City Tech, Fall 2016

Category: Proposals, Drafts (Page 1 of 2)

marco proposal / revised proposal

I sent this by email originally because I forgot to upload it here.

The Connection between fashion and Science fiction. Focusing on movies primarily because of the visual elements of course. How science fiction has influenced fashion and vice versa. First example that came to mind was that of Starwars and the robes that everyone wears. Very loose fitting clothing etc. That compared to examples of streetwear seen today. The long hemline loose t-shirts, the long hoodies, and jackets the baggy jogger pants, the use of earth tones or simple colors like black and white. Many high-end fashion brands sell this style clothing and sell it with rips, and stains, and give it that used look. This look with the colors can be influenced or inspired by films like Starwars, Mad Max, and The Matrix. Two of which show post-apocalyptic worlds where the inhabitants have ripped and dirty clothing and everyone wears very simple colors. In some films like back to the future, demolition man, robocop, and blade runner, the clothing in the films is inspired by trends going on in the time periods. Most were filmed in the 80’s and the costume choices depict that. What I wanna explore is how has science fiction and fashion influenced each other. How has the technology in science fiction books / films has been integrated, in the real world regarding clothing, and technology that’s being developed for fashion in the future.
My second idea was to explore the relationship between concept art and science fiction. Concept art is visual illustration of an idea. Concept art is used in every form of art. If you have a book, an illustrator can interpret that books concept as he thinks it would look. They design plans for non-existent cities, they visualize how a creature might look, they design the clothing a society would wear, the weapons they use, the vehicles they drive, etc… What I would be exploring is how these ideas are for the concept art of films, and stories is developed. What goes into it, the research, whether it’s based on reality, or things that exist, whether real science has an influence. Has any concept developed for stories or films been used in real life or inspired real world technology or invention. How books have been adapted into films based on illustrators concepts, and how they came up with those visuals based on the books. A claim I’d make is how Science Fiction and Concept Art go hand and hand. How i believe you can’t have one without the other. People who develop stories and books I’m sure had sketches and doodles of the things in these worlds they created.

The first idea is the one I believe I’ll be going with because in some areas it also includes ideas from the second. In terms of conceiving and creating ideas based on books and film etc.  The focus of the project will be (How science fiction and fashion have influenced each other) How the technology in science fiction books and films has been integrated in the real world regarding clothing, and technology that’s being developed for fashion in the future.  Exploring the parallels between the two or comparisons. I’ll give examples and visual examples of how technology has been introduced into clothing or (wearables) like smart watches recently, and other technological advances that are influenced by science fiction. I’ll show examples of trends that are evident today in fashion / streetwear.

 

Cacophony of Ideas

What is a heterotopia? I’ve read about twenty minutes’ worth of text and am no closer to understanding it? I had a couple of sentences here I deleted because I realized they were incoherent, I’m not sure where to begin unraveling that idea. Its definition seems to be very malleable or maybe I’m just not familiar enough with the argot of science fiction.

Google searches led me down a rabbit hole filled with terms like enculturation, structuralism and isotopism. I felt like I was looking for patterns in a Jackson Pollack painting. Walter Russell Mead threw me a bone with one of his analogies in his essay Trains, Planes, and Automobiles: The End of the Postmodern Moment

Heterotopias are essentially static. The differences between the passengers in an airport do not rub off; the devout Muslim woman visiting relatives is not much affected by the fashion model next to her, who is flying off to Tokyo for a shoot. As a heterotopia, an airport is a place where difference does not really make much difference; thesis and antithesis sit side by side, and there are no syntheses to be seen or had… The world’s many cultures and ideas are all jumbled together, but the differences between them will not lead to conflicts that resolve those difference. (14)

How does this tie in with science fiction? Well, I do not have a definitive answer. Granted science fiction is a genre where imagination and the mundane shake hands, but doesn’t feel like a very acute observation. Does living in a heterotopias then mean that you are not shaped by your surrounding environment and free to be whoever you want to be? Is that not a kind of utopia?

Another idea I had.

Following the class discussion on subjectivity and how only select voices get the privilege of being recorded for posterity, I wondered is comedy unworthy of close reading? I’m certain some niche people would say yes it is, but not the vast majority. Science fiction was only relatively made “cool” by people like William Gibson and George Lucas, but is still relatively niche. Putting science fiction and comedy together, and you’ll have something that people will snub their noses at. Even Shakespeare’s problem plays don’t get as much public attention as his more austere works.

A Google search lead me to a speech by Douglas Adams titled Is there an Artificial God? In which amongst his many witticism he says “So, in the end, in the absence of an intentional creator, you cannot say what life is, because it simply depends on what set of definitions you include in your overall definition. Without a god, life is only a matter of opinion.”  Adams also goes on to imagine how early man came about creating an image of god, and how in his opinion it has been the height of hubris to think that a god created all of the universe just for us. Perhaps I should look at how theology has been perceived in science fiction. Many people see science and theology as antithesis of one another. It may be interesting to see how religion has been explored in science fiction throughout the century. To see if there have been any prevailing ideas or perhaps some interesting outliers.

 

Sources

Adams, Douglas. “Is there an Artificial God?” Digital Biota 2, Cambridge U.K. September 1998.

http://www.biota.org/people/douglasadams/

Foucault, Michel. “Des Espace Autres”. Architecture, Mouvement, Continuité. October 1984.

http://foucault.info/doc/documents/heterotopia/foucault-heterotopia-en-html

Mead, Walter Russell. “Trains, Planes, and Automobiles: The End of the Postmodern Moment”. World Policy Journal. 1995–1996.

https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/40209444.pdf\

Adams, Douglas (September 1998). “Is there an Artificial God?”http://www.biota.org/people/douglasadams/

 

Be as Water: Adapt or Perish

My topic proposal is understanding human nature and the strength of human adaptability:

Related to the ‘nature vs. nurture’ theory, what makes a person, a person?

What are the things that give an individual their personality?

Does your environment determine who you are? And if so, given a change in the environment, do you change as well?

Every human being in the world exhibit unique characteristics. These characteristics include the manner of acting in your personal happiness, being emotionally attached to a thing and/or subject, and thinking independently from cultural influences. Also, the notion, being a product of your Environment plays an important part in who you are as an individual. Worst case scenario, how will people adapt to change, and is it possible. Can someone lose themselves outside of their comfort zone. These are the issues I want to explore, simply to understand human behavior when in survival mode.

“Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun…” with Proposals!

So I’m equally torn between two possible proposal ideas that came to me while thinking about this project. Let’s start with the first one…

The affects (and I guess effects) of Science-Fiction that was aimed at franchising products out of an IP (Intellectual Property).

Two particular IP’s that immediately popped in my head were the Star Wars Prequels (Episode I-III) and Warhammer 40k. These two works have very different reactions that came about from their blatant attempts at marketing their universe into things that people can buy. The Star Wars Prequels went a completely different direction in the way it presented the universe from the original films, attempting to appeal to viewers with more focus towards visual spectacles and an over-abundance of additions to canonical races and Jedi, which was arguably (but more than likely) an attempt for George Lucas to milk out his franchise to appealing to younger audiences to buy Star Wars merchandise; which ultimately is seen as an abuse and failure in the eyes of most Star Wars fans who attributed the success of Star Wars to it’s great story telling and practicality. Whereas Warhammer 40k started out as collectible figurines and the popularity of the lore and written works behind these figures created a massive, in depth universe that many people like and the creator’s dedicate to making quality work. Though niche from the general public, Warhammer 40k has very devoted fans to it and gladly spend immense amounts of money towards collectible figures and other merchandising to keep the IP continuing, all the way since the 1980s. (The lore of Warhammer 40k is responsible for a lot of different games and IP’s, most notably Warcraft.)

I would want to look into other similar cases of this happening with other works and study the reactions the consumer has towards this marketing of science-fiction as a means of making money rather than doing it creatively; moreover, why does it work for some cases (like with Warhammer 40k) and why does it fail in other cases (like with the Star Wars Prequels).

And the second proposal…

Historically looking through the influences of Western Science-Fiction on Japanese manga/anime/other fictional works.

Though I just recently thought of this idea and haven’t had as much thinking about this proposal, I equally find it fascinating to explore this topic. Some of my favourite anime and manga are heavily influenced by Western culture in general, but searching for Science-Fiction themes and concepts that we talked about in class that have been injected in Japanese culture in the form of their entertainment would be nice to look into. Three examples that come to mind for this are Dragonball, Gundam, and Ghost in the Shell. Dragonball talks about “the other” in the form of an alien child who comes to Earth named Goku, which pretty much lends itself from Superman comics and the two often get compared (note, Superman came out way before Dragonball and is believed to have had some influence in Dragonball’s creator). Next, Gundam follows the events of people piloting giant mech robots used mostly for combat; each series is set in a different time or universe, but they all usually have themes about colonization and corrupt governments/societies based in utopias/dystopias, where freedom fighters (also piloting Gundams) rebel against it. And lastly, Ghost in the Shell (which I still have yet to watch) lends a lot of concepts from DADoES? and Blade Runner about what you can view as real and the backlash to technological advancements in AI.

So those are my ideas and the hardest part for me at this point is choosing and sticking with one…

From Science Fiction To Real life.

I want to do a Research project based around Scientific advancements pulled straight out the ideas in science fiction books. The reason I want to do this because in the near future we are going to be able to do things people could only dream about in the many science fiction novels we have read throughout our lives. All it took was the idea of another world to make someone go into their lab and craft the very idea they read about when they were children, and I find it a very cool concept. I don’t want to end up listing different inventions that ended up becoming real because you wouldn’t actually learn anything so i want to focus more on the space travel aspect, and the colonization of different worlds. My first portion of my project will deal with analyzing the concept of Hyperspace and where it was first created, then ill expand that into the real life concept and tests done to make it a reality. After the hyperspace concept has been explained i want to move into planetary colonization, which would only be possible if we had the ability to master Hyperspace (which generally drastically decreases the time it takes to travel from one point to another in space). Hyperspace would turn the average trip to Mars from two and a half years to months, or even days. It took the fastest rocket we had to make a 9.5-year voyage to Pluto and its moons, this trip could be turned into a year with the use of Hyper space. This would also open the possibility of travel to planets further out in the solar system, even exploration of other galaxies. I also want to touch on the idea of terraforming which is another science fiction concept being brought to real life.  In the near future our plan is to travel to mars and terraform it to be able to hold Human life without a spacesuit. If we are able to terraform Mars the idea of space colonies will be a possibility, and all the comics books you read about Humans expanding into known space and the unknown leaving earth behind will be real. We are in the age where these things are possible, the ideas and the equipment are being Built and refined. First is mars, then the rest of the solar system.

Hear ye, hear ye! Desperate proposal in need of your approval!

My proposal is simple: Watch Black Mirror and see where that puts me. Ok I can, give more than that.

Reasoning:

Ok, let me break it down a little bit. I’m a computer engineering major who’s at an important crossroads and I’m only a year in. Why is that? The first time I began to doubt what I wanted to do was in the very beginning of this class. One of the first, if not the first, things you had us do in the class was free write about what we thought sci-fi was. By the end of my definition, I wrote something along the lines of “Seriously reflecting on sci-fi has made me reconsider what I want to do with my life. An engineers philosophy is ‘If it can be fixed, I’ll do it.’” I want to fix things and I want to develop technology that makes the world easier to exist in. The problem is that most sci-fi that reflects those intentions while also saying “Well, because you wanted to fix the world, you messed it up. Good job.”

No readings have made me feel that way more so than The Machine Stops and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?(A Freudian slip caused me to put Blade Runner instead). And because of my renewed interest in the genre I decided to watch more sci-fi too. Stuff like Ex-Machina(a movie I’ve already seen and loved) and Black Mirror. I feel like it’s important that I properly explain what Black Mirror is for those who may not know so we’re going to start a brand new paragraph just for it.

Black Mirror is the 21st century equivalent of The Twilight Zone. If that doesn’t make you want to watch it, I don’t know what will. It’s an anthology series that aired on BBC and now, beginning with the fantastic third season that just premiered, Netflix. No two episodes are directly connected and have completely different casts; The only through-line is the idea of exploring the impact of technology on our society. It’s popularly referred to as speculative fiction that posits the viewers in our world “in 10 minutes’ time if we’re clumsy.” I’ll just give you the premises of two of my favorite episodes to give you a good idea of what you’re getting into.

“The Entire History of You” follows a few days in the life of a man named Liam Foxwell. In this world, people can choose to have an implant placed in their head colloquially know as a “grain”. This “grain” is a database that uses your eyes and your ears to record everything they see and hear, then let you rewatch them, otherwise known as a re-do. After a night out with his wife and some old friends, he begins to use the grain to find out what’s really going on. Can’t give away the whole plot. In “Shut Up and Dance”, a high-schooler by the name of Kenny installs a malware remover on to his laptop, an action that unknowingly gives access to his camera to a hacker. Kenny does what a lot of teenage boys do when they’re alone and on the internet and these hackers leverage footage of it over him. This is only the first ten minutes of one of the most brutal, intense episodes of television I’ve ever seen.

The Point of all of This:

I think this is the most relevant show in the world right now. It’s an honest, shocking and necessary look at how the very things we make can affect us profoundly and we might not even realize it. But it isn’t just technology, but the applications on it. Literally. There’s an episode about a rating system that goes too far; where likes and five star ratings dictate actual social standings or whether or not you can get into your office building. It’s a show that makes you think about where we stand and where we want to go more than anything I’ve seen before it. I know that just watching the first season made me never want to set foot in an engineering lecture again. Some of these worlds are due to the “overcorrection”, the process of trying to correct or fix something but going too far, a real danger engineers face everyday. We are the architects of tomorrow and there’s great pride in that but also great responsibility and danger. I want to explore this feeling. The worlds of sci-fi constantly feature this in subtle ways. Just look at Blade Runner or the book that inspired it. In order to help lead a life of comfort, people made androids. Then they made them sentient and still kept them in virtual slavery. That’s engineering going too far. I want to explore what’s too far and how to prevent crossing the line while still pushing humanity forward by closely watching Black Mirror, a show that once again is “ in 10 minutes’ time if we’re clumsy.” Besides that, I’d like to preach the gospel of this show and, perhaps selfishly, need a really good reason to watch this fantastic show again. Of course, I’m willing to branch out; there’s more than enough speculative fiction in the world to read/see. I’d like to place the emphasis on see, though. There’s power behind any good image and if we can see what’s wrong or right, we can have a better idea of where we need to go or where not to.

The ramblings of a mad man lost between worlds

With the past works being mainly utopia or dystopia in a short span of time I cannot help but influenced by them. So the idea that I have come with is the theory that a utopia or dystopia cannot exist without the other at the same time. Not thing is flawless, somewhere within a utopian society there is a sacrifice or suffering by a group or groups. In a flawed world like a dystopia, some live better all the rest, they can be seen as a utopian enclave. Light creates shadows but also removes darkness, but darkness is the natural state of things. Trying to make a good society is difficult because people do not all share the same desire, some just want to watch the world burn.
At the same time there is the question of which is better. Noe that may seem as a pointless question, obviously it is the good place vs the bad one. However is it really? A utopia in many cases is the end of the road, there is no need to advance once you get there. Why innovate, invent, and search for new things if you are the best possible place. If people have everything they need and it is stable, why ruin that. Now a dystopia is a world filled with bad things, but it is also filled with opportunity. There people may suffer but they will try to get higher than the hole they are in. Often they will fail and even those who do get out will not get far. There are no happy endings because there are no endings. A dystopia stays alive longer and is a failed utopia in many ways.
That is what I want to look at, in the works we have read, others and in the real world, how much utopia is in a dystopia and the other way around. One can become the other because all of the elements are there, in a perfect world there will some born into it who will wish for change and create it. However in a society that has lost the ability to accept a new vision of perfect, there will be conflict that can lead to the downfall of both new and old. What will remain will be a flawed version of on or the other or both. The other case is in a dystopia, there will always be dreamers. This people will wish for a better world and pass on their wish to the next generation and in time enough people will wish for that they will take action and rise above what the world has given them.
That is the main part of utopia or dystopia worlds, the people. People make things possible or impossible all by themselves. They can make the world a good place or one wore then hell, they create their own heroes and villains, they decide what is right and wrong. So if you wish for your vision to be made you need to control or influence them, now the way that is done is what will create a utopia or dystopia. Through fear, power and propaganda it will be a dystopia in the eyes of the people, but if you win their hearts, minds and do great acts for the people then it is a utopia. As long as no one realizes the truth, you can run the entire world from behind a mask, thought others and get to what you want all without the people ever turning on you.
History has many examples of this such as the USSR, Nazi Germany, China, North Korea and other nations where the people believe they have all they need or want. Nations filled with people who believe in their leaders, they have been thought to thank them for everything they have. As well as nations whose people believe they have a say in what is done and what is the greater good. Everyone who is not a part of the masses is seen as an outsider, crazy, wrong, antisocial, a bad influence, a dissident, a traitor. What if these people are the only ones who see the world for what it is or is not? Or are they truly just lost to what others have found.
People – the ultimate riddle of the universe, one that they search for an eternity.

The use of Strange Weapons

A project proposal that I would consider is the theme of exotic weapons that works of Science Fiction seem to contain, and how these weapons play a role in novels or films that can affect the plot.   I choose to research about this topic because it interests me as most people seem to overlook the actual meaning behind weapons, or why weapons such as lasers were created within novels/films.

Some questions that I would like to answer are the following; why are the use of weapons a recurring theme in works of Science Fiction?  The variety of the weapon, is it the same in every novel/film?  How do the weapons help shape the plot or support the timeline within works of Science Fiction?  These are just a few of the many questions I would like to answer, but these are three that I feel are the most important to bring up.

From works of Science Fiction that we have done throughout the semester, there was already exposure of some strange futuristic weaponry.  In the novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, we were exposed to a laser tube and how this weapon proved to be effective towards androids/humans.  In several other readings, there is a post-apocalyptic setting present due to nuclear weapons.  Right there we see how weapons already set the setting of a Science Fiction work as well as how it affects the plot.  Hopefully after some thorough research, I will be able to solidify the motive behind these weapons and how Science Fiction authors utilize them efficiently within their writing.

 

Women’s Involvement in Robotic Technology

The idea I would like to propose for my archive project is about the women involvement in robotic technologies and their impact in society.

The reason why I became interested in this subject is because of the alarming decline of women students in the computer/programming fields. While talking with one of my professor from my major, he told me that the quantity of female students have significantly decreased from 20% to almost 8% in less than two years. As a major in computer engineering technology I became extremely concerned for this decline as I attempt to understand the circumstances involving such decrement. Being in a field that requires a lot of thinking, logic, numbers, etc., it can sometimes be overwhelming and challenging, however the feeling of satisfaction after obtaining the final product working or a program running has no price.

From that small amount of women who still continue in the computer field, the majority of them are oriented in robotic design and devices that can be beneficial to future generations. A week ago I had the gratifying opportunity to attend one of the IEEE conferences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and observe the various projects created from graduate and undergraduate students. I also had the opportunity to present the project that we have been working on which is a robotic mannequin. To my surprise I observe that a good amount of the speakers and presenters from various well-known institutes were successful women who have been working in the technology field for several years. It is really amazing the contributions these woman have made to field and frankly this lit in me such a great motivation to continue to what I love to do.

While my teammates, professor and I were discussing about the involvement of women in robotics, we related our topic the science fiction genre. Since most of the majority of science fiction stories, novels and movies state that robots have been created to replace human work, we mention that women are doing totally the opposite. In the actuality, women have create robotic devices that do not replace human work yet they work side by side with humans to produce a more successful task. For this reason I would like to investigate how women can positively impact society with their robotic advances.

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