Teaching this semester involves a welcome return to DIGC330 Digital Asia and the most satisfying collaborative blog I’ve been fortunate to be a part of in my teaching experience. The subject is very much directed by the students own interests, both personal and professional, and the results are unpredictable and revealing of the way that we are capable of coming to an understanding of cultures that are not our own.
Two colleagues from the University of Wollongong Library, Michael Organ and Rebecca Daly, will be presenting our peer-reviewed paper on the virtual Yellow House pilot project at the VALA2016 conference this week in Melbourne. Owen Godfrey (@Cider3dPrinter) put together these two short videos to give a quick demonstration of the simulation and how it looks on screen and in the Oculus Rift.
Persona Studies: Call for papers, Volume 2, Issue 1: Open Call
In this open call, we invite submissions on any aspect of persona, but are particularly interested in empirical research or creative practice. Creative works and traditional article submissions could address (but are not limited to) persona in: Politics Television, film, radio Games Social media Subculture Celebrity Feminism Youth Professions and Mobile media.
For both creative and critical works, please submit a 250-300 word abstract or proposal to firstname.lastname@example.org by 1 December 2015.
Artists/authors will be notified of initial acceptance by December 14th. Please note that official acceptance of the work is contingent upon peer review.
Full papers (5,000-8,000 words) and projects are due 5 February 2016. For creative submissions where peer review or critical response is not desired, a full submission will be required by 1 April 2016.
Please advise in your initial proposal if you would like a creative arts review.
Australia is a stagnant nation, politically, socially, technologically and intellectually and it is really OK to admit this. We have great ideas, great talent, and an amazing environment that our creatives, experts, innovators and risk-takers have to leave in order to be successful more often than they should and more often that is healthy for those of us who remain. Our political ‘leaders’ on all sides have failed to understand, plan and build for this, and we need only look to the NBN for evidence; a world class national broadband network that would propel our little creative nation into the future was abandoned, settling for
second sixteenth sixty fourth best because it’s too expensive, too hard, too politically messy to do better.
Wollongong is a city with a great deal of potential and the University of Wollongong is a university of students, academics and professional staff who all punch well above their budgets. I will excuse that mangled fighting cliche by doubling down on it and suggesting that ‘we’ are not prepared, as Ronda Rousey says (UFC women’s champion visiting Australia this week), to be a ‘do-nothing-bitch’. I’m obviously stepping out of the gender politics of that statement in order to appropriate the core elements of Rousey’s straightforward philosophy here to argue that we are not going to sit back and let others take care of our future and the challenges that will we face. We are not going to do nothing, but what are we going to do?
This is a crucial question for students graduating this year, and the next, and the year after. The only consistency we are going to face in the future is massive change and to be prepared for that means taking charge, forming networks, and solving problems. This includes divesting ourselves of the idea that the fields, industries and businesses that students anticipate working in, and being employed in, will be as stable (or present) as they were in the past. This is already the case for the students in Media and Communication and Journalism degrees, witnessing firsthand the transformation of journalism, and is only a matter of time for others in the Creative Arts, Health, Science, Law, Engineering, and so on. Even if the disruption isn’t as massive, it will still require an appropriate response. Failure to change and adapt is failure (see our previous PM). The result is that we need to take student entrepreneurship seriously. Entrepreneurship isn’t something to aspire to following an undergraduate degree, it’s something that needs to become fundamental to what undergraduates, at least in the Creative Industries, must be aware of, embrace and experiment with.
This was my reaction following my first experience of Creative3, the QUT Creative Enterprise Australia annual forum, in Brisbane this week. Celebrating ideas and innovation, the line-up of entrepreneurs was exciting, passionate and creative yet almost entirely lacking in real radical thinking. There were very impressive success stories in business, retail, marketing, social media and new product dimensions; like the Shoes of Prey’s online shopping returning to bricks and mortar stores with their design-a-shoe product service; QxBranch’s quantum analytics of rocket science; and Bonza’s approach to user generated culture; but all of these are applications are iterations of innovations that originate elsewhere, and are perhaps most notable for their ability to attract investors (this is not a bad thing). As a side note it was interesting to hear of Brisbane’s last major game studio, Halfbrick, becoming a YouTube content producer, as their game ‘designers’ are let go following the department of Fruit Ninja’s primary developer Luke Muscat. Maybe games companies do need to stop thinking of themselves as content creators in only one medium, but that is not an excuse to endlessly recycle ideas and turn every game success into a animated YouTube series. Perhaps I am a little jealous that QUT students will get to potentially contribute content with Halfbrick retaining editorial control, and presumably the donated copyrights, but as one attendee noted with concern, that if the student’s work goes unpaid when it supports a revenue stream, then that is a textbook case of exploitation.
The most impressive presentation for me was Thea Baumann, the creative technologist and CEO of Metaverse Makeovers, and the augmented reality product Metaverse Nails, which uses QR codes and AR technology to produce interactive adhesive nails, which are pure cyberglam. What sounds like a gimmick is a triumph of 2D (if nail surfaces can be thought of as a flat dimension) and 3D design, app design and manufacturing. Metaverse Nails are a glimpse into the future of a world enhanced by virtual and augmented realities, but Thea’s presentation gave me that real mind blown feeling as she recounted the challenges in taking her ideas to Japan and China. She reminded us that while everyday Chinese internet users might be able to move around the firewall, this is not the case for businesses, particularly those working internationally. Perhaps most the powerful challenge to the Australian innovation ecology was the acceptance of China as a copycat culture and the need to let go of intellectual property concerns when trying to compete in the amazing technoculture of shanzhai, in which copyright and intellectual property means nothing and risk, speed, creativity, innovation, and expertise is everything. I’m also very fond of the Metaverse Nails as unsuccessful crowdfunded project, having first hand. experience of the intensive demands and extensive peer-to-peer networking involved in that model of investment.
Entrepreneurship isn’t just about business, investment and selling products, services and ideas, or at least we can’t keep imagining it to be so. Take the fictional lemonade stand that is often the case study, it’s not that we need to make the ‘ultimate lemonade experience’, as affective marketing trends and agencies might suggest, but rather we need to cut through the jargon, the trending patterns, the bad data visualisation and the elitism of investment culture, to make entrepreneurial options possible for students as effective and long lasting career choices. Business, investment and entrepreneurial culture, like political culture, is yet to properly address the problems facing us a nation, let alone a globe, and it is yet to stop treating sustainability as a buzzword. Dealing with climate change isn’t going to be a marketable ‘experience’, it’s going to be painful, and it’s going to require risk.
What business and innovation culture can teach us is not to fear failure. Failure is the engine of innovation, and it was very reassuring to hear this message repeated throughout the event, perhaps most notably by CSIRO ‘strategy’ scientist Stefan Hajkowicz (@stefanhajkowicz) as the most necessary element of creative innovation, whether it be the next great product or marketing idea or whether it be in addressing the real challenges that entrepreneurs need to contribute to tackling from climate change, aging and over populations, to microbial drug-resistance, ocean acidity, disruptive technologies and refugee support. With the future of steel in real doubt in the Illawarra, the question is not what jobs graduates will be eligible for in the future, but what careers, products, and services will they create to employ, retrain, and support and how to best insure a successful strategies in funding, investment and innovation to meet these needs. We need more innovators like Shen Narayanasamy.
I didn’t discover that the ‘original’ Godzilla, which I knew as a child was actually a remake for US audiences of the original 1954 Gojira, until quite recently. It is minor ‘epiphany’ of sorts that serves as my starting point for the seminars in DIGC 330 Digital Asia this week. Following on from the lecture on field studies, ethnography and the autoethnographic research method that we will be using to investigate the production and consumption of ‘asian’ media in an Australian context this session, I introduced two student seminar groups to two very different texts that have informed my media ‘experience’ of Japan and Japanese culture. The first group got to experience Godzilla, while the second were treated to Ghost in the Shell.
Autoethnography is not a research method that is commonly encountered by undergraduate students in the Bachelor of Media and Communication Studies and there is often a degree of hesitancy and confusion regarding ethnography, let alone accepting the idea of allowing the researcher to directly and overtly account for their own subjectivity through autoethnographic narrative in their analytical, critical and cultural research. The following is meant to serve as a guide for students still wrestling with the concepts, and is a simple start towards some autoethnographic observations on the experience.
My first encounter with Godzilla was a chance discovery made while flipping TV channels on a school holiday afternoon, when I was 8 or 9. The cultural shock and sheer strangeness of the movie was confronting and intoxicating; the characters, plot, structure, and the monster were like nothing I’d encountered previously. Finding the movie well into its run time and heavily punctuated with advertising, it was a difficult text to make sense of, but a season of lazy afternoon monster movies, science fiction classics, and black and white war movies had prepared me to make a kind of meaning out of the movie that went well beyond interest in the obviously rubber suited monster.
The extensive use of practical and special effects, cemented a deep and lifelong interest in cinema’s use of models and perspective, and the scenes of various Japenese people and cities would later feed into an obsession with Blade Runner. Rewatching the movie now three decades on from my first viewing I am remembering those early lessons, including the importance of Japan’s fishing industry, that fear and terror of the unknown were universal, and that despite clearly delineated social, political and cultural roles, gender relations are a predictable force in practically any narrative. Growing up on a diet of science fiction themed politics of 1970s Doctor Who, I’m confident that I registered that Godzilla was a critique of unrestrained scientific inquiry and the propensity for humanity to turn amazing discoveries into terrifying weapons.
Encountering Godzilla anew this week in the context of the subject, I’m curious as to what the students will make of the text. As @jawgbear noted we are watching 70 years on from Hiroshima bombing, more than 50 since the movie’s first release, and only four years on from the nuclear disaster at Fukushima. I’m looking forward to the discussions next week to see how the students have accounted for their own experiences. I’m sure many will have encountered Godzilla in some capacity in the past and making sense of it anew will hopefully pose questions about gender roles, cultural politics and the assumptions that we bring to the text as an outside audience.
One interesting framing element I did notice this time around was an early scene making use of a map of Japan, titled with the japan sea. The island nation is pictured rotated 90 degrees on the map, so the islands play out in a long elongated horizontal stretch, bordered by the Japan sea at the ‘top’. I’m very interested in this self-presentation of a very differently visually aligned Japan, although I’m not entirely sure what to make of it, which is a clear signal that I need to do some research on this visual representation of the Japan as a nation state.
Nearly finish impmapping* the paper for the October talk on ‘Persona Autosurveillance’ over the weekend, still some missing pieces but I’m happy with the shape that is slowly coming together
* impermanent mapping – a temporary mind map of the flow of a research project
Michael Organ, Rebecca Daly, Neil Cairns from the University of Wollongong, Ted Mitew, myself and others in Graphics Design, History, Media and Politics disciplines have been collaborating on a VR project, for which we recently submitted an OLT seeding grant. Although we missed out we are intending to go forward with the project and seek the funds to develop the prototype stage.
The Yellow House pilot project will create an open access 3D, immersive and interactive virtual reality (VR) gallery based on the Sydney terrace house set up by artist Martin Sharp in the 1970s as an experimental art space.
Using Oculus Rift and similar virtual reality technologies, students and researchers will enter the virtual Yellow House gallery and engage with its historic elements. In addition, they will be able to modify their own Yellow House galley using the open data object created as part of the project.
The VR experience will serve as a virtual gallery space for experimentation and collaborative experiences between academics and students, and as a means for experiencing UOW Library’s expanding digital collections.
The Yellow House gallery will align and integrate with UOW curricula in Digital Communication and Media, and History and Design, for the purpose of readying students for the immersion of these technologies in business, academia and research environments.
This pilot project aims to build and deliver an open access, virtual 3D environment and web gallery for researchers and students to engage with University of Wollongong (UOW) Library collections focused on Australian counterculture art and publishing movements during the 1960s and 1970s.
The web portal will provide the gateway to: * the virtual reality Yellow House space; * open data files of this product for reuse, experimentation and redesign by others; and * related collections digitised by UOW Library, such as OZ and the Yellow House collection, among others.
This gallery will be an extension of existing work undertaken by the UOW Library, including the acquisition and digitisation of significant historical Australian collections, such as OZ magazine, and the recent acquisition of the important Yellow House collection of materials.
The gallery will be incorporated into the Library’s existing Digital Collections portal space, and will include the technical capability for students and other users to share their experiences and stories regarding their experiments with the open source files, thus offering students a cutting edge model in which to engage with content.
Minimal research has been done on the Yellow House art collective, to date. Looking at the development of the Yellow House over time enables moving beyond images to encapsulate what is taking place in the social and cultural movements and political discourse of the nation at that time.
This offers a range of new research possibilities into visual communication culture. The web portal will provide a space for researchers, students and the community to contribute to the body of knowledge for this period in Australian history.
//Sidenote. Written into the application, but not very well documented in the rationale, is the provision for the development of a student VR portfolio to potentially offer the student an interface between their work, discipline and degree neutral, for others to interact with and experience. This might be a virtual library, a gallery, an office or hallway, it could be a studio or open environment. Of course, much of this is speculating that commercial VR will be a success at the end of 2016, and on its ways to becoming a ubiquitous technology. The open access and open source Yellow House VR project is a means to test the potential here