360MC – Coursework two

From the beginning I knew I wanted to change my audiences’ way of thinking about a certain subject or issue. Whatever the subject might have been or developed into. I started by looking at different way of story telling. Word of mouth, books or films. I looked at games and visual novels as well as “Choose your own adventure” books, which were very popular among children from the 1979 onwards. I saw those kinds of story telling in video/visual novels as well as other multiple choice and multiple ending games. This fascinated me because it allows the user to invest in the characters and immerse in the story with the illusion of being able to affect the game and make it interactive. In reality all the ending are predetermined and the user ends up with one of the possible ending with no input of his own.

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S. Parkin 2015 – Wired Magazine

During my research the issue of Syrian refugees coming into Europe and other continents has been all over the news with raging debates vastly different in opinions. I wondered whether it would be possible to measure the publics views on the matter as well as the change in said opinions when faced with different scenarios when they are the ones responsible for the lives of the desperate people seeking refuge. I read an article about role playing games and how it was described as an empathy machine for its use of all kinds of social situations and putting the player in the decision making role; seeing their reaction unfold and how they affect others.

I considered doing something along these lines but I didn’t want to just release a new game. That would be both predictable and quite ambitious on my side since I know little about game design. I thought of a different approach, binaural audio; a well known example is below:

I stumbled upon it a couple years ago and found it very intriguing but I didn’t really follow through until I went to the talk by Dr. Katariina Kyrola on “Trigger warnings, embodied vulnerability and feminist affects”. That was one of the examples to show how media has changed over the years and how it affects different people differently. Whether we should censor more and more context as the technology is becoming more invasive and open. Dr. Kyrola talked about how different viewers have different reactions to different stimuli and why would images of explicit violence be more “harmful” to watch and engage  with, than normativities veiled in pleasure.

Following through I explored the idea of binaural audio and how slowly it is advancing and how it is not well implemented in todays technology. The VR market is booming(it is predicted to have its $1bn year in 2016 according to Deloitte) and yet binaural audio is mainly seen on youtube used by ASMR practitioners, audiophiles and as an experimental idea for 360 degree concerts. Fortunately 2015 appears to be the year of machines that make us more human. Virtual reality puts us in a completely different perspective, immersing us in the story and lives of others. We learn to sympathise, relate and connect to other humans. Sundance opened The New Frontier last year which went beyond films. It combined the arts to create a creative space; for the multi- and trans- media, VR was a huge part of it.

When I first started studying media production I was obsessed with virtual reality, fantasy, things out of this world. Things taking us out of our lives and putting us in another. Immersing us in world that we couldn’t think of ourselves… or didn’t want to think. As I grew older I still looked for the immersion, and the fantasy and adventure but everything became more and more repetitive and instead of imagination, my creativity slowly declined.

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“The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable” made by Punchdrunk was one of the greatest theatre performances I went to. It was as the most immersive experience that I have encountered so far. We were in the set, anonymously(in masks), able to do whatever we wanted(except talking), having special interactions with certain actors in scenes throughout the fogr story building of an ex post sorting office. Curiosity was the key, the more you explored the more you got out of the experience. This is the kind of feeling I would like to achieve with my pieces.

I knew I wanted to create a gallery piece. Something that can be seen/touched or heard from different perspectives. Later on I would record the piece, trying to convey the feeling it might have had on some of the viewers but of course it would never be close to being there yourself. First thoughts were with an audio driven, choose your own adventure type of application. I would record the audio myself with the help of voice actors and musicians to make an organic, realistically sounding environment where the user could experience different scenarios. I was still holding on to the Syrian refugees/passport control idea.

Ann Veronica Janssens’ “yellowbluepink” exhibition which was open to the public from October really woke me up and made me think again. It is such a simple exhibition(which previously was done by Olafur Eliasson) and yet it provoked so much thought in me.

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A room filled with thick fog and coloured lights ahead creating a pleasant blend of the colours as they disperse throughout the mist.I was able to instantly forget about the outside world, about the 1.5hr queue outside of the pink coloured door leading to this magical place.

I was completely disoriented and lost, I began seeing things that weren’t there because my brain was struggling to map the room while shadowy figures were passing next to me. I slowly got used to navigating this plainly magical space and began to experiment. I began to listen to music while walking through the fog. I could no longer hear the people around me which made it so much more disorientating and ever so slightly scary and yet I have never felt so close to an artist and myself. That is when I decided to use a minimal amount of visual aids in my final piece to put the audience in a scene. I want to set myself a challenge, work with sound and colour to let people be free with their imagination.

After watching numerous videos of binaural audio which helped me understand the idea behind it and how it can affect the brain, I decided to purchase a pair of binaural microphones to try it out myself. I saw many comments on many amateur videos; as well as some more professional videos such as the video above from The Verge, about using the audio and video to capture unreachable areas. To create a range of sounds and visuals from all around the world to give a chance to experience it to people who cannot or are not yet able to travel. This gave me the idea for my final project. An immersive experience which transports the spectators away from the real world and into their minds; into a new world.

Power: Surveillance

Image one: Register.

It’s a mechanism that makes us into the subjects and lets the teacher keep track of us to make sure we’re in class, doing the work. The discourse is that they have the control. The institution of the university defines us based on our blog posts. We also make these blog posts to be a certain type of student. To be deemed as a “good student.” (A discourse)

Image two: ID cards only

This regulates access to knowledge. It is saying only students or staff (members of the institution) can get in. This shows the power of the institution. This also helps them keep track of the people scanning their cards due to the trackers inside. We’re also not told to scan our cards we just go with what is ‘the norm.’ In agreement with Foucault the fact people will hold the door open without others having to scan their card (as is often the case) suggests that power relations are not achieving the goal of total domination.

Image three: Leaflet givers

The people giving the leaflets out are judging the people passing and selecting them specifically based on their appearance, which reinforces Stuart Hall’s point that “Who says what, to whom, when, how, why, and to what affect” is not neutral or random. This also shows the interdependent quality of discourse because the person chosen to be given a leaflet has to then decide whether to accept it. (accept the discourse)

Image four: University buildings

The university itself is a discourse of institutionalisation as you behave a certain way on the campus due to predetermined rules set by society. The surveillance the university has makes the students stick to the rules and they agree to these due to social conventions. Students accept they are lower then lecturers or office workers around the campus, we give them power over us by our own choice because of our need for knowledge and the traditions of discourse. The university mirrors a panopticon because everyone is constantly observing everyone else, and students are conscious of not only how they look but their grades and what other students grades are, theres a need to compete and by achieving a good grade, they go up in a hierarchy and are seen as more respectable.

Image five: The bar

Even though this bar is part of the campus, and students use it all the time, it is a different discourse and environment to the university. You go there with a social discourse rather then a professional or educational one. Students and lecturers both use the space and the dynamics of their relationship changes. There is no longer a hierarchy, which contrasts Marx and Altusser’s ideas of power being one way and simplistic.

In terms of staff and customers, you, the customer are giving money to the institution yet they still have the control to provide you with the product, which mirrors the student-university relationship.

Image six: Volunteering leaflet.

People approach you with volunteering opportunities, and ask “Do you want to?..” which makes you look at yourself. This surveillance was experimented with in our workshop , so our experience of being approached with these questions, shows it’s real life application. You are made into a subject, questioning if you are a good person.

Image seven: Mobile phones

When checking social medias, we are looking and surveying other people and their lives, but this is also us surveying ourselves. The interdependent power relation is also evident in social media such as Facebook as they keep track of our online presence by stating what time we were last logged in. People censor what they post and say on social media so we never know if they are authentic or not. They produce a desired reality of themselves and how they wish to be viewed. The spectacle of Facebook causes judgemental reactions and is a mechanism that turns its users into subjects that are constantly looking at themselves and what other people think of them. We also take selfies on our mobile phones and try to display the best version of ourself using lighting, angles, and filters but this questions the authenticity of the image. Make-up is also used as a metaphor to appear beautiful but this is made up and questions the reality of the situation. Due to the fact that we are aware that posts on Facebook and selfies are manipulated, we know the truth of the discourse.

Spectacle: Refugee Crisis

Channel 4 News story on the Refugee’s flooding into Croatia.

The Guardian: Britain’s response to the refugee crisis in numbers.

The Guardian: Refugee’s in Hungary.

Amateur footage of the war in Syria.

The refugees have become the spectacle around the world, the name Refugee is used to distract from the cause. Refugee’s are made separate from the situation in their own country. They never concentrate on the problem itself, just how we are affected by it. These videos show the ‘crisis,’ but only the version that affects the European nations, the last video is footage of the actual war in Syria, footage I have not before seen in a news report on the crisis.

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