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Studio Talk Series: Digitizing Fluxus

Thank you to all of you who were able to make the Studio talk this Thursday. And thank you for your wonderful and thought-provoking questions. Feel free to contact me further if you have any questions about the Fluxus West collection, the process we have attempted to digitize this collection and/or our motivations for using certain methods of digitization vs. others. We would love to hear from you.

Thank You from Fluxus

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It’s another year

Fluxus Digital Collection LogoI hope everyone enjoyed a happy holiday season! We certainly did. Winter always provides such a wonderful opportunity to refocus and reprioritize for the new year.

We have picked up again on the Fluxus project with a focus on developing a multimedia web interface to experience the digital collection. Once the digitization of the collection was complete, we noticed, that was the easy part. Now, we are dealing with the nit and grit of metadata, digital preservation, web development and design, and the integration multimedia content.

So much to do! Yet, we have a lot of energy and zeal to make this an amazing resource for Fluxus researchers, enthusiasts and for those who happen to stumble upon our unique collection.

It is a New Flux Year to be sure!

Stay tuned.

 

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Happy Halloween From Fluxus

Item from Monsters are Inoffensive by Robert Filliou, Daniel Spoerri and Roland Topor

Item from Monsters are Inoffensive by Robert Filliou, Daniel Spoerri and Roland Topor

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We want to know what you think? UX Testing

fluxus-design-advert

 

We Need Volunteers to Test and Improve the Fluxus Digital Collection Website

 

The Digital Studio for Public Arts & Humanities is seeking volunteers to help us improve the design and usability of the Fluxus Digital Collection website.

 

Feel free to stop by any time during the UX Focus Group, and be critical part of web development. All responses will be anonymous.

 

What is the Fluxus Digital Collection?

Fluxus refers to an international movement of artists, composers, and writers working together during the 1960s and 70s. The group’s members are famous for their creation of ephemeral and genre-blurring “intermedia” artworks, their performance events, and the international networks they forged to facilitate creative collaboration. And the University of Iowa Libraries and the Digital Studio for Public Arts & Humanities are attempting to digitize it and make it publically available online.

 

What is involved?

You will be shown a basic run through of the Fluxus Digital Collection website design, and asked to answer several questions about the website functionality.  We want to know how you are likely to use the site, as well as if the site enables you use it the way you would want. We anticipate that it will take about 15 minutes.

 

Do I need any special knowledge?

If you have ever used the internet, then you have all the special knowledge you need to help us. Other helpful skills are internet browsing, or using the internet for research.

 

Interested? (When? Where?)

We will be in the Main Library Learning Commons Den from 12-3pm October 22nd and 23rd. There will be two sessions each day from 12-1 and another from 2-3.

If you are unable to come to the Main Library and still want to be involved, please e-mail Hannah Kettler at hannah-s-kettler@uiowa.edu. Thank you for your help.

 

 

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The Actual New Flux Year Box – in action

It seemed appropriate, since you can interact with a version of the 3D model of the New Flux Year box, to provide you with a clip of the people who are interacting with the objects. Here, we have a digitizer who recorded herself as she pulls the pull-tab of the New Flux Year box.

Even though this is not her first time interacting with the box, I had to delete the audio of the squealing/screaming sound the yellow snake emits because it is interjected by a rather strong word of surprise. Rest assured, the snake did come down, it is back in the box where it belongs though you cannot see it from the animation.

New Flux Year Box

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Fluxus is messing with my mind

So why, while I was photographing this object

Photo of 2 Wooden Rulers

Two Wooden Rulers, 1970

 did I think of this painting?

Reclining Venus

Reclining Venus, oil on canvas by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres; image from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jean-Auguste-Dominique_Ingres_-_Reclining_Venus_-_Walters_372392.jpg

Thanks to Fluxus, I don’t think I can look at the world the same again. Anything can be art. Anything has the possibility of becoming art. There can be beauty in anything. Even wooden rulers nestled in bubble wrap can conjure up an image of Venus.

Or perhaps, I have been alone with this collection and my thoughts a little too long….

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The idea behind the 3D scans

 How should the 3D models be used?

The 3D scans are there to enhance the typical forms of archive digitization (2D scans) so that the user can further exerpeince the collection. They are created to interact with, to orient yourself with the idea of space, and not necessarily for display only. Accompanying these models is a series of photographs and sometimes 2D scans, to better represent the details and physicality of the object.

How do the 3D models relate to the rest of the Fluxus collection?

In most of these cases, simply photographing the object would not do justice to the experience or 3-dimensionality of the artifacts. We hope, with the inclusion of 3D models, photos, videos and 2D scans, to capture the essence of the physical object. That being said, there really is no replacement for one-on-one interaction with the physical object that is allowed in the University of Iowa Special Collections. The models are by no means meant to replace the experience or act as a facsimile of the physical, but they are meant to augment and enhance the digital collection.

Why do the 3D models look the way they do? Why aren’t they perfect?

Fluxus art objects were created with the philosophy that the objects physical aesthetics were secondary to affordability and available space. They were meant to be valued “as is”, with a ‘here is the object, it’s beautiful in its own right, even if it is bits of rubber balloon’ mentality. The 3D renderings were created in a similar spirit. Very little fuss was involved in their creation, and great care was made to make the process space saving, and affordable.

With this mind set, sometimes, the scans do not represent the object as well as we would wish. 3D scanning is not, as yet, an exact science. Depending on the nature of the object, whether it be an organic shape, shiny, cavernous, complicated or odd (as is the wont of Fluxus objects), the scanning process varies. As a result, the programs used sometimes have difficulty rendering the objects and create imperfect reconstructions. However, we’ve tried to remain as true as we can to the object. We allow for imperfections that may occur within the physical object as well as those picked up during scanning. It is easy, when one is creating 3D models from scans or from scratch, to create ‘perfect’ or ‘pristine’ objects. But as we are trying to represent cultural heritage, which is very rarely unblemished, representing a ‘perfect’ 3D version does not seem appropriate.

As an experimental project for the University of Iowa Library and the Digital Studio for Public Humanities (DSPH), this process was also testing to see what the quality of the 3D models would be, the process involved, and the limitations and possibilities of using 3D modeling to capture the 3-dimensional cultural artifacts within the University of Iowa Library’s Special Collections. Now that we have an idea of the base requirements for 3D capture, it’s time to have some fun with it!

Click below to try out one of the 3D viewers using Flash.

Ay-O’s Fingerbox displayed using Flash

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Just figured it out…

I had no idea what this object could possibly be, but I think I just figured it out.

Kurzschlussobjeckt by Gabor Altorjay

Kurzschlussobjeckt by Gabor Altorjay

It’s obviously an early prototype for the external iPod speaker.

mini wooden speaker attached to ipod

mini wooden speaker from uncommongoods.com item# 21494

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My uncle had these!

An exclaimation from a collegue who was helping me with photography and image selection: “Is that a Fluxus object?” he asked. “My uncle had these glasses! We used to go in the basement to sneak a peak.” I chuckled.

woman in silver dress and pale blue gloves on outside of glass

Woman on outside of Eyeglass

Eyeglass backside; Nude woman in high heels and gloves

Looking through the keyhole

We were looking at the object known as the Eyeglass. It is a beverage glass with a woman dressed to the nines painted (?) on the, for lack of a better word, front of the glass. There is a cream band around the middle of the glass, leaving a lip at the top and the base the natrual clear glass. The figure is set inside a green oval that makes a frame, seperating her from her cream surroundings. On the opposite, or 180 degree rotation from the woman is a transparent area in the shape of a keyhole. With the glass full, one would not see much through this keyhole, but as one drinks the beverage, a little more of another figure would appear on the inside of the glass. With the beverage gone, there stood a revealed backside of the same lady who is so well dressed on the front. However, she is no longer dressed in her going out clothes. Actually, she is not dressed at all, only framed with a pale blue outline completely unaware that you could see a little more of her than she might have intended.

It is a scene right out of a nightmare, at least for me *shivers*. However, I can understand how the glass may appeal to a group of boys.

This anacdote also illustrates an integral idea of Fluxus. The art movement is composed of artists creating and frabricating from found objects. These are objects anyone would have access to in the right circumstances. Objects that many would have had in their homes, or found on the street. There is a Fluxgame in our collection that contains a massive dustball. Not to make any judgements, but I bet you would find one of those behind your sofa. Fluxus is all around us. It is what we make it. And who knows, one day, something of yours could make it into an archive.

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Which Riddle?

E.S.P. fluxkits, by James Riddle

E.S.P. fluxkits, by James Riddle

James Riddle, creator of the E.S.P. fluxkit, is represented in the collection by 4 E.S.P. fluxkits.
1) clear box; colored cards visible
2) clear box; colored cards visible
3) white box; contents not visible
4) box with white top, black bottom; contents not visible

Not physically identical, but conceptually, yes, the idea goes across the board. The directions (when available) state that one is to run one’s fingers lightly over the cards while blindfolded in an effort to distinguish the colors from one another. In attempting to give a digital sense of the physical collection here at the University of Iowa, Which Riddle gets scanned? I ask the boxes: who wants to go? I wait for them to speak. Nope. Nothing. This moment is E.S.P. free. I pay more mind to the containers for each box, which has the most identifying ephemera? Which has been most attentively labeled and wrapped?
Somewhere I read that they should contain 10 cards. Well, that’s not quite the reality. Two boxes contain 6 cards and instructions, one contains 9 cards, the last contains 13 cards PLUS instructions. And there we have it. I won’t presume to redistribute the cards evenly but I will give the best representation of the color spectrum Riddle wanted to pose in the E.S.P. fluxkits. Or was it the color spectrum he was really getting at?

Again we are posed with more questions than answers, but the collection only becomes more intriguing.

a portion of E.S.P. fluxkit, by James Riddle c. 1966

a portion of E.S.P. fluxkit, by James Riddle c. 1966