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Duncan Speakman's Online Journal

Documentation of Duncan Speakman's project development.

Formality (1): Tag

Posted Wed 20 Feb 02

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First day, so mostly concerned with getting the initial version of the software up and running. Working OK, had about 30 contributions to the database so far. A few small problems in terms of data sorting, but all to be resolved!

Current issues:

Honesty - there is no guarantee (and it is also unlikely) that everyone contributing to the database is answering the questions honestly. There is no enforcement procedure for this, but it also raises a new point. How can any census / opinion poll be guaranteed of its honesty? The question to ask seems to be what makes people avoid being truthful? It is an anonymous submission but people have to trust us on that fact, interesting to note that people may not be happy giving their personal information away willingly, even though most of the information we are asking for is being collected/estimated on a daily basis.

Representation - the visual display of the database is not completely mathematically correct. At the moment this is not a problem for two reasons. Firstly the data may not be accurate in itself (see previous point), and secondly I like the idea of the graph/display being 'suggestive' information rather than 'categorical' . This is something that may be developed further.
Next developments - improve the data sorting system (a few bugs to iron out). Look at possibility of merging images with similar data (audience suggestion).

Posted Thu 21 Feb 02

African drumming in Weymouth.

Falling in love in Nether Cerne.

Poted Fri 22 Feb 02

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Started testing the voice recognition software today (for Document ).. these are the first results. I guess you can make up your own mind as to how accurately they transcribed what we said.
" Visa's EU were teeth for because it hot-hatch other and are not gate you are an honest bowl you what a real sex machine used years it there and another as an art and am a recital just that and it is what he will pick the manner and an ear you on it all you want reels excuse if you to fool if he gave her a virus in the bars took him a friend last seeding he wages down here to talk to season and we meeting her later warned that if it won understanding is a solicitor have unquote fastness your spare thank am I like a senior police ascetic a Catholic and beer here that the kid and can be either a virus Callaghan and I have a theory a 30 it and he and Hick a heat and some will have my of those you themes in a thin week end even the book that they anything interesting because it is the 8th the best sense that there are sick and tries and no wins it is only so much been meaning that it gives him a Ming he's done on who it Pooh at its peak became one it will it leave a it that the Hello might yowl I said Marleyadded working in a couple more in Wick chic of the baby".

Posted Sat 23 Feb 02

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Saturday, Saturday and people people everywhere. Today has produced some of the most interesting questions and suggestions. A lot of interest into why salary is one of the questions. This was because salary is a very common survey statistic. In this piece, that information is contrasted with the images that have been contributed. Which is more revealing about a certain age/gender/location of contributors, the pictures they draw or the salary they earn? A certain doubt is cast on the validity of all the information because of this, but also a doubt is cast on traditional statistic collection. The other question people have asked is whether the images themselves are being analysed. This is currently far beyond the technical capabilities I have at my disposal, but it does lead towards possible future analysis. I think it may be a flawed direction though because many contributors are having difficulty getting used to the graphics tablet. On Sunday I may add an audio element to the piece.

Sun 24 Feb

A busy weekend as we were besieged with visitors. Children greatly enjoyed seeing their pictures fly about on the big screen, (often submitting numerous pictures), their parents were often more reluctant to contribute, but many people have engaged with the point of the piece. Response has been positive and feedback gratefully accepted. Many people have been interested in what will happen to the data next. Well, the database will reopen during the next action, and the next stage for me is to develop audio interpretations of the data. I built a basic synth today that reads the images and makes sounds based on them, there is plenty of room for development in this area.

The term that has a emerged over the last few days is ' suggestive statistics'. You cannot look at the projection and gain an accurate correlation of the pictures / contibutors, but you can quickly get a feel of the types of people who participated (obvioulsy dependant on honesty though, > see the entry for wednesday).

There have been a few suggestions for putting something like this in public spaces as a way of displaying other data. This would be an ideal development for the work. A few people have also suggested putting submission booths in other locations, the i-points around bristol spring to mind.

Thanks to everyone who came down and contributed, you have signposted multiple avenues.

tak.

duncan.

Formality (2): Document

Posted Mon 25 March

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Apart from the technical (and funny looks) issues of testing the radio mics in flower pots, most of today was spent arguing with Dane (anartist also working in the Café this week with Joe Magee). The main debate centres around mark making, and the level of authorship I have in these pieces. I design a system, but can this system be considered 'the work' because it lacks content, and when the content arrives I have no editorial role in it. Obviously I am not going to be fair and present any more of Dane's argument (it's my bloody diary after all!, ask him yourself).

In some ways I am trying to the get the audience to become the content of the work. When they see the printed text they may assume it is important because it is being printed out, but on reading it they may not see why. Once they become aware that it is just bad transcriptions of what they said, they review their judgement of its value.

Their appraisal of values in communication mediums and language becomes the 'work'. I'll just have to see if this happens during the week. I described the piece to Dane as a sentence rather than an essay, in that it makes one simple point. Hopefully with the culmination of the 3 pieces we may even get a paragraph.

Tue 26 March

The mics went into action today at a very noisy period in the café, this wouldn't have been too bad were it not for our first 3 'contributors'. At the 1st mic/table a lady sat down alone, very little going on conversation wise there. At the next table a very chatty couple sat down, unfortunately they were speaking Cantonese, hmm, a little difficult for our English recognition software. Finally a pair of English gentleman sat down, only to begin communicating in sign language, it just couldn't get any better (or funnier for that matter) Eventually we did get people sitting and talking, but with the background noise the software produced mainly words beginning with 'H'.

More discussions about the nature of the work being done this week. The general conclusion seems to be that we are actually in the realms of performance art. Experience of this piece seems to only be possible in the venue as it is happening. Witnessing the printer working, making a value judgement of what it's printing and then changing that judgement on realisation of what's actually happening (including the fact that you were possibly an unwilling contributor). All these elements contribute to the 'live' feel of the work, and to the role of audience as content. Not only does the piece respond and adapt to audience input but without audience recognition of what is occurring it becomes redundant. Documenting this piece will be difficult, I'm not sure how well these actions will translate.

Wed 27 March

If yesterday was the day of 'h' today was the day of 'up'. Page after page of 'up' s appeared dotting the printouts. Worked with artist Carolyn Black today on a piece based around the text from the printer. We selected some choice snippets and then proceeded to try and extract a narrative from it, shaping and twisting the words in any way we saw fit. This will be turned into a video (possibly interactive) that uses typography and audio to represent the creative path we took (through literal usage, metaphorical links and poetic license)

Just out of interest, does anyone actually read this diary apart from me and the people at the Watershed? Am I just typing away into the void? A question to be answered...does it matter that there is no editorial control over the printouts (and not even real authorship by me of the generation system, i.e the dictation software), does the content of the printed page matter, or is the intent of the piece conveyed enough through the very fact that it is printed matter?

Formality (3): Dialogue

Posted May 02 - Artist's Texts

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During the final stage of Formality, Duncan wrote a number of texts examining the research and development of his ideas and the experience of the residency. They are available to view and print as PDF files below.

Audience as Content

Text Messaging and Personal Space

Socrates' Fable

The Digital Workshop as Exhibition Space

Text messaging services provided by Abundant Software Limited, Bristol
Tel: (0117) 915 4561 www.abundantsoft.com

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