This web journal showcases the final projects from the Augmenting Realities (Fall 2014) humanities course. This course, taught by Professor Amanda Starling-Gould at Duke University, looks at the role of technology in how we look at media, and the implications of these roles in the development of the humanities. Students read “Neuromancer,” by William Gibson, “Daytripper” by Ba and Moon, and “Ebocloud,” by Rick Moss, along with texts by N. Katherine Hayles, Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Ian Bogost to help develop a perspective of how technology plays a role in our lives and in media. These perspectives were then both nurtured and challenged in class through videos, projects, presentations, digital media and discussions.
The students were told to take these developed perspectives and apply them to a Digital Media project of their choosing. Here is what they developed:
Portal 2 as a Speculative Future Environment
My project is an in-depth analysis of the video game Portal 2. In the course of the analysis, several of the questions discussed in class are raised. The game is situated with respect to other games in its genre (sci-fi and puzzle games), assessed for its artistic and creative merits, and its plot and style critically analyzed. I explore the plausibility and implications of some of the futuristic elements present in the plot to our own “gamespace” – e.g. the rise of artificial intelligence doing our science for us and the ethics of interacting with and potentially “shutting down” or “killing” sophisticated intelligent and emotionally responsive AI.
Media Specific Narratives: Nonlinearity in Graphic Novels, Film, and Hypertext
My project is a media-specific analysis that examines nonlinear narratives among different media types. Specifically, I break down Christopher Nolan’s film Memento (2000), Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba’s graphic novel Daytripper (2011), and Caitlin Fisher’s hypertext fiction These Waves of Girls (2001). Each of these works has a nonlinear narrative structure that is strongly shaped by the affordances of its given medium. I use visual representations of the structure of each work to illustrate my conclusions. My goal is to make clear the impact that media types can have on the development of nonlinear narratives and to reinforce the importance of media specific analysis in general.
My project attempts to advance the evolution of the human body through the use of literature. I use software that picks up on the descriptions of the technology of humans within the books, and attempt to create this new human with as few books as possible. Overall, I focus on how technology has inspired people to believe that one day in the not-so-near future, technology could be used to advance the human race into cyborgs with more mental and physical power.
The Arts of Video Games that Conduce the Understanding of Digital Humanities
My project examines video games as a digital humanities project. The interactivity of the video games makes it a unique art form that connects humans and technologies, the relation of which is precisely what digital humanities studies. The complex computer programming underlying video games empower it to generate and present the art that only humans understand; the dynamics within the system of humans and technologies is enriched and galvanized by the generation and appreciation of great arts.
Modern Slavery: An Analysis of the Developing Relationship Between Humanity and Technology
I wanted to flip the discussion on whether or not Google should be using our data by seeing how much Google is worth to us. I develop an app simmilar to PrivacyFix, but it takes the information that you gather from Google and spits out the minimum cost, in terms of time, money, cognitive costs, etc., to find the same information otherwise. I then use this to extrapolate on the implications this cost-benefit analysis has on society, and how we could be progressing towards the future communities described in “Ebocloud” and “Neuromancer.”
Background photo source:: Cyborg: http://pichost.me/1641832/