Walking with portable projections : a creative exploration into mediated perception in the environment
von Jungenfeld, Rocio
I have used practice as method to investigate the creative potential of portable projectors, and theoretical approaches to reflect on: 1. the perception of the environment and its textures, 2. the sense of place-making and being while in motion, 3. the portability and collective mediation of the environment, and 4. the collaborative process of participation. These four themes emerged from the four video walks I developed during the research: The Surface Inside (2011), I-Walk (2012), Walk-itch (2013), and (wh)ere land (2014). To delve into the philosophical nuances and practical outcomes, I have paired the four video walks with the four themes. This research approach resembles the design process, where practice develops in the action of reflection (Schon, 1983). The thesis and portfolio are the result of an iterative practice-reflection process which is based on the thread metaphor. The experience of being and walking in the environment is proprioceptive (J. J. Gibson, 1986) and can only be partially conveyed through audiovisual records. People experience the complex texture of the environment in motion (i.e. accretion of surfaces). While moving, they thread their own paths into the environment (Ingold, 2007) and establish links with the environment, technology and others. As they move, people experience the texturality of the surfaces they encounter. Video records captured with visual apparatuses (Flusser, 2000) are a fraction of the points of observation a person may have adopted while walking in and experiencing the environment. These records are likely to be created with PEDs, shared in digital environments and accessed on digital screens. When these records are experienced on digital screens, the texture of the environment is reduced to a flat surface. PEDs, with their digital screens, are carried around everyday and enable people to communicate with others, to collect and share audiovisual material, and to experience hybrid environments where tangible and digital realms converge (Coyne, 2010). Audiovisuals can be accessed anywhere and are no longer dependent on the architectures that hosted them in the past. Yet, PEDs may also isolate people from their immediate surroundings and favour introspective engagement with audiovisual content, digital others and digital environments (Turkle, 2011). The size of PEDs limits the number of people that can engage with the content at only one time. Pocketsize devices tend to be used individually, and their audiovisual content played through digital screens and headphones which foster cocoon-like engagement. Through the four video walks, I investigate how portable projectors may be used to challenge this inward looking mode of experiencing audiovisuals on flat digital screens, and to devise participatory events where people thread their paths in the environment, and project and engage with audiovisuals together. In the video walks, I invite people to move with projections and explore mediated public environments. Instead of sitting in front of fixed projections or looking at digital screens, people experience and share visuals while walking and projecting them in the environment. Portable projectors are starting to be embedded in mobile phones and other portable electronic devices (PEDs), and this presents new challenges and opportunities to creative practitioners. Thus, I study the affordances of portable projectors and develop artworks where participants walk, project visuals and explore textures in the environment collectively.