All posts by Mohammad Hossein Rahmani

Supreme Word

 

Title taken from a muslim belief, that there’s a high name for god, and by knowing it you can do anything.

A Vision for the Future

let’s get all the technical difficulties out of the way. what would we use to communicate?

What if the technology from 200 years later is here. We have VR technology that can seamlessly and effortlessly create the immersive world we ask of it. Let’s say we’ve had this technology for centuries. We can recreate anything we want for anyone we want to communicate it with. Okay, WHAT do you want to communicate? If you want to show people what happened, what are you exactly thinking about? Is it what really happened, or is it what your think happened?

Well if you want to recreate what happened, objectively, it wouldn’t really be possible. Let’s say you want the depict “i was sitting under an apple tree”: How were you sitting? what were you wearing? were you on grass or on soil? What color were the apples? What color were each individual apple? How did the sky look like? were the sun exactly where you think it was?
Let’s make it easier, depict me an “Apple”. It was the most beautiful apple you have ever seen. Okay, can you describe it for me? Can you describe it so accurately that i can make an accurate enough 3D model out of it? How would you go about describing an apple if i have never seen one?

You can’t describe the world accurately. You can hardly describe anything accurately. You don’t even have the capacity to store/digest all the information about anything in the objective world. It took us millennia to be able to describe ANYTHING accurately. You might have learned about things that can be accurately described, maybe a Triangle which has a very definite description (vertices, angles, etc) and anything that doesn’t comply 100% with those descriptions, is definitely not a Triangle. But you had to LEARN that description or spend years to figure it out on your own. And it’s just a triangle.

You were made in a world which defies description, and it’s not like your evolution never faced that problem. It’s no mystery that we chunk information into easily storable packages that are vague enough to include all the detail and accurate enough to be different from other packages. But there’s an infinite amount of information, and therefore infinite ways to package a subject. How do we determine how much information is “just enough” information? Because we inevitably do away with most of the information about something because we don’t seem to able to store all the information about it, so we do away with the less important information. So how do we determine which data is important to store and which is not?

Evolution has a weirdly simple answer to that: whatever information that is important for your survival.

Have you ever thought of being able to communicate with other creatures? Let’s say you want to communicate with a bee. Knowing what we know about storing and processing information, what do you think we have to say to a Bee?

I think by now it’s safe to say that we’re trying to recreate perception, not reality. You are inevitably immersed in the subjective world. So it makes sense for you to tell the story from the subjective perspective. And when we do away with reality, it’s becomes a choice to how much of your perception to include and exclude. Even when the event is happening right here and now, and i ask you to “look”, what i’m essentially saying is “turn away and exclude other things that you can turn towards, and focus on perceiving what’s happening there”. I’m asking you to remove unnecessary chunks of reality from you consciousness and include the ones that i think are necessary.

Well how’s that different from using words and ultimately telling a story?

I think words are our best invention to mirror what really happens in our heads when we chunk away the objective world in order to be able to operate in it. Words are exactly in the sweet spot and when necessary, they enable us to add suffix and prefix to further narrow it down to the benefit of our story. Narrowing the criteria further and further down might seem like a good option, but is it?

There’s a story in Quran (i’m not sure how it’s told in the Bible) when some murder happens among Israelites, and Moses asks God to help them out and God tells Moses to sacrifice a cow, then the truth will be revealed. Israelites asked Moses to narrow it down, what cow? what color? Male or female? how old? etc. So they keep asking and Moses kept answering until the demand was a very specific golden colored female cow that had such and such attributes. They have a hard time finding that cow, but they finally will and the sacrifice works out and the murderer is found. But things would’ve gone fine if they weren’t so picky about the cow for it the be the “right” cow.

In many ways, when we’re communicating with someone, we’re engaging in a sort of pretend-play. In that realm things are reduced to their functions and related actions, not the objectivity of it. You can play house with your childhood friend and non of you are actually a doctor or whatever, but you function as one and do actions that represents that objective reality. So you rely heavily on imagining and simulating and suspending disbelief.

It doesn’t have to be a child’s game. It’s a sort of logic in its most simple form. You can think of a mathematical equation even (and that’s a deep rabbit hole), a universally accepted thing like “1 + 1 = 2” . Well what you’re really saying 1(thing) + 1(same thing) = 2 * (things). So 1*apple + 1*apple = 2*apple.
But wait a second, those apples aren’t the same thing now, are they? You’re practically engaging in pretend-play at many levels for such a fundamental equation to be “true”.

So, a wrench here: What if we end up communicating in this future world, exactly the way we communicate in… our world? Look, you have everything you need to create in this world we live in. What does this world lack that you need to be in the virtual world to communicate with others? Wouldn’t we resort back to using the most efficient way to tell a story? Wouldn’t we end up using… words?

So maybe we’re getting ahead. Maybe finding the word of future.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. – John 1:1

Source Thoughts

  • What do i want to communicate? what happened or what we think happened?
  • You can’t communicate what happened, because you don’t have the capacity to digest and store all the information about… well anything.
  • doing away with the details is just what we do.
  • To an autistic, one way to describe it, the whole room changes if you move an element, because in all reality the scene is NOT what it used to be.
  • let’s say you can communicate with every creature in the world. What would you have to say to a bee or fish?
  • well, what is “just enough” information?
  • are you truly creating or you’re just remixing?
  • how much of it is thought?
  • okay so you can’t communicate what happened. so we live in the realm of what we percieved that happened.
  • do you want to communicate your perception fully? well, words seem satisfactory.
  • but as an image? are we in the realm of logic and relationships anymore?
  • A mathematical representation of things, bears nothing with reality. but it’s no less truthful.
  • But the reality itself, two apples are not identical. 1*apple != 1*apple. things aren’t one thing in the real world.
  • what are we communicating with then?
  • in many ways, i think all our communication is pretend play. Let’s say, is Let’s pretend. Let’s pretend all these apples are actually equal.
  • are you responsible for the information you didn’t percieve?
  • understand that we’re not creating art here and leave it to the reader to interpret. It’s easyeasyeasy to jump there. But you’re COMMUNICATING. You are doing your best, hopefully, to make sure you are both on the same page. on the same page enough.

Patterns

  1. Dawn of a new potential
  2. Improvement of the tech as a driving force
  3. Developing storytelling methods in the new mediums
  4. Democratizing creation

  1. Lumieres
  2. Griffith/Melies/etc
  3. Eisenstein/Kuleshov/and every movie you’ve ever seen
  4. Super8/DV Cam/HD DSLR/Smartphone/Non Linear Editors/Online Education

  1. Rebirth by Mark Bolas/Oculus
  2. Lighter/Faster/Higher Resolution/More Biometrics
  3. You/Me/Us
  4. Free Engines/Javascript/UE Blueprints/Online Assets/Open Source Software

A Vision

 A Vision for the Future

I’m scraping the last shreds of grey matter i have left at the moment. I will elaborate, but this is the outline:
0. Dawn of a new potential
1. Improvement of the tech as a driving force
2. Developing storytelling methods in the new mediums
3. Democratizing creation
0. Lumieres
1. Griffith/Melies/etc
2. Eisenstein/Kuleshov/and every movie you’ve ever seen
3. Super8/DV Cam/HD DSLR/Smartphone/Non Linear Editors/Online Education
0. Rebirth by Mark Bolas/Oculus
1. Lighter/Faster/Higher Resolution/More Biometrics
2. You/Me/Us
3. Free Engines/Javascript/UE Blueprints/Online Assets/Open Source Software

What is the language of universal meaning

Things that come to mind

 

NOTE: i couldn’t get the videos to show up. Read the proper version at my blog.

In the game “The Movies”, by Lionhead Studios, is a movie production simulator much like The Sims or Tycoon series; where the main goal is to keep everything in your created world in order (or not). But The Movies adds this whole “Movie Maker” mini game where you can actually make movies within.

Production of The Movies began in late 2002[2] in a Lionhead Studios brain-storming conference. The idea began when Peter Molyneux came up with a new idea for a simulation game. The idea was to create a more diverse and lifelike strategy aspect to the game giving players the option to create their very own movie. GameSpy

So they had to come up with a way to enable players to “make movies”, seperate than the studio management part. The implementation is simple: They created a catalog of “scenes”, which are Maniquins that have a set animation, for example a character shooting another character. Then you have a catalogue of skins to put on these character, much like Mixamo/Adobe Fuse (As of April 2018!). They also let you control the camera movement and the setting to an extent so you’ll end up with a fully formed scene. Now all you have to do is to put these scenes together, add sound/subtitle (or if you’re ambitious, voice over) and you’ll have a motion picture story.

 

The Movies Advance Movie Maker Tutorial

Here you can see how the Movie Maker system in “The Movies” works. Worth a watch.

Terminator 2 Animated Remake using ‘The Movies’ game by Lionhead

And example of what the Movie Maker is capable of, a remake of a familiar film.

BEST MOVIE FROM ‘THE MOVIES GAME’ EVER MADE!!

This one’s an original production, although i’ve seen IMO better results, but it’s expression through the medium, so take it however you like.

Story telling doesn’t come naturally to us

Story Appreciation does come naturally, don’t get me wrong: We can’t help but to praise people who can tell stories in the medium of choice and appreciate the level of detail they go to make sure the end product contains all the relevant pieces to deliver that “totality”, that elusive “Gesamtkunstwerk”.

The truth is we don’t really need a lot of information to empathize and understand. There’s a lot of information out there that we are able to parse, but it wouldn’t be viable nor practical to do so. So we use abstraction and compartments stored that contain “just enough” detail to be operational in the world, and add to the detail when necessary. Interestingly we have no problems expressing using those symbolic abstractions as well, meaning we’re quite comfortable with a cartoonish representation of people, and are willing to empathize with literally a couple of lines and circles and humanize them.

So the problem of “Abstraction Level” is something to think about. If you give your random person ALL the details they need to build a full picture, like a real model to draw from, it’s unlikely for them to hit their desired level of detail.
Even a lot of times they think they did, but after reviewing the expression later they can see how it looks “wrong”. So the question is what level of abstraction should you give the creator for them to create with “enough” effort, but don’t get discouraged from their incompetence to utilize it? How high up should be the level of details they should be able to comprehend and articulate?

Grim Fandango: Land of the Living

In the game Grim Fandango, you live in the land of the dead (from Mexican mythology), and you go to the “land of the living” to bring back the newly deceased. The depiction of “the land of the dead” is the image that someone who’s not used to see living things would make. In our example, dead people who forgot how living was.

Adventure Time: BMO in the VR BRB

In the series Adventure Time: The Islands, Fin and Jake (boy and dog) enter the VR world that their sentient Gameboy (BMO) has made. BMO also tried to recreate his friends in a section called BRB (Be Right Back!), but they look horrific, and BMO knows it (well you KNOW you drew a bad car if you never drew a car!). Very dark and very though provoking (Like most of Adventure Time, don’t be fooled by the colors!)


Although, if you WANT your work to look like a collage, go ahead! Using the limitations imposed on you to your advantage is always a good strategy. Also, we never had “enough” juxtaposition, so go for it!

Enjoy this work by the Armenian artist, Sergei Parajanov.

Sergei Parajanov Collages

Variation on themes by Pinturicchio and Raphael

Week1 – Jump to Universality: A Meditation

 

Based on:

Chapter 6. The Jump to Universality
From: The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World – David Deutsch (2011)

where do I begin…

Okay let’s talk about abstraction. The first half of the Jumper chapter talks about the evolution of language and numerical abstraction. This is great because we can practically track the origins of “Abstraction” in and out of itself. A Conscious being looks at its origins, its cradle, its source, to find and understand novel things about the world to help him in life.

The problem is there’s an infinite amount of information out there and non of them are objectively useful to us. Well our sensors are limited anyways so that narrows down the amount of data we absorb from the environment. So the question becomes: What should he pay attention to? If the world around him can be infinitely broken and abstracted into different enough compartments, what comes first?

This is the direction i thought the article is going. I’m going to continue it and see how that merges into the Jumper.
So i think the clue to the answer is basically in the origins of the question. Why would he want to extract from its surrounding? What does the infinite have for him that he lacks? Well therein lies the answer: Limitation. His main reason is to overcome his limitations. That’s what gives meaning to his limitations. It can be as simple as a long stick that he can use to get the hard-to-reach fruit, or to attack the predator from a safer distance. So in essence, it’s the limitations imposed on him that creates function, creates meaning out of the infinite.

So this is actually what i thought Jumper was about. The evolution of meaning through language. Even with our limited senses, we are bombarded by infinite amounts of data and (although sad) we can’t possibly parse through it all. But one can project meaning on to the world and see Potential in things. So a cliff is not a rock formation; it’s a “Falling Off” place first, and then a physical reality with properties. A curb side might a “Step On” place for a tall guy like me, but can be a “Sitting On” place for a shorter person. Both of which have those potential for us (and not the other) basically because we are limited that way.

I would like to look at language the same way. This eventually writes off the idea of universality. Yes, in theory we are able to create universality in different fields, but that doesn’t mean it’s in any way practical to do so. The history of math laid out in the Jumper is a good example of that: there are infinite ways to create a number system, but only a handful will actually be practical. We can’t possibly store and keep track of all the abstraction a universal language can bestow upon us. A usual example is the Eskimo having (allegedly) 50 different words for Snow. Well that doesn’t mean 50 ways of pointing out the same thing, but means 50 different variation of Snow that doesn’t even occur to us that live outside of the Eskimo environment. Knowledge of different variation of snow and ice is absolutely crucial for their survival and having those compartments in their consciousness mirrors the necessity for those abstraction in their language. But how many words do you think they have for Soil? or Vegetation? How many different words they have for different shades of Green?

The Eskimo language is a good example because the Polysynthetic nature of it somewhat resembles unparsed postfix/suffix structures you see in “Language Theory and Automata” examples (Chomsky/Greibach context free grammar)

 

, which is maybe the closest we got to the idea of language universality. Words aren’t simple containers, but chains that can be added and added until it builds the meaning you want. You can think of Oriental languages as the polar opposite with a limited number of words. Each have their own benefits and hindrance.

Why don’t go a step further in the DNA language? Sure it seems that it fulfills that desire for universality, 4 letters and make the world out of it. But the result might be the most impractical language ever created; and we still haven’t figured it out! If we made Binary computers, we created the language, and the entity designed to understand it bit by bit. One can read and understand Binary, but we created abstractions on top of it to make it infinitely more practical. As for DNA, we’re not Cells that can read it bit by bit, but we CAN create higher level abstractions to parse through what the resulting bundle of cells mean to us.

I hope that makes sense.

P.S. I would like to also add that a computer never misses a bit, or the whole program fails. And the DNA/RNA can’t be misread, or it turns Cancerous. I guess that’s also a trade-off. Simple and Universal means less margin of error. That’s also a proper reason for abstraction. Think of EVERY language made on top of Assembly.

Blog link: http://blog.mhrahmani.com/osc/week1-jumper/

“Week0 – Presuppositions and Mentality

 

My Statement of Purposes

So im just going to copy here an excerpt from my 2016 SOP that i used to apply to iTP… and other schools. I never actually intended it for iTP specifically: it was just a statement of my current… purposes!

Anyhow, i thought it’s eerily related to our first day discussions in Open Source Cinema

Interactive media, especially digital, is going through a democratizing phase. High-End game engines are free to use and publish, educational material is either completely free or needs a small fee, and devices are available shortly to the general public after they are announced. This means that our era is experiencing rapid change and trends are quick to adopt and retire. This means an entire avalanche of new experiences and ideas is flowing from all over the world through people who never had the chance to express themselves.

The open source community has thrived even more than before these days and it has shaped the industry to their needs. A whole new 3D Print industry spawned out of online communities. The good old Arduino enabled thousands of artists afraid of electronics to build impressive and sophisticated interactive experiments around the world and create new experiences.

Of course, on the high end of the industry, video games are looking more detailed and gorgeous than ever. Some almost indistinguishable from photograph, plus beautiful motion captured animation and natural physical lighting. However, that is where I believe the industry is going wrong. I am all for higher quality visuals, but it seems like the gameplay and game design, the heart and soul of interactive games, is lost in the way. To me it is a reminder of what Hitchcock observed when sound was added to films and filmmakers tried to remake stage plays and not utilize the cinematic language: “It’s like a lot of films one sees today… to me they are what I call “photographs of people talking”. It bears no relation to the art of the cinema”. This is going against what interactive media has to offer. It is rehashing its predecessor, cinema and television, into easy to play form; sometimes almost like play and pause button.

Although going back to the masses, some amazing experimental “indie” games and interactive arts came out of the democratized section of the industry. People who just had an “itch” in their head, some vision they wanted others to experience, were able to just put it out there with limited but effective resources. Games like “Papers, Please”, “Cart Life” don’t have complicated mechanics or eye catching visuals (they do have unique style), but they act as powerful empathy machines that convey a concept to the players that can only be done with interactive media and nothing else.

New media can rapidly change this closed loop we create around ourselves. For example, the term “empathy machine” is thrown a lot at VR these days as well. Touted as probably the “ultimate empathy machine”, this new media is going through its early days of experimental phase: with static “Cinéma vérite” style documentaries and highly experimental VR environments that is exploring the medium to find its own language. VR might not turn out to be what everyone expects it to be, and it takes a while for a new medium to stop rehashing its predecessors. but spearheading the quest to find a whole new medium’s unique aspects and intricacies is something I am really excited about. Figuring out challenges like how sound should work in VR or how a story should be told in new media is the type of things that keeps excited and motivated about the technology.

 

http://blog.mhrahmani.com/osc/week0-presuppositions/