Tagged: Composition

Anglerfish, Candy Crush and Ultrasonic Sensors 05062015

I’ve been assembling a new version of the circuit I completed last term. With Ed’s help, I’m trying to attach a much larger light source to the Ultrasonic sensor. I’ve had to start using transistors to amplify the current for more LEDs. Alongside this, I’ve also had to add an external power supply. Unfortunately I think the one HC-SR04 sensor I own has broken! So I’ve had to order another, which won’t arrive till next week…. So this is on the shelf till it arrives.

  I’ve been thinking about the interim show and what I hope to exhibit. If all goes to plan, I aim to use this circuit with a canvas. Instead of laser cutting an image into board, placing it on top of a square of LEDs, and covering it with a thin white material, (Sheets, paper, etc). I’m going to create my composition on the back of a canvas using duct tape. The duct tape will block the light from coming through the canvas, and the image will be displayed.

My recent post (Followers 03063015) as well as previous experiments with similar multiples of imagery, are examples of the sort of composition I hope to use. The Ultrasonic circuit runs on the idea of false discoveries, believing that your the first to find something, like a piece of information. The experience originally aimed to replicate finding something with a torch or head torch in a dark environment. It aims to mimic the way we interact with consumer technology, in terms of us having to activate its use. There are a few questionable elements to this idea, most importantly the word FUNCTION in artwork. Instead of simply being a reactive gimmick, this element aims to question the necessity of consumer technology’s reaction to the user. Given the intimate and personal nature of smartphones, smart watches, laptops and tablets, the simple, easy to use interfaces give a false perception of connection. Obviously my iPhone works no differently to anyone else’s (other than maybe the cracked screen thats been there for far too long), but still, I feel an intimate connection to it as it stores and gives access to my sensitive information, calendar, social media profiles, contacts, emails, even books and articles. This reliance on the interface, particularly touch screen technology, is fluent in our society and will only grow as we find more uses, or indeed a more advanced interface. (Look at Google’s Soli Project). Alongside this idea of discovery, I’m interest in looking at temptation and addiction.

The AppleWatch, another piece of consumer tech that the naysayers couldn’t find any use for, but since its release, has been particularly successful. One of the most interesting and questionable of its uses is online betting. Late night TV is riddled with adverts for betting apps. All of these sell their product on the fact that its too easy to use, you can bet wherever you like, and in any way you like, be it slots / roulette / black jack / football / boxing etc. The AppleWatch is no different, and as it interacts with the apps on your phone, these betting options take themselves to a new level of accessibility. There is no longer any need to get your phone out of your pocket to place a bet on the football game your watching in the pub. Mix this fact with a few too many drinks, and you have a dangerous interface upgrade for gambling addicts. This idea of digitally enhanced addiction I find very interesting indeed. Can you be addicted to social media? the news? even the weather? (addiction to the weather is obviously absurd, but the desire for constant live updates of any kind is the point of all this). Is there potential for media addiction in this way? and what role does the interface play in this question?

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Can this addiction relate to our bodies? The AppleWatch uses a new type of sensing technology to detect our heart rate and activity levels. This is not a new piece of tech, its just a new way of doing it. I believe they shine a light from the bottom of the watch, onto your wrist, and this somehow detects your blood movement. Health apps and health tech is rising fast as an industry. At the moment, there’s a very serious strain on the NHS, both in the hospitals and GPs. If this sort of technology could count our red blood cells, white blood cells, oxygen intake and every other necessary parameter to understand how healthy we are, could this help the NHS focus their efforts on the people who truly need care. This sort of technology would free up time for doctors and nurses, as they themselves wouldn’t need to take the tests. If we were given this technology, could we become obsessed, even addicted to monitoring our own health? There are many health addicts and gym monkeys around, but what if the first thing you checked in the morning were the parameters of your own body? This is a necessity for people with Diabetes and other serious illness, but if the technology was available, and had an easy interface, why wouldn’t this translate itself to the general, healthy public?

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Android-Xray-Body-Scanner mobile-health-apps

Again, this is a post with a lot of ifs and buts, and unanswerable questions, but there’s no doubt that they are both relevant and interesting to consider.

I’m trying to drive the idea of this Ultrasonic Circuit in the direction of consumer interfaces absorbing the user. This can be both for good and bad reasons. On one side, absorbing the user can benefit the creators (Betting apps, targeted marketing) or on the other it can benefit, not only you, but also the community (Disaster warnings, health advice, large-scale events.) Either way, like a moth to flame, we react to the interface’s perceived awareness. On the negative side of this, I like the idea of comparing it to Anglerfish, the deep sea creatures that use lights to attract their prey, or even the Sirens, who attract men to sail too close to the rocks by the sounds of their voices. This is best known from The Odyssey, yet, Odysseus (or Ulysses) cleverly warned his men and told them to put cotton wool in their ears to stop them from being distracted. In the end, i guess this post has come down to the ideas of discovery, temptation, addiction, their roles in consumer electronics and our role as the user to be aware of both the dangers and the benefits of an increasing reliance on personal, transportable interfaces.

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The Siren, Edward Armitage, 1888

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Ulysses and the Sirens, John William Waterhouse, 1891

An interesting point to end on is Candy Crush. A record breaking app thats played by 93 million players a day started by a company thats now $7.1 billion. Its simple game, heart-warming colours, candy and sounds are a temptation, and unfortunately the nature of the game itself is addictive. It benefits the creators and the users but still is there something a little odd about its popularity?

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These are a few extracts from an article written by Dana Smith, a Psychology Graduate and Science Writer at The Guardian, April 1st 2014:

This is what Candy Crush Saga does to your brain

LINK: http://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2014/apr/01/candy-crush-saga-app-brain

First off, it’s simple. The premise of Candy Crush is basic enough for a preschooler – just match three candies of the same colour. Initially, the game allows us to win and pass levels with ease, giving a strong sense of satisfaction. These accomplishments are experienced as mini rewards in our brains, releasing the neurochemical dopamine and tapping into the same neuro-circuitry involved in addiction, reinforcing our actions. Despite its reputation as a pleasure chemical, dopamine also plays a crucial role in learning, cementing our behaviours and training us to continue performing them.”

“Steve Sharman, a PhD student in psychology at the University of Cambridge researching gambling addiction, explains that the impression that we are in control of a game is key to its addictive nature and is vital when playing a slot machine, for example. “The illusion of control is a crucial element in the maintenance of gambling addiction … [as it] instills a feeling of skill or control,” he says. “There are a number of in-game features [such as the boosters in Candy Crush] that allow players to believe they are affecting the outcome of the game, and in some cases they are, but those instances are rare.”

“Another feature of the game that strongly affects how we respond is the limit on how much we can play at any given time. Candy Crush effectively puts you into “time out” after five losses. This means you can never be completely satiated when playing and always leaves you wanting more. And by not letting you play, the game actually becomes even more rewarding when you are let back into Candyland. This is also how Candy Crush makes its money, letting you buy back into the game if you’re willing to purchase extra lives.

Researchers from Harvard and the University of British Columbia have demonstrated this effect, called hedonic adaptation, in a study using real-life candy bars. Participants were divided into two groups: one was told to abstain from eating chocolate for a week, while the other was given pounds of the stuff and told to go wild. After one week, the participants were brought back into the lab and given a piece of chocolate to savour.

The results? Those who had been deprived rated the chocolate as significantly more pleasurable than those who had been able to eat it freely. So it seems the deprivation makes the reward that much sweeter in the end.

Finally, it is no coincidence that the game is played with pieces of candy. As Sharman points out, food is often used in gambling games (think of the infamous fruit machine), tying our happy associations and the pleasure we derive from eating into the game. King acknowledges that candy’s positive associations help make the game more fun and relaxing.”

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Another interesting aspect of Candy Crush, you gain lives if you manage to invite friends to the game…..

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If you search Candy Crush addiction online, it comes across as a genuine thing, although its mostly people pretending their addicted, and joking about it…. are they joking?

How long do some of these 93 million people play Candy Crush a day? and what happens if they get it on their AppleWatch?….

In 2013 I was an avid Candy Crusher, I can happily say that I’ve gone well over a year without playing, and I have no intention of looking back… Hallelujah

05012015 – A Walk Online SKETCH

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My moped broke down last night on the way back from the studio. I was forced to wait in McDonalds on the Holloway Road for over 2 hours for a recovery man to arrive. Luckily, I had my laptop and thought I’d play around with an image I’d made towards the end of the year on DAZ Studio.

Its just a sketch, however, the almost computerised, virtual setting, i feel, (especially the impression of buildings or trees,) is something I’ve been striving towards.

As for the figures, I hope to transfer their Sim-esque aesthetic into a more weighty, hand-drawn finish. The clothing, hair, and facial expressions of the figures are also something I feel I would have more control over with a pencil or a brush. Seeing as the man’s currently wearing swimming trunks, and the woman, a bra and shorts…… there’s clearly work to be done.

This avatar aesthetic echoes gaming, which in turn makes me think of the impact a virtual being in a virtual world can have on the users reality. The thought of going for a walk online with your partner came to mind when creating this. I’ve been interested in the possibilities of Virtual Realities, and recently I’ve been particularly interested how it could affect friendships and relationships. We are all aware of how Skype and Whats-app have changed the way we communicate… surely virtual reality is the next step.

As for DAZ, Its definitely a good way to control the figure, much less expensive than hiring a life model, much easier than having to digitally model your own person and you have entire control over the pose and angle. It’s FREE! so Boom, I will use it again.

Propaganda: Power and Persuasion.

These are examples of Propaganda imagery from David Welch’s book ‘Propaganda: Power and Persuasion’. I’m interested in how the combination of text and imagery has such a profound effect on its viewer. Unfortunately due to the nature of the subjects, many of these posters and prints were made under dyer conditions such as war, disease or within a troubled state.

Although it hasn’t been visual propaganda’s only use, it’s most notable effect has been realised by authoritarian and dictatorial states provoking the masses with their political agenda. Alongside this, there are posters damming the effects of alcohol, and even one, which is my favourite, that encourages parents to swat flies, in order to stop them from killing their children…

I’m interested in the impression this imagery has had on it’s audience. The subjects of these prints are usually embedded in the daily lives of it’s viewers, and therefore enhances their opinions on the subjects, be them positive or negative. A constant flow of this imagery is particularly impressionable, and in some cases, has inspired atrocities and even racism amongst it’s viewers.

There are a number of modern examples of this persuasive technique, mostly found online, and currently very prevalent in the UK media, due to the Islamic State. The word propaganda is thought of mostly for it’s use in politics, and therefore it doesn’t entirely coincide with my own interest. I’m more focused on it’s power to promote an idea to an audience and in turn it’s ability to mould an identity for a specific culture or an element of culture.

The quick wit, fascinating figuration and inclusion of typography are my main inspirations from these examples. I intend to create some small prints, based on similar compositions to these examples. I do not intend to provoke any political or social agenda, and instead will ensure that these prints are focused on the medium’s ability to insight it’s subject. Many of the examples’ styles, such as the Mussolini or Stalin poster, show characteristics of advertisements used in today’s media.

The Entente Cordiale,

  The Entente Cordiale,

The Entente Cordiale under a little 21st-century strain, in a cartoon by Chris Riddell, published in the Observer (12 June 2005). Anglo-French love-hate propaganda has absorbed many themes over the years. In this case, Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac hug in amity as they attack each other’s presumed economic stance – and stab each other in the back.”

                      'Bravo, Belgium!'

  ‘Bravo, Belgium!’

“From the pages of Punch (12 August 1914, cartoon by F.H Townsend). A valiant Belgian boy stands firm against the advancing Prussian bully, ho is replete with stereotype. A violated Belgian neutrality played a large role in the British rationale for war.”

                          'Freedom American-Style'

   ‘Freedom American-Style’

“Symbols and counter-symbols. This Soviet poster subverts the traditional symbolism of the Statue of Liberty. In a probable reference to the ‘police riot’ at Chicago’s Democratic Part Convention (1968), the eyes become policemen, and a truncheon becomes a falling tear, in lament for what the caption describes as ‘Freedom American-Style”

                          British AIDS Warning 1987   British AIDS Warning 1987 A leaflet warning about the threat of AIDS, as distributed throughout Britain in 1987. Its simple and stark message was emphasised through the sombre, funereal, granite-like visuals.”

Soviet Anti-Alcohol Poster,

“The sensible construction worker, mindful of his duties to self and the state, attempts to smash the insidious evil that is alcohol, its malevolence reinforced by the presence of a snake.”

Soviet Anti-Alcohol Poster

British Public Health Poster

“The point is made in a dramatic but simple way through the outrageously outsize fly, producing an image intended to shock its target audience.”

  British Public Health Poster     Lord Kitchener His unavoidable glare, in the first incarnation (5 September 1914) of the most famous recruitment image of the war. Its stark simplicity makes it all the more effective, and it inspired countless imitations. By the time conscription was introduced in Britain in 1916, this image had helped to recruit over 1 million men. Lord Kitchener   ‘Long Live the Victorious Nation! Long Live Our Dear Stalin.’ Stalin mythologised. The symbol of the Communist Party shines with a sun-like radiance, while a carefully selected, diverse group of types represent ‘the people’. Centrally, the god-like figure of Stalin rises high above his people, reflecting the culmination of his dictatorial infallibility following the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazism in the ‘Great Patriotic War’. 'Long Live the Victorious Nation! Long Live Our Dear Stalin.' Benito Mussolini “Mussolini in typical bombastic pose, in a poster of 1938. Il Duce is shown in formal Fascist Party paramilitary uniform addressing a mass rally, with the Party symbols – the fasces (rods bound with an axe-head) – visible on either side of him. Official posters like this, together with countless propaganda newsreels and photographs, embodied the Fascists’ image of themselves. The movement;s demand is expressed in the Italian formula ‘Believe/Obey/Fight’.” Benito Mussolini ‘Come children of fatherland, let’s achieve the liberation of the people.’ A French poster (1918) from the First World War, in which Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau paraphrases ‘La Marseillaise’ to rally the nation. The figure urging the nation on derives from a painting of the anthem’s creator, Rouget de Lisle, singing the song for the first time.           'Come children of fatherland, let's achieve the liberation of the people.'   ‘All Germany listens to the Fuhrer with the People’s Radio.’ ‘Under the Nazis, German radio became the ‘voice of the nation. To increase the number of listeners, the Nazis produced one of the cheapest wireless sets in Europe, the VE 30131 or Volksempfanger (‘people’s radio’). By the beginning of the war over 70 per cent of German households owned a wireless set, the highest percentage anywhere in the world. There was a catch: radios were designed with a limited range, which prevented Germans from receiving foreign broadcasts.’ 'All Germany listens to the Fuhrer with the People's Radio.'   ‘When will we get rid of alcohol?’ An emotive French poster (1918) tacking the problem of drink. ‘When will we get rid of alcohol?’ it asks, as the distressed mother and fearful children confront the dissolute husband/father’ 'When will we get rid of alcohol?'