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.