Nuzlife as a Psychic Double

It’s becoming apparent that a key element of my research and argument on the topic of the Nuzlocke as a cybercultural reimagining of Aristotelian tragedy lies in the spaces between analogue and virtual realities. The very palpable effects of a virtual event on an individual’s ‘real life’ experience as discussed by Julian Dibble in A Rape in Cyberspace, while specifically referring to somewhat different subject matter, can be applied to what I’m examining.

While discussing a particularly heinous act of digital violence being treated as a “breach of ‘civility’”, Dibbel calls attention to the strangeness of the interaction between these worlds. He describes the requested sentence of “toading” (character deletion, here compared to a virtual death sentence or banishment) on the culprit as “Ludicrously excessive by RL’s lights, woefully understated by VR’s”. He goes on to suggest that virtual experiences are “neither exactly real nor exactly make-believe, but [are] nonetheless profoundly, compellingly, and emotionally true.” The sharing of an individual’s experience across both realms of ‘real life’ and ‘virtual reality’ “[makes] sense only in the buzzing, dissonant gap between them.”

This experience of the “psychic double” of self is present clearly in the Aristotelian formula for tragedy in the necessary cathartic quality, and has been extended into new iterations of the structure. The self-imposed rules of a Nuzlocke run of any Pokemon game strive to strengthen bonds between the player and their ‘mons, encouraging the player to inhabit the position of the character to the point where there is no distinction between the two. Even the original image of the first introduction to Nuzlocke rules depicts the player and character as one and the same; Pokemon Ruby’s protagonist holding a Gameboy Advanced ready to begin the game.

Nuzlocke original rules

The cathartic emotional embodiment of the Nuzlocke experience and self-enforced Pokemon ‘death’ exists purely in this “buzzing, dissonant gap” between virtual and analogue realities; a “compelling, and emotionally true” imitation which follows Aristotle’s structure and pulls it into the Cybercultural age.

More than Music

I have always had an intense obsession with the art form of music video. Rage influenced my childhood more than I’d like to admit – but it was never just about music (although Daft Punk at 9a.m. never hurt anyone). Film-clips gave musicians an additional platform to not only convey their tracks, but an effective tool they could use to speak to the masses that exceeded the lyrics of their songs. These days I feel it’s actually quite rare to find a film clip that correctly depicts the actual lyrics or narrative of the song. For my research project I want to analyse messages, statements and feelings that are conveyed in a variety of music videos and pinpoint the correlation to the lyrics if there is any. To do this I’ll be breaking it down into 3 categories (w4: gender/sexuality, w6: race/culture, w8: war/politics) and looking at them specifically. I have always thought of music videos as a powerful form of communication because of the influence that musicians have over such large populations. Now with access on every device we own through the youtube app, it is more relevant than ever.

We have seen this activism through music videos cover an enormous range of social, political, environmental and economic issues that need attention. Musicians and producers over the ages have found this loophole in an industry where shallow content is celebrated (now more than ever with money, hoe’s and substance abuse being a prolific focus) and refined it to convey important messages to the generations that can make a difference.

I think it would be interesting to study the comments on the videos, analyse the feedback the musicians are receiving and determine if the statements are being received in the intended manner and /or making a difference.

Stay tuned

Cyborgs Pt. 2

Apon conducting research into cyborgs, I came across the highly skeptical practice of biohacking.

Biohacking differentiates from cyborgs in that most of biohacking is not approved. Although cyborg is still a term that the public tends to not use due to misconceptions about what they exactly are. Though there are some people with implants that call themselves cyborgs. And are proud to be known as that.

Now I am not completely familiar with cyborgs and the culture surrounding them, as the further I’ve researched, the more complex the topic appears to be. So with the knowledge I have obtained from my research I will be making my Youtube videos into a mini information series about the culture.

Some ideas I am thinking for topics include:

– What is a Cyborg?

– The Rise of the Cyborg

– Modern Day Cyborg

And more ideas when they come to mind!

The Beating Heart of the Metropolis

Lovecraft and cyberpunk intersect through a few key themes. These exist as more of a web than a list, so I’ll do my best to explain my thoughts on them as I go.

> Cosmic Horror

The idea of nihilism – that nothing you do could possibly matter – is the first one I would tackle in order to build an atmospheric foundation for my work. Lovecraft’s cosmic horror plays on our fear of the unknown, the unknowable, and the universe’s indifference. This is the core of weird fiction, when applied subtly. The most straightforward way to transpose this onto a cyberpunk setting is through a metropolis which functions as a microcosm of Lovecraft’s universe-spanning horror. Manifestations of the nihilism that comes with cosmic horror in cyberpunk include rampant drug culture and escapism, as well as human redundancy with androids and AI.

> Magic and Technology

The second issue to look at is a balance between magic and technology – or fantasy and science fiction. This is a particularly cyberpunk theme that has parallels in Lovecraft. The futuristic technologies that exist in cyberpunk spaces act as a necronomicon of sorts – a technology with fundamental importance yet unknown breadth.

> The City’s Beating Heart

beating_heart_of_the_metropolis

I dove into the idea of a “living city” as a starting point for my visual experiments with intersecting cyberpunk and Lovecraft. Though it’s a lot more straightforward than much of Lovecraft’s nuanced weird fiction, which relies far more on uncertainty, this kind of visualisation is an important part of the experimentation process. The top of the image is obscured in smog and darkness – it is distant, crowded, and cold. The closer you get to the bottom, the more vibrant it becomes – and more disorganised and slum-like. This is where the life is; the warm bodies on cold ground. Up the top exist the people with a voice but no ears, and down the bottom exist the people with ears but no voice.

Original post on Data Eater: The Beating Heart of the Metropolis

What is the body in cyberspace?

If cyberspace is ‘a consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation,’ (Gibson, W. 1995) then cybersex is a collective, presumably consensual hallucination experienced by an indeterminate number of operators in every nation that has adequate internet infrastructure, dependent heavily on the minds of those involved.

The blurred line between real and virtual creates questions around how sex and actions in the online environment are perceived to affect ‘real’ or physical people and bodies.  For example, in simulation games like Second Life or text-based virtual realms e.g. MOOS/MUDS fertile ground is laid for understanding how humans respond to virtual, technologically mediated sexual interactions. How do we define a body in an online context as the boundaries between mind and body are eroded (Gorry 2009)?

It seems as if, increasingly, these two separately identified entities are becoming one and the same. In the case of virtual character exu 

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Students Have More To Say

C O D I E N

The parties of assessment are Students v Academics (a direct relationship) and Students v Education (a sustained relationship) – and I’m talking about Education as a bureaucracy here. I’m studying this social phenomenon through the lens of Cyberculture (Manovich) or better yet, what occurs to the social phenomenon when Students have agency and EduTech assists in “trust”. Trust for me is accountability – that students won’t be let down by what they’re offered (outcomes) and how it’s delivered. This can established with the application of a reputation system built from rating markers (lists, scores) to firstly, compensate for a student’s disempowerment, and secondly) create an environment for authentic expression (Hearn 2010).

My proposal is a rating platform that provides agency to students in a shared online environment, in hopes to support an ideological shift within the Student v Education relationship. Much the same way that the cyberpunk genre is…

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The Synth Question

Synths. One of the main attractions in Fallout 4. These terms were once upon seen as fiction but one cannot deny the reality of the idea through the material presented to us today via games, TV, articles , books and other media. But what makes a synth. In Fallout there are 3 types of Synths created by the institute. Generation 1,2 and 3 synths. I tend to categorise them in the order of Robot, Android and finally Cyborg.
I came across a book called ‘The Mind’s I’ by Douglas Holfstadter and Daniel Dennett. Inside a section labelled ‘Mind as a Program’ he shares his interesting philosophical experience which directly relates to the brain in a vat scenario used in philosophical studies. He explains that he was approached by Pentagon officials and asked to volunteer (yeah right , asked) on a dangerous assignment which involved the retrieval of a device they had been developing. The catch was he had to leave his brain behind. The team of scientists told him that the device he would be retrieving was situated in a highly radioactive area underground , the radiation was very harmful to brain tissue but was not so on other limbs.They removed his brain and placed it in a vat. He was able to communicate with his brain via radio signals  He thought to himself “Here I am sitting on a folding chair , staring through a piece of plate glass at my own brain…but wait”. “Shouldn’t I have thought ‘Here I am suspended in a bubbling fluid, being stared at by my own eyes”(Hofstadter and Dennett pg.219)
This passage was very interesting and reminded me of Moravecs test. Whilst Turing test was designed to show that machines can also think, a trait that was once thought exclusive to humans, The Moravec test was designed to show how Machines can become the dumping grounds (store room) of human consciousness in turn enabling the machine to become human.(Hayles,p. xii Prologue)
If we can remove our brain and remotely communicate with it , doesn’t that make us cyborgs except out parts aren’t shiny and metallic but covered in slimy stuff. Like a hard drive, you store stuff in them . I can take that hard drive and put it into another computer and it still works.
If we can do the same to a mechanical body and name it Synth and expect to function just like us then whats to say that It isn’t human.

Are we on the pathway to building a perfect race, a race that doesn’t depend on factors such as food and water.
In my digital artifact I will explain:

  • What are synths, types of synths (gen 1,2,3) and relate them to robots, androids and cyborgs.
  • Elaborate on Moravecs theory using examples (Nick Valentine)
  • Discuss weather Synths should have rights (Note I didn’t mention human )
  • Provide examples from modern culture references and explain why I think these issues are real

References:

Hofstadter, Douglas R, and D. C Dennett. The Mind’s I. Toronto: Bantam, 1982. Print.

Hayles, Katherine. How We Became Posthuman. Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 1999. Print.

 

Hacktivism: The Early Days.

B. Jones

Phone04-1358880130917

Everything has a beginning and an end, but this is may not be true for all things. We have witnessed the beginning of hacktivism but will we ever witness the end. Hacktivism began in the 1960’s and the phrase was first coined at the Massachusetts Institute of technology (MIT), where social and political justice was not the aim but rather to save as much money as possible as college students.

The first noticeable form of hacks which eventually led down the path of hacktivism, was referred to as phone phreaking. These phone phreaks were people who used a recorded sound to by pass paying for a long distance call. The phone phreaking era begun due to a man called Ralph Barclay and book called the “Bell System Technical Journal”. Within this book Barclay discovered that the phone lines were ‘singing’ to each other to signal that they were both free…

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