PROGRAMME OF STUDY
MA COMMUNICATION DESIGN
DATE OF SUBMISSION:
05 MARCH 2012
PROJECT SUBJECT AREA……………………………………………………………...03 PROJECT SUMMARY….……………………..…………………………………………..03 CORE COMMUNICATION DESIGN QUESTION THE MAJOR PROJECT WILL INVESTIGATE……………………………………...…………………..04 PERSONAL OBJECTIVES…….………………………………………………………….04 PROJECT RATIONALE……………………………………………………………………05 PROJECT AUDIENCE………………………………………………………………...…..08 PROPOSED APPROACHES, METHODS AND METHODOLOGIES………………………………………………………………………..09 POSSIBLES OUTCOMES AND PRODUCTS…………………………………………………………………………………09 REFERENCES………………………………………………………………………..……10
PROJECT SUBJECT AREA Disembodiment and Re Embodiment in Digital World
PROJECT SUMMARY We aim to grapple with the ramifications of virtual space and our increasing relationship with the interfaces and representational systems of our machines, that we eventually get disembodied from a human bodily structure and get completely unaware of the fact that we get re-embodied into a techno-space. We reach a fuller level of presence when we can interact with the environment rather than simply witness it. The basic elements of interaction involve the ability to enter, move within, and leave a setting. Any sensory or verbal cue that heightens the sensation of entering and leaving an environment enhances its presence as a setting distinct from other settings. A window that springs forward from the hard drive icon augments the feeling that you have entered that space. A voice saying "Welcome" when you sign on lets you know that you have crossed a threshold from one area to another. So too the ability to move within the environment - to see it from different perspectives - adds to its spatial quality and power of presence. In a multi-page web site, a navigation bar on each page creates the perception of being in one "room" among many possible rooms. In sophisticated 3D graphical environments, the ability to look 360 degrees around a room, and to move around an object and see it from various viewpoints, simulates life-like perspectives and life-like presence. Such as this snapshot above taken from Second Life, a 3D virtual world, showing a library and people moving around and talking with each other. “If the subject of modern society looked for refuge from the chaos of the real world in the stability and balance of the static composition of a painting, and later in the cinematic image, the subject of the information society finds peace in the knowledge that she can slide over endless fields of data, locating any morsel of information with the click of a button, zooming through file systems and networks. She is comforted not by an equilibrium of shapes and colors, but by the variety of data manipulation operation at her control.” 1 We know we are somewhere when we can have an effect on the setting, when it reacts to our actions. Reciprocal reactivity between you and environment enhances your sense of presence in that environment. We might even add, as some philosophers have suggested, that objects reacting to other objects (including us)
make them conscious and hence present. Even something as simple as being able to click on a button to make something happen enhances the feeling of doing and being in that space. As opportunities to interact with an online environment become more sophisticated and less predictably routine, the more fully present that environment feels. Amidst the power of movement and reciprocal interaction in creating presence within an online setting, we`re fully immersed in that environment, that’s the motive of every digital artifact, to immerse the user as deeply as they can. Hence, if we notice, we have no facial expression while in front of our laptop or using our phones, all the activities happen in the theatre of mind. As a result, everything around freezes. The physical environment is suddenly dead and your sensation of presence in it evaporates almost immediately.
CORE COMMUNICATION DESIGN QUESTION THE MAJOR PROJECT WILL INVESTIGATE How can we bridge the gap between the conceptual (digital world) and the corporeal (physical) with the help of interactive communication design?
PERSONAL OBJECTIVES Going back to when I was a little kid, I remember playing analog games with the joystick and I used to be glued to my computer screen constantly, with my jaw open and unaware of my surroundings. It somehow used to take me to a completely different world, no matter how visually displeasing it was as compared to today`s graphics. I have been brought up with a range of computers , I started having an online presence when I was 13. I had my personal profile on all the old social networks like Orkut and Hi5. However I always got drifted by this rich media, though never questioned myself what makes it so intriguing, that nearly half of the globe is hooked on it. I strongly believe in the power of digital media, this is to say that it completely immerses you in a space which isn`t tangible, but at the same time so real. To an extent that we prefer to stay in the digital world rather than our physical world. Its our innate desire to control things around us, and thus we are not realizing that in that ignorant pursuit we ourselves are sinking in it. Today we don`t operate computers, we interact with them. We never had this liberty in the older forms of media. Here we can have a face to face communication with anyone online, or have a virtual chat with a complete stranger who is sitting at the other end of the world. We can post our opinions, our likes and dislikes and the world follows it. We are instantly present everywhere with one shot. But where we`re not is our own corporeal body, in our own physical natural world. This is something which interests me, how we can explore the connections between physical bodies and the myriad of representational systems possible in the digital realm.2
PROJECT RATIONALE To understand the digital media, lets look at the older forms of media first. 1. The Oral Era gives little cues as to telepathic order in part because oral biomechanical communication demands proximal co-presence. Plato, however, articulates the precipice between the Oral Era and the Written Era in Phaedrus when he writes, “The discovery of the alphabet will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves….You give your disciples not truth but only the semblance of truth; they will be heroes of many things, and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing. “3 2. As written did to oral, similarly the print outnumbered the Written Era; with the advent of print technology came nationalism (as a politic and as a national identity), literacy, mass education, democratic learning, Protestantism, and various other reformations. Print technology allowed for accessibility and affordability, and, simultaneously, mobility. This mobility allowed thought to be carried farther distances, to various points and cultures and thus, print helped to instigate a larger audience beyond regional boundaries. Proximal co-presence was no longer necessary; ideas and concepts demanded no biomechanical vocalization4.
Digital world like any other media grabs human in an indefinite way. Some people acknowledge the power of this grip, some don`t. According to Erkki Huhtamo, there are more diverse depictions of the effects of immersion with one implication: It has been variously described as “plunging into water,” “breaking through the screen (or the mirror),” “leaving (or changing) one’s body,” “losing oneself in a simulated world” or “navigating in cyberspace.” All these metaphors imply a transition, a “passage” from one realm to another, from the immediate physical reality of tangible objects and direct sensory data to somewhere else. -Erkki Huhtamo, "Encapsulated Bodies in Motion"5 One reason why humans immerse themselves in any form of media is to escape from reality. Immersion is a great way to provide audience with an experience, which is otherwise hard to get in the real world. Earlier humans immersed themselves in traditional form of media like novel or cinema but in today`s world, people immerse in virtual world using digital media. Media is the extension of human`s emotions and beauty. They play well in imitating nature`s beauty and human beliefs and emotions which makes them immerse totally in these forms.
Its very important to understand the cyberspace as one of our most frequent places to visit as a complete world in itself, so much that we have now become the
inhabitants of the cyberspace more than the physical space. Like the physical world, the cyberspace also has similar attributes, like the following: 6 7
Virtual Geography Virtual Community
1. Virtual geographies that includes virtual technology along with social relations, discourse and sites in which these technologies are embedded. 2. Virtual communities where individuals interact through specific media, potentially across geographical and political boundaries in order to pursue mutual interests and goals. 3. Virtual reality, which is all about illusion. Its about computer graphics in the theatre of one`s mind. Its about the use of high technology to convince yourself that you`re in another reality, experiencing some event that doesn`t physically exist in the world front of you. It clearly seen here how well the World Wide Web is simulating the physical world and its demographics. This results in making the user fully immersed in the cyberspace, as he is a bit familiar with it but not fully. Also these users customize their online space as closely as they do to their bedroom or the office cabinet. Or maybe much more than that. Within the Digital Era, the Internet becomes the televisual space, but more so, it becomes a social commons where identities are enmeshed with other online or onair avatars. These social commons such as Facebook, mySpace, or various chat rooms mirror telegenicism as democratized to non-actors who select or craft their profile information and their avatar’s image to construct their online identity. Anthropologist Mizuko Ito contrasts the ‘space of the home’, where youth find parental governing obtrusive, to an alternative social space through texting where youth are able to “construct a localized and portable place of intimacy, an open channel of contact with generally three to five others.” Ito continues, “Getting a mobile phone grants teenagers a degree of privacy and right of assembly previously unavailable, which they use to construct a networked alternative space that is available from anywhere they are.” 8 Howard Rheingold in his book Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution, raises the question, “Has the definition of ‘presence’ become uncoupled from physical places and reassigned to a social network that extends beyond any single location?” 9 He quotes Ito as saying, “As long as people participated in the shared communications of the group, they seemed to be considered by others to be present.” In earlier forms
of mass communication, lack of co-presence was naturally understood; however, in telephonic and cyber spatial communications, it is increasingly thought, perhaps mainly in youth oriented subcultures, that co-presence exists despite geographical distances.
The environment looks real in its presence and more so in its effects when one can interact with it, rather control it. Its like driving a car. Either you know which direction you have to go or let the car take you wherever, as long as you`re keeping your hands firm on the wheel and gear. This is to say that you either open various windows of your interest or you let the information channel drive you through the interface of the keyboard and mouse. You can go on exploring the world with your wheels or sit their motionless, observing the nature`s beauty, like the picture below, which is a digital image showing a bathroom having a digital wallpaper of the nature, which sets the mood of being in the nature. Though its not interactive physically but mentally it has a soothing effect on the person seeing it, thus interacting with the viewer imaginatively. 10
PROJECT AUDIENCE In todays world, almost everyone is linked to some or the other digital artifact. However there is a huge craze among the youth for the digital gadgets than the older generation. Researchers say that the lure of these technologies while it affects adults too, is particularly powerful for young people. Children from the age of 4 start using their parents android phones or their ipad /tablets, playing video games. Video games are children`s gateways to computers. They are really good at story telling and are immersive by nature. Children are its main actor.11
Hence, seeing the technology obsessed teens, I would like to take them as my audience, particularly ranging from 8 to 25, as I feel their imagination has gone much higher than the adults, thanks to their involvement with the technology from birth. I would like to create a creative system that enables them to learn more about their physical world interactively.
PROPOSED APPROACHES, METHODS AND METHODOLOGIES By figuring out the possibilities of interaction with the digital media, I would like to explore and experiment various techniques to merge the conceptual and corporeal. I would like to work with the interaction techniques to bring humans more closer to the corporeal environment with the help of digital interface. The interactive medium provides a rich environment to explore the connections between physical bodies and the myriad of representational systems possible in the digital realm. Physical-digital interfaces – ranging from the familiar mouse and keyboard to more unusual sensing systems – provide the connective tissue between our bodies and the codes represented in our machines. I take these interfaces as both a practical and conceptual artistic challenge. Interactive systems determine the grammar of our interaction with digital media, and ultimately its possibility for meaning. By developing physical-digital systems that engage young people’s bodies instead of just their fingers and eyes, I hope to refocus attention on the embodied self in an increasingly mediated culture. I would like to create a visceral connection between the real and the virtual, with the help of an interactive interface which would involve not only the physical body to interact with but also it will be set up in the physical environment, so that the viewer/ participant can get indulged in both physical and digital world.
POSSIBLES OUTCOMES AND PRODUCTS Possible Outcome would be an interactive interface, installed in a real life space that can be touched, felt and maneuvered by the young people. I would like to focus on the education system and would like to make it more entertaining and fun for the younger generation. I believe today`s fast moving technology is making students more distracted from their studies but in return helping them to learn new things out of the curriculum. So keeping that in mind, I would like to create a system that draws them to study in a fun way, and also gain knowledge. Probably having them to go to a museum and have an interface that takes them back into the world of dinosaurs, make them feel, touch and experience the world of yester years, resulting in learning by experiencing virtually.
REFERENCES Lev Manovich – The Language Of New Media (MIT Press, 2001) Camille Utterback – http://www.camilleutterback.com/statement.html 3 Plato - Phaedrus , 370 BC 4 http://valadez.pbworks.com/w/page/5593304/Embodiment-Disembodiment 5 Erkki Huhtamo - Encapsulated Bodies in Motion, Simulators and the Quest for Total Immersion 6 The Geographical Review April 1997, Vol.87(2) http://www.amergeog.org/gr/Apr97/Apr97Taylor.html 7 “Virtual Community” (Rheingold, 1993) 8 Mizuko Ito, Society for the Social Studies of Science Meetings, Boston, <http://www.itofisher.com/PEOPLE/mito/Ito.4S2001.mobile.pdf> (2001) 9 Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution, 2002, p. 5, conversation with Mizuko Ito, 2001 10 I wallpapers 11 Wilson Miner http://wm4.wilsonminer.com/posts/2007/oct/5/indistinguishable-magic/ 1 2