Infinite Eddies: An Elegy

A series of GenAI images of a man and a woman

A short essay on the genesis of Infinite Eddies, a Twine Elegy, co-created with Midjourney GenAI, written for The Future of Writing 2023 Exhibition, created for The Future of Writing Symposium, The Humanities and Critical Code Studies Lab (May 1, 2023).

 Infinite Eddies (2023) explores the affective dimension of Midjourney’s generative AI mediating one source photograph of my father and myself through multiple variations. Prompts recontextualize our mediated image in other places, times, storyworlds, and visual aesthetics, yet across the set the configuration of our bodies, our expressions, remain constants.

I see this manifest recurrence as an affective element in the visual evocation of a relationship, expressed in myriad variations and mutations of proximity and arrangement. Playing with prompts to influence the computational temperature of output images, this recurrent, mutable element troubles Benjamin’s formulation of the aura of the original work of art, conjuring instead an aura of affect in social relation and physical configuration, which manifests across an expanding set of images, often simulating photographs, yet which themselves lack the authenticity of the original photograph.

The aggregate effect is of eddies or ripples around the source photo, the unseen pebble dropped in a virtual pool. The spectrum of centripetal elements and patterns and centrifugal outliers open questions as to the extent of the data set determining the temperature of generated images, the parameters defining alignment (Christian) in the “magecraft of prompting” manifest in a spectrum of results from “Maximum Obedience” to “Maximum Surprise” (Kelly).

This is a short first version of a longer essay currently underway.

Brian Christian (2020). The Alignment Problem: Machine Learning and Human Values

Kevin Kelley (2022). Picture Limitless Creativity at Your Fingertips. Wired. Nov. 17.

Hidden Histories: Labour to Lofts! First talk at MixtuRealities Conference!

Siobhan O'Flynn, Hidden Histories Labour to Lofts talk

I was delighted to kick-off MixtuRealities Conference at University of Toronto Mississauga, yesterday, sharing a short history of the Hidden Histories project and details of the just launched, Hidden Histories: Labour to Lofts, 2019.

Key points of insight moving forward are that the questions asked by those working cultural heritage are concerned with issues of access, audience, and sustainability. So questions of creating digital projects that are easily accessible via mobile platforms, that speak to a broader and younger audience of mobile users, and that can be supported by longer-term funding to update and renew, given rapid cycles of OS updates, and platform and device obsolescence.

The Hidden Histories uncovered in Labour to Lofts contribute to Toronto’s intangible cultural heritage by sharing short histories of the impact of key factories in the urban and community development of the city through the 19th and 20th centuries. Many of these buildings are now converted high-end condos, with listing prices far beyond the income of the employees who once worked in these buildings

Intangible cultural heritage, as UNESCO has defined it, is community-based, including living expressions of ” oral traditionsperforming artssocial practices, rituals, festive eventsknowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.”

Safeguarding intangible cultural heritage is distinct from ‘preservation’ as this practice is actively connected by UNESCO to sustainable development. Culture, thus looks forward, as a future-oriented domain of knowledge, to borrow from Arjun Appadurai’s “The Capacity to Aspire.” A cornerstone of this series of projects is to contribute to a more detailed understanding of both the individual histories of buildings and the historical forces that have shaped our city today.

Hidden Histories: #3 will examine a new set of topics via Esri Story Maps, including a look back via historical GIS to the Rivers and Routes that shaped Toronto, and the development of the East Harbour, now the site of Sidewalk Toronto’s Quayside development proposal.

Thank you Slavica Ceperkovic for the photo!

Heritage Award for Kensington Market: Hidden Histories Students!

Student researchers for Kensington Market: Hidden Histories augmented reality app recognized with Lieutenant Governer’s Youth Achievement Ontario Heritage Award

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Canadian Studies students received a Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Youth Achievement, presented by the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario (second from right) and Harvey McCue, Chair of the Ontario Heritage Trust (far right).(Ian Crysler, courtesy of the Ontario Heritage Trust)

My UoT students received the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Youth Achievement from the Ontario Heritage Trust 2017!

I was absolutely delighted & honoured to attend the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award Ceremony at Queen’s Park, Feb. 23, 2017, where students from my Canadian Studies course were given the award by Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell and Ontario Heritage Trust chair Harvey McCue.

The story is now featured on the UoT Faculty of Arts & Science homepage. A few excerpts from Sean Bettam’s article:

“The Kensington Market: Hidden Histories app, which guides users through a dynamic tour of 12 locations in Toronto’s historic Kensington Market and brings to life the layers of stories embedded in the area, was made possible by students in University College’s Digital Tools in a Canadian Context course. A companion online interactive map archives histories of a total of 32 locations.”

“Receiving this award felt like it wasn’t just recognizing us students, but also the sites and locations in Kensington Market featured in our project,” said fourth-year student Arabhi Ratnajothy. “It is a reminder that so much of this city was built by immigrants who engrained themselves and their stories into the paths walked by today’s generations. We move towards the future by remembering the past.”

“Being selected for this award is such a terrific boost and affirmation for each of the students,” said course instructor Siobhan O’Flynn. “Having the opportunity to work on a project, be engaged in original research and contribute to the safeguarding of our city’s intangible cultural heritage as undergraduates is remarkable.”

“Throughout my years in the Canadian Studies program, I was always impressed by the fascinating research projects we were able to take part in with some amazing professors,” said recent graduate Nicole Paroyan. “I am so glad that a project spearheaded by Professor O’Flynn was recognized this way. None of this would have been possible without her.”

The Future of Storytelling, 2017 Digital Dialogue Conference Panel, OMDC

Terrific panel discussion with Nigel Newton, David Caron, Joanne Loton, and David Brady.  Our conference host was the always insightful, Professor Ramona Pringle.

Published on Feb 23, 2017

Panel: The Future of Storytelling

Moderator:
Nigel Newton, Director (Canada), INDE Experience Engineering

Panel:
»» David Brady, CEO, Cream Productions
»» David Caron, Co-publisher and President, ECW Press
»» Joanne Loton, Co-Founder & Executive Producer, Sesqui
»» Dr. Siobhan O’Flynn, Founder, NarrativeNow