March 25, 2018
My Statement of Purposes
So im just going to copy here an excerpt from my 2016 SOP that i used to apply to iTP… and other schools. I never actually intended it for iTP specifically: it was just a statement of my current… purposes!
Anyhow, i thought it’s eerily related to our first day discussions in Open Source Cinema
Interactive media, especially digital, is going through a democratizing phase. High-End game engines are free to use and publish, educational material is either completely free or needs a small fee, and devices are available shortly to the general public after they are announced. This means that our era is experiencing rapid change and trends are quick to adopt and retire. This means an entire avalanche of new experiences and ideas is flowing from all over the world through people who never had the chance to express themselves.
The open source community has thrived even more than before these days and it has shaped the industry to their needs. A whole new 3D Print industry spawned out of online communities. The good old Arduino enabled thousands of artists afraid of electronics to build impressive and sophisticated interactive experiments around the world and create new experiences.
Of course, on the high end of the industry, video games are looking more detailed and gorgeous than ever. Some almost indistinguishable from photograph, plus beautiful motion captured animation and natural physical lighting. However, that is where I believe the industry is going wrong. I am all for higher quality visuals, but it seems like the gameplay and game design, the heart and soul of interactive games, is lost in the way. To me it is a reminder of what Hitchcock observed when sound was added to films and filmmakers tried to remake stage plays and not utilize the cinematic language: “It’s like a lot of films one sees today… to me they are what I call “photographs of people talking”. It bears no relation to the art of the cinema”. This is going against what interactive media has to offer. It is rehashing its predecessor, cinema and television, into easy to play form; sometimes almost like play and pause button.
Although going back to the masses, some amazing experimental “indie” games and interactive arts came out of the democratized section of the industry. People who just had an “itch” in their head, some vision they wanted others to experience, were able to just put it out there with limited but effective resources. Games like “Papers, Please”, “Cart Life” don’t have complicated mechanics or eye catching visuals (they do have unique style), but they act as powerful empathy machines that convey a concept to the players that can only be done with interactive media and nothing else.
New media can rapidly change this closed loop we create around ourselves. For example, the term “empathy machine” is thrown a lot at VR these days as well. Touted as probably the “ultimate empathy machine”, this new media is going through its early days of experimental phase: with static “Cinéma vérite” style documentaries and highly experimental VR environments that is exploring the medium to find its own language. VR might not turn out to be what everyone expects it to be, and it takes a while for a new medium to stop rehashing its predecessors. but spearheading the quest to find a whole new medium’s unique aspects and intricacies is something I am really excited about. Figuring out challenges like how sound should work in VR or how a story should be told in new media is the type of things that keeps excited and motivated about the technology.