Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bill's Brain

Talk about looking deeply inside yourself for answers, or what is the other one? it's good to be introspective? Bill Moorier's coded this interactive brain scan explorer to take a look at his own brain. I am sure our friend Twyla will enjoy this. Maybe an idea to implement in her site? You can play with Bill's brain here

As for my interest in interactivity and storytelling I see lot's of possibilities...hmmm. I can see googoles of data served by every microlayer, now, if I can only remember where I left my glasses...

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Eye Writer


We live in interesting times, no question about that. Plague, famine, kids killing people in remote villages from their drone playstations in Las Vegas, sipping RedBull. It is quite difficult to know how we can provide an ounce of balance to a ton of misery, so that ounce must be something really special to rescue our impossibly damaged spirit.

The influx of very damaged very young humans, the broken byproduct of that biggest business which is war, ends up in the landfills of society, the eternal superfund from which some people pick up the pieces and try to put things back together, albeit in a very different way. A leg here, an arm there, an eye or two, perhaps a brain? Can we pull us back together?
I will call him Luis

While searching for an appropriate picture to help me cut through the fog I had trouble finding one of the millions of miserable children which survive doing such a thing, because Corbis Corporation, the photo "service" owns most of them. I wonder, do those children get a percentage directly deposited to their pig accounts?

I guess you get the point. What triggered all this diatribe was me thinking about what we do on a daily basis, our "job" in other words. Do we really do something useful, something that tips the balance and creates a positive change? I think one of the reasons that the Open Source movement is so important is that it is a sort of groundswell, difficult to perceive because it is so pervasive and widespread.

But this movement, so dangerous to the monopolists of the world will tumble the most arrogant of them. There is no corporation, not even the most technically sophisticated that can evolve as rapidly as thousands or millions of people working together for a common cause.

As a little sample, I offer this movie about such an endeavour, one that ends with a call to hackers all over the world to collaborate, in this and any other way that might become the glue that binds us together again, into our cyborgian future.

The Eyewriter from Evan Roth on Vimeo.

Open Frameworks, F.A.T., Graffiti Research Lab, graffiti legend Tempt1 and of course EyeWriter got together to produce that ounce of energy for each and everyone of us...

Here is the how to and all the good monopoly-breaking stuff for those DIY's among us. Keep on DIYing...!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Shamar's Machinima Video

Hello all. I cannot upload my machinima video here because it is too big but I'll go ahead and say a little bit about it anyways.

Originally, I had wanted to take files from Second Life and upload them to Isadora to make a three-screen Machinima movie. However, I had many problems with the footage I filmed in Second Life. After spending many, many hours capturing footage of my character dancing everywhere from ghettos to sacred sites and dance clubs, I found that many of the files would not open correctly. I don't know if there was a bug or what, but for some reason most of the footage I shot became unusable. So, I learned from this that in the future I should work in segments..capture a little, test it, work with it and then move on to capturing more. That way I will find out if there are problems that need to be worked out before I invest a ton of time in one stage of the process.

I took some of the files that DID work and uploaded them to Isadora where I began to play around with altering the footage, even to the extent that it became totally abstract. I think many fantastic opportunities still await in using Second Life with Isadora.

This Machinima is the first try at bringing Second Life and Isadora together. I put images together that showed some of the different processes I had gone through. I also used sound files from freesound.org. So, the end result is really just a collage of sorts.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The End of the Semester

I wanted to write a little bit of a summary of what I have done this semester in case some of you wish to visit what I've build in Second Life. I think we'll be illustrating these things on Thursday as well. I have tried to illustrate the process of radiation therapy, since this is what I do full time when I'm not pretending to be a student so it is what I'm most familiar with.

There are four different areas, an Introductory area with a quick video clip of the facility where I work. There are several posters with links with some helpful information. The Intro Room is the area where a patient will get "simulated" for their treatment. This used to mean using a machine similar to the radiation delivery machine which was called a simulator. With the advent of digital media and computers that could handle the huge data sets there is no need to use an actual machine as a simulator, a "virtual patient" is created from the CT images of the patient and all of the simulations is then done in a computer, along with a bunch of calculations. This is all performed in the Treatment Planning area which in Second Life is not so cool since it is all about working on computers and there are many VR types of tools already in existence to assist with this (Vertual). The final room is the Linac Room where the radiation delivery machine is in place. There are several posters explaining the process.

While the idea of radiation can be scary to some, or even controversial to others, it serves as a means of cancer cure for many. It's technology is expensive, but in some cases it is used as a substitute for surgery because of the reduced side effects and risk. I hope none of you have to experience this process in real life and it could become and only virtual process!

Hope you have all been able to get something out of this class, I know I have learned a lot mostly as a paradigm shift about how I approach the use of digital media, it has made me think of news ways to illustrate concepts and ideas, and I love some of the ubiquitous ideas (especially with the handhelds). I know I have barely scraped the surface on what can be done with digital media in education and in medicine.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Growing A ToonLoop Animation

In answer to Nick's slip-n-slide posting, here is the one I came up with in class. ToonLoop was a pleasure to use because of its simplicity. Since I am interested in heuristic learning, it makes sense to me that now that I have been able to produce something that I had fun with on my first pass, I am that much more motivated to try another more involved stop motion project. If I had hit a technological wall or steep learning curve the first time, that impression might have colored my idea of stop motion animation forever after. Thank you to the ToonLoop programmers for understanding that sometimes less is more.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

What's next for Second Life?

Since I have spend a bit of time now in Second Life, I have started to wonder if it will stand the test of time. The move the company made towards the Enterprise version (at such a high dollar) along with Shamar's post about the possibility of law suits for visiting someone else's creation (or filming while there) makes me question what the future will hold for this particular platform. I believe there is a lot that it is flexible and provides a platform to illustrate different concepts and even for a novice like myself it has been fairly usable. While there are still advances being made and some companies creating new tools like this new 3D software for graph illustrations (BrainBoard - picture right), other areas seem to be closing down. I have found myself in some Islands that were pretty vacant that looked like they used to contain merchandise or some other form of activity. One article I found (picture below) seem to feel that second life needs to find a new life. I think that this critique comes from people who don't see much use for walking around trying to buy stuff and maybe "talking to weirdo's". Another hit for Second Life comes from Australia where a major internet provider who had given unmetered access to Second Life to its customers has decided to pull the plug and also to take down their BigPond Island because after 2 years the company's "focus has moved to other social media opportunities". I can completely agree that from a social networking standpoint, Second Life doesn't quite make it. It is too slow, too expensive, and is really awkward, that along with all the materialism it makes me a little crazy. However, this doesn't discount the fact that there are huge opportunities from an academic point of view for lectures, meetings, conferences, and for illustrating abstract concepts. This class and others interested in using the medium to convey ideas will determine if Second Life succeeds or fails; not the number of shoes or outfits that I buy.

Monday, November 23, 2009

EFF Lawyer Says Second Life Copyright Issues "In Some Ways Worse" Than Real Life

Over the past few weeks, I've been experimenting with how the content of Second Life can be used to create Machinima videos and also brought into Isadora to create content for projections. As I played around with the possibilities, I began to become very interested in zooming in on objects to create abstract images of flowing color. I realized a swaying bush could become beautiful abstract swirling greens and have no resemblance to a bush at all. I thought to myself, "Wow, what a great way to collect abstract footage to mix with real world footage". I was reminded of the abstract film pieces of Stan Brackage. So, Second Life, more than presenting opportunities for filming virtual spaces that represent real life, has unlimited abstract potential, if areas are filmed from an angle of distortion. Or, for example, if a moving character is brought into Isadora and connected to a time-blur and color filter, then the content can change tremendously!

I got really excited about all of this and even about the possibilities of making straight on Machinima videos with little abstraction. But, then I started to wonder about copyright. Did individuals who created the trees have a copyright on their trees? Would Linden Labs have some rights to everything I would make within their virtual landscape? What if I abstracted the content to such a potential that it could not be recognized? Could I be sued for filming an avatar without his/hers/its consent if its name appears above its head and the shot is included on a short machinima film that is uploaded to YouTube, receives 200 million hits and shoots me to superstardom? Ok, just kidding! But, you know what I mean.

I did a quick google search and came across this article: EFF Lawyer Says Second Life Copyright Issues "In Some Ways Worse" Than Real Life

Here's the meat of the article:
"Second Life in some ways is worse than real life. That's because users retain the underlying intellectual property rights to their SL creations. And after all, as Fred pointed out, you can walk down the street in real life without worrying that the textures in the sidewalk are copyrighted. "In Second Life these are gray interesting mysteries" around the law, he added. Something worth considering for people who publish screenshots or machinima extracted from SL. It's been argued that if you run a photo of a Second Life street, you don't really need to get the permission from the creator of every single item in the frame, just as you don't need to do so when you take a photo of a New York City street. However, that assumption has not yet been tested in court. As Von Lohmann added, most of the Second Life community is unlikely to be aggressively litigious. But if Second Life continues growing, I believe that sense of good faith won't always hold."

So, after reading this, I began to have second thoughts about using Second Life for content creation. Why would I want to put all of that time an energy into learning how to use it, or film scenes and edit them, etc., if ,down the road someone could tell me that it is not really my content at all, but belongs to ten other individuals, one of whom would like to sue me?

The article did state that "the Second Life community is unlikely to be aggressively litigious. But if Second Life continues growing, I believe that sense of good faith won't always hold". And, that's what I'm worried about. Any thoughts?

Channel Surfing

As an alternative to cable TV, users of the website surfthechannel.com can look under the category of television to see programs from around the world. The opening page has four different types of searches available.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I already posted my comments regarding my movie making experience when I saw an interview with John Cameron regarding his new movie Avatar which comes out this December. This seemed to tie in for a number of reasons, namely the topic of the movie as well as John Cameron's ability to create great work. Even though his interest in virtual worlds and ours may be different, I am sure we can all be inspired by his vision, his talent, and his work ethic.

My Machinima Experience

I had hoped to be ready to share my machinima by now, but what I can share is some of my experience with this process. First of all, I am disappointed in the information from the SL Wiki on Machinimas. They list "machinima friendly sims", locations where filming is allowed. I tried almost every one of them and only one allowed you to create a film path, and even that one deletes anything you create in 5 minutes. Also, I did not find very many free tools for Mac for filming. I ended up purchasing iShowU HD which is extremely user friendly, but if you are running that and SL you have to stop every few minutes or the animation in SL will stop being able to Rez. Also, as all of you know by now, there is a great deal of time involved in editing. I am using iMovie'08 which is quite easy and I've used it once before. Overall I'm relatively pleased with how my machinima is turning out, (but I have to admit, I'm not a perfectionist). Probably the most frustrating thing of this entire process has been the inordinate amount of time I had to spend "creating sets" for my movie I cannot even tell how many hours that has taken and the finish product by no means looks like it took so long! Hopefully I'll have time to also complete some of the functional aspects of my second life project so that it is a better teaching tool rather than just a stage. It has been an interesting project so far.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Becoming Cyborg

In the reading of Frank Biocca's The Cyborg's Dilemma I found myself thinking a lot about how embodied we have become in virtual worlds. The whole theses of the Cyborg's Dilemma is that as interfaces and means of engaging with computer or with people via computers becomes more "natural" the human interfaces become the more "unnatural" we become as we enter into another state of being (in essence). I think I would also add that in doing so we re-define what "natural" is. (An interesting article on this) How many of us have seen a couple in love holding hands but talking on their cell phones to someone else. Also, how common is it to see a group of students sitting at table but everyone is engaged with their cell phones communicating with someone else. This is not "natural" the more natural thing would be to pay attention to and talk with the person whose company we are keeping. I know that communicating via email and text or even through social networking sites is convenient and seems like from a physical point of view a fairly natural means of engaging with the electronic medium, but it has change the normal for what it means to interact and spend time with someone. It is a dilemma.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I Needed This In Boston

Using either an EDGE or 3G signal, this new app for iPhones can allow users to start their car remotely, and operate other functions. This means that it will work with both an iPhone and/or an iPod Touch. I needed this when I lived in Boston, because in the depths of the long winter, it would have been very convenient to have the car warming up before getting into it on the morning commute! The company, Directed Electronics, charges $499 for installation of their Viper SmartStart System, or $299 if installed in a vehicle which already has the Viper alarm system. The technology can also be used for triggering many other functions in tech projects, and it would be interesting to develop a game or musical instrument with remote capibilities.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Online Resources For Creativity

One of the only places on the web that I know of to provide public access to free video editing tools is a relatively new website called One True Media. It offers other services as well, without the need to purchase expensive editing software. I believe this falls into the category of Cloud Computing, a precept of which is that the public can work on projects using technology without having to own or update the software. I favor this idea as I am not a big fan of upgrades.

Another interesting site is called Aviary. It is a suite of graphics tools much the the pricey Adobe software, but also includes the ability to save your files on their server. This was extremely useful this summer when I was teaching at a tech camp for migrant teens which was under the auspices of the School Board and the Alachua Multi-county Migrant Program. Many, if not most, of these kids did not have access to a computer at home, but could create their designs for tee shirts and save them to the website. Now that the camp is over, they can still access their work online at any public library. This is an important solution in the struggle to address what is known as the Digital Divide.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Second Life Enterprise

Last Wednesday, Linden Labs releasing an enterprise version of Second life that allows a company to have the database on their own server and behind their firewall. This seems like a smart move for companies and I wonder if they may have a little more control on the speed and workflow within their own "enterprise" world within second life.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Phantom touch, our CYBORGIAN present

As some of you know, our DW team is working on the implementation of a haptic device driven by brain waves in collaboration with the Neuroprosthetic Research Group under the direction of Dr. Justin Sanchez. Their goal is to develop novel BIONIC medical treatments This has many applications, primarily for disabled people that have lost limbs or are paralyzed.

This is a graphic I made for Dr.Sanchez. Check out his presentation Co-Evolution of Man and Machine: Neuroprosthetics in the 21st Century.

This is a particular area of interest to me since I started experimenting with cursor control via electrical body feedback in the early nineties although my focus was more as a game designer, which is what I was doing at the time.

Here are some pics of my biofeedback contraption. I built my own "electrodes" which connected to the battery snaps at the back, but I could not find them for this post. Of course all of this can now be done with a cheap microprocessor with a much better clock rate. I remember spending a few hundred dollars thinking that gamers would be interested in such input device, but, alas, it was not so. True, it took a lot of training and effort to move the darn cursor, but it worked, lazy bastards!

Old 37 pin PC-Lab 750 parallel card built on a prototyping board by Advantec

If I was doing this by myself again I would probably use a parallel processor like the Propeller by Parallax which would be quite enough to achieve a much better result for a fraction of the cost and would be a lot of fun, anybody?.

Here is another approach well implemented by those cool Norwegians. Thanks to Master New Media Designer extraordinaire Virgil Wong for the link.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Data and Design

In answer to Edward's previous post, another useful website to know about is called Many Eyes.
It allows users to try out various types of graphic representations of data sets, either their own or sets provided. I thought the graph of football quarterback's salaries on page two was interesting, because what people choose to focus on is telling.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Short Paper

This link is for my Short paper on VR in education and research. I have never tried this process but I uploaded the paper into Google Docs and saved is as a shared document and then recorded the link. Please let me know if you are unable to view the paper.

I found this process of reading several papers interesting as I was focused on efficacy (for my own research project). The conclusion that I came to is that there is plenty of evidence showing the efficacy of VR and AR in education and that one of the main roadblocks towards greater utilization of VR in education is that we don't know what we need, let alone what we want. Otherwise, we might just find that we succeed.


Why MMOG? Why Not?

I have to admit that before this class and this reading on MMOG. That I hadn’t given much thought to MMOG. I personally have never participated in any of the games mentioned although through the years I’ve known many people who have. Probably, the most interesting to me in the historical narrative of the development of online gaming was the information about how politics has influenced the development of the games. I find it fascinating that part of the reason that Korea has lead the way with games such as Legacy was that rather than importing other commercial gaming systems from Japan (which was not allowed post WWII the country focused their attention on broadband. That one difference made a huge impact in their country being successful in the online gaming business. The other fascinating thing to me that was pointed out in the article was that the way the different cultures interface with MMOG is different. For more communal societies, the users gravitate towards game that better reflect the society they know.

In the second set of reading I was asking myself “what is the purpose of the game?" Gaming is such big business and has been extremely successful, but why? The reading cleared this up for me a bit because the developers are asking the same question. What is it about these games that draws people in? Is it the fight or the social interactions or some combination of both? What method of payment works best? What Leveling up method keeps people interested? I think the development community knows that the social interactions and some sort of goal are key but they cannot have a free reign society because the survival of the fittest mentality tends to take out all the new players too quickly (which isn't good for business or for social satisfaction).

I think we'll have to stay tuned to see where this goes. As to the satisfaction of "why they are popular" I found an interesting article on The Psychology of MMORPG. In this article the author conducted an online survey for 3 years from 2000-2003 of users who played EverQuest, Dark Age of Camelot, Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies. They had anywhere from 2000 to 4000 responders for each survey they posted. Many of the questions were related to social interactions both in real life and in the game. One static that really caught me was that of women gamers 59.8% participated in the game with a romantic partner and 39.5% of female responders participated with a family member. There were also many other interesting statistics about friendships within the game. It seems to me, that at least for women, the huge draw is the social interactions that can be had, in some ways, much more easily in the game than in reality. Maybe the MMOG has taken the place of the Tupperware party. Time will tell if it is a passing trend or is here to stay.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Games with a Purpose or GWAP's

How many tags?

Tagging has become one of the most invisible but significant elements of digital media. Although it is not immediately apparent, when we search on the web, in our own folders or in the public library, we depend 100% on tags and their accuracy to find what we are looking for.

A tag can be described as a non-hierarchical keyword which can identify a piece of information. In this respect it can be considered metadata, since it is information about information.

Now, tags are usually keywords chosen by someone to describe a particular aspect of that information. In the case of an image for example, tags would vary greatly depending on who "tags" the picture. Since this is not a very reliable way to describe anything, various tools have evolved that attempt to remedy this situation by applying crowdsourcing to solve this problem.

Delicious is one example where each individual tags a particular site with as many keywords that might bring it up again in a future search. We all know how easy it was to completely lose sight of a great site among our bookmarks simply because we forgot either how we named the bookmark or the name of the site itself which can be pretty cryptic anyway, no to mention the fact that before Delicious, bookmarks resided in our computer so we could not access them if we were away from it. So now our bookmarks, that old term, reside in the cloud, for everyone to access.

Google, whose main purpose is to make information accessible to everyone (some might disagree), has developed sophisticated algorithms to classify and tag all the information available on the internet and the cloud. However, tagging and classifying images, videos and music has proven to be specially difficult, because of the same problem we face when we ourselves attempt a description.

So what is the solution? depends on the users of course, to do the dirty work. Google Image Labeler is one such tool that has proven very effective. It's simple, fun, game-like minimal interface allows you and a random partner to label images with ever more complex tags, and it gives you "points" depending on the complexity or precision of the label. For any label to work, both you and your partner must submit the same keyword or descriptive phrase.

This idea was originally proposed by Carnegie Mellon's Luis von Ahn, who also developed the infamous and ubiquitous captchas. Originally called the ESP game, which is when I first played it some years ago, it was subsequently licensed by Google. One important difference is that now, if the picture that is presented to you has been tagged before, all those tags are now off-limits, so you have to come up with new ones. This was in response to the fear that tags would become very generic since it is easier to agree on an obvious word, like bird, instead of for example agree on the specific species name.

I have for a long time been intrigued by how we, humans, have suddenly, as the tools became available, become busy bees tagging, describing, sharing information, even as trivial as to what we are doing at the moment, where we are, what we ate etc. (Twitter and FB being the best examples.) My own weird take on it, is that this is the way the "system", the cloud or the emerging consciousness of our information age, gathers all the necessary bits and pieces to achieve the critical mass or the tipping point in order to wake up. A few years ago this thought was simply part of the SF literature. Today is is just a waiting game.

And please, while you wait, tag your posts!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

ISMAR and Medicine

I attended a workshop at the ISMAR conference that focussed on current trends in medical simulations. Most of the simulations that were demonstrated were for military training purposes which does not fit my needs specifically, but I came to appreciate the technology of augmented reality and some of the applications. There was a open forum at the end of the workshop to talk about how to move medical virtual reality to the next level. I think what the vendors and the people who were present want to see happen is for medical simulators to be used in the licensing and recertification process of medical doctors. There is a proposed bill HR855 that would mandate doctors to spent a certain amount of time in simulation prior to practicing. This hasn't been passed yet, but one thing I am concerned about with this type of initiative is that it would place a requirement on professionals that may or may not be proven to help train in the particular skills that cause problems. No one can argue that the rate of medical errors is too high, however, simply creating legislature to require doctors to spend time on simulators that may or may not be useful doesn't seem to make sense. As many of our readings have implied unless the VR or AR system adds some benefit to the training simply using it "because it is there" and especially require people to use it because it is there doesn't make any sense at all. For this reason I am focussing my attention on the VR paper for education and research on studies showing efficacy. Perhaps I'm naive enough to believe that developing good VR products and conducting efficacy studies would generate the necessary interest in these simulators that all doctors would begin using them.

Monday, October 26, 2009

AR, VR, MAR, MVR, ISMAR and other acronyms

ISMAR 2009 was a mixed bag, some awesome talks and demonstrations and on the other hand very few vendor kiosks with disappointing demos that looked more like 2001. Yes, some AR headgear was almost tolerable but with poor image quality (basically little low-res tv's hung in front of your eyes). Although there are already working prototypes of retinal projection none was available, and this is the technology which I believe will be both less intrusive (almost ubiquitous) and at the same time totally invasive with a direct path to your brain.

I think that all head worn displays suffer from an extreme case of risk-aversion, incrementing oh so slowly, sensors and devices that are already mainstream, like accelerometers, magnetic compasses etc. They need a serious garage-shock! anybody there?

The conferences, on the other hand, were fabulous. It was hard to choose which one to attend, but we stayed with the Arts&Humanities chapter most of the time, except when some very well known presenters gave their demos, like Pattie Maes from MIT wearable computing lab which demonstrated the "SixthSense""a device developed by Pranav Mistry that we had already seen in a TED video, or the HitLab guys from New Zealand with which we had very interesting conversations about their various tools and projects. We also found out that they are already working very closely with UF's department of Engineering.

Augmented Reality (AR) Joiner series, Waterfall - Outdoors from Augmented Stories on Vimeo.

And talking about projects, I was really impressed by Helen Papagiannis from York University in Toronto. She presented work utilizing marker tracking with a custom library created at their Augmented Reality Lab in the Department of Film. This was the first time that I have seen a truly creative an original work which has gone beyond technology and in the process of becoming a new language, a new form that she might not even be aware of. I am sure we will hear more from her in the future. The video above is only a small taste. But in a shorter term she agreed to make a virtual presentation to our class, just need to coordinate times! Very exciting.

The other high point for me was the presence of Natasha Tsakos, whose work we have also seen in class. She too agreed to visit us online. It was nice to see her after almost seven years, from a theater student to a full fledged international performer and media star. We had a chance to talk about the ethics of technology and our responsibility as technoartists in this world and time that will be crucial to our survival as a species, not to mention other life forms that we are decimating as we boldly go where no one has been before.

Our presentation of the virtual alien controlled real-time from Digital Worlds was a smashing success. Eyes and mouths open, plenty of smiles and excitement. To be honest I myself was surprised of the enthusiastic response, being a very techie and sophisticated audience. That made me realize that we are on the right place at the right time...! Using an Open Source game engine running code by Anton Yudi and my 3D character and environment we were able to advance a few steps towards physical-virtual avatar control. Still a long way to go to be completely untethered.

Jarrel Pair, the organizer who introduced us, said we had taken a great risk by presenting something live, in real-time and involving so many variables. In reality it was nerve wrecking! Internet connectivity via ethernet, which we needed because wireless was so spotty, was non existent until about 4 minutes before our group began (we were 3 presenters in a panel). But once we started everything went absolutely smooth, even beyond our expectations.

Pictures coming soon...

Shamar's IRS Research and Design Paper to be created on Blurb

IRS Research and Design Paper to be created on Blurb

-Pursue own interests within your academic area in the context of virtual environments
-Utilize qualitative and/or quantitative research methods and identify, discover, or determine the answers to critical research questions within your field of study
-Publish on Blurb or Lula


I will explore how to create an online network in a virtual environment that serves as a teaching tool and a place for a global community to converge around a topic of interest even if they are physically located thousands of miles away.

In this paper, I will specifically explore how to create a globally connected network around BAM!

To do this, I will flesh out how to build a virtual world that does the following:

Hosts an online educational space that teaches about the history of trance dance through videos/ photos/ text

Hosts an online performance space that enables djs to stream music live from any location in the world to multiple locations that can be experience BAM at the same time

Hosts an online convergence space where speakers and participants can share their experiences in real time and have their experiences cataloged. A mythical character will be the host.

Hosts an art museum that will hold the generative artwork of all involved in BAM across the world

Hosts a store that sells the generative artwork for download to be put on computers as screensavers, displayed on screens during parties and fundraisers, and to be used by artists in music festivals across the world.

Shamar's Machinima Video Outline

IRS Machinima Video

The techniques of machinima creation will aid me in creating an abstract art video that celebrates ecstatic movement as a common language capable of uniting people across barriers and showing our common humanity. Real world dancers and avatars will dance in extended spaces that overlap real world environments with virtual ones. I will explore these spaces within the context of community building and consciousness raising. Thus, a spectrum of environments will be explored. Some will acknowledge the planetary wisdom of ancestors connected to the land. Others will reveal present day environments which have been mistreated. On one end of the spectrum, themes of global warming, pollution, war, and hunger will be explored. On the other end, a positive future will be imagined. Through it all, the wisdom of people who have come before and been stewards of the land will be respected. These environments will be explored through movement.



Film Shamar's avatar dancing in natural setting in second life - ocean, forest, stream, sky
Film Shamar's avatar dancing in polluted environments in second life - trash dumps, corporate logo environments, dark desolate places, online protest sites
Film Shamar's avatar dancing with other avatars in environments that represent a positive imagining of the future

Download clips of films/ pictures that show bombs, guns, death, hunger, destruction
Download clips of films/ pictures that show positive imaginings of the future

Film dancers in environments around Gainesville

Create text that honors ancestor voices

Use Isadora to create a video that combines all of this.

Arts in Medicine Second Life Webinar

I just found out about these webinars that will be hosted in Second Life. This is a great opportunity to see how Second Life can be used to teach and network and bring people together on a particular topic even if they are spread out across the world.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Viral marketing or deadly indigestion?

With its usual lack of understanding of user needs or wants Microsoft has come up with probably one of the worst product launch campaigns in the annals of advertising.

In consonance with their overbloated, indigestible and socially irresponsible practices, Microsoft launches Windows 7 by partnering with Burger King and offering a "Windows 7 Whopper"!

With over 2500 calories, this obesity and artery clogging, hormone-laden, environmentally devastating promotional campaign will probably (and hopefully) do as much harm to Microsoft and its shareholders as they have inflicted upon users for over 3 decades.

The vomitive offer features 7 greasy patties for only $8.55. What a bargain. Check with your insurance company before buying Windows 7 to see if they cover software-induced triple bypass surgery. But hurry, this offer is good only for 7 days and after that the price goes up to$ 15.86.

What's up with the 7's? do they just want to up-one the famous 666 you know who? That would be bestial.

Isadora and Text

In researching how to animate text for the names of the performers in the Live Vibe TV Bach presentation, I tried working with both Flash and Isadora. There seemed to be no advantage to Flash in that the overall production is going to use Isadora to control the multimedia components for the event. Isadora offers an amazing versatility of effects and modes. It comes with examples of how to set up a series of variables and controls, one of which is shown on the screen capture above. Only focusing on the possibilities with text, the following are just some of what can be accomplished:

1) Showed alpha channeled text over video images

2) Allowed for control of font size, color, and style (can match logo fonts)

3) Allowed for control of location and/or rotation of text

4) Create effects with the text such as changing it to dots, or cutting it into

sections which then come together to form the names

5) Animated on an x,y, and z axes

6) Allowed for button or toggle control of chosen functions

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Comments on the writing machines

It just occurred to me while reading some other material for this class and also in taking a second look at Ed's post that the reason I don't believe that new media will eliminate the written word is because it seems to be instinctive to human nature to desire to communicate via language. I could be wrong and it could be that communication through other media will eventually take the place of this but that doesn't seem to be the trend. It seems that the more "new" media there that exists, the more "things" there are to write about. I say this partly as a reaction to research for background material for the VR in education short paper. Does anyone else find it ironic that there are hundreds of papers on the subject? Even though these games and virtual media should be able to stand on their own (and be "worth 1,000 words") they have opened a Pandora's box of "old media" to try to explain the new.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


In the essay of Tele-Agency: Telematics, Telerobotics and the Art of Meaning, Edward Shanken addresses the idea of determining how new media are to be used. It is a very similar discussion to what we have read in prior essays, however there is more of a focus on the use of certain language. Specifically, he argues that we should reevaluate the use of the terminology of “master-slave” for future work with robots. I think that it the language itself may be a hindrance in having mutual interactions between the machine or robot and the human. Shanken argues that a more “object-object” set of definitions may be more appropriate as a starting point for discussion and again brings up the point that the machine may be capable of arriving and consciousness which would change the way we engage with them. A primary issue is that the ethics for how object-object art and sciences is to be achieved should be determined.

Although I am still quite skeptical of machines achieving consciousness, I can see where we would need to discuss the ethics of such thing as it helps to structure how we will interact with other beings and machines. I could certainly agree with the statement he makes that eventually the "master" reaches a point of not being able to live without the "slave". Sometimes I wonder if we haven't already reached that point with our technology.

The discussions in the paper about telephonics was very interesting to me from a more practical point. I like the idea of using the technology to be able to interact with artistic designs in a "real-time" situation. In looking further into the work of Norman White and the Telephonic Arm Wresting I also found some other works my Norman White who has spent most of his time working on interactive media. One particular work that I found very interesting was the HearSay device from 1985 before email was commonplace. This message was around the world and translated into various languages. The final message had the major components of the message intact, but the details were either removed or changed. The original and final part of the message are illustrated below:





Monday, October 12, 2009

Cyborg Bugs

There is a great deal of research being done in the area of brain mapping to determine precise locations for different functions and for different behaviors. This work is used routinely in the treatment of neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease where an image of the brain is used along with feedback to implant devices into the brain to stop the parts of the brain that cause the tremor. In a similar (although nowhere near as precise) manner, these bugs have been implanted with an antenna in order to try to understand and control their movements. One more step in the evolution of the cyborg.

In the Company of Strangers

In The Company of Strangers

No need to watch the entire video, but I've posted it because I was intrigued by the way that Second Life avatars and environments were mixed with real life scenes, sometimes actually within Second Life through television sets. Other scenes were combined with Second Life through editing software techniques so that various layers were created.

Also, I took at look at the blog associated with this video. The master's student who made this video was concerned with indeterminacy and how it acts "as a significant governing factor in the articulation of our relations with others, reinforcing our description as time-based entities traversing the passage of the everyday". Mike Baker, the master's student, also talks of the "Roaming Body" and how "our meetings and encounters with people frequently manifest as disjunct mis-communiqués and dis-engagements".

I think this is especially true in the parts of the world that have access to computers and cellphones etc. We always seem to be on the go with something else to attend to. But, in other countries that I've been, people have related in entirely different ways. In the countryside of Northern India men would sit under a tree for hours and drink chi tea and talk. In Quito, Ecuador parks were filled with men in the middle of the day playing soccer and chess. Granted, this was largely due to the economic situation at the time due to the dollarization of the country, but the fact remains that people were relating differently. It was not a quick hi and by or a few words, but afternoons passed together on a regular basis.

So as I think about us as "time-based entities", I wonder how the concept of this has changed over the generations. How was time experienced 15,000 years ago, 5,000years ago, 300 years ago, 50 years ago, 10 years ago? What factors have contributed to the ways in which we experience time? How will multi-user virtual environments or chips implanted in the brain capable of downloading information change how we experience time and space? How is time experienced in the same moment by different people in different countries with differnt cultural and social values? Well, these are just some questions and thoughts that arose from watching this video and reading Baker's blog.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Arthur Ganson,Machines & the Breath of Time

This a talk by a man who has been the artist-in-residence at M.I.T. that Arturo and I were talking about during our last class. His work is hard to describe, but it is a perfect blending of engineering and aesthetics which creates a sense of wonder in the viewer of his work.

Making the Machinima

Just wanted to let everyone know that I went ahead and purchased the Filming Path HUD in Second life so if anyone wants to use my Avatar for part of your Machinima let me know. Here are a couple of tutorial videos from David Miller that Arturo had pointed me towards.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

BCI System- Second Life

"A research team led by professor Jun'ichi Ushiba of the Keio University Biomedical Engineering Laboratory has developed a BCI system - which stands for brain-computer interface - that lets the user walk an avatar through the virtual world that is Second Life without using mouse, keyboard or any other controller but the power of thought."

I had no idea anyone was doing this. I think I'd need a choice though. I wouldn't mind moving my avatar with my brain signals for awhile so long as I could switch to some sort of body motion detection system. I'd enjoy walking in real life in front of a camera and having my avatar do the same.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gaza Protest in Second Life / Conflict resolution in virtual worlds

Lynette Wallworth in Second Life

(You Tube excerpt)Austrialian artist Lynette Wallworth was a mentor at the Producer Institute this year at BAVC in San Francisco. Her installations utilize technology to amplify and celebrate the human spirit. During the course of these intense 10 days, she engaged with filmmakers and technologists in fruitful collaboration and also entered Second Life for the first time. Certainly Draxtor Despres had to sit down with Lynette's avatar alter-ego Rasaa Mistwalker and chat a little about physical versus simulated reality.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Flesh&Metal: Article

I found Flesh and Metal: Reconfiguring the Mindbody in Virtual Enrivronments by N. Katerine Hayles a fascinating if not intellectually challenging article on what she terms the "flux" between body and the experience of embodiment.

The article mentions her book, How We Became Posthuman, which I went ahead and reserved at the library to continue to discover more on her ideas. The idea that the "body is seen from the outside", while "embodiment is experienced from the inside--from the feelings, emotions, and sensations that constitue the vibrant living textures of our lives" provides an interesting context for analyzing the differences between what we are as a physical human and how technology may enable us to "live as disembodied information patterns."

I've read a lot of psychology, and her mention of how computer games have actually effected a 21st century american adolescent by changing the neural connections is something that I don't find hard to believe. Its a fascinating idea if not scary concept to think that we are changing the nature of human beings by the rapid development and expansion of computing technologies. As we strive to be "developing cars and highways with interlocking computer systems that will enable cars to drive themselves," we also have to analyze the implications for how it is changing our embodied interactions with the environment.

I looked up the artworks she mentions in the article, including Einstein's Brain, and while the artists in these works didn't care for the aesthetically pleasing art that I am more drawn to, I do relate to their belief that the "world of consensual reality does not in any sense exist out there in the forms in which we perceive it."

It is new for me to start thinking along the terms of the posthuman, where consciousness is no longer the "seat of identity" and can now only be "reinstated by losing the body and resituating the mind within a computer," but will continue to integrate this into my knowledge and thoughts about the 21st century world we are in.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Re Final Paper

Ed and Twyla-

I realized that the post I made before was from my notes during the Digital Convergence class, so we are going to have to ask Pat if the paper for IRS is supposed to be along similar lines.


In this article on “Of Writing Machines and Scholar-Gipsies” Christopher Keep comments on the teaching of humanities in universities with increasing presence of technology and machines. It is an interesting essay and does pose a few questions that should be considered. The first thought that I have is essentially in seeing the machines as tools in which the humanities (specifically literature) can be brought to life. I do not see that automatons or any other machine creation is a threat to the humanities or to human-kind as is possibly eluded to in this essay because the automaton is still an expression of the work of the humanities. The literature is an expression of the ideas of the authors of their age and the use of blogs, VR, video games or comic books in our age does not discredit the fact that they are still expressions of the authors’ thoughts. In fact, many of the ideas of literary works can be brought to life in “new” ways by the new media. The author essentially says this argument is not new because as works were translated into English the same debate was had of the appropriateness of translating these literary works as it would take away from what they represent. I suppose in many ways the same conclusions have been drawn as we create libraries and recreations of literary works within Second Life. The other main theme of the essay that I find humorous is that as humans we have created machine and then have used these creations to try to differentiate why we are different from them. The main way in which we are different is that we have created and have tried to express ourselves. In that way, are automatons, virtual realities, or games any different from literature?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The poet's vision

“Our fine arts were developed, their types and uses were established, in times very different from the present, by men whose power of action upon things was insignificant in comparison with ours.

But the amazing growth of our techniques, the adaptability and precision they have attained, the ideas and habits they are creating, make it a certainty that profound changes are impending in the ancient craft of the Beautiful. In all the arts there is a physical component which can no longer be considered or treated as it used to be, which cannot remain unaffected by our modern knowledge and power.

For the last twenty years neither matter nor space nor time has been what it was from time immemorial. We must expect great innovations to transform the entire technique of the arts, thereby affecting artistic invention itself and perhaps even bringing about an amazing change in our very notion of art.”
Paul Valéry, Pièces sur L’Art, 1931

Quoted at the top of The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, by Walter Benjamin, in Illuminations. Benjamin's quote is taken from Paul Valery, Aesthetics, "The Conquest of Ubiquity," translated by Ralph Manheim, p.225. Pantheon Books, Bollingen Series, New York, 1964

Final Paper

You missed the last class and Pat is out of town , so I can tell you that he described the Final Paper (and the only one required that I know of) as a documentation or postmortem of your research for your project in this class, including what you are interested in, talked about, attempted, and really achieved- it can be based on your project notes. It should have related readings cited (but he is not strict about bibliographies) and it should be organized into concrete ideas. The paper should be about 1000 words, double spaced, and can be handed in electronically. It can include graphics or animations as well as still images.

These details are from my notes, and therefore fallible, but I thought I'd post it for you to think about before you talk to Pat.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Fractal Path

Our Fractal, Algorithmic Nature

Being as we are at the verge or perhaps in the middle of that threshold or bifurcation of our own destiny, it is hard if not impossible to observe with parsimony the course of action. In that liminal state where turbulence becomes organized into myriad eddies and flows and the “singularity” approaches, every theory or hypothesis seems to have some validity since the information or data we analyze is particular to our point of view and seldom encompasses a bigger picture.

Gregory Bateson, reminiscing about the Macy conferences,1 goes further by suggesting that we never know the world as such. He states that “We are our epistemology” since we only perceive and understand the world through what our sensory apparatus allows.

However the birthing environment of the open network where data itself acts as a “controlling agent”2 is beginning to show a pattern that is itself fed back into the system, and once the critical threshold is achieved, some theorists suggest3 it will give raise to the emergence of a machinic consciousness.
Introduction to Roboethics and Performance, Arturo Sinclair, 2008

1 It was at the Macy Conferences that Norbert Wiener coined the term ‘cybernetics’.

Manuel Delanda, “War in the age of intelligent machines” Swerve Editions, New York 1991, p163

Hofstadter ,"Godel, Escher, Bach" Zenon Pylyshyn, Mind Design Andrew Hodges, Alan Turing

Monday, September 28, 2009

Old Forms New Conventions

View from the Window at Le Gras, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce

To quote Hamlet on the Holodeck:

"...the inevitable process of moving away from the formats of older media and toward new conventions in order to satisfy the desires aroused by the digital environment."

How long does it take for people to start using the peculiarities of a new medium creatively?

Digital media is so new and moves so fast that we cannot even begin to recognize the difference with what has come before, because of the fact that digital media is itself an eternally shifting and morphing media.

When photography came into being all photographers could do to cope with such technology was to borrow from the portrait or landscape painting of their time. It took visionaries like Christian Schad, Man Ray, and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, almost a hundred years since Nicéphore Niépce captured the view from his attic in 1826 to break away from the convention of the borrowed and explore the potential of the medium, but alas, it was short lived because the masses demanded their likeness more than that which they could not understand.

Then came film, which borrowed the narrative of theater (I am simplifying of course) and continued with the tradition of recording "reality" (that word...) while in fact it was, and always has been a mere optical trick and a little more that is hidden from the viewer

So now, when digital media arrives, we seem to be unable to grasp the potential, and how could we, if we look to the past instead of the future? Why does SL or any other VR looks as pedestrian as a mall, a battlefield, an airport, a castle, a house? What is it that we need that prevents us to discover the new?

The capability of Machinima was unprecedented in the world of Media, until the advent of FPS games. In a way it is similar to the advent of 8mm and then Super8 in the 60's. Lot's of people started making movies and that led to some interesting careers since some of those people are now known filmmakers.

One problem, that can be seen as an advantage as well as a step backward is that precisely the fact that production can be made on the cheap (or "free) and that anybody can swing a "camera" around makes for very poor end product. Machinima, despite its potential as a cheap story-telling medium or prototyping tool, an animatic of sorts (and I am interested in those aspects myself I should say), is that it also misses the point and becomes comfortable with emulating the rich uncle. Understandable though, since it lives and has grown precisely in that protected environment where the fascination with the new becomes very quickly a reflection of the old.

There is the chance of being one of those pioneers who dared to see outside of the box, if only for a short window of opportunity before it fossilizes into the same old crap dominated by corporations and transnationals to keep you under their control.

I think it is very exciting possibility to be one of those pioneers.

Machinima tutorials

There is an excellent set of tutorial videos here about filming in SL. They are made by David Miller, a member of Work Literacy, a Ning network created by Michele Martin who also runs a couple of very interesting career related blogs; The Bamboo Project and the Work Literacy Home which is a huge collection of links and learning resources. The Ning group is mainly composed of "knowledge workers" that explore the use of new technologies and Second Life is, of course, one of them.

Find more videos like this on Work Literacy

In addition, here is a very comprehensive set of SL related tutorials that is up to date.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Learning how to Screen Capture

I spent a little time this weekend thinking about how to make a machinima. I needed to try to find some tools that would allow me to screen capture on a Mac. I've found three options and I believe this one is the cheapest with full functionality at about $60. I haven't yet purchased as I was test driving it (hence the logo on the video clip). This one seems nice because it captures audio either an internal or an external source. For this little clip the music was playing "in world" and the audio is actually better than I would have expected. I clipped the movie a little in iMovie and then uploaded to YouTube. Sorry for the advertising on the screen but I was mostly trying to learn the steps to getting from point A to Point B. All in all this was much easier than I had thought it would be. I would appreciate any feedback anyone has on other software they have used for the Mac.

Of Writing Machines and Scholar-Gipsies

This week's reading, Of Writing Machines and Scholar-Gipsies, introduced me to Jacques de Vaucanson, and his automatons, such as the mechanical digesting duck and flute player. When I clicked on a link to get more information about "automaton" in Wikipedia, I was presented with a list going back to the Hellenistic world. I enjoyed getting this perspective and learning that even in 150-100 BC there were complex devices such as the Antikythera mechanism, which was used to calculate astronomical positions. This device, at least according to Wikipedia, has been described as the first mechanical computer.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

VR, Char Davies, and Osmose

After reading the chapter on Char Davies and her VR installation called "Osmose" in our text, I was very interested in the idea of having the participant use their breathing as an intuitive way of interfacing with the technology. Perhaps by having such an organic method of controlling their movements, immersants could place themselves in a right-brain mode, evidenced by reportedly losing track of time, an inability to speak or describe their experience, and a different sense of spacial awareness. I found myself wishing to experience that which was described, something that could be thought of as Morton Heilig's fitting definition of Art, a "transfer of consciousness."


I was taking another look at the syllabus to help plan out some of the rest of my semester. Like all of you, I have multiple things going on so it usually helps me to set some deadlines for myself. I'm just trying to clarify what items we are to be expected to turn in and on what timeline - it looks like there is a grade based on our project storyboard. I've been working on this but am wondering if anyone has any good suggestions/software for Storyboarding, and also wonder when are we expected to present this? There are also grades on group participation. I realize that the class is significantly smaller than anticipated, however, I am intrigued by the idea that group work in a virtual environment may be different than traditional group work. Does anyone have comments on this? I personally have no "teamwork" experience in the second life but I have had both good and bad experiences with group work in real life. And one last question, what would be graded on in the "in-class objectives" category?


Thursday, September 24, 2009


Stelarc's Handswriting "Evolution"
Maki Gallery, Tokio, 22 May 1982. Photo by Akiro Okada

“…Working in the interface between the body and the machine, he employs virtual reality, robotics, medical instruments, prosthetics, the Internet and biotechnology. Stelarc’s art includes physical acts that don’t always look survivable-or as science fiction novelist William Gibson puts it in his foreword, “sometimes seem to include the possibility of terminality.” (From Stelarc, The Monograph, The MIT Press, Cambridge Massachusetts, 2005)

Is the actor, artist, filmmaker, farmer, soldier, different in any fundamental way in terms of the reality of his/her life? Are the players of online games, a stripper in Second Life, an Ebay entrepreneur, living a life less “real” than the banker, the Jihadist or the Olympic marathon runner? And if so, what or where is the difference? Is it in the space where the performance takes place, is it the intensity of pain or pleasure or the time spent in a particular activity that defines reality? if not, then what? How is performance different from real life (RL)? How is RL different from virtual life (VL)? How do both coexist? Other than questions of embodiment, which many theoreticians deal with, they are in a certain way indistinguishable from each other. In Koyaanisqatski, architectfilmmaker Godfrey Reggio evidences how humans are part of the pattern or flow of information that constitutes the world at large. The utilization of technical means such as high speed or time-lapse photography allows Reggio to discover and reveal those things that make us who we are in the time and place where we find ourselves, in this “life out- of-balance”.
From "Roboethics and Performance"
Arturo Sinclair, Krems 2008

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Streaming Using Audion for Macs

Here is a screenshot of my desktop as I was streaming an Archaeology lecture by Ruth Tringham, UC Berkeley from an MP3 file downloaded from a site called Open Culture found at


Monday, September 21, 2009

Rokeby Cyborg

Here is a clip of artist and technologist, Rokeby. He has transformed himself into a cyborg as a life project and connects his brainwaves to his wearable computer to make brainwave music and art. This clip was part of The Art Show shown on C4 october 2004.

Kevin Warwick

In 1998, when Kevin Warwick, researcher and Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading, England, implanted a silicon chip transponder into his left arm and connected it to his nervous system, he became the world's first cyborg: a man-machine hybrid. Some call Kevin Warwick a pioneer in the field of neuro-surgical implantation, others think he is a dangerous scientist who has gone crazy and wants to change mankind's evolution by creating a superior race: the cyborgs. In this video interview we talk about ultra-sonic senses, brain-to-brain telepathic communication, the therapeutic benefits of his experiments and why he think's he won't be the only cyborg on this planet in the future.

Flesh and Metal: Reconfiguring the Mindbody in Virtual Environments

Hayles talks of a flux from which our mind and body emerge only to interact in ever-evolving ways.

She tells of an installation piece in which "one user wears a helmet capable of sensing her electroencephalic activity, including alpha, beta, theta, and delta brain waves". The brain waves along with other biological data are collected and the data is used to trigger various things to happen in the installation. For example, the user's brainwaves are converted to midi files and the resulting sound becomes the sound scape of the installation.

This really interested me. So, I searched youtube to see what others are doing with brainwaves and interactive art. Here's what I found:

Nina Sobell at the Getty Center