Tagged: digital narratives

Books You Dress Up For: Novel Augmentation Through Sensory Fiction

As someone who studied literature in university and works in the creative arts, I probably should be a purist. Maybe even a snob.

But since I’m also into gaming, technology, and all sorts of absurdly “low” culture, I am actually very interested in anything that pushes the edges of where formal literature is going – or, at least, shows us how far it can go.

This past week I stumbled across an article about a vest that is to be worn when reading the award-winning novella, The Girl Who Was Plugged In, by James Tiptree, Jr. (pen name of Alice Sheldon). The vest works as a technological peripheral that stimulates certain physical sensations for the reader, triggered by events in the book.

The kids these days are calling this Sensory Fiction. And man, I’m so down for it.

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Reactions to SOPA legislation

There are a lot of websites that are currently protesting the US’s proposed SOPA legislation. Obviously a lot of ink has been spilled (both for and against) such restrictive online policing, but I’ve really appreciated the work done by BoingBoing on this, because they often provide a Canadian perspective via the work of Michael Geist.

Cooler still is how BoingBoing chose to protest the legislation today – by taking their site offline and providing info about their chosen form of protest. Heavy duty.

Adidas Skateboarding in Montreal

When I was younger (and scabbier) I was a skateboarder.

Skating is one of those things that never really leaves your system, even long after you quit. I may not be able to do the tricks I once did (and certainly can’t do the ones I tell people I once did), but I am always inspired by skating.

The Adidas Skateboarding Montreal video, below, is fun on a few levels.

  • The production values are unreal, with great shots, editing and post-production (check out the altered Metro & public building signage!)
  • It is shot in Montreal and features Montreal musicians in the soundtrack
  • The skaters are doing things (sooooo casually!) that are totally insane.

Finally, though, the reason I like this video is because I saw it being filmed. I was taking a walk on my lunch break this past September, and saw this same group of skaters working over a couple of public statues and filming themselves doing it.

Then, as now, I stopped to watch. I am constantly marveling at how far skateboarding, skate videos, and online videos in general have come in the last few years.

Check it out, then head out and pop a couple ollie-impossible-to-nose-slides in celebration.

If nothing else, this video may show off the awesomeness of Montreal.
But always remember to watch out for les Flics!

New Year, New Focus

detail of silk-screen by todd stewart of bree, ree

Happy new year to Fauna Corporation readers!

2012 is upon us and I’m going to be posting to Fauna Corporation again, albeit with a slightly different focus.

Going forward, I will be sharing the things that I create (text, photos, sketches, music), the things that inspire me — and hopefully, you — to create (others’ work, links, quotes, ideas, cool creative executions), and the tools I use to create (hardware, software, apps, etc).

The evolving digital narratives are all around us, and we participate in them each day with the smart phones, tablets, laptops and other digital hardware that have become seamless extensions of us.

Rather than focusing on digital advertising, multimedia journalism, or any other specific industry, this little blog will simply throw some light on the creativity that results from our ever-expanding, ever present, digital means.

I haven’t posted very much over the last long while because I’ve been reeling from a series of personal tragedies. A close friend, my brother, my father and my mother all passed away within the span of the last two years, and frankly, I’ve struggled to just hold it together. Blogging, and more expressly, sharing what I am thinking about, has been far from my mind.

But, as I have said, 2012 is upon us, and times have changed.

Hopefully this new Fauna Corporation focus offers something to you. And hopefully you’ll share the fruits of your own creative channels.

Take good care in 2012.

Three Things Digital Creatives Can Learn from Hip Hop Beatmakers

One of my biggest interests over the last couple of years has been building beats. For the uninitiated, “beats” in this context equals instrumental hip hop tracks, focused mostly on texture, juxtaposition and getting a good head nod going. You can hear my take on this art form here, but that’s not really what this post is about.

Damu the Fudgemunk is a musician who has been using YouTube to showcase his approach to making beats for a few years now. He’s garnered a solid reputation and landed production gigs by using YouTube to get his name and style out there. So that’s one reason why he should be interesting to the Fauna Corp faithful – he has brought his art and passion together and built a brand for himself via online video, and people keep tuning in because he’s got skills and charisma.

Damu’s latest video (filmed and edited by JNota) has him playing live drums and talking about his approach to rhythm. I thought this video was especially relevant for Fauna Corp because the production values are solid without being flashy (text overlays in capslock, san-serif fonts, video shot with slight vignette effect, nice saturation, and solid editing), and the subject matter is so particular.

If you are new to the world of beatmaking, the considerations that Damu discusses (poly-rhythms, tone and placement of hi-hats, different producers’ techniques for kick and snare textures, etc.) are the very same ones that beatmakers obsess over every day. For a musical form often referred to as “boom-bap”, It is a style filled with surprising subtlety, and reinterpreting / re-purposing the licks and riffs of  previous masters is part of the art.  So for Fauna Corp readers that means: learn from the best, lift what you can, make it all your own.

So Damu’s latest video is instructional to Digital Creatives in three ways:

  • It shows how being passionate and genuine in online video can be a way to further your craft, reach new audiences and establish your brand;
  • It shows how simple, tasteful production techniques can be used to make engaging videos that resonate with audiences both inside and outside your community;
  • And it shows how the minutiae of any interest or past-time – whether it is beatmaking,  visual art, weird sports, or even political upheaval in Sudan – can be studied and obsessed over so that your own output is a natural (but not unconscious) extension of what you’ve learned, hybridized and interpreted.

Check out Damu’s latest video, and see if you agree that there are things to learn from, regardless of what your digital output is about.

Get into what you are into, and you can get others into it too. And, as always, feel free to leave a comment here on Fauna Corp.

Happy 30th Birthday, Pac-Man

Thirty years ago today, Pac-Man was released in Japan. I would have been about 7 years old, I guess, and it would take a few years for the game to reach North America, but when it did, it caught on like no game before it had.

Pac-Man was a departure from the “shoot-your-way-out” games that existed at the time, and its cross-over appeal (for men and women, video game geeks and people who had sex) forever changed video games and by extension, our present digital world and how we interact with technology.

In my hometown, Ms Pac-Man was the preferred choice, and I lost many hours at the Mac’s or 7-11, drinking Dr. Pepper slurpies and playing Ms Pac to avoid the blistering, Dune-like levels of punishing, arid heat that my hometown is known for. In these conditions, Ms Pac was like a digital beacon to an air-conditioned refuge that shielded me from walking on the surface of the sun. Thanks, Ms Pac!

Weirdly, I found myself walking around yesterday with a little 8-bit MIDI tune in my head, knowing it was from a video game, but not remembering which one (I actually thought it was the opening theme to Donkey Kong). This morning, in honour of Pac-Man and his lovely bride-to-be, I downloaded Ms Pac to my iPod and was delighted to find out the tune was actually for Pac-Man. I guess I was musically channeling the little yellow dudes in advance of their anniversary.

The cultural impact of Pac-Man cannot be overstated.

Without the game’s ability to reach across cultures, ages and genders, or its skill at humanizing a digital experience, we would not be as comfortable with cell phones and iPods, game systems in our adult lives, or movie / game crossovers like Avatar.

Could we have Massively Multiplayer Online Games, or deeply immersive pseudo-lives (such as World of Warcraft, Secondlife, et al), without the head-to-head tabletop editions of Pac-Man, Ms Pac and others? I don’t think so.

To show the overall impact of Pac, Google has done something interesting to mark the anniversary. Rather than have the ever-changing Google logo a simple graphic that leads to info about the game, they’ve embedded the game into the logo.

Visit Google’s homepage, click “insert coin” and play the game in-banner. Also advised, drinking a Dr. Pepper slurpie while playing.