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When I watch this commercial, two things stand out to me:

FIRST, I feel that this commercial illustrates the clashes between the Mods, Rockers, and their respective images.

SECOND, the way the yellow motorcycle “Karizma” is presented – it seems to have its own mind and will. It seems alive.

When I say this, I am referring to the scene after the attack – after the yellow motorcycle’s name and image are attacked and muddied.

After the attack, the yellow motorcycle comes to life. He hunts down his opponents, and smears the very mud thrown on his body onto them, the ones who have defamed have had their defamations returned to them; the ones who have ridiculed are themselves ridiculed.

Why do I feel this motorcycle has come to life? The close-up shot of the yellow motorcycle at the beginning, the top-down view of the attack, the flinging of the mud – it is almost as if the motorcycle is gathering the mud and aiming at and hitting his enemies calculatedly – mud would not fall off of a moving vehicle with such precision. Maybe it is because the camera focuses so much on the yellow motorcycle, almost as if it is a person itself.

Alien design Documentary (part 1), 2:47 minutes

I found this video clip interesting, because it presented multiple interpretations of the Alien’s gender by the people responsible for the creation of the Alien movie – the artist who envisioned the Alien, the director of the film, actors, writers, and technical personnel.

I found it interesting that the artist’s interpretation of the Alien’s gender was so strikingly different from the others. Whereas most people attempted to place gender on the Alien, the artist saw it as “genderless”.

Warning: strong language and frightening images

In Lowgren’s paper “Articulating the Use Qualities of Digital Designs”, he talked about the use quality “identity”, cell phone skins, and the “desire to project just the right image”, but what about a design that has an identity inside of it, a design that has the power to transform its user… rather than projecting an image, the design would have the power to influence how the user acts, behaves, and subjectively feels, it would in a sense transform their identity.

So instead of projecting just the right image or identity, I’m curious to see if it’s possible to design something in such a way that just by interacting with it the person changes how they act or behave.

Here is how I think I might go about designing such a thing. For this example, I will attempt to design a cell phone that has contained within it the general characteristics of the alpha-male identity.

First, I need to clearly define some general characteristics of the alpha-male:

- Bigger, visually arresting appearance

- Enjoys themselves and the moment

- Moves slowly as if in control of time itself

- Focuses on the world around them in a relaxed manner

- Are in control of themselves

- Able to take control of a situation and resolve it

- Strong, martial, skilled, intelligent, and a leader

- Their unfailing strength restores the strength of all

Next, I need to take these general characteristics and transfer them into a cell phone. Here are some considerations to take into account when designing the “alpha-male” cell phone.

- A little bigger (to help it stand out and appear stronger)

- A little heavier (to give it a feel of strength and control, and also to cause the user to move more slowly when they hold the phone and bring it up to their ears)

- A little more solid (once again to create a sense of durability, strength, and immovability)

- It has a visually arresting appearance (to give the phone a look of leadership and make it stand out)

- Is both soft and hard; its softness/hardness comes from being relaxed unto a powerful frame that possesses a beautiful gravity (to make the cell phone appear steady, powerful, and trustworthy)

- Its ring tone is deep, resonates, and is unhurried (this will push the user to interact with the phone in the manner of the alpha-male, when they go to answer the phone, they shouldn’t be in a hurry to do so, but rather they should answer the phone in a slow, aware, and controlled way similar to how an alpha-male would)

In this example, I wanted to design a phone that has an identity contained within it When the user interacts with that phone, that identity will “seep” into them and transform the way the user acts and appears, so that they gradually in time begin to resemble that object’s identity – in this case the identity of the alpha-male.

In class we were asked to pick a concept from Lowgren’s paper “Articulating the Use Qualities of Digital Designs” and find an interaction example of it.

I chose seductivity and to illustrate it – Scribblenauts.

What parts of Scribblenauts are seductive?

- the name, the ending “-nauts” reminds me of Jason and the Argonauts, which reminds me of epic adventures and mythical beings

- for me, the most seductive thing is the ability to summon forth any being into existence. So all you have to do is think of something, write it, and then see if it appears

- or if you’re extra-curious get out a dictionary, start at the letter “A” and see how many things (nouns) you can summon into existence

- once you’ve summoned these things into existence you can either interact with them, or have them interact with each other, either to complete some goal, or just to see what happens. Who will win in a fight between a T-rex and a “train of pandas riding on a bicycle”? Can your bazooka destroy a bunch of bottles (yes it can)? What about a kangaroo with a fishing rod tied to his body, it’s up to you to find out

- its seductivity power is so strong that people will take the time to write or press each tiny, individual letter just to see what happens

- it’s seductive because it fulfills curiosity gradually, each time you satiate one curiosity (like seeing a Kraken) then you’ll be curious to see what else you can summon or bring forth

- it creates an emotional response of curiosity and excitement as well as disbelief at the spectacle that is unfolding

People have ideas about how things behave and what those things are, this game allows you to explore how these entities and objects will behave in different contexts. It lets you explore your mental models of what something is. For example, how strong is a Kraken? Is a Kraken stronger than Godzilla? Is Godzilla stronger than Death?

The class challenge: Is there some object that is so foreign that we cannot find a “way in”? Is there ever a place where we don’t have horizons?

Conclusion on 10/28/10: It is impossible to have no horizons; we always have some relation to something; our horizons help us interpret an object; there is always a way in to something

Imagine this is true … that within your head is “some bit of knowledge” that can help you relate to some object, no matter how strange or foreign that object appears.

So here’s the visual culture object I’d like you to relate to: a film clip from The Lost Weekend. I have heard some recovering alcoholics say that this is a realistic portrayal of what it’s like to be an alcoholic; this is an example of an alcoholic’s alcoholic.

But, and here is where it gets interesting to me: I have heard some Alcohol & Drug counselors argue that you can’t counsel or help an alcoholic unless you’ve been one … so they would disagree with Gadamer; they would say there is no way in to the life-world of an alcoholic unless you’ve been one and been through it. Watching a film, reading a book, observing, talking with an alcoholic, won’t work — to understand an alcoholic’s life-world you must have lived it.

So, I’m wondering, is it possible for a non-alcoholic to find a way in to the world of an alcoholic? What might a non-alcoholic say to convince an Alcohol & Drug counselor that they could understand the life-world of an alcoholic?

I’m not sure if what I’m asking and wondering is related to Gadamer exactly, but I do know that there are many films and objects that attempt to give viewers a glimpse into the life-worlds of others. I guess I’m still not convinced that there is always a way in to everything.

Here’s the film clip:

I’m going to apply Gadamerian theory of life-world as a means of understanding an interaction with a digital artifact from the user perspective.

I define life-world as: the world as experienced by someone in a particular time and place.

So I need to take into consideration how someone’s life-world shapes their ability to understand an artifact.

As an example of an interaction, I played a Nintendo game called Ninja Gaiden. As I was going through the process of trying to understand the game world, its rules, and the meaning of its symbols, I encountered a “great” difficulty – a wall.

I was unable to jump over the wall, and whenever I tried to jump my little ninja character would become stuck on the side of the wall. When I first saw him on the wall, I thought he was trying to climb the wall, like I would climb a ladder in my world. And when I tried to move him up or down, he was totally immobile, eventually the timer would run out and it would be game-over.

After “many” failed attempts of trying to get him off the wall, I eventually thought to myself “if I were climbing a wall in my world how would I get down from the wall”? After thinking this, I was able to translate immediately my experience of climbing into the game world, and then I intuitively knew which button combination to press to get down from the wall.

After this, I realized that in the little ninja character’s reality, he was not trying to climb the wall like I first thought, but rather he was doing ninja tricks; he was trying to jump from wall to wall, like a squirrel leaping from tree to tree.

Is this an example of “fusing” my life-world with the life-world of the ninja gaiden?

How does the individual interpret a “remake”?

The images below are of handrails. A common object seen alongside many stairwells and inclines, a common object that I use everyday. But the below handrails are different from what I have come to expect as a handrail. On their top-side is text written in grade one Braille. I found this subtle change to a familiar object thought provoking.

It lets me see that a handrail can be used for something other than support. With just a slight, subtle change:

Now it’s an object that makes me remember that there are people different from me, that not every one has sight.

Now it’s an object that can convey an aesthetic experience through touch.

Now it’s an object that can communicate.

Braille handrail

Braille handrail

Braille Rail @ http://www.adornequip.co.uk/mag.htm

Image one @ http://www.adornequip.co.uk/brail1.jpg

Image two @ http://www.adornequip.co.uk/pp3536.jpg

Clive Bell says

To “appreciate a work of art we need bring with us nothing from life, no knowledge of its ideas and affairs, no familiarity with its emotions” (Barnard,p. 171)

I find it strange that the above is considered to be a weakness. To see something with no attachments or associations, to look at an object as if one had never seen it before seems instead to be a strength. If one looks upon an object and sees (not the object) but the associations that the object brings to one’s consciousness, then are all objects perceived nothing more than the summation of the individual’s associations and attachments?

And what about the object itself? If you put too much attention towards associations and attachments, then some type of reality or quality inherent to the object might be ignored or forgotten.

It seems better to look and detach from one’s mind every association, good, bad, and neutral. So that one can see the object as if they have never seen it before.

After reading the Alien paper, I felt that it interpreted the film primarily through the lens of gender. So I thought I would add an additional interpretation through the lens of race (xenophobia) and nation.

The film could be interpreted through the lens of race (xenophobia) and nation. For example, the alien is obviously something other than the humans on board the ship, so the fear that the humans have of the aliens’ monstrousness might be in part based on the alien’s otherness, as well as fears of colonization or miscegenation, the entering of a cultural space by an alien intruder and the transformation of that space to fit the needs and desires of that alien-other at the expense of its original inhabitants.

Within the article, they mentioned a scene where Ripley showed reluctance in allowing a potentially polluted member of their group back into the sanctity of their ship for fear of endangering the integrity of that group. This scene could also be read as a reminder that in the human world, women are often placed as being carriers and protectors of cultural values inter-generationally, so Ripley’s desire to protect the ship’s integrity was a demonstration of the desire to maintain a societal order created and determined by human motives and values, rather than one created by an alien-other. So in short, Ripley is a mother.

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