Autonomous Sensing ScanLAB
The gallery@calit2 kicks off its Autonomous Sensing exhibition with an opening panel discussion featuring ScanLAB's Thomas Pearce and Matthew Shaw, and UCSD professors Benjamin Bratton and Jordan Crandall.
Curated by Ryan Bishop, Benjamin Bratton, Jordan Crandall, Edward Keller, and Jussi Parikka
The exhibition AUTONOMOUS SENSING in the gallery@calit2 features ScanLAB, a UK-based studio specializing in large-scale 3D laser scanning. The exhibition consists of ScanLAB's video installation NOISE: ERROR IN THE VOID; visual works developed in collaboration with UCSD students in a workshop staged by ScanLAB at Calit2 immediately prior to the gallery opening; and the publication of Key Topoi, a reader that situates the exhibition in the broader context of theoretical inquiry around the conjunction of machine sensing and natural sensation. This conjunction emerges from combinations of different techniques: energy harvesting from artificial leaves; epidermal microelectronics; embedded sensors, including nanoscale chemical sensing; machine vision; deep and universal addressing protocols, and more -- all supported by truly ubiquitous, networked computation. It leads toward unprecedented capabilities for knowing and experiencing the world.
This is more than just a platform for the production of information: it implies a radically pervasive distribution of touch, communication, and intelligence into the fabric of the world itself. Material surfaces sensing the world blend functionally with skin touching things in the world. Information and experience are shared, ways of knowing combined with ways of doing. Agency is located throughout expanded networks of sensing and sensation. Within these landscapes, autonomy is always relative and relational: it is a function of the material technologies that now enable the blending of organic and inorganic sensing, from molecular scale to landscape scale and back again. In pursuing these lines of inquiry, AUTONOMOUS SENSING sketches a program for the modeling and development of intelligence that is not made as a disembodied artificial mind but emerges along with forms of distributed networked sensation shared by all manner of agents. The project has provocative implications for art and design, computer science and engineering, as well as ecological monitoring, cognitive science and philosophy.
ScanLAB explores the inherent mistakes made by modern technologies of vision. The unedited view of the world is glimpsed as seen through the eyes of the LIDAR machine. Using LIDAR technology it is possible to capture the world in three dimensions -- creating near perfect digital 3D replicas of buildings, landscapes, objects and events. However, these digital replicas are always an illusion of perfection. Every technology, despite its promise of accuracy and flawlessness, comes with its own integral accident, its own built-in failure. ScanLAB has long been pursuing an interest in the failure, the so called “noise” of 3D scanning. Though it is normally elaborately filtered out of the point cloud, we see in this noise a subversive potential as it deviates from the material world it captures, a deviation that opens up alternate reality which has the ability to challenge the status quo rather than being instrumentalized to maintain it. Reality is shrouded in a cloud of mistaken measurements, confused surfaces and misplaced three dimensional reflections.
ScanLAB's installation NOISE: ERROR IN THE VOID takes us on a series of orbits around a single, unedited, scan captured in Berlin. The camera journeys through the droning spheres of error and cataclysmic arrays of inaccurate points. The dome is almost full; the sky thick with points. The city surface is multiplied and reflected. Echoes of bridge and facade are manifest out of place. A column of overlapping points burns overhead. An axis of stainless steel railing, water and glass slices through. Fenestration bursts and loops. Infrared wavelengths dictate distance. The noise here is grided, aligned and perfectly wrong. The scan sees more than is possible for it to see. The noise is draped in the colors of the sky. The clouds are scanned, even though out of range. Everything is at; broken only by runway markings. Traces of dog walkers spike up into the cloud. The ground falls away to the foreground in ripples. The horizon line is muddy with the tones of the ground and the texture of the sky. The center is thick with points, too dense to see through. Underground only the strongest noise remains.
The exhibition includes speculative mappings of southern California’s border conditions that have been produced in collaboration with students in the context of ScanLAB's onsite workshop at Calit2. In crafting these speculative mappings, terrestrial laser scanning technology is (mis)used to smuggle geometries, collapse point clouds and implode topographies across legislative and corporate boundaries. Technologies of remote sensing are ever gaining importance at reinforcing these southern Californian boundary conditions, forming a sentient infrastructure that monitors every slightest disturbance in the flow of materials and people. Limited not by fences or drones but only by its own range of 330 meters, the scanner’s laser beam travels across borders to harvest otherwise inaccessible topographies. Transformations are applied to boundary conditions in a set of animated and still point cloud mappings, which together form an alternative boundary atlas. The workshop exploits the possibility of post-producing these borrowed textures and territories, algorithmically dissecting, warping, reshuffling and reassembling the data across the digitally porous boundaries.
Thomas Pearce is a freelance architect, researcher and historian and a Teaching Fellow on Computing for the Built Environment at the Bartlett School of Architecture of University College London. He earned his Master of Architecture degree from the Bartlett School in 2014, and earned an undergraduate degree in architecture from the Technical University Berlin, as well as an MA in History from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium). He has been a designer and researcher on ScanLAB Projects since August 2014.
Matthew Shaw runs ScanLAB Projects with William Trossell, and the two founded ScanLAB Projects in 2010 to focus on large-scale 3D data capture. Shaw teaches and leads a research groiup at the Bartlett School of Architecture, and his work has been exhibited in institutions including the Venice Biennale as well as media such as Wired magazine and the BBC.
Benjamin H. Bratton is sociological, media, and design theorist. He is Associate Professor of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego, and Director of the Center for Design & Geopolitics in the Qualcomm Institute of the California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology. His work sits at the intersections of contemporary social and political theory, computational media & infrastructure, and architectural & urban design problems and methodologies. He is a frequent advisor and consultant to public and private organizations. He is the former Director of the Advanced Strategies Group at Yahoo! in Sunnyvale and Burbank, CA, and former Director of Information Architecture at Razorfish in Los Angeles and New York.
Jordan Crandall is a media artist, theorist, and performer. He is Professor in the Visual Arts Department at University of California, San Diego. He is the 2011 winner of the Vilém Flusser Theory Award for outstanding theory and research-based digital arts practice, given by the Transmediale in Berlin in collaboration with the Vilém Flusser Archive of the University of Arts, Berlin. His current project, UNMANNED, is a blend of performance art, political theater, philosophical speculation, and intimate reverie. It explores new ontologies of distributed systems, and the status of the human in a militarized landscape increasingly dependent on automated technology. The work was developed in an honorary residency at Eyebeam center for art and technology in New York City and most recently performed in 2012 at V2_ Institute in Rotterdam. Crandall is a founding director of the Active Structures and Materials research studio at UCSD, sponsored by Department of Visual Arts and the Center for the Humanities. He is also founding editor of the online journal VERSION.
Following the panel discussion, the Autonomous Sensing exhibition will open officially at 6pm on Thursday, April 16, with a public reception in the gallery@calit2.