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Monthly Archives: November 2012

This was the big push, with personas and users’ tasks and journeys largely mapped out, we needed to begin translating these into storyboards so Dean and Tom could begin to produce mockups…

 

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Simon Popple from the University of Leeds and Imran Ali, Tom Morgan and Dean Vipond are working on a collaboration around storytelling tools for large media archives; the team has chosen to use archive media from the London Riots as content for storytellers.

We are now halfway through this project and it has been an extremely rewarding process for me. We have moved from a set of abstract ideas and aspirations to developing a set of principles and defined functions that will allow for the creation of tools that can facilitate interactive digital storytelling. We began the process by looking at basic principles and examining what tools were already out there and by defining what we wanted to create in relation to their limitations and shortcomings. This threw up a range of approaches and some interesting formats such as the Cowbird project (http://cowbird.com/) and new forms of digital storytelling software like Klynt (http://www.klynt.net/)

Once we were relatively certain of the nature of our concept we began to define core functions and to think about what users would want to do and how they could collect, interpret, repurpose and republish material and how the narratives of their own stories could be captured and shared.  We did this through Persona modelling which was a new concept to me – and which really opened my eyes to the ways in which these concepts could be built from the bottom up. I am now a convert! We decided to use the London riots as a case study and to pick examples of different participants/victims to work through how a particular story could be told and what range of materials and opinions could be used to represent it.  We are now at the stage of turning this into a series of profiles from which we are constructing the software interface and necessary functions from a user perspective. More later.

Simon Popple

Simon Popple from the University of Leeds and Imran Ali, Tom Morgan and Dean Vipond are working on a collaboration around storytelling tools for large media archives; the team has chosen to use archive media from the London Riots as content for storytellers.

I am very excited by the prospect of working with these guys to develop ideas that have come from two pieces of research dealing with access and use of archival resources. My initial idea is to develop an app/software that will allow people to use archival sources- films, photographs, sound files etc to develop their own personal ‘archive’ which will enable them to tell their own story and also allow them to exchange and interact with others in some form of collective creative practice.

As I said in my application for this scheme

“The idea comes from two AHRC/BBC funded KEPs centred on the role of User Generated Content (UGC) and the development of genuine democratic engagements between the public and a range of cultural institutions. My work looked at opening up the BBC’s moving image archives and in exploring what types of interaction and joint endeavour could be possible and in looking at expectations and  aspirations from a public and institutional perspective. As a consequence I am now ready to develop the next phase of this ongoing research and develop an application that can facilitate these exchanges and allow public audiences to become creative curators and to engage beyond the normative expectations of the ‘invited space’ offered by institutions. As we increasingly talk about the opportunities for self-expression and self-writing within expanding digital frames, this application could have the potential for genuine creative engagement. Organisations like the BBC, the British Library and the British Film Institute have just launched the Digital Public Space (DPS) which is a collaborative archive- of-archives built on the notion of free ‘democratic’ exchanges and in which acts of self-writing and the ‘national conversation’ can take place. This clearly signals a huge shift in the idea of ownership and the insularity of major institutions and offers the potential for exciting application development that would allow the public to take full advantage of increasingly available cultural resources and would be something that is not collection/institution specific.”

I hope that the project will allow me the opportunity to begin to explore the potential of this type of activity through a collaborative form of digital storytelling and to bottom-out some of its complexities and implications and to examine just what is possible in terms of design and interactivity. I expect to find it is a complex process!

Simon Popple

Ben Eaton, a digital artist, and Kevin Macnish, from the University of Leeds, are exploring the ethics of contemporary warfare using game platforms.

osama bin laden FPS

A quick one – a bit about my project with Kevin but also how his work intersects with my interests as a digital artist, and one who sometimes makes but often plays games.

I am fascinated about the fact that we are a country at war, a war far away seen on TVs but rarely felt in a tactile way.  But i am fascinated about where the leakages appear between our pre-existsing narratives of conflict and the impact of these leaks into our daily lives – where our government is still sending young men and women to fight 3500 miles away.

All of this is not because i want to express my political judgement on the conflict itself or the act of war-a long conversation for another time – but rather on the social nature of this conflict and how we as civilians participate and interact with its narratives, how it disappears into the background and suddenly rears its head again.

These things happen

News of the death of soldiers gradually filters away from the frontpage, and you rarely see the coffins being loaded off planes anymore.

The death of a friend of a friend who they went to school with or a friend’s friend’s sister’s boyfriend means pictures of young men in desert gear on operation with sad epitaphs underneath briefly puncture my timeline.

An American paralympic team with athletes wearing a quasi-military uniforms, perhaps an indication as to the provenance of so many of the young amputees yet end-up showing practically none of it on their  TV networks.

Some good television but no great films have been made about the current war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but perhaps some great games will be.

A developer trying to make a game about the battle for Fallujah was criticized for their choice of subject matter, they cited the soldiers they were interviewing and who were acting as consultants who said (i paraphrase) “We want to tell our story and this is our medium – how else would we tell it”

Modern Warfare 3 made $775million in 5 days.

First Person Shooters – where you play from a first person perspective often down the barrel of a gun are one of the main genre’s trailed like movies, and increasingly trying to trade on either an uncanny resemblance to what’s happening over there or vicariously – depending on how you see it.

Sometimes they try and have a point.  Often this is terrible.

There is an uncomfortable synergy between FPS games – or the ‘manshooter’ the excessively macho clichee and politically myopic games of contemporary warfare – and the military.  The Army posting recruitment adverts on the front page of computer game magazines or at trade fairs – or the British army creating an advert designed to mimic the PoV of some of the most famous gaming franchises.

A recent release that lets you buy real world weapons branded with the game’s logo – a new brand of camo , a new gun stock or a tomahawk.

trite over-sentimentalism and oversimplification that shows neither the armed forces or the games industry in a particularly good or intelligent light.

but these games are fun (some are fun, some are terrible), they sell big, they are engaging and they have a reach almost equivalent to that of mainstream media and cinema –

these games are texts- artifacts of a conflict and potentially a distanced way for us to participate in these conflicts – most don’t do it well, but also most deserve more in-depth thought than presented here –

but as an artist i am interested in how we can use games as platforms  that can create a way to read, understand and document conflict.  At the risk of oversymplifying perhaps video games will create the War on Terror’s – Appocalypse Now, or Full Metal Jacket.

There is a further element to this which is where Kevin and mine’s collaboration comes in.

As conflict crosses increasingly over into the realm of the digital the relationship between theses systems and our partcipation in the act of warfare becomes more blurred – our project sits here –

“Flying drones is like playing a computer game”.  It’s not but its an easy way to write off both computer games and a wider conversation about the fact that we way we fight – especially in unbalanced conflicts such as this one where the West’s technological and financial superiority  – means there are systems and platforms being rolled out on battlefields that are forever changing the way we fight, for their operators, their victims and for the rest of us.

We are making a game, modding a pre-existing platform a brilliant-ly complicated and fiddly military sim called Arma 2.  How can we use the platform to let us play out and explore these new ethical questions.

Ben

Vlad Strukov, a researcher from the University of Leeds, and Dave Lynch, a digital artist, are exploring the nature of data by using projections on clouds.

Whilst we circulate the collected combined 4 symbol image, I thought I would do a little more research on targets in relation to our earlier conversations about the idea of sending a signal, I thought to look at analogue devices in the past have achieved the opposite of capturing the sky with targets.

Étienne-Jules Marey, french scientist, inventor and pioneer of early cinema invented the photographic gun for the study of movement by capturing birds onto film.

I presume that this was the inspiration for the training camera guns of the first and second world wars, where 16mm film was replaced as ammunition.

Following this research online lead me to the philosopher Paul Virillo who wrote War and Cinema – are you ofay with his work?

Technology cannot exist without the potential for accidents. For example, the invention of the locomotive also contained the invention of derailment. Virilio sees the Accident as a rather negative growth of social positivism and scientific progress. The growth of technology, namely television, separates us directly from the events of real space and real time. We lose wisdom, lose sight of our immediate horizon and resort to the indirect horizon of our dissimulated environment.

REF: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Virilio – on 4/11/2012

On other readings and reviews of his books, I became interested in how he sees the dissimulated environment or mis-information as being one of the greatest threats to scientific growth.

With this in mind and other thoughts on the above, how do you feel to re-simplifying the 4 symbols as 1 back to separate symbols again ?

The combination of the 4 as a overlayed image becomes hard to read and could have the opposite impact in misreading or leading to misinformation.

Dave

The collaboration between Vlad Strukov, researcher from the University of Leeds, and Dave Lynch, Leeds-based artist, looks at the application and interpretation of images projected onto clouds.  The project concerns itself with the nature of data and the human ability to interpret, own and share data.

Particularly, the project looks at the emotive as well as political potential of data in its ability to mobilise, create and translate meaning.

3rd November 2012 – To date, we’ve had 3 very productive meetings and a host of email conversations, in our last meeting we discussed a variety of reasons why the collaboration has been so successful, yet so far neither of us had specifically begun to blog about the process… Why?

As an artist/ filmmaker, the recording of audio and image is a natural part of my process and artistic practice.  Whilst I recorded each of our conversations and documented key moments through photographs.  We discussed our thoughts about the blogging process and the use of this collected data.

The only use so far of the collected data has been to revisit a conversation for the benefit of Vlad’s writing, the time to translate the depth and coverage of our dialogue as either a reflective blog post or simply documentation was such a vast process, it would both take us away from critical thinking and  development time, yet we both see it as a fundamental part of the process.

After a discussion of different approaches, Vlad suggested making the blog a continuation of our conversation on an open, online environment, instead of email.  I see this as a great step forward for our collaboration and an interesting point of departure for reflection at the end of the process.

The subsequent posts are living conversations, where the comments will form part of the process as we share our findings with our peers.   We aim to for this to be part of our research in how academic/ artistic collaborations can function.

Dave