A Sound and Video Interactive Environment
Can voices be used to represent a portrait of a century of the history of a city?
Can sound create something similar to an infographic?
The art & science installation by Roberto Paci Dalò explores the capacity of sounds to represent data as an "infosonic", by creating an immersive environment where visitors can physically enter inside data about history, geography, multilinguism and multiculturality of Trieste.
The experience: what we hear, what we see
In a semi-dark large room, a video maps revolving trajectories on the floor, made of geometrical b&w shapes, points, lines, moving cartographies. When visitors enter the space, they find themselves surrounded by tiny sounds coming from many small audio speakers. A sound forest, a multichannel and spatial composition made out of 3 groups of sounds: philosopher Hannah Arendt's voice, acoustical musical instruments, electronic sounds.
At the centre of this space they can discover a small building: a three-dimensional model that, equipped with sensors (proximity, light, etc.), that can activate sounds from a database; the database gives access to the voices of those who inhabited Trieste from the beginning of 20th century and it allows to reveal a temporal sound stratification
Visitors themselves can activate sounds through these sensors by becoming 'soloists' of this imaginary orchestra. This is a generative audio and visual environment led through Max/MSP language; this means that images and sounds change all the time. Every visit to the installation is a new sensorial experience.
Reference to Hannah Arendt
The voice of Hannah Arendt is the audio matrix underlining the work. Her works are transformed into sonic materials and samples. Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) is a Jewish German-American philosopher and political theorist, an independent thinker focussing on totalitarianism, evil, power, democracy and plurality. The interactive environment is split into three thematic areas that refer to the three key concepts enunciated by Arendt in her book The Human Condition: labor, work, action. Innovation and research From a scientific point of view the project is one of the first attempts to create an “infosonic”. Similar to an infographic which visually represents data, this “infosonic” represent data through sound, in a sort of Data Auralization.
The work HA is a transceiver station that receives and sends signals. For the entire period of the exhibition, daily for 30 minutes, the content of the work is transmitted via radio stream (through the radio station “Usmaradio”). Later on ORF Kunstradio - radiokunst (National Austrian Radio) will broadcast a one hour programme based on the work.
One live performance will connect the artist in Trieste with artists from all the BothWays network.
created in Trieste are streamed live and can be heard globally, allowing further interaction with worldwide listeners.
H? means in Hawaiian breath and life. The same word in Mandarin means sound of laughter (? character, onomatopoeic) and also exhale. The work is nourished by a positive approach to wealth, potential and the need for multiculturalism and memory.
This work has been initially developed in 2018 in collaboration with SciArt (a project joining art and science to support EU policy making) at the JRC Joint Research Centre - European Commission in Ispra (Italy). The collaboration with the European Commission engineer and philosopher Nicole Dewandre played a key role in its development leading to an investigation about Hannah Arendt's text (The Human Condition).
During one year, Roberto Paci Dalò has been working in collaboration with scientists at laboratories and the Centers for Advanced Studies of the JRC on topics such as Computational Linguistics and Natural Language Processing, Text Mining, Demolinguistics. Here he began scanning migratory flows, demographies, use of words in social media, multilingualism by crossing data to get an image of the places chosen as case studies.
Thanks to the JRC for this precious and unique opportunity.
Scientific counseling and collaborations at JRC Ispra
• Nicole Dewandre - Advisor for Corporate Issues, Digital Single Market Strategy, Joint Research Center, European Commission. Policy Fellow Alum, Center for Science and Policy. Investigation throughout Hannah Arendt’s texts and concepts.
• Alexandra Balahur - Scientific Project Officer at the European Commission, Joint Research Center. Member of the Europe Media Monitor team of the Text and Data Mining Unit, Directorate I, at JRC.
• Daniela Ghio - Project Scientific Senior Expert in the Demography and Migration at European Commission. Background in consolidating procedures and implementing innovative approaches which includes data-sharing and dissemination tools of analysis, to strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of policy decision making.
• Emilia Gómez-Gutierrez is researcher at the JRC interested in the impact of artificial intelligence in general (and machine learning in particular) in human behavior (cognitive capabilities and decision making). She is the Lead Scientist of the HUMAINT project (HUman Behavior and MAchine INTelligence in the Digital Transformation) at the Center for Advanced Studies of the JRC. • Ralf Steinberger is a senior scientist at the Competence Center for Text Mining and Analysis at the JRC in Ispra, Italy. He is a computational linguist with specialisation in multilingual and cross-lingual text analysis applications. As part of the Text and Data Mining Unit, he contributes to the development of the Europe Media Monitor (EMM) family of news analysis applications, including NewsExplorer.
Radio Arendt Parts of HA have been developed during 2019 through the Radio Arendt workshop as well. A 2- day workshop led by Roberto Paci Dalò and Nicole Dewandre around Hannah Arendt, radio, sound, voice presented in Barcelona, Sarajevo and Trieste. The workshops created field radio temporary studios from where live radio performances involving all participants have been streamed on Usmaradio.
Roberto Paci Dalò is an italian director, author, visual and sound artist, composer, musician involved in Media Art since the 80s. He is the recipient of a number of awards including the Premio Napoli per la lingua e cultura italiana, Berliner Künstlerprogramm dess DAAD Fellowshio, Ars Electronica nominations in Interactive art;; among his exhibitions Long NIght Talks (Tonspur-MQ MuseumsQuartier Wien and Ars Electronica Festival), Ye Shanghai (Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa Venezia and MAO Museo d’Arte Orientale Torino). He co-founded and leads the group Giardini Pensili. Professor of Interaction Design at Unirsm where he created Usmaradio. His latest book is Ombre (Quodlibet, 2019). robertopacidalo.com Partners include: Giardini Pensili Università degli Studi della Repubblica di San Marino Unirsm Design The School of Radio JRC Joint Research Centre - European Commission ORF Kunstradio Vienna Usmaradio
Roberto Paci Dalò – concept, sounds, images
Paolo Petrangolini – interactive systems programming
Envisaging EU's future with Hannah Arendt: Taking plurality seriously!
A recent critical metaphor analysis of EU strategic policy documents of the period ranging from 1985 until 2014, has brought to light an oddity in the manner through which the European Commission speaks of businesses –which are functional entities- as if they were sensitive beings, but of people –which are sensitive beings- as if they were functional entities. In the words of EU policymakers over these three decades, businesses have to be “encouraged” and “supported”. Meanwhile, people as mere [human] resources are expected to “acquire skills”, “adapt” and “be flexible”. This oddity which we call sensitive inversion, is the conceptual trick that has enabled the environment in which it made sense to prioritize business needs over people's needs, and this, in the name of growth, competitiveness and –ultimately- jobs. Indeed, this prioritization of business needs over people's needs does not simply flow from the application of a supposedly sound economic knowledge. This economic knowledge can only make sense for human minds when associated with conceptual frameworks that are so entrenched that we don't even notice them anymore. Furthermore, scientific knowledge in general and economic knowledge, in particular, do not make sense on their own grounds, but only because they are implicitly supported by framing assumptions. This is what led Mary Midgley to compare philosophy with … plumbing! Like plumbing, philosophy can be ignored (and left to specialists) when the conceptual frameworks are fit for purpose. When they are defective, breaking open walls and floors becomes a requirement…
These are the moments when these conceptual frameworks are revealed and nobody can ignore their presence and importance any longer. Hannah Arendt has grasped the shortcomings of the Modern Age as far as their impact on the Vita Activa is concerned. Among the three fundamental types of activity that she conceptualizes in The Human Condition –labor, work and action-, modern rational subjects are left with labor, processes and necessity, without any means to recognize mentally, i.e. to imagine –and consequently to experience- action in their lives. It is as if Modernity, as a conceptual framing more than as a concrete matter of fact, was preventing us from conceptualizing and visualizing action as being part of our XXI century's Vita Activa. With Hannah Arendt, we can change our mental lenses and drop the deceptive utopia of a big coherent continental political actor. Instead, Arendt provides the conceptual toolbox that makes the EU such an interesting and valuable political endeavour.
These Arendtian mental lenses unlock the imagination for envisioning the EU as the –indeed fragile- experimentation of what politics is about in a globalized and hyperconnected era. How can this be done? In The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt offers another conceptualisation of humanness and of relations. According to Arendt, humans are not these uncompromising disembodied rational subjects, standing alone in front of inert others considered as means to be enrolled or exploited to reach his own objectives. Moreover, freedom is not considered as absence of constraints and/or matter of will or choice. Arendt's ternary distinction between labor, work and action is grounded in a three-fold characterisation of humanness, as (i) living ("the human condition of labor is life"), (ii) worldly ("the human condition of work is worldliness") and (iii) plural ("action […] corresponds to the human condition of plurality").
A human being, representing himself or herself through Arendt's conceptualization of the human condition, i.e. as living, worldly and plural, is, what I call, a relational self. S/he is aware that both his or her survival and his or her freedom depend on his or her relationship with others. Besides the 3-D conceptualisation of humanness, Arendt's ternary distinction among labor, work and action allows distinguishing three types of others, and, consequently three modes of relations. When working, the self relates to an other, which is an object –even if this other-as-an-object happens to be a human being. Arendt characterizes the remit of work as being pervaded by instrumentality and means-to-end logic. When acting, the self relates to an other, who is a plural peer or another self.
This is essentially the mode of relation opening up to the experience of freedom and a mode which is, in Arendt's terms, inherently political. When labouring, the self is totally drained by the necessity of survival and s/he depends on an other, which is his or her environment, and for the privileged class- on "servants" helping them to dedicate less time to their own survival. This conceptualization of the human condition, as proposed by Hannah Arendt, allows coming to terms with the sensitive inversion. Indeed, Arendt's conceptualization of humans as relational selves is also applicable to businesses and Member States, alike. Relational selves are political agents, (i) conscious of their survival needs, (ii) able to improve their living conditions by making artefacts (material or institutional) and (iii) embracing their plurality, i.e. eager to act with their peers and reveal their identity through action. With that in mind, economics, i.e. the efficient organisation for satisfying basic needs of an increasing number of human beings, stops colonizing the public realm, which can be seen instead as the agora where political agents act their respective pluralities, as humans, as businesses, or as Member States.
– Nicole Dewandre