Le récit interactif, tables rondes, 6 décembre 2000 — ENSAD-ARi, labEi, CIREN
  Le récit interactif à l'École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs, Paris

Le récit interactif | Langage et écritures: Jacques MORIZOT, Jean-Pierre BALPE, Anne CAUQUELIN, Georges LEGRADY, François Soulages, Liliane TERRIER || Images et dispositifs: Jean-Louis BOISSIER, Grahame WEINBREN, Raymond BELLOUR, Anne-Marie DUGUET, Timothy MURRAY

Le récit interactif : Langage et écritures

Artiste, professeur, University
of California, Santa Barbara

Le site de Georges

Georges LEGRADY — L'installation d'une exposition — english text

Pockets full of memories
2001, Installation

A prototype of an installation to open at the Centre Pompidou April 4 to Sept 3, 2000 in conjunction with an installation by Jean Louis Boissier, titled Mémoire de crayon. The exhibition is organized by Boris Tissot, on the theme of the relations between objects and archive and memory. Des souvenirs pleins les poches is planned to exist in both the real space of the museum and the internet

The idea of the installation

The public contributes a digital image and description of an object they carry with them at the time of the exhibition.
The description is entered through a questionnaire
This data is stored in a database that grows during the life of the exhibition
The data is then organized by an algorithm that groups the objects according to proximity based on their descriptions
The algorithm is titled a " self-organizing map " and its function is to map out in a 2 dimensional space the relative closeness of each object to the group based on their properties
The spatially organized map is then projected on a large wall in the gallery space and can also be viewed on the internet.
The public can explore and view the data for each object and related objects through terminals placed in the exhibition space.
Audiences both in the exhibition and on the internet, can additionally contribute by adding comments and stories to the objects.
The archive of objects, in the end, also becomes a site for the collection and exchange of stories.

Ensba Prototype

For the Ensba ISEA exhibition we are presenting a prototype version which consists of the data collection and self-organizing map ouput on a plasma screen.
The prototype consists of a scanning station in which the object is digitally photographed and asks you to fill out an onscreen questionnaire using touchscreen technology.
Once the dat is complete, the self-organizing map positions the new object on screen amongst the rest.
We are interested in seeing how the audience will react to a work that transforms them from spectator to contributor.

Collaborative Work

The project is a collaborative work with teams across 3 different cities. Helsinki, Budapest and Stuttgart.
The self-organizing map is produced in Helsinki by Dr,Timo Honkela and his team from the medialab, University of Helsinki working in neural-net based algorithms.
Software and hardware production is done by Zoltan Szegedy-Maszak and Marton Fernezelyi, an artist and engineer team who work in interactive media but also are responsible for the research work at the c3 culture for communication, Budapest.
The visual identity and design of the exhibition is produced by Projektetriangle, Stuttgart.

Audience and other Cultural Aspects

The intent of the exhibition is to integrate the audience as participants and contributors.
The archive of objects becomes a representation of the community of visitors. The community leaves its mark through the archive, which functions as a cultural mirror.
The archiving of everyday, banal objects or personal objects functions as a form of linguistic play, an index of the everyday through objects or the play of organizations through the semiotics of objects to emphasize that structuring data is a form of narrative that could possibly result in a representation of collective agency.

Collaboration and Dispersion of Authorship

This interactive work is dependent on the participation of numerous individuals, work teams and the public.
This process shifts the definition of artistic author from individual author towards something we are more familiar with in cinematic and media productions.
There are multiple authors at micro and macro levels but in the end, authorship could still be defined in terms of a directed vision, where design of the structure and goals of the determining aspects of the work’s intentionality.

Self-Organizing Map by Tim Honkela

The Self-Organising Map (SOM, also called Kohonen map) algorithm is the basic method that is used to create the "wall of memories". The SOM organises the input items into an ordered display, a 2 dimensional map. On the map two items tend to appear close to each other if they have similar input features.

In this exhibition, the input features consist of some attributes and keywords. The attribute values and keywords are given by the exhibition visitor.

They are transformed into numerical form that can serve as inputs. The algorithm may start from a random state of the map. Through the process of iteratively (repeated recalculation) handling the inputs it reaches an ordered state.

The map consists of a collection of map nodes that can be thought as places on the map landscape. On the map, nearby nodes tend to have similar items.

Close to each there may be items that have been given similar attribute values, or items that have been named similarly. Thus, all the items with a particular keyword are not necessarily next to each other if the other features vary. Moreover, even if the visual qualities of an image are very similar, it may very well happen that two persons evaluate the item very differently based on their subjective point of view. There are also cases in which even the neighbors are rather far from each as there are occasionally dividing valleys and mountains ranges also in the natural landscapes.

The order of the final map is a consequence of all the inputs. The phenomenon is called emergence: the order is not determined beforehand. The order emerges through the audience contributions. The classification system is not specified by hand but it is created through the large number of local interactions on the map. This is why the system can be called 'self-organizing'. Metaphorically, similar items look for each other without any centralised command.

The principle of the SOM was developed originally by academician Teuvo Kohonen. The inspiration for this innovation has stemmed from the numerous neurophysiological studies in which it was shown that in the cortex of the brain similar kind of maps can be found.

Biography: George Legrady is Professor of Interactive Media at UC Santa Barbara. He has previously held appointments at the Merz Akademie, Stuttgart, San Francisco State University, University of Southern California, and the University of Western Ontario. His interactive installations have been exhibited internationally most recently at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Ars Electronica, DEAF03 and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He has received awards from Creative Capital Foundation, the Daniel Langlois Foundation for the Arts, Science and Technology, the Canada Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He has lectured internationally at over 70 institutions during the past ten years. George Legrady Studio provides the focus for his research and practice. Projects integrate interactive art installation, collaborative narrative development, data visualisation through semantic categorisation and self-organising algorithms. Emphasis is on a cultural and conceptual approach to aesthetics through the implementation of complex technologies for new forms of content and analysis.