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Cyber-divorce!

Well this: Second Life affair leads to couple's real-life divorce gives me food for thought on the subject of online identity. Who is being cheated here? Who is cheating? Are these people playing roles? Or has it become real for them? Would an actor's wife divorce him for "falling in love" on set? Interesting to note, I think, that private eyes are springing up online. Relationships and "identity" are complex enough issues in the real world - its hard to see how another level of complexity in cyberspace will aid that...

2.5D

Looks like this is the way we're referring to 2d animation composited in 3d space. Look at: Men in Black I really like the comic book style of this but more than anything the camera work is superb. Restrained use of pull focus and depth of field really emphasises the pseudo 3D composition. I'd love to see the full work.

Identify yourself

As part of my studies I will present a critique of a passage from an academic text with reference to my discipline. My interest is in identity and how new technology is being used (and abused) to present and define our identities in the 21st century and beyond. We are all constantly making choices about who we are and how we are seen by others and the web has given us yet another means to do this with more opportunities for deception than before and another arena in which to become anxious about our status. As a digital practitioner I know I will be judged not only on what I present in a portfolio but also on my online presence on networking sites such as Facebook. Identity in the modern (or post modern, even late modern) world is more and more about creating and maintaining a narrative about ourselves that makes sense (at least to ourselves) even if that means rationalising aspects of who we are and being creative with the truth. I've mentioned the new online game Football Superstars before in this blog and the client has finally been released after some time in beta. I was disappointed to learn that it does not support my preferred platform so I won't be able to play at home although I know that not all windows users are included due to the high graphics and processing demands of the client. This will probably exclude all but the most intense gamers for the time being until the level of processing power required to run the game becomes standard and therefore available to the ordinary pc user. From the videos I have seen the interface looks remarkably slick and it remains only to see how intuitively the gameplay works. My interest in the game, of course, is to see how users will choose to present themselves (they are encouraged to create an avatar that apes the real world personalities of famous footballers) and whether it will cross over to the mainstream. I'm tempted to hypothesise that, as with Second Life, male users will be more attracted to creating female avatars in order to have more leeway to explore different looks. I may be proved wrong as the football personality seems to be the one male role model that can indulge experimentation with looks without the stigma normally attached to such behaviour.

Break over

Well after a long time off its time to put a few words on here. To bring you up to date with what I'm looking at here are a few things I've been thinking about over the last few days. After reading through a passage from At The Edge Of Art (Blaise, Ippolito) I've started to think about some digital art collectives and what they're doing. The self styled "corporations" of swiss based etoy and ®TMark have given me food for thought about the art world and how my practice fits in with that. These collectives are looking to subvert technology and the corporate world in an artistic way to examine how technology is affecting our day to day lives. They do this by sponsoring projects and promoting them on the web for others to finance. The kind of works we are talking about are: "Make large vinyl stickers and place them on GAP KIDs store windows. 'Made by children, for children.'" "Deliver cease-and-desist letters to retail outlets which sell clothing made from the American flag, claiming you represent estate of Abbie Hoffman and hold the copyright." "Between march 31 and july 31 1996, etoy.SOFTWARE-AGENTS automatically infiltrated the world wide web's global search engines (lycos, infoseek, altavista, etc.) by placing over a thousand designated keywords (porsche, startrek, bondage, selbstmord, censorship, fassbinder, etc.) within the top 10 rankings, thereby setting up a trap for net travelers and technology tourists. with this action, etoy demonstrated the «space» behind the popular interfaces of the world wide web. they took control of the systematic illusion of net-quests for information." Makes interesting reading and potentially has an impact on how technology will be used in the future. As a digital designer or artist I will probably be solving the sort of problems questioned by these art projects.

Too late...

With two days to go I have finally realised that my idea to present an interactive mock up of a website is far too ambitious for my level of knowledge about scripting. Aaarrggghh!! The frame map I am looking at is going to take days and days of scripting, even for somebody who has done it before (which, of course, I havent!) I will have to scale down my idea to simply show the path I want the user to take with an alternative timeline accompanied by commentary. This is instead of a fully interactive site that allows the user to explore and try out different options. It will be more of an animated story now. It's worth knowing that I sold myself a dummy here as I will be better prepared for a project like this in future now. Every cloud has a silver lining!

Kinky porn is the thin end...


Just reading this article about a new law making the possession of "violent and extreme pornography" a criminal offence. The definition appears to be unnervingly vague, however. Previous obscenity laws place the onus on the publisher but the new law recognises that much of the material downloaded in the uk is held on overseas servers. From now on the consumer can be prosecuted and that means criminalising those with marginal sexual predilictions (such as necrophilia and S & M). This shift makes owning images containing "an act which threatens or appears to threaten a person's life" illegal and its owner a criminal. You might say that this will affect relatively few people and their rights should not be prioritised over that of the majority to enjoy safety from sexual predators like Graham Coutts. You might also say you agree that images depicting violent sexual acts ought to be banned anyway.
Have they stopped to think, I wonder, about the graphic and gratuitous use of sexual violence in mainstream films? If not, then they have criminalised a much larger section of the population than they planned. A scene like the one at the beginning of Basic Instinct surely comes under the definition above? The ramifications for video games such as Grand Theft Auto (latest version due this week) are difficult to foresee in this climate. The use of Virtual Reality to enact sexual fantasies that would land the perpetrators in jail in real life will soon become a crime in itself. Surely, a line has been crossed between protecting the innocent and preserving the right to think what you like and the Government has ended up on the wrong side.