Growth (Deluxe) is a musical project that mostly explores spiritual aspects of love, peace and happiness, while briefly, in a bonus song, touching on our material and philosophical relationship with technology. I want to invite the listener to grow as an individual, and inspire them to progress with meaning and be happy. By impacting one person, in consequence a ripple effect could occur for 10, 15 or 20 years. Imagine the inspiration of one human to change themselves, inspiring someone else!
The project is F.I.S.T, (fast, inexpensive, simple and tiny). It was put together by using free recording software and a relatively cheap Blue Yeti microphone. I recorded the Whole project at home so there was no paid for studio time. I did all the editing and mastering on each track. To post my songs, I used Sound cloud, a free platform for artists.
Last time I completed this task I found myself relying on the word count of my comments instead of critiquing my ability to provide constructive feedback for my BCM325 classmates. By analysing projects in their BETA stages I feel as if it is easier to provide personal insight and guidance to drive projects in a positive direction as there is a prototype of some kind to work with. So let’s begin!
Louise’s project follows the University of Wollongong’s Cosplay Society which I was unfamiliar with up until today. She is creating a series of documentaries and advertisements in association with the society to increase engagement and awareness. These videos will contain content of behind the scenes footage at photoshoots and what the social atmosphere is like. I made a variety of recommendations to increase engagement with the social media pages the group already has so this could hopefully increase the number of members within the society. Not all my recommendations have to be implemented for this project in particular but I think the most useful may be the cross-society collaboration if music in their videos is made by the Music Society, for example, this content will be displayed by them and reach an entirely new audience. Adding a watermark with a hyperlink could also be useful to guide their viewers to their most important socials or events being hosted etc.
Bec’s project follows the importance of women’s safety and has created an online community known as ‘Safe Space’ to encourage women to engage in conversations, invite each other out and provide general support overall. Initially, this reminded me of a Facebook group that is also Wollongong based called ‘Innovators In Heels’ which I linked for Bec to look at for some inspiration if necessary. What intrigues me about this topic the most is if the lacking anonymity may impact the contribution of women in these groups as they are directly associated with personal accounts. I highly recommend that Bec completes an anonymous survey to see if anonymity is a concern to members when discussing sensitive and/or personal issues. Another avenue that could be taken for those comfortable meeting physically could be an on-campus focus group to address safety concerns within the University itself and the greater Wollongong region. I think these recommendations could be easily implemented for this project and will encourage Bec to understand her audience further.
Connor’s podcast follows surfing culture which means he has a well-established audience in the Wollongong area as it is dominant across the region. I think Connor has a clear direction for his project and the content is easily accessible and easy to understand, which creates a positive experience for his audience. I highly recommend that Connor expands to the Instagram platform as surfing culture is perfectly captured and has a pleasing aesthetic for his audience to enjoy. This can be done alongside his co-host who is a videographer, the podcasts alongside pleasing visuals will enhance the content and expand his audience as it is not limited to Soundcloud. Also, the concept of virtual reality (VR) and surfing sounds really enticing and is not something I even considered to be possible and even though the exploration of this probably couldn’t be implemented in this project it could possibly be useful in a digital artefact for the future. In working with VR this also provides another opportunity to expand Connor’s audience, I’d be intrigued to see if this would interest him.
Overall, I think the feedback provided doesn’t necessarily have to be implemented for their digital artefacts right now as the submission date for the final product is closing in. However, if these digital artefacts continue throughout their studies they can be implemented for future growth. In saying this, I hope my advice is helpful and I’d love to discuss their ideas.
With many challenges met and hurdles overcome, a virtual reality (VR) gallery space is still on its way. Working alongside fellow BCM325 student Brooke Eager, we will be creating a student guide to tackle the Unreal software, so in the future, we can hopefully see further VR accessibility across campus. With the Unreal software now available at the MakerSpace, Brooke and I will create a set of instructions on how digital artists can use this software with ease, with my set of works being on display in this exhibition. This project has been a great learning opportunity and implementation of the FEFO (Fail Early, Fail Often) structure, as a clearer direction has now been established after various attempts. I am still hoping to challenge the concepts of the gallery space and their greater contribution to the medium in a virtual sphere and truly hope there will be a virtual gallery to display upon the conclusion of this subject.
Silverstone, R 1992, ‘The medium is the museum: on objects and logics in times and spaces’, in J Durant (eds), Museums and the Public Understanding of Science, Science Museum, London, pp. 34-44.
Stylani, S, Fotis, L, Kostas, K, Petros, P 2009. ‘Virtual museums, a survey and some issues for consideration’,/Journal of Cultural Heritage/, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 520-528.
In BCM325, we are encouraged to address the world of future cultures, and with my previous Digital Artefact ‘Scrawl Studio’ I am advancing into the world of virtual reality (VR). In doing so I am working with multiple softwares including Adobe’s Photoshop and After Effects, UOW’s TAEM Virtual Gallery and Unreal. With this artefact I hope to investigate how the world of art and VR will combine to heighten gallery experiences whilst also being easily accessible in the comfort of your own home.
Following from the last post regarding Virtual Reality Journalism, comes the second installment aimed at delving further into research and purpose of the proposed DA (Digital Artefact).
The first post in this series outlined a proposal for creating a Digital Artefact focused towards VR Journalism. As with any creation or research piece, it is imperative to establish foundational understanding of the topic and determine a well-defined argument. The purpose of this post (part two), is to explore the objectives for undergoing the DA and highlight integral research concerning the practice and implementation of Virtual Reality Journalism.
Following, is research, articles & industry opinion outlining the implementation of VR Journalism for mainstream consumption.
THE NITTY GRITTY – RESEARCH.
Journalism in any form is underpinned by the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), which is a global code of ethics for journalistic practice. Detailed explicitly are four areas in which journalists must adhere when reporting. These are:
Respect for the rights of others
However, there is yet to be a section under the MEAA regarding VR Journalism. VR Journalism, whilst simply an extension of rudimentary journalism, opens up an entirely new set of ethical implications which must be explored.
Misinformation, an increasing dilemma for journalists, could be exacerbated by the advanced mainstream use of VR Journalism. An ethical implication to the practice of VRJ is those who have access to making stories. Without a Code of Ethics or journalistic law, consumers are the helm of decifering fake news from real. Detailed on Media Shift (mediashift.org), was VRJ creators Emblematic Group’s dilema when creating Greenland Melting. Emblematic used a hologram of Eric Rignot, to host the story. Eric Rignot never visited Greenland for the piece, however was imposed in the icey environment wearing a warm jacket. This, although seemingly harmless, compromises the ethical integrity of the story as it is not entirely truthful to consumers.
Recently, a video using AI tools, circulated of a fake Obama speaking to a camera. The video was to highlight the technology available to model exact behaviour of a person. With regards to VRJ, this technology is availble to manipulate and misinform the public of news and world happenings.
The very purpose of VR is to elicit an emotional response from a created ‘near real’ environment. Human behaviour is determined by one’s immediate environment. When VR is immersive and mirroring a real environment, so then is the response of the person experiecing it. However, “unlike physical environments, virtual environments can be modified quickly and easily with the goal of influencing behaviour” (Madary and Metzinger, 2016). When experiencing immersive interactions of situations such as war, the ethical question must be considered as to what is too much for a subject to experience when consuming a news story? Research my Micheal Madary and Thomas K. Metzinger, raises the concern for VR induced PTSD as the human mind is easily maluable. Plasticity of the mind is strongy linked to environmental triggers, and as the research suggests, effective VR has the capabilty to ellicit negative responses in the brain.
The questions begs: How far is too far when it comes to Virtual Reality Journalism?
FROM RESEARCH COMES PRACTICE – OBJECTIVES.
The aim of the DA is create a news story using the practices of VR. Below itemises the specific objectives of the DA . Note, the objectives will again, in more detial, be expressed in the third installment of the DA proposal (presentation).
The first objective of the DA is to highlight the argument that VR Journalism has the capabilty to create a further sense of empathy towards stories being told. When immersed in stories via virtual reality, Nonny de la Pena argues that “telling tough, real life stories creates deep empthay”. Shown in Pena’s 2015 TedTalk, are the responses of those experiencing her VR story, Hunger in LA. When a man collapses from hunger in the simuated environment, the person experiencing the event via VR technology, has a visoral response.
The second objective of the DA is to express the power Virtual Reality Journalism gives the consumer. When creating a story through VA or 360 degree visions, such as with many stories by The New York Times, the user has agency over how they experience and perceive the content. Displaying full environments, untouched by curation or story-telling, the user is able to experience the situation for what it is. When used ethically, VR Journalism has the capability to eliminate bias, as footage is raw and explorable by consumers, and thus giving consumers agency of their perception of news stories.
Stories told to us through cinema, the written word and recounted by those around us.
From the moment we check our devices – our Instagram, our Twitter and our countless other news feeds, we are inundated with stories of other’s.
Throughout centuries of storytelling, one thing has remained consistent – our inability to completely experience what the story-teller is truly describing. Yes, we can imagine and emotionally immerse ourselves, but we are never able to truly grasp, in its entirety, the physical experience of those telling a story. There is an ever-present wall between the story-teller and the listener, constantly dividing you from someone else.
Story-tellers who feel the presence of the wall looming over each story they share, are journalists. No matter how wrenching the photo or how precise the writing, journalists are unable to rid the dividing roles of consumer and the other. Consumers of news stories are only afforded abilities to feel for, but never feel with those being represented in a story.
That is, however, until the inception of virtual reality journalism. Virtual reality journalism, still in its infancy in terms of form and usage, combines the experiences of VR with journalistic endeavours to produce immersive simulations of the stories being portrayed. Throughout the piece of research being proposed, it is my aim to investigate the practices of VR in mainstream news and the changes in journalism as a result of interactive story-telling. But first, it is important to understand the functions, origins and innovators of VR journalism and how it is being used at present.
WHAT IS IT – UNDERSTANDING VR JOURNALISM
In order to understand virtual reality journalism, one must first understand the function of virtual reality itself. Virtual reality is understood as being ‘near reality’, or as real as possible. The purpose of VR is to emulate the reality of human experience through technology. Reality of human experience encompasses how each of our functioning senses and perceptions work collectively to decode and encode our environment. VR aims to emulate environments through 3-D computer generation in order to stimulate human sensory perception – thus creating a near real experience. The experiences of VR are immersive, interactive and grounded in achieving realism to the highest degree.
Utilising the ability to simulate reality and create near real experiences, the journalism industry has begun using immersive interactive story-telling. Immersive journalism or Virtual Reality Journalism aims to create empathy rather than sympathy for the stories being told. Pioneer in VR journalism, Nonny de la Pena’s mission is to “tell tough, real life stories that create deep empathy for viewers – all through goggles”. VR Journalism has the capability to bridge the gap between consumers of news and the stories being told. Pena is creating interactive and immersive stories so that audiences are able to feel and stand amongst harrowing experiences which we only read about, but not live ourselves. Immersing people within the stories they consume, through VR, has the capability to lessen the construct of ‘us’ and ‘them’ creating less othering and divide.
Project Syria, created by Nonny de la Pena, is an interactive experience of the war in Syrian that aims to go beyond reading about the experiences of other’s. This example of VR journalism is important as it highlights how immersive journalism works and why it is impactful. Project Syria, commissioned by the University of Southern California, used VR to implant audiences into the life as a citizen caught amongst the Syrian conflict. As a person reading about the harrowing events, killings and displaced people, your mind can only imagine so far. However, with VR, all our senses are stimulated which gives us an entirely new insight into the lives of people affected by war.
For my Digital Artefact, I am going to choose one news story I wish to report on and create an interactive and visual story using the practices involved in creating VR Journalism. As I am limited in the technology used to create VR, I am unable to make my own VR news story. However, I plan on using the principles of VR to create an immersive news story that utilises multiple senses in order to create an experience whilst consuming the news.
Aurasma, an augmented reality application is the program I plan on using to create an interactive news story with the principles of VR journalism. Aurasma uses technology to recognise images and develop them into holographic images. I will use this technology to develop an interactive visual news story for people to use.
Over the weeks leading up to the submission of my DA, I will create an online progress journal (blog) detailing the processes involved in making my own piece of interactive journalism.
Are we becoming machine, or is machine becoming us? Chris Milk once stated that “VR is a machine that makes us more human”, how does that work you say? Well, the potentiality of Virtual Reality as an extension of our reality is being discovered through videos such as Chris Milk’s Syrian refugee camp simulation. What’s interesting is that this simulation is a real place in time, in which the user can jump into and revisit this place again and again and again. Rather than virtual reality be a purely artistic thing, where game designers and graphic designers can sit there and choke the chicken to their own work, the appreciation of this work comes through empathy and pure immersion, and further understanding what the situation actually is, and the severity of it.
But, instead of doing a Syrian refugee camp, I’ll be doing narratives created by homeless people and other demonised demographics in society, creating a through access for them. Arguably people become detached from society because of the lack of access that they have to new technology – an example of this is a smart phone, they all have a GPS which creates an online blueprint, all have the ability to access wireless communications, however if the said person can’t afford a plan, or pre paid credit what is the result? The result is a vine without grapes, a bird without wings: in turn a brick no matter what brand of phone, bereft of any value or practical use.
So, my theory is that 360 degree video can lead to a greater level of connection between the viewer and the subject (VR to LOWSE) – I’m going to develop short films, in which I’ll speak to people who are disconnected from the mobile as an extension of ourselves, and hence the functioning world. With no identity, these people have no story or history, but VR could be the medium to create these narratives for them, in which links them to the higher socioeconomic demographics, on an emotional level. Let’s do this.
Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response; a series of words that, when presented in isolation, are unlikely to instil any meaning in the readers’ mind. If you were to use this vaguely medical-sounding term in casual conversation I can only imagine the listener tilting their head like a puppy; a vacant look of curiosity expressed at 30 degrees. But what ‘Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response’ (ASMR) actually describes is a feeling that is (anecdotally) much more likely to be familiar. It’s a physiological response yet to be described by medical science. Yet, thanks to the long tail effect and the logic of networked communities, ASMR has grown from casual discussions in online threads into a large, growing community of ASMR-triggering media consumers and producers (Hudson 2015). The ASMR subreddit has become one of the largest resources on the subject, with over 110 500 subscribers at time of writing. But what the hell is it?
“Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is a previously unstudied sensory phenomenon, in which individuals experience a tingling, static-like sensation across the scalp, back of the neck and at times further areas in response to specific triggering audio and visual stimuli. This sensation is widely reported to be accompanied by feelings of relaxation and well-being.” (Barratt and Davis 2015)
ASMR is a euphoric, tingling sensation in the scalp that is triggered in certain individuals when they are presented with certain audio and visual stimuli in intimate spaces. In the first of very few scientific studies into the phenomenon, Barratt and Davis (2015) identify the most common ASMR triggers as ‘whispering’, ‘personal attention’, ‘crisp sounds’, and ‘slow movements’. Based on these triggers – which had already been largely discovered anecdotally in the community – a large community of ASMRtists have emerged on platforms such as YouTube, producing video media designed to trigger ASMR experiences (Hudson 2015). These videos broadly tend to either be role plays of intimate, first person experiences where the ASMRtist is paying close personal attention to you (haircuts, medical examinations, etc), or they are slow, quiet videos of the ASRMtist acting upon an object in some way (eg. an unboxing video). In the video that made me realize I experienced ASMR, the performer ‘ASMR Angel’ spends 25 minutes wrapping Christmas presents.
However, within these two very broad types of video, a great many different genres and flavours of ASMR triggering videos have emerged. These include Sci-Fi ‘Memory Erasure Roleplays’, ASMRotica and even ASMR Let’s Play videos. Within the past year there have been a number of ASMR VR experiences, the first of which was a co-production between several ASMRtists called ‘The K3YS’. The intimate space creation core to ASMR videos makes immersive VR technologies a natural and logical platform for the future of the media – which already utilizes binaural technologies to create 3D soundscapes that give a sense of intimate space (Hudson 2015).
The project I am proposing is to explore the triggers, techniques and technologies that create the best experiences for ASMR users and try and create a new piece ASMR media from scratch. The plan is to recruit the help of classmates and other interested people to find out which of them experiences the phenomenon and who is capable of triggering it in others. I am also interested in examining and explaining the role of gender and sexuality at play in these videos (many of which appear to be performed by conventionally attractive young women) and testing possible links between ASRM and synaesthesia, misophonia, and ‘flow state’ (Barratt and Davis 2015). It would also be worth looking at a comparison between the intensity of the euphoric ASMR experience across different technologies (eg. binaural and VR).
Can we launch a new, undiscovered ASMRtist talent?
I am excited to find out.
"Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data." Neuromancer (@GreatDismal) .