Instructions for Humans - Day 30

The need to start documenting blog-style has returned. So here I am.

Next Monday sees Data Cult - An Instructional Event For Humans happening in the galery. It centres on two performances by Emily Warner and Aleks Wojtulewicz developed with me in reponse to the exhibition. Tickets are free and available here. You can turn up on the day but capacity is limited.

Monday I was working with Emily and Karen Cameron, whose transcription/description skills have become an integral part of Emily's performance, which is great. I'll talk more about that later.

Today Aleks started his piece in the gallery. Aleks is what is called a "durational" performer - his work pushes his body to its physical limits. When I orignally told him I was looking for performance artists to work with he misheard me and thought I wanted to wire his muscles up to electric shocks controlled by an AI, which wasn't my first thought but then I remembered Daito Manabe's work, specifically as part of Transcranial, where he controlled a performer's face using electrodes. Here's a demo.

In the end my desire for there to be some kind of feedback loop into the room put the kibosh on that as the room would have people in it and there would be too many ethical concerns. Oh, and I wasn't exactly sure how to programme it. So there's that.

An emerging theme of the show is my wanting artists to use the space I've created to do their own work, responding to the ideas and themes of the show in service of their own practice, not submitting to my direction. I'm intrigued by how people respond to this thing I've created and the ideas that populate it and seeing how that unfolds is a key part of the work.

For his part of Data Cult he's been taking photos of people in Birmingham, street-photography-style. He's anonymised the faces and has developed a notation-style system for prompting different exercises, so when he sees a certain sort of person doing a certain sort of thing, he does a repeated exercise (such as pushups) which is filmed by a camera.

The narative is he's describing the photos to the camera though movement alone. The camera can, in theory, understand the images by understanding his exercises.

He will do this for five hours over three days this week. I will then process the images to see what can be deduced from them. On Monday we'll present our findings.