Emotional Mapping of Museum Augmented Places

Manipolazioni virtuali della realtà, gesti, forme, superfici vive con realtà aumentata e virtuale

Walking Eight Archaeology of the next future


Concept Design: Giuliana Guazzaroni & Tomas
Visual Artist: Tomas
Virtual Reality Peformance: Giuliana Guazzaroni

Mobile smart devices and augmented reality applications may exemplify access points to navigate a city, to detect different layers of reality, to offer different narratives of the urban geography and to explore the real environment. It may represent an emotional journey where familiar places are represented through unusual perspectives. A sliding between reality and virtuality, an invite to participate and to discover public spaces. Street Poetry in augmented reality exhibitions are urban paths to engage people (e.g. students, citizens, tourists etc.) with art and smart technologies while performing something.

Walking the streets of a city is a way to penetrate points of interests and to offer smart experiences. It is a sort of poetic rite and rhythm, a performance where each time participants raise their arms using a smartphone or a camera to detect synthetic objects (e.g. using augmented reality or other applications).

This concept may be related to a sort of contemporary oikos (in ancient Greek: οἶκος), which is the ancient Greek equivalent of household, house, or family. An oikos was the basic unit of society in Greek city-states. The term oikos may describe social groups. The contemporary oikos, however, includes people that share a sort of social interaction, be it through conversation or simple relation. Consequently the concept of oikos is often related to a specific location, even a virtual location can be included in this concept (e.g. daily interaction in the same virtual groups). Among the streets, within museums, or galleries, at each step a user may redraw the psychogeography derived from the interaction of different visitors and from the geolocated information. The growing number of smartphones and tablets offers an instant interaction, and a complex experience may arise from real situations. For the sociologist Castells (1983) cities are an essential raw material in the production of human experience. For this reason, interactive art projects are increasingly used as a platform of expression. Neurological research has pointed out the crucial role of emotions in enjoying culture or in interacting with others. According to Damasio, feelings are the result of the brain’s interpretation of emotions. Emotions are considered physical signals of the body reacting to external stimuli. Moreover, certain feelings are at the basis of human beings’ survival as emotional regulatory processes preserve life and form cultural achievements (Damasio, 2005; Damasio, 2010). In other words, the term emotion refers to internal changes in body state and consequently changes in the nervous system. Emotions are not conscious and an object in the streets or into a museum may induce them. They may create actual feelings, which supply stimuli for different actions. A prolonged feeling state can constitute a mood (Damasio, 2000). Learning or interacting in an informal setting augments the different range of emotions various participants can experience as they are immersed in a unique context full of inputs. In a half synthetic or augmented outdoor environment, the number of provocations for users is high. Neural responses are consequently complex, as described by Damasio’s theory. These responses may lead to specific individual actions, learning and decision-making. “Mirror Neurons” is a recent neurological discovery to see how the human brain interacts with objects, artworks and heritage. Mirror neuron systems are specialized in executing and understanding the actions of other people, their intentions, as well as the social meaning of their behaviour or emotions. According to Rizzolatti, humankind’s survival depends on “understanding the actions, the intentions and emotions of others” (Rizzolatti & Fabbri-Destro, 2008). Mirror neurons react both when an individual starts a particular action, as well as when the individual notices another person performing a similar action. Humans are social beings. They observe others and try to understand what they are doing and why. An action is predictable when it activates, in the observer’s brain, an analogous representation. Even if the observer does not execute that action, the action is evoked and allows him/her to understand the meaning of what he saw (Rizzolatti & Craighero, 2005). Mirron neurons reveal how people learn and why groups of people respond to certain dance, rhythm and pieces of art (Rizzolatti & Fabbri-Destro, 2008). When participants are in the streets, when they enjoy interactive performance, they naturally react to specific stimuli and to other people’s movements. They may also activate a sort of empathetic engagement by starting a corresponding simulation to digital artefacts (Guazzaroni, 2012a; Guazzaroni, 2013c). Subjective live mapping does not indicate morphological features of a specific location, but the way people emotionally and digitally interact with it. During performances, emotional content relating to the region are collected, such as anecdotes, legends, stories, poetry, messages to be read in the future. In an open-air setting, performing bystanders are actively engaged in activating emotions and feelings through action and artefacts. In such a place, it is important to consider the decisive role mirror neuron plays in people’s brains; visitors may experience action by observing objects (e.g. a digital picture suggesting a movement of the body) (Guazzaroni, 2013a; Guazzaroni 2012a). Historical, cultural and contextual aspects do not prevent the consideration of the importance of neural processes that result from the empathetic understanding of visual artworks (Freedberg & Gallese, 2007). At the same time, emotions are rather relevant to activate complex processes in humans’ brains. Those important processes are at the basis of the engagement of participants in the territory (see oikos). Virno (2004) said that “each one of us is, and has always been, a virtuoso, a performing artist, at times mediocre or awkward, but, in any event, a virtuoso. In fact, the fundamental model of virtuosity, the experience that is the base of the concept, is the activity of the speaker. This is not the activity of a knowledgeable and erudite locutor, but of any locator. […] Every utterance is a virtuosic performance. And this is so, also because, obviously, utterance is connected (directly or indirectly) to the presence of others”. According to Virno (2003), a speaking person becomes a phenomenon. For instance, there are some situations where humans communicate only what they say (e.g. phatic expressions, echolalia or religious words), in general each time the ritual characteristics of our language arise. These examples may be called “performative absolute”. The “performative absolute” appears during difficult situations. It is a sign of danger. For instance, an unpredictable output, or something not expected (e.g. an interrupted mobile phone call). In other words, it is a sort of “cultural apocalypse”, and during these events humans invent strategies or react using monologues to establish more predictable outputs during communication. According to Griziotti (2013), the bio-hypermedia is the current dimension of the technological mediation. A new generation of mobile devices flanks the traditional media and the generation of desktop computers. As a result, the whole existence is involved in hyperreality. The technologies, connected and wearable, submit humans to a multisensory perception where the real special dimension and the virtual one are mixed together extending and amplifying emotional stimuli (Griziotti, 2013). The bio-hypermedia is a neologism to highlight the fact that using these sophisticated devices is a qualitative leap in the interaction with the mobile Internet: the body, the senses and the “self” enter in intimate contact with the networks. The bio-hypermedia devices potentiate previous technologies. They are characterized by miniaturization and portability, and they can be worn. Nowadays, emotions are dominant and the interaction of five senses with the network is central. Handheld tools can augment reality by overlaying information, or they may become the hub of vital biological functions. In addition, anthropomorphic devices, like Google Carboard, increasingly flank screens. All these smart interfaces can augment human senses and impose extra attention or cognitive overload. The skilled user, after having overcome technological barriers, introduces settings, multimedia and applications in relation to the dynamics of his/her own life and aspirations. When mobile devices are constantly reshaped, their usage, content and performance evolve and transform themselves (Griziotti, 2013). Smart and wearable interfaces require the use of new habits, practices, and gestures. The actions people enact using handheld devices or wearable technologies are repeated every day, each time a multisensory experience is required. Some people are dependent and need to perform these new gestures when they wake up in the morning. All the actions people enact, each time they walk in a path superimposed with augmented reality, are repeated. The reiteration of new habits may represent a daily ritual. In an augmented reality performance the concept of ritual behaviour of participants may become a contemporary social procedural. The ritual is the connection between the trials using augmented reality and performance. It is an “absolute performative” where the “cultural apocalypse” makes users utter monologues to reconstruct social bonds and real life.

“Walking Eight” is a micro universe, a kind of Indra’s net to describe the non-dual basis of all existence. An Indra’s net or a street poetry performance recreated into a museum to augment or to rebuild the empathy with homologated places, to protect those places, their uniqueness and complexity.
“Walking Eight” is an invite to dynamic reflection, an invite to walk usual places, of every city. An invite to re-collocate semantic fields relating to a city in unusual semantic fields, open to creative reflection and self-empowerment. “Walking Eight” is a sort of performative city, a micro universe, characterized by the symbol of infinity (“eight”). This universe is based on an Italian town called Tolentino, situated in Marche Region. This town has been homologated in recent years and has lost lots of its traits. Nowadays, Tolentino looks like an anonymous town, similar to other towns after a homologation process, partly caused by a recent economic downturn.
In the “eight” of “Walking Eight” are collocated different characters painted by the visual artist Tomas (Luca Tomassini). The characters are real people and taken from old photos of individuals living in Tolentino, and performing their own life. The oil painted canvas is 13 meters long and partially wrapped in a pipe in order to represent time or a story that unfolds from an ancient papyrus. The second part of the space is a performative place where Google Cardboards and other Virtual reality visors (e.g. Oculus Rift) are offered to visitors. There are two mirrors to reflect performative people and the canvas. Using visors participants may see a 360° performance where performers/actors reproduce gestures taken from canvas (from the characters represented on canvas). The 360° performance takes place in Tolentino, in the same locations contained in the oil painting, actors use the same gestures, to strike the participant’s “mirror neurons” and to offer an unusual vision of the homologated Tolentino.
A performativity “eight”, an archive in progress, the 360° performance can be enriched with walking workshops. In fact, participants who visited “Walking Eight” were invited to enter the 3D Virtual reality performance taking place in a walking workshop. The “eight” is a performative stage, equipped with mirrors and systems to take photos of the visitors through 3D cameras or 3D applications, to gather information and performative acts. A record in progress to contrast, the tendency to homologation of the city, a boost to creative and plural thinking in order to introduce new ideas and to ameliorate economy and to empower themselves.

“Walking Eight” TOC Festival Tolentino. On show until June 13, 2016 at Palazzo Parisani Bezzi – Museo Napoleonico, Tolentino, Italy.

Virtual Tour of “Walking Eight” in Palazzo Parisani Bezzi – Museo Napoleonico.



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2 commenti su “Walking Eight Archaeology of the next future

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