Categories

A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Posts by (1)

Alice in Wonderland

“Oh, I’ve had such a curious dream! said Alice.  And she told her sister, as well as she could remember… her sister kissed her, and said “It was a curious dream, dear, certainly; but now run in to your tea; it’s getting late.  So Alice got up and ran off, thinking while she ran, as well as she might, what a wonderful dream it had been.”

 Ironically, while reading Alice and Wonderland, I consistently found myself getting lost in my own wonderland and dosing off to sleep…  I couldn’t help but wonder if that was part of Lewis Carroll’s intent.   She paints a dreamy labyrinth of imagery that is as playful and childish as it is profound and adult.

 “And she tried to fancy what the flame of a candle looks like after the candle is blown out, for she could not remember ever having seen such a thing.”

 As Alice travels through Wonderland, meeting various creatures, larger metaphorical questions are raised about life, choices, the collective unconscious, and the characters one meets along the way.

“The Caterpillar was first to speak ‘ What size do you want to be?’ it asked.  ‘Oh, I’m not particular as to size.” Alice replied ‘only one doesn’t like changing so often, you know.'”

 The story ends with Alice’s sister sitting with closed eyes trying to believe herself into the dream of Wonderland.

 “She half believed herself in Wonderland, though she knew she had but to open them again, and all would change to dull reality.”

 Her sister realizes that soon Alice is going to be confronted with that “dull reality” as well, and will have to hold onto the memories of Wonderland, and “happy summer days.”

I think this concept of reality and Wonderland in relation to technology is an interesting one…   On one hand, I think drawing on people’s imaginations and sense of Wonderland is the ultimate goal.  On the other, I think it’s important to create technologies that don’t take us somewhere else but remind us of where we are. To be completely corny, to remind us that reality and wonderland, or the virtual and real, are perhaps not so far apart but one in the same.

 I recently read something by the Tibetan Budhist Pema Chödrön that said, “we’ve strengthened the habit of escape, choosing fantasy over reality.  Unfortunately, we get a lot of comfort from leaving, from being lost in our thoughts, worries, and plans.  It gives us a sense of false security and we enjoy it.”

 I’ve contemplated this idea a lot in regards to ITP and this story.  Perhaps, it is one of the reasons I’m wary of technology. It inherently takes us somewhere else, which can be endlessly seductive.  Perhaps that’s not such a bad thing though, as long as we can be equally seduced by what’s infront of us…

 “’I’m afraid I can’t put it more clearly,’ Alice replied, very politely, “for I can’t understand it myself, to begin with.”

6 comments to Alice in Wonderland

  • Liz Khoo

    I think there’s been a lot of commentary on why fantastical movies are so popular these days — the reign of the superhero dramas — is because it’s pure escapism. Advanced motion graphics certainly make everything we see on screen appear more and more lifelike and believable, making it easier for us viewers to lose ourselves in the technology.

    On the other hand, there was a talk some told me to watch recently (http://www.mobilemonday.nl/talks/kevin-slavin-reality-is-plenty-thanks/) by Kevin Slavin, called “Reality is Plenty, Thanks”. In it, he argues for technology being more effective when it resembles the behaviors of things in real life–in his example, a programmed game for mobile phones, simulating a ghost chasing you. Because ghosts are already a popular figment of the imagination (or are they..?) it was easier to translate this into technology with a more powerful result.

    I thought that was a clever way of technology taking advantage of the innate human capacity for imagination.

    So perhaps that is where we should be aiming at ITP with our tech creations: to invite people’s imaginations to participate, not just provide the imagination for them.

  • Natalie "Tschechaniuk"

    I’ve been captivated by Alice in Wonderland since I was a child and throughout my life I’ve had many experiences that call to mind a particular line or scene from that book. Alice’s dream life seems infinitely applicable to reality. I’ve never stopped to consider why that might be, nor have I thought about the book in the context of work at ITP, so I was interested in this conversation that begins this analysis.

    I agree with idea that the most engaging experiences are those that draw on the imagination of the user. Because Alice in Wonderland is so fantastic, we have almost no ground to stand on as readers and must use our own creativity to draw this other world. In this way, the experience of reading is radically different from the experience of watching a movie which can become, as Liz mentions, “pure escapism”. The challenge of inviting the creativity of others into our own projects is daunting. We not only have to figure out how to make this happen but we must also be willing to give up some control over potential uses and interpretations. And, ultimately, it requires faith (optimism?) that people actually want an engaging imaginative experience, and not just total escape.

  • Nancy

    I think you all would enjoy the conversation on Ericka Maher’s post on Alice…. interesting the connection she makes to ITP.

    Liz.. really like your comment, esp. “I thought that was a clever way of technology taking advantage of the innate human capacity for imagination.

    So perhaps that is where we should be aiming at ITP with our tech creations: to invite people’s imaginations to participate, not just provide the imagination for them.” I think that’s what good art does, it doesn’t “complete” it invites them into participate and spark their imagination or their thinking.

  • Rafael "Gross Brown"

    I love Alice, especially in this music clip: http://youtu.be/pAwR6w2TgxY

  • esw290

    Liz, thanks for sharing that clip. I thought his ideas were fascinating.. This notion that often augmented reality relies on inserting the eye as the “unified center of perception, thought, and reality,” instead of the brain I think is particularly intriguing. Because ultimately, it still comes back to the brain and our ability to let ourselves be fooled by our vision and projected feelings from that vision. As exemplified by the game, reality is augmented “when it feels different.”
    However, he seemed to imply that in some instances technology was better when it allowed the user to see, as exemplified with the map that nudged you. Whereas to me, (while it does seem like it would be less consuming), ultimately the user would still be distracted just in a different sense.

    I was also intrigued by the example of the ant vision that magnified reality. The notion that the user is clearly and consciously being tricked visually, is in theory appealing. It’s not creating a veneer that is at all relatable and thus allows the users perception to narrate a different projection.

  • esw290

    Also thanks Rafael, that music clips sums up the way Alice and Wonderland felt to read.. It also reminds me of how New York City feels in general. Just as a side note, I went to get coffee the other morning and the barista in the coffee shop was wearing a top hat.. An old woman walked in and proclaimed “you look like the mad hatter!” She proceeded to tell us that the reason mad hatter was mad was in fact because of the fumes from hat making. Upon further investigation, I found this to be true (apparently hat making does involves mercury). Anyway the point being, I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of this situation especially in relation to Lewis Carroll. The amount of serendipitous, dreamlike, events that happens in the city is uncanny, and in many ways Alice and Wonderland feels like a day in New York and ITP.