Spatial Portrait – Zone 56

 

Using my own music piece as the inspiration for this spatial portrait, I have endeavoured to convey time as fleeting but not without a sense of permanence as though these things may have existed forever. The weathering of objects that becomes apparent when we look closely enough, contrasts with the solidness of the objects that surround us in everyday life.  The weight of our presence leaves impressions and indentations on the earth and my images represent the impact that we have on the space which surrounds us. Manmade objects begin their journey by occupying or sitting on the space they occupy however this is the beginning of a gradual process of decay and slowly merging with the environment. This is inevitable and is experienced by humans and effects objects as well.

The work of Rinko Kawauchi follows a similar exploration of objects and the way in which they occupy time and space. Things are simply portrayed but demonstrate the patterns of impressions which are all around us. This is how things are and how they are conveyed demonstrates their state of being even if it is just a fleeting moment.

 

 

HalfTwo1205

Suburban1205

PrivatePole1205

MetalU1205

OvenBin0905

 

BikeRider1205

GrafittiFence1905

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The ‘Quantified’ Self – Precursor To Living In the Matrix.

 

I think Gary Wolf is a good sounding name and listening to him speak in 2010 about the ‘quantified’ self ( which we will get back to shortly) I am sure most people would find him to be personable, reasonably attractive and  would probably trust what he was saying was based in truth. Basically he is delivering a sermon about data collection but he puts forward his argument with a well constructed approach.  ‘We know that numbers are useful to us when we advertise, govern, search; I’m going to talk about how they are useful when we reflect, learn, remember and want to improve’. He has a charismatic delivery and I’m certain that Mr Wolf had the attention of almost everyone in the audience. The next segment led into a whole bunch of data that was apparently  being  avidly recorded by people about all kinds of stuff including eating habits, exercise regimes, moods, spending and even diaper tracking! At this point I was thinking ‘please someone help those people get a life’. Mr Wolf put all this down to ‘the uptake diffusion of mobile devices, the exponential improvement of data storage and data processing’ and last but not least ‘the remarkable improvement in human biometric sensors’.  We are getting to the important part, so please try to stay alert.

The crucial hardware in these biometric sensors is a tiny electromechanical device called an accelerometer that in its basic state measures acceleration forces.’ So what?  Engineers have worked out how to make ‘really  useful products‘ using accelerometers and computer programers have written really useful programs that can extract ‘really useful’ data  which can be used for really useful ‘stuff’.  You should be feeling a little concerned at this point as accelerometers are what we find in all these wonderful self monitoring devices that  Mr Buffered 3D Accelerometer Weight 1.3gWolf is so excited about. 3d Accelerometer All these new tools are ‘changing a sense of ourselves in the world’. which we all know is true but Mr Wolf goes on to say that we should be using these tools ‘as mirrors for self- improvement, self-discovery, self-awareness, self-improvement, self-knowledge and to cut a long line of selfs short he finishes by saying ‘the self is our operations centre, our consciousness, our moral compass. So if we want to act more effectively in the world, we have to get to know ourselves better.’

 

So, by getting myself all wired up and having minute by minute updates on blood pressure, heart-rate, oxygen uptake and degree of armpit odour, am I going to be moving closer to my inner-self? That is of course if my inner-self can be divided up into a pie chart or mapped out on a graph. In Mr Wolf’s wonderful world of micro data collecting devices is there a place for intuition, instinct or gut feelings? Perhaps if intuition could be developed as a human biometric system, it may be more promising or should I say profitable. What I am sure of, is that there will be less self-knowledge going in than information going out in the form of data collection.

And furthermore, what about the ‘techs’ that create all of these things (which reminds me of the ‘internet of things’ but that’s another chapter) –  all nestled down in their upwardly mobile lifestyles in Silicon Valley, are they getting better acquainted with their self bits and pieces? Their lives are tied up with showing they have wealth, risk-taking and at what level they are at on the preferred social network of the moment. The experts that are making these self measuring tools,  encouraging the user to trust the app rather than the ‘gut’, value risk-taking and entrepreneurship  which rely heavily on using one’s intuition and instinct (Marwick, 2013). These mini monitoring and reporting systems are possibly more self-limiting rather than aiding self-expansion. My best advice in this current climate, if someone approaches you with a life-changing app that plugs directly in to the back of your neck , just get the hell out of there!

 

References:

A beginner’s guide to accelerometers. 2016. A beginner’s guide to accelerometers. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.dimensionengineering.com/info/accelerometers. [Accessed 17 April 2016].

Marwick, A E, 2013. ‘Leaders and Followers: Status in the Tech Scene’ in Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, and Branding in the Social Media Age. 1st ed. UK: Yale University Press, 2013.

TED@Cannes. (2010). The Quantified Self. [Online Video]. 5 May 2010. Available from: http://www.ted.com/talks/gary_wolf_the_quantified_self?language=en&utm_source=tedcomshare&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=tedspread. [Accessed: 14 April 2016].

What Do ‘Jaws’ and ‘Blackfish’ Have In Common – Apart From the Ocean?

Media aesthetics is a process of examining media elements such as lighting, picture composition, and sound—by themselves or jointly—and a study of their roles in manipulating our perceptual reactions, communicating messages artistically, and synthesizing effective media productions (Nack Dorai Venketesh, 2001)

I remember the first time I saw Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster movie Jaws at the cinema in 1975, I was with a friend from school and my mother. I still recall the fear that rose in my stomach whenever the ocean came into view, already established as a dark and menacing place, home to dangerous creatures of the deep. This feeling of suspense was heightened by the incredibly terrifying music score written  by John Williams (according to a 2005 survey by the American Film Institute, [it is] among the 10 most memorable scores in movie history). Whenever that music started or you saw the ocean, or both, you just knew it was going to be bad or that someone would be hurt or killed. In the scene where the shark was devouring Quint (Robert Shaw), everyone in the audience was screaming and I had to defend myself from my supposed friend Tracey, who was hitting me vigorously with the rolled up poster she had purchased before the movie. The message one gets from Jaws is very simplistic. Shark equals bad, man equals good, and of course don’t ever go swimming again.

John Williams has made our movie more adventurous and gripping than I ever thought possible.
— Steven Spielberg, writing about Jaws in 1975

“Blackfish”, the First Nation’s name for Orca, is a documentary released in 2013, about the capture and confinement of orca also known as killer whales by marine parks predominantly in the United States. The themes running through Blackfish are simple and powerfully presented – free the Orca. However, the issues are complex and surrounded by the marine park propaganda. The first time I watched ‘Blackfish’ I found it emotionally disturbing and I had a sense that what I was seeing was wrong on many levels. From the beginning I built an emotional bond with these magnificent mammals, the treatment of which could only be described as torturous and barbaric. I also connected and empathised with the orca trainers who were portrayed as having developed deep and complex relationships with their partnered orcas involving trust, understanding and friendship. Of course, this is exactly how I was supposed to feel.

Computational Media Aesthetics: Finding Meaning Beautiful  takes a look at the methods of accessing and analysing the ‘tried and true’ cinematic techniques including visual, aural, and emotional impact within the traditional structure/framework of the film industry. Basically the stuff that makes us laugh or cry, scream or just be thoughtful when watching something. This data is then used to create computer algorithmic systems and ‘computational analysis of the [cinematic] principles that have emerged underlying their manipulation in the creative art of clarifying, intensifying, and interpreting an event for an audience'(Nack Dorai Venketesh, 2001). In other words it is an easily accessible database of cinematic techniques which is loaded to the hilt with everything known about film making and can categorise and analyse and come up with scenarios as well. My layman’s understanding is that you enter something you want like “Happy audience” and the program presents you with any number of cinematic procedures that will help you achieve the desired result.

So what do Jaws and Blackfish have in common – apart from the ocean? There was something about Blackfish that triggered my memory of Jaws. The fishing boat used to hunt the shark was named ORCA but that was not something I had even remembered. Jaws is of the horror/thriller genre and Blackfish, a documentary. But yet there is a similar sense of danger, that something is wrong and that someone is going to be hurt or even killed. Both Jaws and Blackfish target our senses and our emotions in order to create a desired effect. Jaws was made as a money-making venture ($191,741,308 in the year of release US alone) whilst Blackfish endeavours, with a large degree of success, to produce an emotional response in the audience igniting their empathy for a specific purpose – to put an end to Orcas being captured and held in captivity. In order to do this they have used a number of established, successful cinematic techniques. However, will this  be enough to ‘change the way a corporate icon[such as Seaworld] does business?

FreeOrca

 

References:

Making a Sound Map in Fairy Meadow

This is a sound map representing sounds or noises collected from a specific area in Fairy Meadow. The piece is multi-layered and sounds are manipulated using a variety of techniques which work together to create an acoustic impression of what we may experience visually. Most of the recorded noise has been manipulated and changed in some way so that we may better cognize the concrete nature of sound. Machine noise is ubiquitous and in this environment fills every moment of sound except for the sharp interruption  of the calls from native birds and crows.

The work of Gail Priest has influenced the creation of this one-minute piece and I have tried to embed a layering of organic elements which is often evident in Priest’s productions. The original noise is no longer recognizable, instead the fundamental elements are brought forward enabling a more intuitive understanding of the sound’s composition.

Up Periscope (periscope up) and Let’s Review What You See!

Periscope Reviews Facebook page
Periscope Reviews Facebook page

‘Explore the world through someone else’s eyes’ is the tagline for Periscope – the new live streaming video mobile app that was purchased by Twitter and subsequently launched in March of this year. The concept is a brilliant one that offers everyday users the ability to create and televise live their own content to a worldwide audience. Unlike traditional video production, the audience can give immediate feedback by awarding hearts and can post comments via Twitter, in real time about the content they are viewing. This is taking interactive to a new level with the creators claiming it may be ‘the closest thing to teleportationand is possibly a new medium for reality TV. With so much potential content, how do we decide what to watch without having to ‘scope out’ each and every broadcast? Fortunately Periscope Reviews, which I have been following since its inception, has been created to ‘help reduce the amount of people we follow on Periscope’. Using Facebook as a platform, Periscope Reviews features popular Periscopers including a brief bio on the author and a link to their Periscope page.

The concept has developed over a period of weeks from the review being self hosted on a WordPress site to its current Facebook home. Facebook is an ideal platform for this type of review page due to the nature of its sharing construct. Anyway, why try to reinvent the wheel when its already been done for you. According to Tom Smith the future of content will be increasingly ‘bottom up and consumer driven‘ which is verified by the results of the Global Web Index pilot study conducted by Smith’s company Trendstream. Released in January 2009, the study indicated that

videos focused on users’ personal lives outpaced all professional content both in terms of passively viewing, where 41% had watched videos of user content­ in the last week, and also in the videos that were shared and uploaded

This further adds to the validity of the Periscope review concept and highlights it as being visionary and pre-emptive in recognising the benefit of having a review system for this new type of user generated content. The basic mechanism behind the review page was to give it a kick start by posting some interesting content, invite users to post their own reviews and hopefully encourage sharing of new content. The reviews were to be rated using the 5 star system. According to John Ciancutti who has worked on rating systems for Netflix, the chosen system should be seen as ‘an avenue for dialogue between your users and your service with a certain amount of investment by the users and an expectation that they will receive something in return’. This is key to curating a lively and successful review space.

The initial aims of the site were to reduce the number of people to follow on Periscope and that users would be able to source content that satisfied their interests as well as increasing Periscope’s following in Australia. Anticipated problems were listed as an unmanageable number of reviews being posted which could lead to organizational problems such as information overload which discourages reading as well as the inability to monitor hate comments. Adam Justice says that

the accepted rule [is] that reviews and feedback will almost exclusively come from users who either display extremely positive or extremely negative sentiments

Unfortunately, negative comments always appear to be taken more seriously than positive ones and this may affect the success of the site adversely however there is the possibility that a negativity bias, in some cases, may assist the aim of Periscope to become better known. Another aim of the site was to gain access to popular Periscoper’s fan pages by posting to their Facebook page.

At the Beta presentation of Periscope Reviews we were shown the project in its testing stage. The decision had been made to use Facebook as a platform (as opposed to a website) providing ease of access and increased exposure however, a problem that had been encountered from the outset was the difficulty of successfully engaging reviewers. The site had been made more interactive by the addition of a questionnaire as well as posting live videos of Periscoper’s content and photo catalogue of periscopers. A possibility of using Twitter and/or Reddit to increase exposure was put forward and it was pointed out that Twitter owned Periscope and Periscopers were known by their Twitter handle making this idea imperative. The question was asked ‘what makes a good Periscoper?’ The criteria for good Periscoping could be included in a side widget as a guide for reviewers. Other suggestions were to interact with live broadcasts and promote the review page whilst they are watching the live stream, and also to include a weekly focus which could highlight current news or what’s trending. The general consensus was that more of a critical and analytical approach needed to be adopted rather than the site being merely a taxonomy of content.

Only a few days have passed since the Beta presentation and at my last viewing of Periscope Reviews it appeared that #Skipforgood was being highlighted as a focus topic. Let us hope that this is the beginning of an upwards trajectory for Periscope Reviews. 

References:

Ciancutti, J 2011, ‘Is there a better alternative to the 5 star rating’, Quora, 28 November 2011, viewed 15 Oct 2014,<https://www.quora.com/Is-there-a-better-alternative-to-the-5-star-rating-system&gt;

Smith, Tom. “The social media revolution.” International journal of market research 51.4 (2009): 559-561.