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weblog archives
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Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Los Angeles: Grand Theft Reality, an epic post over at City of Sound that sums up the past few years in virtual world creation, the cult of GTA and the continuing gulf between cinema and gaming (see also Los Angeles Plays Itself, the documentary view of LA's cinematic heritage). Although computer game visuals have a long way to go before they can even approximate reality (even the 'painterly', enhanced reality of the movies), games are now sophisticated enough to benefit from the application of real world skills like navigation and mental maps: 'the only real way to play GTA is to drive around endlessly, building your own mental map of the city. To me, this is just as in reality.'

The post revels in the deja vu created by GTA's exaggerated approximation of LA, contrasted - with excellent images - the real and the virtual. I've had similar experiences in Team Soho's quite astonishingly crass The Getaway. Dan's final observation is that contemporary architecture is, ironically, perhaps too complex for inclusion in the relatively low-res world of computer graphics (using Gehry's Disney Concert Hall as an example). Are architects, a notoriously cliquey and paranoid bunch, frightened that 'their world' of spatial complexity is being infiltrated and even usurped by 'non-professionals'? But I digress.

So should we expect reality and virtuality to diverge? There was a pertinent piece on this morning's Today programme (you should be able to listen again for a bit) about the imminent perils of virtual worlds (which are causing enough stirs already). It included quotes from a phd student called Rachel Jones who is examining virtual representations of war. Could they, she wondered, gradually supplant journalistic and first-person sources as the way we remember events? Could this result in a 'sanitised' version of world affairs? An industry commentator speculated that 'most people will chose interactive entertainment over passive entertainment,' and elements of the way the current conflict is covered - such as the popularity of weblogs and photoblogs by combatants - suggests that even mild increases in 'interactivity' have the possibility of leading to greater understanding of complex issues. However, the former RAF Navigator John Nichol, shot down over Iraq in the first Gulf War, spoke about how simulation could never, ever, match up to the 'real thing.'

For now, perhaps. The 'real thing' will increasingly be defined by intent. The US Army 'intends', for now, for video games to be useful 'marketing tools' (a bit unfair, given the rest of Spot On: The US Army's There-based simulation, a fascinating interview with simulation expert Dr. Michael Macedonia). But although consumer military simulations can't begin to convey real carnage, other facets of virtual life will certainly get darker. This anonymous question at ask me-fi speculates on the legality of pornographic computer-generated imagery. As one poster commented, it's sadly inevitable that within a few years, people will be 'creating' the most ghastly things without, technically, committing an actual crime.

*


Elsewhere, and back to that concert hall: Boing Boing invites you to 'geek out over the Gehry Organ at LA's Disney Hall,' with its 6,134 pipes. See also the pipe organ fact sheet. Also related: Harry Partch's Instruments, a collection of hand-made music machines recreated in Flash (both these links via, I think, music thing). A selection of organs are available.

Pontiac Firebird shooting break, an ill-conceived fusion of British style and American muscle / Granny's Book Box offers a bizarre selection of collectible magazines, books and records / all about the Ericofon / a fan of Peugeot's cute 204 offers copious archives of old magazine articles.

Clearview is a new font for the US Highways System ((via Typographica). Related, a guide to the evolution of Californian road signs / Frank H.Jump's Fading Ad Gallery / digital tailoring in The Incredibles / the Jet-Man Project (not to be confused with this).

Zen Archery, a weblog / Small Spiral Notebook, a 'venture into something literary', an online publication / Christmas gift ideas, via mighty girl and her mighty goods site / something lost in translation about Jezblog.

Multiples by Artists offers limited edition prints and photos for purchase. Early days yet, but at least the site lets you zoom into artworks. You can also 'become your own curator' and create a unique portfolio.