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Design Media Arts at UCLA
Kelly Chen (F, 35)
Los Angeles, US
Immortal since Mar 29, 2007
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Loud Mouth | Kelly Chen
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    Entertainment | Gaming
    kbug’s project
    Design Media Arts at UCLA
    In the 1970s space colonies were considered to be a viable alternative to a life restricted to planet Earth. The design of cylindrical space...
    Now playing SpaceCollective
    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.


    Boards of Canada's first official music video, created by reassembling bits of found documentary films. It's what dropping from space, soaring in the skies, and being engulfed by towering walls of water looks, sounds, and feels like. Wonderfully majestic.
    Sun, May 20, 2007  Permanent link
    Categories: video
    Sent to project: Design Media Arts at UCLA
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    OVERVIEW
    In our day-to-day lives, sound is interpreted as auditory information generated from the immediate surrounding environments, received by the inner chambers of the human ear. How will these daily interactions change once set in space? Will they be quieter, louder, or non-existent?

    Sounds are associated with a number of things, and are influential for how we behave and navigate our way around spaces. A sudden, unexpected loud noise nearby alerts and startles us; the rattling patterns of water against the trees, the windows and/or the pavement declare that at the moment it's raining; hearing familiar music tells us we're near that same old store on the street corner again.

    Sound is identification.

    The aim of this project, within the context of space colonization, is the conceptualization of a mixed reality experience — a melting pot where all environments are united into a new kind of perception through changing soundscapes. Like theme songs, being in one location plays a certain tune; while moving to another changes the music altogether.


    APPLICATION
    Not only does it serve as incentive to go exploring, but it also familiarizes inhabitants to their new surroundings based on song i.d. In other cases, the sound can be an indulging, healing experience. It is an optional experience meant for the individual, yet set within the public realm. While interpretation of the sounds are at the discretion of each listener, the collective participation in tuning in via a wireless receiver connected with any pair of headphones or earbuds then converts a space into a temporary communal gathering, creating social networks all over.


    TECHNOLOGIES
    This section is still under development; however, possible solutions include transmissions broadcast via satellite, or automatic downloads to receivers from wi-fi networks located throughout the colony (should wi-fi still exist by the time of migration).



    SCENARIO // SCRIPTING
    In environments pervaded by naturally occurring sounds — sometimes noisy and unpleasant — a participant puts on headphones or earbuds, plugs them into a receiver, and turns the receiver on. It begins playing an audio feed designed for that specific area. Suddenly, the reality once occupied is replaced by a stream of pleasant ambient music that becomes that area's soundtrack. As the participant walks on into a different area — somewhere brighter, but shaded; perhaps more open in space; the music transitions into something darker, more droning. It is slightly less melodic, but the sound is reflective of the area and its architecture. (See below)

    MOCK DEMONSTRATION - Slowly transitioning environments from one to the next


    Additional audio sketches:


    Content © Kelly Chen


    IMPLEMENTATION & ACTUALIZATION
    Over the course of the next 5 or 6 weeks, I will attempt a final product that expands on the sample experience as demonstrated by the above mock video, except it will be documentary style. A video of a walk shot in first person is projected onto the wall of a space, the audio from that walk played back through external speakers. A separate audio feed is transmitted to a wireless receiver available on the side that the viewer can freely plug his or her headphones into. Compared to the content played over the speakers, what the viewer will essentially hear through the receiver is a lush soundtrack that is directly conjunctive to what's occurring on screen. Thus, there is a crossing between realities, in which the viewer — by tuning in to the receiver — then places him or herself as an indirect participant of the video walk (a passive form of interactivity).
    Mon, May 7, 2007  Permanent link

    Sent to project: Design Media Arts at UCLA
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    • light to dark

    • little to large

    • invisible to visible

    • narrow to wide

    • cloudy to clear

    • intangible to tangible

    • quiet to loud

    • soft to hard

    • hot to cold

    • closed to open

    • off to on

    • stop to go

    • slow to fast

    • pause to play

    • full to empty

    • in to out

    • more to less

    • up to down

    • left to right

    • departing to arriving

    • ascent to descent

    • walking to running

    • falling to floating

    • awake to sleeping



    Wed, Apr 25, 2007  Permanent link

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    I came across these by accident while browsing through Wired.com:

    + Hyper Space Couture Design Contest
    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/15.04/start.html?pg=14


    + Party in a NASA Hangar
    http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2007/04/yurisnight/


    Really, quite amazing how commercial the space frontier is becoming...
    Thu, Apr 19, 2007  Permanent link

    Sent to project: Design Media Arts at UCLA
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    (Apologies for the fuzzy images. My scanner at home is dead, so I had to shoot these with a camera)




    From left to right: Standing still, walking, running, zero-g — good for any occasion


    TECHNOLOGIES

    Two short antennas send and receive signals via GPS to determine user's location within the colony.



    Heat sensors built into the headband measure changing temperatures of the user, the data which is then calculated to determine current mood.



    A dial on the left ear cup adjusts microphone levels. The microphone (the three slits located on both cups) is used to pick up sounds that are occurring naturally in the environment; this feature can be turned off.


    The pulse monitor is attached to the temporal lobe located directly behind the eyes, and gauges how active the user is through blood rate. The more active the person, the more variation there is to sound and its rhythm.
    Wed, Apr 18, 2007  Permanent link

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    THE IDEA

    I find that stripping down the explanation of our bonds to nature to its very core is something nearly impossible, given our limited vocabularies. However, one thing I feel we all do possess in common is the craft of storytelling; we are able to describe our experiences and interactions with nature through personal narratives.

    What if that narrative process could be reversed, in which we aren't the ones telling the story, but rather, the environments themselves in an evolving soundtrack?

    Sound has the power to trigger memories; it transports the listener to other places; it can also make that listener more aware of his or her environment.

    Rather than reducing sound to a classification of "background noise," I want to bring it to the forefront of our experiences and audio-visual perception; that is not to say that sound will be creating visuals for us to see — rather, it will serve to augment what already exists in front of our eyes, allowing our own imaginations to illusively create what's not there. As we are gearing up for a lifestyle set within future space colonies, one of the "natures" we will have to inevitably adapt to is the urbanized setting of our new homes. Granted, I don't believe this means we will be migrating without taking a portion of our familiar "mother nature" up to space with us; but that also doesn't mean we can completely emulate what's on Earth either, because that's impossible. In order to familiarize and encourage the inhabitants to explore the spaces in ways not imagined before, I want to utilize headphones with sensors that take into consideration one's location, movement, and mood within the colonies to create a responsive soundtrack, which in sense then becomes that particular area/environment's theme or narrative. Optional adjustments on the headphones allow listeners to choose whether they want to incorporate the actual sounds heard outside, or completely block it out. The more immersed the listener is in exploring, the more the soundtrack evolves; thus, turning the colonized world into a giant aural playground.


    Image by Alexander Preuss


    INSPIRATIONS

    Games
    They many places you have control of visiting within a particular game world each have their own soundtracks. At the same time, different events occurring throughout the game's story change the music.

    + e.g. In the Final Fantasy game series, there is a song for the world map, for the towns you can visit, and even for characters when they appear on screen. During short cinematic sequences or a battle, the music changes.

    Film/Movies
    Soundtracks are essential for this medium because they add an extra narrative or "voice" to the overall story.

    + e.g. Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation, thanks to Richard Beggs, made the soundtrack and sound design a prominent force in depicting the fragile but hopeless relationship between Bob and Charlotte.

    Life Observations
    + Some people, myself included, prefer listening to music over natural sounds. We are more in tune with our iPods than the things going on around us. As a result of the mp3 player's popularity, I've been seeing a rapid growth of people wearing headphones and ear buds.

    + In music, many producers have admitted that some of their songs are inspired by personal feelings and/or by the sights of the world; this is why some material we hear evoke imagery of, say, a desert, or the floating sensation of drifting underwater. It is also why we sometimes have strong emotional responses to the works.

    Sound/Music Artists
    + Janet Cardiff — her works rely on sound, the immediate environment, and a narrative script to create unique individual experiences for the listener. In several pieces a voice guides the listener on what to do. Oftentimes throughout these guided "tours," the other sounds heard in the recordings can deceive the listener into a confused tug-of-war over what's real and what isn't.

    + Bill Fontana — he has created installations using sound as a sculptural medium that redefines our perceptions and interactions with architectural spaces. (He had a lecture in the EDA last winter — link to video page here)


    + Future Sound of London's Lifeforms album, 1994 — a pioneering classic in experimental ambient music. The many lush layers and foreign drones and glitches give the entire album a very alien sound.




    • Listen to:

    • "Bird Wings"

    • "Domain"

    • "Cerebral"




    + Kid 606's P.S. I Love You, 2000 — glitchy, futuristic, but also organic in a very airy way.





    • Listen to:

    • "Sometimes"

    • "Now I Wanna Be a Cowboy"
    Mon, Apr 16, 2007  Permanent link

    Sent to project: Design Media Arts at UCLA
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    If we are attached to nature as it is now on Earth, how will we deal with the separation once we migrate to space colonies? I think one of the key elements within nature is freedom — a great vastness that isn't limited by any boundaries. (Of course, in the colonies our own physical sense of freedom is restricted to the walls preventing us from fatalities caused by the vacuum that is space.) If nature from Earth cannot be harvested or carried over on a large scale right away to our new homes, then a way of reattaching ourselves to it is by simulating its atmosphere through illusions of depth perception and sound, with a visual element as a reinforcer.


    SPACE
    First, I was particularly inspired by Richard Serra's sculptures after experiencing the T.E.U.C.L.A. parked right in front of the Broad Arts Center. It takes up very little space and gives the impression of a small size; but in reality, setting foot inside the sculpture's interior makes one realize just how large the area really is, or appears to be. It is like an open cocoon that immediately immerses and isolates and the viewer from the rest of the surrounding environment, but does not box that person in. I feel that given the fact we are already going to be contained in some structure in outer space, it is important not to contain ourselves even more — that would only induce claustrophobia. We all want our personal space, right?


    SOUND
    Second, tactility is of the greatest importance when it comes to our interactions with nature; but tactility can also be sacrificed for an illusion. We are born with an imagination; we are also descendants from a planet carrying the memory of nature's tactility. Therefore, we need some kind of trigger to bring forth those memorable sensations and spark a higher level of consciousness. Ambient sound has already been accomplishing such feats through abstract minimalism and the incorporation of recordings from nature. Today, some practices with sound include using it as a form of healing to relax a person and detach his or her thoughts. I feel this technique could be implemented in space as well.

    An example of a product that can be purchased for such purposes (or just as background sound or inspiration) is FM3's Buddha Machine (website).



    VISUAL

    *NOTE: will elaborate more on later*
    Wed, Apr 11, 2007  Permanent link

    Sent to project: Design Media Arts at UCLA
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    I can't transcribe ideas directly to a computer as well as I would to a physical sheet of paper; but oftentimes when I write by hand the ideas and sentences are all over the place because I pay less attention to mechanics. Regardless, I wrote this blurb earlier (forgive the incoherencies):

    What "nature" is to me
    It's vast, isolated, peaceful — free. I think as a kid I always had a strong connection with it, mainly because half of my free time was spent outdoors, using my surroundings as one giant playground. Looking at it now, with the hubbub of urban life and new forms of technology assaulting us from every possible angle, one gets caught up in the chaos easily. First of all, many people still have the outlook that nature is a force we must protect ourselves from — and clean out, if necessary when it becomes an obstacle. To protect from the elements we dwell in buildings; we erect walls that physically separate us from "it." Already, we immensely restrict ourselves to inhabiting a space that is a "box," and we also converge into communities; but as the selfish beings we sometimes are, we all want our own personal space, too. And when that feeling arises, we tend to plan "getaways" or randomly embark somewhere — somewhere far from the familiar city, civilization, lifestyle, etc. Sometimes these expeditions find us returning to nature.

    I began questioning our common attraction to this force. Why do we find solace within it? What is that connection? I cannot say that I've even come close to answering this question on behalf of the entire human race, but an important aspect (so I felt) I stumbled across several days ago led me to realize there was something nature had that nothing else could ever replace: freedom, in the truest sense of the word, and timelessness. We are heavily drawn to these characteristics; freedom, for the fact that nature exists all around us uncontained, out in the open repeating the mysterious life cycle again and again; timelessness, for the fact that nature has been around since the beginning of time, and will transcend it. When we immerse ourselves in nature we feel a unique sense of euphoria that knows no boundaries. And we have known nature far longer than we have known ourselves; it is a kind of familiarity harbored within even before we are born. Lastly, nature is kind — it gives, but does not take back. It has aided in getting us to where we are now, and heals when we make mistakes.

    I could not imagine living a future life in space without these spiritual feelings, these connections. But the inner self aside, I am rooted to nature physically as well. Unpredictable weather patterns keep the days from growing dull. The transitions between day and night tell me when I should rest. I enjoy the comfort of sinking into a bed of earth and losing myself to the sky and its atmosphere. I am hypnotized by the colors. I am refreshed by the sensation of wind; I am calmed by the drumming rain. The sounds and the sights have always saved my life.

    Can space replicate all these experiences?

    Can the habitats we dream about take them to a whole new level?

    Wed, Apr 11, 2007  Permanent link

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    This doesn't have much relevance to the discussion of the human relation to nature, or what even nature is; however, I just wanted to make note that one of the ideas of this project — the prospect of migrating the human race to space colonies — heavily reminded me of the long-running Gundam series in Japan.

    In Brief
    Mobile Suit Gundam is a Japanese anime series that started in the 1970s, revolving around the concept of a future where humanity has comfortably migrated to space colonies. However, this revolution has also caused the populace to split into warring factions. The overall ongoing plot of the series itself, despite the different timelines and alternate universes, is the constant warfare engaged between political and military forces.

    Mobile Suits
    Gundam was the first series to introduce "mecha " — giant mobile suits that could be piloted through space or on land from a cockpit located in the suit's chest. In the future of the space age, the military forces won't be comprised of tanks, ships, or jet fighters; they will be mobile suits armed with various heavy firearms, beam sabers, stealth jammers, and all other sorts of unique weaponry.

    In actuality, the idea itself has been so popular over the last several decades that some inspired individuals have been trying to realize a working mobile suit:



    (Masaaki Nagumo's Land Walker working prototype with side-mounted guns)

    Space Colonies
    The colonies in space are heavily based on the designs of the O'Neill cylinder and the Stanford torus. What's interesting about the Gundam series is that since so much of the storyline takes place in space, there are many depictions and interpretations as to how life in these colonies are.

    + Article about the Gundam Universal Century universe utilizing the O'Neill "Island Three" space habitat
    + Article about the Gundam After Colony universe utilizing the Stanford torus space habitat

    —————————————————————————————-

    + read more about Gundam at Wikipedia
    Mon, Apr 9, 2007  Permanent link

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    Artist: Afra
    Video Credits: W+K Tokyo Lab
    Year: 2004?

    + full video credits and brief concept description by W+K

    Befitting of its title, I think I can only describe this video and song as "sensuous." The constant pulsation of Afra's beatboxing acts as the groundwork behind the lifeforms shaped by his gestures. They begin simple, but grow more dynamic with the passing of time and sound layering, eventually taking on a life of their own that sculpts out a world.
    Mon, Apr 9, 2007  Permanent link

    Sent to project: Design Media Arts at UCLA
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