With reference to Janet Cardiff’s works, I have decided to model a part of my walkthrough in Jurong based on her ‘Alter Bahnhof Video Walk‘. Visually it lacks the fidelity and immersive choreography, but in essence it performs the same function, with some additional little tricks utilising geolocation and dynamic playback control of the clip as the viewer moves through the landscape.
The prototype video mixed with reading and a crafted soundscape can be viewed below.
The process, though straightforward, took a bit of time from acquiring footage to assembly. Here’s a screenshot of the mixing process. The original audio is preserved, but tremendously reduced to be barely discernible. The next track is the reading, where the narrator guides the viewer through the walk. The next few layers of audio are a mixture of ambient sfx that are related to what is mentioned in the reading.
The video is also designed in such a way that there is a ‘soft’ break at around 6 minutes, at the halfway mark. This is to account for viewers’ different walking speeds or level of participation. As the user approaches a certain point, the page will trigger the video to continue playing from a certain point.
I have also experimented with a vertical format style of shooting, and that can be seen below.
I have also experimented with ‘aging’ the recorded readings to increase their level of authenticity and immersiveness.
That’s all for the week.
Areas of focus
- Education (Early educational institutes)
- Residential (Growth of community)
- Hong Kah Village
- Jurong Brickworks
- Jurong Sec Sch
- Yung Sheng Food Center
- Chinese/Jap garden
- Jurong Lake
- Development of Jurong Industrial Estate
- Taman Jurong – first housing estates
- Excerpts from workers in 60-70s (pg.42)
- Hong Kah Village before redevelopment (pg.48)
Slides for Future Cinema presentation
Done with Kelly
It is interesting to see how multimedia was developed from the early days as a derivation of early cinema. In modern day, the change in how media is designed and delivered as an experience is more often more aesthetical than theoretical or conceptual.
Eliza as an early piece of work is revolutionary. I am particularly impressed by how convincing (though primitive by today’s standards) its conversations appear to its audience. This is all done by the simple yet effective mechanism of mirroring, which has roots in psychology and therapy. From this it’s evident to me that when humans interact, we are subconsciously ‘looking’ into a mirror of ourselves, constantly searching for answers to our deepest questions or fears. Many times, we feel as if we don’t have an answer, but when the same question is re-contextualised and mirrored back to us, we are mysteriously able to work through our thoughts and convey an understanding. Here, Eliza simply functioned as a soulless intermediary in bringing our hidden thoughts to the surface.
There is also something much more powerful with text-based adventure games of the past. The written word is infinitely much more expressive than any complex high-technology graphics-loaded game could ever be. Its fidelity, richness and believability, is only limited, by its authors’ choice of words and the players’ imagination(most have incredibly expansive ones). There is also unsaid power in immateriality; in the world of computer graphics, there is a constant definitive benchmark for what is believable, immersive. And there is always room for improvement. Yet, when left in the realm of unknown, imagination is boundless, promising infinite levels of richness and personalisation. Thereby lies the paradox of a creation that is not quite polished, yet it feels more complete than something that is definitely tangible and quantifiable.
There is also the issue of spatial limits. In prose-form, there is literally no boundary. The boundary extends as far as the player wants it to go. But for the graphically-enriched equivalent, it can only extend as far as the budget allows.
Vivid descriptions can draw an audience into a complex sequence of interactions and deep immersion, but when the same is attempted with visuals, every little detail that is invested has to be seen/heard to be fully absorbed and processed into the player’s psyche. Textually, no such obstacle exists. The player is singularly, reading and reliving every letter and word. Nothing is missed. Everything is ‘seen’ and ‘heard’.
There is truth in less is more after all…
Subject of project
This mainly auditory-based project attempts to relate these disparate themes together in a given place:
- the tremendous changes an area undergoes over time
- the interactions of its inhabitants with their environment
- how people perceive past and present in different ways
Space to be explored
This area has been chosen as quite a lot has been changed in this area. And the communities that lived here has also been present in the past, so would make for an interesting juxtaposition. There are a number of landmarks, both past and present:
- Drive-in cinema
- Three gardens, Chinese, Japanese and Tropical
- Various brickworks
- Reclaimed areas
- Jurong Vocational Institute
- Old estates
Form of project
It will take the form of a interactive site to be used on a mobile browser. The user will be presented with a map of an area of Jurong. On this map there will be subtly highlighted areas indicating ‘areas with echoes’. As the user navigate within this area, s/he will experience a mix of different soundscapes comprising of interviews, ambient sounds, readings or music. These soundscapes are dynamically generated and is affected by time of day, speed of travel, location and presence of ‘others’.
On the map user can also see faint highlights of other’s travels, so s/he could decide to visit ‘hotspot areas’. Other than a purely passive auditory experience, users can also record audio bites on location, and these will in turn become part of the ‘echoes’ of the area.
- Mapbox setup
- Geolocation api for tracking user; user location is shown on map
- Heat map styling to show echo ‘hotspots’
- Insert audio clips to specific coordinates
- Trigger audio when within proximity(supports simultaneously playing audio clips)
- Working early prototype; deployment to remote server(Amazon EC2)
- Quick debugging option for prototyping echo ‘zones’ by clicking on map to ‘simulate’ user location
Going through the first few paragraphs, I was at a loss at what I was reading. The sentences didn’t appear coherent, and I was trying hard to decipher what ‘The Spectacle’ was all about. As I went through more of them, I quickly and sadly start to understand what the article was about. In this respect, Debord has done a magnificent job of crafting this seminal piece. I dare say this is one of the most thought-provoking pieces I have ever read. Unlike traditional prose, Debord does not bother setting the stage. He jumps straight to describing the ‘phenomena’, prompting the intentional, slow and unsettling ‘discovery’ by the reader, which is just brilliant in my opinion.
Part of the genius of the term being coined here is that this phenomena is omnipresent and hard to quantify, as of all the things that are associated with it (advertising, all forms of media, consumerism, mass production etc.) permeating throughout modern society. Thus it is inherently hard to assign a highly accurate and descriptive term, yet ‘The Spectacle’ seems to do well, precisely for its ambiguity and succinctness in describing this abstract entity.
The frequent use of word play is also masterfully employed, and frankly can be quite tiresome at times, but that is precisely the point: ‘The spectacle thus unites what is separate, but it unites it only in its separateness.’ The cyclical and paradoxical nature of this upsetting process of conversion on global proportions is turning itself on its head literally.
The spectacle corresponds … commodity completes its colonization of social life… commodities are now all that there is to see; the world we see is the world of commodity.
This quote is truly apt and befitting of our times. Everything has been commodified, friendships, life, food, wellness, relationships and a ceaselessly growing list.
‘The Spectacle’ in usual terms would mean a sight or phenomena to behold, and capitalism, mass consumerism or any aforementioned derivative in this scenario is the spectacle that has masked our eyes; with the insidious, flawless combination of the ‘Separation’, ‘Commodity’ and ‘Unity and division’ mechanisms as described.
Here, I feel Debord has managed to weave a complex narrative of how the world and its people evolved, with few simple terms and relatively simple prose; a breathtaking feat to say the least.
Audio 03 – Around Rulang Pri.
Non-linear narrative concept
Juxtapose the past and present via sounds. As participant navigates through areas of Jurong, he/she is presented with sound bites from the past/present. These sound bites can be any of the following:
- historical readings
- ambient environmental sounds of past/present
- recordings of worker interviews?
- recorded readings of thoughts/prose
The participant explores the historical development of the Jurong area through the times by navigating and witnessing it in the present, while being immersed in the past via sounds.
Dan’s beautifully crafted prose really struck a chord in me as I grew up in Jurong West and went to the now-famous Rulang Primary School as a young boy. I can imagine myself taking the bus 99, going through the exact same route and experiencing the sights and sounds that Dan had painstakingly described.
I had plenty of fond memories of the Chinese Garden before it received a major haul in the past few years. I was a frequent visitor of the Science Center as well, filling my many hours with curiosity and fascination with all things science.
My childhood days were mostly spent with my parents in their shop, at Jurong West St. 41. Most of the surrounding shops are all replaced. When I walk past the area, I wonder what happened to most of our neighboring shops and their owners.
Like Dan, I have also experienced moving houses growing up.
When I went on to secondary education, I moved to Jalan Bahar area and my parents’ shop shifted to an underground bomb shelter at Choa Chu Kang. With the passing of time and development of Singapore’s economy, neighborhood ‘Mama’ shops became increasingly hard to run. Sprawling shopping malls spring up from Choa Chu Kang, all the way to Jurong East and Boon Lay. I could still remember when Jurong Point was only a much smaller building a few decades ago, and when Jurong East had only a single paltry mall back then.
Looking back, I experience the same sense of loss and nostalgia from the good old days, where everything was smaller, simpler and slower.
For me, Lev’s article on database and narrative has highlighted the increasing importance between these two in the current age of information explosion. With the advent of cheaper storage and bigger datacenters, there is no longer a problem of lack of data of any form; textual, visual, audio etc. The challenge is how we can contextualise and arrange these vast corpus into something meaningful.
In my view, the Google search engine is possibly the biggest database-based ‘interactive’ that exists in the world. I think it’s much more than just a search engine. Its many capabilities include natural language interpretation, image recognition(somewhat useable), user context linking etc. Its clearly the most massive form of algorithms + databases mankind has ever witnessed.
On a philosophical level, I think it’s fair to argue that Google has played a tremendous part in people’s life. Let me provide a hypothetical example.
Imagine you are a young, lost, disinterested teenager, on a typical day, plowing through your daily social media routine. You regularly use Google for school work, research and the occasional trivial. You spot something interesting under Youtube recommendations, you watch a short clip of scientific trivial, which in turns pique your interest for more. Piling google search upon google search, you develop an interest in the topic. Fast forward a decade, you are now working hard on a research paper that might change the way people think about a certain topic.
This sounds like a typical plot of a budget Hollywood film; it could very well be. But I think the Internet has definitely changed the lives of many around the world, mainly through vast information dissemination. This form of empowerment is driven mostly, by search engines of course. The humble search engine has invariably been instrumental in crafting and shaping the stories of our lives, professional and personal.
And anyone that has gotten on the ‘web’ has interacted with this database and left a mark of his/her narrative in the digital(and possibly physical) world.