Work: A series of artworks based on connecting city spaces. The results are visualisations and sonifications of real time spaces using my own wireless sensor networks and environmental sensor technologies. Sensity artworks are made from the data that is collected across the city. The sensors interpret the micro-data of the interactive city or responding city space. The outputs from the sensors networks then display the “emotional” state of the city online, in real time. The information is also used to create offline installations and sculptural artworks. Several artworks (sonfications and visualisations) have been made connecting up space and cities. All t he artworks in this series by Stanza use data from the real time environment. A new city experience results based on the mash up meta data from these multiple cities streams. Sensity leverages these real time data city streams and represents it online, showing the life of the system, opening up the system, and the publishing emerging changing bahaviours of the space. As all things becomes connected and networked, my concept will be become a system that senses not just the city but the whole world. Eventually sensors will be linked to give a real time global visualization. ~ Public domain data resource for art and environmental monitoring. The sensor networks can be moved from urban to rural setting, ( ie they are mobile) and different types of visualization can be made depending on the environment. Sensity is an open social sculpture that informs the world and creates new meaningful experiences. Sensity is also a highly technical project that gives vast amounts of information about the fabric of our cities. By embedding the sensors like this we can re-engage with the urban fabric and enable new artistic metaphors within city space. The sensors are positioned across the city.
Statement: Stanza is an internationally recognised artist, who has been exhibiting worldwide since 1984. His artworks have won twenty international art prizes and art awards including:- Vidalife 6.0 First Prize. SeNef Grand Prix. Videobrasil First Prize. Stanzas art has also been rewarded with a prestigious Nesta Dreamtime Award, an Arts Humanities Creative Fellowship and a Clarks bursary award. His artworks have been exhibited with over fifty exhibitions globally. Participating venues have included :- Venice Biennale: Victoria Albert Museum: Tate Britain: Mundo Urbano Madrid: New Forest Pavilion Artsway: State Museum, Novorsibirsk. Biennale of Sydney, Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo Mexico: Plymouth Arts Centre: ICA London: Sao Paulo Biennale: Stanza is an expert in arts technology, CCTV, online networks, touch screens, environmental sensors, and interactive artworks. Stanza’s artworks explore artistic and technical opportunities to enable new aesthetic perspectives, experiences and perceptions within context of architecture, data spaces and online environments. Recurring themes throughout his career include the urban landscape, surveillance culture, privacy and alienation in the city. Stanza is interested in the patterns we leave behind as well real time networked events that can be re-imagined and sourced for information. Stanza uses multiple new technologies to create distances between real time multi point perspectives that emphasis a new visual space. The purpose of this is to communicate feelings and emotions that we encounter daily which impact on our lives and which are outside our control. Work has centered on the idea of the city as a display system and various projects have been made using live data, the use of live data in architectural space, and how it can be made into meaningful representations. See ‘Publicity’, ‘Robotica’, ‘Sensity’, as well as a whole series of work manipulating real time CCTV data to making artworks with them: See, ‘Velocity’, ‘Authenticity’, ‘Urban Generation’. These works reform the data, work with the idea of bringing data from outside into the inside, and then present it back out again in open ended systems where the public is often engaged in or directly embedded in the artwork. Interactive and visually appealing, his style also maintains the substantive power through multi-facetted content.
Stanza is an internationally recognized artist, who has been exhibiting worldwide since 1984. His artworks have won prestigious painting prizes and ten first prize art awards including:- Vidalife 6.0 First Prize. SeNef Grand Prix. Videobrasil First Prize. Stanzas art has also been rewarded with a prestigious Nesta Dreamtime Award, an Arts Humanities Creative Fellowship and a Clarks bursary award.
His artworks have been exhibited globally with over fifty exhibitions in the last five years including:- Venice Biennale: Victoria Albert Museum: Tate Britain: Mundo Urbano Madrid: New Forest Pavilion Artsway: State Museum, Novorsibirsk. Biennale of Sydney, Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo Mexico: Plymouth Arts Centre: ICA London: Sao Paulo Biennale:
His mediums include; painting, video, prints, generative artworks and installations. Stanza is an expert in arts technology, CCTV, online networks, touch screens, environmental sensors, and interactive artworks. Recurring themes throughout his career include, the urban landscape, surveillance culture and alienation in the city.
I am researching data within cities and the built environment and how this can be represented, visualized and interpreted. Data from security tracking, traffic, and environmental monitoring can all be interpreted as a medium to make artworks. I am investigating new ways of comparing, conceptualizing and then visualizing complex concepts related to the relationship of emergent data and real space in the built environment. Through practice based research, a series of modular experimental artworks are being created to express the possibilities for our data-mediated future.
There are three strands of my working process; these involve collecting the data, visualizing the data, and then displaying the data. The outputs from the online interfaces and online visualizations are now realized as real time dynamic artworks as diverse as installations, and real objects, made out of new display materials back in physical space. In all my work I try to exploit the changing dynamics of city life as a source for creativity and create meaningful artistic metaphors. I utilize new technologies and integrate new media artworks into the public domain as part of this ongoing research into the visualization of city space. In essence I am researching data as a medium for creativity and how meaningful experiences of our cities may result.
By investigating these data structures I aim to create new metaphors relevant to the experience of the environment. The patterns we make, the visual and imaginative interpretations we give to real world events, are already being networked into retrievable data structures that can be re-imagined and source for information. These patterns disclose new ways of seeing the world. The value of gathering and re-presenting this data in artistic form, and then analyzing its impact and influence, lies in making meaning accessible to a wider audience.
‘Instead of adopting narrative threads from other media, I am interested in the currency that exists already in the city space. These works are focused on the wider picture of city experiences which are being played out in real time.’ Stanza.
Unseen geographies of our cities lay around us with areas yet to be discovered. Much of it seldom noticed as we pass through them in our everyday lives. The traces of our journeys through each city leave temporary presences. There was once a time where many would have believed these traces were spirits, psychic remains, registrations and impregnations onto objects and environments, from what was possibly a traumatic event in time. Are contemporary technologies a realisation of this belief? These technologies that record our movements in time, are no longer odd, or alluding to being mystical occurrences but the switching of sensors and transmission of radio waves through the ether.
The sensors deployed for Sensity measure temperature, sounds and light as well as the humidity and vibrations, around each recording and transmission unit. Depending on the deployment (there have been several across different cities in Europe) the units are used for different combinations of these discrete elements. But rather than taking finite measurements at a moment in time, mathematically, the notation is delta, registering the change over a period of time. The difference between one state to another that brings our attention to the changes around us, where we may imagine the world around us has not altered very much, but the data gathered from the sensors tells a different story altogether. It draws our attention to the ever-shifting mood of the city. This ebb and flow, viewed over a period of time, might, one imagines, bring about some kind of anthropomorphism in our relationship to the environment. In the same way that an anonymous animal, viewed over a period of time, gradually shows personal characteristics, so does a city. It becomes a barometer of all our psychic imprints on it. As Stanza says in the project documentation:
‘These artworks represent the movement of people, pollution in the air, the vibrations and sounds of buildings. They are in effect emergent social sculptures visualizing the emotional state of the city.’
Stanza regards this change as vital to the work,
‘Some things change for the better but sometimes they don’t; one thing is for sure; things change’.
Presumably this means the physical space as well as the social aspect (psychic well-being?) of the environment. The two are like a bio-feedback loop. But what is it that Sensity reveals to us in its visualisation of the city?
One of the moods of the city is ‘fear’ of the consumer class. A very contemporary class, replacing what we once knew as the working class, caught within the trappings of an economical reliant state of bourgeois anxiety. The consumer classes who, it might be suggested, consume without question and are more likely, in their drunken Saturday night release from the pressure of state-endorsed nullification of the desire to think, to destroy and cause chaos. The CCTV cameras aren’t trained on the would-be anarchist, or political dissident. It’s the masses that scare the state, with their potential to destroy property. A hungry, voyeuristic CCTV culture is there all around us, and it works more subtly than we might imagine.
Sensity can be viewed as a way to challenge or exploit the power balance of state imposed surveillance systems like CCTV, mobile phone monitoring and car monitoring (for example, cameras installed on buses to monitor the illegal use of bus lanes in the city). There is, of course, an ongoing struggle between the population on one side and the privacy concerns of the population on the other side. And if these spaces are public, how much of our own surveillance technology are we allowed to deploy? The argument over public space becomes not just one of ownership, but of how much freedom we are allowed in those spaces. Anyone who has spent time within a shopping mall, soon comes to realise that you are only visiting those public spaces, and are allowed little more than the ‘privilege’ of being within them to consume products, that’s the deal.
It would be good to imagine that the changes monitored by Sensity are working in favour of the ordinary public, rather than the elite who are most often served by the surveillance technologies. After all, aren’t most CCTV cameras deployed into areas of commerce and entitlement? Nobody cares what the general public actually gets up to, as long as property isn’t destroyed and the reputation of the city isn’t compromised. Of course, when the government talks about the general public, they mean the British working class, the consumerist, a celebrity-obsessed class. And in particular, those of us employed to work in the inner-city space, rather than live there. You can visit, work and spend your money here, but you must return to your own dwellings! Owen Hatherley points out this ambivalent attitude in the introduction to his book, Militant Modernism (2009):
‘The pervasive class hatred only slightly below the surface of British life (what else does the word ‘chav’ signify?) centres on the feared or ridiculed estate dweller.’
But whereas Hartherley is discussing the issue of Modernist architecture in relation to political standpoints and the class system, Sensity, through its monitoring of the movement through those architectural spaces, presents a human-centred perspective tracing our movements, rather than the monumental buildings.
If we are truly to once again have ownership of our own spaces, then isn’t the right to deploy surveillance technology one of those rights? The argument of course, is as much about who owns the data, as who is collecting it. And to what use it will be put. Stanza takes the data to measure our existence in public spaces to ‘create artistic metaphors.’ These metaphors are the visualisations of existence projected into the exhibition space and online. These metaphors are like seances, drawing out the spirits of the city. Tapping into the spirit metaphor again, it is possible to communicate with the city and the inhabitants who are the cells and organs of the spaces. Sensity offers the city a chance to tell a different story.
On the Sensity website, clicking on the images activates the simulation of the recordings. The slightly blurred images of cities or park locations are covered with puffy clouds of ‘data’ moving out from the points that mark the locations of the sensors. The effect is hypnotic and gives more to the patient viewer than the casual observer. This isn’t the sort of artwork that the viewer should cast a casual glance at and then move on. It requires time to understand the change in the data. Where there is audio content, the click and stutter of noise begins to build a symphony of sounds that can hover just at the edge of recognition before fading away. Numbers form and then change, always offering a sense of movement.
What is being observed within the gallery is something that has already happened, an historical moment that has passed. Conversely, this gives the work its strength as a comment on contemporary time. The work sits within time and acts as a reminder that we are constantly in flux. Despite the many questions that it raises about the cityscape and urban life, this constant change offers a reminder that there is always the future to look forward to. If everything is constantly changing, there is always the possibility of reaching possible states of alternate contentment.