my data site.
The intention is to explore what happens over a period of time as I use Leo as a mental storage site. The system is radio controlled so I do not need to be in any particular place when I access Leo, in fact I can access him from a
transmitter/microphone radio pack. What I hope to achieve is a better understanding of interactive Human-synthetic discourse. I would like to speculate on the possibility of a new type of library. One that contained a centralised storage site with a multitude of Leo’s each available on a sort of ‘Monthly rental’ in a similar way to a telephone rental. Removing the need for individuals to purchase and maintain their own system. Who knows Leo’s could talk to us, or each other, in a new hierarchy of cyberspace!As a process however I believe he addresses the correlation of the human condition in the arena of the physical world. A not unfamiliar niche I would
say.
I must stress that Leo is an ongoing project which is designed to give examples of ‘what is going on’ from time to time. To see if how we really interact can be discovered through observation and involvement rather than speculation.
Today Leo has an interface that takes the form of a holographic head suspended in a glass block. He is in fact powered by UV light as laser powered images are intrinsically dangerous. The concept of holographic imaging in the living room will remain in the domain of science fiction for the foreseeable future. However if anyone has any inside information I would be grateful.
Leo is recalling stored text and is aware of the presence of others. Interruptions to his monologue will be met with the usual human response. Generally his facial movements would be lip sync. to the spoken text in an attempt to replicate a human attitude. However technical problems have not allowed this to happen today. In addition it is interesting that the amount of RF interference in this room is so great that some interference is effecting the signals. Such is the problem of the noisy world we live in. Pollution that seems to go unchecked.
Anyway I hope you will come and interact with Leo so that you may best judge the interaction, or better still the potential”.(c) paul birkeland-green

 

This was written a while back, things have moved on.

   Leo is a serious
experiment
into non TV and
typewriter
computers.

  “A holographic interface    that is, in effect, a sub-
personality of myself.”

First introduced to a forgiving
audience at the,
International
Cyber Conference
, Bath, UK

June ’96 (digital chaos)
(c) paul birkeland-green 1995

‘Forget the laptop, tablet or mobile phone: This is the future.’

 

Digital chaos a slacker cyberconference:
Sunday 2nd. June 1996. Introduced by Stanley Donwood:
(updated 2013)

“Leo a sub-personality ”
from Paul Birkeland-Green
.
transcript (some alterations have been made due to the appropriateness of the text).

“Firstly I would like to introduce myself and explain how my work has arrived at where it is today. I am a practising artist and over the last five years or so I have been interested in the way that we interact with the machines we create.
My particular interest is in the empathetic relationship between ourselves and manufactured goods. One event that brought this interest about was the Hollywood film ‘Bladerunner’. An issue that it raised, along with the Philip K.Dick novel that inspired it, was and is the moral question, do we have the moral right to destroy anything we make?
This has not, so far, proved much of a problem. If a radio breaks, we throw it away and buy a new one; simple. But now that we have the ability to create genetic or organic systems, such as clones of animals; what happens then? Breaking up an old radio is one thing but squashing a cloned frog is quite another; isn’t it?
So what exactly is the difference? Could it be that empathy is not just confined to living or representative things, if this is so, and it would appear that it is, what are the issues that make the difference?The embodiment of this empathy presumably lies somewhere outside of what we deem ‘natural’. It would appear to be possible to include it in ‘man-made objects’ providing certain parameters are met.
Is there a technology of existence?
The question of how we decide or make sound judgments about this situation would seem to be vital. Current technologies are creating this scenario so we are forced to address the questions.
A good starting point for me seemed to be to try and discover some of the mechanisms that allow us to interact with technology on a level that breaks down the barriers of ‘us and them’. The ones that somehow allow us to be ‘in tune’ with the systems employed. I decided to identify systems already at work that seem to succeed at this, and those that fail. Amongst others, I found that the telephone did it very well whereas, surprisingly the computer failed miserably.
Telephones really make the caller seem present. As if they are really there… with you.
I am not suggesting that anyone is unaware that they are talking to a piece of plastic that is connected to a piece of wire that runs to the callers piece of plastic. What I am suggesting is that, although an extremely simple technology and one not devoid of crackly conversations, it appears real. A virtual space that does not inhibit the user. The computer on the other hand is not at all successful in this respect. The problem I believe is primarily historical.
The computer, unlike the telephone, is the result of a market driven economy. Its development was not moulded by the needs of the technology it was merely dictated by sales in the marketplace. I believe we went wrong somewhere around the ZX81! Consequently what we have ended up with is this, a television and typewriter! An interface that bears no relationship to what goes on inside. Agreed in the 1970’s it had some relevance to what was going on. An input keyboard and visual echo on a monitor but it has more to do with a typing pool than current, Cyberspace. I mean why should we settle for such inappropriate tools to access the complexities of the Internet, it’s crazy. I must add that I am not just picking on Apple Macintosh (as I was pointing at one) any PC would look the same. Although I believe if a bad boardroom decision by Apple had not crushed the vision of, Steve Jobs, the computer interface would not be as inappropriate as it is today. Their decision to follow the market proves what I believe to be the reason behind the ‘TV and typewriter’.’The public gets what the public wants’ in the words of Paul Weller (then of THE JAM) so true! After all, in the television culture, the TV set represents pleasure, knowledge and entertainment. This was further advanced in the late 1970’s by the introduction of the Video cassette recorder and video games console. Both being ‘Add On’s’ to the TV. So the stage was set, anything with a TV set
connected had an advantage, and probably still does. Unlike the telephone, which had it’s interface sorted out from the outset, (and has stayed largely unchanged ever since) we have an interface to cyberspace that just doesn’t work. And those crash helmets with TV sets stuck on the front don’t work either. It does not feel real and it never will no matter how big they write VIRTUAL REALITY on them!
This led me to believe that reality is not constructed out of the true representation of the material world, it suggested that confirmation of the self during dialogue was more important. Action , reaction, and self-awareness all needed to be present whereas any further information was more likely to conflict and thereby degrade the perception of ‘reality’.I decided to try out this theory with a piece of work which explored the possibilities of virtual spaces. I did this for my degree show in 1993.

 

Paul Birkeland-Green. 1996

Cardboard robots make really good pets……. or at least mine did.
That was my first serious taste of virtual reality.
I was 10 and ambitious so, I soon progressed onward and upward building spaceships and time machines out of old prams and bits of timber fused together with hundreds of rusty nails; VR was imperial in those days!
If it had not been for puberty I probably would have got one of them to work? But enough of this. The point is, if there is one, is what exactly is virtual reality; I mean where does it actually exist?

Douglas Adams, the great man of wisdom (whom I once met in a bookshop in Cardiff, Wales) would answer; without hesitation, or at least not enough hesitation for you to measure, well not accurately anyway 42. And of course he would be right. For as he well knows ( is this the reason Douglas sir. Even though you have said you won’t comment anymore on that subject?)
The English/American language contains 42 phonemes. From which all our spoken language can be constructed. And as all reasoned thought is constructed from language, I think you get my drift…..or Douglas’s if he got there first.

So given that we have the answer, thank you Douglas, and the available space. i.e. grey thing between the lug-‘oles (a colloquialism friends for, Ears) the rest should be plain sailing. My cardboard robot could walk and talk…… the only problem was, only I saw and heard it.
“It would if you had an Amiga 500!”, someone suggested. But that was the problem, I only had a ZX81, and it kept running out of memory. I wonder if anyone else’s did that?
Virtual reality then, we seem to be discovering, is something to do with other people seeing what the hell you’re on about and lots of RAM; (I am still not sure if it has to be Amiga RAM) and bingo!
Cyberspace Welcomes YOU!
I once tried to get in wearing a crash helmet with a pair of pocket televisions glued to the front but they wouldn’t let me in because I wasn’t wearing jeans. It was all a bit disappointing really, the tele’s steamed up and I went deaf in one ear… some kind of tissue rejection the bloke down the pub said; so it must be right.
Now it might be, for those of you running up someones’ phone bill by reading this that either, one of the inmates is missing OR that this really IS a serious discussion about VR. Believe it or not, I believe the latter.  Because the problem with VR is that everyone has their own opinion on it. Which brings the eternal problem of, COMPATIBILITY.

Causality, as an event based philosophy, uses the abstract concept of ‘Time’ as its measurement. Neatly divided into handy bite-size chunks, divisible by 60,24,7,30’ish,365.25 ( I can’t wait for some bright spark in Brussels to come along and decimalize it!)
These mechanical units tick away and place us, human beings, as observers of the passage of time; whether we want them to or not. Which is pretty handy as we are not always paying attention.
This, however, doesn’t really matter as we are always doing SOMETHING at any given moment. No time just disappears or changes its divisor from 60 etc. Or does it? It kind of rests pretty heavily on whether, Kant, was right; don’t you think?
Virtual reality has a huge problem with units of ‘Time’ and therefore causality. One problem being that ‘Unit’ sizes vary (e.g. hardware run speeds, baud rates etc.etc.) and possibly worse, they overlap!
True, it works well enough for the participant of the experience but not quite so well for an observer…. given that there is one!
Did someone say Biological clock? I do hope so because it might just be that some kind of human mechanism (I use this word reluctantly) might just come along and save the day.
Many people I know are theorising as to the implications of VR, its direction, capabilities and projected targets; but it’s all just guesswork. They have little or nothing on which to base their assumptions. Logic, great for Boolean algebra but people? I mean why has guesswork got a ‘u’ in it, it doesn’t need one….illogical…..but it’s there. Human cognitive thought; not really a high percentage of logic there really, is there. More a mishmash of input, emotion and reaction I would say.
So why don’t we give some of this fine theory a try, find out what REALLY happens when we mess about with objects, language and interaction. Get back some of the strange emotional reactions we chuck about with gay abandon.
Meet Leo.


Perhaps more to follow!

 

What am I? What is the self, is  it physical…organic, or is it a part of the mind. A consciousness beyond the material. I exist…because I am observed by others and can observe myself. Does the ‘me’ need to reside in the physical confines of a body or can it exist outside of the body. Outside of me, outside of the mortal. Can ‘I’ live forever? At the time I did Leo, Cold Lazarus by Dennis Potter was on TV. The two events are unconnected…but often it’s the case that questions of this nature don’t occur in random pockets. Chaos is an order that defines such times. So  here is Leo, and lower down, WindowTalk: a virtual presence…shopping Mall…whatever. SO much of that is now mainstream thinking now…but not in 1992 when I did it 🙂 PBG2015

 

Leo sits in a room reading a story, observers in the room may listen or move around at will. However, should they speak loudly in his proximity, he stops reading, looks up and declares ” I cannot continue if you will interrupt me!”

The reaction is quite dramatic, the conflict between social convention and belief of Leo’s ‘personality’ override the option to dismiss the inanimate object.

The original image built up from single black pixels.

LEO is an empathetic interface who’s purpose is to allow each of us to become part of the cyber or VR world. Leo builds up a replication of the personality who he works with as a sub -personality. You talk to him, ask him questions, share your thoughts family and friends with to the point LEO becomes a virtual you. He retains your memories, opinions, hierarchy of privacy and personal traits. More than a personal assistant or an avatar…he becomes you as you build up a database of responses, data, facts and personality. Permanently connected to the WWW with access to any fact, view or news you could ever want to know. And your Great Grandchildren in the future can ask him what you were like, for in some part he is you?An autonomous self, no wires no keyboard, just a human face with which to interact.I decided after 18 years since I first showed him to a seminar in Bath, England, June 1996 and the potential of such a system, that the time had come to release all the information on him…before someone claims to ‘invent’ or patent such a system. Most of this information has been on this website for the world to view for over 15years. I’d just like at least someone to remember, I did it first. After the Digital Chaos, I was interviewed by BBC radio to discuss LEO; the reasoning being the BBC was showing their adaption of Dennis Potter’s ‘Cold Lazarus’ and the connection was appropriate. ‘Cold Lazarus was a literal head whereas Leo is virtual however not a million miles apart?Paul Birkeland-Green 2013

 

*Much more on Leo and how I made him below

 

The Leo interface is one of many ways that the system can be accessed. The establishment of a multi- access interface is central to the idea. A working prototype has successfully demonstrated the validity of such a system. The central core of which relies on an ’empathetic’ interaction. Leo is a cognitive experience that relies mainly on the means of response to establish a logical position or existence.There are fundamental differences between this system and any other I have seen. Unfortunately for copyright reasons I cannot explain them here…alas.

 

The speakers are very crude I admit  but they are efficient though!

How the 3D image was constructed:

5 Acetate ‘plates’ were printed with an image of LEO. Each image represented different aspects of facial expression. The images were printed onto transparent plates with Ultraviolet sensitive ink. Once dry each plate appeared transparent in normal light, but when an Ultraviolet light was shone on them the face glowed blue.

I achieved this ‘printing’ by modifying an inkjet printer cartridge (Canon BJ10) and filled it with the ultraviolet ink. Luckily it printed! I had, of course, first coated the acetate sheets with a layer of hair lacquer onto which the ink could adhere.

original drawings from 1996:

How the ‘Light Box’ worked:

The light box was a mirror box containing 3 UV light sources. The UV tubes are illuminated constantly. Above each of the hanging ‘plates’ is a light trap operated by an electromagnet. These 5 trap doors are operated in sequence, controlled by the computer program to synchronise with facial movements needed as the synthesized ‘speech’ operates. The image below is a gif build which shows the plates in action:

The effect is created by each plate being transparent until illuminated from above. The head appears pseudo 3D.

A Basic flow diagram of how the system works.

Control of LEO the Head:

Leo is a remote system, all processing of information was carried out by a computer connected via radio control.

The circuitry in LEO is (sorry I’m keeping that bit) currently operated by an audio power meter that triggers relays that in turn ‘fire’ and hold the solenoids in the light box. The frequencies are used to give the different movements. Sub routines in the program send audio frequencies that correspond to the actions, even though the actual ‘words’ don’t.

Leo’s voice is an audio radio receiver, which transmits synthesised audio from the ‘Soundblaster’ output from the control computer.

Transmission from Leo:

Leo has dynamic microphones which pick up speech from anyone in the proximity of him as transmits them back to the control computer which processes the sounds.
Processing signals from LEO:


The control from LEO’s head is processed by this address decoder and ISA prototype board. The Input to the board is a radio receiver from the head. The received signals are processed through a machine code program which interprets word ‘patterns’ and compares them with a database. In essence this is a voice recognition board.
Some basic ideas from the time 1996, to achieve this:

Programming in BASIC:

The address decoder is controlled by a BASIC program which processes the received speech by ‘sampling’ the signal at high speeds. The word patterns can then be more to that of the subject*

* The intended speaker is LEO’s sub-personality, so the idea is for LEO to ‘become’ a virtual version of that sub-personality.

The casing is all glass, I wanted the unit to be as invisible as possible…though it wasn’t quite so easy.


 

ll about LEO.

 

The Process is concerned with many interpretations of current technology, sociology and philosophy.
In particular, experiments into alternative interactive systems. Whenever possible we would like to share the results of these investigations with all, although it must be stressed this work does represent a very large investment by many people. Therefore we welcome comments, collaborations and ideas and hope it will stir the imagination but all material remains the copyright of, The Process.

 

 

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