February 8

Windowtalk

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.