Media Disruption Led By The Blind

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Video in TIB AV-Portal: Media Disruption Led By The Blind

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Media Disruption Led By The Blind
Hacking Visual Culture
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Visual culture dominates our societies, every day encouraging and rewarding corporations and their users to create more visual content to populate their digital spaces and build their digital lives. But what if there was an unseen method of disruption to these powers? What can we learn from the blind and their increased awareness of sound and vibration to disrupt and circumvent these powers without detection?
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[Music] and I'd like to welcome welcome you to a talk titled media disruption led by the blind which is by Daniel Sevilla Daniel originally from Puerto Rico is now a new media artist and other things he probably will talk about as well in Berlin and one of the topics he will be talking about this infinite observer which is this the first narrative VR experience designed from the ground up by the blind for the blind
hi I'm sabbia or the glad scientist and
yeah there's my full long name and yeah I want to talk to you about some of my projects but first I want to to try a
little experiment with you guys so I'd like for everyone to close their eyes
and as we all close our eyes I would like for just 30 seconds to listen and listen deeply to the room around you and as you're listening create an image of the room around you create an image of how many people you think are in the room an image of all the people who may be walking into the room right now where they're coming from and just do this
okay now you can open your eyes and as you open your eyes
imagine those 30 seconds as 30 minutes or 30 hours or 30 years and then imagine this as your status quo perspective of the world now imagine the thousands of
years spent attending to visual persuasions and how you'd personally interpret everyday computing with this newly gained perspective now hold on to
that for a little bit because we're gonna go on a tangent no I'm so real quick I just want to give you a long
story of my life it's basically like three conversations um so permission is
granted please you know if you feel like you need to interrupt you can do that um
so when I was five years old I told my mom one to make video games she was like okay whatever um I was just super into duck hunt and you know ten years later she's like what do you want to do in life you know it's that time I said I want to make video games so that led me on a crazy path and I ended up going to Georgia Tech studying computer science and then I ended up in Barcelona I met
this guy who changed my life who I literally saw in the hall earlier and I said hey man you changed my life and he was like yeah okay no but basically what he taught me was that I could make art with code
um and that literally just blew my mind and I realized that everything around me was code and that everything around me was you know manipulatable and everything could be an art project or an art anything whatever you want to call
it and it was like this crazy achievement became unlocked in my life
um so I spent about eight years after that no I'm didn't really even care about video games and just wanted to make stuff with code installation art VGA
projection mapping blah blah blah all that stuff and then you know we're
talking about VR though so then I
realized one day oh yeah there's this immersive art that I'm making all the time I'm making this crazy projection mapping there's all these logistics involved what if I just make a VR experience and put people into this Wow and it hit me so late that they'd also blew my mind and then I'm also a
musician so when I got the VR headset I wondered if there was a way to make music in VR so I figured that out um and I laughed a lot while I was doing it and I've performed on stage a ton doing this um but that's not really what
I'm talking about as I was doing that people would come up to me after every show and say hey you make music for VR right I'm like no I make music in VR but I realized that hey I had to learn a new skill set because people are gonna continually ask me about this so I quit my job I moved to Berlin this is a bunch
of stuff about how to make stuff for sound in X our technology if you're interested slides will be up all that
good stuff and I moved to Berlin and I took a course with someone who's actually sitting in the audience and learned all these different technologies about producing sound in a spatial audio system and I had this question of how does a group audio driven VR experience look so I created an experience with a
group of amazing people where we had four people blindfolded and they're in the mono space which is in Berlin and it's a 40 sound center so there's spatial audio and you can walk up to sounds and they exist in the space around you and you can really interact with sound in a different way and it was a good opportunity to take people into a
sound focused and tactile focused VR world so I did that in that setting but the issue with that setting is that it lives there it lives in mono and you can't take that space anywhere else but what happened during that and lots of gratitude to
everybody that I worked with is that I
realized something that I just kept on
thinking about what it feels like to be blind and how I could never really fully empathize with that experience and so I
want us to close our other eyes again I want us to just try one more time but this time as you close your eyes I want you to just feel I want you to feel your fingertips wherever they're laying I want you to feel the bottom of your elbows the insides of your knees the bottom of your feet and I want you to see if you can detect vibrations around you and see if you can feel the actual reflections of those vibrations in the room
okay now open your eyes and you can
imagine the same things again and again and again that these are minutes and these are hours and these are years but at the end of it all what we come to is that that's our perspective from our limited experience in this and that we
need a deeper expected perspective so people often tell tell me what VR is people in the VR community try to shove things in different places say that VR has to be this VR has to be that and well honestly I'm kind of like f that noise there's a lot of different things and we're creating our own paths in this world um so it's not really virtual
reality or visual reality it's virtual reality so if you think you need a headset necessarily to create a virtual reality experience maybe we could think about it in a different way and I came
back to this question again and again
and what I realized is that it transformed into what would a VR
experience be like for the blind and can this experience actually challenge visual culture and that led to the
creation of infinite observer so if an
observer is a VR experience designed for the blind and as I started this project I thought okay I'll make a VR experience that's for the blind but also can be experienced by the sighted as well um and you know people in the VR community are just sitting there calling me crazy and on stuff and I'm like okay so now
we're gonna get to a lot of slides with just text because I actually feel like I want to embody more so a less visual
tone for this part um so there's a lot of research to do as soon as I really
seriously decided to pursue this project I went to so there was that realization
I went to actually live with a couple in the Netherlands Vianney and tina Visser and they run a foundation called the Walken Foundation and they actually bring people into a dark experience which we could say is a
multi-sensory enhanced version of the glimpse that you guys participated in during this presentation and so they have this multi-room experience that you go into there's literally no light your eyes try to search for it for the first few minutes and then they literally just get tired of firing the the cones and rods or whatever that is and then you give in and you start to use your other senses and you start to discover all of the powers that you have beyond just sight and so I spent about five days living with them just you know night and day really learning so much um and what I ended up learning from them was first
of all these people are incredible um Yanni and Tina were both firewalkers teaching people how to walk on coals Tino's teaching people you know ancient songs for years and Yanni actually was a hacker he you know is building his own ham radios and has built multiple Linux machines and also has his own distillery in his house which his liquor is really good and as they shared their experience in there they're blind experience with me I also shared with them a ton of VR experiences which you know I thought okay I'm gonna take the best audio VR experiences on a show home to them they're gonna have a response they're gonna say yeah this is good yeah this is bad um honestly there's zero UX accessibility for people who are blind
in VR at all there's like nothing to do with voice menus there's no thought whatsoever and yeah it made me it made me pretty sad at first no but I also realized that there's a there's a great opportunity to to make a change and I think that as I was with them I really got inspired for the narrative of the piece as well because of the the background and as we were talking they were saying well what if we had this of you know underground hackers who are interested in overthrowing the dominant visual culture and that seemed to resonate a lot so yeah there's a little reminder so that really sparked the
story building and this is a you can barely see it and cool that's fine so this is the the basic image that sort of it led our guidance in that it's smokey there's a unknown figure and you're
welcomed into this group of hackers who want to subvert these dominant forces of society and they want to use vibrational forces to do so so instead of you know typical ways they may use echolocation to navigate they then use molecular vibration to actually teleport and then they use by mapping the tectonic shifting because they're actually underground as well um they're able to detect movement above and also detect things which sound can actually disrupt visual vibrations in the visual spectrum
so these were some of the things that we talked about and actually became parts of the game and were able to implement already some of these into the into the experience so as I mentioned echolocation we also have a frequency matching gun where you're able to hold it up to different materials and match a frequency and that's able to explode open up new pathways in this underground world and really what what the narrative
is about is kind of telling a meta-narrative and how how can this actually include a real Society of blind hackers potentially through just this experience in this art so how can we take a site specific installation for instance that takes place at a specific festival or at a specific community event focus on the blind and have this merging of okay at the end of the experience someone in the narrative is inviting you to join this group and as you leave the experience maybe maybe you have a text on your phone with a link to a website that now is access to this community on these sorts of interactions and then how is it feasible to create an audio-only group community platform that would be easily navigable by the blind so these
are a lot of the things that we're thinking about in this project now so the technical side of things is pretty interesting so I teamed up with a audio
designer who specifically specializes in
spatial audio and he works at magic leap and with him we've been building out the audio environment and so we're using wise which is a popular spatial audio sound engine for very unity and unreal and because of the plugin that they have it's able to actually detect the real-time game geometries and create realistic reflections of the sound in the space so as we test this we're you know looking very strangely at how realistic this sounds for the blind like is this passing you know the test and so
far it's it's been questioned um and we're wondering you know is technology not that be it is this something where we have to continue deeply researching more and more and maybe use some cutting-edge research institutions to reach that point and yeah as I mentioned
we're working in unity and originally we were focused on deploying it to headsets but I think that with a small enough market of the headsets that blind users actually have access to it makes more sense now to to look at both PC users as well as mobile users and in using some of the the wise plugins in a game engine setting it's easy to be able to to deploy it to both now I'm going to be flexible in that way
so those are a lot of the different things that we're considering and can an audio version only exist no can we create custom solutions that can travel that maybe combine all of these into installation formats as well no these are all different things if you haven't
noticed this is a in progress project and so this is the team that's Yanni and Tina and that's kadar and this is Chris who's been guiding a lot of the the interaction and creative now all along
with me and really the goal of this
project is to empower the blind and create a heightened appreciation for our senses beyond sight and through the narrative hopefully it will instill some clarity around the dominance of visual culture and the ways that all of these tech giants have been using visual culture to greatly manipulate on people
and it may inspire some new ways to circumvent this um and on a bigger sense I would love to create a voice for the blind as we develop new technologies I
really do see immersive technologies as being like the next big way that we interact with computers for the next 10 years and I would love to see this you know be potentially a wake up call or along with a slew of other projects be a wake up call that this needs to be done ahead of time of projects coming out or sorry hardware and these these cycles coming out and then yeah creating a community for for interaction between real life line hackers to be able to discuss anonymously and even maybe practice some of some of these techniques together that are inspired by the narrative um yeah and I do have a
video so a minute I'm gonna show that now
so this is a video of an early prototype
[Music] our members usually find us track us through the echoes but you you're different here for something special paprika I know you're wondering why we're all here so let me break it down for you we have never had a voice who are always just and after that and they think we are powerless and until now we believe that that's not a problem that is our advantage they've made us invisible so they'll never see us coming we'll start with the US by finding their single point of failure we can break down the greater infrastructure the u.s. controls the entertainment market if we are able to filtrate the system and corrupt it without detection and insert our beacons we can start to find others like us and accelerate our bigger initiatives across the world [Music] [Music] [Music]
[Music] so it does a video um so yeah I I'm
happy to open up to questions now and I actually have a few questions for you guys because I know that probably just say all of you are smarter than me um so very I'm very interested to know if anyone has experience using sound or noise in the context of hacking and what people think of the community extension of the piece and if there's a research out there that could possibly help this project that I'm not aware of if you have a question please vote for them I
have one of the microphones no no no - I have you given any thought to the fact
that currently as far as I understand you need a big installation right so you cannot have this experience at home where if you just you know if you do if you're visual you can just buy the headset and that's it have you given any thought into building a audio VR headset yeah so this is something that I was trying to actually talk to oculus about doing um and basically extrapolating like the sensors that they have into using it for head tracking because when you're in like an a Masonic world the main thing that lets you interpret it as a 3d audio is that the sensor is being able to know when you're when you're turning your head or when you're moving within that space um they kind of just brushed me off and didn't didn't give it much thought no but it is something that I'm considering and also that's that's kind of why I mentioned um looking towards like some some a are focused libraries where it has the same spatial audio features and you're actually able to scan a room um with your phone and that may just be a more readily accessible to where okay someone's wearing headphones and are able to scan their room with their phone and then get audio cues and also have voice recognition where they could guide their character through the space as well which is something all of these people are super familiar is talking to their phone and having those interactions thank you okay so
thank you very much for doing this and
for the talk it was really interesting I have some experiencing of listening to 3d noise 5d music they call it as well which is easily done with Ableton in a normal headset and my question to you would be since I I think it's not developed yet you don't have a final product if you ever thought of doing
something that actually blind people could learn how to listen the reality in a better way increasing some ways to pay attention to some kinds of noise or feedback that would only require a normal headset because closing my eyes once and listening to to the sounds of the guy shaving your head like that if you are experienced of that it's quite amazing what you can do with normal headsets you know yeah that's a really interesting idea to have like an educational element in there um yeah that's super cool and I love that you brought up the the by neural barbershop example because I actually showed that to Yanni and Tina and it was one of their favorites you know beyond all the the VR and a Masonic stuff they're like that one it was crazy um so binaural definitely has has its place and even talking with like kadar is like this expert and you know spatial audio he's like I don't they've been trying to explain it but there's some psychological phenomenon with the way that binaural works with our brains and it just kind of psychologically fakes us out in a in a cool way yeah so thank you thank you and if you
never watch watch the barber shop for experience audio experience on YouTube again microphone number one what kind of equipment have you used for haptics or have you played around with
haptics yeah so although we've used so far is just the the basic oculus touch controllers I've applied to a couple of grants with with haptics research teams to look into that more no I'm we were going to talk too hard light and then they went under hard light hard light is like it's like a full suit for haptics which also has its its pluses and minuses especially in an installation setting like switching over between people that can be like pretty crazy um but something that are looking into is something more simple it's like a wristband that creates um basic vibrations um that actually like send impulses to all of your hands so you feel like you're feeling things um and then the ultrasound stuff looks super cool have re do you have experience working with haptics yeah I played around with like hat traders they basically create an illusion on your skin that you feel like something's like for instance dragging you through the air there's a psychologist who's working with visually impaired people called Vincent hi wart here's a lot of really crazy experiments basically it's like a vibrating motor that it's hard to explain you have to feel it but if you hold that thing it just like kind of drags you through the air and you can do a lot of really crazy stuff with it um but yeah just Google uh Vincent hi ward just crazy guy awesome thank you before she's a microphone number two there are questions from the Internet okay Nick my angel yeah definitely um that's why ideally um this is an installation based experience where you are able to integrate even real-life objects as haptics and also sent possibly taste known which is something that I did explore with the the blindfolded experience and I would love to bring into the installation format but yeah a lot of it is technology becoming more accessible like with the haptics um and the more that those devices become more prevalent the more that they can kind of enter into the work microphone number two hey thanks a
lot a really inspiring project and I
would really love to hear a bit more about the collaboration you have with the street as are people how do you work together are you at in one place and can you share a bit more these experiences yeah definitely um so we had the the initial idea which was kind of in my brain and then I emptied my brain to Yanni and Tina and we really started to go crazy on the conceptual side of stuff um and I talked with kadar um about it who had made a VR experience um for the blind a few years ago um and then we started developing he lives in in San Francisco um and so we would work over the internet together and then Chris I knew from living in Atlanta and pulled him onto the project and it's kind of been me traveling to all these different places for really intense like hackathons um and then us working remotely as we can yeah the next question again for microphone number two because you asked for research that could help you with your project and you probably know but just to be sure there is an existing community of audio games and people who make those and there's a researcher in Vienna who's called Michele Urbanek who does research on them that might be interesting for you cool yeah - we'll come out thank you okay any other questions Sigma angel do we have new questions from the Internet do you have new questions for the audience I I just want to actually get us to do this one more time if you guys are up for it so this
time as we as we close our eyes I want us to to really take a moment to imagine ourselves having been this way before as we have experienced this before and I want us to use feeling and listening and scent and taste and to try to create an imaginary world around us and to have that feel as real as possible okay thank you so much for your time and
all your everything and enjoy all of this [Applause] [Music] [Music]