Experience in Virtual Environments

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Nowadays, the virtual comprises a simulacrum of the real and as a copy it is actually an inferior version of it1. Accordingly, the term virtual has a double meaning: ...

Experience in Virtual Environments: Scenarios of Spacetime Transcendence Tallis Ioannis1, Mytilnaiou Sofia2, Sampanikou Evaggelia3 1

PhD Candidate, Department of Cultural Technology and

Communication, University of the Aegean, Lesvos, Greece. Scholar of the Propondis Foundation. Email: [email protected] 2

PhD Candidate, Department of Cultural Technology and

Communication, University of the Aegean, Lesvos, Greece. Scholar of the Greek Scholarship Foundation. Email: [email protected] 3

Assistant Professor, Department of Cultural Technology and

Communication, University of the Aegean, Lesvos, Greece. Email: [email protected]

Contents 1. Introduction 2. The Virtual and the Real 3. Narration 4. Beyond the Boundaries of Sensory Experience 4.1 Mediated Perception in Digital Age 4.2 The Domination of Vision 4.3 Touching the Truth 4.4 Postmodern Soundscape 5. Case Studies 5.1 The Fix 5.2 The Castle of Mytilene 6. Conclusions 7. Bibliography

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Abstract In the framework of postmodern experience, the exponential growth and integration of new technologies in everyday life and communication has innovated the configuration of digital culture. Fields like art, cultural representation, cinema and games have been greatly affected by the use of mass digital media, as the dimensions of reality are expanded through the potentials of virtual world. Virtual reality involves digital products, 3d representations and multimedia applications that manage to expand the possibilities of each user and receive stimulus beyond the limitations of physical spacetime. The term virtual is standing not only for the form of the digital medium but also for all the possibilities enabled through the design and the scenario of virtual environments. The stimulus and experiences become available and shared at global level and the amount of possible activities done in specific space unities. Particularly, through the management of scenario and narration multimedia ontology is developed. By the term scenario, we don’t simply mean a time sequence or the narration of a story. It involves the composition of a complete concept with defined ontologies that specify the plot of multimedia applications. The postmodern plot of digital media may overcome the limitations of a linear presentation, providing navigation options that do not need to be predefined, simulating the complexity of real life. Furthermore, two projects are mentioned: The first one concerns a historical castle of Mytilene, represented at 3 different historical periods, and the second pertains to a discrete modern building in Athens, emphasizing at the alternative navigations provided to the user by the scenario of the digital work. In virtual environments, activity and communication overcome the limitations of spacetime. The user of digital representations acts in a virtual world that provides him with the possibility to perceive stimulus beyond the physical boundaries. Synchronized action does not necessarily require presence at the same physical place. Moreover, information exchange via common used virtual places does not take for granted synchronized activities of the users participating. The boundaries of the physical body are also expanded and the notion of presence, perception and participation is redefined. In the frames of postmodern experience, the senses involved are usually limited to vision and hearing. Scenarios in multimedia applications tend to provoke the activation of the other senses as well, aiming at the simulation of a direct experience as in the physical world. Concluding, this paper refers to the potentials raised from a palimpsest perception of reality in the frames of virtual environments. To what extent does the experience in a digital world simulate to the real world? How does the activation of the senses enhance the experience? And finally, how do the dimensions of spacetime in virtual reality expand the perception of co-presence and participation.

Keywords: Virtual Reality, Representation, Scenario, Narration, Spacetime, Experience, Senses, Interaction.

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1. Introduction In the framework of the 21st century, enhanced technology systems have penetrated into social life. The derived products are used in managing and communication systems at global level, contributing to the creation of a digital culture. We refer to digital culture and not to a contemporary form of culture that uses digital media, as cultural practices and relevant products are actually the medium to represent and interpret the real world. The development of a virtual society has already been settled. Individuals shape their identity through their role during social practices that involve such media. Consequently, the virtual is merged with the real; tending to substitute the authentic by various representation practices. These practices are actually postmodern interpretations of the real that contribute to mould a new kind of reality. Digital culture has a strong impact to real life, although it is integrated and occurs in virtual reality. Factors, like virtual environments,

postmodern

scenarios

affording

alternative

narrations

and

sensory

experience, are among the issues of discussion.

2. The Virtual and the Real Contemporary culture concerns representation and virtualization of real life. Digital media are gradually integrated into social practices (control, identification and dispatch), playing indispensable role in communication of information and stimuli. Has virtualization become a basic feature of contemporary life in accordance with digital media development, or virtual world had already existed somehow? In that point, we need to define the term virtual. As Ryan appoints, it derives from “the Latin virtus (strength, manliness, virtue), which gave to scholastic Latin the philosophical concept of virtus as force or power” [Ryan, 2001: 26]. Nowadays it is associated with the term potential. According to Aristotle’s distinction, the potential is not the opposite of the actual; it rather indicates the force that would develop into actual existence. For instance, a book has a material substance as well as a potential one, regarding the knowledge that can be imparted through its content. The actual and the potential do not have dissentient but rather complementary meanings. However, in the early 18th-19th century the virtual was linked with inexistence. It was associated with vision and specifically with distortion of reality, meaning the fact that something seems to be different from what it really is, like prestidigitator’s dodges and illusions. Nowadays, the virtual comprises a simulacrum of the real and as a copy it is actually an inferior version of it1. Digital media and their derivative products, like multimedia applications, are forming the digital culture of the 21st century. Even though the notion of potentiality lies at a philosophical perspective, its implementations are integrated in the real world as in case of multimedia applications that exist in the virtual world, although their diffusion has a strong impact in real life. They create a communication index of symbols and values, expressed by the representation. Accordingly we share thoughts and potential actions, as in the case studies discoursed further on. Accordingly, the term virtual has a double meaning: on one hand it is associated with vision and refers to illusion and imitation, while on the other, it refers to productivity, openness and diversity. In recent theories of Jean Baudrillard, the virtual is mentioned as fake whereas Pierre Lévy describes the virtual as dynamic. The truth lies somewhere in the 1

3dimensional projects displaying cultural heritage are digital copies of the authentic. However, through postmodern scenarios they manage to surpass the restrictions of space and time displaying their historicity. (Case Study: Castle of Mytilene).

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middle [Ryan, 2001: 27]. Baudrillard considers that society is a form of virtual reality without discrete boundaries, as it depends on reproduction of reality, involving factors like technology and image making. In his essay “The Precession of Simulacra” he quotes that: “The simulacrum is never what hides the truth - it is truth that hides the fact that there is none. The simulacrum is true” [Baudrillard, 2006: 1-4]. Once we manage to denature established reality through various representation forms, we overcome the boundaries and enter the origins of the fake. In the frames of postmodern scenarios, new versions of the authentic are created, new interpretations of the past, which contribute to the assimilation of the real in the virtual. As Baudrillard describes it and Ryan quotes “… the virtual takes the place of the real and becomes hyperreal” [Ryan, 2001: 29].

Any meta-narrative or representation

form actually detaches an element from a particular semantic frame and creates a new communication entity. Although fake, it may alter the essence of the authentic, by expressing a new interpretation, or even replace it with the hyperreal. What Baudrillard characterizes as fake is actually perceived as real, because reality is shaped by new renderings of already established ideas as for example in old Italian masters like Ucello, in the 15th century, where real becomes fake through an exaggerated use of geometric perspective [Gombrich, 2000: 252-256]. What Baudrillard actually supports is that society is in essence a simulation of virtual reality. Lévy alleges that there are two primary states: One static and relevant to the potential and the real, and the other dynamic, relating the actual with the virtual. The first case refers to everything that has already occurred or is taking place in present time. The second one involves all that may happen potentially motivated by thought [Lévy, 1999: 23-26]. This pair (potential – real and actual - virtual) derives from Plato’s theory World of Forms, which regards to perception through representation of the world. Specifically: •

The world is a representation model and the truth lies in the intelligible world.



The theory of forms involves potentials that may become actions.



Each action is the representation of a potential state that lies in the intelligible world.



Plenty of actions may derive from each potential state. Meaning that the truth may be presented in various ways in the real world, as transition from form to action requires innumerable choices to be made.



The intelligible world is not adherent to space and time.



Actions as representation forms postulate transition to physical space and hence adherent to space and time.



Actions render a contextualization state of reality as they form a certain aspect of it, also adherent to space and time [Plato, 2005: 503-513; Baudrillard, 2006: 17].

According to Lévy, idea is the driving force that converts the visual into the actual; it brings solution among miscellaneous choices. It is the main reason why cultures are formed in variant ways [Ryan, 2001: 35-37]. Consequently, in essence Lévy and Baudrillard don’t support different thoughts; they rather share different aspects of reality. Lévy considers the potential to be the basic constitutive element of the virtual, meaning the creative dynamic of contemporary reality. He considers virtualization to be the driving force of life. Whereas Baudrillard asserts that virtualization may contribute to creation of virtual reality, which disorients from the authentic. He states that representation creates the virtual and stands in for the real.

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These practices are perceived as reality; man lives in a virtual world without discrete bounds. Accordingly, the fake and the virtual are not opposing terms, but rather complementary ones.

3. Narration, Representation and the Postmodern Narration is used in the frames of cultural representation to convey an experience. As a communication form, it involves a sender (designer) and a receiver (listener). While attending a narration, a logical scheme of associated ideas is created, designated by semantic structure. Through this scheme, the sense of narration is conveyed. Every story describes a particular alteration caused by specific acts in time. These acts of alteration configure the narration2. Alteration refers to the basic elements of the story, like persons, states and relations [Chatman, 1978: 28-29]. Narration includes a sequence of events according to the main purpose, moulding the plot. Claude Bremond states that it functions without regard of the displayed medium. In effect, the methods used are differentiated. Plenty fields of art involve narration, like cinema and theatre, as well as cultural representation, like in case of multimedia applications. It encompasses every choice made in order to configure a specific frame, meaning the structure of the story. According to Chatman, structuralistic theory associates structure with narration: “… each narrative has two parts: a story (histoire), the content or chain of events (actions, happenings), plus what may be called the existences (characters, items of setting); and a discourse that is, the expression, the means by which the content is communicated”. The receiver of the narration perceives a scheme of logical associations, including semantic entities of information. In the frame of specific associations, these entities form a particular meaning, while anything else seems to be irrelevant [Chatman, 1978: 18-20]. Representation forms a narration of reality, as it displays a part of the world it describes. Each representation requires practical decisions to be made (content, acts, time) that render a particular semantic context of meanings. These decisions create a version of the subject that is an alteration, without expressing the objective truth about it. Moreover, Chatman upholds that narration modifies and is modified at the same time by the structure of the story, which also refers to practical decisions, as mentioned above. Consequently, representation comprises decision-making, structure of the story and forming a semantic frame, in the frames of displaying a certain interpretation of reality. Therefore, representation may be considered as a narrative form. At the same time, postmodernity is defined as the remake of the subject, allowing the coexistence and association of multiple characteristics that create a new perspective. Postmodern, as a feature of contemporary life, is formed and perceived through incessant reproductions of the same subjects [Jameson, 2001: 56-58]. Accordingly, postmodern, like representation, comprises a palimpsest version of reality that is a synthesis of various aspects. Specifically, postmodernity has affected representation practices in continual transformations of the subject. In conclusion, representation, narration and the palimpsest share the same perspectives [See Currie, 1998]. The scheme mentioned above is evident in representation practices that integrate digital media. In the frames of cultural heritage preservation and promotion, multimedia applications have predefined narrative structure, in conformance with postmodern theory. They display elements of social life (like traditional artifacts, customs, monuments, 2 Events succession is defined by the plot duration (for example, as in films and novels), whereas time in multimedia applications is determined by the user’s interaction.

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heirlooms, etc.), forming a new image of this heritage that comprises a palimpsest of the authentic 3. The question that rises is whether subject alteration is creating a palimpsest of the authentic or a new communication entity. Structuralism argues that subject is defined by its structure, while every relevant derivative comprises a potential version. According to this theory, an Aristophanes’ play for example, may look the same as a modern comedy play, while the characters’ roles and their actions are based on the same pattern. Versus to this aspect, postmodern theory claims that nothing remains the same, even in case of their structures being alike, as different renderings potentially create self-contained entities. The truth may lie somewhere in the middle. Postmodern interpretations create palimpsest versions of the authentic and their structure defines any relation or divergence from the original subject.

4. Beyond the Boundaries of Sensory Experience 4.1 Mediated Perception in Digital Age In the framework of communication and association at global level, the use of technologically advanced media contributed to overcome the boundaries of spacetime. Man has managed to exchange information and stimuli, across places that stay out of reach, in conformity with his interests and needs. Direct experience has been substituted with mediated perception through contemporary communication systems and virtual reality. Digital media has connected individuals and societies throughout the world under common practices and goals. The information and material exchanged may potentially influence people at mental as well as emotional and physical level, like never before. The use of technologically advanced media contributed to mass production and exchange of mainly visual information. This digital network distributes images that inevitably express a certain point of view, regardless how much objective they are claimed to be. Simply by making a frame of the whole image, only a part of reality is secluded and displayed. This aspect weaves a narration and ultimately an interpretation of the truth. Mediated experience can never be unconditionally detached from personal rendering; a rate of relativity is inevitable when presenting an aspect of reality. Consequently, mediated perception is actually an expression of reality and is formed according to restrictions and potentials afforded by digital media. Perception of physical presence and participation in virtual reality are redefined. The boundaries of spacetime are expanded as information is transmitted and received from places as distant as the global network. Groups of users are formed sharing common interests and activities that exchange information and stimuli and shape relevant experience. The function of sensory perception has been displaced from the inner body. Digital media and telecommunication systems have virtualized the senses and people share common stimuli, shaping in this way the sense of a collective body that is extended throughout large-scale virtual environments [Lévy, 1999: 35-42]. This collective body is enormous, autonomous and inapprehensible; it contributes to the displacement of the physical body and opens up new prospects in communication systems management. It differentiates the way we apprehend the bounds of our own body. This virtual dimension of 3 Two case studies are described in the last unit of this paper: the building of Fix and the Castle of Mytilene, integrated in virtual environment. They offer the user alternative narratives, shaping two postmodern versions of the authentic. In that case, a version of reality is displayed in conformance with particular cultural and semantic frames of perception.

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sensory perception actually fulfills human desire to be simultaneously at different places and more ambitiously to travel through different dimensions of reality and time, surpassing the boundaries of his/her own nature. Exponential development of technology has been discerned and is oriented towards the interconnection of distant spacetime regions and the dispensation of common stimuli. It provides people of distant places with the delusion of co-presence at more than one (physical as well as virtual) environment, and moreover the sense of sharing common and concurrent experiences. Digital culture affects the perception of reality, altering apprehension of our linear course in life and cultivating a tension of detachment from the sphere of senses. The development and use of audiovisual media of communication is unequal in relevance to the rest of the senses. Life in cities of the western world is dominated by vision. Certain cleanliness and hygiene standards are laid at private and public places that contributed to the enhancement of social life. At the same time, contemporary structure methods and their derived materials do not have the same impact on the senses compared to the qualities of natural materials. An endistancement from natural elements has been discerned that form, as Pallasmaa expresses it as “our ocularcentric and obsessively hygienic code of culture.” [Pallasmaa, 2007: 16]. Smell, touch and taste enrich sense of presence and participation but nowadays are profoundly neglected, shaping mainly onedimensional experiences. Another characteristic of contemporary lifestyle and attitude is that time is very restricted. Human beings do not make available time to comprehend and essentially absorb the received information at daily rate. They may just momentarily be impressed, but soon everything will be discarded from their memory. The quality of stimuli has been appreciably diminished, as the speed of data exchange is considerably high and contact through digital applications has become automated. As a result the tension, the truthfulness, the variety and the nuance of stimuli are fading away while acting in virtual environments, due to the demands of expeditious intercourses. In that case, a surrealistic conjunction of messages, thoughts, images, sensations and experiences is overwhelming human perception without the significance of these pieces of information to be realized in depth. The speed of contemporary life development is beyond comprehension. When Henri Bergson [in Schafer, 1994, p. 89] was asked how we could realize the fact that somebody would have speeded up the occurrence of events all over the world, he replied saying that we would be aware of the quality loss of our experiences. In the framework of social life this effect has also resulted in the loss of sense of contentedness that requires more and more impressive images to be buried [See Virilio, 2009].

4.2 The Domination of Vision The time when people did not enjoy the benefits of electricity in everyday life is fargone. Public places as well as building interiors were not amply illuminated; consequently vision was not adequate to screen the surrounding area in order to move and communicate at ease. The fact evoked insecurity and imagination was motivated to interpret the blind and vague spaces. Therefore people placed reliance mostly in hearing, touch and smell while being in the dark. For instance, Paris was illuminated around 1908 and the Eiffel Tower was constructed in 1889, both providing a whole new aspect of the city. Thanks to the size of the latter people could see the city from above, as there are no hills near except from Montmartre. Vision has dominated since the time when scientific thought and research asserted political and religious authority and control. The world was

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closely observed, laying the foundations of reason and research contrary to obscurantism and prejudice. Vision was considered to be the process that aggregates, organizes and sorts knowledge, while reassigning objectivism and life attitude [Jay, 2007: 34-35]. This is an era that the panorama appeared as entertainment basically due to the progress photography had made In modern times, Tuan argues and Ong quotes that writing has been the first step to record oral speech; a transition actually from auditory to visual space [Ong, 1991: 117121]. The prevalence of visual stimuli contributed to information exchange in multiple ways that concern spacetime constraints. Typography, as an extension to manual script, contributed to the dominance of vision. Schafer in his book The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World [Schafer, 1994: 123-132] quotes that according to McLuhan the invention of typography and printed culture in general managed to carry the words and their concept away from their acoustical equivalent and transform them into images; words ever since seem to be united with space. Nonetheless, information digitization resulted in the dominance of vision and hearing. Multimedia applications design and narration emphasizes in offering a multi-sensory experience to each user by incorporating media that afford various types of stimuli. Meanwhile, according to Harvey, in the framework of digital age, vision is the only sense that literally and metaphorically is able to keep up with the development rate of science and consequently everyday life [Harvey, 1992: 261-307]. The sophistication of technology and its derivative digital communication systems has resulted in the expeditious exchange of information and images at global level. Accordingly, the requirements for prompt data process and exchange are continuously increased. As thought cannot hold the course of the sight, humans feel trapped in an eternal present. Casting only a glance at images and information while simultaneously handling multiple issues has resulted in being impossible to conceptualize the inner details and shades of the things and finally to raze their uniqueness and significance. The time and the attention we invest to actually contemplate and interpret reality reflect our life attitude.

4.3 Touching the Truth Touching is used to cover a range of biological as well as emotional needs. We are able to catch and keep someone near, to construct and use something for a specific purpose. At personal level, we touch our skin and feel ourselves; we identify its form and uniqueness. Meanwhile, tactile contact contributes to the expression of personal thoughts and feelings, while communicating at multiple levels of interpersonal and social relations. Touching is the most intimate form of physical contact; distance is diminished between the persons involved in physical and emotional level, depending on the purpose and the kind of the relationship developed between them. A strong trend of modern life is the elaboration of industrial structural methods and specifically the use of synthetic materials and textures. Elements like plastic, zinc and cement have penetrated in our lives, from the microcosm of everyday practices to the construction of architectural and social environment. As a result the feeling of touch fades out, or even vanishes. As details of the textures are not sensible, its sensation is not lively on intimate; its substance is not revealed [Holl, Pallasmaa & Pérez-Gómez, 2006: 91]. Respectively, natural materials, like stone and wood, are susceptible of decay. The influences of the environment differentiate their form and characteristics through time, just as the quality of our skin fatefully follows life circle. Natural materials, like cotton and leather, permit their age to be felt, as their story is engraved on their surface or skin. On

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the other hand, artificial and synthetic materials may have better resistance to decay but they are apprehensible as lifeless and unreal. In digital age, the dominance of the image and vision in general induced to “…the gradually increasing separation of the self and the world” [Pallasmaa, 2007: 25]. However, senses do not only contribute to information exchange but to self-expression as well. Counter to mediated perception and the loss of intimacy, tactility and plasticity, touch is distinguished by the fact that physical contact is never mistaken. In contrast to visual association with places that are out of reach, touching reveals factuality. This kind of contact resists to the dominance of one-dimensional visual encounter, bringing out the essence of things. It communicates stimuli of such quality that inevitably require proximity at physical or/and psychological level in order to be exchanged, providing an experience that appeals to a more interior and personal world.

4.4 Postmodern Soundscape According to Blesser and Salter aural experience involves three main parts: sensation (detection), perception (recognition) and affect (meaningfulness) [Blesser & Salter, 2006: 14]. Perception of aural stimuli depends (apart from the characteristics of the sound itself) on personal as well as cultural factors. At personal level being concentrated to a sound determines its apprehension; like in case of a forthcoming danger or while carefully listening to music, when one is deliberately paying attention to the stimuli collected. Meanwhile, cultural factors involve social interpretative systems and cultural practices that condition aural perception and sensory experience in general. The overall affect of a sound among individuals and societies has a significant percentage of relativity that should be taken into consideration. The influence of sound to people’s temper and attitude has been studied since ancient worlds and still is taken into account in communication systems management. Sound usually plays three basic roles when targeted to a group of people: initially to gather people around a common activity or event at a specific place and time. In that case it is considered to have a centripetal dynamic, like church-bells that unite (physically and emotionally) all citizens in the frames of a religious ritual, while participating in a social practice. On the other hand, the drone of the siren has centrifugal dynamic; indicates danger, spreads fear and make people run to find shelters. The third case pertains sounds and particularly pieces of music that accompany people who remain and act for a period of time at a certain place. The main characteristic of this kind of soundscape is that it just creates a pleasant, rather indifferent, ambience for all present, without turning in their duties. Sound may have a strong impact on people’s mood and feelings and digital media designers have closely studied this aspect in order to create soundscapes appropriate to each scenario created. In regard of the development of digital media, sounds are susceptible of new process and transformation methods. Consequently, the necessary conditions of sound production and audition are reassigned. Originally, sounds are unique and diametrically coupled with the spacetime dimension. They occur at a specific time and place and may be perceived at a comparative distance from their transmitter, in relation with the surrounding soundscape. Nowadays, audio signals are produced and broadcasted via electronic systems and as Schafer asserts there is a “… split between an original sound and its electroacoustical transmission or reproduction” [Schafer, 1994: 88-99]. He also borrowed terms from the

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Greek language to describe the phenomenon as schizophonia. Due to the development of science and technology sound is dissociated from the physical environment and is integrated to new schemes of production and interpretation. This process expresses the absolute portability of sound. As a result, preconditions are afforded for the creation of private acoustical fields, which are adapted to the individual’s needs and desires. In the past, suchlike acoustical fields implied social detachment and isolation while public fields involved social cohesion and participation. In modern cities though, the noise reaches extreme levels with direct consistencies at psychological level, like a sense of loneliness [See Virilio, 2009].

5. Case Studies In the framework of postmodern scenarios and digital representations, two examples of 3dimensional digital works are introduced. The first refers to the old factory of beer Fix (known as Fix); an industrial remain located in Athens, which was designed and constructed around 1950 by Takis Zenetos. The second one displays the Byzantine Castle of Mytilene. In both cases, three alternative scenarios have been created to provide the user with equal options of navigation, while gathering information regarding each place. The aim was to render three different conceptual themes of the Fix and present three successive eras of the Byzantine Castle. Both multimedia applications have been rendered in conformance with the characteristics of postmodern narrative. They include predefined entities 4, meaning nodes or points that may alter the course of the narration, depending on the choices made. In that way, we manage to overcome linear presentation of each monument and offer the user the possibility to shape his/her experience of these applications, according to his/her needs.

5.1 The Fix Building The building is a creation of Takis Zenetos, one of the leading Greek architects of th

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century and was partially erected during the late ‘50s. It is an enormous industrial

building that comprises a landmark in the development of townscape of Athens. Zenetos did not settle for the design of an industrial facility but premeditated alternative functions of the building in the future, adapted to multiple purposes. The Fix has already been considerably transformed and keeps its traveling in time, while going over different compositions of material and light, forms and uses: industrial building, ruin of the past, Museum of Contemporary Art and ruin again is always susceptible of new transformations in order to reveal its own story. The project of Fix was brought into effect in the frames of the postgraduate program of Cultural Informatics, at the University of the Aegean5. The building was detached from reality to be created over again using digital media. Its virtual representation became the canvas for a photographic exhibition consisted of three routes, based on three elements: light, material and time. In that case, the user is given the opportunity to make equal number of travels around its tremendous inner space and encounter with the artists’ work, formulating his/her own narration. At the entrance, three interactive points called 4 The term derives from software development and denotes a key point, which may change the software function. 5

Multimedia application design, development and 3d graphics implementation: Zamplaras Dionysis, Mytilinaiou Sofia & Tallis Ioannis.

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teleportes are located in front of three representative photographs (light, time and material). Each one may transfer the user to the corresponding exhibition unity. The photographic works contained are all taken by famous artists and impress the intensity experienced in a single moment. The concept of the three elements, targets on a description of the transfigurations of the building through time and their transcription to photographic works. The multimedia application scenario depends on the free will of the user and enables him to create a personalized narration form. Digital Representation of the Fix Building An attempt to maintain a particular view of the building in space and time.

Image 1: Projection of the Roof Plan

Image 2: Exterior view of the main entrance

Image 3: Exterior view, Vertical Section

Image 4: Wireframe projection

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Image 5: Interior view, Choosing among the three alternative narrations

Image 6: Interior view, Navigating through the 1st route

Image 7: Interior view, Navigating through the 2nd route

Image 8: Interior view, Navigating through the 3rd route

5.2 Castle of Mytilene The Castle project was fulfilled in co-operation with the Municipality of Mytilene and involved the development of a digital multimedia guide (Lesvos e-guide) for the prefecture of Lesvos, aiming at the promotion of the cultural heritage 6. The Municipality of Mytilene was presented in the frames of a virtual tour through mobile phone, the Internet and PDA devices. Two categories of virtual tour were designed: one shorted by the municipals of Mytilene and one by category (monuments, museums, chapels, etc.). Particular historical and tourist sites were chosen to be digitally represented and were inserted on an interactive map. The Byzantine Castle of Mytilene is among the monuments displayed through photographs, sound clips and 3dimentional representation. The application scenario organizes a virtual tour that surpasses the boundaries of spacetime. It is presented in three different historical periods (Byzantine, Gatelouzi and Ottoman), forming three narrations that exhibit the alterations the Castle was undergone at the inner part, the precinct and the buildings included. The user may navigate to each cultural period receiving audiovisual information. Specifically, during the Byzantine period the Castle used to be a fortress and protected the village included, while at the Gatelouzi period some buildings of great significance were constructed, like the Tower of the Queen, the threeaisled Basilica and the Water Deposit. Finally, more buildings were added under the

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The digital representation of the three different historical periods of the Castle was based on topographical charts available from the Ephorante of Byzantine Antiquities of Mytilene. Multimedia application design, development and 3d graphics implementation: Ioannis Tallis

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command of the Ottoman conqueror, like the precinct, the prison, the ammunition warehouse, the Camii and the Ottoman Medreses (Ottoman seminary). The user makes his/her choices among the available routes in the virtual presentation and collects information about the development of the Castle through time, forming his personalized tour. Digital Representation of the Castle of Mytilene In the frameworks of the virtual tour, the user exceeds the boundaries of spacetime while navigating through three alternative narrations.

Image 9: Byzantine Period, North-West view

Image 10: Byzantine Period, North-West view

Image 11: Gatelouzi period, South View

Image 12: Gatelouzi period, South-West view

Image 13: Gatelouzi period, North-West view

Image 14: Gatelouzi period, North-West view

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Image 15: Ottoman period, South view

Image 16: Ottoman period, North-West view

Image 17: Ottoman period, South-West view

Image 18: Ottoman period, North-West view

Image 19: Ottoman period, North-West view

Image 20: Ottoman period, North-East view

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6. Conclusions In the framework of postmodern experience, new kinds of environments are formed that surpass the boundaries of spacetime. The diffusion of the real and the virtual is a characteristic feature of contemporary life, providing an expansion of sensory perception. Enhanced methods of interaction and communication are developed, resulting in transition of reality beyond human contrivance. Regarding multimedia applications, the potentials afforded by digital medium have also altered narrative structure in virtual environments. Cultural representations use mutlifunctional scenarios to offer the user with the opportunity to shape his/her own experience and

personalize

his/her

navigation

according

to

his/her

interests.

Besides,

the

incorporation of different media contributes to also provide with various stimuli that activate the senses in multiple ways, giving the impression of entering and participating in a different world. Postmodern narrative combined with digital media may afford the user an experience that simulate to real. The fact is that reality is created. The virtual as well as the real are terms we define in conformance with their effects in our lives. We accept as real what we interpret as real, at personal, cultural and social level.

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