Thursday, August 6, 2009

Part 1 of Siggraph 09, NOLA

It has been a hectic two weeks, thus the lack of posts. I am now in New Orleans, Louisiana, attending Siggraph 2009, an almost direct transversal from Paris, France, via Dublin, New York, RDU, and Atlanata, before arriving in NOLA. I’ll blog more about what I’ve gathered about from my European tour, and also to revisit some of the ideas and material I’d first thrown out in my previous blog post once I get myself back to Durham. At the moment, I’ll like to talk more about my experience of immersing in the technological euphoria that is a big part of the Siggraph, as well as the more nuanced and paced discussions on theories that would direct the way in which we would study the artwork in games, aesthetic computing, the use of algorithms and even the rather bizarre biologic art. I’ve got the supposedly full-DVD of the conference and I was hoping that would help me go through a lot of the sessions I’ve missed but unfortunately, the DVD is not as ‘full’ as I expected it to be, so there were many sessions, especially panels, that I’m missing out on which I will only be able to get hold of if I either buy the presentation recordings (which would cost USD 250 at conference price or USD 275 post-conference) or wait for some years to be able to access the 2009 talks. Hence, I am the Benjamin button quote, being defined by the opportunities I have had attending this conference as well as all the misses in not being able to split myself into more than one eigenvalue.

I came to this conference with the mission of being able to get ideas to work on one of my projects. But this has proven to be a more difficult mission than it is. I will not go into the details of the conference, as you could find out more for yourself at the conference website at but suffice to say, being not a specialist with a direct focus in one area makes me feel that I may be missing out on the opportunity to be getting immediate ideas for my work (since I’ll have to figure out a way on how I can get hold of the panel presentations) when I choose one plenary session over another. But an important expect, which is technologically unsophisticated yet highly vital, is the narrative element. How do I go about narrating the story of the human-computer interaction as a way of demonstrating or illustrating the history of consciousness? How can I go about doing via a machine that generates data that produces the epistemological construction in physical sciences? And after narrating the story, how would I critically evaluate the story in which I have narrated? This is as much a work in the fiction of science as it is science in fiction. I am ‘fictionalizing’ this machine for my purpose while staying as true as possible to the reconstruction of its ‘actual’ world.

My question is, what will allow me to go down this path? Learning more about animating features and details used in digitally enhanced or produced films, how to use shots? Learning about the simulation and physics of games, their rendering, the kinetics of movement and sound.

To set myself more manageable parameters at the moment, would be for me at the moment to tell a good story about the LHC and the humans involved in it. Try to show the effects of the blackbox but not necessarily the cause, and hoping that the causality could somehow demonstrate itself out of the effects. How to therefore demonstrate the mental models that are involved. How to even conceptualize the mental model. How do map and model mathematical ideas and equations. How do build an interactive database based on the concept of narrative play in gaming. The papers that talk about social and collective experience/processes of developing social games (and game networks) should be an interesting arena to explore.

Also, I am intrigued by how closely my work parallels informational aesthetics (though at this point in time, the aesthetics are less important to me than trying to demonstrate a raw idea that is based on something undemonstratable). And how in developing a particular game to show my idea, could I demonstrate the computer-human interaction. How can I represent this concretely?

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