Category Archives: Project Hyperessay

Screen shot 2014-04-15 at PM 06.25.17

Project Conclusion: The Subzone

The deeper one continues to prod at a tear in space, that tear will continue to grow. The same can be said about documenting and constructing the Subzone. What initially started as a way to glitch the virtual environment by playing with viewer perceptions turned into something huge on it’s own. The Subzone now stands as a virtual landfill, which projects samples of the huge influx of content being pushed out by people for people.

The most tedious and challenging part of the project was getting the technical aspects sorted out. This involved finding ways to circumvent problems if users are unable to access the Subzone due to a missing plugin for example, where they would then be able to choose to download the content to their local desktop and access it from there. Another conundrum was that of a moral one, as using Facebook wall images as the textures meant I might have to mask the images of faces. This also brings up issues of privacy intrusion, as I was essentially making their private Facebook walls public by using screenshots. I decided to target just the public pages on Facebook instead to get around this touchy issue, as the intentional idea to make something public would at times mean that the owners have no problems with other people knowing what they were up to.

Inclusion of the darker sides of Facebook meant having to trawl through comment threads and Facebook pages where the “keyboard warriors” will often come to gather to leave hateful comments. As for pornography and adult content, Facebook already has a stringent policing rule in place to detect and take down such content. Even so, that doesn’t stop many Facebook pages from getting around this by posting extreme risque photos of models (and this applies especially for Facebook pages maintained by adult entertainment companies).

A perfect illustration of data regurgition on the Internet.

All of this sourcing for what material to include and how to present them led me to think of it all as one big black hole of virtual nothingness. Even though each of these various “material” are something in essence, in the bigger scheme of things, these trails run cold and leave the user spent. It is much like how most of social media is today: they tempt, they instigate, they provoke a reaction. In this respect, the Subzone could be regarded as an ever-growing amalgamation of this cycle which becomes outdated in content the moment it stops being updated.


The Subzone (Technical Realisation)


The above diagram illustrates the proposed workflow I have in mind for this project (that is, assuming everything in the pipeline actually works according to plan). I will continue to take screenshots of my Facebook feed and use these as my “textures” in the virtual space being created in Unity. As of now, I am only considering making the most of just one social media platform like Facebook as it is very popular and easily recognisable by many.

Having already looked through some of the basic tutorials for simple level creation and how to export a game from Unity, the next part of getting the game and it’s assets out of Unity should be a fairly simple process. In order for other users to access the game, it needs to be stored online, and Dropbox would be a very good fit for this purpose. After doing some research, I found that the Unity files will need to be placed in the “Public” folder in order to ensure that the game can be embedded and played without problems.

The last step would be getting the Unity game to run embedded in a blogpost. I decided to make use of Tumblr as the platform where I will publish the Unity project, as Tumblr has a reblog and like function for individual blog posts which would help greatly in making something go viral. It also ensures easy sharing of blogposts and content among Tumblr users which is yet another plus.

Possible Problems

dropbox_downShould a problem arise with Dropbox, I will revert to Google Drive as my failsafe storage solution. If this was to occur, I will need to remember to change the embed code for the files to point them to their new location. Otherwise, users will no longer be able to access the content and they would only be greeted with a dead page.

Allowing multiple users to connect to the server (in this case, Dropbox) is another possible issue which may need to be considered. As of this time of writing, I do not know if Dropbox imposes any form of limit as to the maximum number of people allowed to access a file at any given time. If I am unable to overcome this problem, I will consider the possiblitiy of bringing the game to the user (i.e. asking friends to play it on my laptop, record their reactions, document them)


The Unity webplayer itself is another possible avenue for problems to occur. Not everyone will have the appropriate plugin installed in order to view and access the embedded content, so I will need to probably put a link on the frontpage of my Tumblr site to let them know where to go to download it. At the same time, embedding the webplayer itself is another issue as there needs to be some form of correct formatting and javascript invovled in order to place the Unity webplayer within a blogpost. Some more research needs to be done in this area.

Animating the textures and moving them like GIFs would be another problem. If GIFs fail to work, I would probably have to import individual frames into Unity and see how it goes from there. This also brings me to the point on integrating triggered animations which start off after a user does something in this virtual space. This requires a fair bit of tweaking and also exploring additional input from a 3d program like Maya. Checking out some forums online gave me the impression that bringing something in from Maya to Unity has a lot of things which could go terribly wrong, and this calls for some testing.


What if the Unity game becomes unplayable? (i.e. Murphy’s Law). In any case, should the exported files from Unity become damaged or corrupted, I will fall back on documenting all the steps I have taken till the point of corruption. Should attempting to open the corrupted files provide interesting results, I will attempt to record them as well as making the files public on my Tumblr site.


The Subzone (Role of the Viewer)


Screenshot from Gmod (sandbox game) where a gamemap is glitched due to missing files on the player’s computer.

The viewer is expected to be an active agent, to interact with and to navigate around the virtual subspace. Instead of being led on to do something, the viewer would have full freedom to explore the area of the subspace. The viewer will not be held back from leaving the “gamearea” so to speak, and he or she will be allowed to freeroam to any part of the world map within the virtual environment.

The viewer would be able to intereact with objects and artifacts in this subspace, which may trigger reactions to occur in other parts of the space. The viewer would then become a catalyst for visual changes to occur within the subspace.


The Subzone (Influences)

“Hole in Space”

Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz created a “portal” in the real world through which people could see and interact with one another even if they were miles apart. It was a 3 day event which attracted many active participants and provided for an entertaining archive footage of the whole affair. For my work, I wish to consider if it is possible to tear open a portal or hole in the third space, to reveal the underbelly of the hidden structures in the virtual game world. If this first stage is possible, I would consider about the possibility of inhabiting this said space.

Jon Cates

Jon Cates creates and also archives his various experiments with glitches. It is interesting to note how he views gifs as “cultural artifacts” and that they are a form of cultural cinema for the next generation. Taking a leaf from his practice, I intend to capture my experiences traversing and discovering hidden subspaces within the third space via gifs. Screenshots would also be a backup.

Robert Overweg

This Dutch photographer archives his explorations in the virtual realm, and I found his particular series of what looks to be building parts floating in space pretty interesting. The series, entitled “Flying and Floating”, consists of screenshots of buildings and architecture within a virtual environment which are cut off in various parts. To get such an effect, the photographer (i.e. Robert) would have to move himself into a position within the virtual landscape where he straddles between the subspace (i.e. between the normal virtual world and the unknown worldspace hidden beyond). By putting himself into such a position, the game becomes “corrupt”, where renderings of the virtual surroundings start cutting off at unpredictable angles and planes start disappearing. Just a simple shift in a physical location is enough to dynamically alter the actual perception of the virtual environment. The fact that this altered perception would be unique only to the photographer (Robert in this case) and that ¬†this perception would be dynamically different for other users, is something I wish to explore in my work.

Some examples from his “Flying and Floating” series:

Hotel 2011, Robert Overweg, Mafia 2
The Garage 2011, Robert Overweg, Mafia 2

The Subzone (Introduction)


Exploring the idea of the subspace within the third space.

An example would be in games where areas are closed off and characters are supposed to only roam within a restricted space. In some instances, venturing off from the restricted space creates penalties for the playaer (e.g. timelimit warning to return back to the “safe zone”, death). ¬†Other times, constant attempts to access the subspace within the third space in the games may cause corruption of data, unintended glitching and sometimes even crashing the game client. Can a player in the third space truly inhabit this space which is hidden from the naked eye? If so, at what cost to the other players or the game? How would this conflict with the intentions of the game itself?