Friday, 19 November 2010

Some of my favourite Steampunk

I went to this exhibition many times when it was on in Oxford for about 6 months.
Here are some of my favourite things from it:

It was a really great exhibition, it even had a fashion show where people dressed up in Steampunk clothes could walk up and down a catwalk and show off their ensembles.


 I am sorry world but my knowledge of Sci fi is actually rubbish. The list of ‘films to watch’ is nearing roughly 150 and I think I won’t get through them until at least next year! However with the addition of this ‘Box of Broadcasts’ website there is an actual chance I might see at least some of them.
    Despite not really knowing many of the references in this lecture I still found some parts inspiring.

Some of this lecture was about digital vs analogue photography. The gist i got was that ‘digital photography is heartless because it is just pixels’ which in the end can be edited one by one to create photogaphs that never existed. But is this such a bad thing? Sometimes the juxtaposition of things that never existed together can be the thing that makes it so interesting, as with binary opposition two opposing ideas found together are generally more remarkable than something you would find the norm. 
I do appreciate however the effort and strain that can go into getting the ‘perfect’ non-photoshopped shot.
Take Jay Fine who waited more than 40 years to photograph lightning hitting the statue of liberty. 
Only on his 82nd shot and 2 hours waiting did he manage to take this amazing picture. 

In the seminar we discussed our favourite Sci Fi characters and why we liked them. If it counts as Sci Fi I really like the character of Frank from Donnie Darko.
Why do I think this character's appearance is so successful?
  • Eyes: As Ivan explained the manipulation of a characters eyes can be the most disturbing thing about it. You cannot see into Frank's mask and so are looking into 'dead' eyes. Even when he takes the mask off one of his eyes is injured and bleeding.  
  • Texture: I think the surface and texture of the mask is really effective as some parts reflect a lot of light leaving other in shadow, emphasising the skull-likeness of the mask.
  • Mask-Generally people dislike masks. They conceal the real person beneath, mean you can't properly tell what someones reactions are or you can't read their expressions. This works well on the character of frank as it makes him more mysterious.
  • Emphasised teeth-Makes you think of vicious animals, especially paired with rabbit ears it makes me think of some kind of ancient sabre toothed rabbit. 

New media and breaking down barriers

This lecture sort of had a focus but also moved between lots of different topics which was a bit hard to keep track of.
   Firstly it started about the interaction between the creators of media and its users. As technology develops the trend is for things become more and more interactive.
This is an interactive mirror that's in a Bloomingdales shop in America
You can 'try on' clothes without actually putting them on, see yourself from every angle, and even put your image on an online feed where any friends logged in can give you feedback on the way you look.

     Talking about old games in this lecture I was reminded of something I used to love playing on my brother's Amstrad computer. Although each level was essentially the same I could play it for hours! The game had a lot of 'reply' value without having any narrative.

Another awesome game we had on our old 'windows 95' computer was Spelling Jungle! I've  never found anyone else who ever had this game. You were the little guy who had to 'go upriver to stop the flooding' (i never actually made it up to the top of the river, it got really hard!) by collecting the letters to spell out words. It didn't help hugely that the game was american so I learnt a lot of American spellings not English ones but never mind. 

Compare these to the new Xbox Kinect games, you can see how the player has a lot more influence on the computer. 

Although the technology of these games are obviously amazing I'm not sure the actual 'enjoyment value' of the games will be higher than older ones. Really as long as a game is entertaining and sucks you in it doesn't really matter what the graphics or technique of playing is. 

Thursday, 18 November 2010

How binary opposition makes things interesting

Binary Opposition is the categorising of opposites. E.g Light Vs Dark, good Vs evil.  When we apply this to character creation, having a character who is wholly good or wholly evil isn't very exciting. This is because being somewhere in the middle gives characters a lot more depth and believability. As humans it is hard to believe that one person could not have a scrap of good in them or be 100% nice.

  Take the Gollum/Smeagol idea from Lord of the Rings. First he was nice, then he saw the ring, went a bit evil, lived in a cage for ages, found Frodo, was nice, was evil, plotted, fought with himself etc etc. All this makes for much better storyline than if Gollum had just been an evil creature who Frodo captured and forced to lead him to Mordor.
 Gollum/Smeagol also links to the idea of something human becoming less and less human over time because of evil, greed, and selfishness and that these traits can be so dominating that they end up consuming you completely.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Everything is interlinked and nothing is original....

 ....was my conclusion of the Intertextuality lecture.  I suppose ideas don't really come out of thin air and often the best ideas is when you've seen something else really good and modified it or added your own twist to it.
  Certainly a lot of the success of the Harry Potter books can in part be accredited to the ancient myths and legends it takes references from.
Drawing from 'Orlando Furioso’ written by Ludovico Ariosto, a poem about a Charlemagne warrior (1532)
Harry riding Buckbeak the hippogriff (2004)

I also leant from this lecture that things can be linked either consciously or unconsciously so often you don't realise you associate one thing with another.  Like perfumes you begin to associate a certain perfume with one person so the next time you smell it you always think of them.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Banana slug anyone?

They are the largest slug in North America and can grow to be 10 inches long. Urgh thats a lot of slug.

Semiotics Not Symbiotic

I keep getting the word semiotic confused with symbiotic. Here are the two different meanings:
Semiotic: The study of signs and the way in which they work to create meaning.
Symbiotic: The living together of two dissimilar organisms in mutually beneficial relationship.
  So not really related. I will still mix them up. 

Signification = the process of signs-being-made-noticed-and-understood

  Although I was feeling a bit like death after about 3 hours sleep this lecture was actually very interesting.  We learnt the difference between how iconic or arbitrary something is. It turns out that iconic is closest to the real thing and arbitrary is far away and in between in a sliding scale.  A photograph is generally the most iconic way to represent something and the written word or sound or something the least. 

    Onomatopoeic words however are iconic because they sound like the thing they describe. 

Here is a sliding scale of the signification of bananas:

Iconic <-------------------------------------------------------> Arbitrary                   
Whilst looking for pictures of bananas I found this banana bowl designed by Harry Allen, I want one!
  Another part of the lecture was on the denotation, connotation, and myth of signs.  The denotation is the literal meaning-ie what you first see, the connotation is subtler or suggested meaning, and myth the underlying ideology and political meaning.

Take one banana related object and analyse:

  • Denotation: Yellow object, made of plastic and metal, shaped like a banana, sticker of a fruit company on the side, opens in two.
  • Connotation:  Not everything is exactly as you expect, Del Monte have branched out with their products/souvenirs.
  • Myth:Technology should be quirky as well as functional, people expect more from a product than just a function, nature fused with science.