Wednesday, October 14, 2015

New Aesthetic, Art and Augmented Cognition

Art is as we desire to be, not be and all between. Sure, digital art is valid as cubism, dadaism, minimalism or any other kind of ism "is". Warhol demonstrated that repetition, duplication and industrialization makes "acceptable" art, if it's time has come. My outlook on art is to never reject, but relentlessly ridicule. It's all garbage if it does not express my own exact cultural experience while making me believe I am creating the art myself as much as observing it. Humans wish to be seen, heard and most of all, understood. The question is "does computationalism demand to be seen, heard and understood?" As projections of tools for expressing the human experience, I would suggest they inherently do. So much as humans wish to extrapolate the essence from conscious experience, so will computational systems from a mirrored, virtual reflection of the human experience.

A new avant-garde emergence is always true. Generationalism is inherent in the human experience and always seeks to permeate. Do we envision a reflection of our best traits, habits and patterns, are we attempting to represent our best selves or are we simply attempting to create between the folds of failure and error, to glean a new perfected, ascended state? These are thoughts keeping me awake and aware of algorithmically augmented cognition.

Nathaniel Greene
October 14, 2015

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Imaginology Mission: Improve the Human Condition

My whole life I have been an Imaginologist, an artist and engineer. I believe in the power of art and technology to improve the human condition.

I also like to play and although I have spent decades producing educational media for the medical field, I have always found it important to have a creative outlet. More recently however, I have found that my interest in producing has less to do with entertainment or income and more to do with directly effecting peoples lives in a positive way. I am realigning my course to this cause.

In the last several years, I have worked with some talented artists and engineers who have collaborated to push the limits of creative technology. We have won awards and advanced performance art and puppetry. These advancements have been kept low-key as we continue to develop and refine as well as define new applications for these discoveries.

We must be responsible with our choices regarding technology applications. Technology isn't just fun and games. Most people consume media using technology, but the creative opportunities are far greater. We must remain engaged and productive in some capacity.

I believe we can all see the negative effects and possible outcomes of harnessing certain technologies. Back and neck pain, eyesight loss and attention deprivation and social withdrawal to name but a few.

As a visionary, I have dreams of human transcendence and sometimes Orwellian nightmares. Yet I am eternally optimistic that computing is just part of natural human evolution. Bio computing, neural mapping, robotics, experiential and virtual computing are seemingly converging towards a unified field. Interdisciplinary studies will continue to thrive and solutions based thinking is becoming our greatest asset.

We have many problems to solve and the potential to network humans to accomplish great things in this generation. We simply need leadership, prioritization and resource distribution to elevate our consciousness to our higher purpose. To evolve...

I have heard many technologists and insightful minds repeat the mantra - these are very interesting times!

Well, these ARE very interesting times indeed!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Creative Collaboration in a Supportive Community - Arcosanti

I generally embrace the unknown, but have found myself less embracing of the unknown in business as customers and products/services take root. However, the opportunity presented itself to bring Italian theater and opera into modern relevance in the 21st century for a fundraising dinner and show at Arcosanti, an urban laboratory focused on innovative design, community and environmental accountability. Albeit more of a creative outlet than work, I still found this creative process to stretch my boundaries and challenge me to new limits.

Arcosanti has always been known to Arizona residents as a "turn off the highway up north" or as a "community of artists and architects who make brass bells and live together". I have always known it as a place I would like to visit sometime to see a performing arts show, and here I am given the opportunity to perform! What a blessing!

The Arcosanti website defines it as: "an urban laboratory focused on innovative design, community and environmental accountability. Now I know it as a "laboratory for improving the human condition".

Designed by Paolo Soleri(1919-2013) and constructed by some 7,000 volunteers since 1970, Arcosanti is a living, breathing experiment in humans living, working, creating and playing in harmony with nature and one another (termed Arcology). Currently some 70-100 people reside on the property that has only been developed to 2% of it's overall vision.

The request to participate came quite unexpectedly from Dr. Lynne Haessler, a collaborative artist with mastery level skills in classical piano. The request was simple enough, work as visual artist in collaboration with her and Sopranist, Jayne Casselman as well as a few guest musicians and choir to display visual elements that would bring classical piano and opera into modern relevance. A few meetings, an Arcosanti visit or two and a couple weeks of pre-production led to a plan for slow moving, textures and elements to enhance the music presentation without distracting or "upstaging" the performers while still enhancing the stage presentation.

On-site residence at Arcosanti
What an amazing place with truly amazing people! I immediately felt welcome by the staff and residents and stayed just 4 nights compared to others who stayed 5 or more nights. Most of the performances and events that take place at Arcosanti involve a residency of some sort. Staying in the dorms (or if you are the star performer - the Sky Suite). Given that the property is an experiment in environmental accountability, the living quarters are basic and elemental, without air conditioning which in the dead heat of the summer would be an issue for most tourists wanting to duff around and watch TV(which is not available). This was not an issue however, given the opportunity to meet so many interesting people, students and artists. I found myself engaging in complex conversations and of course spending much time preparing for the performance and at times, simply breathing deeply and appreciating the surrounding beauty.

Creatively, Arcosanti is a retreat like experience with a sense of direct integration with the elements. I slept by open windows, staring at the stars at night and seeing the clouds and canyon walls as soon as I awoke. Sunrises and sunsets were appreciated like a news headline around the breakfast and dinner tables. This helped to make any performance anxiety or creative differences melt away in the process of preparation.

Collaboration as a learning experience
Working together with artists you have just met is a challenge and a blessing. You don't know people's hot buttons, control points or creative capacity. This made for interesting dynamics that molded and shaped the production throughout the week. Having produced video sequences in advance, meant that I had to remain flexible in acceptance, rejection or the desire to change my contributions according to the changes of the program. Fortunately, I had both the technology available as well as the right attitude to adapt. That isn't to say I didn't have a hard time accepting the rejection of one of my favorite pieces.

Improvisation as a method
Ultimately the "lab" environment at Arcosanti makes for a great place to experiment with new forms, methods or material. I felt very free to take risks and expand my creative capacity. I also felt free to fail, which helped aide me in my process. My attempt at live projection mapping on Lynn failed during tech rehearsal. I was confident in my attempt to pull the sequence from the show with the knowledge that I had the "space" to attempt it in the first place and was given the amazing opportunity to learn.

As is often the case with great artistic endeavors, some of the best moments were by accident. After several days of worry and uncertainty as to what my 2 improv segments were going to look like, they culminated into two wonderful sequences that I will hold in my heart forever. One being a puppetry sequence with masks peering over and around one another during an improvised percussion performance by Owen Davis. The other segment being a live graphic paint sequence with Lynn Haesseler - piano and Owen Davis - percussion improvising off of one another.

It was Owen that taught me the ability to prepare for your improvisation. Funny how this always seemed counterintuitive to me. Improvisation by its definition seems to imply that the process and result is completely foreign to you. However, in the context of a live performance with audience, I can now see where a little preparation goes a long way. Developing a framework in which to "play in" is still liberating while establishing a method for bridging between the known to the unknown and back again without nosediving.

The Future
We all returned to the city and our routines and found ourselves overflowing with creativity. Our buckets were full and we were ready to throw paint! Lynne and I immediately returned to Arcosanti for more photography and I have returned yet again to gather some video footage for a short "Arsocanti as Instrument" video. The ultimate realization in the experience was that Arcosanti is in great need of help! Their leadership and staff is very strong, but their resources and local community is small and possibly easily forgotten once visitors return back to the city. So naturally, we headed back up and provided a day of volunteer service to assist in building a database of supporters.

I encourage you to take an afternoon, visit Arcosanti in the morning, take a tour and attempt to get your head around what society could look like if we put more thought into our resources before building or sprawling further. Although the big picture might be a lot to take in, you will certainly get a glimpse of a beautiful option. I am so thankful to have experienced what creativity would look like!

Thank you Arcosanti, Jeff Stein, Kate and Travis, Lynne Haesseler, Jane Casselman, Scott Pfister, Owen Davis and Chris Ewbank and of course Paolo Soleri!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Performance Animation with the Pioneers

When you think of the term "perfromance animation" you probably think of images of Gollum in Lord of the Rings, hunched over and creepily repeating "my precious". Or if you're like me and enjoy all of the behind the scenes, making-of content that fulfills my rock-n-roll, film maker fantasy, you are familiar with images of Andy Serkis hunched over and embodying every bit as much of Gollum as resulted in the film.

Photo by New Line Productions

Either way, most people are familiar with the concept  of people performing in blue or green screen rooms with motion capture "balls", velcro attached to spandex jumpsuits as computers analyze and record location information.

However, with the recent gaming industry boom and resulting hardware and software developments, some basic motion capture technology has fallen into the consumers living room, likely without them even realizing it. Enter the Microsoft Kinect Camera. No longer do you need to dress like you are riding in the Tour de France to capture motion data or even perform live animation. Granted, the professional solutions in the industry are still top notch and by no means does the Kinect camera replace these technologies, rather offers a peice of it to the general public.

Naturally there's a world full of engineers, tinkerers and dreamers who will tap into available technology and tools to create brilliant experiences. Many people are plugging the Kinect camera into computers and writing code to use this technology for fun, educational, experimental, medical and many other applications. Our interest was to determine if performance animation is ready for live streaming and new business opportunities.

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting a seasoned professional in the field of real-time, interactive animation - Gary Jesch of CHOPS & Associates. A referral from our LinkedIn network of media professionals (Freelance Audio Visual Technicians), it was suggested that I look into his business after discussing real time animation with a video engineer.

Turns out, Gary is one of the pioneers of live, performance animation. Creating virtual characters and performance animation solutions for numerous industries and clients for nearly twenty years. Although his most prominent character is his "CHOPS(Cyber Human On a Performance System)" character, among his dozens of various characters, his true character is himself. He was immediately open and easy to communicate with. You could certainly sense that Gary had a great "ear" for people. His live performances and interactions with people over the years has certainly created a polished experience and you can tell he truly enjoys his work.

His offer to participate in a networking luncheon we were having the following week was a no-brainer. We had planned an Imaginology open house to demonstrate live character animation streaming and CHOPS ( was a perfect fit. His performance animation plugs directly into teleconferencing software to allow him to interact in real-time on your desktop or laptop computer. The best part may simply be that the system just worked. No crashes, no delays, no issues. This truly helps make the experience immersive. You are simply conversing with an animated character. I suppose this is the best form of technology. The technology that you don't even notice as technology, but rather as technology that just works and stays out of the way.

We set him up to engage people at the door as they came in and he stopped almost everyone in their tracks. His characters entertained, inspired dozens of questions and kept everyone on the edge of their tongue as they watched the characters in awe and wonder. This is where Gary truly shines, as he keeps the momentum and engages everyone in the room, simply continuing the conversation and interest. I can see where this technology has tons of potential for business. Not only do you get great value in attention and retention of your brand, but the animation can be recorded to create character animation sequences for other materials as needed (think live animation production services).

It was a true pleasure to see a professional performance animation artist at work. I now look forward to my next experience with performance animation on either side of the camera.

Overall, performance animation seems to be ready for the business world, as well as the consumer. The question remains: is the consumer more ready than the business world?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Live iPad Streaming


Imaginology announces it's latest addition to it's streaming media solutions: LIVE iPad streaming! Now your event, conference or message can be communicated to your audience in real time on the device of choice for today's progressive business environment, the iPad and/or iPhone. Not to worry however, we offer delivery to the desktop, laptops and other mobile devices all in the same configuration.

If your organization is looking for exciting new ways to communicate to your sales and marketing teams, contact us now for a no cost consultation.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Use of the iPad in the Medical Marketplace - A Practical Perspective

Since the release of the iPad, the medical community has taken notice of the importance of transmitting medical education and information across simplified devices.  Brands have come a long way since creating video loops for the patient waiting room, where ultimately the waiting patient simply wants to watch the local news programming or talk show anyhow.

We are now in the age of instant information access. Patients come into the exam room more informed than ever and there is often a large gap between the patient and qualified, clinically sound educational materials. Further widening this gap is the medical professional's inability to adopt this new technology in the care process. It's the wild west out there. Just as in the early days of website development, everyone now wants a custom iPad app. But no one really knows how it works or what to ask for. 

Take, for example, a typical interactive timeline: likely, a brand started 10 or more years ago by relying on the physician-patient interaction, in the office, with branded patient education materials designed to raise the positives about its proprietary device or drug. Sometimes, these even got a bit fancy: slide rules or die-cut, rotating discs! Next came patient videos, online data capture and  DVDs. We thought we were really something when we advanced to standing kiosks, audio and video podcasting.

But the iPad brings an entirely new dimension. Aside from the obvious "wow!" factor, it may in fact actually increase a patient's comprehension of a complex concept or procedure. It's portable, eco-friendly (or at least, not paper!) and sustainable. The marketing and education can live on beyond the clinical setting; it's outdoor advertising, interactive, and physician and patient education all-in-one. At least for now, it's memorable. The visual display is impressive to most and visible to those with less than optimal vision. And iPad uptake among healthcare professionals, medical and surgical brands and consumers is steady and growing. Simply predicting the continued use of the iPad in healthcare is underestimation at its core; we have yet to see the myriad ways marketers and designers will enlist this particular form of interactivity to drive awareness, action and sales.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

iPad Wild West

It's the wild west out there. Just as the early days of website development, everyone now wants a custom iPad app., but no one really know how or what to ask for. A qualified organization should have experience developing web apps as well as mobile apps. A known history of creating self contained software applications helps. ROM, kiosk, web applications and database design are a few good indicators that your team is qualified. Of course, a history of developing iPhone apps is a winner as the platform is essentially the same. Although graphic design and branding agencies will have a firm grasp on the terminology and marketability, they will often hire other development firms to program your solution and may not have the experience or knowledge of how to properly write specifications and plan the project for success.

As producer of the CVMD network, I helped create the world's first cardiovascular audio podcast and later the world's first video podcast of cardiovascular education. Our web development efforts have helped educate the medical field about new technologies and techniques and our asset management solutions and consulting have enabled real time posting of content to multiple devices at once.

Our first iPad app increased sales leads by 30% for a well known medical marketing giant (see Press) and our next project includes compiling educational material into apps designed to increase patient outcomes for a network of hospitals and referring physicians.

It's the wild west out there and there are no borders. Good thing we're saddled up.