Posts Tagged ‘maze’
Torus is a bouncing castle, an inflatable tunnel, a crawl space to rest and socialize, and a novel. After enjoying the buoyant properties of the platform at the center of the structure, revelers enter the darkly glowing, semi-translucent tunnel that circles the ring. Comfortably wide, and yet not large enough to allow you to stand up straight, the tunnel is a tautological maze that amusingly, gently disorients. Its elastic, squeaky walls have the consistency of a balloon and make for interesting reclining, lounging, splaying and contortion of limbs. Strangers meet as they crawl or wiggle through the tunnel: talk, experimentally intertwine, explore the space together. A system of fans keeps the air of the labyrinth adequately fresh and oxygenated.
The secret of Torus is in the speakers embedded in its walls: the tunnel is divided into four quadrants. Each quadrant broadcasts a section of a short novel narrated by the novel’s protagonist. Like in one of Borges’ fantastical stories, the novel has neither beginning nor end – it is literally a circle!
The torus itself is a geometrical object with fascinating psychological properties…sound travels elliptically through it, allowing visitors to experience the ambiance rather than the letter of the novel.
Floating Donuts and Pink Pipe Joints: preliminary models for my project to hybridize the novel and the playground
These sketches are first steps towards a visualization of my concept of “ambient narrative”. In this case, the book being read is inscribed in the walls of a warren of floating inflatable tunnels (suspended like a octopus-shaped air mattress from a ceiling), in the form of pressure sensors that, depending on the visitor’s ensconcement in a particular branch of the structure, trigger audio recordings of a story. Each chapter of the book can be accessed in a recombinant rhizomatic way – literally the visitor travels through the story, using her body, its movements and its rubbing against the plush fabric of the tunnels, as the decoding instrument that allows her to gather fragments of the hidden text. The story itself, called “In the Dark: The Story of a Disapearance” is an existential mystery or detective novel that is pieced together by the non-linear meanderings of the reader.
As a child, I spent hours with my Sega Genesis or (Sega Megadrive, as it was marketed in Europe) developing digital motor reflexes meant to ensure my survival in a colorful 8-bit world. Rolling up in a little ball to zoom through transparent tubes or accelerate and fall in not-quite-Earth-gravity parabolas became second nature. Sonic introduced me to the delights of a sacharine electronic soundtrack that made the hard primary colors of Sonic world’s shimmer and subliminally controlled my minute pushing and pulling of the tiny joystick. Sonic is a masterpiece in synesthetic design: visual, aural and kinetic mesh together to create a re-embodied experience, more akin to telepresence than manipulating an avatar.
Carnival Night Zone
Apparently, other fans who still have dreams of pinballing through Sonic levels and have developped an automatic jump and bounce response to hearing repetitive synth melodies have posted these walkthroughs of Sonic 1 and 2…a nostalgic flashback to an archaic utopia.
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.
To precipitate the player into a daydreaming state – the goal of an immersive envitonment?
Bachelard, Poetics of Daydreaming: “daydreaming allows us to know language uncensored. In solitary daydreaming, we can say everything to ourselves. We still have a clear enough conscience to be certain that what we say to ourselves is for us and for us alone…To understand ourselves doubly as real and idealized beings we must listen to our daydreaming. We believe that our daydreaming can be the best school for a “psychology of the depths“.
“In our hours of happiness, our daydreaming nourrishes itself; it self-sustains the way life self-sustains.”
On alchemy: “The exaltation found in the names of substances is a preamble to experiments on certain “exalted” substances”.
un jadis a jamais disparu: a once upon a time forever dissapeared
l’ombre est alors un etre riche: the shadow is then a rich and splendid being
On loneliness and the condtional tense: “I am alone, therefore I dream of the being who healed my loneliness, who would have healed my loneliness”.
“What do we know about the other if we don’t imagine him/her?”
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.
Rouch’s and Morin’s Chronicles of a Summer seems to propose two very different epistemological directions for the documentary:
* the film as a a project of visual ethnography. The camera is used as a collector of information, basically as a superior technique for rendering the world (as opposed to note-taking): an instrument of inscription used on a collective “other” (ethno – graphy). However, Rouch and Morin, rather than inscribing phenomena, chose to “write down” words. The real does not unfold before a spectator; here the main vehicle of signification is speech, conversation, argument and, thanks to the apparatus, its faithfully captured tonalities: doubt, sincerity, irony, despair, confusion, joviality…The information we get is what “they” chose to tell us, “they” for once referring not to the filmmakers but to the subjects. At this point the ethno-graphic mission
* a therapeutic or cathartic project; the camera becomes “a psychoanalytic stimulant” for its subjects. The filmmaker’s goal is not so much to represent the real (the point where epistemology usually flounders) as to precipitate its transformation by communicating a layer of subterrannean subjective truth that is typically hidden from the public. . Marylou and Marceline no longer just “are”, a surface imprinted on a surface (film) , they “act” or take action – they “act the truer part of themselves”, they bring out their invisible depths to be understood, analytically and emotionally processed, as well as gazed at. They confide in the filmmaker / in an apparatus because they need a witness to their “truer selves”, selves that, kept below, exist only for the subject; the camera draws them out of solipsism and anchors them in the real, in a public consensus of reality that perdures, in a process of passing into the historical record. Here, in their home society, Rouch and Morin perform a therapy session that can, perhaps, by proxy, by a movement of identification with the subjects, begin to work its alchemy collectively, on the French audience at large. “I hoped that they would like the people I liked” _ the project appears to fail at this crucial point; the subjects remain trapped in their interiority, their voices are witnesses only to themselves, not to another.
What is, then, the vérité that cinéma-vérité is interested in? Vertov offered the idea that film could parse out a “higher truth” from the fragments of the visible world. Rouch and Morin seem to believe that, via the inscription device that is the camera, an obfuscated truth, the truth of subjectivity (and by extension intersubjectivity, human relations) can be brought to light – and never more so than when this “truth” is reflexive, bounced off the film’s subjects for further elucidation, verification, which Rouch and Morin conduct in the final “accounting” (compte rendu) session at the end of the film. In both cases, the validity of the ideal that film, as indexically grounded in “truth”, is a medium suited to the epistemological project is assumed. The line simply starts to blur between truth and performance (performance becomes a form of truth), between truth and poetic vision (in Vertov’s case). What kind of epistemology are we still talking about?
Rouch on his investment in the camera as epistemological apparatus:
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.
The city we walk through everyday is not necessarily the city we experience. The urban landscape we experience is colored by our goals and projects, subordinated to the destination we are moving towards. We tend to blank out or forget the real space of the city, a often inexplicable space created by the various forms of infrastructure that are the bare bones of our urban lives. This short film recreates our sensation/perception of these “forgotten” spaces when we chose to focus on them, to really feel the contours of their existence. Although these different urban landscapes have different moods or atmospheric connotations, they all share the same capacity to both suck in and repulse our attention. Both omnipresent and indefinable/unnamable, this infrastructure-landscape creates a sensation much like falling down a well or becoming lost in a maze, as the mind loses all points of reference and is engulfed by/trapped in undiluted space.
Photographic stills of urban spaces representing freeway underpasses, unidentifiable buildings, passages, unplanned-for vegetation, pipes with no immediately visible purpose, walls, fences, or placing in the same space elements that are physically contiguous but semantically unrelated, such as a row of windows in a building and the tree growing in a parking lot next to it, or the sidewalk corner that randomly unites two structures are woven into each other in an editing style strongly reminiscent of Amy Kravitz’ piece “Trap” in which patterns of light and shadow alternate and flow into each other in order to create (for me, at least) an abstract, mysterious, elusive space that hypnotizes the viewer and thwarts/encourages her attempt to find a form of fragmented meaning in the seamless changeability of the images. The infrastructure space I aim to create is not as abstract as that, since the shape of the elements that are represented will be visible, although, in the spirit of “Trap”, cut up and disjointed, thrown out of physical/topological context. However, the nature of the spaces represented i.e. the fact that no clear “object” of representation but only shape, line and texture will be truly identifiable in the frame should contribute to the viewer’s same sensation of being lost, even dizzy, that she gets from watching Amy Kravitz’s piece. In addition to using Kravitz’s technique of blending/ fading in and out frames to create this effect, I anticipate using lighting effects in After Effects, for example, having stripes of light or spotlights flow over the images, much like in Pistachios’ “Curare Bulgari” piece.
To add dramatic buildup to the piece (which Amy Kravitz’s piece perhaps lacks) I will interrupt the flow of photographed infrastructure with short segments of live action (5-10 seconds), in which a mime, using a combination of gestures (mostly upper body) and facial expressions will introduce to more jarring and explicit effect the sensation of mental distress/discomfort that one feels when confronted with the emptiness and “semantic insufficiency” of these spaces. As the piece progresses, these interludes will become more frequent, more brief and the gestures and lighting will become more intense. In terms of the gestures, more intense does not necessarily mean more contorted or frightening, but less controlled, perhaps even more passive, as if one had finally surrendered to the space represented. In terms of lighting, this will mean a gradual stepping up from flat to very contrasty (the mime mostly in shadow, along with the background, except for part of her face brightly illuminated). The progression of the “mime” sequences should culminate in a cathartic release from tension, as if the mind, after putting up resistance against the flow of incomprehensible space, after having tried to imbue it with meaning / decipher it, had decided to flow with it, to follow it where it lead, even into an unknown territory where the city, where lived space, ceases to make any conventional sense. Ideally, the viewer will be brought to the point where this release will be a desired thing, something that needs to happen in order to reconcile the insupportable tension between the space and the viewer’s mind. The final mime sequence would be, in sharp contrast to the visual/editing buildup of the previous sequences, longer (10-15 seconds) and would involve completely flat, very bright lighting and a passive posture on the part of the mime.
The mime will be shot against green screen. Ideally, I would like to create a background that resembles the “luminous cube”. The walls of the cube will be a different color in each sequence to match the color palette of the previous photographic sequence. As we progress in the piece, we will be able to see less and less of the cube, however (until the final sequence), as the lighting recedes from the background to focus more on the mime, and becomes more contrasty – as if the person were “losing space” and losing their footing in a black emptiness. The mime will be dressed in textureless, close-fitting black, their body gradually losing visibility with the change in lighting, until only their face can be used as the expressive element.
The soundtrack will be atonal and electronic, incorporating sound effects and feedback, in the style of noise artists or industrial electronic music artists such as John Cage, Throbbing Gristle and Venetian Snares. The music for the sequences involving the photography of infrastructure will progress to become more and more monotonous, to include less and less variation. The music for the sequences involving the mime will progress to become more varied, faster, and will start to incorporate harder and harder beats (perhaps even morphing into a drum n’ bass sort of sound). The final pairing of a photography / mime sequence will have both soundtracks merge again in a common soundtrack, a more melodious, more “beautiful” sound (something like the way the soundtrack I used in my exercise piece earlier this semester climaxes/dissolves into a more ecstatic, slow movement) to express the release or relief, the sense of liberation at the end of the short.
I’ve decided to use only one screen – although I am playing with the idea to have the final climactic sequences “explode” across multiple screens.
(these are broken notes!)
TO BE MOCKED UP IN ‘SECOND LIFE’ – SUMMER 2009
Stuff that you have to put your eyes to, ‘put your head in’ the image to perceive? Mixture of this and a large screen? A large screen enveloping a small screen. PORTABLE OR INSTALLATION ? SCREENS MOVING ON A GRID LIKE PUZZLE PIECES? DIFFERENT SOUNDS COMING FROM DIFFERENT CORNERS OF THE ROOM?
IMMERSION BOX (SMALL PLACE WHERE YOU HAVE TO SIT DOWN CROSS-LEGGED) WHERE YOU ARE BOMBARED BY STIMULI?
Mapping of database space onto real space? System of tunnels and burrows??? In the space of abandoned factory or industrial complex? Turn it into a medium for uploading different work rather than just a one-time thing?? Kafka’s The Mole, real-space rhizome??
You hear sound in one area of the burrow, or perhaps a dim light and you
go to investigate??
A GIANT BLACK BOX RIDDLED WITH TUNNELS,
A MAZE, ONE ENTRANCE AND ONE EXIT –
operated like a funhouse ride
(a person in costume pushes on a lever to start the experience).
“The Burrow”, “The Box”.
Relationship between physical movement and body sensations and light/sound??
See movie: CUBE. Create an ecstatic and terrifying/sublime experience
Movement of the body (what you step on, lean against, press on in space) is the interactive device. But the logic must be clear/ must we have a cathartic movement/moment, an end-point?
Work with sensory deprivation too: the whole cube goes dark and you just hear sublime music coming from different directions, or different discourses –
Signals, flashing icons help you on your way
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.