Inbox Expo

discussing art people

at the exhibition of inbox artspace

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If Spam was Art

comart banner

… we all could sell it and become rich fast. Really? If everyone has a lot of the same, we won’t make much money. In fact, we will have to look out for the real rare and precious gems. A newly founded company, Com+Art Galleries, started idealistic expeditions into this unknown territory.

This presentation (pdf: 1 mb, German only but a lot of pictures) offers some insights into art and into its surrounding businesses.

Drop by often because Com+Art Galleries will go public soon, offering the possiblity to participate in this exciting project to you.

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best replica attractor

This is just a small and simple experiment to see if i can attract a huge amount of spam for my newly installed gmail-account. The more I succeed in doing so, the better I will perform i a newly created game from the Digital Playground Class at FH Potsdam. Very intersting class, but for the bots only this link does count: my attractive replica site!

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faster, better, smarter

Are Computer Games evolving as their own medium, a new form of art and even as tool? Strong arguments for the autonomy of games were deliverd by a class at FU Berlin, Computer Games and Media Theory, that introduced the emerging field of Game Studies to me.

Economically, the production of computer games generates a much larger impact than the production of film for several years already. But gaming itself was still regarded as a waste of time. This does change a lot nowadays, as games get a tool in business processes i.e. you can earn money with it i.e. it suddenly turns out to be something very sensible to do. (best example: SecondLife). Plus, serious gaming tries to make use of our desire to play.

Beside these purely economic interests there is more and more evidence that gaming makes you think and gives your brain a good training for your everyday life as well as for some specialised tasks: fine motor skills for surgeons, faster reactions for sports and military, knowledge of economic correlations, just to mention some ideas. While trying to master a game, looking for workarounds – yes, cheating – even amplyfies our creative efforts and must be regarded as an approach of its own to games. As Reto Wettach (one of my professors at FH Potsdam) and Ralf Grauel mention in their talk at Typo Berlin 2006, a game offers a unique combination of joy and mental activity, offering ideal possibilities for the growth of neurons in our brain. They even come to the conclusion that we are on the way from the achievment- towards a play-oriented society: Being not only faster and better in a playful competition, but finally winning by being smarter!

Moreover, it seems to me to be a small proof for my opinion that our society is judging about life-styles, activities and projects way to fast and with little regard for other than fast-paying economic factors. The importance of games was evident to Schiller already (in his Aesthetical Education of Man) and we are, however, still far form his ideas today

[Man] is only fully man where he plays

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predict the tomorrow

Everyone uses Google (or search engines in general) to find something from the past: What are the soccer results from last week end, who wrote an article about surveillance, where is that “critical update” for my webbrowser? Google finds out the questions and needs of a lot of people (e.g. 50% of all US-search) and with a little extrapolation one could say: of the world. The (monthly) statistics on the psyche of the world can be inspected at the Google Zeitgeist.
The future is nothing random but created by ourselves everyday through actions that are driven exactly by these questions and needs that condense at the search interface of Google. Wouldn’t Google be able to predict the things to come?

While this is one of the stunning (at least to me) results of the Google and Borges class at Humboldt University, I developed a game concept that takes one step back and leaves prophecy to the players.

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simulation and truth

For getting a grip on my master thesis I made up a collection of fields of interest. There are a couple of buzz-words that I want to unfold in order to make them fructous for further investigations. This is one of the first steps and I hope to be able to add some details soon.

simulation/virtual
simulation depends and constructs reality (WoWarcraft, Second Life)
machines simulate an interface in order to get usable for humans

thoughts and theses?
opposite (according to Baudrillard): Illusion

is simulation linked to virtuality?
is operationalization the basis for simulation?

authenticity
unique, personal experience reproductive society, sampling

what role plays the “I” and how do we define it? >emotions

truth
democracy (many) experts (peers)
poetry and truth (>Goethe)

emotion
human control system, adding salience(“weight”) to information
subconscious

Links to authenticity and maybe truth?

games
a way to liberty/freedom (>Schiller)?
some things can not be described directly but rather circumscribed
storytelling, truth in poetry

immersion
which truth(s) might be created, available or perceived by being immersed into some medium, computer games in particular?

emergence
can truth come from (super)complex systems? What do emergent structures show?
are evolutionary systems useful?

massive systems can no longer be calculated but must be estimated statistically and are often simulated in advance > simulation

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Google Games

The sheer abundance of data that Google continues to collect makes the corporation and its activities subjects to intense investigations in several disciplines, including arts and aesthetics. With the subtitle “games without limits” the HU Berlin launched a class in its Asthetics Department led by Gerald Wildgruber. It turned out to be very exciting, offering not only deep insights into a society with a search engine in its center but also unconventional cross-references to Aristotle, Averroes, and Borges.

I want to develop playful approaches to the topic that might shed light on some backgrounds or even show some subversive character. My first concept is now online as a flash-presentation.

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Immersion

HalfLife Screenshoot found on games.tiscali.cz

Immersion (lat.: imergere = to dip): feeled presence in another world

A “world” might be defined by

  • a set of objects and individuals
  • an inhabitable environment
  • its complete understandability (for external spectators)
  • space of possibilities (to take action etc)

building blocks of immersion

  • being caught (backgrounds from cognitive science)
  • a computergame defines the setting and the “destiny of the voyage”
  • by interacting we accept the (game)rules

There is no effort necessary, only conscious analysis is capable of distinguishing between real and virtual. Familiar images and hardware that is intuitively operable help to stay “inside the world”.

Finding ourselves in a state of “amphibic” awareness, we flicker between sensing reality (keyboard, environment) and the game world.

“Possible Worlds” is a term established by Analytical Philosophy (David Lewis): We define our world as a part of the real, absolute world by our perspective. Our view and the real world are linked indexically.
Immersion/Imagination shifts the center of our (real-world) perspective into a fictional world (recentering). The new world is constituted by its rules only which cannot be questioned in consequence.

This is very briefly the content of a presentation I gave (long version in German follows) while I was attending a class at FU Berlin, Seminar for Film Studies on Computergames and Media Theory hosted by Judith Keilbach. It is based on the text

Marie-Laure RYAN, Narrative as Virtual Reality. Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media. Baltimore/London 2004: Johns Hopkins University Press

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Boktai

Hideo Kojima Konami, 2003

boktai II

Die meisten Computerspiele stellen eine Welt ganz für sich dar. Boktai dagegen braucht “echtes” Licht und ist in der neuen Version auch mit der Real-Zeit des Spielers synchron. Nachts das Licht anschalten gilt also nicht mehr.

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The future reviewed

The Ars Electronica has been committed to the Future for 25 years. According to its own statement it became not only the largest and most prominent but paradoxically also the oldest festival for the world between art and technology. It attracted a large number of regular visitors and participants who now thought the time had come to do a review.

Synopsis of the Past

Quite a number of exhibitions was dedicated to formerly excellent items, such as “Liquid Views” by Monika Fleischmann. Those “former times” seemed to dominate the conversations and thus contributed to an atmosphere of a retrospektive, as if many of the long-time veterans remembered the beginnigs of the computer revolution with bulbs and punch cards half amused, half stunning. Proving that the electronics then were seriously dependent on mechanics John Paradiso wired his “Modular Synthesizer” Monster everyday for new melodies. Itsuo Sakane could already talk about media art as a historian and his personal knowledge enabled him to tell even intimate details about its very beginnings. Especially for artists and art school students his speech should have been of special interest.

 

Ars Electronica | The Sensory Circus by Johannes Landstorfer 2004

Ars Electronica | The Sensory Circus
by Johannes Landstorfer 2004

Of course there is no review without statistical Analysis which is only available with a sufficent time past. At Ars Electronica conventional diagrams can’t be used: In cooperation with the Ars Electronica Center’s Future Lab Gerhard Dirmoser developped a detailed “Memory Theater” which related all topics and objects of the last 25 years and provided central figures and various trends via different arrangements. To cope with its complexity extra-large posters were printed but facing this enormous number of layers all attempts of information design failed.

According to the diagrams Gerfried Stocker is closely tied to the Ars. This name is not completely transparently linked with many others which might be the point for a small dissident group out of the festival to claim the Ars Electronica a Festival for art, technology and insider relationships…

Current Exhibits

It became clear in any case that at an Ars Electronica you can dive into a vast world of a huge number of projects. Highlights from former times are still fascinating but the festival knows above all but one direction: forward, towards the future. One of the audiences’ darlings ought to be the “Augmented Fish Reality” by Ken Rinaldo where the visitors got the unusual role of passive spectators. Main actors were to siamesic fighting fish which had not only the possibility to move around in their tank but also this way move the whole tank in the room – especially for toy fish probably an unknown freedom.

A very strong hint towards the interaction of the art scene with other areas could be found in the 3D-world of Ah_Q, which was created by Feng Mengbo using the game-proven Quake-III-engine.

The award-winning animations delivered very interesting and illustrative items but exeptionary ones as well: A highly dramatic story of a girl who had to tumble by her own clumsiness off a bridge to save a some minutes earlier picked up foundling not missing to celebrate harmony and happiness in front of a deluxe-airbrush-sunset (and a quite suddenly appearing sea-site) in advance. It was just like that. Noone I had the chance to talk about the movie could explain it to me. The exception was even more visible because “Ryan”, the winner, had both a fascinating story and its very own, deconstructed images.

IAMAS school from Japan showed animations as well along with a wide range of their creations. The works very excellent thus justifing the distinction granted with the invitation but above all were remarkably humorous and offered a lot of fun.

Ars Electronica | the IAMAS school of Japan

Ars Electronica | the IAMAS school of Japan

Digital Communities

In comparison to the last year the festival concentrated less on one specific area but presented a wide range past and current contributions. The result resembled more an album then a dossier. Some more peaks or depth would have made a better explanation for the promising motto. The Ars was not very futuristic and it was always easy to find one’s way back to the real world after having left the exhibitions. And if it was to reensure oneself of one’s sensual existance by the tasty experience of a Marillenknödel.

The only and not central focus was created by the “Communities”. The conferences around a “Language of Networks” were started on Wednesday already, a novelty to the schedule granting professionals the whole weekend for the actual exhibitions. The importance of the weekend-period was illustrated by the immedeatly emptied but formerly crowded conference rooms and the only scarcely occupied Donau riversides on Monday.

Ars Electronica | The Monday After

Ars Electronica | The Monday After

Nevertheless there was an intersting program: Since 2004 there is a new prize-category especially for communities. Severeal forums and discussion panels were now dedicated to this group. Intresting not at last because personalities from Joitchi Ito to Jimmy Wales to Laurence Lessig presented their views. A perfect match could be found in the electrolobby were the brandnew creativecommons section Austria was brought to life – celebrated with bottled “OpenSource Water”.

Having been a general review of past and current computer arts the Ars was worth it in any case because you could see how vibrant and active the world of networks is at those places were these networks are built.

[note: I wrote this review originally for the online magazine of Mediamatic]

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