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Monthly Archives: April 2013

I found this weeks readings to be the most interesting and progressive so far in the course. While the whole ‘virtual reality’ concept has been around for quite a substantial period, sadly the technologies available to the wider population have never really been suitable for a successful measure of virtuality. I suppose the only real taste that most of us have had of virtual reality is through cheesy nineties Sci-Fi films and fairy flimsy Wii sports games/ arcade games such as this now highly amusing short doco – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SP8wSw4bBuA.

A few weeks back I started thinking how incredible it was that such a large percentage of this generation are carrying around devices (smart-phones,) which could be so suitable for virtual applications. With such amazing clarity and quite a high res camera it seems like the perfect time for a new digital wave of virtual/ augmented reality applications. The article, ‘7 Ways Augmented Reality Will Improve Your Life,’ explains how, “it’s a way to use technology to redefine space, and it places a virtual layer over the world with geographic specificity ensuring a good fit.”

The article ‘Monkey’s move and feel Virtual Objects Using Only Their Brians’ from Science Daily, explains the “two-way interaction between a primate brain and a virtual body,” highlighting the notion that in the near future quadriplegic patients may be able to use this style of augmented technology to recreate movement lost.

 

I found this weeks course material to be particularly interesting as it focused on the notion of the ‘extended mind,’ or ‘consciousness.’ To start, I found that the video of Alan Kay teaching tennis fascinating and it seemed to sum up the notion of experience quite well.

 

Alva Noe spoke of consciousness and movement in his video, ‘dance as a way of knowing. I interpreted his theory as, without movement we would not understand or be conscious or aware. Alva Noe explains, “experience is something we do, that we achieve actively.” If we move back to Kay’s video on tennis it is interesting first of to hear this idea that, “anyone is able to learn how to have a decent game of tennis in under half an hour.” The immediate response that I had was that this is a ridiculous notion, simply because everyone is different and a large percentage of people would not have the co-ordination, movement or understanding to play the game in that short amount of time. What was interesting about the lesson though was the focus Kay had on movement and contact. Rather than analysing the specific actions in the game the instructor just asked the woman who was selected to watch the ball and say “bounce” when the ball hit the ground and “hit” when she thinks she would make contact with racquet and ball. The same went for her serve, Kay making her sing “da-da-dum” to the motion of a serve. Whilst her first few attempts were fairly basic, after a while you began to see the theory working the action of swinging at the ball being controlled by the body rather than the brain.

Looking at Dalton S’ video ‘E Sense,’ we begin to see a connection between all three readings thus far, in the sense that all theorists had a strong idea about the nature of movement and experience. The video documents a new technology aimed at those who are visually impaired. The invention acts as a sensory guide, using pads wrapped around the stomach and waist, vibrations on different areas of the device providing a spacial guide to where objects may be in relation to the participant. This means when a ball is rolled towards the person using the device vibrations are able to guide them towards where the ball is.

Ultimately these theorists highlight the importance of the relationship between movement and the human consciousness, illuminating the idea that our experience is reliant on a combination of these two elements.

 

 

 

What Levinsen seems to allude to in, ‘The Alphabet and Rise of Monotheism,’ using the example of the Pheonician phonetic alphabet is the idea that humans function in a very autonomous and forward thinking way. Levinsen writes that, “the advantage of this atomization, as in instant coffee and digitized information in the twentieth century, is an enormous boost in transportability and preservability.” This parallels to his statement earlier which suggests that we are “indeed an alphabetic culture.”

Connecting this idea to the likes of Monotheism, Levinsen explains how Christianity the most popular Monotheistic religion to date is also the most iconic, emphasising the, “primacy of words in the Good Book.” What the author is suggesting in this sense is the possible redundancy of visual imagery in relation to other less popular religions, a little like the hieroglyphic system. It is this Pheonician system that can be credited for is role in the growth of literacy and language.

Levinsen writes how, “democracy was defined in ancient Athens in terms of the number of people who could hear the speaker’s voice, even as the alphabet created an intellectual structure that millennia later would allow democracy on a national scale.” Though literacy at first created a greater social divide, as we have discussed in earlier years of media technologies such as the Gutenberg press as well as earlier mediums such as parchment thoroughly improved forms of accessibility for the greater social circuit.

“The coupling of biology and technology, which, of course, has longer roots beyond digital culture, finds alive and kicking within the media ecology of digital culture. These types of couplings can also provide vectors of becoming for a novel understanding of digital culture. Life does not remain a mere metaphor but also becomes an implication of autopoiesis, of self-moving, of acting and force.” (Parikka 2007:26)

I take this quote from Thomas Rawlings, ‘Games as a happening, as a Service.’ Implicitly we can use this notion of ‘autopoiesis,’ where we are in some way still using technologies or mediums in the same way that the alphabet was originally designed for which is to create a stronger relationship in society through media relationships or media ecologies. Linking this back to the idea of ‘metacommunication,’ I guess the key idea is at the core of the human structure is something that keeps us wanting to update and improve our networking abilities and be able to connect and relate to the community around us, which is essentially why tools such as print journalism, social networks, smartphones ect. are so darn popular.