the Ideological Picnic

The promotional image for Richie Cyngler, Ideological Picnic.

Richie Cyngler. The Ideological Picnic, 2015.

Electronics and free libre soft and hardware


The piece is comprised of an interactive touch interface for audio improvisation. The content is played via four individual audio streams which are randomly loaded and cached originally from online sources; mutable and mixable by the user. Samples within each of the four streams are thematically tied in some way.

Have an ideological picnic and experiment with the interface for yourself.


Touch the screen to activate

Experiment with the sliders and buttons to determine functions

Refine your soundscape



Listen… drift

Functionally this object is a Raspberry Pi 2 computer running a suitable Linux distribution, Pure Data Extended and The Ideological Picnic patch. Sound sources are all available online and are indexed and linked at

Richie Cyngler investigates the use of free libre technologies to make audio-visual interactive installation and performance objects. The Ideological Picnic is an exploration of soundscape remix in a personal interactive experience.

Interlemetry/ Intralemetry

What does this tool do? It is capable of facilitating meditation? Transformation?

Thanks to the work and voices of

Slavoj Zizek
Benjamen Walker
Astrid Taylor
Bell Hooks
William S Burroughs
Louise Bourgois
Gil Fronsdal
E Gabriella Coleman
Jaron Lanier



Blurry Pittonkatonk Banner

Chris Williams. Pittonkatonk Banner, May 2015.

PTC is a binaural audio recording of “Pittonkatonk“, a free brass band barbecue in Pittsburgh, PA (USA). PTC was inspired by a desire to be challenged. I wanted people of Melbourne to experience being present in Pittsburgh. The audio was taken live and later digitally processed. The various layers of sound encourage the listeners to feel being immersed in the crowd.

Of course, the audio doesn’t replace the physical experience of the festival. There isn’t the feel of people dancing. There isn’t the smell of beer and barbecue. However, the listeners personalize the audio by filling gaps with their own experience.

Who do you imagine is there with you?

In the recording, the featured bands are the May Day Marching Band, the PitchBlak Brass Band, and the What Cheer? Brigade.


Among many others, curator Marita Batna and I collaborated on the project “Steel City and the Land of Oz“. In that project, viewers in Pittsburgh, PA (USA) and Geelong, VIC (AUS) could simultaneously see each other’s city through two keyholes. For the people in Geelong, their keyhole viewed Pittsburgh from the top of one of Pittsburgh’s tallest buildings.

“Steel City and the Land of Oz” was visual. The next challenge pointed toward the auditory.

I took cues from the natural world. The flora and fauna of Pittsburgh are intimately specific to the city. How about the feeling of being in a forest in Pittsburgh? To hear the birds and wind through the trees. I wanted to capture the sense of the organic in one environment and transpose it to another.

Pittsburgh is a small and lively city. Once known for producing much of the world’s steel, Pittsburgh is now a leader in many technological industries, such as sustainability and robotics. Pittsburgh has also become more attractive to the movie industry. It was a primary filming location for the movie “The Dark Knight Rises”. The stadium in the movie is Heinz Field.

As the temperature rises, people discover more places and events of the city. I remembered that the people and events are also intimately specific to the city. The sounds of voices through the streets.

In a public park of Pittsburgh, there was a free, annual brass band barbecue called “Pittonkatonk“. At the event, an attendee is surrounded by laughter, clapping, stomping and, of course, music. It’s an immersive environment.

I replaced the environment of a forest with an environment of people attending an event in a forest. The sounds of birds and people through trees. How could I represent that experience? The method is a binaural recording.

Unlike stereo recordings, binaural recordings account for the shape of the human ears and how that affects the perception of sound. The result is an experience of being immersed acoustically in the environment. With headphones, the listener hears sounds in specific locations around the body.

Of course, an audio recording is inherently limited. It’s removed in both time and space. It simulates the acoustic dimensions of a past event in a particular place.

Because of the contribution of Pittonkatonk to Pittsburgh’s vibrant music community, the City of Pittsburgh declared May 2 to be “Pittonkatonk Day“.

I’m here to listen 2

Image from the work by Camille Robinson. I'm Here to Listen.

Camille Robinson. I’m Here to Listen, 2014

When any kind of communication technology is used – letters, telephones, email, etc. – there is the expectation that there will be a person to be at the other end of that communication listening to what we have to say, and that in turn our partner in communication will expect us to listen to them.

When we use communication technologies that give a sense of immediacy – telephones, Skype – we commit an act of trust in that technology and the network of which it forms a part, and submit to the belief that the person heard and/or seen is present, willing, and able to communicate with us in real time. We trust that the network will act as a faithful extension of the senses, and show us something genuine; and faithfully represent ourselves, and show us to others as we are. When I call you, and I hear and/or see you through the network, I believe that you are real, and that you will listen, and that you will believe I am too.

We give this trust even when so much of what is experienced in our lives through screens, speakers, and headphones, is a fabrication or simulation. I flip from a window playing a movie file, to a web browser, to an email client, to a game, to a video chat window, and I believe and expect that each will represent a particular form of reality or unreality, and tailor my perception and understanding, and my actions, to those beliefs and expectations. If we set these beliefs aside though, why should we trust what we see and here? Is anyone listening? If so, who?

I’m here to listen 2 interrogates the act of listening, its mediation by technology, and the acts of trust that lead us to listen and feel listened to when using communication networks. Through the situation it places listeners in and the structure of experience it creates, it endeavors to drawn them into reflection on the dual role of listener/speaker, the performance of listening, the sounds and gestures that signify it, and the trust placed in communication networks.

I’m here to listen 2 is my second piece to explore the act of listening in the context of networked communications, and is based on ideas developed through my PhD project Listening Art: making sonic artworks that critique listening.

Listening Art responded to a situation in the sonic arts, whereby artists tend to take for granted that how a listener listens to a sonic artwork affects what that listener perceives that sonic artwork to be. It sought to address this problem by making sonic artworks that took criticality of listening as their primary concern. Using an integration of schema theory and immanent critique, I structured sonic artworks around critical discourses on listening. Using an adaptation of the Heuristic research method, I determined whether those artworks fostered critical reflection on listening, through collection and appraisal of listeners’ descriptions of their experiences.

– Camille Robinson, May 2015



Travis Cox. Still from ELAINE's generated mosaic, 2014. Monitor.

Travis Cox. Still from ELAINE’s generated mosaic, 2014.

ELAINE perceives the world through only what she has experienced visually previously. She analyses what she sees through the camera for the dominant colour within her current view, learning to present that colour through storing that image for later use within her output. The output of the work consists of a mosaic image of her current view, the mosaic being made of images she has previously stored. If presented with colours she has yet to encounter she will replace that part of the image with the closest match that she has experienced.

This means that as visitors offer new experiences through their clothing, objects they hold or more purposeful engagement with the camera (presenting images from their phone, for example), they are adding to the ‘language’ that ELAINE has with which to express herself. The user’s image is recorded and leaves an indelible mark, assuming that is, that they have shown her something new. As these images are not forgotten or overwritten, this also means that earlier in her life she has a larger capacity for learning new things. First engagement with a new colour will forever be associated with that moment and that image will replay again every time she comes back into contact with that particular colour.

ELAINE consists of an objective codebase that defines how she computes; stores and displays information, however the final output is subjectively based on the experiences that the users input to the work through the camera. Not just from the experiences offered through giving of new images to display but also in offering their actions and presence to the camera to be presented through the mosaic in real time.

Every time ELAINE is started she is a new entity, coloured by the space and experiences of her context. As she progresses with her life she matures, but her memories of past experiences, especially her first day, will colour her perceptions for life. ELAINE is born of her context, and while she exists, is a barometer of moments within history of the space she inhabits and the people she has met.

For Telematic Café, two clones of ELAINE will exist at the same time with each copy’s eyes existing away from her body. Images captured by ELAINE at George Paton Gallery will be offered for interpretation to the ELAINE located at the Victorian College of the Arts Digital Hub and vice versa. This means that the mosaic created in each place by ELAINE will be a reflection of the experiences of the other entity.

ELAINE was created by artist and researcher Travis Cox and is part of a series of works exploring the underlying systems of meaning production within computer artworks. More of his works can be seen at and

Welcome to Telematic Cafe

Dear friends,

Telematic Café (TC) is going to open and operate at George Paton Gallery from 13 May though to 29 May. Situated in the heart of the University of Melbourne it will welcome visitors into its relaxed warm space, where the coffee will be available for free.

What can you expect from TC?  It is a discursive environment aimed at considering communication networks and will enable critical and creative experiences of communication in the network space. Works by Camille Robinson, Travis Cox, Tara Elizabeth Cook, Richie Cyngler and USA-based Chris Williams will resonate as unique ‘telematic communication models’ and you need to find out for yourself what they are about. Teaser images for some of these models are posted here.

Integrated in the Telematic Café will also be blogging and live-tweeting (#telematiccafe).

Travis Cox. Still from ELAINE's generated mosaic, 2014. Monitor.

Travis Cox. Still from ELAINE’s generated mosaic, 2014.

The work by Travis Cox – ELAINE (Encapsulated Learning Algorithm Interpreting New Experiences) will create a dynamic framework of exchange between VCA and Parkville by being located at VCA Digital Hub Foyer and the George Paton Gallery.

The promotional image for Richie Cyngler, Ideological Picnic.

Richie Cyngler. Ideological Picnic, 2015.



Image from the work by Camille Robinson. I'm Here to Listen.

Camille Robinson. I’m Here to Listen II, 2014



Venue: George Paton Gallery, University of Melbourne Union House (2nd level), Parkville  +  VCA Digital Hub Foyer
Time: 11am-5pm Monday to Friday
Dates: 13 – 29 May
For more information contact curator Marita Batna,, 0425 326 728

Disable access (via elevator). Seating provided.

Telematic Café is partnering with George Paton Gallery and the University of Melbourne Student Union Creative Arts Department.

The artists involved in Telematic Embrace—Café acknowledge the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which this work was developed and is presented on. We pay our respect to their elders past and present.