Week 6: The New Aesthetic

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~new aesthetic~: something I never really understood until this week’s blog post.

My original introduction to aesthetic was my days of tumblr.com when people would refer to something relatable as “omg that’s totally my aesthetic”. Now, I understand it is an entire art form that has been morphed over time with the Internet as a whole.

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Do I like it? Absolutely. It brings together the digital and non-digital, and provides a sort of zen feeling while looking at it. In TheGuardian’s article, there are images listed that are a bird’s eye view of agricultural patterns. My personal favourite is this one:

The Orange River serves as part of the border between Namibia and South Africa. Along the banks of this river, roughly 100km (60 miles) inland from where the river empties into the Atlantic Ocean, irrigation projects take advantage of water from the river and soils from the floodplains to grow produce, turning parts of a normally earth-toned landscape emerald green

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Truthfully, it does not feel entirely natural, it seems more like a wonder that anything could look this mesmerizing and be complete reality. THIS is one of the many reasons why I will forever be amazed with the power of technology and the internet. One more example: The Slow Mo Guys

To me, this entire video could be considered ~new aesthetic~. The visual image of the Jell-O passing through the racket would be seen as a surreal implication of the digital in a non-digital setting. (It’s also kind of entertaining to watch things in super slow motion).

So what does this mean for our future?

Well, let me tell ya, I am quite excited to see what the future has in store for all things visual arts in new digital media. As far as Sterling and Lievrouw’s arguments on it goes, it’s hard to completely understand. I do not believe they contradict each other, as both styles of arguments have different tones. While Sterling supports the New Aesthetic as a thing of the future, and Lievrouw both critique’s and praises it, everything is susceptible to change, and I believe aesthetic as a whole is the most inclined to be so.

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Week 5: Augmented Reality

First things first, as soon as I saw this video, I thought “Wow, this is totally relatable to this week’s topic, even though it’s a fictional idea!” Strange Beasts is a short film created by Magali Barbé, and is captioned

“A sci-fi short about augmented reality.
‘Strange Beasts’ is an augmented reality game. It allows you to create and grow your own virtual pet. How far can it go?”

Basically, this film highlights the future of technology, and how humans are affected socially, physically, and ultimately, emotionally. Now, I won’t spoil anything (you’ll have to watch it), but I will put an emphasis on the current standing of technological advances and how dependent we are becoming on them.

In terms of Jenkins’ list of literacies, augmented reality makes certain items more tangible. For example, simulation, “the ability to construct dynamic models of real world processes”, becomes a physical reality when it comes to utilizing a technology that forces you to do exactly what it says. Fundamentally, media literacies are constantly changing with the times. When “media” first came to be, they were very limited literacies known, or even required in order to understand it.

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Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality:

This year, my place of work (The Peterborough Lift Lock), just introduced a VR opportunity for visitors in order to keep up with the technological advances and availability of softwares that allows visitors to go through each lock on the waterway virtually.

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Now, Sachs’ argument on the fact that AR will dwarf VR is absolutely understandable. Today, people want convenience. VR is only possible with the headset, a safe position, and trusted friends around you to make sure you don’t trip over your own feet. AR on the other hand, can be done more intimately with the individual and their own cell phone in some cases.

AR is sneaking up on us because, unlike the smartphone, its first customers and applications are for businesses. Few consumers have seen an AR system, and fewer still have tried several. But I have, and I’m willing to stake my reputation on this: AR is the future, the dominant way we will interact with computers and the Internet.

Now, relating back to the Strange Beasts film, it is highly possible that technology such as the eye contact lenses will become possible (which would be freaky). On the other hand, it poses the question on whether or not society gets “too involved” in AR versus its ~cousin~. VR is seen as something fun and “gamey”, where as AR incorporates the reality around it and blurs lines that should not be blurred.

Do you think Augmented Reality will be the new “fidget spinner” of our grandchildren’s generation? Or maybe even our own children?

Week Four: Gaming

Let’s face it – when I first saw this topic was going to be covered, I immediately thought back to my days in high school with my cousin, where we would be up endlessly into the night playing the latest game.

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This week’s reading by TheMittani really made me think of Sword Art Online, where a virtual reality is a hit new game and players essentially get wired into it, with no option to quit. Like TheMittani said;

“Unique in EVE, the number of people on one server puts the players far beyond the threshold of intimate friendship; your average social unit, the corporation, involves hundreds of people, while alliances made up of these corporations include thousands of people.”

The series essentially revolves around the social sphere of the game, and how the players work together to beat eat “level” so they don’t die (die in the game – die in real life).

Now, as far as Zimmerman’s claim goes, I really do believe in the transportability of gaming literacies. Using the Minecraft example, kids these days have become so involved in the online world, there are books and whole Youtube channels dedicated to tips and tricks in the world. I find myself using my 8 year old cousin questions on the game for the assignment, just because he has done so much research. For me, I play the Sims a lot. Of course, my favourite part is building a house and family. From this, I find that I am a lot better at real world applications of design. Example: rearranging a living room is so easy to me because I am really good at visual representation and spacing from the game. A really good video I found on the application of the Sims:

Creative Alternative: How The Sims Changed My Life

As far as contemporary games go, I am not that much of a fan. They have a very short-lived effect on me in terms of my attention span and willingness to try to beat them. I think people still play them because they love the thrill of getting far. The Cursor*10 game for example is a way for people to think and act accordingly to each turn. I couldn’t  play past a minute, whereas my partner who had to play it for his Virtual Worlds course last semester loved every second. Klastrup’s “willing suspension of disbelief” suggestion is compelling as I can relate to an alternate personality that I may have had in online worlds (my most favourite being Habbo Hotel).

One big point I took away from this reading was the frameworks of interpretation point:

“they are frameworks of interpretation which allows us to judge whether events in the world are, for instance, “moral” or “immoral”, “good” or “bad” according to the “world rules”, the designated morals of that particular world”

As a young teen, Habbo taught me how to interpret “shady” people. I was introduced to the world of scammers through this game. A lot of the time, I had to learn to be very perceptive about who in the community was honestly giving away free things, or the latter scammer that was just looking for an entry fee and kicking people out. Nonetheless, I found I learned the most in online communities and Virtual Reality games, as they did not put a limit on my personality/actions, and taught me certain important aspects of who I am today.

Blog Post 1: New Media Literacy

Henry Jenkins: New Media Literacy Skills

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Above we can see a lovely list created by Sir Henry Jenkins himself. It outlines the types of literacies that exist in our world. Personally, I find my weakest point is multitasking (defined as the ability to scan the environment and shift into salient details), which is accurately outlined in the gif below:

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While one might build themselves on the fact that they can single-handedly eat a cheeseburger, text their grandmother, and binge-watch the latest Netflix series, I can’t say that I am all too goof at reading my aunt’s tenth Facebook status of the day, while paying attention to who killed Jason Blossom.

As far as my strengths, I will say that I am good at “trans-media navigation”. After doing some research on what this really means, I can conclude that it is relevant to my life. Basically, I see this as following along with a certain thing, let’s say a band, and being able to gather information and relevant facts across multiple mediums. For example, when I start to like a singer, I stalk them on any relevant social media and end up finding the name of their mom, dog, and second cousin twice removed. It’s almost kind of scary how much you can find out about something on the world wide web, but it has been proven useful.

Michael Wesch: From Knowledgable to Knowledge-Able

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I personally think Wesch hit the nail right on the head with this one. The image of his students is all too familiar (especially with those long lectures in Wenjack). I find even myself looking very similar to Boo from Monsters Inc.:

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As hard as it is to admit, a lot os us do doze off in these large scale lectures, and revert to social media, and texting our friends about who is buying the next case of beer. In terms of university as a whole, I agree with this notion towards a more immersive experience, and a think that Trent is a good place for this. In seminars, it is much harder to fade away into a sea of laptops because you are in a room with 10 other people who are engaged and ready to discuss the most relevant information. Now, that being said, it is hard to discern the state of other universities, but from stories of friends of bigger schools, it is much more common to see large scale lectures being put in place to communicate knowledge.

Wesch’s comparison of Postman’s television and new media works to the extent of his idea that media must create a culture in order to stick. One prime example is the meme culture (key word; culture). Memes have blown up all over social media. I have included a lovely calendar outlining the popular memes of 2016, on a monthly basis:

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Memes are funny. Memes are gold. They are what keep people engaged on social media and connected. Granted, this connection is not as important/meaningful as social movements such as #BlackLivesMatter, but nonetheless, they are important to talk about. Meme culture is strictly social media/internet based. If you were to print out a meme and show it to your grandmother, chances are she would be very confused.

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Something like this really helps us to understand the power of the Internet, and how fast a popular/comedic idea can spread, including how fast it can disappear (when was the last time you saw someone create a Harlem shake video?)

And with that, I will leave you with something that is always relevant to students:

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