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Living Data

Research/
Track changes

Disclaimers, Copyrights and Citations

Introduction/ Index 2015 2016 2017 2018
(In progress)

What role does gesture play in growing and sharing knowledge?

Track Changes is independent research facilitated through the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) with supervision from Professor William Gladstone,Head of the School of Life Sciences. The research builds on the PhD study, Antarctic Animation: Gestures and lines describe a changing environment (UNSW 2010)that identified gestures as essential components of accurate communication.

Outcomes include interactive exhibits and performances in public spaces and online, as well as at art and science conferences and meetings. Events include the 2016-17 Eramboo and Manly Art Gallery and Museum Kur-ring-gai Ph art-science programs, Sydney, and the 2018 International Conference on Assessing Status and Trends of Habitats, Key Species and Ecosystems in the Southern Ocean, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. Online presentations on this site are available for other publications in accordance with our Disclaimers, Copyrights and Citationsguidelines.


Left: Jason Benedek and Lisa Roberts in the UTS Data Arena. Photo: William Gladstone
Right: Jason motion-captures Lisa's improvised seagrass movement. Photo: Jason Benedek
Below: William Gladstone video records the motion capture process. Music: Robbie Long

 

This report reflects interactions between scientists, artists, and specialists in other fields, and how their gestures may reflect expanded understanding through their interactions. Methods and outcomes are freely shared with permission from participants. See Disclaimers, Copyrights and Citations. For more information please contact me, Lisa Roberts.

 

I begin by visualising the interactive process that I use, guided by Dr Shawn Wilson,to combine Indigenous, Biological and Mechanistic views. This is followed by experiments in visualising gestures used by scientists and artists to convey their understanding of connectivity in the natural world. Experiments will be designed to identify in these, and other experiments, relationships between gestures and their intended meanings. Do the gestures convey more that their intended meanings? Do gestures change through increased interactions between the research participants?

 

What does sharing and growing knowledge look like?

Dr Shawn Wilsonis an Indigenous Canadian scholar and story teller. He asks, "What does sharing and growing Indigenous knowledge look like?" He explains this process in an Email and asks if I can create visual material to more fully engage his audiences. After a long phone conversation I read the digital presentation file he sends, that includes words spiralling out from the centre of a screen. Two things stand out from our conversation. Firstly, that knowledge itself has agency through art and science. Secondly, that the context in which knowledge reaches us is a vital component in fully understanding. I interpret this to mean that knowledge is embodied in the land and ocean, and all the living things (including us) that these sustain, and that context is direct experience that provides pre-verbal depths of meaning (that inspire art and science). I get a sense of movement from Shawn's written words, and their spatial arrangement on the screen. I read and reflect on the words many times and then animate my sense of that movement of words and their meanings. The animation reflects my interactions with Shawn, my sense of what his words convey, of knowledge growing through relationships between us and other entities. I used Adobe Flash animation software and a Wacom drawing tablet and stylus to create it. As I write these lines I see my relationship with Shawn within the context of Track Changes research, and our research paths expanding as they cross-fertilise.

Tuesday 12 January 2016. Newtown, Sydney
Growing and sharing knowledge
Concept: Dr Shawn Wilson
Animation: Lisa Roberts

 

 

Dr Andrew Davidson is a marine microbial ecologist and world expert on phytoplankton. From his office at the Australian Antarctic Division he explains how "phytoplankton participate in all the processes that set our planetary chemistry and keep our ecology running". What do gestures add to his story?

Friday 14 August 2015. Kingston, Tasmania
Scientist: Andrew Davidson
Artist: Lisa Roberts
Recording: Lisa Roberts

TRANSCRIPT

Australian Antarctic Division
14 August 2015

Andrew Davidson explains:

So... the organisms I work with are... they have a value in their own right...
they are... as individuals they... can do some extraordinary things...
but really the most important roles they play are...
are when they are involved in... linking processes...
so... the contribution that they make to...
trophic levels...
you start off with small stuff that get eaten... by bigger stuff...
that transfers all the way through... to whales and seals and penguins...
and that sort of thing...
that goes from... from phytoplankton to... particulate matter...
that sinks out of the water...
it produces...
things like dimethyl sulphide...
which are a gas that goes into the atmosphere...
and forms clouds...
really the importance of these organisms...
they're beautiful in their own right...
as you know...
I'm sure you've seen some of them...
their primary importance is in fact...
in the way in which they participate...
in all the processes...
that actually set...
our planetary chemistry... and...
keep our ecology running...
and all those sorts of things...

Dr Andrew Davidson,Australian Antarctic Division, 2015

 

Gestures of hands and eyes are hand-trace with a stilus on a Wacom drawing tablet, and using Adobe Flash animation software.

Wednesday 23 December 2015. Newtown, Sydney
Gestures: Andrew Davidson
Tracing/animation: Lisa Roberts

 

 

 

What do gestures convey?

Research on non-verbal communication indicates that human interaction is grounded in subtle but powerful physical behaviours, some of which are so subtle that they can only be perceived in very painstaking, frame-by-frame analysis of films. Yet all of us are able to perceive these physical signs intuitively, in that they create the complex felt sense we have of another person. A shift in relationship may not be seen but it will be felt, either positively or negatively.

Carol-Lynne Moore (1982)

Hand-traced digital drawings are made to objectively record gestures. Drawings are made with pencil on paper as subjective responses to the gestures and can serve as a form of active listening.

What do gestures tell us? How can we identify differences between the original and drawn gestures? What gestures are embodied in drawn responses? In 1928 by Rudolf Laban, the Hungarian teacher and movement researcher, invented a notation system (Labanotation) to quantify a body's use of time, space and energy (Moore. 1982.p.34). Laban's pioneering work has led to greater clarity in language used to describe movement, and for archiving choreographies for future generations. His methods are also used to identify congruence between our words and gestures. Movement analysis can be used to identify tension between the scientific and artistic aspects of our human nature (cognitive dissonance).

To be continued ...