The Augmented Reality projects and the use of transmedia as a means of storytelling are still new to me, but one that promises great expressive potential. This technology allows personal experiences to the user of technology, and as in this project, it gives us the opportunity to mix different elements such as 3D design, video, sound design, storytelling, visual art references, Internet surfing and interactivity. I believe that the projections and expectations that I had for this form of storytelling were short and long, short because I wasn’t aware of the possibilities of it, because for me initially was only a 3D model that pops up using these devices, and now I see that the model can be a representation that works at many levels, and that can offer also different degrees of interactivity with the user and his/her device by inviting him/her to play with elements of the design, play video, or follow links to a different websites, send email, or maybe more. On the other hand, I hope that his technology can give the possibility to the user to interact with the contents in more immersive ways, with options such as collisions, or other sort of manipulations.
Personally, it was hard for me to follow a different process and to build a story without following the narrative conventions that I am used to, which are those that limit the story to a linear experience, without physical interaction with the viewer/reader, and offering the story already build. Building an AR experience was difficult in that sense, in parts like walking with the blindfold that the use of narrative conventions gives us, but at the end, I believe that I got something from this project. The artistic and expressive possibilities of AR, of offering the viewer an experience of being a storyteller, a finder of little pieces of stories. And as well the possibility of bringing different sets of skills and ways of expression to this game, in order to create a new experience. I am aware that the territory is still really virgin in this matter but it is exciting to have the possibility to explore it during this time. This is the part that stays with me.
One final thought thinking about the project Vessels of Memory, is that the final stage of this project after the elaboration of the different designs that build this AR experience could be the feedback that we can get from the user about what do they think the story is. Since one thing that AR projects allow us to build are gaps, this gives place for the user to be the one who find the story, to be the narrator using the elements already shown; from there it will be interesting to discover the many stories that are invented from interpreting the AR contents. Two of the ways to capture this feedback can be, either create a video-booth along with the installation that displays the objects, or to give them the opportunity to tell the story in a blog or website related to the project.
These are some of the slides I found at Eva’s. I am not entirely sure they are hers. They could belong to the man who lived in her basement. I also found an old school video camera (Hi 8) which I used to shoot some of the scenes of Eva’s house. I like the old-style resolution but I doubt you will notice once it is in the AR.
The world is something beyond a human centered universe. The window of our perception can only recognize a few signs of this universe, yet our imagination paired with our technology can bring forth a ghost of what an extended human perception can see, hear, an touch.
For the most part the twentieth century ideas were evolved around culture, text, and a human centered existence. The anti-realist philosophies of structuralism, post-structuralism, phenomenology, deconstruction are the examples of this type of thinking. But, what if the reality is not centered on the human presence and thoughts?
The notion of noumenal objects is nothing new. Acknowledging their existence outside our perception is only to perceive the ” nature of reality independently of [our] thought and of humanity”(Bryant, 3) This approach to reality is not about discovering the absolute rather it is about ’speculating’ the real. “The ongoing breach of the divide between human and machine, there is a growing sense that previous” human centered ideas are incapable of confronting our new state of being.( Byrant, 3)
Art can open a door to start the process of understanding this new way of being, it can help us see what humanity prevented us to see, the reality of objects outside our naked unaltered perception. The question is how art can help us to see such a reality? I think one answer to this lies in bringing together art and digital media. Our AR project is an example of this leap to the other side of humanity, to understand what it means for objects to have noumenal presence.
Our entry to this journey started with Colleen’s uncanny encounter with Eva’s belonging, left behind for the wasteland and yet full of imprints of life, hers, others. Could these objects which once were regarded with love, longings, dreams, and memories be wiped out of their previous existence? What is a family photograph if there is no memory to accompany it? What is a postcard bought at CNE in 1967 if there is no mental imagery to whisper meaning into it? This project is about creating a space, to allow objects to speak, to put forward their expressive face, and to tell us a story, the story of a woman, who once lived among them, cared for them, kept them in the corner of her oak drawer, and neatly stacked them in a damp cardboard box under her bed.
Being new in creating Augmented Reality artwork, this project presented challenge not only in paddling through the new terrains of Unity and Vuforia but also in telling a story through the AR grammar and vocabulary. Each object in our project reflects a glimpse of Eva’s story. At times it seemed that her story is fragmented to the point of not being able to identify her voice. To create her story, we made a timeline of her life, lined up facts and fiction in a graph and made decisions on how stories might change to fit into this style of storytelling. At times restructuring the linear story into fragments of little stories seemed too scattered to paint a big picture, but at the same time creating enough markers and making objects interesting enough could engage the viewer into a larger story. At the same time, the idea of gap in Norman M. Klien’s Spaces Between: Traveling Through Bleeds, Apertures and Wormholes Inside the Database Novel introduced us to a new way of looking at our story or mini stories. The gap could work in our favor if only we could control where and how it should be placed. Here, having a large number of markers and the type of objects could play a big role in the success of the story.
This project could be set as an installation of Eva’s bedroom, with all her clothes lined up in the closet, books stacked on the night table, and a floral curtain hung from the window. In this installation, every single object in this room projects a moment in her life, and tells a small story about her. Participants can dig into closet and find any item and view its corresponding story.
Unify the aesthetic
Another concern that was discussed in our project was the overall aesthetic. This being our first AR project with unity, most of attention was focused on making the project up and running in the first place. The next step in this project, of course is to come up with a unified and unique visual vocabulary for the entire project. Since we had quite a few photographs we came up with the idea of using cut out collages, layering drawings on colored paper, magazine cut outs, and photo cut outs to illustrate her life and create her story with a unified vocabulary.
What does it mean to live inside someone else’s head, to see the world as they had seen, and to walk through their space and touch their world as they have. Have you seen the film Being John Malkovich? Being John Malkovich is a film about living such an experience, the ability to enter other people’s mind is an irresistible possibility that if it wasn’t for out technological limitation could be made possible though a project like this.
It would be fabulous to expand and visualize the memory of Eva and the reflection of her objects into a fully immersive environment, so people can walk into her space and see her life as she had seen, feel the reality of her life as she experienced. Perhaps eliminating the iphone or the ipad screen and watching her life through a lense which not only animates the objects and makes them responsive but also sketches her space virtually. So, we could see ourselves walking though various stages of her life, walking in the city or at the concert.
I am quite pleased with the outcome of this project. I should say, however, that I am typing this on Tuesday evening and have not yet been into the lab for our final “lockdown” group session. At which time we are planning to combine all of our Unity projects in order to create the final app. Assuming that Wednesday goes well, I will be quite pleased with the outcome of this project. Within the past week I have on several occasions wished that I had a few more weeks to shoot video, compose music, record audio, and learn Unity. But like any creative project, it is never finished. We just run out of time. Or money.
I do wonder what it would have been like to work on a GPS project. I like the intimacy of a Unity-type project. It allows for careful observance and repeated viewing if one so desires. With my content, I worked under the assumption that the end-user would have the opportunity to experience all the picnic basket objects and have noticed a few
things that raised questions; repeated imagery, threads of similarity, questions that became apparent only after viewing a certain object. Water and fire are featured prominently in several vignettes. Water is a reference to closing line of the introductory vignette; “They say it’s in the water.” Fire represents the passion of the lovers (Eva and John), the Judeo-Christian baggage of hell because of their sinful infidelity, and finally because of its destructive potential. In Eva’s case, the destruction of herself as a friend, and a wife. Although, in my telling of Eva’s story, neither her husband, Bernie, or her best friend, Margaret, ever had any knowledge of the relationship between Eva and John (Margaret’s husband).