Sunday, September 25, 2011

Improving Reality

LevelHead by Julian Oliver - one of the speakers at Improving Reality. Photograph: Florian Sander.

On Friday I went to the Improving Reality conference, organised by Lighthouse Brighton.

I was LOADED with man flu (thanks to some classy gent who sneezed all over me on the Metro last week I suspect). So I dosed up on max strength lemsip and sat quietly in the audience sucking up links and references like a nerdy basking shark.

What follows are my notes, they are not extensive and they will have errors. Where they are sparse it is not because I was uninterested, on the contrary, I was listening intently and not taking notes (just in case you wondered). I met some friendly people and what I saw of Brighton I liked.

Improving reality conference notes 23/9/11

Session one – Reality Hacking - Moderated by Honor Hager

Julian Oliver

Discussed - Augmented reality and Hacking

Referenced Artist: Felice Varini

Stage effect - Peppers Ghost

His projects:

Level Head 2007-2008


Aral Balkan

Fun talk, video based. Argued that the term AI was outdated and showed a funny picture of a cat. Spoke about a desire for joined up thinking in terms of interfaces and infrastructure. Also later advocated children learning how computers work in the hacking sense, not in the Microsoft software user sense. Of course I fully agree J yet having worked in this very area it is easier said than done (the usual problems of returning to the space to find cracked versions of windows installed on Linux boxes came to mind..).

Jose Luis de Vicente

Discussed AR (augmented reality) as something not requiring technology and related it to architecture. A good example he gave was a bus stop that no bus ever stops at. It is placed outside of a home for people with Alzheimer’s. When patients forget where they are and try to get home they go and stand at the bus stop. Care workers can instantly see what is happening and bring them back in. This was personally the most poignant example of a different reality, much like the classic evangelical Philip K Dick moment in which the protagonist realizes that their reality has been constructed by someone else.

Conil base station? – Maybe misheard, cannot find any references to this online

Ordos – A place in China where no one lives, it exists as a result of property speculation

Tower of David – Venezuela

Speed shows

Concept of ‘critical engineering’

The classic example of the Lumiere brothers making audiences run out of the theatre by projecting a train hurtling towards the screen. This reminded me of the way the kids tried to run out of the Classic cinema stalls during the early trials for our trans media game time machine.

Session 2 – Beyond Cinema – Moderated by Paula le Dier

Matt Hanson

Quoted Anthony Dunne when talking about work that pulls the viewer towards the screen

Referenced his own book – The end of celluloid


Wreka movie


Swarm of angels

Lizzie Gillet

Talked about producing the Age of Stupid via crowd sourcing and alternative distribution models. Was very nice, engaging and honest. Discussed crowd sourcing and motivations for investment.

Matt Adams – Blast Theory

Mixed reality lab – Nottingham University

The trolley dilemmaPhilippa Foot

Chris Hedge – Empire of Illusion

Richard Stark the Jugge and Made in USA – Godard.

Performing Mixed Reality – MIT Press (coming out soon).

Jamie King - Steal this film

Bit torrent as a distribution model. Copyright and distribution etc. Nice engaging guy. Reminded me of an example in hackers, Steven Levy. It goes something along the lines of the clever folk like Jobs and Wosniack exploiting hacker behavior and legitimizing it, i.e. they sold blue box hacking devices dorm to dorm, copying captain crunches blue box phone phreaking design for free long distance calls, thus making network access affordable to hackers and and and. King was able to actually turn a profit for an indie (the yes men) as a distributor using similar methods (IMHO).


Nielsens Law

Session 3 – Gaming For Good moderated by Matt Locke

Tassos Stevens


Jet pack joy rides

Super me games –

adventures in learning

haringey challenge match

a small town anywhere

The loveliness principle

Playful Secret Agent

Adrian Hon

He had a worse cold than me and told a funny joke about us all being depressed because we voted Liberal Democrat.

Discussed collaborative games in which there are not winners and losers

Times up –

Physical Narratives

Sam Gosling

Christoph Buchel – Shelter II

Sensory Circus

Domestic Bliss

20 seconds into the future

Alice Taylor

3D printing and online games