Here is the website for the creative lab I was mentioning in our previous conversations. Hope some of you will cross paths with it, for it’s a great place to play, experiment and learn!
I was very disappointed because we couldn’t view the AR portions of our project last week. I put a lot of work into constructing those scenes and embedding the video clips in one scene the video was to mesh with the the shape of one of the models, that of a tower. Apparently the hacking spree allegedly from a district in Shanghai last week had taken out the Apple Developer site. See link I am attaching to this post. I was hoping to be able to write more about how I would ideally see the project but I find that because we weren’t able to access the AR through devices it is a bit sketchy for me.
The best way for this project (Vessels of Memory) to be presented would, in my view, be as part of a room installation. I see setting up the room to seem like someone lived there and as though it were left in a hurry. This would be a good way to increase the mystery element. It would be as though you just happened upon this room and were snooping into someone’s life. Ideally there would be more continuity between the various parts and they would tell some kind of story with a more traditional plot structure. I think it is difficult to illicit interest in the viewer from confusing fragments. That being said I don’t think one need necessarily give away all the information. The story could be constructed by the viewer if enough clues were manufactured. I think if we were to do it again I would suggest taking the approach that we were constructing clues that could lead to making a story known. I think we did that to some extent but we lacked an overall approach to these scenes but for our first foray into this realm it was all we really had time to do. We needed something more to provide some continuity. I was also thinking that combining the two approaches, GPS cinema and the Unity based AR, would be interesting. The GPS Cinema could be a way of luring viewers to a site and there they could find the object installation and uncover the clues. I found it difficult to think of the overall project while working on the details in isolation. As it was I think we did pretty well considering the time frame and learning curves involved. Not to mention the hackers.
Based on Christopher Nolan’s 1998 debut feature The Following, our transmedia experience is an attempt to extend the film’s story universe by encouraging users to engage with Nolan’s narrative across several different platforms, that include: GPS cinema, Wordpress, and Facebook. Nolan’s film centers on a young writer who begins to follow strangers in order to gain inspiration for his first novel. His voracious appetite for voyeurism is soon satiated by one of his ‘subjects’; a man named Cobb who provides him with a glimpse into the criminal underworld. Cobb reveals to the writer that he is a serial burglar: a man who takes more pleasure in showing people what they have rather than what they have lost. In other words, material gains from the crimes committed by Cobb are of secondary importance; more significant is the shock of violation that he engenders in his victims that cause them to re-examine their lives.
Using our own original footage (shot on the Canon 7D) and social media platforms such as Facebook and Wordpress, our group extends Nolan’s story universe and further develops the unique relation between the Writer and Cobb through a transmedia narrative experience. Our group endeavors to create a hyper-textual narrative for users that immerses them in an intricate story universe and engages them in the bond shared between the characters in The Following and the concept of voyeurism in contemporary society that our project is predicated upon.
I. GPS Cinema
In order to produce a fully realized version of our project for this class, our narrative is restricted within the York University Keele Campus. Due to the time allotted for this project, and the respective schedules of our group members, the film could only be shot on campus in order to meet the project deadline. However, our group imagines the narrative of our GPS film, taking place in Toronto’s downtown core. We discussed the idea of utilizing recognizable landmarks within Toronto to establish a topographic bond with our users. Furthermore, we also aspired to use Cobb’s logo as a marking point for chosen areas in the film to extend the visual motifs from our story world into the reality of Toronto’s physical landscape. In other words, posters, stickers and (more ambitiously) Vuforia markers would appear at the designated points of our GPS narrative. Overall, our group’s goal with this project is to blur the boundaries between story world and reality: to reinvigorate the user’s physical surroundings through a compelling narrative that encourages them to interact with their reality in new and imaginative ways.
Although our group is extending Nolan’s narrative, we aspire to take our story beyond the relationship between the Writer and Cobb to include new characters to accommodate the diverse personalities of our users. In other words, our group would like to develop more compelling characters that provide our users with a selection of possible stories to follow and identify with. Furthermore, our group discussed the idea of certain, ‘privileged’ users getting acquainted with characters from our story world in the flesh. Working on the basis of a reward system, users who activate numerous GPS points may be granted the opportunity to meet with characters at other locations and thus become active characters in their own right. By visually documenting these interactions between user and character(s) and uploading them to our social media outlets (Facebook,Twitter, Wordpress) we hope to blur the distinction between active participant and active character.
III. Social Media
The social media aspect of our project is integrated in order to flesh out the characters in the GPS narrative, namely the ‘Writer’ and ‘Cobb’. The Writer is the character we as the user inhabit, following Cobb to gain inspiration for our novel. Using social media, our group intends on extending this peculiar relationship beyond the physical landscape of reality into the fluid environment of the digital. Creating a blog for the ‘Writer’, we intend on providing our users with psychological insight into the Writer’s character and filling in the narrative space left unfilled by our GPS videos. The short posts on the Writer’s blog are not meant to encourage narrative cohesion, but rather provide the user with small bits of story information to deepen their understanding of the GPS film.
Our group also developed a Facebook profile for ‘Cobb’ to further flesh out his character. Like the Writer’s blog, Cobb’s Facebook profile provides the user with alternative narrative information that encourages more involvement in the story. Pictures, videos, and text are uploaded to the profile to further develop the GPS films and build on the mystery shrouding the relationship between the Writer and Cobb.
Our aspirations for the social media aspect of our project are to engage users in a narrative that is told across different platforms and as a result encourages them to engage in storytelling in many different ways. By chatting with Cobb over Facebook, or posting to the Writer’s blog, social media can be used as an auxiliary to the visual narrative provided by the GPS films. In sum, social media is being utilized to stimulate our user’s interest in the narrative: the nexus between digital platforms and GPS cinema create an intricate narrative structure for the user to navigate through, and interact with in a more rewarding and invigorating way.
Although our group successfully bridged the narrative across these different social media, we have aspirations to further develop these aspects of transmedia storytelling. We discussed the idea of using these media outlets to implement a ‘reward’ system into our GPS cinema experience using ‘bonus’ story information that provides dedicated users with more intimate insights into both characters. If a user visited all the GPS points for instance, we would provide them with additional photos or videos via Facebook or e-mail. Furthermore, we also discussed the notion of sending our committed ‘followers’ objects that correspond with Cobb’s character, such as his favorite books, movies and/or paraphernalia related to the narrative. Overall, our aspiration is to not only use social media to simulate real interaction with the characters in our narrative but also to establish a reward system built around story information that gives devoted users more access.
IV. Technical & Creation Process
For our project, we settled on using the Canon 7D to shoot all of our scenes for the film.
The Canon 7D appeared well-suited for our project: it provides the cinematic aesthetic we are after and Andrew not only owns the camera but is also a skillfully, trained operator. Although our group did grapple with the idea of using cellphone footage to heighten the sense of realism we felt is crucial for our narrative, the 7D ultimately offered a sharper image that could be easily discernible on the small iPad and iPhone screens we imagined being used to access our project.
Andrew’s Steadycam rig proved useful for the production process, as it permitted the first-person perspective we are telling the story from to become mobile. Thus, our footage provides the user with a sense of mobility, as it brings to life the act of ‘following’ that is demonstrated by Cobb in the film. Overall, our visual aesthetic is mapped closely to Nolan’s cinematography in his film The Following: the high-contrast black-and-white, grainy footage is recreated by our group in order to immerse our user in the neo-noir atmosphere of the film’s narrative.
While we focused our attention on communicating our narrative through GPS cinema, our group did imagine utilizing the other technologies highlighted in the course, namely: Vuforia, the Flartoolkit, and the Ladybug camera. We discussed the idea of establishing Vuforia markers at the site of our GPS destinations to convey even more story information to the user. Alternatively, we imagined using the Flartoolkit in a similar way; where physical markers would be hidden at our GPS points and could encourage the user to physically participate in our narrative. Lastly, our group aspires to integrate the unique aesthetic afforded by the Ladybug camera to provide users with the 360 degree view of the locations that appear in our GPS narrative. Overall, our group’s goal is to incorporate as mediums as possible into our narrative to encourage different methods of participation from our users. Vuforia, the Flartoolkit, and the Ladybug camera are all technologies that we imagined utilizing in order to provide our users with unique visual perspectives that go beyond the ‘cinematic visuality’ of Nolan’s original film.
In re-creating Cobb’s character in our GPS narrative, our group decided that a logo would be useful in not only intensifying the mystery shrouding our story, but also embedding another form of vision in our transmedia experience. Nick developed several logo prototypes that could capture the feeling of deception that pervades the narrative in addition to stimulating the user’s curiosity in our project. Our group settled on an image of a serpentine arm holding an apple: a logo that evokes the deception, treachery and curiosity that we feel are the overarching themes of our narrative. Our aspirations behind the use of this logo are manifold. While we use this logo currently as Cobb’s Facebook profile picture, and to signal the beginning of each of our GPS videos; our group hopes that this logo could be utilized around the city as a visual motif to campaign for our transmedia project. In other words, our group hopes that this logo could be one of the primary gateways to our project that stirs curiosity in surrounding communities and pulls potential users into the story world via an image.
Nick, Morgan & Andrew
The world is something beyond a human centered universe. The window of our perception can only recognize a few signs of this universe, yet our imagination paired with out technology can bring forth a ghost of what an extended human perception can see, hear, an touch.
For the most part the twentieth century ideas were evolved around culture, text, and a human centered existence. The anti-realist philosophies of structuralism, post-structuralism, phenomenology, deconstruction have the examples of this type of thinking. But what if the reality is anything but being centered around the human presence and thoughts.
The notion of noumenal objects is nothing new. Acknowledging their existence outside our perception is only to perceive the ” nature of reality independently of [our] thought and of humanity”(Bryant, 3) This approach to reality is not about discovering the absolute rather it is about ’speculating’ the real. “The ongoing breach of the divide between human and machine, there is a growing sense that previous” human centered ideas are incapable of confronting our new state of being.( Byrant, 3)
Art can open a door to start the process of understanding this new way of being, it can help see what humanity prevented us to see, the reality of objects outside our naked unaltered perception. The question is how art can help us to see such a reality? I think one answer to this lies in bringing together art and digital media. This is what AR technology allows to see and explore, to understand what it means for objects to have noumenal presence.
A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE PROJECT
GPS Valentine is a project whose main purpose is to provide an alternative entertainment to the Valentine’s day festivities. The main attribute of the film is its non-linear narrative structure, which reflects the most dominant idea behind our project, namely, the specific social and commercial utilization of the GPS cinema.
GPS CINEMA AND ITS UTILITIES
Since GPS cinema is an evolving artistic medium, much of its building elements – storytelling, media, social value, practical purpose – are still unexplored and underdeveloped. The changing technology is influencing a constant metamorphosis of the specificity of the GPS medium, which as a consequence doesn’t allow the GPS cinema to finds its exact function within the artistic/commercial/social environment to which it belongs. Relying on the current state of GPS cinema technology, we have decided to experiment with the nature of GPS cinema by exploring its alternative practical potentials. Our contribution to the aesthetics of GPS cinema is the expansion of its utilities, from artistic to social, educational and commercial.
GPS CINEMA AND SPACE
Instead of using the GPS cinema as an extension of traditional cinema, whose main mode of reception involves theatres, home, television and so forth, we have chosen to incorporate the cinema into our everyday spaces and thus, move the cinema into the social reality a bit further. Guided by the recent cinematic practices, whose exhibiting platforms belong to alternative social zones (such as subway monitors, for example), we have hoped to give the GPS cinema a chance to become a more ‘integral’ part of our everyday lives. The creation of such work assumed following actions:
1) Diminishing the linear narrative dominance from GPS film by creating an achronological, segmented and disunited form of storytelling. The purpose of such a decision was to allow the spectators to perceive the material within their ‘everyday’ psychological mindsets. The GPS Valentine is not suppose to enforce the narrative direction on to their engagement, rather, let them browse in their own will through different narrative segments of the project. In other words, the film acts as a temporal part of the architecture, a supplement to the otherwise static and unchanging spatial scenery in which the spectator acts only as a passerby and gives as much attention to the film as he wants, or as he would normally give to the spatial landscape around him.
2) Creating an audio-visual content that closely relates to the thematic nature of a particular space. For example, using the Valentine’s Day theme, we created a content that added a temporal ‘twist’ to the chosen architecture, by adjusting the notion of love to the thematic context of a building. For example, a Behavioral Science building adds a particular audio-visual supplement to its existing architecture, by presenting a video that shows how behavioral science treats the concept of love. That way, the GPS material adds a virtual dimension to the material structure of the building – it becomes an audio-visual, moving, changing side of the architecture – an additional dimension to its exterior appearance, which, again, amplifies the resonance of the building’s interior ideological structure. Thus, behavioral science building does not have to present itself only through its ‘mute’ architecture, but is able to show its unique audio-visual signature and presents the ideas behind its walls more vividly.
3) Creating content that relates to a particular temporal event. By choosing a widely celebrated social holiday as the unifying theme, we have gained an opportunity to explore a social issue that people, obviously, find important. Furthermore, by creating a content that is both entertaining and educational, as well as diverse, we have changed the audio-visual setting of a place, and therefore, influenced the overall social ‘atmosphere’ of the chosen day.
By making an audio-visual architectural supplement, we have opened up space for a potential commercial exploitation of GPS cinema. If GPS cinema becomes an accessible technological supplement to the existing architecture, it could become a tool for advanced advertizing. A store, an office, or any kind of public place, could decide to add an entertaining and propagating dimension to their spatial surroundings and influence a potential customer right at the spot where they execute their practices.
WHAT DO WE NEED FOR THE FULL REALIZATION OF OUR PROJECT
The current form of our project doesn’t rely on the classic ‘gallery walk’ kind of experience. It is suppose to be consumed in a leisurely everyday fashion. However, even though the leisurely, passerby exhibiting environment doesn’t seem to be demanding, it still needs a single element for its proper functioning – visibility. In the case of GPS cinema, visibility would assume the normalization of the GPS cinema technology. In other words, it has to become popular enough for people to able to accept it as a part of their spatial environment. Only in that case, people will have the opportunity to use it and exploit it. In the perfect scenario, where GPS cinema acts as a usual part of the surrounding architecture, our project would fulfill its purpose just by the fact that it is ‘visible’, at least to those that are interested in seeing it. Just as some people choose to observe the landscape when walking through it, some people could choose to explore the GPS audio-visual content behind it. We hope that, at this point, our project will still be able to entertain some of the passing audience, give some useful information on one of the most celebrated holidays throughout the world and lighten up the spirit of the Valentine’s Day.
WHERE DO WE SEE GPS CINEMA IN THE FUTURE
Even now, a vast number of people is already spending most of their outdoor time browsing through their gadgets. Whether they are walking, driving, waiting for a bus or having a smoke, they are finding entertainment in these technological extensions of their minds. The GPS cinema (or whatever it will be called) has a potential of becoming a real life ‘Youtube’ or ‘Google’ type of everyday outdoor surfing. As the spectator is browsing through the physical space around him, he is being offered a virtual alternative for the spatial reality that surrounds him. However, the difference between internet browsing and GPS browsing is in physical engagement of the spectator. While spending time on a computer, the spectator has an opportunity to change the content much faster, without almost any physical effort, while during the GPS browsing, he has to physically arrive at a particular location in order to decide whether he wants to absorb the content or not, and once he decides to play it, he is not able to change it.
Such distribution of time and content gives opportunity to the next level of ideological and marketing manipulations. If GPS technology finds its way into our spatial reality, the concepts of cinema, art, ‘real’ life and politics will have to be reevaluated, along with the issues of spectatorship. How will the spectator be able to manipulate the amount of audio-visual content that is being offered to him? How much will he be able to influence the development of such decentralized narrative? Will he in this case be designated as a storyteller or just another form of ‘passive’ spectator whose purpose is to absorb and comply, and not act and change?
Maia, Radojka, Jon, Matthew
I have been pondering the material we read while I build my scenes in Unity for the group project. I think it is possible to create compelling stories and experiences with new approaches such as those we are using but it is not easy. The fragmented narrative is front and centre with our project. We are using objects once owned by a specific woman as a way of imagining her life. Our story has a social element having been generated by the tragic end of an elder woman’s life. In order to do her justice we decided not to let it be the focus of our story but are including information about it on the related blog we started. It would undoubtedly make Jane McGonigle smile if we drew attention to the plight of elders who need our help. This is definitely one area where we can make huge improvements as was evident to me upon visiting the vacated home of the woman involved.
One of my limitations with this project had to do with not having exactly the right models to choose from. It would be great if I could make my own 3-D models. I think this is a necessity for being able to get past the cliched characters of the available components – (I love the dancing skeleton). I think the software is incredible and the ability to create little virtual worlds is fun. Using it to construct cohesive narrative is not easy though so we will also be relying on responses triggered by music and video in conjunction with the virtual tableau. Meaning and fragmentary bits of narrative will hopefully resonate among the real objects we are using, audio, and video, augmented by the visual tableau made from 3-D models and other elements created and found in the Unity software.
I think using AR would also work in an art gallery situation. You would give the app to gallery goers as they entered. “Luddite” art pieces are placed around the gallery and used as markers to open other worlds attached to each piece. It could also provide explanations of the work and refer to its influences. Many new possibilities arise. Street graffiti might develop along these lines by using tags as markers. A whole underground communication network may evolve as writing scripts becomes more integrated into educational curriculums. Stories will start to speak to their constituencies and demographic allowing for richer, multi-layered and more immersive experiences where AR becomes another layer of a multi-mediascape.
The thing that is very interesting and in my opinion noteworthy about the topic referenced in the article Spaces Between: Traveling Through Bleeds, Apertures and Wormholes Inside the Database Novel by Norman M. Klein is the search for a new poetic and narrative that new Media promises. In this article Klein walks us through what the creative principles that he design for the new narrative form called Database novel. For this form, Klein proposes the as database, interface and digital archive, obviously making reference to the way the reader access information inside his own mind and with the computer or device used to read this kind of novel.
The elements used by Klein expect to use the advantages of the electronic device, primarily the possibility to access information and to take the reader/viewer quickly from one content to another. As well, the multimedia platform is something that is compelling for the author as a creative means. Then, Klein finds that the way to engage the reader/viewer to the “story” is by creating gaps. These gaps are the device that will bring the immersive experience to the reader/v by making him complete the world proposed by Klein; it is not casual that Klein relies more in metonymy.
In my opinion this is a good start point since I see that Klein is considering some features that new digital technologies are offering, and in this occasion trying to find a new way of expression, contrary to the attempts that most of the authors are doing from the marketing point of view. It is exciting to observe the experiments to extract this expressive capital that lies inside new Media, where I believe Klein’s findings will be useful for the shaping of the rising new narrative and expressive forms, in the same way the findings of Griffith, Eisenstein or Melies helped to set what we know today as the film form. Of course, as Klein himself mentions this is something that is still to be found, and he took chances while choosing some rules and creative principles to develop his database novels, like relying only on metonymy and closing the door to other poetic forms like metaphor, allegories, etc. As well, there is an enthusiastic posture in this article that is kind of contagious about the narrative potential of new Media and its almost infinite access to information. This makes the author focus on making the reader/v to get as much information as possible, to take as much advantage of this feature as possible, and I am not sure if that is the way to go with this nascent form of storytelling. But this form is still in the air, still without shape and it is a big window of opportunity to creators, and personally I am glad to be aware that this area of exploration exists.
However Klein’s material leaves the door open for many questions about the way to approach to new media
Is database novel a form itself? Is novel even something that is going to be found in the storytelling possibilities of new Media?
Different forms of art and Media demand different sets of skills, will there be a technical and artistic profile for the author of this new form that involves a great deal of knowledge about new technologies? Is it the place for lone creators as in the visual arts and literature or is a place for creative teams in the way that film and theater demands?