Interactivity, Generativity, and the upcoming event with Ian Hatcher

Another great week of #elitclass passes with two interesting pieces – Daniel Sebastian walked us through the intriguing Façade by Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern.  Façade is an artificial-intelligence-based interactive animated story that won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2006 Slamdance Independent Games Festival.  The piece has been exhibited at several international art shows.  “The reader” assumes the role/perspective of a close friend of Trip and Grace – a couple who recently invited the player to their home for cocktails.  You enter their apartment where you can move, explore, and discover the space, and you can interact with some objects.  From the onset of the experience there seems to be significant marital difficulty between Trip & Grace.  The tension is palpable and the bickering is unrelenting.  The reader/player is able to interact by “speaking” to the troubled couple, and soon there is a complex triangulation of dynamics between the reader/player and Tip & Grace.  The player can attempt a reconciliation, or push them to further discord.  This is an open-ended design with many possible outcomes.  In some versions of play, one might be  “kicked out”.  In other play throughs, certain affairs can be revealed.  The piece prompts a reflection on the difficulty of understanding between people (even those who are supposedly close in an intimate sense), and of the perils of human listening/not listening.  To wax philosophical, each human being is a complex universe.  So perhaps a human relationship is the collision crash of two separate universes?  This piece certainly draws out the collision quality of profound resent between two people, drawing the viewer into certain third party anxiety.

We also heard from Maren who lead us through a smart discussion of the remix efforts inspired by Nick Monfort’s generative poem entitled Taroko Gorge.   In particular, we took a close look at J.R. Carpenter’s Along the Briny Beach and also Alireza Mahzoon’s Snowball.  The original text of tarok Gorge generates a nature poem about the famous Taroko Gorge national park in Taiwan.  The poem creates and recreates endless reflections on the changing effect of nature itself.  Mediative and ephemeral in nature (always fleeting/changing), this generative poem inspired many remixes. The original code producing endless permutations has been tinkered with and re-purposed for new thematic perspectives.   We had an interesting discussion about the creative act of remixing (as a digital sensibility).  We also talked about different ways to conceive of collaborative writing.  Thanks Maren for choosing this text which allowed us to loop back to the notion of generativity in literature.  With these remix texts, we are able to consider further examples of novel ways in which machine and human interface generate new narrative form.

On Monday, Mette will discuss Queer Skins.  Please check it out and for the first part of your blog reflect on this text.   For the second part of your blog for Monday, please include an update on your mapping ideas for your project and early thoughts regarding the tools that you might be using.  Remember that we are now really in the “discovery/invention” stage of your e-lit project.  That means you should generating creative notes, and mapping your ideas for the project, and exploring possible tools to use.

Next Thursday we have some special time set aside to engage with visiting digital artist Ian Hatcher.  I really look forward to sharing some time with him and all of you.  I think you will find that his work, which explores cognition in the context of digital systems, is truly inspiring and compelling.  The plan is to meet at the University Library (at the cafe at the entrance).  He will give a short performance there of his work, and we can follow up with some pizza and discussion in the upstairs (2nd floor) atrium of the library.  The event should last about an hour and a half.

See you Monday.  Have a great weekend!

Dr. Zamora