VR at Rencon

Say, I’m pleased to report I’ll be on a panel on VR and science fiction at Rencon tomorrow. The best part is I get to be on said panel with VR visionaries Eugene Capon and Eric Neuman. These gents are pushing this medium forward and I can’t wait to see what they reveal about their latest projects. The convention program is loaded with talks and presentations on writing, tech, cosplaying, D&D, larping, and all manner of geekery. I have to say, too, that I’ve been spending more time in Renton as of late, and am finding it to be an overlooked gem of the region. The convention runs all weekend. Get your cosplaying butt to the south end!

Magic Leap in Georgetown

Nothing to see here, folks. Move along, please.

I walked past Magic Leap‘s new office in Georgetown the other day and got an immediate vibe that I was under surveillance. Georgetown has long been one of my favorite places because from an urban planning perspective it is one of Seattle’s most bizarre. On paper, nobody should really want to live, shop, or work in Georgetown. It’s noisy, abutting Boeing field, which means that several times a day 777s and other aircraft come down low enough that you can see their rivets. Interstate 5 and Airport Way are loud and full of trucks. Shops and restaurants hug Airport Way, creating a long, skinny strip of commerce. And yet somehow it works. Georgetown has excellent coffee, a well-stocked musical instrument shop, and antique stores that specialize in industrial byproducts transformed into art. Artistan-run startups specializing in offset printing and product design occupy the Rainier Cold Storage building. Fantagraphics Books operates their comics-filled flagship store in the same space as a vinyl record store. There’s even a charming little “mall” in the form of a trailer park. I tend to discover something magical and unexpected every time I visit Georgetown. Continue reading

Amplifying Empathy, by Christopher Robinson and Amanda Knox

Editor’s Note: Writers Christopher Robinson and Amanda Knox, a real-life couple, recently experienced Machine to Be Another. Following is their exclusive report for ryanboudinotisahack.com.

Robinson and Knox experiencing Machine to Be Another

Amplifying Empathy

By Amanda Knox and Christopher Robinson

The Machine to Be Another is an experiment, an experience, and an interactive art installation created by Barcelona’s BeAnotherLab that allows two people to embody each other through virtual reality. As presented at TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival, the experience includes three phases: 1) participants swap perspectives and adjust by slowly mirroring each other’s movements; 2) mirrors are introduced, allowing participants to see the body they are inhabiting; and 3) the partition is removed, allowing the participants to see their own bodies as viewed from the other’s perspective. As partners, we tried the Machine together. The following is a mimetic response to the experience, written in three parts corresponding to the three phases.

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The Moment Fallout 4 Became Art to Me

Your new guest columnist, Strong the Super Mutant. Just kidding.

A few months ago I took it upon myself to learn more about video games after a couple decades of literary fiction snobbery. I don’t think I’m unique in having considered video games a lower art form. I was open to the notion that games can be art, but I mostly avoided gaming and felt that most games were beneath my intelligence.

Games aren’t alone in the cultural margins. For most of the twentieth century, comic books were considered a low art form. Seattle publisher Fantagraphics played an instrumental role in changing perceptions about comics as a medium, helping to usher in the term “graphic novel” in the process. The title of their upcoming omnibus history of the company perfectly expresses their hard-earned cultural relevance: We Told You So: Comics as Art.

Author Tom Bissell has argued for years that video games are art. I respect and admire Tom’s writing, so I’ve allowed myself to be swayed by his arguments. To me, it boils down to my emotional response to a game. And last night while playing Fallout 4, I had an experience that I can only compare to experiences I’ve had while reading novels, watching films, or encountering visual art. Continue reading

Fighting Robots in the Mixed Reality Studio at CoMotion Labs

It’s not every day you come to work to find a mixed reality studio mere feet from your desk. This, it turns out, is one of the joys of working out of CoMotion Labs. As I write this, Elizabeth Scallon is showing off the new gear. I just spent a few minutes shooting droids. Then Scott Bennett jumped in and did some Keanu-level poses. Crazy fun. I can’t wait to see what the other tenants do with this.

Experiencing some mixed reality, waiting for the robot onslaught.
Scobot’s robot-shooting poses were awesomer.