Keep Your Eyes Open For Good Lecture Opportunities!!!

Hey Folks, Make sure to keep your eyes open as there are many interesting lectures put on throughout each term that may be more relevant to your research than you might at first think.

Two examples (I didn’t see any new media people at either of these):

-As part of the GSA sponsored “Pub Lecture Series” Michele Mosca, Deputy Director of the Institute for Quantum Computing, gave a lecture in the Green Room at 4:00PM Feb 28th at the Grad House on “Quantum Computation, Communication and Cryptography.” Here is the abstract:

Abstract:  Information is stored in a physical medium and manipulated by physical processes. Any meaningful model of computation or information processing must be cast  in a realistic physical framework. The classical paradigm for physical theories has been replaced with quantum theory, and over the past century we have moved from observing quantum effects to controlling them.  What practical impact does quantum theory have on information processing? The quantum features of nature lead to qualitatively different and apparently more powerful models of computation and communication.  For example, quantum mechanics appears to fundamentally change some of the basic assumptions underlying modern cryptography. Factoring large numbers is in fact “easy” if and when we build large quantum computers. Eavesdropping is intrinsically detectable, and in a quantifiable way, if one uses an appropriate quantum encoding of information. I will introduce quantum theory, and how it reshapes information processing, and give some examples of the applications.

How does all of this relate to Cyberbodies? Simple: As I discussed with Professor Mosca after the lecture- Although he does not see any “intrinsic connection between quantumness and intelligence” he was keen to point out that “a quantum computer could accelerate the speed of computations needed by AI systems, and thus lead to better/more efficient/faster AI systems than would be available with only classical computers. It’s conceivable that this sort of extra computational fire-power could be a game-changer for AI…[or ARGs?]”

https://services.iqc.uwaterloo.ca/people/profile/mmosca/

-Also:  In celebration of 50 years of Philosophy at Waterloo there were two talks last week by James Conant, Chester D. Tripp Professor of Humanities, University of Chicago. The first was titled: “The World of a Movie” and held at Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome’s University on Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. As part of his discussion about the semiotics of movies, specifically the POV shot, Professor Conant was able to comment on first-person perspectives in film (and video games?) in a way that would very likely have been of interest to all you gamers out there so…keep your eyes open folks, y’all are missing out!   

-J.H.

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THEMUSEUM Cab installation

As many of you know, a number of our cabs from class have been picked for permanent installation at THEMUSEUM.

For those interested: Below is the statement and instructions that Sarah and I came up with to go with our cab in its space…

Please Insert

           -Artists’ Statement-          

Creators:  Sarah York, Josh Henry, Mohsen Hosseini

Arcade games function as centerpieces of public performance by encouraging competition, winning, high scores, and technological skills like speed, control, and manual dexterity. Games, players, and witnesses alike are bodies and objects on display. Players are situated in ways that are at once vulnerable and empowered, creating sympathy between subject and object, human and machine. At the same time, the borders between organic and inorganic are challenged and redefined.

Disrupting our expectations of familiar objects makes them unfamiliar. This “game” is designed like an original 1980s arcade video game, with a twist.

Does the way machinic objects are used embody or engender them in a particular way? Does the idea of being ‘intimate’ with a machine disturb, excite, or confuse us? Do things have rights? How does a gallery space affect our ideas of art, active engagement with objects, and “appropriate” interaction? How does the experience differ for adults and children?

This kunskabinett, or artist’s cabinet, was designed and built by three doctoral students at the University of Waterloo for Professor Marcel O’Gorman, in conjunction with the Critical Media Lab in Kitchener, ON in 2011. It was created as an “object-to-think-with” and was inspired by writers like Bernard Stiegler, Anna Munster, Anne Balsamo, Mark Hansen, Paul Virilio, as well as artists like Stelarc, whose works and ideas informed the theory behind this piece. It will hopefully instigate questions and conversations about embodiment, technology, and machines in culture. To comment on your experience visit: http://criticalmedia.uwaterloo.ca/crimelab/

You are welcome to figure it out for yourself, or see the Player Instructions.

 Please Insert

-Player Instructions-

  START

 To START the game, please insert your fingers into one or both COINFLAPS.

The game will start automatically.

 EARNING POINTS

 Each time you trigger the sensor in either coin flap, you get a point. Using both coin flaps simultaneously will result in two points at a time.

 TIME

You have ONE MINUTE (see timer) to gain as many points as possible. The music will accelerate in the last eight seconds of the game to remind you that time is running out. You can also see the clock counting down on the screen.

 ENTER YOUR NAME

To enter your name, move the JOYSTICK UP AND DOWN to select your initials or letters. To select the letter you want, press the button with PERSON symbol in the center. Move the JOYSTICK RIGHT AND LEFT to move to the next letter. You may enter up to three characters. Some symbols are included.

HIGH SCORE

The HIGH SCORE LIST will appear on screen automatically. If you are one of the top three high scorers, your name will appear on the list.

RESTART

To RESTART the game, press the PERSON button.

Play as many times as you like.  Enjoy!

 

By the way, for those apt to get offended, just remember, “For better or worse, sex with robots is already a reality.” And if MSN is saying it, it must be true!

http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/02/11/6034141-just-say-no-to-robot-marriage

-J.H.

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No Oreos! Dr. Hayles forgot…and no-one had her back.

OK, for those of you who were unable to attend Dr Hayles and Co. on the 6th– let’s get you caught up!

I have to say that it was a bit of a disappointment, if I am going to be honest. When you have a powerhouse like N. Katherine Hayles in the room and she spends the better part of 45 min. telling you that Wall St. is corrupt, that is a bit of a disappointment. It might be partially because I’m from the States but really, not much of a surprise there about what is going on in the Big Apple.

But let’s not forget Speculation: the game. I’m sorry to have to say this again-I really am- but a bit of a letdown there too folks. Don’t take offense anyone- just trying to keep it real here at the BlindmansBluff- oops, I mean “mark” of course.

The truth is that I’m still not sure we ever actually got to see the game. We saw a couple of Modules: one about connecting some dots and one about abandoned and vacant housing in Florida, but I’m not sure how those related to Speculation at all. Are they going to be somehow incorporated into Speculation? I’m still not sure.

There was some good along with the bad (and ugly?) and I want to make sure to dwell on what can be taken away.

Coming soon: after sorting through my notes, I will try and sum up the good and give some thoughts…along with some possibilities…stay tuned…     -J.H.

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Don’t Miss N. Katherine Hayles Today!!! Tuesday March 6th: Speculatio​n

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“Thus digital computers have an Oreo cookie–like structure with an analogue bottom, a frothy digital middle, and an analogue top”  (Print is Flat, Code is Deep).

Dr. Hayles will be giving a talk today, Tuesday March 6th at 4:30 in Room AL 124.

Please See the full email below from Professor Dolmage.

Don’t Miss out!

Dr. Hayles will be bringing the Oreos!

-J.H.

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Dear Colleagues,

Sorry for the last-minute nature of this announcement.  Marcel and the
Critical Media Lab will be working with N. Katherine Hayles next week, and
we’ve been able to borrow her for a public talk this coming Tuesday, March
6th.

The talk will take place in AL 124 at 4:30 pm

Dr. Hayles will co-present with three of her grad students, Patrick
Jagoda, Ainsley Sutherland, and Patrick Lemieux.  Dr. Hayles will be
speaking about “Speculation,” a multi-player, Alternate Reality Game,
based on a post-apocalyptic scenario in which markets have crashed and
corporations control the world.

N. Katherine Hayles is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the
Program in Literature at Duke University.  She is the award-winning author
of nine books, including Electronic Literature (2008), My Mother Was A
Computer (2005), Writing Machines (2002), and How We Became Posthuman
(1999).

Please find a poster attached and in your mailboxes.

Jay Dolmage

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Updates

Our project wrapped up nicely, thanks to a strong effort and help from our wonderful “techies.” We couldn’t have done it without them, Thanks! The process has been a long and involved one, but we came together for a finished “object to think with” of which we are proud. Pictures will be posted soon (if Josh can find a way to download them off of his phone!) Techies where are you now?

Developing the concept, although initially daunting, turned out to be the best part of the project. Through various models and plans, our foundational vision for the project contained four main ingredients. It had to involve: “stimulating the machine,” actual gameplay (it needed to be fun!), theoretical themes of technological/human embodiment and disembodiment, and an authentic retro 80s arcade experience (which we are old enough to remember, and which draws on all the senses excepting taste. No pun). The movement to finger the coin flaps was part of a generative meeting that led to initially complex arrangements for the game, including at one point, feminizing the machine with a skirt (too weird! and somewhat overstated). Our final draft was manifest just as we planned, with a sleek black aesthetic unadorned but for the image you see below. There are several reasons for this aesthetic, and we think it turned out well.

It was both fascinating and fun to see people actually “perform” the cabinet at the debut event — and yes, you finger the coin slots in order to activate and play the game. Our Dylan was proud to be the ultimate high scorer, though Thea gave him solid competition. Public performance is stimulating and often compromising (not just because people had to actually bend over to play it) and it is worth considering closely how the ‘cab’ shapes and is shaped by specific forms of interactivity.

In terms of production, our group effort came together by the end. We ‘fleshed out’ our design with great challenges, but the most challenging and interesting part of the construction was learning to create a game in Flash. With the help of Tom (our “resident assistant”), Josh and Sarah built the game proper, including a prompt menu, actual ‘game’ including both timing and scoring mechanisms, a high score menu and naming options. It took a long time to find both the authentic 80s font for the game, and the image that was made into a sign for our arcade, but in the end it all came together.

As for the crowd, and as with negative space, it was also interesting to note who would (or wouldn’t) approach the console or engage the cab. Dr. O’Gorman’s son did a fine job playing with quarters, others steered clear of the whole scene. All the  innocent(?) fun served as an object lesson in the role of  (pre) conception and association with works themselves. (Sometimes a console is just a cigar) – (but then again, a good cigar is a Smoke).

We loved this experience.    -S.Y.  &  J.H.

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Tell us what you thought of “Slot N’ Flap” (via Cybridity)

Go Dylan!!

Tell us what you thought of "Slot N' Flap" The Machine … Read More

via Cybridity

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The Forgiveness Machine

Recently, Karen Green, the widow of novelist David Foster Wallace, gave an interview about her loss and coping with the legacy of her husband’s death . In it, she talks about channeling her grief into a Forgiveness Machine, where participants record (on paper) what they want to forgive or be forgiven. The paper is sucked up by vacuum, travels through the heavy seven-foot machine and comes out shredded on the other end. Though this process recalls biological processing (consumption and elimination), it was apparently very moving. Some of the users cried in a sort of cathartic release. The ascription of talismanic, observant, spiritual or reflective-emotive properties to the machine as an object-to-feel-with is fascinating in several ways. The idea that we can process our experience through a mechanical processor has gothic undertones, but also recalls most of the cabs of curiosity our friends and colleagues have made.

For instance, for me (I admit wholly here my own interpretations, not the groups’ own schema and designs for their work), the Zoltar cab (see thinkalongblog) draws in part on the campy pop cultural tradition of mechanizing fate and prophecy as a means of connecting to one’s possible destiny, through the associative lens of Orientalism. That an (presumably) unfeeling, non-living automaton can “see” into you and offer mystical wisdom is subverted in the group’s decision to use actual persons playing an automata Zoltar playing a person.  Similarly, the Odyssey cab (see xdev) deals with poetic notions of death, being, animation and existentialism revealed through technological interface and the controlled body: herein, we wonder at the mimicked suggestion of a soul, the very anxiety playfully overlooked in the pop phenomenon of Max Headroom. Ghost in the Mame made a compelling cab that explores in part the dissociation inherent in ‘generic’ factory production towards mundane ends. The divorce of labour and meaningful work, through the repetitive operation of a machine is heightened through the robotic motions of a protagonist-player whose face we do not see. How do you connect with your product? Cybridity’s cab fosters an intimate relationship with machines through physically and sensually isolated gameplay, wherein the social visibility of arcade use is converted into a private and all-consuming experience. The literal immersion of the player in the machine suggests a kind of muted interiority.

Check them out!

S.

 

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