Monday, March 20. 2017
Note: Obviously, it was just a matter of time before something like this (virtual virtual reality) happened! "Virtual reality" is part of "reality" isn't it? So why not represent it as well, as part of vr... Etc.
Which brings us to the 20 years old question: when will we start trigger new experiences with VR that are not necessarily linked to some kind of representation, even if this representation is an "hallucination", or some sort of surrealistic visual narrative as stated here?
But this question addresses the paradoxal limitations or presuppositions of the media itself, so to say. It seems to open doors to alternate realities, but at the same time, it is entirely based on perspective, human vision and sound perception. It is in fact quite limitative and hard to overcome, but nonetheless dimensions of human perception that have been challenged for a long time by artistic practices of different sorts.
Via Tender Claws
From the company site ...
"A game about VR, AI and our collective sci-fi hallucinations."
"In the near future, most jobs have been automated. What is the purpose of humanity? Activitude, the Virtual Labor System, is here to help. Your artisanal human companionship is still highly sought by our A.I. clients. Strap on your headset. Find your calling.
Pssst. . . Sure, you could function like a therapy dog to an A.I. in Bismarck and watch your work ratings climb, but don’t you yearn for something more: adventure, conflict, purpose? Escape backstage into Activitude’s system by putting on an endless series of VR headsets in VR. Outrun Chaz, your manager, as he attempts to boot you out PERMANENTLY. Along the way, uncover the story of Activitude’s evolution from VR start-up to the “human purpose aggregator” it is today."
Tuesday, August 02. 2016
By fabric | ch
As we continue to lack a decent search engine on this blog and as we don't use a "tag cloud" ... This post could help navigate through the updated content on | rblg (as of 07.2016), via all its tags!
HERE ARE ALL THE CURRENT TAGS TO NAVIGATE ON | RBLG BLOG:
(to be seen just below if you're navigating on the blog's page or here for rss readers)
Posted by Patrick Keller in fabric | ch at 16:58
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Wednesday, April 02. 2014
A few weeks into the making of Her, Spike Jonze’s new flick about romance in the age of artificial intelligence, the director had something of a breakthrough. After poring over the work of Ray Kurzweil and other futurists trying to figure out how, exactly, his artificially intelligent female lead should operate, Jonze arrived at a critical insight: Her, he realized, isn’t a movie about technology. It’s a movie about people. With that, the film took shape. Sure, it takes place in the future, but what it’s really concerned with are human relationships, as fragile and complicated as they’ve been from the start.
Of course on another level Her is very much a movie about technology. One of the two main characters is, after all, a consciousness built entirely from code. That aspect posed a unique challenge for Jonze and his production team: They had to think like designers. Assuming the technology for AI was there, how would it operate? What would the relationship with its “user” be like? How do you dumb down an omniscient interlocutor for the human on the other end of the earpiece?
When AI is cheap, what does all the other technology look like?
For production designer KK Barrett, the man responsible for styling the world in which the story takes place, Her represented another sort of design challenge. Barrett’s previously brought films like Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette, and Where the Wild Things Are to life, but the problem here was a new one, requiring more than a little crystal ball-gazing. The big question: In a world where you can buy AI off the shelf, what does all the other technology look like?
Technology Shouldn’t Feel Like Technology
One of the first things you notice about the “slight future” of Her, as Jonze has described it, is that there isn’t all that much technology at all. The main character Theo Twombly, a writer for the bespoke love letter service BeautifulHandwrittenLetters.com, still sits at a desktop computer when he’s at work, but otherwise he rarely has his face in a screen. Instead, he and his fellow future denizens are usually just talking, either to each other or to their operating systems via a discrete earpiece, itself more like a fancy earplug anything resembling today’s cyborgian Bluetooth headsets.
In this “slight future” world, things are low-tech everywhere you look. The skyscrapers in this futuristic Los Angeles haven’t turned into towering video billboards a la Blade Runner; they’re just buildings. Instead of a flat screen TV, Theo’s living room just has nice furniture.
This is, no doubt, partly an aesthetic concern; a world mediated through screens doesn’t make for very rewarding mise en scene. But as Barrett explains it, there’s a logic to this technological sparseness. “We decided that the movie wasn’t about technology, or if it was, that the technology should be invisible,” he says. “And not invisible like a piece of glass.” Technology hasn’t disappeared, in other words. It’s dissolved into everyday life.
Here’s another way of putting it. It’s not just that Her, the movie, is focused on people. It also shows us a future where technology is more people-centric. The world Her shows us is one where the technology has receded, or one where we’ve let it recede. It’s a world where the pendulum has swung back the other direction, where a new generation of designers and consumers have accepted that technology isn’t an end in itself–that it’s the real world we’re supposed to be connecting to. (Of course, that’s the ideal; as we see in the film, in reality, making meaningful connections is as difficult as ever.)
Theo Twombly still sits at a desktop computer when he’s at work, but otherwise he rarely has his face in a screen.
Jonze had help in finding the contours of this slight future, including conversations with designers from New York-based studio Sagmeister & Walsh and an early meeting with Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, principals at architecture firm DS+R. As the film’s production designer, Barrett was responsible for making it a reality.
Throughout that process, he drew inspiration from one of his favorite books, a visual compendium of futuristic predictions from various points in history. Basically, the book reminded Barrett what not to do. “It shows a lot of things and it makes you laugh instantly, because you say, ‘those things never came to pass!’” he explains. “But often times, it’s just because they over-thought it. The future is much simpler than you think.”
That’s easy to say in retrospect, looking at images of Rube Goldbergian kitchens and scenes of commute by jet pack. But Jonze and Barrett had the difficult task of extrapolating that simplification forward from today’s technological moment.
Theo’s home gives us one concise example. You could call it a “smart house,” but there’s little outward evidence of it. What makes it intelligent isn’t the whizbang technology but rather simple, understated utility. Lights, for example, turn off and on as Theo moves from room to room. There’s no app for controlling them from the couch; no control panel on the wall. It’s all automatic. Why? “It’s just a smart and efficient way to live in a house,” says Barrett.
Today’s smartphones were another object of Barrett’s scrutiny. “They’re advanced, but in some ways they’re not advanced whatsoever,” he says. “They need too much attention. You don’t really want to be stuck engaging them. You want to be free.” In Barrett’s estimation, the smartphones just around the corner aren’t much better. “Everyone says we’re supposed to have a curved piece of flexible glass. Why do we need that? Let’s make it more substantial. Let’s make it something that feels nice in the hand.”
Theo’s phone in the film is just that–a handsome hinged device that looks more like an art deco cigarette case than an iPhone. He uses it far less frequently than we use our smartphones today; it’s functional, but it’s not ubiquitous. As an object, it’s more like a nice wallet or watch. In terms of industrial design, it’s an artifact from a future where gadgets don’t need to scream their sophistication–a future where technology has progressed to the point that it doesn’t need to look like technology.
All of these things contribute to a compelling, cohesive vision of the future–one that’s dramatically different from what we usually see in these types of movies. You could say that Her is, in fact, a counterpoint to that prevailing vision of the future–the anti-Minority Report. Imagining its world wasn’t about heaping new technology on society as we know it today. It was looking at those places where technology could fade into the background, integrate more seamlessly. It was about envisioning a future, perhaps, that looked more like the past. “In a way,” says Barrett, “my job was to undesign the design.”
The Holy Grail: A Discrete User Interface
The greatest act of undesigning in Her, technologically speaking, comes with the interface used throughout the film. Theo doesn’t touch his computer–in fact, while he has a desktop display at home and at work, neither have a keyboard. Instead, he talks to it. “We decided we didn’t want to have physical contact,” Barrett says. “We wanted it to be natural. Hence the elimination of software keyboards as we know them.”
Again, voice control had benefits simply on the level of moviemaking. A conversation between Theo and Sam, his artificially intelligent OS, is obviously easier for the audience to follow than anything involving taps, gestures, swipes or screens. But the voice-based UI was also a perfect fit for a film trying to explore what a less intrusive, less demanding variety of technology might look like.
Indeed, if you’re trying to imagine a future where we’ve managed to liberate ourselves from screens, systems based around talking are hard to avoid. As Barrett puts it, the computers we see in Her “don’t ask us to sit down and pay attention” like the ones we have today. He compares it to the fundamental way music beats out movies in so many situations. Music is something you can listen to anywhere. It’s complementary. It lets you operate in 360 degrees. Movies require you to be locked into one place, looking in one direction. As we see in the film, no matter what Theo’s up to in real life, all it takes to bring his OS into the fold is to pop in his ear plug.
Looking at it that way, you can see the audio-based interface in Her as a novel form of augmented reality computing. Instead of overlaying our vision with a feed, as we’ve typically seen it, Theo gets a one piped into his ear. At the same time, the other ear is left free to take in the world around him.
Barrett sees this sort of arrangement as an elegant end point to the trajectory we’re already on. Think about what happens today when we’re bored at the dinner table. We check our phones. At the same time, we realize that’s a bit rude, and as Barrett sees it, that’s one of the great promises of the smartwatch: discretion.
“They’re a little more invisible. A little sneakier,” he says. Still, they’re screens that require eyeballs. Instead, Barrett says, “imagine if you had an ear plug in and you were getting your feed from everywhere.” Your attention would still be divided, but not nearly as flagrantly.
Of course, a truly capable voice-based UI comes with other benefits. Conversational interfaces make everything easier to use. When every different type of device runs an OS that can understand natural language, it means that every menu, every tool, every function is accessible simply by requesting it.
That, too, is a trend that’s very much alive right now. Consider how today’s mobile operating systems, like iOS and ChromeOS, hide the messy business of file systems out of sight. Theo, with his voice-based valet as intermediary, is burdened with even less under-the-hood stuff than we are today. As Barrett puts it: “We didn’t want him fiddling with things and fussing with things.” In other words, Theo lives in a future where everything, not just his iPad, “just works.”
Theo lives in a future where everything, not just his iPad, “just works.”
AI: the ultimate UX challenge
The central piece of invisible design in Her, however, is that of Sam, the artificially intelligent operating system and Theo’s eventual romantic partner. Their relationship is so natural that it’s easy to forget she’s a piece of software. But Jonze and company didn’t just write a girlfriend character, label it AI, and call it a day. Indeed, much of the film’s dramatic tension ultimately hinges not just on the ways artificial intelligence can be like us but the ways it cannot.
Much of Sam’s unique flavor of AI was written into the script by Jonze himself. But her inclusion led to all sorts of conversations among the production team about the nature of such a technology. “Anytime you’re dealing with trying to interact with a human, you have to think of humans as operating systems. Very advanced operating systems. Your highest goal is to try to emulate them,” Barrett says. Superficially, that might mean considering things like voice pattern and sensitivity and changing them based on the setting or situation.
Even more quesitons swirled when they considered how an artificially intelligent OS should behave. Are they a good listener? Are they intuitive? Do they adjust to your taste and line of questioning? Do they allow time for you to think? As Barrett puts it, “you don’t want a machine that’s always telling you the answer. You want one that approaches you like, ‘let’s solve this together.’”
In essence, it means that AI has to be programmed to dumb itself down. “I think it’s very important for OSes in the future to have a good bedside manner.” Barrett says. “As politicians have learned, you can’t talk at someone all the time. You have to act like you’re listening.”
As we see in the film, though, the greatest asset of AI might be that it doesn’t have one fixed personality. Instead, its ability to figure out what a person needs at a given moment emerges as the killer app.
Theo, emotionally desolate in the midst of a hard divorce, is having a hard time meeting people, so Sam goads him into going on a blind date. When Theo’s friend Amy splits up with her husband, her own artificially intelligent OS acts as a sort of therapist. “She’s helping me work through some things,” Amy says of her virtual friend at one point.
In our own world, we may be a long way from computers that are able to sense when we’re blue and help raise our spirits in one way or another. But we’re already making progress down this path. In something as simple as a responsive web layout or iOS 7′s “Do Not Disturb” feature, we’re starting to see designs that are more perceptive about the real world context surrounding them–where or how or when they’re being used. Google Now and other types of predictive software are ushering in a new era of more personalized, more intelligent apps. And while Apple updating Siri with a few canned jokes about her Hollywood counterpart might not amount to a true sense of humor, it does serve as another example of how we’re making technology more human–a preoccupation that’s very much alive today.
While I do agree with the idea that technology is becoming in some ways banal --or maybe, to use a better word, just common-- and that the future might not be about flying cars, fancy allover hologram interfaces or backup video cities populated with personal clones), that it might be "in service of", will "vanish" or "recede" into our daily atmospheres, environments, architectures, furnitures, clothes if not bodies or cells, we have to keep in mind that this could (will) make it even more intrusive.
Tuesday, February 25. 2014
Via the guardian
Is our urban future bright or bleak? Peter Bradshaw provides a selection of celluloid cities you might consider moving to - or avoiding - if you are looking to relocate any time in the next 200 years or so.
METROPOLIS (1927) (dir. Fritz Lang)
Metropolis is the architectural template for all futurist cities in the movies. It has glitzy skyscrapers; it has streets crowded with folk who swarm through them like ants; most importantly, it has high-up freeways linking the buildings, criss-crossing the sky, on which automobiles and trains casually run — the sine qua non of the futurist city. Metropolis is a gigantic 21st-century European city state, a veritable utopia for that elite few fortunate enough to live above ground in its gleaming urban spaces. But it’s awful for the untermensch race of workers who toil underground. Photograph: Ronald Grant Archive.
ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981) (dir. John Carpenter)
Made when New York still had its tasty crime-capital reputation, Carpenter’s dystopian sci-fi presents us with the New York of the future, ie 1988, and imagines that the authorities have given up policing it entirely and simply walled the city off and established a 24/7 patrol for the perimeter, re-purposing the city as a licensed hellhole of Darwinian violence into which serious prisoners will just be slung and then forgotten about, to survive or not as they can. Then in 1997 the President’s plane goes down in the city and he has to be rescued. New York is re-imagined as a lawless, dimly-lit nightmare. Not a great place to live. Photograph: Allstar/Cinetext/MGM.
LOGAN’S RUN (1976) (dir. Michael Anderson) This is set in an enclosed dome city in the post-apocalyptic world of 2274. It looks like an exciting, go-ahead place to live and it’s certainly a great city for twentysomethings. There are the much-loved overhead monorails and people wear the sleek, figure-hugging leotards, unitards, and miniskirts. The issue is that people here get killed on their 30th birthday. Some people escape the dome city to find themselves in deserted Washington DC, which is a wreck by comparison. Photograph: Ronald Grant Archive
BLADE RUNNER (1982) (dir. Ridley Scott)
ALPHAVILLE (1965) (dir. Jean-Luc Godard)
THINGS TO COME (1936) (dir. William Cameron Menzies)
AKIRA (1988) (dir. Katsuhiro Otomo)
SLEEPER (1973) (dir. Woody Allen)
MINORITY REPORT (2002) (dir. Steven Spielberg)
BABELDOM (2013) (dir. Paul Bush) This cult cine-essay by Paul Bush is all about a fictional mega-city called Babeldom. Where this city is supposed to be is a moot point. It is everywhere and nowhere. At first it is glimpsed through a misty fog: it is the city of Babel imagined by the elder Breughel in his Tower Of Babel. Then Bush gives us glimpses of a place made up of actual cities and then computer graphic displays take us through how a city develops its distinctive lineaments and growth patterns. Of all the future-cities on this list, Babeldom is probably the weirdest.
This article was amended on 30 January 2014 to correct the spelling of Paul Bush's name.
Tuesday, September 06. 2011
Whenever I find old copies of L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui, I sit down and browse through their proclamations of what the future will be like.
Would we be living in computer-chip environments?
of course we would
would we be putting together apartments like giant Tetris modules?
of course we would
would we love rhomboid patterened cartoon lightning decorated public buildings?
of course we do (Alfred Neumann, public building at Bat-Yam, Israel, 1968)
flipping through pages of early computer generated modular systematic housing nightmares
I seem to nod off into catterpillar town suburbias
little beehive modular cellular non buildings in India
and more organic 60's circular extravaganzas
only to realise that I am looking at Satellite stations in Ahmedabad
half awake confusing satellite hats and head-carried dishes
but further, more radical advertising strangeness follows
flamboyant architecture of illustration
Monday, June 06. 2011
Via Pasta & Vinegar
By Nicolas Nova
One of the best novel I’ve read recently was The City and the City by China Miéville. Quick notes I’ve taken while reading it:
What struck me (as well as lots of other readers of course) as fascinating in this book was the role played by the cityscape in the whole narrative. The action takes place in the distinct cities of Besźel and Ul Qoma. However, both of them actually occupy the same physical space. It’s the city and the city. Because the citizens chose this separation, Besźel and Ul Quoma are perceived by people as two different cities… which means that inhabitants are taught to “unsee” or “unhear” the persons from the other city:
Unseeing, as described above, is supposed to be unconscious. This ability is important because it doesn’t mean that people would’nt notice anything (e.g. if you drive in Beszel, you have to be aware of Ul Qoma car presence but you must not see them). This of course means that this ability is taught very early to children and that each cities has its own peculiar design/color/shape/architecture. This “unseeing” process is so deeply grounded in the cities denizens that it almost act as a physical barrier.
The act of ignoring this separation, even by accident, is called “breaching”. Illegal passage between the two cities or discussing with an Ul qoman citizen while being in Beszel can be qualified as “breach” (” Someone said graffiti were appearing on walls in Ul Qoma in styles that suggested Besźel artists.“). But this is hard to do, as shown by this excerpt:
Besides, the fact that the twin cities exist in the same physical space leads to highly curious topological problems… such as the intriguing typology of places:
And this is just part of the remarkable vocabulary that the author employed to create this odd geography. See also “fractured city boards”, “Schrödinger’s pedestrian”, “maybe-grosstopic proximity”, not to mention Orciny (I don’t want to spoil anything about this).
Why do I blog this? I am currently preparing a workshop (planned to be conducted in Zürich at the end of the week) and I wonder whether I could use this spatial typology in the design brief (to engage students in designing locative media based on this universe). Despite the importance of spatiality in this novel, it’s curious to see that the various covers do not try to pick on that. I would have been intrigued to see how the cities could have been represented visually.
Friday, April 15. 2011
The relationship between architecture and photography is so old as both disciplines. While Anne Elisabeth Toft asks “Is it possible to capture, translate and transmit architectural experience via representations?” we can recall to the most recent work of the filmmaker and artist Wim Wenders, called Places, strange and quiet which is based on a fascinating series of large-scale photographs taken in countries around the world from Salvador, Brazil; Palermo, Italy; Onomichi, Japan to Berlin, Germany; Brisbane, Australia, Armenia and the United States. Wenders pointed on his latest publication:
But what about photographing not buildings, but landscape, urban voids and ruins? Can we talk about the same relationship as in between architecture and photography?
Most of Wim Wenders‘ photographs are created during his personal travels and while location-scouting for his films. From his iconic images of exteriors and buildings to his panoramic depictions of towns and landscapes, it’s not strange to find some of his movies accompanied by photo exhibitions and publications such as The Heart is a Sleeping Beauty as part of The Million Dollar Hotel or his 1999 film Buena Vista Social Club which was featured with the companion book by Wim Wenders and Donata Wenders.
Wim Wenders was a painter before he started working on film and photography, and he talked about this in an interview with Michael Coles:
Wenders photographic work is obviously very cinematic. His approach to catch the right moment and the right place, his sensibility to transmit with images what a urban place can mean and the way he freezes different urban context is widely poetic and full of literary references.
Wenders points that he doesn’t think that any photographer has anything else in mind than that particular moment he is capturing. This is the main guideline of the photo-work of the exhibition that will take place at the Haunch of Venison, in London.
“…but a story,
- Wim Wenders
As he said, “discovering the story that a place wants to tell. That’s my main concern, my attitude. Listening to the place. For me, taking a picture is more an act of listening, so to speak, than of seeing.” Now, the questions hidden in every picture are always the same:
What happened to that place? What happened to those people? How does this house or this street or this landscape look now, 10 or 30 years later?
The book Places, strange and quiet has been published by Hatje Cantz Verlag. More info at their web-site
Friday, April 01. 2011
Monday, March 21. 2011
by Andreas Angelidakis
After a really long time, I found myself in Second Life Again
at first I thought the teleport took me to the wrong place
Could this really be the same lazy suburban island I left a few years ago?
And where was everybody? The place felf like the day after an invisible bomb
I guess this was not a regular bomb, it was just an explosion of development,
it made me think of all the hype that surrounded Second Life a few years back.
Obviously made invertors placed their money here. I guess they lost it,
and most probably because they promoted Second Life as a "digital revolution",
and not as the niche geekfest it really is.
another failed capitalist expansion, that took everybody to nowhere.
I peeked at vacant spaces inside generic corporate salary-buildings
flew up to the sky, and decided to leave
I saw a bridge and another, uninhabited island, strangely cut in half.
I assumed it was the graphics setting on my pc,
and as I flew closer the rest of the island would come into view
but no, the island was indeed cut off.
The development ended abrupty at sea.
I examined the cut, it was clean
the topography sliced by the programmer who ran out of space on his server?
Was this the real City of Bits? Cloud Computing Urbanisim?
hovering above the sea,
I appreciated the new graphics settings,
where the sea soflty glistens under the moonlight,
as it would any other full moon weekend
Artificial cities also experience (invisible) cataclysms.
Tuesday, February 15. 2011
At the Architectural Association, 11 writers and 11 literary places are the subject of an immaterial translation – via the voice
The walls of latest exhibition at London's Architectural Association gallery are painted a muted grey. There are 11 large-ish white numbers placed carefully around the room and small postcards next to the numbers. There seem to be various kinds of chairs or seats everywhere. But, as someone hands over the props of the standard exhibition audio tour, a heavy-duty pair of headphones and what looks like an audio guide, it becomes clear that the exhibition doesn't take place in this room. It is not a visual experience at all.
More about it HERE.
(Page 1 of 2, totaling 18 entries) » next page
fabric | rblg
This blog is the survey website of fabric | ch - studio for architecture, interaction and research.
We curate and reblog articles, researches, writings, exhibitions and projects that we notice and find interesting during our everyday practice and readings.
Most articles concern the intertwined fields of architecture, territory, art, interaction design, thinking and science. From time to time, we also publish documentation about our own work and research, immersed among these related resources and inspirations.
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