Thursday, December 17, 2009

Group 1's Creative process

Hey guys,

I told Arturo I would do this because our group had be absent on some post during our creative process so I tried to sum up all of what we did because it seems has though we never had a right idea.

Group 1's Creative Process

Interactive Storytelling has been one of the most interesting classes I have taken at UF, possibly because of vagueness the concept. Not until I finish writing the paper, at the end of the year, did I really understand the connection between interactivity and storytelling. At the beginning, I believed it was just creating random outputs from a story, but it is more than that. It is creating a environment in which the user can choose different their own path.

In our final presentation, our (at least my) intentions were to create this alien like atmosphere where the audience is involved with multiple stories: the story of being taken on a tour, the story of an alien invasion, and the story of being creative. After hearing the constructive criticism from our audience, I realized, yes I would have done things differently next time, but the surprise element to our project may have thrown people off. Obviously aliens weren't really attacking, but we were trying to appeal to their creative subconscious, with the use web camera and creative story making and collaboration. Honestly, I do not believe that message was portrayed to its fullest based off initial crowd reaction, which we can definitely take part in.

Coming up with an idea for this project was definitely the hardest part of this class. In the beginning our group consisted of Ed, Logan, Shamar and I. Ed immediately took lead on the project because he was the only one with an idea, for which he already had some background knowledge. His idea was to create an alternate world around campus where the user had free path choice cued from clues. The story for the user was they were part of a group that was involved in a experimental demonstration that would open a portal into UF's past. Somehow something goes wrong and the group is sucked back into the past. Now it is up to them to figure out the clues to get back to the present. If they fail to do this in the correct amount of time or the clue were wrong they would be stuck in past or transported to a incorrect time. We were going to have a film to explain this then the group would have to go around campus and find clues. The clues were going to be fiducials that would either open up more videos or give you part of a map to get back to right location.

We each had our roles in the project: Ed- history/ fiducial coding, Logan- film and production, Shamar- pictures/ history and I – artwork for fiducial and filming. Everything was going smoothly for a few weeks. We had deadlines, assignments and a clear idea that we could work on. Then, like all group work, we started to hit a few problems. Our first problem arouse when we had to re disperse the work load after we receiving a new member, Michael. Then came the introduction of new ideas and people not wanted to work on the original idea anymore. And to top it off, our leader Ed had to leave the class. We then had to decide do we want to continue with Ed's idea or do something we all are interested in. We chose what we were all interested in...

It was time again to re-evaluate our skills and determines our individual interest. Lucky we found out everyone had an affinity to music whether it be creation, manipulation or dance. So our new idea was to create this musical web interface where the user was allowed to learn about music. The user would be able to click a genre type and it would have a list of artist in the genre, their information, influences and contemporaries. Here we wanted to create a non-fictional story about how each artist and genre came about. Not only would the user be able to get information, they could post new information or genre or people we didn't cover. Though it would take years, at the end of the interface, we would have an entire list of every artist and every genre or a complete look at the history of music.

We again divided up the work where: Shamar was blog maintenance, which she created, and south america music; Logan was head of the interface design and R&B music and classic; Michael was suppose to do programming and rap music and I was over rock/punk music. This project I would say we were most excited about, but of course it had its problems. According to our professor, this idea was just a multimedia experience and not interactive storytelling. So we were there again, left with the task of coming up with a new idea.

Our next idea was inspired by Logan. The audience was suppose to be there for some event but somehow this guy from the future hacks into the REVE. His back story is that he is from a future where no music or artwork is allowed. It is up to him, his refugees and the audience to break into the

central building where they have warehoused all this information. Through out the story the audience would be giving codes to unlock the last door and depending on how they arrange it, it would have given them different outcomes. We went in this direction because we had already collected musical information from our last idea.

Slowly but surely that idea morphed into another. The next idea was a play on previous but it was an alternate reality sort of like the matrix. A man wakes up on his birthday and sees he alone has one email from his mother wishing him happy birthday. He falls back asleep and woken up in a rush by a man in a black suit urging him to go to the peer. He then travels on this boat to these four views an audience member can choose from. Basically in the end there are things you're suppose to collect and depending on how many you collect determines your output.

We erased the latest idea completely after discovering this wasn't interactive storytelling we moved on. We tried a new idea by creating this interactive music video making space. The audience would be allowed to type words, make a musical patterns with different instruments and change the images. This/ my idea didn't make it three days without us having a new idea. Our next idea out of frustration was a cartoon representation of us where an audience member would type in phrase or ideas and the program would respond according. We obviously didn't have the time or skill to pull this idea off so we went back to something like Logan's idea from before. We ended up with the idea we performed in the REVE on presentation day.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Eye Writer


We live in interesting times, no question about that. Plague, famine, kids killing people in remote villages from their drone playstations in Las Vegas, sipping RedBull. It is quite difficult to know how we can provide an ounce of balance to a ton of misery, so that ounce must be something really special to rescue our impossibly damaged spirit.

The influx of very damaged very young humans, the broken byproduct of that biggest business which is war, ends up in the landfills of society, the eternal superfund from which some people pick up the pieces and try to put things back together, albeit in a very different way. A leg here, an arm there, an eye or two, perhaps a brain? Can we pull us back together?
I will call him Luis

While searching for an appropriate picture to help me cut through the fog I had trouble finding one of the millions of miserable children which survive doing such a thing, because Corbis Corporation, the photo "service" owns most of them. I wonder, do those children get a percentage directly deposited to their pig accounts?

I guess you get the point. What triggered all this diatribe was me thinking about what we do on a daily basis, our "job" in other words. Do we really do something useful, something that tips the balance and creates a positive change? I think one of the reasons that the Open Source movement is so important is that it is a sort of groundswell, difficult to perceive because it is so pervasive and widespread.

But this movement, so dangerous to the monopolists of the world will tumble the most arrogant of them. There is no corporation, not even the most technically sophisticated that can evolve as rapidly as thousands or millions of people working together for a common cause.

As a little sample, I offer this movie about such an endeavour, one that ends with a call to hackers all over the world to collaborate, in this and any other way that might become the glue that binds us together again, into our cyborgian future.

The Eyewriter from Evan Roth on Vimeo.

Open Frameworks, F.A.T., Graffiti Research Lab, graffiti legend Tempt1 and of course EyeWriter got together to produce that ounce of energy for each and everyone of us...

Here is the how to and all the good monopoly-breaking stuff for those DIY's among us. Keep on DIYing...!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Weaving the collective and the self in art

Indigenous art has the power of a mirror where the collective and the self, the ancestral and the re-signified meet and interact. It's incredible to think about the infinitude of layers of meaning embedded in a single object that has also passed to be a marketable item. And knowledge endures, transforms, erodes, but still persists. Kaiabi basketry for example, topic of my research, brings a symbolic and mythical language encoded in the more than 30 different designs still woven by Kaiabi men. They are symbols who provide constant ethnic reiteration, just like an ethnic brand.

Many of graphic designs produced in basketry refer to Kaiabi myths, such as the design named awasiayj (maize grain), which is mentioned in the myth of Origin of Cultivated Plants. There is another design that represent enemies killed in battles, named "Tangap". Another one refers to frogs (Kururu), important animal mentioned in many Kaiabi myths.

Kaiabi basket with design named Kururu'i (little frog).

Traditional ways of learning how to weave a basket include observing somebody; observing a ready made basket;and also by taking a piece of woven basket from garbage and copying it. This is also in Kaiabi mythology. In a very interesting and funny myth, Kaiabi ancestral hero Tuiarare was traveling to fetch some natural resources for many, many years, until he arrived in a snake hut. The snake was mean and wanted to eat him. He started to mention names of animals to distract her, but she would not let him go. Until a moment, in the morning, he called the name of the great hawk who eats snakes. She got afraid and let him go. On his way out, he got a piece of skin of the snake that was hanging from a wall. He took that piece of skin back to his village and learned to weave baskets copying from the snake's skin. And then he taught the Kaiabi people how to do it. And this happens since...until nowadays. Men learn by observing a piece of "skin". Myths are fascinating because they tell an ancestral story that has perpetual meaning...just like an apparent "simple" basket...who said there is no magic in the real world?

Drawing of ancestral hero with snake and hawk done by the student Iwa Kaiabi in Kururu Village, Xingu Indigenous Park, 1999.

Myths and Animation in the work of Virgilio Vasconcelos

The work of this animator impressed me greatly, and shows the creative use of technology in the service of Art, with the tech part downplayed through the look of mechanical stage devices. Brazilian animator Virgilio Vasconcelo is responsible for the 3D images in a project which included other artists. It is a series of animations based on myths from the Amazon. See also one called Cobra Grande on YouTube, and his homepage which allows for downloading examples of his animations as short Quicktime movies.