A 360° video is projected as a sphere surrounding the viewer, be it in a room with a curved screen or with the viewer wearing a Virtual Reality (VR) headset. By rotating their head, viewers can see in all directions. This type of video is typically recorded by an array of cameras attached to a pole or ball, or rendered in a 3D modeling software or game engine.
3D modeling describes the creation of virtual objects from triangular planes (faces) that each consist of three points in space (vertices). The resulting 3D model can be textured by offsetting any image on the faces, and shaded by mathematical algorithms that consider the faces angles in relation to additional virtual light sources. 3D models can be animated by moving the vertices in space. Contemporary 3D modeling software also allows for approaches like sculpting and 3D scanning.
3D printing is an additive process that makes it possible to create three-dimensional objects from thinly sliced horizontal layers of reformable material like plastics and metals. It is the opposite of subtractive processes like sculpting and carving something out. Since the materials used in 3D printing can be printed in effective structures, the objects can be extremely stable while still being almost hollow on the inside.
Some hacker spaces and shops give access to 3D printing for low prices. While plastic dreams are being printed, crude oil is consumed and increases plastic pollution.
A Cyborg Manifesto - an ironic dream of a common language for women in the integrated circuit is an essay by Donna Haraway from 1991 that proposes the concept of the cyborg as a being that rejects its origination from organism or machine alone. This cyborg strives to be a mixed entity of multiple identities, perspectives, technologies and organisms, blending the lines between perceived dichotomies like natural and artificial. The essay ends with Haraway stating that she would rather be a cyborg than a goddess.
Additivism is a portmanteau of the terms additive and activism formulated by Morehshin Allahyari and Daniel Rourke. As a practice, Additivism radically critiques the social, ecological and global implications of 3D Printing. The 3D Additivist Cookbook, a compendium of imaginative, provocative works by over 100 artists, activists and theorists, is available on additivism.org.
Alternative games, Alt Games for short, are a genre that includes games and game makers that are neither part of the highly commercial mainstream games market, nor of the partly commercialized Indie Game scene. Alt Games are often political, personal, very specific, experimental and fit in no other existing category. The Twitter account @SupportAltGames gives a deeper insight into the genre’s games.
The Anthropocene is a term discussed for the current geological epoch and derives from the words Anthropo (human) and Cene (epoch). The term emphasizes that human behaviour weights so significantly on the planet’s atmosphere and biodiversity that the preceding epoch Holocene, which lasted about 12.000 years, must be declared as over.
The term Augmented Reality, AR for short, describes a blending of both virtual and non-virtual audiovisualities. Through this intertwining, the dichotomy between VR and the so-called Real Reality can be rethought. AR enables the naming of perception spaces and mixed forms.
We suggest that Blended Spaces could, for example, support a coexistence of humans and Non-Player Characters.
An avatar is the visual representation of a user in games, virtual worlds such as Second Life, Social Media and internet forums. It’s appearance can be three-dimensional or a 2D icon. In most cases the users can choose between different suggestions or design their own avatars.
The term Big Data describes sets of data that are so large or complex that traditional processing techniques can not analyze or visualize them anymore. Often, intelligent algorithms are used to recognize patterns in the data or search for specific keywords. The values that are extracted are then used to predict future data like market developments or human behavior. Since the data sets that algorithms learn from are often small and undiverse, and algorithms can be biased by the assumptions of their programmers, the use of Big Data algorithms in surveillance and warfare is under critique.
A browser is an application running on digital devices with an Operating System. It is meant for navigating the internet by making data that is sent to the recipient’s IP address audible and visible on web pages. hyperlinks, domains and search engines enable humans to find specific data by use of language.
Cloud computing is a model that is mostly used for online data storage. Companies and individuals can rent space to store their files, making them reachable from any place with an internet connection. For example, many software companies allow their users to share texts, pictures and videos between their devices via a cloud. The storage is spread and mirrored over multiple geographical locations to minimize the risk of data loss.
Some cloud services offer raw computational power that customers can rent to outsource intensive tasks. A lot of today’s infrastructures rely heavily on the availability of cloud services, making them dependent on the internet.
By writing code, a piece of hardware or software is being told how to act. Code is traditionally written to solve spicific tasks that are either too tedious or impossible for humans to do. Code is written in programming languages. High-level programming languages like C and Java are considered easy to use for humans, being simplified and applicable in a great number of situations. Low-level programming languages provide little or no abstraction from the hardware’s own instruction set, making them efficient but hard to remember.
For us, code is a tool to create art and activist projects. It allows us to understand and disturb concepts and running programs in digitized realms. By coding we question our alliance with the machines we share our daily life with.
The principle of Do It Yourself, DIY in short, is a keyword that has been in use for at least a century. In contemporary internet culture, DIY has become a widespread term used for repairing, enhancing or creating all kinds of objects and products that are too expensive to buy, hard to access or simply non-existent.
In that regard the phenomenon can be seen as a method of democratization. Online communities debate and iterate workflows in a collective manner by vigorously sharing and discussing their ideas and projects. Some groups reject throw-away-culture by reusing its remains and undermine exclusive structures by showing each other how to live independently from governments and companies. DIY culture has been a great help for this project, too.
A game engine is a software for planning and creating digital content like games without starting from scratch. Usually, game engine provide an interface to work on either 2D or 3D environments, or both, to manage code, textures, animations and the likes. Some game engines can publish projects to a variety of platforms like mobile devices, browsers or desktop computers. They are developed by companies to be used for their own inhouse development and/or published as products, or created by communities as open source software.
When discussing interactive digital media, the conversations largely revolve around humans acting on passive objects in an environment like a Browser interface or a game. Some body sends an input, some thing returns an output. The human performer, as the sole operating individual, is put in the center of the narrative, the spot where all relevant decisions are being made.
We are asking ourselves if it’s not us, as participants of interactive digital media, that are playing, but us that are being played by the environments, the simulations, the machines that make us answer to their impulses.
Interfaces are the parts of systems that are dedicated to communication, especially between otherwise incompatible systems, for example computer and printer. They include things like buttons and levers on a washing machine, the mechanical connections for conversations between the multiple circuit boards inside digital devices and the attachment points of different programming languages.
Our attempt is to infiltrate and derange signals in the communication between systems. We further try to imagine other interfaces that allow new kinds of interactions between the dichotomized human, machine and non-human animal.
An Internet Protocol address is used to label each device connected to a network that is using the Internet Protocol. IP addresses are assigned by a hierarchy beginning at the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, over regional internet registries to Internet service providers to a local router device and finally to a user’s device. Any package sent via the internet knows the virtual locations of its sender and receiver by their respective IP addresses.
Some users prefer to hide their actual IP address from internet services to stay anonymous, for privacy, security or political reasons. This can be achieved by using a Virtual Private Network, VPN for short, which is provided as a service by online companies that channel the user’s communication through another layer of networks, hiding their actual IP address behind a constantly changing one that leads somewhere else.
Media art refers to artworks created using or in context with computer graphics, interactivity, robotics, the internet, Artificial Intelligence, games, 3D printing, DIY electronics, biotechnology, and more. Typical for media art is its ephemerality.
A Non-Player Character, generally abbreviated as an NPC in game culture, is a character that is not controlled by a human player, but algorithms. NPCs populate the environments of games and usually serve the purposes of immersion or narrative.
In our understanding, a household item like Amazon’s Alexa that is part of the Internet Of Things with access to Artificial Intelligence and Cloud Computing could be called an NPC because it is connected to various networks of power and communication while serving as an anthropomorphized tool.
A dichotomy is a common line of thought in Western culture structuring every argument into two mutually exclusive positions. By replacing the term dichotomy with perceived dichotomy, the reasonableness of the described thought pattern can be questioned. One example is that many people use the words humans and animals as opposing, while humans belong to the group of animals.
Our interest is in thinking humans, non-human animals and machines as connected entities that should all be included in politic decision making.
When rendering computer generated images, many single light rays are bounced off of 3D objects to simulate lighting in a virtual environment. The method Physically Based Rendering aims for high realism by using color, obscurance, reflectance and sub-surface scattering values of physical objects.
The philosophy of posthumanism is a reflection on being human. While the Anthropocene deals with the ecological footprint of humanity on Earth, posthumanism proposes the question of what comes after the species human.
By that, the special status of humans is challenged and the human is put amid all other animals. To this resulting Animal Ethics we want to add machines as well, so that the classical evolution line animal-human-machine becomes deprecated. Instead we imagine a reality of parallel, blended existences.
A shader is a computer program used to render images to a screen. It runs on the Graphic Processor Unity (GPU) of a computer. Unlike the Central Processing Unit (CPU), a component that basically does one thing at a time, the GPU uses parallel processing to execute a set of instructions, each carried out at the same time for every pixel on the screen. For example, every frame in a 3D game, shaders move all 2D and 3D objects to their correct position and calculate the pixel colors by accounting light, darkness and texture values.
Virtual Reality, or VR, is known as a technology that enables humans to experience virtual spaces with the help of dedicated hardware like so called VR glasses. These glasses emulate a visual signal through lenses that project imagery to the eyes and commonly a stereo audio signal to the ears.
In VR users move through 3D spaces in real time, sometimes able to interact with their surroundings. The industry portrays the medium as being extremely immersive. Hardware developers like the company Oculus, as part of Facebook, proclaim they are ‘making it possible to experience anything, anywhere, through the power of virtual reality’. What they don’t mention are exclusive hardware prices and Virtual Reality Sickness, a rejection reflex of the visual cortex to VR that causes some users nausea and headache. Virtual Reality Sickness, like motion sickness, is more likely to affect women than men, though the reasons are unknown, yet.