Friday, September 28, 2012

Russell King Street Art New York

Russell King is a New York based street artist.

More street art from NYC can be seen here.

Viva La Revolucion!

The air con parked like a small car beneath the window that gives me dirty visions of America. This land aches beneath the weight of its own divided spectacle. Hotel rooms lined with hot buttered pancakes and 42 channel panoramas reflect any shadows from the neighborhood I strolled through this afternoon where every second house was a public auction or unsafe and the local rehab center charity center life center was closing next month. It begs the question, what happened? I saw it chalked upon a battered door today, Viva La Revolucion!! But nobody appeared to be home. 

The Eternal Word Horde of a Master Musician

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mobile Telephone: The Kaleidoscope of Connection (2005)

“The affluent society is a society of voyeurs. To each their own kaleidoscope: a tiny movement of the fingers and the picture changes. You can’t lose: two fridges, a mini car, TV, promotion, time to kill, then the monotony of the images we consume gets the upper hand, reflecting the monotony of the action which produces them, the slow rotation of the kaleidoscope between finger and thumb.”
The Revolution of Everyday Life by Raoul Vaneigem

It has taken around a decade for levels of ownership of mobile phones to reach 90% in some European demographic groups (1). The implications and behaviour modes related to the mobile phone as a cultural artefact are of interest as social phenomena and as indicators of the impact Information Technologies (IT) are having on Western Cultures in other areas of implementation (i.e. Internet, P.C., Satellite). I shall briefly attempt to outline examples of how this product is presented to consumers in some European markets today (the signs), some of what consumers are using the product for (the signified), and one of the many functional implications of this interaction in regards to the mobile phone as an artefact of culture.

“A life management tool for business, office, and leisure” (2) is the rather all-encompassing statement made by the Nokia Corporation when they released the Nokia 9210 Communicator. The Communicator is “a cellular phone with mobile Internet, PC office applications and multimedia capabilities” (3). Although the Nokia Internet site promotional video features images of a man and woman singing happy birthday on a phone screen to the user (who seems to be alone for the occasion), the primary focus in relation to applications of the phone are work related (although there are several game applications available). Nokia state that they are “Connecting People” as its logo, while Vodafone asks, “How are you?” in a recent television advertising campaign. Vodafone and Motorola market a “Teenage Phone” with special text message features, the ability to “personalize” the phone with choices of visual displays, ring tones and colour cases. France Telecom has started marketing a prepaid cell-phone service designed for 7- and 8-year-old children (4). It is clear from these few examples that mobile phones are marketed toward the young and the employed, resulting in an accommodation of the artefact throughout the community. In all the advertising and information examined for this essay the elderly were completely unrepresented.

Mobile phones are of course a commodity and therefore the deciding factor of legitimate ownership is money. This point raises an aspect of deviancy in regard to mobile phones, that of mobile phone theft. Judging by media coverage and even a parliamentary debate in Britain, this is deemed a growing problem particularly in London, where people are being “Connected” in an entirely different setting to that initially thought of by the Nokia Corporation. Quoting from the letters section of The Guardian, a girl who is dealing with the realities of mobile phone ownership in an area of poverty writes: “Over the past year or so, I've had two phones stolen, or "jacked" and I've been threatened with a knife countless times. Someone tries to jack me probably every week……….. I would never walk down the road playing with my phone. It shows you have something worth stealing…” (5). The present situation in Sweden is somewhat different with mobile phone ownership running considerably higher among teenagers than in Britain.

Cultural researchers in central Gothenburg conducted their study on phone sharing based on observations conducted in cafes and on public transport. The research assessed how teenagers use their mobile phones, and the surprising result was that many groups of friends share phones, even if they have phones of their own on their person (6). The subjects involved in the study had no reservations about displaying their phones in public, even going so far as leaving them unattended on cafe tables for short periods of time. With the Scandinavian countries having the highest percentage of mobile phone users among youth in the world, perhaps the impact (novelty, desiring, curiosity) of a mobile phone is considerably less. A final interesting point regarding users of mobile phones is the high degree of uptake by females. It has been stated that: “numerous studies show that technology is associated with masculinity” (7). However, mobile phones are an area of technology where women are equal if not above males in usage.

It is clear that many believe themselves to be “Connected” when owning or using a mobile phone. The idea of being “off-line” was viewed with great negativity in the Gothenburg study, hence the loaning of phones within the groups of friends to remain “Connected”. However, when the issues of mediation or representation are included in the equation then the exact nature of “Connecting” is not as clear as Nokia would have consumers believe. The “Tracking” element of mobile phones for example, where users can be positioned moving toward and away from appointments by a phone call inquiry (in essence the meeting is beginning or continuing or is it?). With this mediated communication taking an expanding role in daily life, the eventual necessity of being connected 24 hours a day 7 days a week becomes realisable. “Business” has the possibility of spilling out from the “Office” and into “Leisure”, connected by the invisible lines of microwave communication, and therefore defined by it.

1. Mobile Phones, WAP and the Internet- The European Market and Usage
Rates in a Global Perspective; 2000-2003 [SUMMARY] by Carl H. Marcussen, Senior Researcher, PhD, Centre for Regional and Tourism Research,, Denmark

2. Consumption As Knowledge Production –Narrating the Use of the Communicator
Päivi Eriksson ( and Johanna Moisander (
Helsinki School of Economics


4. Business Week Online July 12 1999 Issue. At:

5. Guardian Unlimited Homepage Special reports “Be Prepared and Be Polite”

6. Local Use and Sharing of Phones A. Weilenmann & C. Larson. In B Brown, N Green & R. Harper (Eds.) Wireless World: Social and Interact ional Aspects of the Mobile Age. Godalming and Heidelberg: Springer Verlag pp 99-115

7. Eriksson & Moisander p5

Further Bibliography:

Vaneigem R. The Revolution of Everyday Life Being a translation of TRAITÉ DE SAVOIR-VIVRE Á L’USAGE DES JEUNES GÉNÉRATIONS by John Fullerton and Paul Sieveking 1972 anti-copyright 1998

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Last Platonic Conversationalists

"who talked continuously seventy hours from park to
pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brooklyn Bridge,
a lost battalion of platonic conversationalists
jumping down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills off Empire State out of the moon" 
- Howl by Alan Ginsberg (1956)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Inside Assassin's Creed III

Part One

Documentary on the making of Assassin's Creed II, due for release 31st October 2012. I find the technology, historical revision ("the founding fathers were bad assess") and the visual spectacle totally fascinating. I look forward to this game very much.

The second episode in this four part series focuses on the combat, weapons and tactics of Assassin's Creed III. Discover the brutal realities of warfare during the American Revolution and find out why the guerilla tactics used by the Americans would turn the tides of war. Finally, uncover the real world inspiration and gameplay innovation behind Connor's all-new weaponry and combat system.

Part Three is a developer diary for Assassin's Creed III, which focuses on the hero behind the war.

This new dev diary video named "America, by Land and Sea" showcases environments, weather system, crowd and animal AI.

Advice for Students and Creatives

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Thesis Extract - Reader Agency in the Authorial Prefaces

In the prefaces, a depth model of the digital texts attempts to maintain surfaces as the site of reading. This depth model is expressed in images such as a “floating depth framework” (DreamaphageELO). The movement and change suggested by floatation, the distance that comes with depth, and the guidance that is part of any framework summarizes the function of the authorial prefaces in relation to the work. The reader is placed in a dynamic and exploratory relationship to the work, one that is architectural, while at the same time presenting an image from the author’s perspective. In architectural terms, depth is an intrinsic part of the representation of space in the prefaces, particularly because of how it implies movement. The prefatorial portrayal of depth is an attempt to monitor how the “Digital work has the capacity to explore space as a potentially semantic element and to engage with depth and surface in a more explicit and complex way” (Schaffer and Roberts 40). Due to the combined semiotic and spatial nature of the works, which are expressed in both depth and surface composition, a potential gap is filled in analysis. Depth is mainly dealt with in the prefaces in a way that maintains surfaces by referencing architecture.
In the prefaces, reader agency is most often qualified as feedback via the linking and navigational structures in the works. Agency as it is described in the prefaces can be thought of as the reader experiencing “the satisfying power to take meaningful action and seeing the results of our choices” (Murray 2000 126). Implicit in Murray’s conception of agency is a linear system of time, which results in reader feedback over a fairly short intervening period, coupled with a reliance on a clear relationship between cause and effect. Ryan states the use of feedback loops in digital narrative “enables the text to modify itself, so that the reader will encounter different sequences of signs during different reading sessions” (Ryan 2001 206). In contemporary digital works simulations have joined signs, where readers negotiate spaces resembling real places, as they venture deeper into narrative structures. In my close reading of the authorial prefaces for how reader agency is portrayed the concept of reader agency is actually depicted as compliance with the design and address of the texts. This compliance is articulated via tropes grounded in the spatial and narrative elements of the works.
According to the “Behind the Façade” authorial preface, Façade offers the reader a “global agency that is a real influence on the overall story arc, over which topics get brought up, how the characters feel about the player over time and how the story ends” (Mateas and Sterne “Behind the Façade” 2). How the characters may “feel about the player over time” introduces the narrative component of interactive character emotions into the metanarrative of the preface. It is by understanding how the emotions of the characters function in narrative that the reader can have “a real influence” over narrative development. This understanding is based on a feedback-controlled system of response-inviting structures in the work, which are outlined in the preface. How “topics get brought up” refers to the control of procedurality in the narrative of the works, something that is also described in the preface with the use of narrative elements. The use of narrative elements to explain the works reinforces the idea that agency is reader compliance with the design and narrative structures of the digital works. In this way the authorial prefaceBehind The Façade” is based on the premise that agency is a matter of depth, determined by “what’s going on inside the artificial intelligence (AI) of the characters” of Façade (“Behind the Façade” 1).  Agency, as I shall demonstrate through this study in my close readings, is acquired with depth in relation to reading.
         The authorial prefaces remediate print, in the form of the prefaces themselves and the language they use, whereby reading practices from the age of print are established in relation to the digital works. This backwards glance sets up the readings of the works as I describe in this chapter, as surface based, with an interior and exterior through which the reader moves as part of interpretation. The complexity of reading in this arrangement, with surfaces as the primary site but with multiple directions towards an imagined interior, develops Ryan’s argument that “the reader produced by the electronic reading machine will therefore be more inclined to graze [sic] at the surface of the texts than to immerse herself in a textual world or to probe the mind of an author,” (Ryan 1999 99). In the prefaces of this present study the reader is directed, even compelled to move both temporally and spatially towards an interior in the works, as narrative progression depends upon it. However, my analysis shows that the surfaces control immersion in a textual world, based on the power of navigation to hold attention. The establishment of a progression towards an interior in narrative is assisted by remediation in the prefaces, whereby a clear temporal and spatial path can be established; based on goals, quests and architecture, as they are didactically described in print.
In the prefaces remediation exists primarily in references to print. The preface is itself a grafting from print media, and was used for centuries to introduce the printed text to the reader (See de Zepetnek 5-10). The printed preface traditionally “informs the reader of such facts the author thinks pertinent” in regard to its subject text (Holman quoted in de Zepetnek 12). Writing is the sole medium of expression in the authorial prefaces and can be considered remediation in the digital context.[1] The remediation of writing in the digital, as a feature of print, is “the representation of one medium in another” (Bolter and Grusin 44). Along with the adapted form, print is remediated in the prefaces according to what Bolter and Grusin describe as “the mediation of mediation” (56). The “mediation of mediation” is based on the fact that the prefaces mediate the texts objectively, which combines with the subjectivity of the reader to formulate an understanding of the works where “there is nothing prior to or outside the act of mediation” (58). The authorial prefaces are a ‘mediation of mediation,’ both in how they use descriptive rhetoric adapted from print media to explain reading and in the material forms they take. The attribution to a single author, the references to original and copies, to pages and titles are further examples of the remediation of print by the authorial prefaces. Using the referent of print media, the prefaces define the digital work a priori to the reader finding it, and the reader must assimilate these definitions if she is to gain significant agency in reading.

Works Cited

Bolter, J. and Richard Grusin. Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999.

Nelson, Jason. “Dreamaphage” Electronic Literature Collection Vol. 1. N. Katherine Hayles, Nick Montfort, Scott Rettberg, Stephanie Strickland (Eds.) October 2006 Accessed 16 July 2011.

Mateas, Michael. & Andrew Sterne. Behind the Façade. Atlanta: Procedural Arts, 2005.

Murray, H. Janet. Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. 1997. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000.

Ryan, Marie-Laure.  Narrative as Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2001.

Schaffner, Anna Katharina, Andrew Michael Roberts. “Rhetorics of Surface and Depth in Digital Poetry”. Revue des Littératures de l’Union Européenne (RiLUnE), n. 5, 2006, p. 37-48.

de Zepetnek, Stevem Tötösy. The Social Dimensions of Fiction: On the Rhetoric and Function of Prefacing Novels in the Nineteenth-Century Canadas. Braunschweig: Vieweg Publishing, 1993.

[1] As I have mentioned in the previous chapter, the reliance on writing contrasts the multimodality of the preface’s subject texts, which includes the remediation of video, designed spaces and audio.