Co-Individuality – Final documentation – Carla Molins Pitarch
Co-Individuality focuses on the concept of the individual. I investigate a person’s identity, and their relationship with other identities when they feel isolated. I started by thinking about political situation that is creating a fracture in relationships between people. What is happening between Spain and Catalonia currently is affecting daily life, and generating anxiety and uncertainty for most of the population. Although this instance of isolation emerges from a political situation, I don’t want to focus on the conflict. Instead, I want to approach my project from the point of view of a politically uprooted person. My goal is to answer one question: is technology able to represent what happens in the liminal space of communication across a border. This liminal space is where everything is possible: what cannot be real in the current political situation can be real in this space. My answer is creating a shared identity through a telematics experience, connecting two instances of the same OpenFrameworks application using TCP protocol.
Concept, design questions, goal:
I cannot deny that this idea comes from a very personal point of view. My mixed feelings about my own country’s fragile political situation has pushed me to further explore issues of loss of identity. Starting with thinking about myself, I have ended up studying the issues of individuals within the system, relationships between individuals, mutability of individuals, and alienation.
First of all, I’m a citizen of Catalonia. Strength, solidarity, patience, and pacifism, among others, are intrinsic characteristics of Catalan people, who just want to have their own right to vote in what is supposed to be a democratic society. We have lived repression, violence, incomprehension, and media manipulation in the last couple of months. What is yet to come?
The ongoing uncertainty about a possible independence of Catalonia reveals that, in a near future, we could become citizens of everywhere and anywhere at the same time. European indecision to mediate the conversation between Spain and Catalonia may be aggravating this situation. That’s why I would like to work around the idea of a temporary loss of identity. Each individual background shapes this identity in order to keep a connexion with the roots of an entire group alienated in an ephemeral political space.
Moreover, I have still too many question with no answer, or at least the one that I hope to be true. But, what do I have meanwhile besides hope? Is anyone able to feel as I do? Could there be any connection without any other system involved?
Many other artist have approached similar questions. I found interesting Marina Hulzegna’s piece, Awasitipahaskan.
This is a spatial installation about borders. It may not have apparent relation to my work, but we do share some concerns. Is there a way to avoid borders? Could we have a temporary state without considering borders?
As my project takes place simultaneously in two different spaces connected through a network to create just one entity, I was wondering if is it possible to recreate a Limen? ‘Limens’ are ‘threshold’ spaces in which one is neither in nor out (Turner, 1974).
Also, if this could be possible thanks to technology, can technologies make present what is both absent and imaginary?
So, what technology am I using for that?
My answer, again, is a telematics experience. To achieve that, I’ll be using OpenFrameworks networked through two different computers with cameras that send bytes of the image to each other, in order to get a blended and distorted output. Both cameras will get real-time images from each side and using a Slit-scan technique decompose each line, send it to the other side and blend it with the line from the other side. The final result will be a combination of both images- people -individuals.
In my conversation with Aalto, this referent appeared to be relevant to my project: Sharing Faces, Commissioned by The 4th APAP Making Lab in Collaboration with YCAM Interlab. The conceptual idea was similar, but the final form was totally different from what I had in mind.
Aesthetics are a keystone of my whole project. I worked with different visual styles in order to get a combined image able to fulfil my expectations. The visual exploration helped me too to understand better how I should treat the data to merge literally both inputs.
Even though Slit-scan is not a new technique, I got inspiration from the exploration of the technique in terms of distortion in an amorphous way. My visual referents are:
Andrew Davidhazy work.
William Larson- Figure in Motion Series
Exploration of the technique as a self-portrait . My own work using SlitScan technique.
Audience & experience:
Users are meant to be two different individuals along the globe that happen to be “connected” at the same time. My virtual situation, takes place between Barcelona and New York. It is not a random choice in my case, is both where I am and where I would like to be at the same time which I cannot be. However, it could be elsewhere, just two different points that need to be connected at some point.
Imagining a neutral space. An intimate space where a short connection could happen without any external threaten.
Individual A approaches to the communication device shaped as a tablet and a web camera supported by a small stand. This device will be one end connected to another end in a different physical space.
Individual B sees what is happening and decides to join this communication. After some interaction, the merge of both identities takes place. Is up to each of the individuals to decide how distorted the want the image to be depending of their own movement.
This experience offers an opportunity to create a bound between two people in a weird way due to the constraints that are proposed by the medium used, but at the same time creates this intimate conversation.
The complete set of the installation consist on two different laptops mirroring the image on an external camera and webcam that will be used as a support and as well as a visual clue for the user.
My technical prototyping was another key stone of the project. Coming from a non-coding background I encountered numerous challenges. It took me a while to understand that I should solve one problem at a time.
My first step was working on the visual different explorations while I was coding that on open frameworks. My main trouble here was to sync both slitScan systems (two different cameras with different frame-rates).
My second step was trying to create the network using ofxNetwork addon and TCP protocol. As starting point I was going to create system working locally on my computer and progressively going to an external connection.
Connecting TCP instances together was not the most difficult part. What it became challenging was sending huge amount of data and receive that as ordered packets in order to construct again the image from the data received.
As I was going to send live video but I wanted to use slitScan in the other end, I decided to send line by line. This ended up being complex, and incomprehensibly frustrating because I was too close but to far at the same time to make it work properly. I was having problems myself to allow the own communication that I was trying to establish.
In addition, I will explain briefly my building the network process:
First, sending a static Image using SendRawbyte, then sending the line number using SendMsg.
One of the last phases was sending the image but getting a lot of loss of data and crashing the application for no reason. I had something missing on my code but I didn’t know what to do.
Finally, thanks to Tyler’s technical help the application was able to send ordered bytes, still with some loss, but an amazing result coming from that rough start.
On my non-networked version, which I tested the different interactions of the users, I allowed a tactile intervention in which users can move the scene in a three-dimensional space to see the two layers generated by each space. I would like to point out, that I increased this distance on purpose to create this space generated between the two cities.
To conclude, I want to add that this personal exploration, made me wonder a lot of the ideas that I started with, even more. Also, this installation made push myself to an area really out my comfort zone, where my creative skills where not needed anymore and I needed to feel like a coder, think as a developer, and solve problems as a designer.
In a future iteration, I would like to keep working on the collaborative tridimensional virtual spaces generated by using a mesh on OpenFrameworks that could by modified at any time to create stunning visualisations.