One of the most immediate elements of David Fincher’s, Zodiac, is the centrality of the archival process to the film. Based on Robert Graysmith’s book of the same name, the film primarily focuses on Graysmith’s obsessive search for the notorious Zodiac killer. A large part of the plot is comprised of Graysmith’s amateur detective work, characterized by his off record collaboration with various different local police departments and his exhaustive exploration of said departments case files (i.e. archival evidence) even long after the authorities had more or less let the case go cold. Such investigative efforts are the defining characteristic of the true crime drama to which Zodiac (the book) belongs. In a way it, as well as other works of the genre in general, serve to illustrate a fundamental problem of “the archive” that is indicated by Derrida and that we have previously discussed in class. It seems that often, the success of the true crime author/investigator stems from their ability to bypass the issue of jurisdiction. Specifically in Zodiac, Graysmith’s numerous conversations with the various police chiefs highlight the limitations of the individual departments that derives from their reluctance/inability to collaborate interdepartmentally as far as granting one another access to information goes. In this way, this film points to the fundamental limitations of the archive that derive from both its political, and physical nature. That is to say for one, that the “archon” (here the police departments) effectively restrict information due to issues of rivalry and control, and two, that the geographic locality of the physical archive is limiting to the access of information necessary to develop the familiarity with the evidence that is needed to connect the dots of a case: hence the significance of a devoted third party.

I found this interesting TED article on how gaming can improve our day to day lives or at least has the potential to. Jane McGonigal is a renowned game designer and author who advocates the use of mobile and digital technology to channel positive attitudes and collaboration in a real world context. In this presentation, she proposes making the real world more like a video game and not the other way around. She believes that humans have the potential to work together and create a new world we all want to participate in. I am not sure what that world will looks like, but I am really excited to see where this idea leads her to and society in general.

 

 

A 3D tour of the Jason Rohrer exhibit.

In preparation with our Skype call with Mike Maizels, curator of “The Game Worlds of Jason Rohrer”, I did a little Google’ing. It was then that I came across a New York Times article titled

An Exhibition That Proves Video Games Can Be Art

Essentially, the article mentions that a film critic, Roger Ebert, refused to acknowledge video games as ever being able to possess any artistic significance. Soon later, he recanted his statement by saying “I don’t know if they can be inspired to transcend themselves,” he wrote. “Perhaps

can. How can I say?”

Of course, the article goes on to talk about Passage, along with Jason Rohrer’s Art Exhibit, The Game Worlds of Jason Rohrer. But I’d like to look back at all of the video game related things we’ve assessed at this semester. Chain World, most definitely, was able to transcend the video game confines and become a form of art. It grew to model a religion. For a video game to touch so many people and evoke existentialistic thought throughout the gaming community is a big deal.

The graphics may not always be extravagant, but I think the artistic appeal that video games are able to possess isn’t solely aesthetic. The emphasis on the materiality of the video for the cause of judgement is surpassed by the content.

http://armorgames.com/play/6061/light-bot-20?via-search=1

So after looking at the book Between Page and Screen and our talks on hybridity, I thought of this small flash game. The basic idea of this game is that there is a puzzle to get certain tiles lit up by your robot through placing a series of commands. This reminded my of the hybrid factor since it is accessible by many people as a flash game, yet teaches concepts such as recursion (a looping of code). It also tries to teach the player how to do the coding in an efficient manner, since there’s only so many spaces of squares that the commands can go into. This is similar to the pages from the activity on Monday since we had to use the pages to see what was written, as well as hold them up to the required webcam. Both had the user go through certain thought processes too, but there were different ways to approach the tasks as well. For the Between Page and Screen, most people held the pages facing the camera, while others used rear facing cameras and flat surfaces to get the code to register for the website. In this game, there are multiple ways a player could do the recursion problems. This game is a hidden visual programming language inside a game, similar to how the smart watch is a hidden computer inside a watch. At least, that’s how I processed hybridity; the process of combining things possibly through a way that hides the message you’re trying to give in plain sight.

There are a few games and technology that use the same concept as Between Page and Screen. One example is AR (Augmented Reality) Games. You take the card and show it to the camera, the Nintendo will detect the object and add shapes on top of it on its screen. You can play around with the game as you please. Like Between Page and Screen, this technology creates a hybrid between the physical and virtual realms. Although it may not be the easiest way to play these games, I think it is really creative, and that is what attracts people to it. It is not something you see every day and even if you do not stick with it, it will probably capture your initial interest. I do wonder though how exactly these hybrids could get people to stick with them. If it is too inefficient to use, the initial interest people had will wear off and the technology won’t be used.

This technology also makes me wonder just exactly who would use it. Would people who aren’t as into technology think it looks to complicated? Maybe only people who have mastered current techniques would want to explore things like this. Then maybe creators would have to keep in mind who their audience is when building these games or writing these books. Also, maybe an alternative is to have both options available to audiences if they do not like one.

I don’t really remember everything we talked about in class in terms of materiality and hybridity together (I think I was turned off by the abstractness of the story from the book) BUT the idea of hybridity and adapting to changes in technology is something that I DID think about in class. Hybridizing the technology we use every day (such as the book we read in class using the page to screen website) is a good way to help include people of all ages in the steady progression of technology. Where often times older people are left behind because of lack of experience/interest in new things, or younger people let an “analog” technology fall by the wayside because they might view it as old and boring, this kind of thing is a great way get everyone involved. In terms of material preference, where an elderly person might prefer to hold a book and physically turn the pages, an eight year old might find that tedious and prefer to simply swipe their finger across a screen (as more and more people are becoming accustomed to.) With hybrid, it’d kind of like a happy medium where there’s enough of each version included to bring in the interest of the black, the white, AND the grey! Get the older people more interested in digital media and also to get younger people more interested in analog media. Instead of researchers and engineers focusing on just one or the other, there can be a focus on both that allows continued technological progress without leaving anyone or anything behind.

http://haplit.com/

The addition of materiality to media allows for more novel interpretations, however for some it is the only form of understanding the media. A team at Georgia Tech created a system that converts the digital text into a physical medium through the use of a haptic feedback system. The design uses small plastic bits that can raise to the surface, creating braille characters based of the text that is inputted into the system. This prototype got them to second place in the Inventure Prize, and is currently still being developed at Georgia Tech. This enables the blind to be able to read digital content, without having to wait for it to be printed using special braille printing processes. (Braille is even printed on special paper, since everyday paper would not hold up to the deformations http://www.nationalbraille.org/frequently-asked-questions/). The speed and portability of the Haplit device allows for the blind to be able to obtain media at a rate similar to everyone else in society, helping alleviate the large divide in literacy between the blind and non-blind people.

This gap between media and materiality is more out of practical benefits than for an additional sensation as we saw in class with Between Page and Screen. The necessity of such a system is another aspect of the bridges between media and materiality. In class the bridge allowed us to further our schema of the work, however with a system like Haplit the bridge acts as the only mode of interpretation. Systems like Haplit allow for people to not be hindered by their physical deprivation from literacy, which is ever more crucial in today’s world.

 

Digital Fabrication and Hybrid Materialities

 

In this article the author talked about an art show she had attended recently that was made by digital tools such as laser cutting, 3D printing and digital knitting and weaving. This article relates to our discussion about hybrid technology and specifically hybrid materiality. As we have seen in the paper circuit and Between Page and Screen examples many people are turning to these hybrid technologies in order to make something different or new. In the art exhibit the artists were not worried about the technology itself, but rather how they could use the technology to create something different. I believe today’s culture is moving more towards these hybrid technologies to make tasks simpler or easier in general. One thing this article continued to touch on is how 3D printing is used to easily create molds for silicon or plastics.

Recently I came across a Facebook video where a student used 3D printing to print out molds for plastic braces which he used to help straighten his teeth. This innovation costs him less than two hundred dollars where using name brand metal braces would have cost him over 2000 dollars to help fix his teeth. I believe this will be more common where 3D printing is used to cut the costs of what is normally expensive. Hybrid technologies are new and harder to find in today’s society, but as these technologies become more common and widespread even more uses will be discovered.

I had first heard of the Stanley Parable quite a few years ago, back during its first few weeks of release. Produced as an “indie game,” the game used a repeatable narrative adventure in order to both give and take away the player’s sense of control. The game’s most interesting characters are the narrators, who present preferred actions available to the player, but more importantly providing constant meta commentary to the entertainment of the user. The intricate mix between snarky sarcasm and morbid humor draws in the player as another aspect of the materiality presented by the video game. By having the user be another aspect of the interactive, the user more than interacts with the game, he interacts with the meta nature of the game. I personally enjoyed the game, though I found some “routes” slightly irritating, but overall the game is one of the few to make you think both on a surface level but also on a meta-psychological level. The game becomes greater than the one-way literature that it provides; it becomes a conversation between narrator and player, through meta commentary and silent user actions. One game that is similar to this is Portal, because although it is more linear, the game forces a dynamic relationship between the player and the “hidden” character in the game. The Stanley Parable takes a step further into the realm of interactive and engaging gameplay, perhaps suggesting a time where games will become fully immersible, with many, even infinite, possibilities. This brings to mind the video game presented in the movie Her, which presented a prude game character with which the main character has a personable conversation. This eventual possibility of digital objects having the ability to interact on a meta level with material objects such as people will go on to highlight that materiality that is present in people. Each video game adventure will become tailored to each individual, changing dynamically to the characteristics of the person. In the Stanley Parable, I reached quite a number of sarcastic endings, as a result of my stubborn attitude towards an inanimate narrator directing my actions. Each individual’s experience will change depending on their reaction to the digital events and meta aspects, and the game will react differently to their actions.