Week 5 & 6

12 October – 25 October 2020

Change of Direction

I felt as though I wouldn’t get very far with the idea of ‘being Calm’ and it being such a personal topic, I think for someone to undertake a journey like that I would have to do something that drastically changes my life, for example start therapy to learn more about myself or go and learn to meditate in another country for 6 months. But I feel I’m just not ready for anything like that this year and I think that taking my idea and twitching it a little might be beneficial especially if it’s a commentary about something current and contemporary. I will have a lot more motivation to explore it and create, with my original idea I got stuck at the very beginning with outputs I considered to be ‘cliche’ and decided it would be better to make a change early on in the year rather than sticking with what I initially had in mine while stressing and not getting any work done.

The different experiences everyone faces influence our opinions and who we are this is clear as we have different connotations to each other as well as social media as well as news and real media influencing and controlling what some people believe. i.e. if someone is exposed to one side one view or one opinion they tend to disregard the other side. no one listens to each other anymore. bring this back to ‘My ‘Calm’ isn’t yours’ but now the Calm wouldn’t be my focus it would be portraying this divide between the two ‘sides’. people tend to stay in their comfort zones and surround themselves with like minded people, our social media shows us what we already believe and on top of that because of lockdown we socialise much less meaning the conversations we would usually have to hear out the other side arn’t as frequent and common as before. This is idea is shown through politics and elections (polish politics with a result of 49% to 51% in the last election, America’s 2020 presidential campaign and of course everything we witnessed since 2016 as well as British politics the constant battle between tories and labour and then another battle with Scotland’s divide on independence) it’s also been shown during the current pandemic with people who believe the virus is a hoax and a conspiracy people and disagree with most of the restrictions compared with people who believe and have possible experienced the virus or know of family and friends who have, who believe all the restrictions should be in place and everyone should do their part to help and prevent the spread. Generally, any worthwhile topic now and in history has gone through or is going through a great divide the problem is that people of opposing opinions have stopped listening to each other creating a kind of scary reality where people think they are always right and don’t allow anyone to challenge them and this being fuelled by constantly spending time on social media where algorithms control how much information is actually available to us as well as the free spread of fake news.

Starting work, ideas starting off with simple portrayals of contrast? I also want to have the aim of making somebody see the other side so if someone searches the word ‘ocean’ they actually see a picture of the desert. I think I might have to start with portraying my idea in abstract minimalistic ways to start with rather than jumping straight into literal and complicated. The whole concept is complicated enough as it is so it would be interesting to work with a challenge and create a simple sketch, drawing, unity build that is very minimalistic but along with my explanation of the concept makes complete sense. Start by focusing on what things or maybe just starting with colour contrast this could be as simple as looking on the colour wheel and starting sketches this way. In unity it could be as simple as creating a dome of colour with lights added to make it as through you can walk through and look around a colour. the image could be something like ‘scan if you believe in blue’ and then the sketch is actually orange.

  • to do list: (try to do the VR thing today so that you can sign up for Thursday studio support)
  • download the VR project from hard drive
  • read through VR project blog
  • make a Unity build(very simple for now)
  • create a trigger image
  • link the image and unity build make everything work
  • export and try to get on phone
  • document this with video possibly (record how you’d want it to be set up maybe even a video with a blue/ orange hue to represent the mindset of the person and screenrecord what will be visible on the phone
  • revisit the blog update with the experiment add screenshots and pictures and revisit the text from the start and tidy it up

Working with Unity/Vuforia

This morning I participated in a Virtual Writing Retreat which I felt was extremely useful and allowed me to organise my time and to stay focused in the morning and it made me feel quite productive for the rest of the day. I spent the afternoon (into the night) refreshing my memory and trying to create a Unity build that involved VR and Vuforia which seemed to be much more difficult than I remember. I had a lot of trouble because of all the settings I had to fix and even though I’m starting with something extremely simple its taken me a long time and I faced a lot of problem solving, it seemed like anytime I finally achieved something I got stuck on the next step for an hour.

I revisit Mixed Reality a project from last year where I first used Vuforia and created a Virtual Reality application. I found the notes I had taken and some screenshots extremely helpful when I was trying to create a new unity build. Unity hasn’t ever been my strong suit but I don’t want to stay away from certain things just because they won’t be easy for me or because I don’t have a lot of experience, I would rather at least try to create something and possibly learn something new or at least I’ll have an exploration/experiment to show by the end.

When talking about the change of direction my concept with Tasha, she told me about this work inspiring me to consider using creating something reminiscent of a corridor.

I decided to make a short video portraying how the VR application works but also a first exploration of my new direction in my concept. I wanted to pay attention to how I film because I’ve had a lot of feedback in the past about my videos not being staged properly and it’s still not absolutely flawless but I thought it was important to practice and try to do this more often so I can get better at making and editing videos for future documentation.

The video shows someone scrolling through their social media being exposed to their ‘blue side’ when they notice a poster that states “IF YOU BELIEVE IN BLUE SCAN HERE” they take out their phone and scan the image where they are exposed to the opposite of what they expected. The virtual reality space is a contrasting colour of orange, the person explores the space. They then put away their phone, open the door and walk away. This video is meant to show someone getting out of their usual ‘bubble’ of knowledge, information and opinion and absorbing and paying attention to ‘the other side’.

Sketchbook page exploring a change of direction from original proposal and notes from Monday Morning Session.
Sketchbook page including storyboard for video and feedback from studio support session on Thursday.

During my studio support session with Jen she made me realise that it would be a good idea to stage my experiments and outputs through actions people are already familiar with so that I don’t have to make up a whole new way of interacting with something new which would make the minimalistic simple outputs possibly less confusing but this made me think of my original idea being linked to candidacy voting posters, for example being in Poland close to election time (thousands/millionRESEARCH) of zloty are spent on these candidacy posters and they are plastered everywhere are depending on which area you live in you will see more of one than the other just like googling a certain topic will have completely varying results depending on where you live. However the point is I made this first experiment staging it with this unintentional idea poking through with these posters being plastered all around us and this makes the person in the video stop and interact being drown in by something that supposedly conirms our already formed view just like people showing up to a protest or a rally show up in solidarity with likeminded people. however rather than just pointing this fact out I want to challenge It and confront the person interacting with the opposite side of what they believe and take them out of their opinionated ‘box’ and place them in the opposite opinionated ‘box’.

Sketchbook page exploring possible next steps after creating the video and the first show and tell.
An Infographic explaining what an echo chamber is.

I continued to think about this idea of the separate colours and the very restricted yes or no kind of mindset and leading on from some thoughts of using suits and video in some kind of smoothie making process and thought about the functionlity of a vending machine. I considered how Jen mentioned using actions we’re already used to and the vending machine seemed so familiar, we choose a number and our chosen snack/drink drops down ready for us to enjoy but I wondered if I could change that experience and comfort and possibly annoy the user where they actually receive the opposite of what they have chosen seemingly the machine being broken, not wired correctly or malfunctioning this would suggest a breakdown of the norm and our usual way of receiving and accepting ‘information’. Thinking about practical ways of exploring and portraying this idea I was considering a few possibilities like using unity to create this vending machine and having an audio output animation of it being used, I also considered creating a simple digital drawing animation and possibly a gimmicky processing sketch. I’m not sure which direction and method I will choose just yet I might even give each one of these a start and trial to see what I think might be the best work mode for me.

Ellie Harrison Vending Machine (2009) https://www.ellieharrison.com/vendingmachine/

This was a live data project by Ellie Harrison that I first seen during Data Visualisation last year and even through the subject matter and idea behind it are different to what I’m working towards the reprogramming of the vending machine must have left some kind of impact on me since I’ve found myself thinking about it. The simplicity of just using one brand of crisps and only four different flavours(colours) is however a lot more relevant to my idea. It isn’t very likely that I will be able to reprogram a real vending machine since I don’t have £1,000 to spare but the visuals of this work are something I might take forward in my own experimentation.

I decided to do some more research into my concept today by looking at relevant ted talks and I was amazed at how many people are already advocates on the issue and how many different ares it’s affecting.

Megan Phelps-Roper was a member of the Westboro Baptist Church but after getting involved in discussions through Twitter with people who had completely different views to her she left and leads a completely different life to what she had known her whole childhood.

Yaël Eisenstat is a former CIA officer and diplomat, she also worked in Facebook for 6 months hoping to change how things are done from within, sadly it didn’t work out the way she had intended and hoped. She had intrigued me from the very beginning of her talk by saying ‘it struck me that I was losing the ability to engage with people who aren’t like-minded.’ which is exactly what I have been trying to portray in my recent work and it’s what I have based my concept around.

Carole Cadwalladr is an investigative journalist. (Continued in week 7 & 8 blog post)


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