I have been sent some images of the Art & Algorithms festival and am quite impressed with their set up. Gary Zabel and the other organizers have done a great job introducing the public to the potential of using virtual environments as a medium for art. As you can see in the girls face above, she is captivated by her interaction with the virtual space, despite being in a public place and being photographed. The ability to tune out competing distractions is a big challenge in creating immersion within the viewer.
Singularity of Kumiko
Singularity of Kumiko
It is a fragile state yet they have done a wonderful job in creating a space that allows the guests to become immersed in the medium. In looking at her body language we can see that she leans forward, which is a sign that she is interested or captivated by the experience (as opposed to leaning backwards which suggests rejection). We live in a world which is becoming further based on mass stimulus. Advertising is everywhere, and with the advent of "targeted" advertising, which focuses on observing our online behaviour and what not, I for one, am beginning to see an almost disconnect in some of my friends. Some of them find it near impossible to ignore an incoming text message, thanks to the Pavlovian ding they give out. Everything is competing to catch our attention. I have other friends from the "cable cutter" generation, those who have removed their TVs and simply watch the occasional thing on Netflicks, I have noticed in these a clarity in their attention. When you talk to them they focus on you, whereas, some other friends of mine who are the facebook, tv, phone addict types, they seem to be developing a need for.. god whats the word? A need for excessive stimulus? As though they have become accustomed or trained to require a bombardment of stimulus, real time updates, reward systems and so on, to maintain focus. I have friends who can't read books anymore... not enough stimulus. Anyway, so having said all this, I am encouraged to see this girl engrossed in the experience, I may be wrong but it seems to me as though the virtual space and narratives such as the Singularity of Kumiko, are experiences closer to a book in regards to using ones imagination and interaction, than to more modern forms which supply stimulus rather than allowing the viewer to create, from their imagination, the environments of the mind. So for example, a book is not really considered interactive, but isn't it? In text we are told about characters and places, then under the blankets in bed at night by the lamp, we imagine what the characters look like, their accents or grand vistas. We imagine all this based on simple text which, to me, seems more interactive than a movie which provides all the imagery, characters and even movement. Movement in that we follow the camera wherever it decides to take us, as opposed to the freedom of movement in an open ended environment such as the virtual space provides.