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Video games are taking over our society. It is clear that video games are much more than simple entertainment, they are persuasion devices. Video games are the perfect media entertainment, they entertain, influence, and immerse the gamer without their knowledge.

In Bissell’s Article “Grand thefts“, he talks about his experience with multiple versions of the game, Grand Theft Auto. This game is one of the most popular games on the market. This game’s popularity is attributed to it’s lack of structure. By lack of structure, I mean this game basically gives the gamer complete freedom. The gamer has the ability to choose clothes, cars, apartments, and even relationships. By emulating these real life freedoms, the game allows the gamer in a way to have an alias in a different realm of reality. No longer do people have a single identity, they have many in a multitude of games. Whether it is an extraterrestrial character, professional sports player, or super hero, these games allow us to identify ourselves in many characters.

Video games are not controlled by gamers, gamers are  controlled by video games. At times gamers can stay up through the night, denying themselves of the basic need for sleep, because they are so immersed in the game world. Gamers become obsessed with the freedom to create. This reminds me of  a scene from the movie “The Matrix” where they are in a white room and they can make things appear out of thin air. In the same way, video games  give us this freedom. They allow us to become co creators of a world that is only limited by our imagination. However while we all get caught up in this new found freedom, we forget that we are dependent on the game itself to provide it. In a sick and twisted way, we are not in control…the video game is. The game forces us to play it all while it is feeding our minds with propaganda and forcing us to download unwanted information. Companies, and organizations are now using video games as advertisements and persuasion devices. For example the NCAA games promote sports, thus increasing sports gear and ticket sales. Also militaristic games such as “Americas Army” or “Call of Duty” are used as great recruitment tools for the armed forces.

Video games are playing a huge role in our culture. Their impact is only limited by the gamer, and if we are not careful they will begin to control us. With gaming becoming such a large industry and form of entertainment, I hope gamers play with caution and limit the amount of influence the game has on them.  If you agree with blog or disagree, Post a comment below. Also, I posted the clip from “The Matrix” below, so check it out.

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Over the weekend we read pages 347-535 in House of Leaves. Throughout the entire book, the reader is kept on edge eager to find out what’s next…this section was no different. We pick back up with Navidson traveling to Lowell to take care of Tom’s belongings. As you can tell this is a dramatic moment, Navidson feels that he should have been the one to rescue his daughter and die rather than Tom. As an older brother to Tom, It is normal for Navidson to feel this way. In someways, the lost of Tom attracts Navidson back to the corridor rather than distinguish his interest.

While Navidson remains lost in the abyss, Karen interviews a variety of individuals on their thoughts and beliefs about the house and it’s unique characteristics in her partial transcript ,What Some Have Thought. In these interesting interviews, we see many different opinions and theories about the house.  My favorite conclusion is an honest one, in which Walter Mosley admits he has no explanation of the houses behavior, only fascination. He simply states:

Walter Mosely. Novelist.

Setting:Fresh Kills Park

Moseley: “Strange Place. The walls changing all the time. Everything’s similar,

familiar, and yet without signposts or friends. Plenty of clues but no solutions. Just Mystery.

Strange,very strange. [He looks up, genuinely baffled] I don’t Know. I sure would hate to be stuck there”(House of Leaves pg.362).

This explanation is simple and honest, that is why I love it. After the interviews, the book reveals some specifications of the house itself rather than the only the effects we see it has on the individuals living there. Here are some of the specifications.

  1. No light.
  2. No humidity.
  3. No air movement(i.e. breezes,drafts etc.)
  4. Temperature remains at 32 degrees F.
  5. No sounds. except for dull roar.
  6. compasses do no function there.
These are just a few of the specifications  of the house itself. From these observations, it is hard to believe that this God forsaken place can even be called a house, it is more like a cave without precious stones.It is possible that the qualities do in fact effect the characters living in the house. We see the characters(who are still alive) return to the house. These characters were having many issues such as migraines, lost of appetite, and even paranoia. However, the characters return to the house later in the story and their symptoms seem to vanish… and that is not the only thing that has vanished so has the corridor to that leads to the abyss. The Corridor is replaced with just an ordinary linen closet found in most homes. For awhile the family is relieved that the house resembles an ordinary home. However, Navidson’s interest for the odd mystery continues to eat at him to the point where one day the door reappears. Eager to go back inside, Navidson packs up and brings and rides a bike equipped with an odometer. He begins to ride and discovers that every direction he travels to leads down hill. Eventually he discovers a place I like to refer to as limbo. In this place he sits on an edge of a interminable well where you have two options, sit for eternity or jump. Navidson decides  to jump and while falling a light flashes. Amazingly he is transported, however he is still in the corridor. Karen hears Navy and through her deep love for him, she over comes her fear of the corridor and enters it. She finds Navidson nearly dead and maimed. With tears flowing down her face she closes her eyes and when she opens them they are in the front yard. She believes she is dead for a few moments but recognizes the house. Immediately she calls for an ambulance. After months of recovery, Navidson has lost and eye, a hand and now has a prosthetic hip, some call this an happy ending…i’m not so sure. This seems to be the end of the Navidson record, however I still have a few questions such as:
  1. Has the corridor been there for eternity?
  2. Were the symptoms the characters feeling caused by the house in an attempt to draw them back?
  3. Should we consider this ending to be an happy one?

 

 

Discussion questions:

  1. How does the Navidson record draw the reader in and immerse them in the story?
  2. What is the house? Why is it there?
  3. What effect did the typography have on the story?

Kindle, The New Novel…

            This week in class, we were presented with a nonconventional assignment. The mission was to write an essay that branches outside the traditional specifications of the formal essay. Through the use of typography , I created the image above. The image is the text/content of my essay rearranged in such a way to which the text creates the kindle device. As I began to copy and paste content from my essay and manipulate the letters and words to form this image, I felt as though I was breaking some kind of law.Since elementary school, students are taught that our essays must be in the formal format pictured below:

          Though the standard essay format is useful and effective for reports, and is a easy way to convey information or ideas, it places restrictive borders and margins on our imaginations. This assignment was challenging at first, because when the only method for writing I knew was the standard MLA format, the newfound creative freedom and different styles were a bit overwhelming…

With so many options and directions I could have taken with this project, I chose to create the image above using Typography. This past week in class, we discussed typography in depth, and even watched a documentary on it. The endless possibilities Typography present amaze me. I used these words from my essay and manipulated them into the dimensions and style of the Kindle interface:

[THE NOVEL IS DEAD!! The kindle made its debut November 19th, 2007 changing the way people read forever. No longer does one have to carry a heavy novel around, or go to the library to check out a new book…now all titles are available at the touch of a button. The kindle debut with 88,000 titles available for download and within a year grew, offering 275,000 titles. Every person now could have a library with 275,000 books in their own homes, without having to sacrifice a room or move the furniture.Sleek, smooth, economical, lightweight, utilitarian, and elegant, are all words that describe the Kindle interface. The Kindle replaces the traditional paper back book by presenting a new and innovative design, increasing title availability, and providing a new and improved reading experience.] 

By manipulating the type into the image above, the text transformed. The content was no longer stationary text on a page, but was brought to life. Each word now possesses a unique personality, shape, size, and mobile capability. It sill amazes me the effect typography can have on society, and it’s subtleness is the best part. I enjoyed creating this image and using actual content from an essay as a medium for a graphic. This project allowed me to express my ideas and content in a way that the conventional essay could have never provided. If you like the graphic please post a comment below. Also check out the images below, they are the Amazon logo and the kindle device, both of which I attempted to replicate.


Wow, we are already half way through House of Leaves  and the a story is beginning to unravel. From pages 152 to 346, there is nothing but nonstop adventure and action. What began as an exploration mission for a fortune and fame painfully transitioned into a desperate rescue mission. In 200 pages we see two team members get shot, one commit suicide, and another get left behind.

 

The story picks up with the attempt of rescuing Holloway and his team from the abyss. Navidson is accompanied by Reston, but his brother Tom cowers out of the mission and volunteers to remain behind and man the radio station. This weak moment by Tom is replaced by his courageousness later in the story. The mysterious cavern has seemed to increase in size and it takes Navidson and his team to locate Holloway and the other members. The situation is quite ironic, Navidson seeks to rescue Holloway but enters  a maze that is changing continuously with no idea of Holloways location and no plan to find them. Navidson’s plan to find Holloway and his team is essentially stroll around in the dark with hopes of stumbling into them…some rescue attempt.

 

The Hallway as they call it, seems to have a different but deep psychological effect on each character. We see the Holloway driven to insanity which only ceases upon his suicide. In the section: The Holloway Tape, we see the final moments of Holloway’s life. early in the story, Navidson and the rest of the team members encounter a man of who’s appearance they cannot make out. This strange figure remains a black silhouette. This unknown person reveals his identity by firing a rifle upon Navidson and the rest of the members. One of the team members takes a round right through the forehead, Navidson and the rest scramble for cover. As the reader, it is evident that this silhouette of darkness is in fact Holloway. I love the imagery of the silhouette which is used as a symbol to show that Holloway’s identity has been stripped away by the abyss and now he is nothing but a blank figure. Holloway confirms in the video of his final moments that it was him who shot the team members and that he was filled with unbelievable guilt. He informally apologizes and claims that he is being stocked by an unknown creature. Eventually his paranoia leads him to take his rifle and shoot himself in the chest. Ironically his final words were, “I dont want to die!” This quote demonstrates the powerful influence of the maze, as it forces individuals to  act in ways they typically wouldn’t. The great expanse of space drove Holloway insane, which Ramsey Peterlock confirms with her statement, “In that place, the absence of an end finally became his own end.” Human beings are finite creatures, meaning we need an end, and if one does not exist, we create it. The story continues to show  the terrifying effects of the cave and is the climax of the novel. to read more on the story check out these links: Reality has converged upon the surreal

 

More interesting than the story itself, is the typography used to convey it. from different techniques such as leaving 3/4 of a page blank to upside down words, the author envelops the reader with innovative typographical techniques. On some pages the author used typography to act out what the word was describing. For example, on page 289 the author increased the space in between the letters of the word, stretching. This literally stretches out the word stretching. Although it was nice to cover more pages because the reduced text on each page, I thought the typography made the story more interesting and gave life to the text. These 150 pages were exciting! From the story itself to the typographical effects used, I really enjoyed this portion of the novel. Check out the pictures below to get an idea of how typography improves the reading experience.

 

Discussion Questions:

    1. How do you think the abyss effects the psyche of each character? Does the cave turn them into different people, or does it merely reveal their inner thoughts and fears?
    2. How does the use of typography improve the reading experience? Do you think it makes a difference in the way one processes information?

Typography is an art form that seems to be forgotten or overlooked. I myself did not recognize it’s significance until yesterday in class when we watched the documentary, “Helvetica.” The documentary was eighty minutes on the history of universal text Helvetica. In fact, I am typing this blog in the Helvetica font. We tend to focus on the content itself instead of the way it is presented, the font or type. This is ironic since the type and the way the content is present can have just as or even larger impacted on the way we interpret the information.

 

Type can be adjusted in many ways. There are a variety of techniques such as kerning, tracking and the use of typographic cues. Kerning is a method in which the spacing between two letters is adjusted. Without increasing the space between certain letters, words would lose their uniformity. Kerning keeps the words uniform and neat. Adjusting the spacing across a word, line, or column text is called tracking. Tracking can be used to add emotion to the type or be used to resemble the object the word describes. Finally typographic cues are used to organize content. These cues organize the text in a way that is viewable to the interpreter.

 

In Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries, there are videos that use text and sound to bring the type alive. The type is shifted and relocated in a sequence of transitions which resembles the life like quality of mobility. Now we all know that type is stationary and can not leap up of the page and take a stroll down the street, but in these videos the speedy transitions give  the stationary text a sense of motion. This technique was also used in early movies, in which still pictures were connected and switched through at quick enough rate to give the pictures a sense of motion, thus the Motion Picture was born.

 

In another video, Fight club-Chemical Burn-Kinetic Typography, a clip of the movie Fight Club is replace with only the dialogue. The video manipulates the type by using different arrangements and special effects allowing the text to become alive. In a way the type replaces the video of the movie in such a way that the viewer is  still able to see the actions of the characters. For example when the character yells the size of the letter increases and when the character stutters an ellipsis is inserted. This video is cool because type is effective in replacing the actual movie clip.

 

Typography is everywhere. it is in the streets, in your house and even on you. Whenever we by a product, advertise a shirt, or just sit down to read the paper, typography is always playing a part in our world. typography in itself is a complicated subject of which I do not fully understand, however I know now that it plays a large part on our societies, decisions and our lives.

 

Over the weekend we read through “House of Leaves” until page 150, so bear with me there is a lot of information to cover. Towards the beginning, the book focuses primarily on the mystery of the dark doorway that was discovered by Navidson and his family. Navidson can barely conceal his excitement of exploring this unknown abyss. However, Karen his wife, was not as enthused, she begs him not to go near the door. Navidson reluctantly agrees tentatively, and places four different colored locks on the door to the unknown.

Ever since the door appeared, a void in Navidson’s and Karen’s relationship becomes apparent. It is clear that Navidson and Karen have always had a dysfunctional    relationship, but this doorway of darkness and infinite space has ironically put infinite space between Navidson and Karen. We were told that their relationship was going as smooth as it ever has and that the move to their new house was the best thing that ever happened to their relationship. Everything was going perfect until that damn doorway appeared! It seems that the doorway is not only a passage of darkness and despair but a black hole that consumes Navidson’s and Karen’s relationship as well. Love, sex, and communication has ceased between Navidson and Karen leaving their relationship in desperate need of restoration.

Exploration of this phenomenon was immanent, so attempting to please Karen, Navidson agrees to hire a team to explore the passage rather than doing it himself. This temporarily pleases Karen, but is short lived. At this point, we are introduced to Holloway (the bad ass), Wax, and Jed, the men of the exploration team. They are all well qualified for exploring this cavern and are excited for the potential fame and fortune that may come with their discoveries. Navidson hires this team in effort of pleasing karen, little does he know that a few days later karen will betray him by kissing one of the team members. Again the doorway is responsible for all the current relationship issues between Karen and Navy. This situation is a perfect example, the doorway summons a team to the house in which one of the team members has relations with karen, thus causing more issues between them.

Finally the exploration begins. Holloway(team leader) leads the other two members into the abyss in attempt to collect samples, create a map and discover the unknown. The first of their discoveries is a giant spiral staircase. I found it interesting that the staircase is spiral resembling a strand of DNA which insinuates that the abyss is in fact alive. Now this is not the only personification given to the cave, apparently the walls shift and their is a constant undermining growl. No longer is the team exploring a compilation of doorways and rooms, but a living, growling chamber. The team makes four explorations and upon the last one, the abyss forces Holloway to insanity and he “accidentally” shoots one of the team members. He decides he cannot go back with what he has done, so as the two members head for safety, they hear this grown man  who used to be a bad ass weeping like a child and screaming for rescue.

It will be interesting to see what happens next, but it seems that the cave represents a dark spirit possibly a demon that preys on relationships and anyone who dares to set foot in it. This demonic chamber has already divided Navidson’s  and Karen’s relationship, had someone shot, and claimed its first victim,Holloway. The cave effects each character differently, and i’m excited to see each character’s reaction to its mysterious ways as the story progresses.

Never heard of “House of Leaves”?, check out these resources:

House of Leaves Trailer

 

Is it possible that our minds have a mind of their own? Let me clarify on this question, are our minds making decisions, correlations, and even filling in missing material subconsciously? The answer is yes, and Scott McCloud’s ” Understanding Comics”  is flawless proof of this. The comic starts out with a character which resembles your average cartoon character, a simple drawing of the average human characteristics. The character begins by “speaking”( since we all know that we can not actually interact with drawings) about a painting of a pipe above him. Now the character explains how the painting is not a painting, but a mere projection of a painting, within a comic strip,which in itself is a drawing.

DONT THINK TO HARD! If you get caught up in trying to understand all the different realms we had to travel to just to understand that the picture of the pipe is actually just a drawn projection of a copy of a pipe, you will miss the big picture. The big picture is that comics are in fact  just animations on a piece of paper, but our minds are not satisfied with that simple realization. I would go as far as to say that our minds need to bring these pictures to life. Our minds want to believe that these projections are capable of life like features such as speech, style, and even personalities.

You may be asking yourself, ” How does an artist bring a character to life”, the answer is they don’t, you do. Until the minds of the reader give a character life or accept them as a living being, the character is just a few scribbles of ink on decomposing plant matter. This amazes me….the fact that our minds are capable of making these connections and correlations between a few lines and an actual human being is remarkable. What amazes me more is that most of the time we are unaware that our brain is making these connections. We don’t sit there and dissect the speech bubble of a comic and think: the speech bubble is just a circle around text ,which is coming from an animated character whose mouth is a circle symbolizing that it is actually “speaking”, and as i’m reading this text it is like the  comic is talking to me. NO, our minds subconsciously pass through those barriers so we are able to believe that we actually “hear” what the comic is “saying” to us.

The mind is an amazing thing and it is interesting that it is constantly making connections and filling in the blanks of missing material that we think should be there. Speed reading heavily depends on our minds to do this exact function. As a person speed reads they look at the entire line possibly seeing 75% of the line, where as our minds fill in the remaining 25% of words. Our minds do this all the time, for instance when two people are conversing, sometimes one will finish the others sentence. How did they know what the other person was going to say? They knew because their mind made a connection to previous information which was similar to that of which the person was speaking about. Though sometimes wrong, our minds attempt to fill in the blanks in all aspects of our lives. Is it possible that the main limiting factor to our brains is in fact our own conscience? Imagine if we attempted to explain every thought we had, every decision our minds make…..I wouldn’t last 5 minutes without getting a migraine and giving up!

So I challenge you, next time your reading or conversing and you somehow give the character life, or know what the person is about to say, ask yourself, “how did I know that?” If you want to read more about how our minds give life to ink on a page check out Com-ic Get It on Empeyrean411.

-Paul

Have we discovered a container that can house all shapes and sizes? Well there is one company attempting to create such a magnificent interface, Apple, with their introduction of the Ipad. As I read through “Books in the Age of the Ipad” by Craig Mod, he explains how as technology progresses, the necessity for producing printed texts is vanishing. Now electronic devices such as the Ipad are replacing the outdated printed novel. Mod claims that the Ipad can house all books no matter their shape, size, color or age and that the text is safe from aging and possible extinction. Though new electronic devices such as the Ipad are are capable of containing novels, text books, magazines and even music books, there is no real reason to stop printing text. I am not trying to undermine the genius of design or capabilities of the Ipad, I just don’t see why we should do away with the traditional way of printing just because we are capable. The Ipad is a single device, because of this it has a constant shape, color, mass, feel and even price. The special part about books is that they come in all different shapes, sizes, and content. As a result we are able to have a different encounter with each one. Whether its holding a book with one hand versus two hands or the smell of one book compared to the other, books are beautiful because each one possesses a unique characteristic. Now if we compile all the books into one device, wont we lose these precious encounters since the ipad is constant? Although it is convenient and utilitarian to have hundreds of texts on one device, it still takes away from the unique experience one can encounter with different books. to use an extreme metaphor, encasing these beautiful pieces of art into one device is like tearing down a piece  of ancient architecture and replacing it with a modern sky scraper and hanging a picture of the existing building inside. I mean even if the Ipad and other electronic devices can reproduce the text and even a picture of the cover a book, it will never be the same as holding it your hands and forming that bond with each unique text. Content is not everything when reading a book, the best part is the overall experience and how that book leaves an impact on your life. If we house all these different texts in one body, wont they begin to bleed together and form one bland reading experience? instead of trying to combine all these works together in one container, we should spend more time appreciating them for what they are, beautiful and unique pieces of art and history.

-Paul

Today, I am inaugurating my blog with a detailed analysis of the interactivity between myself and the interface House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. Since I bought the book today, lets begin with the price of the book. In the inside cover, it  is written at the top right corner, “$ 19.95 U.S.A.” Now whether we realize it or not, the price of an object subconsciously effects our outlook on it and gives us the first indication of how much this object will potentially mean to us in the future. Since $20 might as well be a million dollars to a poor college student like myself, I already consider my new possession precious. As I look at the front cover, I notice a maze like design with semi squares, which stumble towards the center of the cover, and encounter a spiral shaped formation resembling a nautilus shell. At the center of the nautilus there is an animation resembling a compass, this compass gives me the sense that even in the presence of a cluster of semi squares and busy page, that the book is the key to unlocking clarity. The front cover is also incomplete, it is about 1 inch shorter in width than the continuing pages. As a result of an incomplete cover, I can see a snippet of the second page which gives me the urge to open it and see what hides behind the cover. As I turn to the second page, it  is filled with random assortments of objects such as tape measures, antique stamps, and even a 9 mm bullet. This collaboration gives me the sense that the book is going to cover a variety of . Looking back towards the cover, the spine catches my attention, the face of the spine is filled with six pictures that resemble polaroid pictures. Three pictures are of houses and interlaced between the pictures of the estates are the title of the book, and it’s author. Moving back to the front cover, I notice the words, “ The Remastered Full-Color Edition.” These words give me the sense that I purchased a new and improved version which gives me the feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction. If I pick up the book, it is semi heavy, possibly 3-4 pounds. The mass of this interface tells me that it is content packed and substantial, or else there would be less pages thus less weight. However, the book is not too heavy to where it becomes a hassle where possible feelings of resentment may arise. The interface possesses enough mass to be taken seriously as a novel but also is light enough to be considered economical and utilitarian. The skin of the book is black which gives a sense of mystery and draws me in by sparking my curiosity. The interface is sleek in design but leaves room for question which draws the reader in. Though most people are oblivious to these subtle designs, the aspects of a interface such as: color, weight, animation and value trigger human emotions thus inspiring us to purchase them. Though I did not include content from the book, I will keep you guys updated as I progress through this novel.  Haven’s had enough? check out The Flesh of Text  on the empyrean411.

-Paul