Wednesday, May 4th, 2011 by Patrick
Report from Narratives in New Spaces at FITC 2011
I was lucky enough to be invited to the FITC conference here in Toronto as a live blogger. Something I quickly learned about live blogging is that you don’t actually get much chance to absorb what’s going on as you’re too busy trying to capture it. So I thought I’d try digesting some of the what I heard and making more thoughtful posts out of it. Here’s the first:
Narratives in New Spaces described as “a panel that will explore how technology is acting as a catalyst to richer, immersive stories in both art and commercial spaces.” The panel was moderated by Dave Girolami and featured Steve Di Lorenzo, Tali Krakowsky and Theo Watson – all of whom work on some very cool interactive/immersive stuff.
Theo Watson is depressed by some of the bad ways interactive is used by ad agencies. They haven’t done much work in the marketing world not out of principal but just because 95% of the ideas agencies come to them with are just really bad.
Tali Krakowsky pointed out that brands aren’t going to stop doing this stuff so maybe working with them to create something artful is the smart approach. Seth Godin describes advertising as disruption to a person’s life. So maybe we should take that and push it. Create a disruption that’s so cool people will go out of there way to come and experience it rather.
Theo pointed to Toyota iQ and Nike+ as examples of work YesYesNo has done for brands where the experience itself is creative and fun with minimal branding and the marketing aspect comes in when they get shared widely as online videos with the brands attached.
Asked about using this kind of work in a health and healing context, Tali observed that our lives are dictated by the environments we live it so creating interactive environments is relevant in every sector. That made a lot of sense to me, we may not have found out exactly where and how this tangible/physical/digital stuff fits but it isn’t going away anytime soon.
Theo and Emily Gobeille touched on this unintentionally with Funky Forest when they found that some autistic kids loved experimenting it and really opened up in positive ways. To the extent that parents are taking their kids on special trips to see it as a therapeutic activity.
Theo also talked about their work on Eyewriter with TEMPTONE. Tempt is a pioneer graffiti writer from LA who has ALS, a disease which shuts down muscle control but leaves the brain un-touched. Eyewriter was a collaboration to build something that would let Tempt write graffiti using just his eyes (the only muscles he could still control). They hacked together a software and hardware system that allows him to write digital graffiti projected onto buildings and then beamed back live by video into his hospital room. Theo’s made the point that we have the opportunity to solve these types of niche problems using technology available to us (a bunch of open source software, cheap sunglasses from Venice Beach, a hacked Sony PlayStation webcam some electronic parts from Radio Shack and a lot of ingenuity in this case).
Steve talked about a collaboration he was involved in to create an installation for the Critical Care Unit waiting room at Toronto’s Sickkids Hospital. It’s stuff that can really change people’s lives but finding the funding is still very tough. It’s hard to convince the board of a hospital that they should spend money on this stuff when they need new MRI machines.
This is just a fraction of what went on in the panel but I found it really interesting to hear from these top notch practitioners in a pioneering new space.