Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 (and sometimes Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory) at York University, Canada

In Michael Longford’s research with The Mobile Digital Commons Network, a network of designers, engineers, and communications scholars, he explores four important questions regarding connections between human beings, urban and wilderness settings, and mobile technologies.

1. How can an awareness of environmental and social histories and local knowledge lead to an engagement with mobile devices outdoor spaces?

2. How might participatory public authoring play a meaningful role in interactive new media genres?

3. How can narrative, character development, location based play structures, gesture choreography, information architecture, and an awareness of space and place combine to structure new forms of game play?

4. What forms of content development for mobile devices are appropriate for the enhancement of outdoor experiences in urban and natural environments?

Two examples of Longford’s research are, Urban Archaeology: Sampling The Park, and The Haunting. In both of these exercises, information is embedded into physical surroundings which connect the virtual world to the physical world to create networked environments, and seeks to augment everyday experiences in something other than a purely virtual environment.
This is made possible by pervasive computing, the ubiquity and ever growing use of hand held mobile devices with access to the internet and GPS technology.

Urban Archaeology: Sampling The Park, was set in Place Émilie-Gamelin in the Spring of 2005, and explored the social history of a city square in Montreal. The exercise incorporated images, sound, oral histories, and archival material, resulting in the park becoming a site for urban archaeology that embraced residents, businesses, institutions, and the concept of contested space.
To accomplish this, Longford’s team used the Mobile Bristol Toolkit is a software application that provides a “drop & drag” GUI (Graphical User Interface) for attaching media files — such as sound, text and image — to GPS coordinates. This “Mediascape can be downloaded to a handheld computer and played back in real time with a GPS receiver, headphones, connected to the PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) via Bluetooth.

The result was a handheld musical experience with images from the Metro’s 1960s construction, interviews with nuns from a nearby mission, to students protesting tuition fee increases.

The exercise demonstrated that although there were some limitations, such as moving from network generated content to user generated content, and making more use of the communications abilities of the handheld devices, that it was possible to create and design experiences that would engage people in the technology, the spaces around them, and with each other.

The second exercise, The Haunting, is based on Michael McCullough’s book, Digital Ground, and explores the questions we need to ask ourselves about a place when creating a location-based mobile game to augment our experience and understanding of that space and place.

1. What is the sensory experience of the place and how can it feed the narrative mediated by social behaviors, technology, and physical terrain?

2. What are the impacts of humans on these environments, and in turn, how do these influence users?

3. What are the temporal implications for the space?

4. How does it change over time?

5. How are we going to engage with the official policies and regulatory protocols that currently govern the space?

6. Who are the people, communities, or other stakeholders involved that we need to consider and consult?

In The Haunting, an interactive role playing fantasy game designed to encourage social interaction between players as well as user input. McCullough also argues that interaction design will become the main liberal arts of the 21st century.
The park was located close to two large cemeteries and was imagined to be a giant Ouija board where cell phones could communicate with the dead.

Several interactions were imagined such as contacting the dead through cell phones and text messaging, conjuring ghosts, cell phones inhabited by ghosts, and ghost busting. Also discussed was whether taking pictures of shadows, objects, and themselves would evoke a paranormal experience, and superimpose virtual images onto the real.
The Haunting’s website can be found at: http://www.thehaunting.ca/teams.html

The most exciting thing about this technology is that it is always evolving. As new handheld phones and software come on the market, more possibilities are created by both researchers, and users..

At UBICOMP 2009 (ubiquitous computing) held in Orlando, Florida, emerging capabilities included social tagging, traffic monitoring, and managing natural and man-made disasters. The major concern appears to be privacy.
For further reading, the ubicomp site is at: http://www.ubicomp.org/ubicomp2009/

Mon, October 26 2009 » Futurecinema_2009