Critical Media Lab Salon: what is your reality?


Hylozoic Ground
Please join us for the our second Critical Media Lab Salon of the winter semester, featuring presentations by Prof. Rob Gorbet, Department of Knowledge Integration, and Jason Lajoie, PhD candidate, Department of English, both University of Waterloo.

WHEN: Tuesday, February 24, 4:00-6:00pm
WHERE: Critical Media Lab, in the Department of English Digital Space at 44 Gaukel St., Kitchener
ALL ARE WELCOME!

“Near-Living Architecture” (Rob Gorbet)
In this very visual presentation I will give an overview of the research and production activity in my 10-year collaboration with architect Philip Beesley, as we have been exploring the guiding question, “What would it be like if buildings were more alive?” Within this context, and along with collaborator Dana Kulic (UW, ECE), we’ve been developing increasingly complex autonomous, interactive systems that integrate layers of technology using an anthropomorphic model.  Dissemination has been in the form of physical prototype sculptural installations, much sought-after internationally, and in 2010 the work was selected to represent Canada at the Venice Biennale of Architecture. I will describe the origins and evolution of this body of work, and include updates on the current research questions we’re pursuing: how might buildings respond empathically to their occupants, and what might that mean?  What kind of intelligent learning algorithms might produce the most interesting interactions?

“Capturing the Simulacrum”: The Effect of Digital Actors on the Concept of Reality (Jason Lajoie)
While virtual performers have existed since the beginning of cinema as dummies, puppets and animation (be it hand-drawn or stop-motion), it is only with the unprecedented photorealism offered by digital technology that the presence of a virtual performer on screen has challenged the distinction between reality and simulation. This project considers Baudrillard’s claim that simulation overtakes and reconfigures reality in relation to the evolution of digital actors. Does the high volume of data being collected from the human actor in films like Avatar create a real substitute in the form of a digital replacement? Does the existence and sustained presence of digital actors achieve the level of pure simulation that Baudrillard describes, one in which “the image has no relation to reality whatsoever” (6)? Using film, sound, image and metaphor, “Capturing the Simulacrum” is a visual essay that examines the processes of simulacra and simulation in distinct technological phenomena to provoke a critical reappraisal of the evolving profusion of the simulated image in cinema.

Photo: Hylozoic Ground

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