by Natsumi Wada, sign language interpreter, creative technologist and student of SFPC Summer 2019 in Yamaguchi
This post is about the sixth day of the School for Poetic Computation’s SFPC Summer 2019 in Yamaguchi at YCAM. You can also read Taeyoon’s introduction, and recaps from Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 and Day 5.
Hello, this is Natsumi Wada.
I am a sign language and Japanese interpreter, maker and creative technologist.
I have been working on themes of body and technology, sense and communication, such as tools that convey the image of sign language, game centers with sound, and clothes based on echo which is haptics system. The first time I heard about SFPC when I learned openFrameworks, which was created by Zach Lieberman, one of the cofounders of SFPC, Theo Watson, Arturo Castro, and collaborators. I was excited to join SFPC Summer 2019 in Yamaguchi workshop which integrates computers and poetry together.
I really wanted to participate in the SFPC camp when I knew it would be held at YCAM as I was working there in my third year of my bachelor’s degree. I wanted to learn the relationship between technology and expression, to explore the possibilities of my future projects with great friends from various places and to make the best use of poetic computation.
Gesture inspired by hand sign
The first thing to do in the morning was “Gesture” and I was in charge of all four gesture workshops with Richi Owaki and Izumi Hara who are YCAM staff.
This gesture workshop aimed at understanding each other through our body movements. All participants would learn how to communicate with other students without languages. We tried to convey our messages via our body movements and our imagination. After this workshop, we would learn how to send, receive and intervene messages to other people without languages.
The third day started from the walking session, but it’s not about walking only. To start with, we needed to keep the same walking speed as the one who was next to us. we must move forward while feeling the signs of your neighbors. When someone started walking, everyone had to walk together. If someone stopped, we would feel we needed to stop. It’s just about feelings. We wouldn’t talk, but we could feel each other. Some people have the same timing for movement, while others always inevitably deviate. These works show their personality.
Next, it was an exercise that we imitated animals’ movements. This time, we would not only make movements, but we would also use our body to express the texture of movements, such as piercing based on the theory of Labanotation. Labanotation is a notation system for recording and analyzing human movement that was derived from the work of Rudolf Laban who described it in Schrifttanz(“Written Dance”) in 1928. In Laban method, we used the “Dynamic quality of the movement” method to better express the change in movement quality. Dynamics in Labanotation are also indicated through a set of symbols indicating a rise or lowering of energy resulting from the physical or emotional motive, e.g. physically forceful versus an intense emotional state.
I was thinking about what kind of expressions had shown when moving slightly or piercing, and what information could be conveyed when our body was used as media. It was attractive that each expression became more creative by adding these restrictions.
Peer to Peer Folder Poetry with Melanie
When the class started, Melanie Hoff showed us a round object on the necklace and a pedestal on her fingers. Pulling the necklace string would magically rotate the round object, which would also rotate on the ring. Explored the folders, accessories to show the beauty of technology, or tried to find Alexa together. I thought her approach to technology was abundantly surprised and loved, even though it was very small and every day.
In Melanie’s class, everyone actually made a folder poem which we had sketched on a paper. We paired up and announce what theme folder poem each made.
In the previous folder poetry class, I thought that the idea of going out on an adventure using the structure was beautiful and cute. So I made a folder that allows me to go to space. In space, each star has different gravity and different rules.
My pair was Tatsuo Sugimoto. His idea was for his four-year-old daughter to explore his family destination via the folder poetry. What a lovely and cute idea! A hiragana letter was hidden in each folder so that his 4-year-old daughter can read it. I thought it was poetic and wonderful to get to the letter by going through the folders one by one.
We had an extra lecture on YCAM Sports Hackathon which was introduced by Takuya Ishikawa as an initiative of YCAM. Mr. Inukai and Mr. Nishi. I had participated in the event in May 2019, and I thought it’s about how ordinary citizens and programmers could work together to create new sports.
In Japan, athletic event culture like Sports Day is very common, but the hackathon in YCAM allows us to experience the mechanisms of sensors, how to use technology, explore the possibilities between body and technology and you can create sports games by yourself at the end. If SFPC is a cultural festival, a sports hackathon is like a sports festival.
Play the world with Jane
The second class was Play the world with Jane Friedhoff. We would learn through examples of how we can play our daily lives.
”Geocaching”(Geo = earth Cache = items stored in a hidden place) is an amazing cute game! It is basically a widely-distributed treasure hunt. Participants use their GPS to track down small hidden packages in unexpected places. We can find Tiny gifts in places around the world!
“Big Urban Game” The game was created to “promote visual awareness of the Twin Cities’ urban environment, frame new perspectives, provoke fresh perceptions and encourage wide input on how the Twin Cities’ public realm design could be improved from streets to transit to parks and other urban amenities.”
Jane said to us “When we play together, and especially when we play in public, we need to be mindful of consent.” (Consent: giving permission for something to happen or for someone to do something.)
Making a play in the public space of the city like ”Big Urban Game” brings a chance encounter to people and creates a sense of your own city and changes your perception of the city.
How could we make a route for YCAM more playful?
The instruction cards give us some orders:
- Take the fourth left.
- Travel gently northwest for seventeen metres.
- Go southwest for a little while.
- Cruise intensely for two seconds.
- Take the second right.
- Take the next left.
- Find the nearest wall and take a rubbing of it.
- Find the nearest bird, then follow it for a while or until you lose it, whichever comes sooner.
- Find the nearest paving slab and take a rubbing of it.
- Stop, find a comfortable spot, and write whatever comes to mind.
- Head back.
Get some new directions
We started from the entrance of YCAM and started walking on a path that we have never been to. Where was the fourth corner, and where was the second corner? I was able to find a lot of cute signs on streets, narrow paths and residential areas that I had never been to before.
Stop, find a comfortable spot, and write whatever comes to mind.
While smelling the scent from the hot springs, it was a very comfortable place where we relaxed and enjoyed the moment together under the sun.
In Jane’s class, we thought about how to play in everyday life. In our daily routine, we always pass by the same place or the same building every day. Nevertheless, we can still enjoy the day when we set rules for our lives or bring friends to some places who have never been there, then new discoveries will come every day.
When the member who walked together stops and takes a picture, we can know the scenery she likes. You have time to think poetically what happened by writing a poem in the cafe. I was able to learn that everyday life was so much fun and I could meet various moments with just a little effort.
While other students shared their ideas about the games they created in the class, I was thinking about facial expression and our attitudes on “creating games’. We were setting up the rules for our own games which gave us unexpected results. It’s an intriguing moment for me indeed.
In the evening, YCAM staff prepared materials for us and we had a sushi party!
There was a corner for us to share sushi recipes made by each other, and it was interesting to share which combination was the most delicious. Everyone ate dinner in YCAM every day. Nevertheless, during the sushi party, we could slow down ourselves, and talk to each other. There was no doubt that SFPC was an intensive workshop and we needed to take different lectures every day. At this time, we could just forget the lectures for a while and enjoyed the moment by chit chat with each other
After SFPC, it changed my mindset as I would try to think or do in a poetic approach.
I thought if we tried to draw a poetic relationship for daily information and things around us, the world would be more fascinating and meaningful. For example, I am currently studying sign language using image recognition technology. However, rather than storing the pose data associated with each word in sign language, it is even more attractive for many people to be able to express data pinched from the body language poetically. It may be a different expression method.
Finally, the final presentation and the showcase are approaching.
I hope I could make it a poetic form that I learned a lot.
This posting has been edited by Felix Lo and published by Taeyoon Choi.
Photo: Naoki Takehisa
Courtesy of Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM]