Path is the consequence of a world building exercise where we considered the post-automated world. Rather than adopting the conventional search for economic (capitalist) worth in individuals, we considered the individuals themselves - who they are, their characteristics, personality traits, and how they fit into a larger culture. We envisioned a world in which a very small number of people held jobs; most relying on a form of universal income. This is the death of capitalism for the working classes. The goal of life is no longer to get a steady job that allows the individual to work for their entire life - amassing monetary wealth in order to survive.
Meditating on this, we wondered about the relationship between people, jobs, and each other. What happens when the competition for work is removed from a society? How much of the tension between individuals can be linked back to the rat race of capitalism? If we remove it, what is left? What fills the vacuum left behind?
Being removed from the competition for work already, people no longer need to distinguish themselves from machines, no distinguish themselves from other individuals. People are free to express themselves, explore their identities, and do the things they never would have had the time or energy to do in the capitalist society. The society that rises out of the ashes of the labor pyramid is one that praises humanity without attempting to categorize or isolate it as different from other organisms and intelligences. People learn to accept in this world.
The new society is built on three major pillars:
With energy innovations, travel becomes a common pass time, and with it comes cultural exchange on a scale unlike any seen previously. People from cultures which have historically been discarded and ignored suddenly have global recognition. Individuals are exposed to people with a dazzling array of languages, clothing, foods, values, and more.
Gender, Sex, and Sexuality
With cultural exchange comes reflection and exploration of the self in conjunction with the deprivation of the need to categorize. Social divisions along arbitrary lines melt as people are brought together and find community where once people imagined confrontation. Tensions around gender, sex, and sexuality dissolve allowing for open expression and exploration.
Craft and the Handmade
Precision machining has its place in the underlying functioning of the framework which society rests upon, but for the members of that society, there is something inherently rewarding about creating something yourself. The demand for manufactured objects declines and the handmade becomes more common.
In order to convey this world, we imagined a new kind of social media - one which wasn’t designed around sharing meaningless moments with massive hordes, but one which allowed humans to support other humans. People, having revalued life, will share simple moments in life. These moments will be small and large, but will have a degree of beauty in them - the kind of beauty that comes from the appreciation of the human experience as a whole. These moments, called ‘experiences,’ will be found in physical spaces rather than online. People will tie moments in time together - connecting the past with the present when others relive the experience they left - in a point in space.
The experiences take the form of audio, holograms, or video of what once was, allowing people to immerse themselves in a past time. Through the sharing of experiences, wisdom, support, and compassion can be passed between people in a way that connects individuals to the world (rather than disconnecting them from the world in the way that current media does).
When stringing experiences together into a ‘path,’ a kind of story can be made. As each experience is tied to space rather than time, this allows people to collapse time and jump through years of experiences when walking through a space. Experiencing the happiness and pain of others in a new kind of way. From this, people can digest morsels of wisdom, support, and compassion; applying lessons learned from paths to their own life.
In the end, this becomes a way for people to share, explore, and understand the human experience.
A website was built and one page displayed locations of experiences. This map could be used to find experiences in your vicinity, and dynamically updates as experiences are uploaded to the server
Selecting a marker
Selecting a marker would show you an icon of the sticker which needs to be found in order to play the experience. A clip of the experience can also be played from here.
Website and iOS/Android phone app alongside a server which streams videos. Individuals with the phone app can walk around and discover small cards/stickers (~4”x6”) which can be scanned. Once scanned, a video appears where the sticker was, showing a short clip of someone's experience in that space. Using a map interface on the website, users can find the general vicinity of a sticker as each is marked with a GPS location. To find the sticker itself, however, users must explore the area and find it.
Users may also upload their own experiences. The app allows them to select a sticker, record a video, capture their GPS coordinates, and save it to a server. Once uploaded, the sticker appears on the map, and other users can scan the sticker to watch the new video.
The phone application is made using Unity3D and Vuforia markers. Written in C# in Unity3D, the code uses an intermediary C++ (IL2CPP) language to deploy to Android (Java derivative) and iOS (Swift). The phone application creates a TCP connection to the server to request and receive information about experiences, their corresponding Vuforia marker, and the url which hosts the audio or video for the experience. When recognizing a Vuforia marker (the ‘stickers’), the application places a video player, and begins streaming the video from the server. When uploading, the application makes two POST requests to the server, the first passing information about the vuforia marker and its location, the second sends the video as a binary.
When receiving the binary, the server passes it to ffmpeg, converting it to an H.264 mp4 video (to allow for cross platform compatibility), before saving and hosting it to the server’s file system. The server itself is written in NodeJs and uses ExpressJs for hosting and forwarding. It holds all of the information about relationships between markers, experiences, and locations. It uses that information to talk to the app and to create the website. All information is communicated through JSON strings and message passing.
The website has 3 parts: the intro video, the map, and the download page. The intro video streams our video prototype. The map uses the Google Maps API to create a custom map with placed pins where every sticker is. The pins can be selected and an image of their sticker will be shown. The download page has instructions and links to download the phone app.
Starting the application plays an animation of our logo, and opens the camera
When the user finds a marker, they point the camera at the marker
Once recognized, an experience (video) begins streaming form the server.
How it Works
The exhibition consisted of a monitor looping two videos, a series of posters and application mockups, the website and app, and the stickers placed within walking distance of the showroom. The videos show prototypes of a near future version of the application and how it could help individuals both express elation and cope with depression. The posters provide a QR Code for accessing the website and downloading the application to the viewer’s phone. The mockups show the design of the application’s interface and the design of the images used for placing experiences.
The application and stickers paired together to allow exhibition goers to walk around the area outside of the gallery (there were a few placed inside the gallery for those who didn’t want to walk) and watch other people’s experiences. We populated the area with around 40 experiences, and provided stickers to everyone who came to the gallery so they could create their own experience after watching others. The experiences took the form of video and audio clips which the user could access by scanning a sticker using the app. When creating their own experience, they place a sticker, record a video, then upload it - selecting the sticker they placed. Everyone else with the app is immediately able to see the video that individual uploaded. The collection of experiences in the mandeville expanded over the course of the show as more and more people uploaded their own experiences.
The phone application has a couple different pages. The images on the left show the upload screen, which allows the user to select a sticker image to place in the world, gathers their GPS location, and allows them to record a video.
Selecting a sticker shows an image of that sticker below (previously used stickers are automatically removed from the server and cannot be selected).
Once a video is recorded, an "Upload" button appears and provides indication of upload status. Once uploaded, the experience can immediately be viewed by the user.
Haraway, Donna Jeanne. A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century. University of Minnesota Press, 2016, warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/english/currentstudents/undergraduate/modules/fictionnownarrativemediaandtheoryinthe21stcentury/manifestly_haraway_----_a_cyborg_manifesto_science_technology_and_socialist-feminism_in_the_....pdf.
“Queering The Map.” Queering The Map, www.queeringthemap.com/.