Friday 4 January 2013

Virtual Theatres

I've been playing with some software called "Crazy Talk" (see with which I've produced a video to introduce some software for the TRAILER project:

and all this has set me thinking about some of the new possibilities for articulating ideas which technology is making available to us.

I've always felt that communication technologies are a bit like 'masks': the real 'me' hides not just behind my language, but behind the word-processor, the blog, the email, etc. There's masking in my  video not just in the digital puppets, but in the sound too.

In the online environment you have to wear a mask. But even in the real world, letters have always masked the individual (although hand-written letters reveal more than word-processed ones); CVs still mask us as part of the process of gaining employment. Sometimes we see real people behaving robotically behind other kinds of mask - like cars, for example - or even sunglasses.

Another word for 'mask' is 'persona'.

One thing that has happened as technologies have developed is that the sophistication of the masks that are available to ordinary people has increased. Skills that were once only the domain of the typesetter become available to anyone with a word-processor; online publishing which was once the domain of geeks is now available to anyone who sets up a blog. But as ubiquity replaces novelty, so the drive for new novelty continues. Technological progress appears driven by continual critique and the determination of deficiency.

So my latest obsession with deficiency has led me to consider the potential of 'virtual theatres' and the presentation of information as dialogue rather than monologue. Crazy Talk enables me to do things only professional animators were able to do a few years ago. Actually, I want to go further, because I want to have my virtual theatre as 'interactive' - that would enable me to virtually produce some of the drama games that Augusto Boal (see developed and which I've found to be so powerful in face-to-face interactions. I wouldn't be surprised to see this kind of stuff becoming ubiquitous soon.

Will I ever be satisfied?


There is always deficiency - not just because the world changes, but because there were deficiencies in us to begin with. That's why we have technology in the first place. It's sticking-plaster over deep absences which are in us, not in our tools. But if playing with technology is a way of accepting that, then maybe it needn't be as pathological as I sometimes fear!

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