Tag Archives: Reflection

Reflection X: «Catharsis»

I wrote about my introduction to electronic literature, my initial views, and some words about a piece of work I enjoyed. I will continue with one more piece of work that I found interesting, but since this post is the last of the series, I’ll also write about anything else relevant for this semester and some reflective thoughts.

I thought to myself that I’ve been ranting on about how difficult it’s been for me to find something that I like and enjoy in the collections, but that’s kind of how art works. Unless you produce something generic, most people will not enjoy the same pieces of creative work. While I’m not sold on the “taste is subjective” theory, I do believe that raw feelings will try to guide our attention; whether we stay or move on is up to other factors. I try to organize work into groups of layers; parts I like, love, loathe, confused, etc. The total sum of positive affections towards the piece will decide if I like it or not. I can watch a movie and really love the cinematography and score, but dislike the script or the actors. I believe there is often something positive to extract from anything in life, but being able to differentiate the layers requires knowledge over time. I’d like to quote David Hume right about here, but I do not remember exactly where in the essay “Of the standard of taste” my points would be strengthened; I do however recommend reading the essay if you’re interested in Hume’s thoughts on how we should judge aesthetics.

After searching for something to grab my attention, I finally found another piece that I’d like to write about. It’s called “In Absentia” by J.R. Carpenter and it a fairly simple work of fiction created by using the Google Maps API (Application programming interface) and connecting stories to certain places on the map. His goal is to convey the issues with gentrification, to let the people in affected areas tell their stories and how their live has changed due to the restructuring of the neighborhoods.

There are several reasons why I like this piece. I can see how gentrification makes life harder for those of us with less economic stability and how it can reform large areas and even cities. Another reason is the use of a modern service like Google Maps and how scalable this can be. This piece is quite small, but think about how one can use the tools to create an enormous interactive map of stories. I’ve criticized the overall design of the collection – both in pure aesthetics and in user interface design. By using a tool that a lot of us are familiar with, it becomes second nature to navigate the story.

This semester has been filled with so much new and diverse information, and it’s been kind of hard to process everything, but I guess it’s not been the objective to be well informed in every part of the curriculum. Like most knowledge, it fades over time unless it’s kept fresh in our memory. I think of our brain as a library of metadata. We can collect keywords about what we’ve heard or read, but the main file is often deleted or corrupted over time. Hearing that keyword again can help us navigate back, even if we need to look it up again. From all the various sub-genres of digital art and literature, to technical terms within video games. I envy people with the ability to remember every page they read, but I take some pride in my ‘googling speed’; I do not give up until I’ve spent a lot of time on it.

Truth be told, I started the year with high hopes and a lust for creating; finally, a professor with shared views on learning pedagogy. It didn’t take long before my problems with my mental health began to drag me down again, depression, angst and apathy. Any strength got allocated to showing up, recharging with fellow students, and pushing through the bare minimum. I’ve had two photography shoots this year, one to help a friend and the other because of the opportunity to visit New York City. I did 18 shoots in the four first months of 2017. It hurts to reflect on the lost work I could’ve done in this course. The second part of the exam will contain an optional part with the choice to create something; can I redeem myself with that one? I’m trying to psych myself up to do just that. Hoping that my creative spark will ignite when reading the description. Like with the keywords mentioned above; I can often visualize ideas right after hearing a vague description. Trying to shine light on the idea (like Plato’s Cave), and producing the technical schematics for the process.

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Not sure what else to write. Maybe I should just end it right now. One last thing though. I’ve said that I do not see myself as a decent writer and that I’ve left a stack of failed blogging attempts, but if the timing is right and my mental state is in limbo, I may continue to write; reflective or not.

Thanks for the positive attitude, Mia.

 

Gone through days without talking
There is a comfort in silence
So used to losing all ambition
Struggling to maintain what’s left

Opeth

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Of the Standard of Taste
http://www.bartleby.com/27/15.html

In Absentia
http://collection.eliterature.org/2/works/carpenter_inabsentia.html

 

 

 

Reflection IX: «Narrative cobweb»

Electronic literature has been a bag of mixed feelings, and I’ll try to sort my experience in this post. First of all, electronic literature is not reading a traditional text on a digital screen. The whole idea of literature as a linear text needs to be re-imagined and rearranged before we can understand how to create a story within the electronic literature genres; simply because the rule of thumb is that the story is created in a way that requires digital technology to read. This probably sounds like heresy to die-hard fans of books, but I do not believe that it’s not going to replace traditional texts – nor does it want to. I believe that there are certain stories that can be conveyed in a better way with the help of digital tools; with multi modality.

I’m not experienced enough within electronic literature to write deeply about specific aspects, but I’ll try to reflect on what I know and my initial impressions with a piece later. Just from the definition of the genre, I like the potential of ‘hypertext fiction’, ‘interactive fiction’, and ‘generative fiction’. Hypertext gives you the ability to jump in a timeline and let your own mind connect the dots and form the complete story, and that can be an amazing journey. Using the interactive style is like creating a narrative of cause and effect, you choose how the story progresses based on your choices. That’s why it’s linked to gaming, and why I mentioned electronic literature in my previous post, when I talked about The Talos Principle and how the choices made in the computer terminal changed the story. The game world is also filled with QR codes, created by former “players” in the narrative. You’re not required to read the comments, but they help in creating an imagined world, so they contribute to the story and the meaning behind it; the philosophical reflection on the world.

The Talos Principle Screenshot 2018.05.08 - 18.44.53.08

The Talos Principle Screenshot 2018.05.08 - 19.16.34.47

The Talos Principle Screenshot 2018.04.27 - 17.52.58.39

I tend to lean towards creative works that supply a deeper meaning, and that speaks to me in some ways; I guess that’s the point of art though. So, while I was digging through the Electronic Literature Collection, trying to find something that spoke to me, I found a piece by David Knoebel. Published in 2001 and it called “ThoughtsGo” and is quite simple. It’s an interactive piece where the narrator is talking (audio clip) while animated text flows through the negative space, but only when the viewer clicks and holds a button engaged. This is set up to represent how we hold on to thoughts, and how easy it is for them to slip away. That’s why I love it; the simplicity, the allegory of aspects of the mind.

That is in a way how I prefer to enjoy electronic literature. I need the balance between clean visuals and story content; too much visual clutter will throw me off and not giving me enough threads to sew it together. Lack of great design and visual clutter is why I would not pay much attention to the Electronic Literature Collection in the future, it bothers me too much.

 

David Knoebel’s Thoughts Go
http://collection.eliterature.org/3/work.html?work=thoughts-go

 

 

Reflection VIII: «Cognitive exercise»

My thoughts have been swirling around for weeks now; thinking about what and how to write about the previous week. I’ve thought about several angles I can approach from, made some mental notes, and some written down. The week I want to write about now was the last one with video games as the subject. Continuing with serious games and doing some ‘field work’ trying to experience the whole aspect of empathy in games, as I wrote about in the previous post.

My game of choice was Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice; a game with a strong focus on mental health, or lack thereof.  Following the character Senua in her quest to rescue her lover’s soul in Helheim; the realm of the dead in Norse mythology. Senua has been struggling with her mental health most of her life, the same as her mother, and this is built in to the gameplay; trying to give the player some sense of what it’s like to undergo psychosis. This is a crucial part of the whole quest for an empathic video game – is it able to trigger a response in the player? Based on consumer reviews and feedback, it has done a great job in doing so. I’ve felt some of it too, the intense feeling of wanting to breakdown and quit, or simply pause the game, when they combine stressful puzzles and negative voices talking from every angle. With that, I can relate somewhat to people having similar experiences every day.

Hellblade Senua's Sacrifice Screenshot 2018.04.23 - 18.47.09.82

However, due to strict linear design of the game, I’m often reminded of the fact that I’m playing a game and it breaks with the immersiveness, like the mechanics of walking or jumping over a stone.
Most games include some level of guidance in how to play it, but not this one. You’re thrown right into it, and It’s both refreshing and somewhat bothering that I had to open the menu to find out what your character (Senua) can do in-game, because the screen is stripped of any HUDs (head-up display).

Hellblade Senua's Sacrifice Screenshot 2018.04.23 - 18.23.32.93

I still believe in the value of video games and digital art in general in conveying empathy, compassion and morals. I recently heard a phrase that I really like: “smelling salts for morality”. Said in one of my favorite podcasts, Very Bad Wizards. In an episode where they talked about their favorite movies about empathy – I’ll link it at the end.

Serious games can be so much more than simply trying to trigger some empathic reaction in the player. I’ve also learned about Dr. Adam Gazzaley’s work on improving the brain with video games. He’s now working on getting them FDA approved for medical use. I’m really fascinated about how a video game can be built to trigger just the right parts of the brain with an accuracy that’s out of reach with traditional medication – without the side effects of course. He spoke about his research in detail with Kevin Rose on his podcast, linked bellow as well.

The use of technology in education have grown quite a lot in the recent years and with any change, skepticism follows. How will simple games on a tablet affect children in the long run? Are there any benefits with digital tools versus traditional books and paper? I believe that with anything, there are pros and cons, and people respond differently to stimulation. I’ve written in the past about how I see myself as someone thinking in visual terms, and in the same way, I learn best with visual guidance; I think that a lot of people are in the same boat. Pushing us through tough material with the traditional techniques can be catastrophic and may help young people to lose motivation and end up quitting school. I love science, but I’m terrible with numbers. I can see and understand the logic in physics if presented with graphics, but I hit the wall when trying to figure out the actual formulas. I do believe that gamification of the hard sciences would’ve benefitted me in school – at least a combination of games and paper. There’s an old principle in web design called WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) where you got a split screen in the software (e.g. Adobe Dreamweaver) with hard code on one side and the result on the other. Purist would laugh at it, but it helps a lot of people to learn coding. Raw coding is equivalent to math in my mind, so I often rely on software to help, or just edit existing code to tweak.

The blog for next week is about electronic literature, but before that, I’d like to finish this post up with sort of a bridge between serious games and interactive fiction. It’s a new game (2014) that I’ve played called The Talos Principle. It’s been described as a narrative-based puzzle game with a philosophical storyline. You play as a robot with artificial intelligence in a seemingly virtual world, solving puzzles built by your maker, Elohim. Computer terminals are placed here and there in the world, and gives you a glimpse of the outside world, the personal logs, emails, chats made by the creators of the simulation. You also read outtakes from Greek and Egyptian mythology, while contemplating existential questions and talk to the, presumably, artificial intelligence residing in the computer library system. Sparing on philosophical questions – like what is consciousness?

The Talos Principle Screenshot 2018.04.25 - 18.17.18.44
I’m referring to interactive fiction due to the number of responses you can give to the computer and how it shapes the responses and progress in the storyline.

The Talos Principle Screenshot 2018.04.27 - 15.11.54.77

 

My final thoughts for now is that serious games are important and can help a lot of people, but must be created by skilled people if they’re to be used in education, replacing or adding to existing methods. I end with an amazing part of The Talos Principle, a transcript of a voice recording from within the game, and as a part of the narrative.

“The answer that came to me again and again was play. Every human society in recorded history has games. We don’t just solve problems out of necessity. We do it for fun. Even as adults. Leave a human being alone with a knotted rope and they will unravel it; Leave a human being alone with blocks, and they will build something. Games are part of what makes us human. We see the world as a mystery, a puzzle, because we’ve always been a species of problem-solvers.”
From time capsule #02, Alexandra Drennan, Project Lead / AI Module, Institute for Applied Noematics, The Talos Prinsiple


Very Bad Wizards: Smelling Salts for Morality: Our Top 3 Movies About Empathy (with Paul Bloom)
https://verybadwizards.fireside.fm/104 

Kevin Rose: #22 – Adam Gazzaley M.D. / Ph.D – Improving your brain with medically prescribable video games
https://www.kevinrose.com/single-post/Adam-Gazzaley

Neuroscape
https://neuroscape.ucsf.edu/technology/

Can Video Games Fend Off Mental Decline?
https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/26/magazine/can-video-games-fend-off-mental-decline.html

 

Reflection VII: «Pathos»

I’m on overtime again. Been postponing due to lack of creativity. Trying to mine the information gathered last week. We talked about morality in games, and we attended the installation Textransformations by our professor Mia Zamora. Which I did enjoy, but my views on installations are often binary – I either like it or not. I often find myself trapped in the realm of traditional art.


The installation opened for collaboration with the viewers. A container of words and glue gave us all we needed to compile poems. I wouldn’t call myself a ‘lyrical word-smith’, but I found some words that gave meaning to me – happiness, shining, for, camera. Which is ironic, since I prefer taking melancholic portraits. I do however feel happiness when I capture something beautiful, and hopefully the recipients feel the same.

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Feelings are in a way the keyword for last week. When talking about games, and art in general, is it possible to produce an empathic reaction? I do think so, but it’s not always an easy task to accomplish, because human emotions are tricky.

We played some micro games based on morality in class. I chose the game Bad News, a text-based game with some graphical elements, were the goal is to make you an expert in spreading fake information. The game emphasizing how people exploit human emotion to polarize society, to push us towards tribalism. Anger, and the related feelings, are easy to manipulate, and I often quote one of my favorite characters from the Star Wars saga, Yoda: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

Morality is no easy subject. Philosophers have tried for centuries to find a decent theory to explain it, and the area of ontology and epistemology is rough. I’m glad that Norway still require students to go through Examen philosophicum and Examen facultatum, even though lots of students find the course to be tedious. I believe that a basic understanding of philosophy is necessary in our society – and that it will be more than ever useful in the future. One thing that I learned last semester is that there is no perfect theory within the humanities, but by learning about the existing ones, we can use them for understanding, if applicable to the situation.

Bringing this back to video games; I do believe that one can construct artwork that can make other people feel something – either empathy, sympathy or compassion. I’m not going to wander into the steep canyon of morality as an objective phenomenon, but I guess that there are people out there able to produce art as in video games with an empathic core without deep theoretical knowledge. I do however think that combining theory and some understanding of human perception will benefit a developer. More on this topic in the next post.


In other news; I want to mention some games, people and content from a classic. Beginning with the new game A Way Out, which is an action-adventure game, developed to be played with another person in a split-screen configuration. I’ve not played it myself, but I’ve watched a full walkthrough by one of my favorite gamers, jackfrags, and a friend of his – almost 5 hours. Story aside, I was really intrigued by the game mechanics and how the developers use several aspects of game theory to experience – even jumping over to a 2D perspective with horizontal scrolling. The game also includes a homage to the earlier types of games – like Four Across and early arcade fully playable in-game. You can also pick up a banjo and play some tunes with the same mechanic as Guitar Hero.

 


Earlier in this course, we talked about digital art and the difficulties in preserving it for the future. Technology required to view certain pieces become obsolete and emulators are not always a perfect solution. I stumbled upon an interview from VICE with a man dedicated to preserving gaming history.
He decided to as much of the history as possible – from the games themselves to packaging to literature and other aspects of relevant culture. “What I’ve come to understand, is that the game itself is only part of the story, you can play Super Mario Brothers, if you play it now, it’s a good game. That game if you examine within its context was a revolutionary game.” (Frank Cifaldi)

 


Lastly, a gem from the content box. The GTA franchise has been praised and loathed since its inception 1997, but one aspect of it is amazing – the radio channels. I’ve spent so many hours just driving around the cities just listening to the radio – music, commercials and talk shows, tailored to the game. My favorite is from GTA III and is a purely talk show channel called Chatterbox FM. Filled with satire and humor.

 

Reflection VI: «Meta»

This is my sixth post in the reflection series, as you probably figured out if your familiar with Roman numerals. However, I’ll try not to digress too much this time. The reflection pathway can be amazing, but also the opposite. So I’m trying a new approach this time – compartmentalization.


Game Genres

Genres is not a new concept. We’re often striving to divide content into categories, but it’s not so easy after the seed of a medium has started to grow. I believe that the thirst for organizing will not be quenched with an argument, but can we rethink how we’re defining content? My simple solution is breaking it up as metadata, keywords. We have established some sort of a vocabulary when talking about aspects of games, but it’s often impossible to define a single game with a single word. We often talk about similar types of games and say it’s a mix of this and that.

For a long time, ever since streaming music on the Internet was something we could do, like with services like Pandora and Last.fm, we’ve had the ability to customize a feed based upon keywords like artist or genres. I do not have any statistics on this, but my guess is that most of game purchases today is done online. It’s therefor much easier to arrange games with metadata and let people use filters and algorithms to find new games that they may fancy.

Ethics and Games

My previous post covered some thoughts about releasing tension, but I believe that it’s a big enough topic to continue expanding on it. People are different, that’s something most of us can agree on. We cater to different types of entertainment and while some can feel relaxed after a session of gaming action games, others may prefer simple puzzles and adventure. Just like the terms “paidia” and “ludus” are used to place a game on the spectrum of playfulness and strict rules, we can place aggression on a spectrum – from non-aggressive (Sims) games to aggressive (GTA). I feel like I must state that non-aggressive games can make you angry, due to bugs or bad mechanics, even though the gameplay is not based on violence, and that is frankly the essence of my opinion – most people become angry, or just infuriated, because of interactions with other people or technical issues.

So how can we talk about ethics with regards to video games? Anyone with some knowledge about ethics know that there is no simple answer or theory that covers everything. Some may argue that illegal actions done in real life shouldn’t be replicated in a virtual environment, and other may respond with an argument on how it’s better to explore the darker sides of human nature in a confined space.

I think it would be healthier for the conversation if we look at violence in games as a tool for gameplay, and not something added to spread aggression and fulfill ‘sick desires’ – like in most movies and television series.

The character FPS-Doug from the web series Pure Pwnage (2004) is kind of the personification of an angry hardcore gamer.

 

I remember how the news media drew the video game card after the terrorist attack in Norway 22-07-2011, like this front page in Dagbladet: “10 games gave Breivik terror training”.

2011-11-02 16.39.35

The recent school massacre in Florida also spawned a similar response from the media – which leads to political speech against video games with violence. It seems like politicians and people with little to no experience with a medium and specific content are the ones against it. I also remember the blame put on Marilyn Manson after the Columbine shooting because of his lyrics and performance on stage.

This reel is what was shown to President Trump after the last shooting and gun debate.
Just a compilation of violent scenes. How would a similar video with violence from popular movies, or just the news, be any different? Or quotes from books.

 

Let’s end this with an older meme I made from Call of Duty. I got the final kill with a ‘bouncing betty’ – anti-personnel mines that launched up in the air before detonating.
Took the screenshot just before explosion.

fucked-betty

 

 

 

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Reflection V: «Good luck, have fun»

playerunknowns-battlegrounds-screenshot-2018-03-09-23-14-07-42.png

It’s often difficult to start a text, any text. Whether it’s just another blog post, text to someone you adore, that paper you should’ve started on days ago, or answering back in the in-game chat.

So, I brought up a chunk of trivial examples to end with the topic of the blog this week – gaming. It’s usually easy to break in with some ‘fillers’ to soften your fingers across the keyboard; even though it often results in rewriting the text. I’m going to stop the warm-up here, I hope.

This week has been focused on video games; some history, some vocabulary, and some insight from the business by a developer in the class. I’ve made some notes and churned my thoughts around some feelings I have regarding games, because I am sort of a gamer.
It’s been a loaded term, “gamer”. If you tell people ‘outside the community’ that you’re a gamer, then you’d often be regarded as a loner, nerd, someone without social skills or ambitions. It may look like the stigma is slowly breaking apart, and that’s maybe because of mobile games. So many ‘non-gamers’ spend hours on their phone playing simple games. Wait, did you write that non-gamers game? Yes, because the stigma goes the other way as well. The Internet community of ‘hardcore gamers’ shun the idea of mobile gamers, because they don’t know what true games are.

What are true games then? There are lots of definitions available and most of them are valid in my opinion. Just like with any other form of entertainment, there are genres for most every taste. Some love story driven fantasy games played on a computer monitor for proximity, some love a fun car game to relax with in the sofa, and others like to exercise their reflexes on a mobile phone.

We should embrace play and creativity. I believe it’s important in our hectic society. How games affect us has been discussed for many years and the debate is often renewed every time a youth is caught doing violent acts towards others; it had to be because of violent video games!

game-violent-lag Aristotle used the term ‘catharsis’ for the act of purging emotions and relieving emotional tensions, and it’s believed that playing video games can help people in just that. However, like any theory, there are arguments against it. So I can only speak from my own experiences at the moment.

I do believe that most people can achieve some steam to be released in playing games – either violent or non-violent. Just like playing violent games can help some to release aggression, it’s been said that aggressive music can also give the same affect – as I’ve experienced myself.

Art in general can create a framework where we can pour our emotions into.

This framework can have many benefits. I recently saw a TED talk about how the game Minecraft can help kids with autism to communicate and learn in a safe space. That’s one of the bad things about the online community, lots of players bring toxic behavior to the forums, comments on videos, and in-game chat. I guess the steam must go somewhere, but the pipe has been going the wrong places for far too long. I learn today that Ubisoft is developing an automated system for detecting hate speech in chat and banning players. Maybe we’ll see a universal system for keeping the community clean without falling into too harsh censorship.

I’ve got so much to say, but I always stray and start to run down another path – which can be a side-effect of reflection. I guess that I’ll have to keep some content for the next post also.

I do want in my final words to sum up some of my thoughts on escaping to the realm of video games. Like I wrote in the beginning, about the way gamers was and sometimes still is portrayed, there are a lot of people that do escape to a virtual world as therapy; either offline or online, or just watching other people play on Twitch or YouTube. One of my favorite players and streamers goes by the alias JackFrags. He sums up some of my thoughts in a recent video he made.

 

“Good luck, have fun” or just “glhf” is often said before an online match starts, and “gg/good game” when it ends. Toss on a “wp/well played” if the match was fun.

Reflection IV: «From bits and bytes»

∗Disclaimer: This text may lack some cohesion due to personal trauma this week.

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We go through everyday life as walking sponges; soaking up information through perception. It’s easy to be overwhelmed at times. Reflection through contemplation or meditation can ease the burden, but a lot of people use art to channel their feelings and create something new.

Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one man consciously by means of certain signs, hands on to others, feelings he has lived through, and that others are infected by those feelings and experience them. (Leo Tolstoy)

Internet art was the theme of the lecture this week. People began creating much earlier than I had thought, and that can be problematic with regards to storing and preserving digital art for the future. Technology advances and backwards combability can only be stretched to far before we need to let go of the rope.

We can therefor ask ourselves the question: Should every piece of art be preserved?

There are creative genres where the artists do not expect their pieces to last – at least not in a general sense. Street art can be an example of this. They can be viewed for years, days or hours before vanishing. Is this a bad thing? The most popular ones are often photographed and will live on in the digital world. There’s even Google Maps archives with location and images of existing and older pieces.

So do we need to archive the actual work of art, or is it enough to keep some sort of digital record of it existing, and can this digital recording be seen as some new digital artifact? Combining information and artwork is often the ingredients of Internet art.

Speaking of Internet art. I remembered a gem from the past that is still active. Some 18 years ago, someone re-created the original Star Wars movie using only ASCII text and made it available through telnet. If you’re not tech savvy and wish to see the creation, someone made a video recording of it here:

Further down the train track, learning about multimodal information, browser art and chat environments made me remember a web series from 2004 called ‘The Scene’. The plot was built upon a movie pirate group acquiring early copies and releasing them on the web, but the special thing about this series is the format – how they told the story.

The main protagonist is superimposed in the top corner via a webcam and the rest of the frame is his desktop on the computer. The story is told through some voiceover, but mostly text on screen from e-mails, chat via IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and other messaging clients. This is of course scripted, but can nonetheless be viewed as a form of performance art, in my opinion.

 

In my last words, I’d like to share this song with you.
A good friend passed away this week. She liked this one.
Susanne Sundfør had a concert some months ago. Which we both attended.
That was the last time I saw her.

Reflection III: «Immersion»

This post is way overdue. Mainly because of travel and the wall hitting be when I got back home, as I’ve written about in my next post, so I’ll keep it brief this time. Making it an exercise in writing short with an impact, hopefully.

From what I can remember from that week. We talked about performance art, installations. So I was thinking about how I could angle that into something interesting.

Vimeo is a source for some amazing content and I often come back to view older favorites of mine.
The amazing thing about this particular video, is that it’s made entirely on a computer by one guy. It’s a strange sensation to feel so immersed in a video that you ‘forget’ that it’s not real. Combining an amazing musical score with the imagery will keep me coming back again, and again. It also feels like part of the video is telling a story too.

Hope you’ll enjoy it.

Reflection II: «Permission»

Sunday again, and time for another reflection over the past week. People say that everyone can write, but can anyone become a writer? I’ve struggled with writing most of my life. I can speak with passion about any subject that I fancy, but I often find a mental barrier, or filter, that somehow causes thoughts to scramble, which leads to incoherent text at times. I’m also in a constant rush to catch the monkey in my mind, running around with the dictionary.

I recently heard the idea of thinking in images and thinking in words, Dr. Jordan Petersen talked about his fascination for the well-known Carl Jung. People leaning towards either side, and some people having the ability to do both. With regards to creativity, I believe that highly creative people within visual arts do think in the realms of images, academics in words, and some of the best writers can probably do both – as in describing their imaginary fantasy with perfect sentences.

I believe that I’m of the image-type. I often struggle to convey thoughts that I have, often during photoshoots. Being able to draw can often ease that tension. So where am I going with this introduction. I was sitting here wondering about what I was going to write about this week, we’ve been through some basic meme creations and talked about eras within digital arts. About people breaking free from the traditional art found in museums. People striving for a new way to be creative. So, I thought about this for some time, and then I remembered someone I truly appreciate, John Paul Caponigro, fine art visual artist and photographer. He’s spoken about the creative process at a number of occasions (links below) and believes that everyone is creative, and that permission, passion and persistence are key points.

Gail Sher laid out some simple thoughts in the book “One Continuous Mistake: Four Noble Truths for Writers”; Writers write, writing is a process, you don’t know what your process is until the end, and if writing is your process, the only way to fail is not to write. This thought is applicable to most creative fields if you just replace the word ‘write’ with anything else.

Caponigro speaks about the power in using words to form association with creative ideas. They can help us spark the fire to light up the subject at the right time. This made me think about Google Cloud Vision API, a system for image analysis. Anyone can use it to detect a large number of details in an image, like if there’s people in them, text, relevant keywords, colors, and other properties. Fun way of ‘seeing’ deeper into an image and extracting useful information.

I’d like to say in summary that we need to be open to artistic expression. We may not enjoy the aesthetics of every piece or specific genre, but there is always someone that does. The debate around subjectivity and objectivity in aesthetics is not an easy nut to crack, but I do enjoy this quote from David Hume:

“Not to mention, that there is a species of beauty, which, as it is florid and superficial, pleases at first; but being found incompatible with a just expression either of reason or passion, soon palls upon the taste, and is then rejected with disdain, at least rated at a much lower value.” (Of the Standard of Taste).

Google Cloud Vision API: https://cloud.google.com/vision/ 

Reflection: «Bread Crumbs»

To whom it may concern;

I will post a text every week, and most likely late Sunday, with some reflection on the previous days. This is where I can reflect and contemplate on the various topics I’ve been through at the university. I may not include a thought on everything, but I hope that I can engage in something that sparks my creative light. Creative people know well that the spark is not always easily found, but exposure to content can often ease the process.

Tracking. We leave our tiny digital prints where ever we go in our modern society. Most of us has heard of cookies; Small capsules of information, soaking up our habits on the Web. These are used to store information about us on our computers. They make our lives easier in many ways. Remember when you’d have to punch in your login information every time you visit a site? Cookies got your back. They help the site remember who you are and can store your credentials – and a lot of other frequently used information. So why is this a bad thing? I’s sounding pretty useful. Well, like a lot of other conveniences, it can be exploited; Your information is tracked. Third parties can use information about your habits make money – and this is big business. You may wonder how the ads you see on a site know exactly what you’re interested in.

We’ve been so used to having access to loads of free content and sites, but nothing is truly free, and we should be aware of how we’re paying for that access. Regardless of the platform we use.

Richard Stallman is one of those brave souls standing up against this new world of collection information. He’s a well-known activist for free software (free as in freedom, not as in beer) and programmer. Most famous for the development of the GNU software and the Free Software Foundation, and of course the GNU General Public License (GPL). Many view Stallman as a fundamentalist, and this can be valid claim, but he’s a beacon and his views are becoming more relevant than ever before. You don’t need to follow his pathway through the digital era, but people should be aware and then choose for themselves. I’ll include some links at the bottom of this post.

What else is going on besides cookies and tracking? Like most businesses, they want you around. Returning customers are often a source for recurring revenue. How can a site like Facebook keep you around for extended sessions of browsing? This is where we bring in choice architecture. Large teams of engineers use technology and psychology in ways to keep you around, making sure that you see content that may intrigue you to continue surfing. Like, one more cat video, right? I’ll link to a podcast from Sam Harris where he’s speaking with Cass Sunstein about choice architecture, and other interesting topics.

They can for example use JavaScript to track your curser movement through the site. Figuring out that kind of content that will make you stop, read, or move on. Every feed is becoming more and more dynamic based on analysis of our habits.

So, what’s the big deal? Does it hurt me? How does it affect society?

I’ll not attempt to answer them here and now, but I may revisit the issues in future posts, but the short answer is yes, it’s kind of a big deal.
Richard Stallman: https://stallman.org/

Richard Stallman, Explaines Everything: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUibaPTXSHk 

Waking Up with Sam Harris – #101 – Defending the Republic: https://samharris.org/podcasts/defending-the-republic/