I began the course looking at translating 2d pencil drawings to 3dimensional objects in software such as Blender. I take a lot of photos in my free time and realises that there were assets amongst my photos that I wasn’t utilising. Using the same process, I made simplistic line drawings of photographs. These photographs are of passers-by in train stations, on beaches, in the street, in galleries, pubs, anywhere really.
In the animation there are a number of 3Dimensional figures made from these photographs. It goes back to one of the first things I did on the course at our laser cutter induction in the old wood workshop (may it rest in peace).
Here are some images trying to give more of an insight into the process surrounding the figures in my VR animation.
How things can change! I was made aware by a few people who had tried the early tests of my VR piece that the environment wasn’t necessarily a Church to them. The comparison given was the U.S. Capitol building.
I spent a considerable time focussing on a religious setting after the influence my research paper had had on my practice. From the beginning I focused on the Internet as a physical space and the architecture within it. Hearing the users experience made me feel that the environment is comparable to both a political and religious setting, which, given the nature of the internet, I didn’t dislike. Though, admittedly it wasn’t intended.
I’ve kept what was originally designed as a church / chapel going against what I’d decided a while ago.
I’ve reflected on the Internet as a comparable institute to religion and still believe that its use and ability creates a similar social structure based on live information. For example, stories of discrimination, abuse, or any injustice are shared and commented on. These are seen and read by tens of thousands, creating a collective social view on that injustice. The main issue with this idea is that internet communities are more secluded than I’d originally thought. The stories of injustice I see on my Facebook timeline are personalised to the community I’m a part of. If I lived elsewhere, in another community, it is a different story. (Of course this is a simple and obvious reflection that can be seen in any community online or offline).
This couldn’t have been made more obvious by Brexit. Since Friday, Facebook (and most other social media) has been set alight with emotion both positive and negative. Some of the posts have been horrendous, some very enlightening, however, the best one I read was a friend from Nottingham uni. He wrote:
“……and proof that my newsfeed is a terrible measure of public opinion”
I don’t want to digress to Brexit, but this comment gives the perfect insight into internet communities.
Back to the religious comparison. This idea has made me realise that although the spread of information allows for quick solidarity and reaction to significant events. It is also tailored to you as an individual and therefore doesn’t give you the insight of all points on the spectrum. I’ve always felt that the best way to understand a story or an idea is to read from both ends of the argument. This is in some way lost by the monetization of the net, and its focus on your individual experience (This is mostly true for social medias).
I’ve gone slightly off topic but the idea of Gateway is to highlight the importance of the viewer’s input.
I will post some more recent examples of the VR experience I’m building in due course.
Below is an extract from Len Manovich’s ‘The Language of New Media’ Chapter 1, p58.
‘In the 1980s, VR pioneer Jaron Lanier saw VR technology as capable of completely objectifying – better yet, transparently merging with – mental processes. His descriptions of its capabilities did not distinguish between internal mental functions, events, and processes and externally presented images. This is how, according to Lanier, VR can take over human memory: “You can play back your memory through time and classify your memories in various ways. You’d be able to run back through the experiential places you’ve been in order to be able to find people, tools.” Lanier also claimed that VR will lead to the age of “post-symbolic communication,” communication without language or any other symbols. Indeed, why should there be any need for linguistic symbols if everyone rather than being locked into a ‘prison-house of language’ (Frederic Jameson), will happily live in the ultimate nightmare of democracy – the single mental space that is shared by everyone, and where every communicative act is always ideal (Jurgen Habermas). This is Lanier’s example of how post-symbolic communication will function: “You can make a cup that someone else can pick when there wasn’t a cup before, without having to use a picture of the word ‘cup’. Here, as with the earlier technology of film, the fantasy of objectifying and augmenting consciousness, extending the powers of reason, goes hand in hand with the desire to see in technology a return to the primitive happy age of pre-language, pre-misunderstanding. Locked in virtual reality caves, with language taken away, we will communicate through gestures, body movements, and grimaces, like our primitive ancestors….”
An Extract from Life Online: Researching Real Experience in Virtual Space
by Annette N. Markham.
“Although cyberspace is nothing more or less than a network of computer systems passing digitised strings of information back and forth through copper or fibre-optic cables, people who connect to this network often feel a sense of presence when they are online. Even in purely text-based online contexts, people establish and maintain intimate friendships, romantic relationships, and stable communities. This sense of presence can be quite visceral:
‘So much for leaving our bodies out of this… This gathering is not restricted to the Net, and therefore to the text of the Net, but extends to the flesh, the physical body. In this rare case, uncannily, even though online, we feel we meet in the flesh…. Everywhere we rub shoulders with each other. Everywhere users present themselves to each other, freely saying and doing what they choose. (Argyle, 1996, passim).’
Online communication does seem quite extraordinary. By logging onto my computer, I (or a part of me) can seem to (or perhaps actually) exist separately from my body in ‘places’ formed by the exchange of messages, the technical basis of which I am only beginning to understand. I can engage in activities with people of like interests around the globe using nothing but my computer, my imagination, written text, and the capacity of digital code to process and mediate aspects of my life online.
Telepresence, as this is called, is not unique to computer technologies. Indeed, a good novel, a familiar scent from the past, or a long-lost journal can transport a person to another time and place. For many of us, however, the feeling of being somewhere other than in the body with some other non-embowed yet presumably living being – particularly to the extent Argyle describes above – is a new and unfamiliar experience.”
I finally had a bit more success 3d modelling my work in multiple online identities. At first I was using drawings and duplicates to represent this. I’ve been playing with the Array modifier in Blender and it works beautifully to re-imagine this concept. The aesthetic is much more realistic.
‘Profiles’ series. 2014 / 15
‘Profiles’ Series 2016:
Along this MA I’ve been investigating the 3dimensional internet and the addictive and spiritual aspects that the net consumer displays. We are creatures of habit, and many of those habits are reflected online. Whilst working on the research paper for Unit 1, I noticed the importance of religion in my artistic interests. I’ve been highly influenced by the old masters and specifically religious subject matter. The effects these works had on its audiences reflected their spiritual narratives.
Propaganda is rarely used positively, but I’d argue that each and every religion has created a prolonged style of propaganda throughout history. The difference between this subject matter and that of more infamous examples of propaganda is its ability to shape the minds of individuals and the running of societies in positive directions. Clearly this is very debatable and one could argue that Christianity, Islam, and Judaism have in fact spread as much hate and violence as they have peace and serenity….
Anyhow… delving too deep into the make up of popular religions is dangerous territory, and I don’t particularly mean to cause offence so I’ll stop there.
My interim piece last year ‘Congregation’ has pushed me to look further into the internet user as religious practitioner. The piece I’m developing for the final show has been focused on the idea of the device as a gateway into a data-driven spirituality that connects global societies with media and live information. These connections overlook the barriers of religion and belief and with the inclusion of so many users, allow each person to access, engage and manipulate the media and information they want. Throughout the masters I’ve looked at the spectrum of a users internet habits and the potential extremities. Like in anything, there are extremists, this is true to say for any religion, belief or spirituality. I’m having a change of heart as I try to iron out my thoughts with this final piece. I’ve focused on creating a Chapel or Church most likely based on my own background in Christianity, however, this was an error.
My research isn’t about religion and therefore I shouldn’t have focused so hard on this setting. As I focused on the Church, I began to expand on the idea with specific references to Christianity. Since my initial project proposal my interest has been in the prospects of Virtual Space and Digital Identity. I looked at architecture, addiction, anatomy, consumer electronics, propaganda and the imbalance between physical and digital. After the Research Paper, I began focusing on spirituality as a prime example of the way an identity can interact with the internet. Somewhere between this research I became fixated on the idea of a religious setting for my final piece. I have now changed this aspect to reflect a more abstract approach to what constitutes spirituality and what better reflects the practice I’ve developed over the past 2 years.
I’ve focused on the simple idea of representing the internet in 3D space. After changing the environment dramatically from previous test shots, I’ve had a lot more success with my VR environment. I decided to look back at my previous works, most notably the ‘Signals’ and ‘Streams’ works I’ve developed. I took this aesthetic and dedicated my time to re-creating it in VR. Below is a small screen recording of the environment. My overall dream of texturising each line with live media has unfortunately been dampened for the final show, but I will continue to work on this after I finish the MA.
There is a lot of work to be done, but this better represents where I hoped the digital side of my piece would be at this stage.
I’m considering my options with objects that can be both physical and digital. I like the idea of being able to touch it in VR, but when you take the HMD off, its still there in front of you. Today’s attempts at texturising the light paths with media have been terrible… An example of how terrible it was is below. (Its an extremely up close image of the American flag, on top of these lines.)
The plan is to make the projectors much smaller, to accommodate the images at that scale. When the first projector makes a stable and identifiable image. It will be a matter of copy and paste, and changing the images.
The focus of these images is on news channels, “talking heads” and the miscommunication between their messages. I’m not sure if anyone noticed yesterday’s fallacy of news reporting that is Sky News. A recent ISIS propaganda film has swept its way through our news even though we don’t want their propaganda to effect our daily lives. Whilst watching Sky News broadcast on the subject, they begin a live interview with a current expert in counter-terrorism. His comments were that we should be aware that ISIS are a credible threat, however we shouldn’t give in to their propaganda…. The interview went on for a good 5 /10 minutes. At the end, the presenter re-iterated what the expert had said, that they are a credible threat and we shouldn’t give in to their propaganda, with a banner above him displaying the man from the video and the title “ISIS release new film”…. The report continued for a further length of time, showing images of the British spies kneeling the jihadists.
This story has continued to be a featured part of the news since then, with comments from David Cameron all over the newspaper yesterday and this morning.
It’s irony is mesmerising, and it happens again and again. This is an example of the misinformation and hypocritical values in the news that I was interested in representing last April with ‘Monitor’. Their persistence of calling them ISIS, (a westernised baddie) against the will of our own parliament who are now recognising them as Daesh (a term they despise.)
Current live news reporting represents a terrifying mistreatment of the freedom of information. Paranoia is created throughout the country, and beyond, through the displaying of these propagandist films. (Exactly what Daesh had hoped for). A friend of mine said recently that they could imagine that the sense of unease and tension in London at the moment could be comparable to the Blitz…. other than the fact that there hasn’t been a similar attack. Whereas the Blitz saw consistent air raids on a daily / weekly basis that caused significant damage and hoards of casualties.
And the source of this paranoia? The representation of these stories in our own media. There’s no doubt that we in Britain are shaken by what has happened around the world, but our public information channels shouldn’t be over-bearing the message to make us feel uncomfortable in our own homes. (The sole purpose of ISIS’s propaganda messages). Surely these should be to inform, and to guide in the event of an attack, as well as to re-assure.
Ex-Security Minister Baroness Neville-Jones said on BBC Radio 4 that she was alarmed at the British public’s lack of awareness to their everyday surroundings….. (Two people have bumped into me today because they were looking at their phones.. )
This story trended in the media. It makes the public aware of the threat, whilst also guiding them to be safer in the event of an attack. Though….. you could also argue that this is exactly the kind of thing that stirs paranoia… either way I’d argue that its better than giving ISIS videos the air-time they want on our public news channels.
It’s interesting that the obsession (or addiction) we have to our online content, and personal devices could, in the event of a terrorist attack, be a threat to our own safety. In fact, it could be a threat during strong winds (falling branches etc..) How can we interact with our personal computers, whilst still remaining alert and aware of our physical surroundings? The only way that seems feasible, would be the inclusion of Heads-up displays, and augmented vision?
Below is a video with a demonstration of what can happen at a busy junction:
The shoes below were first thought of in 2012, but there’s an interesting idea / joke in here. The shoes use GPS to guide you home if your lost… If there were vibrations in each shoe telling you to stop, go left, or right. If they were fed live data from smartphones GPS positioning, perhaps, we could all walk around looking at our phones without having to look up to stop ourselves from bumping into one another…. This or something similar seems to be the one of the only possibilities of us encountering this awareness issue without Heads-up displays.
Just a thought.
Anyway, the low-res images below are a more stripped down version of Monitor, (still with no Textures).