April 30, 2005

Aesthetically Pleasing Environment

After reading Chapter 7 of Aesthetics of the Natural Environment, I have learned plenty more than I ever would have about aesthetics. First of all, I enjoyed reading this passage due to learning more about Kant's ideas. I also have never heard of Sibley, and I was pleased and satisfied with his ideas of aesthetic evaluation.

This was my favorite part of the whole reading. I like the mentioning of the three different types of evaluations. The first is a "straightforward non-aesthetic description," the second is an "aesthetic description," and the third, according to Sibley are "overall verdicts," which pretty much states the reaction a person has to the object. The example given in this reading is, "What a magnificant horse!" The reason why it is magnificant would be due to the characteristics it was given in the second stage (which was because of how graceful it was).

The wording of this passage was a little hard to understand, but right after I read the stages, I understood where this author was coming from. She wants the reader to understand that aesthetic judgement can be related to the environment, which is a certain form of medium.

Another sentence that struck me was, "Often our first contact with the aesthetic object will always have the most impact, and even if lacking in depth, may gain from a heightened kind of awareness and attention to the object" (208). I believe this to be completely true. When I went to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the little kids there (who saw the dinosaur bones for the first time) were completely impacted by how huge and amazing they were. I remember my first time seeing them, I was that same way. But now that I have seen them plenty of times, I am no longer that impacted by the size and aesthetic sight of them. So of course I believe the first contact with an object always has the greatest impact.

Posted by Anne Stadler at 03:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 18, 2005

Architecture and the human body: how do they relate?

I found my conversation with Dr. Jerz to be very interesting the one day in the Publications Office. I was rambling out ideas all over the place of what I was thinking about doing my presentation on for Tuesday, April 12. While we were talking, we all of a sudden brought up architecture and how it can tie into the human body. The reason why this struck me as the most interesting topic we have discussed, was because I could relate the Olympics to this idea as well.

Now that I think about what I presented in class, I feel that it was a little jumbled. I tried as hard as I could to keep everything in order, but the words would not seem to form in the way I wanted them too. Because of this, I am going to write about what my presentation was about in class and how I am going to expand this idea for my final research paper in Media Aesthetics.

Most of my information for my presentation came from Wikipedia. Due to this being an informal presentation, I thought that it would be okay to gather my background information from this site. At first, I looked up Olympic Games. I found the background on how the first games started in Olympia around 776 BC, and this played a very important role when it came to religion. These games were to honor their gods, especially Zeus.

Honoring their gods was very important and the Greeks (and all that showed to participate in the games) showed it by having a statue of Zeus in Olympia. The statue of Zeus was half nude and the other people in a picture of this statue were nude as well (or at least most of them were). This just proves how ideal the human body was and how it was used to show respect for their gods.

I also learned from Wikipedia that the participants in these games were naked, which explains why the people in the statue of Zeus were nude. In the stadiums (a beautiful form of architecture I might add), these performers not only gathered for religious reasons, but it was also "a celebration of the achievements of the human body."

This is also where the term gymnasium came in. Now a days, people feel that a gymnasium is just a building where sporting events take place. As of now it does mean "a place of exercise," but the first true meaning was a "place to be naked." The stadiums played a big part when it came to the celebration of the human body.

Sculpture is a big deal when it comes to architecture as well. When I went to visit the Carnegie Museum of Art, there were pieces of buildings that had bodies etched into them. It made me think: the bodies are not made up by the wall, but the wall is made up by the bodies. Without those bodies there, the wall would be plain and bare. There would be no substance, to say the least. I also saw the sculptures of the performers of the Olympic Games in ancient Greece who were nude. The ideal form of the body is definitely expressed through sculpture, and sculpture is definitely expressed through architecture.

The Colosseum in Italy is one example of how architecture is respecting the ideal human body. This amphitheatre used to be used for gladiators to combat one another. This amphitheatre also had an impact on the way other stadiums are built to this day.

After gaining plenty of information on this topic, I decided to stop focusing on the crowds related to architecture and more on the individual. For example, how architecture relates to the human body, and what kind of architectural features are incorporated by the human body (columns, arches, etc.). Wikipedia states, "Architecture is also the art of designing the human built environment," but I am going to find out how the body influenced forms of architecture.

Posted by Anne Stadler at 05:53 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 13, 2005

Summing it all up (again)...

Welcome to my wonderful world of blogging! Here is my most recent collection...

Donald McNeill's "Skyscraper Geography": This is a reflection on the different ideas McNeill included in his article about skyscrapers. Some of my reflections include how important the World Trade Centers were to New York and how the cities in movies (such as Gotham in Batman) are very popular (you hardly ever see a movie taking place in a rural area).

The Twin Towers: After reading Dr. Jerz's article on the World Trade Centers, I learned about how Dave Lehman said before this happened, he did not like the World Trade Centers. After they were destroyed, he finally realized the important. This blog also discusses my thoughts about the poem "To Brooklyn Bridge."

Thorough Thoureau reading: I have never read a Thoureau reading until having this class. I reflected on many quotes and ideas this author had in his two chapters "Sound" and "Solitude."

Comparing art and poetry: After reading the poem "The Great Figure" by William Carlos Williams and seeing the painting, I first wrote on my thoughts of the poem, but then I compared it to the painting. I wrote about how the two compliment eachother very well.

"Americanization and Expressionism"...: In this entry, I learned a lot from Dr. Jerz's article, "Americanization and Expressionism: The Hairy Ape (1922) and The Adding Machine (1923)." I also wrote what I thought of the fan site and the Wikipedia article on The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Along with these, I wrote about George Antheil's ballet, Ballet mécanique, and how Paul Lehrman is taking the time to use technology to get it performed the way Antheil originally wanted (This information came from a wired article). On top of this, I wrote about two different websites we had to read on the Ballet mécanique, one was a question and answer page and the other was an "about the film" type page.

Metropolis: speechless!: This is a long entry on the movie Metropolis. I wrote about the lighting, the workers, how (in my opinion) it relates to the industrial revolution, etc.

RUR vs. Metropolis: After reading Karel Capek's play called RUR and Dr. Jerz's summary of RUR, I did a comparison of how it compares and contrasts with the movie Metropolis.

Playing video games in class?: Because I could not get ELIZA or Colossal Cave Adventure to open on my dorm room computer, I got to play ELIZA in class. I wrote about this experience and how frustrating it could sometimes be because the game just keeps pretty much repeating what you say back to you. I also wrote about my experience playing Adventure. I found out that this game did work in the computer labs, so I did get to play it. I stated how after I was finished following Dr. Jerz's hints, I found I was stuck.

First reading of Galatea 2.2 : After reading the first 138 pages of the book, I reflected on it. I made certain connections on how Rick seems to be a lot like Imp A, which is why he's attached to it. I made the connection of the front cover (I related it to Pygmalion). I also gave examples from the book on how these computers responded to what the human would say.

"Standing at the Beginning of a Road": After reading Dr. Jerz's article, I learned plenty more information on Adventure and how it works. I also included my own opinions on this topic.

Galatea 2.2--finished: This is a long, long reflection on the book Galatea 2.2 and my connections I made throughout reading it. I found a website that explained the front cover perfectly (it's like a mirror-the computer trying to reflect the human). I also wrote about why I think the book is titled what it is (even if it may be a little extreme). If your interested in the connections I have made, then this would be a good blog to read.

Pick Up Ax: After reading the play Pick Up Ax, I felt very different about the technological world. This was a very easy play to read with a lot of read between the lines type of messages. I picked up on some of these messages and reflected on them in this blog entry.

"Adventure": I related Martin Heller's article about the computer game Adventure to the Turing Test and also wrote how the ending was a little confusing. I thought that maybe Heller really has never played the game, but has already been through the experience by caving with Crowther.

utopian entrepreneur: After reading this book, I was really excited to write about it (as you can see, I just kept typing away). This book grabbed my attention very easily, not only because of the design of the writing, but the content of the writing as well. I really liked the idea of this woman creating a video game for girls (even if she was being a little discriminatory).

So here it is once again! I hope you enjoy my aesthetically pleasing selection.

Posted by Anne Stadler at 07:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 12, 2005

utopian entrepreneur

Utopian Entrepreneur had to be the best book I had ever read within a two hour time span. I was surprised at the content (I thought the whole book was just going to be about the rise and fall of the Purple Moon video game at first). This book contained, not only information on the video game for girls, but also information on how Brenda Laurel's life relates to this game. For example, the whole idea of her hating Barbies, gave me a better understanding of why she would want to create a game for girls. Laurel would rather have a girl be herself, rather than imagine being someone else.

She did say that Barbie ruined her life.

The most amazing fact to me in this book was about Atari. To be honest, I never heard any complaints about Atari; I hear people say how it was the coolest gaming ever. I never knew certain concepts behind the game such as how "they held the belief that a great license would yeild a great videogame."

And also how they "published some really bad products." Never did I hear of any bad Atari products. It just proves how truthful this author is when it comes to the video game world.

To expand on the Atari thought, I would think the creators of video games would have been respectful to the creators of Atari (not to say Laurel isn't), because this is what seemed to start it all. This was a big breakthrough when it came to video games; am I right?

My favorite part of this whole book was the beginning where she explains why she was interested in creating a game just for girls. I do believe that there should be games just for girls (I mean there are games out there just for guys-just not a label on it saying so). It's good to know there are people out there who think of little girls and who do not appreciate the violence in video games (I feel strongly against the violence in video games as well).

Although Laurel's business had failed, I liked how in this book she had written about how she learned from her mistakes and how she could have done better if only she did certain things (such as "act like a leader," "trust yourself," "be the vision-keeper," etc.). Because of these concepts in this book, I felt that it was really inspirational, and even though her video game did not thrive, it seemed that she learned from her mistakes and now has a very thriving website where many girls come together and make friends, play the computer games created just for them, etc.

I know how I say I don't like computer games or video games, but this book opened my eyes to a new world. Before the paragraphs came about how they needed to find out what the girls were doing and how their lives are changing, I even thought that a good idea for the game Purple Moon, would be to put real life events (and how they found out females really act in the real world) in this game. If they don't know these things, how do they expect to have a productive and successful video game for little girls? Then I read the paragraphs about how they explained all of those things, and soon after, they learned from this mistake and got out there in the real world to investigate little girls lives. This is when they found out about sports becoming popular in their world; then this was when they came out with a soccer video game for the girls.

In my psych of women class, we were discussing how video games are so biased in favor of boys. Now a days, it is getting better (they do have that Barbie game out), but if you think about it, even some gaming systems are labeled--"Game-BOY" for one.

I really got into this book, and I really hope we discuss it in detail in class. I don't think one half of a class period will be enough time discuss the power that this book holds.

Posted by Anne Stadler at 10:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 09, 2005

Up for another "Adventure"

Right when I first started reading the article "Adventure" written by Martin Heller, I thought instantly of the Turing Test. Not in the way that the computer game was trying to live up to the Turing Test, but how it compares so much to a human experience. This game was created from a human experience, so it makes me think of the game as something a human would really take part in doing.

This article was confusing, I have to admit. I did not understand why Heller said at the end that he never played Adventure before when he really did. I was thinking that maybe he really never played the game, but he experienced the caving for himself (in the actual caves that were the setting of the game). It definitely leaves room open for interpretation.

Posted by Anne Stadler at 12:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dwarf drops ax: would you pick it up?

Reading Pick Up Ax written by Anthony Clarvoe was actually a fun reading for me. I don't think I have ever enjoyed reading anything about technology before in my life. Galatea 2.2 was okay, but Pick Up Ax definitely takes the cake on this one.

This was quite different than any other plays I have read before. The language was down to earth and not as complex as I thought it was going to be (after reading Galatea 2.2, anything would seem like an easy read). I also wanted to say that Amanda was right about the stage directions in this play. If they were not there, most of the story would disappear as well.

In a class discussion on this topic, we spoke of Mick being the character who is represented by the ax because he knows how to command. After reading the quote of the ax, "Command me, O Master," I thought that Keith was the one who represented the ax. The ax wanted people to command him and Mick was the one telling him what to do all of the time. Even Brian tries to tell him what to do (such as, what he should've said while they were sitting at the press conference).

Brian looks everywhere but at the ax when Keith is playing "Adventure." This says a lot about his character--he looks past the obvious even when it's right in front of him. He held a press conference and was the only one who didn't know that people were participating with Mnemonico under the table.

When Keith asked Mick what he would do, he said he would pick up the ax. This says a lot about his character. Because Mick said this, he is the one who wants to be in command of the ax (or rather, Keith and Brian). His attitude is very controlling and thuggish. He acts so tough, but when someone says something bad about him, he flips out on how he has an M.B.A. I never thought that Mick was really in control of "the ax." For this being a small play, there is definitely plenty of symbolism.

I never felt that Keith was stupid throughout this play, I just felt that he needed things (political and buisnesslike) to be explained to him in a way he would understand it, such as through a Dungeon and Dragons example.

I find it funny the connection from the beginning to the end of the book. Brian said that Mick runs a mean dungeon (which is just a game), but then turns up running a mean dungeon in reality (when he "sabotaged" his best friend). So even though at the beginning of the story the reader may thing that Keith is all about playing hard core games (video or board games--I think Dungeon and Dragons was a board game?), but it really turns out that this is his real life character. All along, I thought of Keith as being this really great friend towards Brian, but in the end, I could finally relate the "mean dungeon player" to who he really was.

I did not feel that Keith was a bad character at all, I felt that he was just doing what he wanted all along. It seemed as if his ideas were the ones that were running the company anyway. He did happen to do some evil things, not only sabotaging the new president of the company where they are trying to get microchips from, but also his best friend Brian. Brian left the company expecting Keith to go with him, instead he wanted a new office because "a man can't hear himself think in here." The part that was upsetting was how much Keith was bragging about his accomplishment (it was also wrong how he turned Mick against him in his own conference meeting--I mean, c' mon, this is supposedly his best friend). That was definitely wrong, I have to admit.

Posted by Anne Stadler at 12:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 04, 2005

Galatea 2.2: finished

Wow, I definitely know what the front cover of the book depicts after reading the website from which I found extra information on Galatea 2.2, written by Richard Powers.

This website states that Galatea 2.2 represents "the space where a human mind interacts with what it perceives (rightly or wrongly) to be its mirror image -- an artificial intelligence." The front cover is a mirror image. The side that is pixelated is the artifical intelligence trying to become more human looking (or should I say human "smart"), while the normal picture represents the real human. The real human, who is Powers in this book, created Helen, who is the blurry form of Powers. He puts all of his knowledge into her (even his life story towards the end), which makes this idea even more sufficient.

After that comparison, I sort of have an idea on why the book may be named Galatea 2.2. This is a really confusing idea, but bare with me here. Because the computer's name was Helen, I do not think Galatea stood for the machine at all. At the end of this story, Ram found out which question was answered by the human correctly (which was A.'s answer). Because of the bet they had going, it was stated that if they lost they would have to write a public apology in print. The exact quote on page 47 said, "If we lose, we'll give you a public retraction. A full apology, in print. The signed disgrace of your choice."

I think that this apology (because they lost the bet) was printed in a journal titled Galatea (Issue 2, Volume 2-Hence the 2.2 at the end). I think it makes sense. What do you think?

I knew there was something up with discussing this whole idea in a bar. It turns out, that this whole plan was set up before the bar scene. All of this information gets emptied out at the end. When Powers finds out about him getting set up, Helen seems to go away into some other world (she doesn't speak when spoken to). I find it funny how when Powers gets let down, Helen gets let down as well.

One thing I looked back on was A.'s reaction to Powers telling her of a machine being able to read, and Powers hearing the news about teaching the machine how to read. Powers said, "You can do that?" A. said, "

Another idea... After Powers was getting over C., he just started falling for A. It seemed that he loved A. at the time C. was married. It just seems that A. was so much more like Powers than C. was. C. was the opposite, A. was the same. Only it was depressing that they never got together. I think I would be scared away too though if a guy told me he loved me when he hardly knew me.

I find it funny also that Powers thought the machine is conscious. Well, maybe it was. I'm not too sure if I have an opinion on that part, but the whole grandmother having testicles being the grandfather scene really made me think that this machine could really be conscious.

I'm sorry if my thought are jumbled about this book, but to be honest, this book seems to be jumbled itself. It's really hard to make sense of this book at times, but I found it to be pretty interesting how instead of the book all coming together at the end, it falls apart. Powers doesn't know what he's going to do with himself, Helen shut down, and A. was out of Powers life. It seemed everything good that he had, left him. I have to admit, this was a depressing ending.

Posted by Anne Stadler at 11:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack