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Review about the trip to the State of motion exhibition: Win Zaw

Review about the trip to the State of motion exhibition

By: Maung Phyo Win Zaw

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 I was unable to head to the exhibition as I had only gotten the admission. Nonetheless, I was able to watch an excerpt from the film Seniman Bujang Lapok, which was screen in the State of motion exhibition. The movie, which is directed by P.Ramlee is a comedy film starring three characters. Ramli, Aziz and Sudin and chronicles their journey into the film industry as movie actors. However, the movie does turn away from that a little to show us life in the suburbs.

Though not as overt in their presentation of slapstick humor as The three stooges and Charlie chaplin, this movie is nonetheless an entertaining watch as I was thoroughly fascinated in the inner workings of the movie industry pre-independence, and although I can’t state to an absolute certainty, I am confident enough that the backdrop in which this movie is set in feels authentic. There is something in this movie that i feel is lacking in today’s contemporary comedy film, and that may either be the lack of authenticity, or the insistence to stick to the old slapstick aesthetic of the sixties. That is not to say that slapstick cannot work. Movies like “The three idiots” have proven that. I feel that there has to be more of a voice or deeper meaning, on top of nostalgia and formula.

The humor here also feels zany to a degree, which is something I don’t see often in comedy. Usually one would establish a joke and play it in threes or utilize it as a tool for social commentary. Rarely would I be caught off with slightly off-kilter, and non-sequitur joke but here it is.

There was even a musical number where the mock old bachelors drinking too much and screaming as a result of becoming bloated. They even mock them for cycling on bicycles which I assume must be punctured as they described their tires as ringworms. Thus I conclude that the people speak in a manner which only seem fitting to their culture, and out of place for someone in a different time. I honestly don’t know if the “swine flee” joke would play well in today’s time, given how politically correct this generation is.

I did get  a chance to read the brochure from the event, and this is just my personal opinion, but I feel that this section should do away with flowery language as it’s doing no one any good. As someone with experience in the digital media industry and someone in charge of online business transactions and correspondence, I’m tasked with sifting out a huge amount of fluff from client emails.

I also can’t help but make a simplified and reductive analysis just to make out what some of these people really do. First, we have Mintion, a lens-based artist invested in the condensation of space of time through the process of layering images. That just means she can process films to have double exposure, or use multiply in Photoshop. Her recent series “Concrete Euphoria”, though touted as a dance of chasas and emotional impulse, is really just a set of apartments overlaid over another.

Next we have Boedi Widjaja, who connects a diverse set of conceptual references to generate a series of conceptually-charged multi-medium drawings and installations based on his experiences of migration, culture and aesthetics. Which to me just sounds like someone who takes “vacation” photos, and sure enough, it is. his work, path 9 is described as investigating notions of place, origin and identity in the context of a porous Asian global city. How this artwork was supposed to accurately describe and address the immigration remains to be seen.

 Which really brings me to why I’m not really big on these kinds of art exhibitions. We tend to use Buzzwords like “Dialogue” and “Awareness”, and feel obligated to derive a higher meaning to something that most ordinary people wouldn’t even associate or resonate with. I also find that without annotations or exhibition guides, the artworks wouldn’t be as self-explanatory.

As for the issue of immigration, I would recommend the article by the Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation (http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/16/3/7.html) to have a more thorough and nuanced understanding of the differences between Ethnocentric civilizations and Humanitarian civilizations.

But then again, I wasn’t there so I really wouldn’t know.

Exhibition trip:win zaw

 

Though not mentioned in the list of the Exhibitions, I was fascinated  by the video footage report of the Short cruise which took place near Balboa, Panama on the 30th of April 2015. The expedition was a site survey to gather data about the region, and was done conducted in an effort to better understand biodiversity in the Benthic communities in the Abyssal plain.

As someone who grew up reading about the adventures of the Trieste and its journey into the Marianas trench, and the journey of Alvin and Jason Jr into the wreck of the Titanic. I was interested in seeing the presented footage, and was yet again reminded about how difficult it can be to document things in the ocean, due to the unpredictability of the weather.

The exhibition feels more like a documentation of the scientific expedition organised by Geomar to document the Ecocide of the region, no doubt caused by human actions. However, I felt that the video as an art piece feels a little more obscurantist and clinical in parts, due to the limited information that is presented.

The chief scientist, Pedro Martinez Arbizu has been involved in other projects, studying the deep-sea mining of polymetallic nodules (Aka manganese, which is used with aluminium for corrosion resistance, and as a catalyst) in the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone in the pacific, which I found to be interesting, notably because I’ve read about deep sea mining as a kid, but only as a footnote in an extremely old textbook (1970) about the vision of the future. At around the period, the UN had begun to develop international treaties that did away with an older version of Internatinal sea laws in favor of defining rights and responsibilities of countries in their use of the oceans.

EX 1-Be part of the art: Box

 

Project members: Nicholas Makoto, Maung Phyo Win Zaw

For our project, we decided  to take an ordinary card box box and cut four holes in it. We then place 4 water soluble markers and asked participant to put both hands in and draw on each other’s hands without looking at it.

The inspiration for our project came from the Whole glory art project, which took place at Covent garden at October 7-9, 2016. The idea would be to let celebrated tattoo artist Scott Campbell tattoo anyone’s arm so long as they place their hand into the respective receptacle. The only catch here is that the recipient does not have a say on which design goes onto their arm. However, the risk is offset by the fact that the tattoo will come free of charge.

In this version of the concept, our idea was to create a sense of discomfort. However, this experiment took an interesting turn when some of the participants were having a great deal of fun in drawing themselves. Others however, were very squeamish at the sensation of drawing on their arm. Nonetheless, we were able to document some of their attempts. Some of them were mere scribbles, while others have legible designs on them.

 

 

Final Assignment: Tamaduino

We started off assembling the pixycam module, which wasn’t that difficult since it came with a set of instructions. However, we’ve had to calibrate the servos and adjust the pixymon software so that it was able to track perfectly. Once that was done, Anam trained it to look at objects of specific colors. We set Signature one to a red colored object, and signature 2 for objects in purple. We then hooked it up to an Arduino Uno and checked the serial monitor to register the tracking.

 

On my end, I was inspired by the Tamagotchi device that was displayed in the Human+ exhibition in the arts science museum, so I decided to emulate the look of it. However, I felt that the use of buttons was not really

bought a nokia 5110 lcd screen and downloaded the nokia 5110 adafruit library and animations before tweaking it. I looked through the animations and noted that the animations were actually done in programming and weren’t a series of bitmap frames. So I took the pacman animation and changed the direction of movement. After tweaking the values, I made a set of custom animations with the help of an online sprite animation software called Piskel

     

I then saved it as a series of images and extracted the bitmap information with the help of another software called LCD assistant. However, we ran into some issues with the if statement as we were unable to successfully get integer values from the pixymon signature/block string values. We eventually settled with running both animation loops going before making the cover with the help of some cardboard. We initially wanted to make the casings out of lego pieces, as they are easier to prototype. However, we changed to cardboard as the pieces were heavy and could constrict servomotor movement.

 

Final broadcast assignment

 

Overview

Our project is a Mukbang broadcast. During the broadcast, we all ask ourselves if we’ve ever done something. Another aspect we’ve incorporated into this performance was the use of chroma keying, so as to add an additional dimension into our performance, and not only separate our broadcast laterally, but to show a sense of depth. The theme of the broadcast isn’t necessarily about the Mukbang itself, but is more about ice-breaking, and finding out about ourselves. The hope is that this very intimate moment would break the distances between ourselves.

Technical aspects

In short, the project could be summed up as 70% preparation and 30% execution, and even then there were a whole set of unforeseen circumstances that had to be fixed on the spot. The first issue was with the alignment of the perspective. Isaac, Anam and I were able to set the perspective on the foreground elements just fine, but things started to change as we decided on setting it up on isometric, rather than have it converge on a vanishing point. By the time we began setting up the background, the tables were no longer aligned. Due to the dreaded bandwidth latency, adjusting the perspective on any of the 4 broadcasts was difficult. We eventually settled with a collage-styled broadcast, but ran into several more issues with the alignment of table props. Initially, we were able to assemble all of the chroma key screens. However, when the broadcast came up, we had to immediately get into position, as OBS was known to cut intermittently. As a result, we were unable to set the color settings right, and some of the broadcasters ended up becoming keyed out.

To solve the issue of bandwidth latency, we added an additional Skype chat so as to communicate with one another.

Tasks

Mirei was involved in setting up the broadcast on my end with the help of her laptop. We decided to leave the sound off so as to remove any unintentional feedback loop with the Skype chat. She was also responsible with helping to setup both screens for the chroma keying. However, due to the fact that we were limited in our supplies, and due to the fact that the fabric costs $30 per 4 square yards, we settled with whatever material we had. The issue with using orange for chroma keying rather is that orange slightly matches the skin tone of a person.

Isaac was involved in putting everything together in OBS, and although the broadcast was lagging in parts, and had several broadcast interruptions, he was able to keep the broadcast from being cut off, which was a common occurrence on my end.

Anam was involved with setting up his end of the broadcast, and set up the Skype call for all of us. He was also involved in other logistical aspects of the production. Anywhere from setting up the space and camera orientation.

On my end, I was involved in getting the greensuit made, and did a few tests on the suit to see if the software was able to key myself right. It was crucial that i got the measurements correct as any loose part of the clothing would cast a shadow on my suit and affect the overall chroma keying. Removing it in post-production would not be an option due to the live nature of the feed. I initially thought of making the inside of the suit show another video, but decided against it due to memory usage.

Inspirations

All in all, we’ve spent a total of 2 and a half hours setting up everything, and although the final broadcast was riddled with unexpected issues, there are a few things that I’ve learnt from this experience. It is rather difficult to plan something as complicated as a broadcast. Rather, the approach to go would be to have an improvisational approach, and see where the waves take us. We were inspired by the works of Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz, but personally, I had been inspired by the hole in space exhibition that was created in 1980. Some of the ways used to describe the artwork was intriguing in and of itself, with some calling it an “interactive sculpture”, “Satellite arts” and even an “interactive portal”.  Though the emotions  felt in the exhibit that day were of surprise, intrigue and connection, ours was filled with tension, inquisitiveness (due to the quiz) and vigilance (as we were not only participants in the broadcast, but were monitoring it ourselves)

I think the underlying thing about all of our work is: it has never been about human-to-machine interaction, or machine-to-machine interaction. It’s really been looking at: “what can people who are separated by distance do together through technology?”

The other thing that I took out of this project was the fact that although we were looking directly at a greenscreen, and wasn’t able to see the end result (we could only see our own feed without the chroma key effect being applied), we were actively acting as though we were all a part of the same space, and never for a second treated the medium as if it were a barrier. We intentionally left the final touch of the performance in the hands of the audience, who are able to witness the whole exhibit and has effectively completed the narrative of the work.

  

 

Telematic stroll

Stroll

Anam took a stroll near his place of residence, which was at Pioneer. On the other hand, I decided to take a trip to the Central Business District at Raffles Place as I typically enjoy strolling around the city lights. The initial idea was to have one of us draped, and use footage of that person in third person view. However, since the regulations was a little strict, we dropped the third person camera idea and did something more conventional, which was to juxtapose the city with the residential area, and try to match the perspective and movements together. For safety purposes, I made some directional changes to avoid the oncoming traffic. The end result were two distinctly different pathways.

Towards the midway point of the broadcasting, I tried as much as possible to match the perspective and overall vanishing point, and attempted some panning and tilting to give the illusion of continuing lines. There were some “serendipitous synchronicity” towards the end of the broadcasting, where both our streams led us to a nearby river. I initially tried to match the perspective of the railing, and eventually we got both skylines to match. The end result was a general sense of ambient architecture, and what differentiates the architectural landmarks between an urban space and residential space, even though the buildings are almost of the same height. One key difference was the lack of reflected lights in the residential space, though this may also be explained by the distance between the river and the background structures.

Anam’s route

My route

 

Final Project: Test broadcast

Link to test.

There were a couple of tests which were made during Thursday’s broadcast. Firstly, I decided to test if I was able to set the Chroma Key. That worked, so I decided to test if I was able to do two Chroma Keys simultaneously. Surprisingly, It did. While this was happening, I also decided to change the contrast and color/ saturation levels to see if it improved the keying, and I’ve come to the conclusion that although it worked to a degree, it would’ve been much better if I went to a room with better flat lighting. The test was conducted in a darker room, and as a result there was a lot of grain being picked up by the already low resolution laptop webcam. Another way to fix this would be to borrow the school’s webcam, which wouldn’t be too far out of the realm of possibility.

I also attempted to remove the blue off the projector screen behind me, adding a Gif clip of clouds. In that layer itself, I attempted to saturate the background before keying out the blue skies. Once that worked, I decided to superimpose another image of myself to see if it would affect the latency, which to my knowledge it hasn’t. I also tested the chroma key on my own shirt, which was orange in color. The only thing left to test would be to capture the broadcast from Facebook. Since no direct line of communication and live interaction is necessary (due to the participants eating), the broadcast wouldn’t be a big issue.

I also had a green suit made, which i will be wearing on the day of the broadcast. Another set of orange fabric will be brought forward in the event that I need to key something out separately. That would prove to be a little complicated as the color is close to skin tone.

Second front technical critique

  

Second life is basically a simulated reality web game in which players take the form of avatars and interact with one another online.

In my honest opinion, this game is more of a gimmick to me, and I do not understand for the life of me how this web application was able to survive, given the fact that this application emerged around the same time many other popular MMORPGs like Ultima Online, Ragnarok and Final fantasy had emerged, and isn’t entirely a novelty by the time it was released in 2003.  I suppose the idea of a online interactions and simulations would be interesting, though the lack of an occlusion pass, normal mapping and displacement mapping pass, a triple specularity system and a raytracing/ global illumination calculation kind of destroys the immersion of the game, and before anyone of those coolies start whining about how not everyone is rich, I’d like to remind them that consumer grade Graphics processing units like the GTX 660 is already affordable, and comparable to consoles.

Obviously, the main gripe I had with the graphics was with the low resolution textures which is in dire need of an upgrade. I feel that at this point, players are more inclined to play more fantastical MMO games, since second life’s chat features and emotes (in game pre-made character animations) is something that is already available with other triple A MMO games. In fact, the Inverse kinematics system and motion captured animations are more realistic compared to second life, taking in more nuanced micro-expressions and gestures. This is not meant to bash on the game itself, but an analysis of how the game could evolve in today’s ever evolving  digital consumer market.

I have a few ideas about how the game/ social interaction could offset the uncanny valley effect a little and appeal to a larger audience with a smaller budget. For starters, there is a consumer grade online motion capture solution called Mixamo. In fact, there is already a library of pre-made animations that users can incorporate into a 3d virtual environment. For high resolution textures on the cheap, photogrammetry can create 3d models through an array of photographs taken at a 360 degree angle. Once these features become more streamlined and cheaper, online modding can catch up with professional developers, adding modified content.

As for second front however, they are more involved in performance art, with kool aid mascots and anime characters joining in the lobby to interact with one another. The chat was a chaos of activity, with people from all walks of life putting all thoughts into words. In my opinion, I think almost all of the front’s “activities” are actually skits that are edited together, rather than actual heists. There is an alternative modding site by the name of Garry’s mod that does skits much better.

Simply put, people enter a virtual setting mainly as a form of escapism, rather than to match realism. Yet, second life’s main selling point, which was the “realism”, was undermined by the lack of graphical fidelity.

Another feature, which was the currency system, could be traded for real money. As a result, the server has been a hotbed of numerous unethical and shady dealings. In fact, an task force from Germany had been set up specifically to track down people who deal with child pornography. There was another instance in which people have been using the game mechanics against minors in order forms. An online game by the name of “counter strike: Global Offensive” even has an RNG (random number generation) reward system in the form of a roulette machine. Users can pay more in order to stand a better chance of winning better weapon modifications or skins. Due to a legal loophole, developers were able to get away with selling weapon skins, saying that it isn’t equivalent to real money, even though the items themselves can be traded in for cash. Things become even shadier when ProSyndicate and TmarTn claimed to be winning in third party roulette sites, only to be exposed as the developers of the roulette sites.

Unfortunately, we’ve become a generation of special snowflakes, with helicopter parents and social justice warrior types conflating hi jinks with sexual harassment. They’ve asserted that women are under threat from “virtual rape”due to the fact that some of the game has violent material. I would suggest to those people to actually play the games and find out that the game mechanics blatantly doesn’t encourage players from actively going after female non-playable characters. In games like GTA 5, killing civilians is actually discouraged, as it gains you a wanted level, and in Hitman, your character is penalized for incurring collateral damage. There is also a feature to change lobbies, mute or ban teammates if they become rowdy.

Anyone who played those games would immediately understand the nuance in game mechanics, but since these are progressives we’re talking about, they’ve decided to make it their mission to ruin it for everyone else, mis-informing the public about sites such as these. Critics such as Anita Sarkeesian, Sam Maggs and Zoey quinn cite examples like Grand Theft Auto V and Saints row, even though they have been debunked thoroughly. I foresee that virtual reality sites and second-front groups such as these ones will probably exist on the fringe, until legislation is rewritten to make cyber-bullying laws less vague and open to interpretation.

Addendum: On thoughts about the actual work itself, I feel that there isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said. There is definitely something interesting about the pokemon skit that was shown in class on Thursday as a parallel commentary on our obsession on acquisition. We as a species seem to be caught up so much on the virtual space that we appear to look awkward or silly in real life. Case in point: the people who were involved in accidents while playing Pokemon:go due to their inability to be aware of their surroundings. 

Howard Rheingold and Christiane Paul to commit a parodied staging of a bank hold-up of the Linden treasury.

From what i can tell from the Grand theft avatar performance, it is merely a skit, since no one would want to risk investing thousands of dollars in property development, only to have someone steal from them in a raid. Raids and hacks are common on the digital front so no one is going to take the extra effort to render a 3D model of a bank and program a feature in which people can effectively steal your money. 

Their key feature is openness: openness and plurality of visions and perspectives, quite blatant in this interview (where almost each one of them decided to give his/her answer to the same question); they are open about a wide range of interventions, from reenactment to improvisation to code performing

As to Thursday’s question on why people find violence fascinating, I can sum it up easily with one word: Catharsis. I believe that no matter what, people should be allowed to express their own beliefs or be allowed expressions of any other sort, as long as their not committing crimes in the process.The openness and plurality of visions (aka diversity in thought) is something that I can jive with. I also enjoy the idea of playing the role of a bank robber, if only to see where that fantasy would take us. It could also serve as a cautionary tale, to show people just how difficult it is, even on an online gaming match. It is also a good starting point to showcase the inner workings of an artists’ mind in a three dimensional space.