Posts Tagged ‘database’
Here is the latest draft of the experience design/ concept for my dissertation project, Polyangylene – simultaneously a projection mapping sculpture, a robotic interface and an audiovisual book.
Interactive GeoSurface Map WINS 1rst place in transmedia storytelling for the Annenberg Innovation Lab Design Challenge
The Interactive GeoSurface Map was 1rst place winner in the Transmedia Storytelling category of the 2011 Annenberg Innovation Lab CRUNCH design Challenge and received an Honorable Mention in the Microsoft Imagine Cup USA 2011!
Our team presented the Interactive GeoSurface Map at the 2011 Annenberg Innovation Lab Conference: See With New Eyes on April 1rst.
Our team entered this project for the Annenberg Innovation Lab CRUNCH Challenge. Thank you to the Center for Land Use Interpretation, Onomy Labs and Microsoft for making the GeoSurface Map a prototype reality!
The GeoSurface Map is an interactive exhibit for local museums and libraries. Its interface is an interactive table that allows users to collectively browse satellite imagery. But more than a playful and immersive interface for navigating geographic data, the GeoSurface Map is a multimedia storytelling experience about land use practice.
Project Lead / Designer: Lauren Fenton, USC School of Cinematic Arts
Programmer: Shreyas Heranjal, USC Viterbi School of Engineering
Project Coordinator: Desdemona Bandini, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
A TANGIBLE INTERFACE WITH THE WORLD
The Interactive GeoSurface Map uses an interactive device created by Onomy Labs called a Tilty Table. The table functions as a tangible interface to create an experience of effortless fly-over navigation through Microsoft’s Bing Maps database of high-resolution satellite images. By tilting and twisting the Tilty Table, the user can zoom in and pan over details of the landscape. By dwelling on hotspots they can access multimedia metadata on important landmarks.
COLLECTIVE RE-DISCOVERY OF ONE’S LOCALITY AND PLACE
Apps like Google Maps and Google Earth allow people to visualize high-resolution satellite images and a database of meta-data about different geographical locations. However, this data can easily become meaningless, as there is no narrative attached to it. The Interactive GeoSurface Map gives the user the possibility of connecting the dots between different data elements, of reading different landscape features of the satellite images as a network, rather than as a random assembly of geographical features, streets and buildings.
Most geographical data apps are meant to be used as individual interfaces on laptops or desktop computers. Onomy Labs’ Tilty Table technology makes it possible for people to browse the data collectively, and to share a moment of discovery through an intuitive language of very simple gestures. A powerful moment of recognition takes place when users understand the infrastructural and historical relationships between different features of the landscape, features they may have casually noticed but had not paid attention to.
FROM GEOGRAPHICAL DATA TO A STORY ABOUT LAND USE
We are collaborating with an institution called the Center for land Use Interpretation, a research institute that creates exhibits about land use practices, from the history of the L.A. freeway system to the water supply network. The GeoSurface Map team adapted their exhibit,Urban Crude, about the oil fields of the city of Los Angeles, for the Tilty Table. Urban Crude explores the way oil is being drilled in the city, by whom, and what kind of strategies they adopt to seamlessly integrate this drilling activity into the urban landscape, which includes hiding oil wells behind fake buildings and churches and disguising pumpjacks and methane vents as inconspicuous infrastructure. The GeoSurface Map adaptation of the exhibit turns different locations on the satellite images into hotspots, accompanied by floating text from the original exhibit explaining the history of oil extraction in that particular site. When selected, the hotspots lead into an panorama of animated photographs. This immersive multimedia experience, which combines interaction with geographical data with text and video, weaves a narrative around the practice of oil extraction within the urban landscape of Los Angeles.
AN INTUITIVE TOOL FOR EDUCATION ABOUT COMMUNITY AND SUSTAINABILITY
By using storytelling and tangible interface technology, the GeoSurface Map makes engagement with land use data compelling and intuitive, making it possible for a wide demographic range of users, from children to grandparents, to gain meaningful knowledge of their neighboring environment, encouraging users to become agents of change and affect how their cities are organized and sustained in the future.
The GeoSurface Map is a learning platform that allows users to become familiar with urban planning initiatives in their area and become the shapers of local land use, water distribution, and transportation policy. Land use data is often restricted to geological and industry databases, even though land use practices affect everyone’s everyday life on a deep level. Thanks to our partnership with the Center for Land Use Interpretation, our solution makes that data accessible and comprehensible to a mainstream audience.
Knowledge about local land use helps people become pro-active about engaging with their municipal governments and government institutions on issues of urban development and the future of their communities.
AN INTERACTIVE EXHIBIT FOR PUBLIC USE
The GeoSurface Map is meant to be an interactive exhibit piece that can be housed in a museum, at a science center, in a public municipal or government building, and in schools and universities. It has the potential to affect a large number of individuals in a lasting way, providing them not only with invaluable information about their home area, but also immersing them in a memorable, aesthetically enchanting media experience.
Our end users include families, young people, and retired persons who have access to and can afford to pay for a museum ticket. The introduction of GeoSurface Mapping devices into public areas that are free of charge (for example, public libraries), would further lower the income barrier of end-users.
A FLEXIBLE HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE ARCHITECTURE
The satellite image database we use, Microsoft’ s Bing Maps, is a free service that the GeoSurface Map accesses through Microsoft’s Silverlight application for Bing Maps developers.
Our code determines a basic interface for an unlimited amount of content. We can add as much text, images, videos, tags and metadata as would be necessary for future iterations and future land use projects. The Tilty Table API, although based on just a few affordances, is very flexible in terms of the different types of actions these affordances can map onto.
The GeoSurface Map is a product that is both a piece of hardware, an interface, and an information/media service. Development of the product involves collaboration with Onomy Labs (hardware/API) and The Center for Land Use Interpretation (as a partnership for content creation), as well as with Microsoft’s Bing Maps service.
Any museum, public library or educational institution can purchase GeoSurface Mapping as an interactive exhibit package (hardware, interface, and content), provided they have Internet access.
The GeoSurface Map interface was in part inspired by the creative cartography work of Liz Mogel and Trevor Paglen. Going beyond representations of data, their maps are narratives that emphasize the infrastructural and social aspects of the annotated space. (http://www.artnews.com/issues/article.asp?art_id=3091). Katherine Harmon’s You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination was also a rich source of imaginative cartographic examples.
The Most A-Maze-ing Hypertext is not Electronic: House of Leaves, Dictionary of the Khazars, Derrida’s Glas
First Passage: The Religion of Flowers. In Phenomenology of the Spirit…. “And then the nightmares begin”. Exploration Z…”Even the hallways you’ve walked a hundred times will feel longer, much longer, and the shadows, any shadow at all, will seem deeper, much deeper”. They could read other people’s dreams, live and make themselves at home in them, and through the dreams hunt the game that was their prey – a human, an object or an animal.
from David Rokeby’s article The Construction of Experience: Interface as Content (1998):
In a similar vein, it’s important to understand the difference between “fractal” complexity and the complexity of life experience. Fractals are fascinating because a rich variety of forms are generated by a single, often simple algorithm. The endless and endlessly different structures of the Mandelbrot set are generated by a single equation addressed in an unusual way. This relationship between the infinite detail of the fractal and its terse mathematical representation is an extreme example of compression. The compression of images, sound and video into much smaller encoded representations is one of the keys of the current multimedia explosion.
Opposed to the incredibly compressible “complexity” of fractals is the complexity of true randomness. Something can be said to be random if it cannot be expressed by anything less than itself… that is to say, it’s incompressible. This rather philosophical notion can be observed in our everyday on-line communication. To move data around quickly and efficiently, we compress it, then send it through a modem that compresses it further. What is left is the incompressible core of the information. As you can hear through your modem when you dial up your internet service provider, the result sounds close to random noise.
Randomness and noise are usually things we avoid, but in the purely logical space of the computer, randomness and noise have proven to be welcome and necessary to break the deadly predictability. But random number generators, used so often to add “human” spice to computer games and computer-generated graphics are not “random” at all. They merely repeats over a fairly long period?a sterile simulation of the real thing.
…In designing environments for experience, we must remain humble in the face of the power of irresolvable, non-fractal complexity. The computer is an almost pure vacuum, devoid of unpredictability. Computer bugs, while annoying, are never actually unpredictable unless this “vacuum” fails, as when the hardware itself overheats or is otherwise physically damaged. This vacuum is extremely useful, but it’s no place to live.
When I started working with interactive systems I saw the “vacuum” of the computer as the biggest challenge. I developed “Very Nervous System” as an attempt to draw as much of the universe’s complexity into the computer as possible. The result is not very useful in the classical sense, but it creates the possibility of experiences which in themselves are useful and thought-provoking, particularly by making directly tangible that what is lost in over-simplification.
embed pressure sensors in walls and floors of the bouncing castle. A DATABASE of SOUND (music, sound effects, words) is released. The player bounces her way through an audio narrative/journey. IMMERSE CASTLE IN DARKNESS. you have to FEEL your way THROUGH and OUT/IN.
The castle is a MAZE populated by crawl spaces and up and down passages.
In Lost Book Found the narrator walks his camera through the grittier streets of New York in an effort to remember the contents of a book he once almost purchased from a man who made a living “fishing” for objects dropped by passerby in sidewalk grates. This book contains lists of references, names of the things that populate the city, variously grouped under enigmatic headings. In trying to reconstruct the fantastical indexical system at work in this lost book, the narrator embarks on his own project to “fish for” the overlooked contents of New York – spatio-temporal items, the unique, accidental configurations of material being – and classify them according to his own cryptic logic of poetic association. At times another narrator interrupts the first to rattle off lists of concepts or things over a succession of captured scenes, indexing each image, each phenomenological encounter with a particular sign / clue: for example, a slow motion shot of an old woman riffling through a heap of discounted underwear will have a voice-over label of “museum”. At other times the narrator will “recall” a category from the lost book such as “raining coins” and show us successive shots of senior citizens stopping in the street to stare up meditatively at the sky.
The film as whole turns into an examination of the narrator’s own desire to scrutinize, stretching out the distance between subject and object (the interval of desire) by showing us scenes whose contents are arranged in layers or stacks, such as plastic toys displayed on shelves / shop windows or the electric interior of a subway train car seen through the windows of the train’s black shape melting in the night of a tunnel. In all cases vision encounters obstructions and so does the viewer in her attempt to grasp the meaning at work in each audiovisual association – the gaze butterflies over the surface of actuality, searching and never finding, but occasionally picking up on certain signifying symptoms that disappear with a second glance, like all the shots of street surfaces (walls, telephone booths) inscribed with decaying messages that can only be half-read, not so much partially decoded as more achingly mystified. In this sense, Cohen’s camera functions as a veil as much as a lense, an intermediary zone between passage and liminal space: to reprise De Certeau’s turn of phrase on the poetics of trajectories, a “fence that is an ensemble of interstices through which one’s glances pass.” The space of the frame mimics the three dimensional properties of real space, reproducing the pleasure we find in the vicissitudes of travel.
Lost Book Found directly evokes the experience of navigation that lies at the heart of any preoccupation to design for interactivity. The film functions as a compendium of the kind of micro-trajectories that the attentive or “detective” (to reference Cohen’s hand-held, belt-level cinematography) observer traces in traveling through the spatial texture of a place. In the narrator’s imagination, this place, the city, constitutes a monumental, un-chartered database organized according to a omniscient tagging system (the lost book) that indexes each existent referent to a particular sign. The baroque dream that a thorough search of worldly evidence will result in total epistemological fulfillment is originally a documentary impulse. It compels him to plunge into the hermeneutic game of searching and gazing, of relentlessly raking the database for objects of knowledge, steering a path through possible indexical channels according to minute intimations from this fluid environment. With visibility remaining a problem – the book, the map of the database that would allow him to look ahead, to know her way in advance is lost – viewing becomes a much more haptic exercise. The navigator feels her way around the contours of things, tracing signifying topologies with small gestures, instigating a hesitant succession of tiny contacts with the world. Here the clarity of scopic knowledge is abandoned in favor of a sort of blind proximity with the surface of life, an intimacy with the image that hugs the frustrating barrier that separates the (re) presentation of actuality from actuality itself.
At this level of documentary minutiae, the camera worries about (another excerpt from the narrator’s voice-over) puzzling out the supremely mundane fact of one building’s contiguousness with one gutter, framing actuality in its most obvious (and therefore semiotically opaque) manifestations. The navigator of an interactive documentary sets out on her epistemological journey not so much in order to find the primer that can decode the book – the totality of meaning embedded in the body of the database – but to put herself through the twists and turns of the search for signification, to loose assiduously oneself in the hermetic quality of the code.
Hershman’s talking head appears successively on the three screens of an editing machine. No hands are visible that would explain this ghostly process – the machine seems to be creating Hershman(s), conjuring her / they out of a database, splicing bits and pieces together in an eerie act of cyborg (re) production. The editing machine becomes both an inscription tool and a metaphor for the private / public performance of a community of alter egos.
Hershman stands in the corner of a white room next to a short white pedestal and an unidentifiable dark rectangular object on the wall (a picture, a painting?). The room is stretched out and replicated across the picture plane, calling up the effect produced when mirrors are placed opposite each other : recursive reflection, mirrors containing themselves replicating across an infinite depth. Hershman, as the subject obsessed with the perfecting, the retooling of her own discourse enters in a demonic dialogue with the camera, adjusting the mirror (the sliver of discourse that constitutes a particular edit), picking different angles to produce a variety of refraction patterns.
She retraces the history of her overeating and chronicles the progress of her “cure”, a schematic scale often appearing as a graded line to the left of her head, marking with mathematical precision the chronological positioning of a particular interview episode – the measurement / assessment of her body functioning as both clock and time machine, transporting the audience across her body / her time (her temporality).
The whole project, she admits, is grounded in the fact that she is alone with herself / with the mirror that is the camera – a curious place I identify with the sound booth of her interview space, a societally detached cubicle in which (intentional) discourse and (spontaneous, uncensored) private thought are disturbingly close, perhaps inextricable. This space, between herself and the camera, seems to allow her a great degree of license in her storytelling – it becomes easier to scrutinize interior events, and, liberated from the necessity of an interlocutor, Hershman is no longer compelled to (artificially) carve out fact from fantasy. Fantasy itself emerges as fact / act, a documentable event alongside others, testifying to the occurrence/reality of this continuous performance of subjectivity.
Rosenblatt’s Human Remains situates itself outside the concept of chronology, resurrecting archival material not so much to connect us with our past as to put our historical perspective into play. The chronologically impossible first person voice-over subverts the indexical link between the footage and its source without completely destroying it. As a result, the iconic dictators’ presence, detached from any contextual indices by poetic montage, survives in a kind of spectral temporality that is neither the imaginary time of fiction nor the consensual time of history. The documentary’s time is dislocated, strewn over the many origins of its elements: the anonymous footage, sound effects spliced from their visual cause and tacked on the dictators’ steps, voices translating a script into another language and then other voices translating back, as if to trick us into believing these men are speaking in their native language beyond the grave (and to whom?). The implausibility of the film’s epistemological claims is what brings us to the realization that the film is making no such claims – and yet remains a documentary, a work that references the real in order to tell us something about it. Perhaps it is useful to retain the idea of this documentary as a scrapbook or collage, each element referring us to an unverifiable source, the point of a scrapbook being to create a new totality from the juxtaposition of heterogeneous material. In this sense, Human Remains constitutes itself as a meta-archive, applying an associative method to the “exiled” remains of these figures i.e. to their historical representations (from film or critical literature).
This manner of documenting differs substantially from the type of truth-seeking mode of argumentation Nichols refers to or the rhetorically creative presentation of evidence adopted by Grierson. Human Remains’ relationship to the notion of evidence is obscure – Rosenblatt showers us with well-researched anecdotal “evidence” (recycled in the voice-over), but evidence of what? The revelation that these dictators were self-contradictory, peevish, plagued by physical troubles, possessed of bizarre habits, seems secondary. Perhaps more than anything, what emerges from this litany is the mundane, fleshy presence of these men, which, coupled with the ghostly reflections of their faces (Rosenblatt cuts out close-ups from the archival material) manufactures a powerful kind of cognitive dissonance that speaks to the subconscious fear any audience member would be likely to harbor about these figures: that they could come back from the dead.
In this sense, the film provides a form of psychological evidence or testimony by showing us the ways in which the dictators still haunt us: haunt our records, our semiotic matrices, our collective memory. The image of Mao bathing in the Yangtze, the dark blur of his head emerging from the glistening yellowish tint of the archival river is particularly indicative of the film’s project: even when the limitations of the medium keep him at a distance, making him literally unrecognizable, he still produces an absolute effect – an outline, a threat shadowing us.
still in the room. player squeezes a knob when he hears a prompted word (s) a voice speechifies on possibilities
determines which set of footage from the database will be edited into another set of footage (not completely haphazard) or running simultaneously on different screens??
editing algorithm, blackout, obeys a subterranean rhythm, cuts words in midstence, faces in mid-expression
cutting between this, this, and this ? CLOUD OR SHAPE, SPECTER OF SENSE – sampling of the cultural whirl – not quite arbitrary drops (it’s all water)
Peter Greenaway – Prospero’s Books ; David Bowie ; Jem Cohen: sea change, becoming, wishing, wish fulfillment, riffling through, collecting books, collecting memories, collecting personalities. databases all.
pull that rope if you see liquid in a pan, tilt that pan if it’s labelled “SQUEEZE ME”, squeeze it if you want to touch, TOUCH and the SCREEN comes to life, the ROOM lights up with MUSIC, WHISPERS, INVECTIVES establishing a physiological sentier (un sentier pour SENTIR), path to the eyes and the ears _ plugging into a mind, minds into the DATABASE OF IMAGES…It’s not work, it has nothing to do with freedom of choice, it’s VISCERAL, COMPULSIVE PLAY
YOU JUST CAN’T HELP YOURSELF SO WHY RESIST?
eatmeeatmeeat me eat me eat me eat me eat me eat me eat me there is much to be said about a form of aesthetic engagement that like famously cinema engulfs you, seduces you, gives you no choice in the matter and yet requires much much deliberate action on your part it tricks you into PUTTING A WHOLE FLOATING MECHANISM IN MOTION, SENSORIAL FRUIT HANGING FROM THE DATABASE!
abstract vs. physical metaphors for virtual space?
Most discussions of “immersion” or the extent to which a media experience can sensorially and psychologically engulf the viewer, presumably bringing them closer to a ‘real life’ experience, revolve around kidnapping the viewer/player more decisively into the realm of the virtual – wherefore larger screens and stereoscopy, even VR.
Another route towards immersion involves the notion of “augmented reality” or embedding the virtual in physical space in order to create the experience of a (ideally) seamlessly merged virtuality/reality.
Is there a way to rehabilitate the screen, historically a hallmark of the 1rst type of immersion, for purposes of augmenting reality? Typically the screen is the well-known boundary between the physical and virtual, the thing that extrudes from normal, material space to shed simulacra down on us.
Returning to the idea of creating a “burrow” or an immersion “box”, the idea of physical space or geography serving as the interactive device for a database narrative – cannot the screens or “displays” themselves become part and parcel of real space, so that rather than running into a simulacra-projector, one is thrown in/sucked into the hidden, temporary space of a media-fragment?
Even more urgently – to complete the dream of seamlessness between material and virtual, can we be satisfied with an analogy between architecture i.e. the space of a gallery/rooms/hallways, and database structure? The textures of narrative and information, relayed across different media technologies are too viscerally pervasive and “real”, urgently present to us, to find adequate expression in the cool, ascetic, representational spaces offered to the typical art installation.
Must we not go deeper, more intimately into our project to map the virtual onto the physical? Perhaps it is important to start considering the sensorial/sensual rather than abstract properties of real space. To think of the body rather than architecture as a proper metaphor for our collective apprehension of virtuality.
David Cronenberg’s Videodrome as the faithfully visceral rendering of our felt relationship with media technology…
Presenting for the panel “Database Aesthetics: Sorting Through Bits and Flesh” at the CAA conference on Feb 28th the following media scholars/practitioners discussed the relevance of database art/narrative as a basis for social change, perceptual and conceptual reconfiguration, and information visualization. Lev Manovitch opened up the discussion by questioning whether the notion of database and a priori structure/hardware in general was still an apt metaphor for the cloud, or “Brownian motion”, of information that characterizes contemporary cyberspace.
Sharon Daniel is an Associate Professor of Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz where she teaches classes in digital media theory and practice. Her research involves collaborations with communities that focus on the use and development of information and communications technologies for social inclusion. Most recently, Daniel’s net.art work Public Secrets was launched in February 2007 in the fourth issue of Vectors Journal of Culture and Technology in a Dynamic Vernacular [ www.vectorsjournal.org ]. Public Secrets provides an interactive interface to an audio archive of hundreds of statements made by current and former prisoners, which unmask the secret injustices of the war on drugs, the criminal justice system and the prison industrial complex.
Eduardo Kac [ www.ekac.org ] is internationally recognized for his interactive net installations and his bio art. A pioneer of telecommunications art in the pre-Web ’80s, Eduardo Kac emerged in the early ’90s with his radical telepresence and biotelematic works. His visionary combination of robotics and networking explores the fluidity of subject positions in the post-digital world. His work deals with issues that range from the mythopoetics of online experience (Uirapuru) to the cultural impact of biotechnology (Genesis); from the changing condition of memory in the digital age (Time Capsule) to distributed collective agency (Teleporting an Unknown State); from the problematic notion of the “exotic” (Rara Avis) to the creation of life and evolution (GFP Bunny). Often relying on the indefinite suspension of closure and the intervention of the participant, his work encourages dialogical interaction and confronts complex issues concerning identity, agency, responsibility, and the very possibility of communication.
reference/parallel: Lev Manovitch’s talk on software studies touches upon similar issues discussed at the CAA panel
In A Thousand Plateaus Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari theorize a new way of conceptualizing narrative. What has been obfuscated by a psychoanalytic and aesthetic ideal of coherent and authoritative systems of representation is the fact that “the book is a multiplicity”, a thing with no fixed beginning or end that exists within the non-structural patterns of a “rhizome”. A rhizomatic book, instead of following a reproductive structure of branching points, is written/played by the reader according to her own spontaneous initiative to ‘map’ one signifying element onto another.
To what extent and how effectively does entrusting to the reader the task of ‘mapping’ the narrative, and thereby abandoning the framework of traditional authorship, increase our capacity and desire to, in Deleuze’s words, “experiment with different ways by which one can get a grip on reality”? If linear narrative has restricted the practice of meaning making to the task of producing representations, then we must turn towards an interactive strategy to reverse this top-down process by which images/words signify.
Deleuze’s and Guattari’s theorization of the book-rhizome is a call for action on the part of practitioners – as they themselves admit, “we have not been able to do it”. The layers of hypertext that are the Internet have introduced us to the rhizome model of connectivity. I propose to articulate a possible response to this challenge in the context of storytelling media and examine the properties of the recombinant narrative space defined by A Thousand Plateaus as they apply to the database of an interactive documentary.