The Future of Blinkz?

Making my way through random social media content in hopes of trying to either pass the time, or come across something thought provoking, I managed to find this:

We were recently talking about wearable technology and how it is developing into technologies such as Google Glass (a futuristic Google ad. that enhances communication methods through the use of wearable glasses). We discussed the limitations of it being implemented as eye-glasses, in terms of people who are uncomfortable wearing glasses, those who don’t need them, those who do but would prefer contact lenses, etc. But we all agreed that implementing the same functionalities into contact lenses wouldn’t be far off.

I do believe Julian mentioned it during the critique… Blinkz could be established, and it could be developed into implementing it using contact lenses. Why not?




As a team we started to brainstorm ideas together and gave ourselves a week to come up with more ideas, combine them all and then flesh out and choose one theme that encompasses some of the different concepts we studied. As a group we all wanted to do something interesting and new with ‘space’. This is how we started our brainstorming process, and then everything that came after that revolved around how space could be our message. Some of the concepts we decided to cover in our “object-to-think-with” are:
– Space ( Exploring the space around us )
– Data visualization
– Database
– Post-humanism and the blur of genders
– Media is the Message, except the concept is related to the space we are in, the place we are at, and it dictates how we act, and it affects us as well as those sharing the space. Thus providing a message.

This is our storyboard with descriptions and pictures. We divided it to 4 different parts, the concepts we want to explore, Space, Lights and Avatars.



Aflection is an interactive installation that embodies the concepts of the medium is the message (but in the context of space), Locative art, Posthumanism, Databases, Post Secondary Space and Assemblage.
In this installation we create a space that the user explores by interacting with 4 different light sensors in a dark room.
The first time the user approaches the sensors, spotlights at each sensor emit blue light. As they come closer to a single sensor, the blue light switches off and captures an image of one part of the user’s body, saving it in a database. With each sensor, a different body part is captured, either the head, torso, legs or arms.
The remaining three lights turn green, attracting the user to approach one of them by flashing. The closer the user is to a specific sensor, the faster is flashes – beckoning the user to come to it.
The user is then given the opportunity to play and discover what the different lights resemble. Another part of their body is captured, and the light switches off. The remaining two lights turn yellow, and the process is repeated. The final light is red.
Once the sensors have been visited, an avatar is created by pulling out from the database, images of the user’s body parts, putting it together and creating a hologram.
The user’s avatar is then joined by holograms of the avatars of earlier visitors, who then come together and merge to create an averaged avatar that combines genders and histories to make an Assemblage of bodies in a single space.

What this could mean to Digital Media

I was recently watching a few TedTalks and came across one named How to “Sketch” with Electronics. At first I assumed that the person presenting, Leah Buechley, was talking about some boards that have been wired and attached to an arm contraption of some sort that held a pen, which in turn sketched images. But that was my assumption as I read the title, the actual idea behind this innovation is much bigger and much more exciting!

Part of being Digital Media students and future professionals, is knowing and understanding a little bit of electronics, working with gadgets and hardware such as LEDs, motors, sensors, etc. But the other part of being Digital Media students is combing the technical with the artistic. This innovation that Buechley presents is an avenue to further expand the arts and creativity of installations. It is a means to make our interactive installation that much more interactive if, as users, we have a say in the actual circuitry.

This new ability that we are presented with could be used in our objects-to-think-with. The way in which we draw the “pen-wires” could be as symbolic as we want it to be, and the way we allow users to interact with it can add to the symbolism and philosophy of the whole project.

An idea off the top of my head: The wires are drawn as an intricate web with LEDs at certain source points. It is meant to represent the Internet, but nothing works unless users interact with it. The more users interact, the brighter the LEDs (or if they are RGB LEDs, different colours could mean different things). Ultimately, encouraging users to look at the way they use the Internet, and to take a look at the diverse number of people interacting with the Internet in the same way (or differently), and what that means in the grand scheme of things.

You-Never-Win Games

Before understanding the concept of the you-never-win games, I found them so boring and meaningless. Why would a game designer create such games when it doesn’t provide the player with a reward, i.e., winning. The reason for that being said is that, when I play a game I never think of a political or social issue rooted in it. Games are not something one usually thinks of as being a way to express concepts. I usually play games for the sake of fun and to reach my goal of winning. The article “I Lose, Therefore I Think” opened my eyes to a new way of looking at losing games. Now, that I look at the examples given in the article, New York Defender and Kabul Kaboom, I see the significance of this type of games. They are serious games that ask the viewer something and let’s them consider real world problems in a meaningful way. Moreover, the lack of many visuals, music and many things moving around gives this sense of seriousness that Gonzalo Frasca discusses in the reading, it wakes up people and gives them a chance to think about the concepts embedded in a game.


New York Defender

I absolutely think that you-never-win games can act as powerful, purposeful tools that address painful issues going on in the world today. They reveal a message in action, giving the player a chance to interact with social, cultural and political matters. In addition, they allow us to take part in what’s happening around us and get involved in an indirect way.

A losing game is not like TV that you watch and listen to passively, without interacting with the message; instead, they allow you to make the meaning by playing the game and raising its difficulty level to eventually lose. The struggle embedded in these games create an off-gaming thinker and so is the title of the article “I Lose, Therefore I Think”.  The idea of a you-never-win game might be so simple, yet it’s smart and powerful.

This brings me to a conclusion that,  “The Game is the Message”.

Video Game Lessons: How sometimes graphic art generates more insight than words

Video Game Lessons: How sometimes graphic art generates more insight than words

Hello today team. I was looking for articles on lessons learned from old school video games. I was actually really disappointed at the search results. It seems alot of video game writers just like to poke fun and mock things about old stuff. Who knew (*sarcasm note [in case you didn’t catch it])? But I really think these series of prints by “paperbeatsscissors” makes a good point. Even though it may not be stated in a very academic manner.

The Fear of the Unknown (is an object to think with)

Have you ever been afraid of becoming irrelevant? This is a deep fear among all of us humans. We fear death and we need affirmation of our existence. This is a studied phenomena in the Social Psychological study of Terror Management Theory proposed by Greenberg et al. in 2004 in their paper “Terror management theory of self-esteem and cultural worldviews: Empirical assessments and conceptual refinements”. The idea here is that we need to something to buffer our fear of death, we need something of our own that we feel with last beyond us.

Enter the program “Flash”. This program is quickly becoming irrelevant in our modern society. Everything Flash does has been adopted and improved in other mediums. For website animations we have Java, JQuery. For wire frames we have  Adobe Fireworks, Photoshop, and Dreamweaver.

To many the idea of learning Flash is the learning of a skill and using of resources that are irrelevant making us disconnected from  from our eternal legacy. BUT everything is in remediation and innovation is construction of the old, an assemblage of multiplicities. Learning Flash allows us to think in ways that will allow us to understand the future. Innovation cannot be understood without history. Everytime you learn a new platform, a new paradigm, even after it has fallen out of use, you are learning how to think, contemplate, and struggle in new and different ways that connect to contemporary society. If these new platforms and paradigms are a part of the history of contemporary society then we can understand current society better, and see further into the future, further towards new innovation.  Irrelevance is what you make of it, the unknown can scare us but we must understand the benefit of the unknown and the historical and realize that our legacy lies not in  avoiding the unknown and what we think is crazy and irrelevant but confronting it and learning from it.  In fact if we find it distasteful there is probably something there that has not been thought about recently by much of humanity, and is ground rich for cultivation of innovation.

So if Flash is the “irrelevant” unknown of modern society that repulses us because we fear death than it is most likely also a very powerful object to think with.

Bioart… *Cringe*


Animal Pattern Project by Debra Swack

I was just searching the web, looking at different artworks that revolve around bioart, and then I came across this 2007 piece that just made me cringe. No, the terrible website with the hot pink, headache-inducing font wasn’t the cause of the cringe. It was the actual artwork. It is called Animal Patterning Project, which explores “the concept of genetically altering the patterning of animal skins to make them more aesthetic for human exploitation and later usage in garments and accessories.”

Immediately, I responded with disgust. But as I read through the explanation, I felt like words such as “human exploitation” were intentionally used by the artist to generate an emotional response from viewers. Maybe it was the intention of the artist, maybe it wasn’t, but I felt like this was very much a humanitarian piece as it is a critique of the fashion-obsessed consumer.

I pulled this off of the website which explains how the project was realized. There is also a video of probable patterns that can be used for those interested in viewing it (the link is two paragraphs up).

“Animal Patterning Project” will be achieved by actually “growing” living organisms/tissues in a lab environment and developing their desired patterning over time. Additionally an animation video (created with Adobe Illustrator, AfterEffects, Premiere, Photoshop and Flash) will display possible design concepts for animal patterning (designs were achieved by photographing taxidermined animals at the Museum of Natural History and then converting those bitmapped photographs to two or 3D vector images and then animating them). The two or 3D images can be projected onto all four surfaces of an enclosed room or on the exterior of a building creating a virtual sculpture.

The designs can also be made interactive using motion tracking and modifiable over time by introducing random artifical intelligence like behaviors created in Aftereffects/Flash that once initiated by the user will take on a life of its own, simulating biological mutation.  Viewers could have the ability to start with a given animal’s pattern (zebra, leopard, tiger or giraffe) and morph/mutate the pattern over time to create new life forms embodying new patterning beyond the control of the user.

Interactivity combined with AI… Interesting, to say the least.

Locative Media and Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality – Changing the way you perceive space

As far as I understand, Augmented Reality seems to integrate technologically-shaped space with “real” space. It can be used to promote living art in such a way that all people can comprehend it by taking what is most familiar to people and re-appropriating it in order to establish new information. Today, what is most familiar to people in terms of technology is their handheld devices, such as smart phones, iPods, etc. What is also most common in terms of space are the routes people take every day to work, to school or to the supermarket. With AR, or locative Media, the technology we are accustomed to develops into technologically shaped space that the artist creates, one to be used within a conventional space that we use. Asphalt Games is definitely an example of this, where people use their technology and traverse their well-known spaces in order to participate in the game.

Another example that I have seen during my undergrad at York University was a piece called Afterspace. It is a locative media project that is set in a post-apocalyptic space, where, as users traversed the space, a device would pick up digital traces that other have left behind. Each would be a snippet of sound, video footage or image that seems to tell a story of the people who previously lived in the space. This is a way of promoting living art through the use of the technologically mediated world we live in. It also provides a new set of ways for the physical world to be understood and appropriated.

This is not what Afterspace looked like, but what you might think of if using it.

In a way this is both similar and different from the Asphalt Games. As a piece of art, Afterspace changes the way you view a space, it takes you back to the moment another person occupied the same space and frames it such the you could hear and see what they saw. Asphalt Games seems to do the same thing as it re-appropriates a street corner such that you view the space differently. It also gives you the ability to see and experience the space as was used by a previous inhabitant through the pictures posted online.

Both Asphalt Games and Afterspace are different in that Asphalt games is locative media that is constantly changing if a street corner challenger arises. You can view the history unfold as each player tries to take over a corner, and you can become part of this change. With Afterspace however, you only experience the past while traversing the space. You might be able to change the space as you walk through it, and create change, but it is not recorded and will not be experienced by those coming after you, because you are not placing your own digital traces.

Adobe Flash is not so bad! ☺

Having to build an entire website using only Adobe flash is a nightmare to many of us. We have no prior experience with flash and therefore we had no clue where to start from. The class assumed that Professor Marcel expected hard-core flash websites with lots of graphics and rich content, just like the examples we’ve been exposed to in class.

However, going through the tutorial last class was very useful. I think it gave us a sense of what we should be aiming for for our  final projects. Maybe, if we were introduced to this tutorial early on the semester we could’ve worked more on our project instead of wasting time freaking out and objecting.

The Medium is the Message – Oh. You Mean Inception?

After overcoming the hurdle of reading Marshal McLuhan’s point of view regarding media, the message and the effects on people, I can say I understand where he is coming from.

The more I read and re-read the more reminiscent the article seemed to be of the movie Inception. The idea McLuhan was presenting was that the medium is the message because the content of the medium is always another medium. This concept is similar to: the dream is the message because the content of the dream is within another dream. In Inception, the goal was to place a specific thought/idea into a certain man’s mind by travelling through his mind by way of dreams, more specifically a dream within a dream within a dream. It is through the dreams that the man began to believe and embody the idea the impostors placed there. I think this is what McLuhan was trying to illustrate; that sooner or later we embody the medium, and it is what affects us, our culture and perceptions (a good segway to his thoughts on Media: The Extension of Man… but possibly left to another post).

I think as youth who have interacted with one of the most diverse and open mediums ever existed, the Internet, and having a movie such as Inception as visual reference to McLuhan’s concept, it is not as tough to grasp the idea of a medium (i.e. a dream) also being the message. Witnessing the effect it has on us as constant users of such a medium, we seem to embody this networked culture.

A possible visualization of what the networked culture may look like:


The image is actually one that Lev Manovich visualized where he mostly “focusses on the way both the production and the consumption (and analysis) of culture has changed with the coming of new media”. It seems to illustrate to me that the medium (New Media/Interent) really is the message being provided to all the red dots in this world, and how that medium has influenced us as different cultures, and possibly brought about a globalized culture. What a medium! What a message!