Conor McGarrigle works with new media technologies to examine the implications of pervasive networked devices, computational processes, and networked social practices for everyday life, with a particular emphasis on the changing hybrid nature of urban space. This work is rooted in a historical analysis of the intersections of art and technology, demonstrating how contemporary and historical practices develop new readings and critical understandings of networked technologies and emergent user practices. His practice is characterised by urban interventions mediated through digital technologies and data-driven explorations of networked social practices. A particular focus is on evolving notions of space and place afforded by new spatial practices enabled through ubiquitous networked locationaware devices. This work emphasises the materiality of digital cultures, attending to hardware and coded processes alongside user practices to reveal and study the entanglements of the network in all aspects of the everyday.
Residency Proposal: Data-Psychogeography
The city is increasingly described by data; all aspects of our everyday life
produce data which is recorded at the macro level of urban infrastructure controlled by smart contextaware systems; the micro level of the sensors and connected devices of the internet of things; and at the human level with hyper-connected embodied and social personal devices leaving persistent data shadows as they move through the city.
This project seeks to generate new knowledge about this new data city from a human-centric perspective. During the course of the residency I will develop a system of citizen/individual data-collection that asks how do cities make us feel. At its core is a rethinking the 20th century avant-garde movement the Situationist International (SI) concept of psychogeography – that is the effect of the ambiance of the city of the psychology of individuals – which frames the human as sensor, part of an urban data-assemblage combining human and non-human elements; sensors, data, algorithms, digital devices, communications and computing infrastructure, and of course human faculties. At the heart of the SI’s idea of psychogeography is their concept of zones of ambiance, areas and districts where the physical environmental impacts on mood in differing ways.
This project will explore this by seeking to quantify the emotional experience of being in the hybrid data city in a poetic and playful way, expanding ideas of ambiance to include not only physical environment but the intangible social media sentiment and the actions of hidden algorithms acting on our data.
To achieve this, I propose to create speculative sensing devices, housed in custom 3-d printed enclosures and as wearables, that employ low-cost networked electronics to measure a range of parameters that map out the psychogeographical contours of the city and make this visible to highlight these obfuscated processes and increase knowledge of our urban environment.
This will include Arduino and Raspberry pi devices, and a range of sensors and IoT devices. In addition, I hope to work with social media data to sentiment analysis and use machine learning techniques to work with urban and social data sets, both pre-existing and generated as part of the project. The location-aware speculative wearable devices to be created seek to quantify this psychogeographic location-specific response to the psychic-space of the city using, for example, galvanic skin response, heart-rate, environmental parameters such noise levels, temperature pressure, air quality, social media sentiment, wifi density, as well as accessing other available data open data and social media sources. I will explore 3-D printing techniques to create these wearable and portable devices that act either as high-profile and performative statements or as discrete wearable devices.
For this project, I hope to work with computer scientists specifically in the field of data science and social media sentiment analysis, in addition I'm interested in working with sensors and methods of collecting environmental and embodied data with portable devices and wearable devices which is of relevance to urbanists and environmental scientists. I am also interested in working with neural networks for sentiment analysis of social media as a barometer of the mood of specific locations.
My project builds on my previous and current strands of research and art-making, in particular the AR works, the city walking works and interdisciplinary research into the smart city, to create a series of psychogeographic situations that remake the classic avant-garde techniques of psychogeography for the contemporary city characterised by mobile technology, social media, big-data and smart infrastructure to the point where the city has acquired what urban critic Antoine Picon describes as “spatialized Intelligence”. I have previously worked with AR with NAMAland and more recently as data artist in residence with Dublin Dashboard producing data narratives in high end AR to explore the housing crisis through data and expert testimony. I am currently training neural network models with social media content to generate texts exploring ideas of the 24/7 culture of precarious capitalism and have worked with large data sets from Twitter to produce 24 hour long generative videos installations that marked the passing of the day on the social media platform Vine. I hope in this residency to build on these projects through discussions and perhaps collaborations with other experts working in the field.
Conor McGarrigle is an artist, researcher and lecturer in Fine Art New Media at the Dublin School of Creative Arts DIT. A graduate of UCD (BSc) and NCAD (MFA), he received his PhD through practice from DIT in 2012. He is a research fellow of the Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media and a researcher on ‘Real Smart Cities’ a Marie Sklowdowsaka-Curie RISE project.
He has exhibited extensively internationally including; the 2011 Venice Biennale, Fundació Miro Mallorca, the Saint-Étienne Biennale, Redline Gallery Denver, SIGGRAPH, FILE São Paulo, Art on the Net Tokyo, Seoul New Media, SITE Santa Fe as well as EVA International, Tulca and the Science Gallery Dublin. His research has been widely published as journal articles, book chapters and as conference papers. In 2014 he was the recipient of the Leonardo Award for Excellence for his article “Augmented Resistance: The Possibilities for AR and Data Driven Art” published in Leonardo Electronic Almanac.
Augmented Reality mobile app, series of guided tours in Dublin city centre and Tallaght.
NAMAland was an augmented reality mobile app that overlaid the real space of the city with a data
layer of properties reported to be in NAMA. The project also included a series of participatory guided
tour of NAMAland with talks and performances.
24hour Social (2016)
Three Channel Generative Video installation. Installation view in MSH Nord Paris 2016.
24 hour Social takes a full day of data from the social media platform Vine. This data in the form of user generated video content and its associated metadata. A custom algorithm plays the videos at the
exact time of their creation on two channels with the third channel displaying the metadata associated with each video.
24h Social shows 86,400 Vines in a 24 hour period, one for every second of the day , or a fifth of the total daily tweeted output. Each video is algorithmically synced to play at the time of its original creation and once played remains on-screen to be over-layered by subsequent videos building up a rich, multi-layered and kinetic screen reflecting the complexity and always-on nature of Vine's torrent of video data. 24h Social approaches Vine as a social media service where the creative expressions of its users are performances in data. It seeks to critique and unravel the entanglements of a platform that affords genuine creative and innovative expressions which are then commodified as a dataproduct.
This is achieved through capturing a day of this data and re- commodifying it as an artwork, an act which knowingly appropriates the creativity of the platform's users.
24h Social seeks to reflect on this central dilemma of our networked society; the desire to engage with ubiquitous networked platforms that facilitate creativity and sociality in a myriad ways whilst seeking to
mitigate their codification of the everyday as so much data to be mined and manipulated.
WalkSpace Venice-Beirut (2011) was a participatory performative action commissioned for the Lebanese Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale of Art. The project enacted a contemporary derive following the
Situationist International method with two groups of walkers, one in Beirut and the other in Venice guiding each other with live streaming video in the experimental psychogeographic method.
Walking West (2014) Performance with satellite photograph
Walking West was a durational walking art performance that took place along the 26.2 miles of Denver's Colfax Avenue, the longest continuous street in the United States on April 11 2014.
Walking West acted as a psychogeographic exposition of Denver as it traverses its best known, and most controversial street (once dubbed the longest, wickedest street in America by Playboy Magazine)
moving from the eastern plains through the heart of downtown toward the west.
The path was marked with a physical line as a GPS device simultaneously traced a virtual digital line along the route, the route was also captured from space by a commissioned satellite photograph.
Walking West seeks to inscribe the virtual on the physical as it combines the physical act of walking with the ephemeral digital traces of its GPS track and the invisible actions of a satellite 400-miles above capturing the scene.
The performance itself was the first stage of the project. A film documenting the walk featuring footage captured from the line marking device was shown in a special screening on the prairie east of Denver
near the starting point for the Walking West walk for the The Prairie Picture Show. The large-scale (33x2m) satellite photograph was exhibited in Denver’s redline gallery.
WalkSpace (2010-13) iPhone App. Available as a free download from the appstore
WalkSpace was an alternative walking art app for the iPhone to let you navigate the city in a new and unexpected way.A selection of walks ranging from Bloomsday routes, classic conceptual art walks to
everyday and cultural routes are remapped to your current location. Walks could be shared with photos and route maps via email and twitter and users can add their own routes to the app.
WalkSpace was designed to take you places you mightn't otherwise go, to see familiar places in a new light opening a window to chance encounters and experiences. The app is inspired by the Situationist dérive acting as a locative media version of the classic experimental technique for reenchanting the city.
The BitTorrent Trilogy (2011-13) Video
The BitTorrent Trilogy consists of a series of three videos made from episode of popular TV shows incompletely downloaded from the internet via bittorrent. The resulting videos show the glitches and digital errors characteristic of this process.
The videos have been linearly edited, with no digital effects used with all effects in the corrupted file.
The series consists of episodes of Mad Men, the third season premiere of Game of Thrones and concludes with final episode of Breaking Bad. Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones broke bittorrent records when they were released on file sharing networks and the videos capture these episodes in the act of being shared by users on bittorrent.
The videos simultaneously act as a visualisation of bittorrent traffic and the practice of filesharing as well as being an aesthetically beautiful and unique by-product of the bittorrent process, the file codec and the size of the bittorrent swarm as the pieces of the original file are rearranged and reconfigured into a new transitory in-between state.