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Streaming A Life – Artistic Influences

There is a lot of material on the internet about streaming, but most of it is based on commercial use to make money. My intent is to create Art by sharing my experience in real time with audio and video media.

The earliest instance I have found of someone who adapted capture devices to be wearable is Steve Mann, who is described as “the world’s first cyborg” in a article by Peter Nowak, CBC News. His application was not directly commercial, although it related to his academic career as a researcher and professor.

Steve Mann is a professor at the University of Toronto and is still involved in streaming media, although not as real-time 24/7 as he once was.

From 1994-1996, Steve Mann, the grandfather of wearable computers, wore a wireless camera and receiver for almost every waking minute of his life (he took them off only swim, shower, and sleep). Both the camera and display were connected to the Internet so visitors to Steve’s www site could see what he was gazing upon, and if a visitor sent him an email, it would pop up in the display before his eyes. (quote from Kirk Woolf)

Steve Mann wearing his Eyetap device

The idea behind the Live More Lightly Tour ’08 is similar, but I don’t know how much live streaming I will be able to afford. I was not aware of Steve Mann’s work before, but I was in a 2006 multi-media class, team taught by many different professors, at UBC with professor Nancy Nisbet. Later that summer, she drove a semi-trailer truck around North and South America trading her personal belongings for other items regardless of commercial value (Exchange Project info here and here). Each one of these articles was marked with a RFID tag (radio frequency identification tag) to highlight the use of these devices in surveillance technology. This was a multi-dimensional project that touched on many issues relevant to modern life. Nancy learned to drive a semi for the project and is a very dedicated individual who inspired me directly.

One of her previous projects, “Pop, Goes the Weasel”, she documented the operation she had to implant a microchip in her hand. Artist Eduardo Kac was the first person in the world to implant a microchip in his body, which he did as a form of social commentary on being “chained or branded”.

I plan to address the issue of surveillance by trying to tap into the feed from highway traffic cameras and other public webcams to attempt to capture my experience from “inside” and “outside”. There are a surprising number of active easily accessible webcams watching “the public” pass by. In British Columbia there are a number of active traffic and weather condition cameras listed here.
BC Highway Webcam Nov. 30, 2007 1:12am

I believe that what I am doing is Art for three reasons:

  1. The project will create a mediated personal experience of existence within a highly personal skill set. The composition is constrained by the media selected, the method of communication and unfolds over a set time frame. Nancy learned how to drive a semi — I will ride a motorcycle, but I was inspired by her successful project to attempt to initiate my own. (more later)
  2. Live More Lightly is a challenge to social conceptions and a commentary on contemporary issues. (more later)
  3. The leading edge of technical, technological and personal capability will be tested, and hopefully expanded, opening up New Media horizons. (more later)