What do you want to make?
My final outcome would be an online digital fiction exploring the evolution of my thoughts, my experiences, and my experiments, during this academic year. The story will be developed as an experimental science-fiction narrative focused on the exploration of the outer space (space opera), metaphor of the inner space (nexialism / connectivism), with the task to enhance human progress by exploring the unknown universe.
Following the ideas of my previous project 'A text within a map, a map within a text', where the 3D navigable space represents the mind with its clusters of thoughts (related to texts, videos, music ...), and producing, on a top-level, the narrative itself (or vice-versa); I will develop a series of small experiments related to the main topic of my thesis: consciousness and software. In particular:
- how our consciousness can be explored, and pushed to its limits, from a subjective and objective point of view developing a consciousness of the self (self-consciousness) and its relation to the world.
- how software, instead of being idealized as human-like beings, helps to develop this self-consciousness by giving the possibility to explore and build worlds projecting our ideas and observing them critically.
These experiments will become phenomena of this universe. Mysterious/alien places, events and things populating the outer space and challenging the characters to find an explanation to their mystery, while questioning and trying to understanding their own existence.
How do you plan to make it?
I will build a website where the user can choose the path to follow and each page will develop a piece of a non-linear narrative. In this way the network of pages will be like a sort of game, with an underlying narrative of the exploration of outer space, representing my self-research for consciousness (consciousness of myself and the meaning of consciousness). TEvery page will be an experiment I did or relevant things I collected. The narrative will not be totally linear so the temporality of the events can be created by the user by choosing its own path. There will be different levels of depth to let always something to find and a sense of unexpected. The narrative will not have an end, the research doesn't stop, and possibly it will continue. In the future, I could expand it.
To develop the structure of the project, I'm relating concepts of media theory (cyberspace, hypermedia, mew media, metamedia, rich media) with fiction theory (game book, digital fiction, hypermedia fiction, electronic fiction).
The homepage will contain the introduction and will be the interface to access the 'narrative' from a starting point.
To move from one page to another there will be essentially links:
- internal links, in other parts of the same page
- links, to other pages of the narrative or parallel windows
- external links, to force you to escape from the narrative
The content of the pages will be:
- selected previous researches and experimentations related to this project
- hackpact experiments (30 to 50)
- documentation (multimedia)
- collection of books and articles (alternative library and reference system organized through the narrative)
- collateral/personal data
To develop the narrative of the project, I'm using expedients of science fiction, in particular of the subgenre of space opera, cyberpunk, connectivismo/nexialism. In particular, the nexialist approach underlines my interest in connecting my knowledge of different disciplines in a coherent and unified whole in the process. In this case the narrative itself. I will also use parts of texts from other authors and eventually editing them to fit with the experiment of the page.
The narrative will have different levels of reading:
- inside the window (explicit text)
- inside parallel windows (pop-ups...)
- inside the code (HTML, CSS, JS)
- external media
- hidden or encrypted messages
The narrative will be non-linear, with different isolated or chained events, forming a network of pages where the user will choose his own path. This will help to identify oneself in the task of exploring a world while giving a sense of control and free will. The narrative will also be experimental, mixing different techniques and sometime being more close to poetry.
Characters and point of views:
- narrator (captain's log) > overview of the situation (objective pov)
Captain's Log, stardate 2263.2.
I shouldn't have gone so far from the X system. The controls are malfunctioning, my research for meaning is pushing me at the edges of the known universe. This part of the space is cold and inhospitable, the stars are less shiny than ever. I have to decide if to continue in this direction or explore another galaxy, but now I can't go back anymore to my home planet. Not without an answer.
- alien phenomenon > question/mystery to solve
- assistant (engineer, doctor, ship's AI) > hypothesis and explanations (technical pov)
- captain's thoughts > additional and final thoughts (subjective pov)
- others > free thought and details (personal pov)
The story talks about a spaceship and its crew exploring outer space with the task of extending human understanding of the universe. To do so, the captain will push its starship at the limit of the known universe to explore the unknown.
There will be from 30 to 50 small projects plus collateral content. The experiments can be unfinished or just a sketch, reflecting my struggle to understand what/why I'm doing it and the necessity to change the path if not strong enough. The experiments will touch different parts of this discourse following my personal evolution and my personal understanding of them. Every experiment will have it's own interface/interaction/media (indeed they could be similar sometimes) and it can be developed in several pages.
Right now I have:
- hackpact 0 > experiment to visualize all the parts of software together
- hackpact 1 > explorations of software as agents (early AI)+ how to visualize software
- 1.1 > clippy | it could be a kind of virus infecting the AI system of the ship
- 1.2 > ELIZA | it could be used as the AI system of the ship or an alien/robot encounter
- 1.3 > Git Stalker | research to catalog the different entities encountered
- hackpact 2 > liminal space between the code and its visualization + others
- 2.1 Unspatial spaces | at the limit of the universe beyond the concept of space
- 2.2 DOM Annihilator | like a black hole or something like that
- 2.3 Infinite spaces | empty zones of the universe
- 2.4 Auto Scrolling | a kind of technology to increase the way to get knowledge but with side effects
- 2.5 Tag's Highlighter | a technology to detect the invisible matter
I'm working on:
- induced/simulated altered state of consciousness (ASC) (rubber hand / ganzfeld / dream machine / mirror synesthesia...) & neuropsychological syndromes (anosognosia, anodisphoria / schizophrenia / alien hand syndrome / DID / identity disorder / ego death...)
- brain-machine interaction (BMI)
- text in the browser
- flow state? (Hackpact 3.4 Auto Scrolling)
What is your timetable?
- November - December > finish experiments in progress + start narrative and website
- January > develop new experiments and start to embed them in the website
- February > work on the website and narrative with the collected material
- March > general check of the progress
Why do you want to make it?
There are several layers of interests that I have in develop this project:
- I think that the new researches on consciousness are essential in our new century and they will lead to a shift in the scientific method and our perception of the world. It is essential to explore how a new method of analysis can be addressed by designers and artists while opening up the topic to a large public. This new method contains a strong emphasis on the subjective experience highlighting the difficulty of this exploration and the difficulty of making public for it because of its subjective approach that doesn't allow a shallow interest.
- This is important to me, myself. I don't see the project as the end of a research or something I'm doing as a final product. My research is a process and the project a crystallization in time of ideas that I'm collecting during my life. It helps me (and by doing this, it is essential) to observe my thoughts from outside, projecting them in a coherent whole (not necessarily finished), helping me to understand myself better.
- The science fiction narrative expresses perfectly my interest in mixing a scientific approach with a creative one. Plus I love science fiction and I wanted to take the challenge of try to write one. Also, using the open-system of the outer space as a network of pages in the web, resonate with the fact that the web itself is a network representing this outer-space (inner-space), which is a place of encounters with other forms of consciousness who design and communicate in this 'universe'.
Who can help you and how
- Michael & Andre > technical skills for the interactions
- Aymeric & Steve > coherence with the narrative (gameplay)
- Amy & Clara > organization and suggestions
- Aymeric & Steve > writing and overall story
- Amy & Clara > writing and overall story
- Florian > connections with a larger context
- Amy & Clara > coherence with the narrative
- Michael & Andre > technical skills
- Florian > connections with a larger context
Relation to previous practice
The dot (I will add a link):
In this project, I was researching the meaning of form and space from a phenomenological point of view. In general, I was trying to push the concept of form and space to their limits to understand their essence and build a system which represents the beginning of vision (a white square with a small dot in the center) and then study all the possibility of the dot in the space.
The relation with this new project are various:
- vision > Because of my background in graphic design, I've been always interested in how we see things from a scientifical and theoretical (psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, phenomenology, basic design) point of view.
- form > the form is something visual that appears to us through our visual cortex. How do we deal with form and perception? Which is the relation between form and matter? To a certain extent perceiving form determines our subject-object relation with the world.
- space > When you push a form outside of the visual field it becomes small and it disappears. The dot represent the passage from space to form. But the way in which perceive space is always bounded to our perception, which is limited. This means that actually, the space that we can perceive is always limited and so the visual space and form can be intended as the same thing: space/form.
- infinite space > This new project in a way is focused on the idea that beyond the limitation of the space that we can perceive (space/form), the human being has the possibility (or illusion) to think about an infinite space. Our thought is capable to create a visual inner world (connected to imagination and creativity but also to visuospatial sketchpad). This idea still pushes me to explore the limit of what we can think and imagine, and I'm applying it in this new project where actually I'm also trying to explore the concept of space.
- methodology > I was writing a theory that automatically was creating something visual. This relation between different levels of meaning (text/static image/moving image/interaction) is still a central point in my approach to understand concepts and vision.
- color theory and gestalt > the problems related to the color and the gestalt is the beginning both in science and art of a new understanding of vision and therefore the world and ourselves. This because, if the color has an essentially subjective nature (helmholtz (beggining of psychology)), the gestalt unfiorm the subjective experience in an innate capability of our vision to search for unity. I'm still researching this relation between subjective/objective and genetic or innate.
Wittgenstein's Tractatus (I will add a link):
I've always been interested in logic and I guess this is an essential skill to have a scientific approach to research concept and think. Furthermore, I was exploring the relationship between a text as a book and a text as a digital file and how the flexibility of the digital text allows fruition in its logical structure.
Creative coding (I will add a link):
These small experiments put together coding, vision, and creativity in an interactive game approach without any interest in explaining something. If there is the same idea of the game approach, on the other hand the discourse between coding and visualization is essential for this new project too.
NWO (never realized):
In this project, I wanted to enhance the use of coding in a creative way allowing people to create their own web pages (with whatever content). The essential thing was that each page must have a link so all the pages can be connected in a sort of labyrinth where you are immersed, playing games and exploring codes as in flux. All these elements are now part of my new project.
Special Issue #7 Iris:
In this special issue, we were using a science-fiction narrative. Not totally explicit but definitely part of the project.
Special Issue #8 'A text within a map, a map within a text':
The 3D navigable space represents the mind with its clusters of thoughts (related to texts, videos, music ...), and producing, on a top-level, the narrative itself (or vice-versa);
Special Issue #9 The Library is open:
The exploration of libraries is still essential to my approach as this new project will also contain a library which can be fruited through the narrative as a compendium to my research.
Relation to a larger context
- Various projects of Jodi
- Jason Nelson - Dreamphage
- Connettivismo (Italian science-fiction subgenre)
- Ted Nelson - project Xanadu
- Greg Egan
- Gray Mail