Digital Art and Philosophy #3

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In this original Digital Art and Philosophy class, we will become familiar with different forms of digital art and related philosophical issues. Digital art is anything related to computers and art such as using a computer to create art or an art display that is digitized. Philosophical aspects arise regarding art, identity, performance, interactivity, and the process of creation. Students may respond to the material in essay, performance, or digital art work (optional). Instructor: Melanie Swan. Syllabus: www.MelanieSwan.com/PCA

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Digital Art and Philosophy #3

  1. 1. Image: Emese SzorenyiDigital Art and Philosophy #3 Play, Performance, and Virtual Reality Melanie Swan University of the Commons and the Emerald Tablet Gallery Syllabus: http://www.MelanieSwan.com/PCA
  2. 2. Digital Art is anything involving computers and art 2
  3. 3. Sub-categories of Digital ArtInformation Visualization Virtual Reality, Gaming BioArt, Generative Art Identity, the Future 3
  4. 4. Review: Philosophy of Digital Art1. Intro to Digital Art: Interactivity gives more direct access to the perception process2. Information visualization: visual representation of abstract data – Aesthetic qualities: beauty, the sublime (vastness), mimesis (mimicry), and the uncanny (our deepest fears); differend – Digital art like conceptual art – Authenticity in art: evoke emotion and communicate experience – The Diagram: allow interactions within data before abstraction 4
  5. 5. Play and Digital Art 5
  6. 6. Play, Performance & Virtual Reality Play IRL – In Real Life AR – Augmented Reality Performance Virtual Reality: Video Games and Virtual Worlds 6
  7. 7. What is Play? “Do we play play or does play play us?” (Gadamer 1960)• Play is – Engaging in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose – A free and meaningful activity – Creating novelty from the commonplace – Linked to imagination and creativity – imagining and enacting possibilities• Ludic (ludere - Latin: to play): of or relating to play or playfulness• Claim: Play is a vital component of the social life and well-being of both children and adults• Future: societal quality of life indices: happiness, creativity, playfulness quotients 7
  8. 8. History of Play: the Apollonian and the Dionysian• Sons of Zeus – Apollo: god of the Sun, dreams, fine arts, reason [contemplation] – Dionysus (Bacchus): god of wine, agriculture, ecstasy, play [action]• Analysis of comedy and tragedy• Fusion necessary to form dramatic acts, tragedies - The Birth of Tragedy (Nietzsche, 1872)• Contrast and unification of opposites needed for highest artistic expression 8
  9. 9. History of Play• A Philosophy of Play (Luther Gulick, 1920) – “Play up! Play up! Play the game!” (1891) – “The individual is more completely revealed in play than in any one other way, and play has a greater shaping power over the character and nature of man than has any one other activity.”• Homo Ludens (Johan Huizinga, 1938) – Importance of play in culture and society – Play is necessary to generate culture (play is older than culture; animals play) – Characteristics of play: free, not ‘real-life,’ no material interest, creates order• The Philosophy of Play (Emily Ryall ed., 2013) – Education, playwork, leisure studies, applied ethics, the philosophy of sport 9
  10. 10. Workplay• History of Play in Work – Egyptian pyramid-building work gangs: team names (Friends of Khufu, Endurance, Perfection), carving and stone-hauling competitions, rewards: beer and bread1• Total Engagement: Using Games and Virtual Worlds to Change the Way People Work and Businesses Compete (Byron Reeves, 2009) – Use avatars to increase engagement and productivity – Allow points, +1 feedback, leveling up, real-time communication – Design games to address work pain points – Employ virtual currencies to set priorities and allocate resources – Collaborate in game-like environments1How Play and Games Transform the Culture of Work, An Interview with Ross Smith, American JrlPlay, Vol 5(1), Fall 2012; per www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/who-built-the-pyramids.html 10
  11. 11. Fun and Fulfillment: Monster 2.0 11
  12. 12. Behavior in General • Behaviorism (Pavlov, Skinner): stimulus and external actions not internal mental activity • (Fogg) General principles of behavior design: a simultaneous sense of – Sufficient motivation – Ability to perform the behavior – Trigger • Permissibility of playFogg BJ. A Behavior Model for Persuasive Design. Persuasive Technology Lab, Stanford University. 2009.http://bjfogg.com/fbm_files/page4_1.pdf 12
  13. 13. Ethics and Ethical Models• Act-based (right act with right motive) – Categorical Imperative (always right/wrong) (Kant) – Utilitarianism (outcome maximization) and Consequentialism (end justifies means) (Bentham, Mill, Sidgwick)• Agent-based – Virtue ethics: role of character (Aristotle, Aquinas) – Dispositionism: individual traits can be used to predict and explain behavior• Situation, context, and ecosystem-based – Situationism: social context creates potent forces producing or constraining behavior (1968) – Ethics of care (Carol Gilligan): morality arises from experiences of empathy and compassion; interrelationships 13
  14. 14. What is Philosophy?• ‘Philia’ (love )and ‘sophia’ (wisdom) – Pursuit of wisdom, search for meaning• Metaphysics (the fundamental nature of being and the world) Who am I? – Ontology (nature of being, existence, reality) – Cosmology (study of the universe) – Teleology (purpose and ends) How• Epistemology (the nature of knowledge) do I – Logic (formal system for reasoning) know? – Scope and limitations of knowledge• Axiology (the nature of values) What should – Aesthetics (perception and sensation) I do? – Ethics, economic systems, political theory 14
  15. 15. What is Performance? “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely playersThey have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts” - from “As You Like It” (William Shakespeare, 1600) • Performance is (traditional) – An act of staging or presenting a play, concert, or other form of entertainment – A persons rendering of a dramatic role, song, or piece of music • Performance is (expanded) – Doing something – Translating ideas into action – A continuous creative process 15
  16. 16. Levels of Performance• Theater actors in a play• You IRL (in real life) all the time (“All the world’s a stage”) – “We are still and are always performing; life is constantly a performance; we are, in fact, only performing from moment to moment” – (Dzifa Benson)• Everyone to you IRL all the time (Truman Show)• Audience required?• If you don’t think you are performing, are you? Consciousness of performance required? 16
  17. 17. What are we continuously performing? • All dimensions of Identity and Sociality – Species, gender, geography, affiliation, role • Butler: Identity and Performativity – Identity is an illusion retroactively created by our performances – Identity is real only to the extent that it is performed – Identity is soley and completely a social construction – We engage in acts that constitute our identity: the body becomes its identity through a series of acts which are renewed, revised, and consolidated through time – We perform our identities in constructed social reality • Sociality: we are individuals and social beings oriented to the world collectively through cultureButler, Judith. "Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory." 17Performing Feminisms: Feminist Critical Theory and Theatre. Ed. SE Case. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1990.
  18. 18. Reading: Performance is the Thing (Dzifa Benson, 2006)• Personal philosophies of performance – Developed through the act of performing• Romanticism – Art/performance: heightened expression of human emotion – Great performer is someone embodying their dream – “How can I transcend myself (words, gestures, non-verbal) to reach the sublime, to get into the blood-soaked beating heart of things?” *Performer’s objective is to connect with the audience on universal truths]• Stoicism – Philosophy as a daily disciplined performance • Practical steps by which one might confront life’s problems • Daily search for freedom from dependence on anything external – The attentive gaze of an audience from which one never escape: one’s self 18
  19. 19. Reading: Performance is the Thing (Dzifa Benson, 2006)• Existentialism – Self-definition is a kind of performance “I am a painter” – Living is performance is existentialism (emphasis on freedom, action, decision-making) – We are always “on stage” performing IRL, especially to ourselves (watching, evaluating ourselves); others evaluate our performances for authenticity• Platonism – Substance must triumph over style – Consciousness of the value of process “when I am able to see and experience process, new possibilities emerge” – Poets/artists banished from the Republic due to privileging of end and ignoring of process 19
  20. 20. What is Video Gaming?• A video game is an electronic game that involves human interaction• Game Studies and Game Design Principles• Jane McGonigal (TED talks 2010, 2012) – Cognitive and emotional ability to aspire to extraordinary things and strive until achieved • Gamer traits: natural ability to be more determined, optimistic, cooperative, persistent, goal-oriented, not give up in the case of failure, try to achieve something extraordinary, reach out to others for help – Trust-building, communication, socialization – 10,000 hours (school-parallel & expertise) – Challenge: translation to real-life problems 20
  21. 21. Video Game Genres• Action (FPS, etc.) and Strategy• Adventure• Role-play – MMO, LARP• Augmented Reality• Serious games – Education – Social change 21
  22. 22. Psychology of Killing • Contexts for killing – Day-to-day real life, war, video games – War: indoctrination process required for killing1 • Wolfenstein 3D - the first major “first-person shooter” game (1992): a new paradigm of realism2 – Viewing perspective seen through the eyes of the character rather than from afar – Shot enemies fall and bleed rather than disappear • Behavior: permissibility, ethics, normativity – Is it ok to kill in video games? – Is video game killing different?1On Killing : The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society2http://www.journal.au.edu/abac_journal/2010/may2010/article6.pdf 22
  23. 23. Video Gaming Statistics ZNGA ($2.8b)http://www.examiner.com/article/mlg-spring-championship-sunday-surpasses-rose-bowl-18-24-aged-male-viewers 23
  24. 24. Major League Gaming Championship 24
  25. 25. World of Warcrafthttp://www.statista.com/statistics/208146/number-of-subscribers-of-world-of-warcraft/ 25
  26. 26. Virtual World: Second Life • 1 million residents (July 2012) • $700 m annual economy for virtual goods and services • Aesthetics ideals: avatars and objectshttp://pandodaily.com/2012/07/06/philip-rosedale-the-media-is-wrong-secondlife-didnt-fail/ 26
  27. 27. Augmented Reality GamingI Love Bees (2004, to promote Halo2 launch) 27
  28. 28. Augmented Reality GamingLARP (live-action role play): TwinKomplex, Spooks (Halting State)http://www.ludicphilosophy.com/ 28
  29. 29. Augmented Reality Gaming Ingress, launched Nov 2012 29
  30. 30. What is Virtual Reality?• (Webster) An artificial environment – Experienced through sensory stimuli (sights and sounds) – Provided by a computer – Ones actions partially determine what happens in the environment• Online persistent 3D world with a sense of presence and experience in context• Are immersive environments real? – Levels of Realism: underlying world, player actions, biophysical and affect reactions, social interaction, economics 30
  31. 31. Video Games (goal-oriented) 31
  32. 32. Virtual Worlds (unscripted) 32
  33. 33. Gender-bending in Virtual Reality • Men 3-5 times more likely to gender-bend • 85% players male; half female avatars played by men • Why are men more likely to gender-bend? – Pragmatic: female avatars are more likely to be treated better, receive gifts and help – Aesthetic: male players prefer to look at female avatars • Greater understanding of gender roles through gender-bending – Men: tension between being treated better and being treated as inferior – Women: men socialized not to ask for help or show weaknesshttp://www.nickyee.com/daedalus/gateway_genderbend.html 33
  34. 34. Art imitates Life?Acting out RL in VR?• Identity and Authenticity – Participant responsibilities – Example: Sandy Stone, Will the Real Body Please Stand Up? Cyberspace: First Steps, ed. Michael Benedikt (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991): 81-118• Death – Game addiction, exhaust, neglect; external regulation – Example: A 28-year old Chinese player ‘Snowly’ died after playing the online game "World of Warcraft" for several continuous days• Rape – Community self-regulation – Julian Dibbell, A Rape in Cyberspace: How an Evil Clown, a Haitian Trickster Spirit, Two Wizards, and a Cast of Dozens Turned a Database Into a Society - The Village Voice, 1993 34
  35. 35. What is Philosophy?• ‘Philia’ (love )and ‘sophia’ (wisdom) – Pursuit of wisdom, search for meaning• Metaphysics (the fundamental nature of being and the world) Who am I? – Ontology (nature of being, existence, reality) – Cosmology (study of the universe) – Teleology (purpose and ends) How• Epistemology (the nature of knowledge) do I – Logic (formal system for reasoning) know? – Scope and limitations of knowledge• Axiology (the nature of values) What should – Aesthetics (perception and sensation) I do? – Ethics, economic systems, political theory 35
  36. 36. Reading: Videogames and Aesthetics (Grant Tavinor, 2010)• Philosophical issues related to video games when considered as a form of art• “Videogames are one of the most striking developments in recent popular arts”• Are videogames art? – Apply theories of art – Criteria: direct pleasure, display of virtuosity, representation, criticism, emotional impact, imaginative experience, audience involvement 36
  37. 37. Reading: Videogames and Aesthetics Pong Fallout 3 37
  38. 38. Reading: Videogames and Aesthetics (Grant Tavinor, 2010)• Interactivity: theories of player and artwork identity – Media demanding non-trivial reader/participant effort to traverse the text/narrative (Aarseth) – Strongly interactive if interactor’s choices impact the artistic structure of the work (Lopes) – Modifiable artistic structure especially by using fictive props; explode the bomb or not? (Walton) 38
  39. 39. Reading: Videogames and Aesthetics (Grant Tavinor, 2010) • Relationship between fiction and virtutality, example: gameworld dragon – Fictive dragon in books/movies: watch it – Virtual dragon in gameworld: play with it, act upon it, interact with it (simulated for this purpose) • Ontological (existence) paradox1 – The apparent physical reality makes the virtual object seem real but … – How can you battle a gameworld dragon that does not exist?1Michael Heim, The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality 39
  40. 40. Reading: Videogames and Aesthetics (Grant Tavinor, 2010)• Role of player – First person, third person – Degree of player-character backstory – Affordances (player actions)• Player psychology – Controlling character actions engage decision-making which triggers emotional attitudes and accountability – Cognitive and emotional response to character actions and inactions (e.g.; guilt at exploding a bomb) 40
  41. 41. Reading: Videogames and Aesthetics (Grant Tavinor, 2010)• How is the ontology (existence) of video game artworks defined• Multiple instancing in artworks – Software versions – Shards – Player modding – Player playing• Performer or player: intentionality – Video games – Jazz improvisation – Traditional performance 41
  42. 42. Summary: Philosophical Issues in Play, Performance, and Virtual Reality• Gamer mindset – Urgent optimism, extreme self-motivation, ability to act immediately, tight social fabric creation• Behavior: permissibility, etiquette, normativity – Ethics: act-based -> agent-based -> situation-based• Continuously performing identity and sociality – Identity plurality (avatars), identity play, authenticity• Objects and existence: fictive vs. virtual – How do objects and identities exist in virtual reality? – What does it mean for a virtual reality artwork to exist? 42
  43. 43. Player Score: Philosophia DigitaleLearning Points +50Fun Points +100Team-participation +75 43
  44. 44. Agenda and Upcoming Sessions2/12 - Introduction "What is digital art?" and what philosophers say about it.2/19 - The Design Aesthetics of Meaning-Making: Information Visualization.2/26 - Democratized Creativity: Performance, Music, Virtual Reality, Gaming.3/5 - Natural Aesthetics: BioArt, GenArt, SynBio, Biomimicry, CrowdArt. “What is Generative Art? (Margaret Boden, 2009, Sectn I & V) “The Further Exploits of AARON, [the artificial intelligence] Painter" (Harold Cohen, 1995) Experiential project and essay question: What is the experience of performing identity differently in virtual reality?3/12 - Portable ArtTech: Identity, Fashion, Wearable Electronics, the Future. Comments and Feedback: m@MelanieSwan.com 44
  45. 45. The Bay Lights• World’s largest LED display, Grand Lighting Tues 3/5 at 9 pm http://thebaylights.org/ 45
  46. 46. Thank you! Image: Emese Szorenyi Digital Art and Philosophy Melanie Swan University of the Commons and the Emerald Tablet Gallery http://www.MelanieSwan.com/PCA http://www.slideshare.net/lablogga

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