Currently investigating cybernetics and systems theory, phenomenology and artificial intelligence in various mediums and contexts. Exploring an artist-as-researcher approach which combines new technologies, inquiry into emerging or abandoned lines of research and traditional scholarly writing. Researching if and how interactive/new media arts can amplify a sense of what I characterize as reciprocal coupling and co-evolution with an increasingly technologized environment. Imagining ways in which living systems, organic and quasi-organic materials can be used as substrates or “brains” for interactive control systems. Increasingly interested in issues related to art-science collaboration and with bringing the often abstract and esoteric ideas of science and technology “down to earth”.
Co-evolutionary Experience in New Media Art
The central question I am currently addressing is: If and how certain forms of interactive art can facilitate subjective experiences that elicit an embodied, felt sense and awareness of our co-evolution with intelligent systems and technologies? The assertion I wish to make is that these experiences can reach the level of awareness, however fleetingly. Furthermore, I assert that while these experiences can be identified, they lack a cohesive theoretical framework from which to study and analyze them. To help address this question, the term "symbiogenic experience" has been created as a shorthand term to better discuss these types of experiences and the issues they inaugurate. Briefly, a symbiogenic experience is defined as an extension of the existentialist phenomenological model of intentionality (as put forth by Maurice Merleau-Ponty), expanded to include its alteration by, or adaptation to, the varied dynamics of human-machine coupling.
- Castellanos, C., & Gromala, D. (2010). The Symbiogenic Experience: Towards a Framework for Understanding Human-Machine Coupling in the Interactive Arts. In Technoetic Arts Journal, 8(1), 11-18.
- Castellanos, C., & Gromala, D. (2009). Symbiogenic Experiences in the Interactive Arts. Digital Arts & Culture Conference, 2009 (7 pgs), Irvine, CA. http://escholarship.org/uc/item/8807m77k, accessed May 4, 2011.
- Castellanos, C., & Gromala, D. (2009). The Symbiogenic Experience: Towards a Framework for Understanding Human-Machine Coupling in the Interactive Arts. Consciousness Reframed 2009, 10th Annual Planetary Collegium Research Conference (7pgs), Munich. http://www.planetary-collegium.org/presentations.html, accessed May 4, 2011.
- Castellanos, C., & Gromala, D. (2009). The Symbiogenic Art Experience: A Phenomenological and Aesthetic Approach to the Question of Human-Machine Co-evolution. Presented at the Society of Literature, Science and the Arts Annual Conference, Atlanta. http://www.litsciarts.org/slsa09/program.php, accessed May 4, 2011.
- Licklider, J. C. R. (1960). Man-Computer Symbiosis. Human Factors in Electronics, IRE Transactions on, HFE-1(1), 4-11.
- Page, R. M. (1962). Man-Machine Coupling – 2012 A.D. Proceedings of the IRE, 50(5), 613-614.
Self-organization and Emergent Phenomena
I often apply concepts such as self-organization, autonomy and emergence to both my theoretical work and my artistic practice. I believe that we can look at certain interactive artworks as helping to bring concepts like emergence and interactivity down to earth, down to the level of aesthetic experience. An extensive analysis can be done relating to various theoretical aspects of intelligent systems that have appealed greatly to artists. Ideas such as co-evolution of humans and machines or biology and technology; notions of symbiosis, perspectives on agency, the nature of autonomy, self-organization, heterogeneity; the list is almost endless. Much like a conceptual framework for the studying the aesthetics of interaction (which is still in ts early stages), it might also be useful to speak of an aesthetics of evolution or self-organization for example. Again, the list could be quite large. Perhaps new models of analysis appropriate for the study of complex, dynamic systems need to be developed when we speak of art that utilizes intelligent systems, for art is no longer merely expression and technology is not merely technical. Thus, the artist-researcher’s role should necessarily be partly theoretical and wholly, indeed radically, experimental.
- Cariani, P. (1992). Emergence and Artificial Life. In C. G. Langton, C. Taylor, J. D. Farmer, & S. Rasmussen (Eds.), Artificial Life II, Santa Fe Institute Studies in the Sciences of Complexity, vol X (pp. 775-797). Redwood City, CA: Addison-Wesley.
- Castellanos, C., Gromala, D. & Pasquier, P. (2010). Heterogenesis: Collectively Emergent Autonomy. Workshop on Interactive Multimedia Installations and Digital Art, ICME 2010 (pp. 1606-1611), Singapore.
- Guattari, F. (2001). Machinic Heterogenesis. In D. Trend (Ed.), Reading Digital Culture. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.
- Hansen, M. B. N. (2009). System-Environment Hybrids. In B. Clarke & M. B. N. Hansen (Eds.), Emergence and Embodiment : New Essays on Second-Order Systems Theory (pp. 113-142). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
- Varela, F. J. (1981). Autonomy and Autopoiesis. In G. Roth & H. Schwelger (Eds.), Self-Organizing Systems: An Interdisciplinary Approach (pp. 14-23). New York: Campus Verlag.
- Whitelaw, M. (2004). Metacreation: Art and Artificial Life (illustrated edition.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Cybernetics and Intelligent Systems
Certain relevant technological aspects of my research and artistic practice entail the adaptation of various AI and A-life techniques. Most of these come from technologists whose research methods or views resonate with the phenomenological view that holds that mind, body and world are inextricable. Examples include reinforcement learning and the electrochemical machines of Gordon Pask.
- Brooks, Rodney A. (1986). A Robust Layered Control System for a Mobile Robot. IEEE Journal of Robotics and Automation 2(1), 14-23.
- Cariani, P. (1993). To evolve an ear: epistemological implications of Gordon Pask’s electrochemical devices. Systems Research, 10(3), 19-33.
- Collins, Nick. (2008). Reinforcement Learning for Live Musical Agents. Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference. Belfast, Northern Ireland.
- Pask, Gordon (1971). A comment, a case history and a plan. In Jasia Reichardt (Ed.) Cybernetics, Art, and Ideas. London: Studio Vista (pp. 76-99).
- Pask, G. (1960). The Natural History of Networks. In M. C. Yovits & S. Cameron (Eds.), Self-Organizing Systems: Proceedings of an International Conference, 5 and 6 May (pp. 232-263). New York: Pergamon Press.
- Pickering, Andrew (2007). Ontological Theatre: Gordon Pask, Cybernetics, and the Arts. Cybernetics & Human Knowing 14(4), 43-57.
Embodiment and Computational Systems
In the broadest sense I am interested in the coupling of human and machine, what this means for our lived embodied experience. I do not to study entire fields of physiological or biomedical research but rather those whose technological aspects are relevant for my research and which contain specific methods and techniques that I utilize in my artistic practice. Examples include sensory substitution and physiological monitoring (e.g. biofeedback).
- Kaczmarek, K. A., Webster, J. G., Bach-y-Rita, P., & Tompkins, W. J. (1991). Electrotactile and Vibrotactile Displays for Sensory Substitution Systems. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, 38(1), 1-16.
- Miranda, E. R., & Wanderley, M. (2006). Biosignal Interfaces. New Digital Musical Instruments: Control And Interaction Beyond the Keyboard (pp. 173-217). Middleton, WI: A-R Editions.
- Saunders, F. A. (1983). Information Transmission Across the Skin: High-Resolution Tactile Sensory Aids for the Deaf and the Blind. International Journal of Neuroscience, 19(1), 21-28.
As much of my research deals with highly subjective phenomenon, analyzing these experiences necessitates a methodology that takes experience — particularly mind/body experience — seriously. Thus my core research method and philosophical approach is currently founded upon phenomenology, particularly the existentialist is a phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Phenomenology, in the context of my research is a philosophical method based upon systematic and rigorous reflection on, and analysis of, the structures of consciousness and the phenomena which appear to it. Existential phenomenology is a form of phenomenology which studies concrete human existence, including our experiences and actions in concrete situations.
- Dreyfus, H. L., & Dreyfus, S. E. (1999). The Challenge of Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Embodiment for Cognitive Science. In G. Weiss & H. F. Haber (Eds.), Perspectives on Embodiment: The Intersections of Nature and Culture (pp. 103-120).
- Gallagher, S. (1995). Body Schema and Intentionality. In J. L. Bermúdez, A. J. Marcel, & N. Eilan (Eds.), The Body and the Self (pp. 225-244). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Merleau-Ponty, M. (2002). Phenomenology of Perception. (C. Smith, Tran.) (2nd ed.). London/New York: Routledge.
Castellanos, C. & Barnes, S. (2012). “Biopoiesis”. Presented at the Interactive Media Arts Conference (IMAC 2012) & Re-new Digital Arts Festival (Re-new 2012), Copenhagen. http://re-new.org/conf2012-welcome/conf2012-program/, accessed October 30, 2012.
Castellanos, C. (2012). “Ambiguity and Unknowability in the Emergent Arts”. Presented at the Society of Literature, Science and the Arts, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. http://litsciarts.org/slsa12/program.php, accessed October 30, 2012.
Castellanos, C. & Barnes, S. (2012). “Biopoiesis”. In Leonardo 45(1), pp. 382-383.
Castellanos, C. & Barnes, S. (2012). “The Message is in the Medium”. Panel Discussion, SIGGRAPH 2012, Los Angeles. http://s2012.siggraph.org/attendees/art-gallery, accessed October 30, 2012.
Castellanos, C. & Barnes, S. (2012). “Biopoiesis”. Presented at Subtle Technologies 2012, Toronto. http://subtletechnologies.com/events/festival-2012/symposium/poster-exhibition, accessed October 30, 2012.
Castellanos, C., & Gromala, D. (2010). The Symbiogenic Experience: Towards a Framework for Understanding Human-Machine Coupling in the Interactive Arts. In Technoetic Arts Journal, 8(1), pp. 11-18.
Castellanos, C., & Gromala, D. (2009). The Symbiogenic Experience: Towards a Framework for Understanding Human-Machine Coupling in the Interactive Arts. Consciousness Reframed 2009, 10th Annual Planetary Collegium Research Conference (7pgs), Munich. http://www.planetary-collegium.org/presentations.html, accessed May 4, 2011.
Castellanos, C., & Gromala, D. (2009). The Symbiogenic Art Experience: A Phenomenological and Aesthetic Approach to the Question of Human-Machine Co-evolution. Presented at the Society of Literature, Science and the Arts Annual Conference, Atlanta. http://www.litsciarts.org/slsa09/program.php, accessed May 4, 2011.
Castellanos, C., & Schiphorst, T. (2009). BodyDaemon. Creativity and Cognition Annual Conference (pp. 423-424), Berkeley, California.
Castellanos, C. (2007). Body in Quotes. Invited session moderator, Borders Boundaries and Liminal Spaces (conference hosted in the online virtual world Second Life).Panelists: Stuart Bunt, Nathaniel Stern, Jeremy Turner. Hosted by Ars Virtua, http://arsvirtua.com/borders, accessed May 4, 2011.
Castellanos, C. (2007). BodyDaemon. Presented at Subtle Technologies 2007, Toronto. http://www.subtletchnologies.com, accessed May 4, 2011.