The Five Senses: Final Project

Super Mario Installation

Idea #1:
Initially, we thought of making a 3D Mario game. We would try to represent how it felt when you put yourself in Mario’s shoes and you yourself would have had to play the game – jump and collect coins etc. So, we thought of making a life size maze and the player would have to physically play the game like he would on console.

Feedback:
It was going to be very difficult to execute, given the amount of time we had. We wouldn’t have been able to make an exact representation of the Mario game in real life, it sounded like something that would be in an amusement park.
We were also told to abstract the idea – probably use a projector or a treadmill instead of the maze.

Idea #2:
Our second idea was a slightly abstracted version of our previous idea. We would make a small cube (8 bit cube) in which a person would go into and sit. It would be dark inside, a video would be projected onto one side of the cube and the person would also hear various video game sounds. On the top of the box, there would be a hole from which we would throw things like coins, mushrooms and other elements from Super Mario into the box. The aim of this installation would be to suffocate the person (player) sitting inside.

Feedback:
Our idea was too literal – we were asked to abstract the idea even further. The execution again had several issues. We would’ve had to construct a huge box that a person could fit into, placement of the projector would’ve been an issue as the person sitting inside would cast a shadow etc. The sense of smell and taste weren’t coming out too well in this idea as well.

Final idea:
Our final idea was a very abstracted version of the previous two ideas, we had finally decided that we were going to focus on addiction and the side effects of gaming. So to bring that experience and engage all the different senses we decided merge our senses, because gaming is an audiovisual experience with touch felt by a console or a touch pad and of course the slouch created because of the seating position. Taste and smell come in secondary, but are equally as important. We wanted to show how harmful the effects of excessive gaming could actually be once their visuals are simplified and kept without an interesting plot or interface. We also wanted to make the viewer feel absolutely claustrophobic. To execute our idea, we constructed four different boxes. Each box had a computer screen in it and a very small and narrow opening on it for the audience to look into. These boxes were painted black on the outside as well as the inside to ensure no light passes through except for the light from the screen when the viewer is looking inside. All these boxes were kept at a considerably low height so that the viewer would have to stare at the screen while slouching that would get very uncomfortable later.

Box

This is how we classified each of the senses to make the execution of our idea an easier process:

Sight – Video games use extremely fast moving visuals that keep on changing when it comes to motion and color. Usually these colors are extremely bright and vivid. Most of the time the game is a highly visual experience, so therefore we kept a video as a form of a visual in every box which was merged with another sense or feeling.

Sound – Music that would be extremely difficult and painful to listen to if it would be continuously played. So to recreate the same effect we used 8-bit sounds for each of our boxes.

Touch – The slouch that the gamers sit in for hours at a stretch every day and the numb fingers as a result of the constant grip and movement on a keyboard/ touchpad or controller.

Smell – Gamers are so deeply involved in the game; they aren’t affected by or notice the smell that surrounds them. A lot of them don’t even shower for days and just use a deodorant as a substitute. Other smells that gamers are used to are junk food, the stench of body odor and other awful scents such as stale food. Our aim was to recreate the same repulsive sense of smell that would get monotonous. We kept the extremely repellent smell of spray paint mixed with deodorant constant on each of our boxes to make the audience experience the same feeling.

Taste – Gamers usually tend to munch on junk food – chips, aerated drinks (any junk). So to recreate that feeling, we mixed our sounds with the crunching of chips and we kept some cake for the viewers to eat at intervals of each box.

Super Mario Cake
So we constructed four boxes and placed screens inside them, which were showing different things. Each one would lead to the next box.

The following visuals were paired up with annoying video game music:

Box 1: This is not straining to the eye.
White text runs across a red screen really fast and one is supposed to figure out what is says. We kept an 8-bit music in the background for this mixed with the sound of chips being munched on. This was the first box, so, we wanted our audience to warm up with the speed of the visuals and provoke them with the senses of eyestrain, the repulsive odors and the taste of junk food through memory.

Box 2: A dancing red dot on a neon screen.
A red dot kept moving really quickly from one part of the screen to another. It was placed on a neon green background and the longer you stare at the dot the more blinding it gets for the eye. This was accompanied with another 8-bit soundtrack that was playing at full volume and again merged with the constant smell of spray paint and deodorant. The aim of this box was to further irritate the viewer by an increase in the intensity of the audiovisual.

Box 3: Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 and You Win!
This box was supposed to cause the eyestrain at its peak. It had the words flashing on the screen really quickly with the color of the type changing to black and white back and forth, and simultaneously the background changing to all colors extremely quickly. It was supposed to mimic the visuals that cause epilepsy also and the 8-bit sound in the background was supposed to make the user feel even more traumatized.

Box 4: Typing test.
This box was supposed to recreate how the effect of excessive gaming strains and numbs your fingers. This box was intentionally placed right in the end after the intense audiovisual experience. The viewer was made to type on the screen using a touchpad (that he ideally wasn’t supposed to see). The construction of this box was a little tricky, as we did not have the ideal software and hardware. We mirrored our phone display on the computer screen and made our viewers type on the phone while we supervised them and made sure they did not look at the mobile display, but only stared at the screen.

Typing Test

On the top of the box, we made a Mario stencil print artwork.

Mario stencil
Mario stencil process

Id complex music video

The video ID complex explores the concept of the rat race in the commercial world. It shows how a person dedicates his entire life running around to get his work done, ignoring his personal life and any other things that come in the way and how when the person finally just gets exhausted with that kind of running around and he falters, someone else comes from the back, pushes him over and takes his position.

We’ve also uploaded the updated version of the poster for this video.

Chola Bronze Art

The cholas ruled Southern India and Sri Lanka from the late 9th Century. They originate from Thanjavur and their empire expanded till the Maldives and parts of Indonesia. The Chola rulers gave great importance to the arts and constantly financed for their development. They built massive temples decorated with idols of Hindu Gods. Their Bronze commissioned sculptures for these temples are some of the most iconic works left back from their reign. The sculpture of Saint Sambandar is made out o Copper alloy and is 47.9cm tall. It belongs to the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art. Sambandar is one of the 63 Hindu saints who gave their entire life to worship Lord Shiva. His characteristics are: His young appearance, his happy dance posture and his pointing finger on his right hand. Myth is, when Sambandar was three, he had gone with his father to the Shiv Temple, where his father left him alone to take a dip in the ritual tank. On getting hungry he had milk from the sculpture of Shiv and Parvati. Because of consuming this holy milk, Sambandar composed more than 300 poems in the name of Shiva. Some of these poems are still sung in temples in Southern India. What I love about this sculpture is it’s lean and graceful body form. It’s not one of the idealistic body forms from today, neither is it one of the idealistic forms from that time, where a healthy man was considered to be fat with a round pot belly. The sculpture is just sleek and perfectly balanced to show a graceful ritualistic performance taking place. it isn’t heavily ornamented either like other forms of Hindu art.

chola

Electronic Music

Electronic music

Music is a form of communication almost everyone enjoys. There have been various genres of music and each of them portray similar messages in different ways. Right now, I feel music is mixed up everywhere because of electronic music. Almost every song you hear now days has some elements from one of the common genres such as rock, pop or hip hop, mixed up with some electronic music and dubstep. Personally, I’m not a fan of this electronic music, I feel it’s quite distracting and doesn’t really mark it’s statement clearly.

I say so because, in the past, music genres such as rock, pop and hip hop have used their art form to communicate certain messages to the community, they’ve used their art forms to express their beliefs, (right or wrong, doesn’t matter, at least they had something to say). You have punk rock bands such as Green Day, who have something to say, who openly protest against the materialistic way of life and the political scenario in their country. Then there are older rock bands which again protest against certain ways in which their country was run, they argued against the hypocrisy and the corruption. There there were other groups expressing their emotions of love and passion, but when you listen to the recent electronic music, you don’t really have much of a feel to it.

I’ve been to two different electronic music concerts, one was sunburn Bombay, and one was Tiesto. Both of them were of the same electronic genre, but the experience at for both was different. Sunburn Bombay literally felt worse than the experience in a packed local train at peak hours. There were people all around, dancing, screaming, behaving as disruptive as possible. Men trying to touch women while they were dancing, kids who barely looked fifteen smoking marijuana. Everyone drunk everywhere, pointlessly loafing around the place. It felt as if the concert was not even meant for the music, but was meant for men to come, get drunk, have some drugs and touch some women and leave and carry on with their lives. I don’t remember which artist played there, neither do I remember a single song I heard, that’s how pointless I felt the music was.

This is what I don’t like about modern electronic music, it doesn’t really mean much, almost every song sounds the same, and the fact that they are all overplayed so much for every occasion makes them even more painful to bear. Musically, most of the modern electronic music doesn’t really seem to have much beauty, it sounds like a compute being scratched and crying out in pain. It doesn’t have that calm mellowness something like a tune from a string quintet or a violin would provide. Neither does it have the pump and the aggression a guitar would provide. It’s just something new immature children listen to when they come are roaming around downstairs on the streets in their cars . Most of it sounds like gibberish computers being scratched and wailing in pain. This electronic music fashion has a lot more effects and problems related to it according to me. If it were just music, it would be fine, but the fact that, this being such bad music and having no message whatsoever to give to the audience is influencing them heavily. Drugs such as marijuana casually being consumed while getting downstairs in the evening when the child’s mother thinks he’s going to play some cricket with his friends is highly unacceptable. You can’t solely blame the music for the consumption of the drugs, but you can definitely blame it’s fame for the influence of the wrong habits.

On one hand there’s this gibberish electronic music played at concerts such at sunburn, on the other hand, there are a few genuine artists who actually explore this genre to make true music. I don’t really have a very great knowledge about these artists as I’m not very inclined towards this genre, but, I have listened to some of them such as Tiesto, a little bit of Romanian trance music and a few other artists. I even went for a Tiesto concert in Mumbai. Now the experience at this concert was absolutely different compared to the experience at Sunburn. Here I felt that people were actually present for the music and for the love of the music. People seemed to be behaving in this manner of respect towards the music, everyone was dancing to it, but the body language and the code of conduct was absolutely different as compared to what it was at sunburn. There seemed to be less of chaos here, less of people pushing screaming and shouting, but more of people actually listening to the music and dancing to their own groove and enjoying the music.

There are also certain groups present currently who fuse electronic with their genre, some succeed, some fail miserably. An example of a band that succeeds really well is Thirty to Seconds to Mars and Linkin Park. Both these bands are ideally defined as rock bands, but both have fused several of their songs with electronic music. The point is that, though these songs have been fused with electronic music, they still have a something to say, they don’t just go on in constant gibberish like plenty of the EDM dJs. This makes me wonder, is it EDM that’s bad or is it the artists who are bad at their work?

Sense of Sound

Music is a very integral part of cinema. Cine is not, just about the visuals, it’s about the complete audio visual experience. The visuals act as a medium for us to see, but the audio acts as the medium for us to feel the visuals. The audio sets the mood of the film and makes the exaggerates the experience of the visuals in order for us to be able to focus only on what is needed to be, because if we watch a film with either no sound or with all sound(which includes noise) like how life is, the mood of the film won’t be set, you won’t feel that rush of adrenaline or the passion in the romance, it’ll just be a bland experience.

A great example of a movie where the background score has been used brilliantly could be Rush by Ron Howard. The sound score has been done by Hans Zimmer. Rush is about the F1 season of 1976, which shows the rivalry between legendary F1 drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt. The film by itself has so many different themes and emotions it needs to explore with it’s sounds. F1 by itself is known for the noise of it’s cars in the race, the adrenaline rush that sound gives to it’s fans, the glamour that surrounds it, the competition, the risk of losing your life and then the music needs to get the 70’s in, the characteristics of two contrasting, yet extremely determined charters, James Hunt and Niki Lauda. James Hunt, on one side who was an extremely charismatic young playboy, while Niki Lauda, an extremely calculative young perfectionist. The sound score had to get the mischievous and playful mood of James, and the patriotic and always serious mood of Niki Lauda. So, Hans Zimmer went on to produce different kinds of scores, one kind which gave out the playfulness of James and the other which gave the seriousness of Niki. Then as the plot develops further in the film, you see James getting more serious and more determined and the soundtrack changing, becoming more grave and literally making the audience feel the pressure the racers felt while racing and experience the Rush they did. I personally think that one of the main reasons this film did so well was because of the music.

Another film I feel that owes it’s success to the sound score is Interstellar. Film directed by Christopher Nolan, sound score produced by Hans Zimmer again. The film is about space travel and finding a new habitable planet, but at the same time, the film is about a father-daughter relationship, emotions and love. Hans Zimmer effectively manages to make us feel the mysteriousness of space with his piano and organ scores, yet with the various different levels of pitch and tempo, he gives makes you get away from the emptiness and blandness and loneliness of space, but makes you feel the urgency Cooper has to get back to his daughter. It also has the best usage of silence in a film. The scene where Matt Damon’s character Dr. Mann loses it and crashes his space ship onto the dock and there’s an explosion, but instead of treating that explosion with a loud blast, all that’s there in the background is silence. It’s the silence that says this is it, all hopes are over, Cooper is never returning to Earth again, he’s never seeing his daughter again, everything’s over. On the other hand, it also gives the realistic impression of what space sounds like, because space is a vacuum, hence, there’s no sound travelling in it. The music made by Hans Zimmer for this film is what makes it feel so colossal and so hypnotic, that the viewers are transported to another world for a short duration of the film.

Another film with an effective sound score is Top Gun. The film is about a hot shot adraniline junkie naval pilot getting into an advanced fighter training academy. This film again explores various emotions that need to be brought out with the help of sound, there’s the mach, alpha male feel that needs to be brought out, then there’s the patriotic victorious feel that needs to be brought out, Tom Cruise’s flirty nature, then his failure and his determination to get back up and his victory over all odds. All these various emotions need to be brought out and they are with various guitar tones in the background. The constant beeps and sounds of electronics while in the cockpit view makes you feel the stuffiness and anxiousness a fighter pilot feels. Even the sound of the heavy breathing of the pilots gives you an insight on the conditions of a pilot. The sound of the jet engines and sonic boom from the aircraft gives you a feel of the adrenaline rush meant to be experienced from the film.

Overall, I think sound is extremely crucial to films. None of the films mentioned above would be successful without the sound scores. The sound in the don’t just add effects, but also help in developing characters, showing progress in the plot and setting the time period. All the sound clips exaggerate the emotions meant to be felt and help the viewer focus on to that particular emotion the director wants the viewer to feel.

Sense Of Sound: The Sound of India Bulls

The artificial experience of listening to a man made fountain trying to sound like a waterfall merged with the screeches of cars rather than birds in the exteriors of a corporate park in contrast to the heavy breathing of a centralised cooling monster in the interiors. Sounds of mechanical idiot boxes instead of the real idiots in the giant electrical ladders contradicting from the wailing from the electrical barrier. The larger parts of the interiors have machines talking more than men. Soft murmurs coming in small designated areas, at least there’s a little life and joy where the tools charge themselves up for the day with a dark smelly liquid. The echoes of of the footsteps of the tools coming in the silent hall ways is like the galloping of sloppy hallways. The whistle screeches if a tool goes off limits, while a car zooms past them almost killing them. The entire park is filled with sudden cries  from plastic objects created specially so that tools can communicate miles away ignoring the tool right in front of him.

Vishesh

Cigarettes and blazers

And pant suits and coffee

That’s how I wake up

To make myself money

Shiny nice shoes and some long flared dresses

These are a few things that make me impressive

When the day starts

When the work starts, that’s when I’m feeling sad

There’s nothing better than a coffee a day

That brings my mood back.

Swamani

Review: In The Mood For Love

In The Mood For Love

In The Mood For Love is a Chinese romantic melodrama by Wong Kar-wai. The film is about a held back romance between two neighbours, who are married to unfaithful partners, set  Hong Kong in the 1960’s. The protagonists of the film Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow Mo-Wan live in crammed up rented apartments neighbouring each other. Both their respective partners have been shown to be away on work all throughout the film and later it has been established that they have been unfaithful. 

The most interesting thing about the film is how relevant the title acts with the way the film has been made. Wong Kar-wai starts the film with the Mr and Mrs. Chan and Mr. and Mrs. Chow moving into their new apartments in a crammed up society at the same time. We then don’t see either , Mrs. Chow or Mr. Chan as they are away on work all throughout the film. Wong Kar-Wai first sets a mood of dejection in the protagonists as both their partners cancel simple things such as dinners and dates. This mood of dejection is then elevated to a mood of loneliness, where both the protagonists are seen to be minding their own respective business and being by themselves, spending their time at home or dinner time alone (married couples are expected to be together at these times). We see them walking alone in long dark alleys, being alone at work and generally being wanting to be alone even when they can enjoy the company of others. Mrs. Chan rejects several dinner invitations from other neighbours living in the society. Mr. Chow rejects the company of his office colleague Ah Ping. After the mood for loneliness, a mood of nostalgia is established, where both the protagonists miss their parters and yearn for their attention, but don’t get it. Finally, the mood for love comes in, where both the protagonists after spending their time in dejection, loneliness and nostalgia give in to each other and get involved. They are in the mood for love, they want to be loved and they want to love as well, it’s as if they’ve lost their happiness and the source of their inner emotions and mode of expression, but only the little time they spend with each other, they get back their emotions and feelings. Their expressions are still extremely held back because of their fear of society.

What is interesting about the film is the beautiful treatment of every frame. Most of the film is framed with extremely close tight shots. They really do make the film look extremely beautiful and more interesting to watch. In my opinion, I feel the tight shots give us a certain amount of emotion. The entire film is 1 hour 38 minutes long and most of it is shot in these tight close up frames, it sort of makes the viewers feel like the protagonists with their emotions, very uptight and held close inside, really wanting to get out, but just unable to due to social norms and personal principles. A constant motif seen in the film is long dark alleys (place where they buy their noodles from, society lobby) with both the protagonists crossing each others paths, being really formal to each other. These long alley tight shots where the two cross each other act as a transition of time, showing how their relationship is evolving over time, but, not really clicking at the right spot and flourishing.

It is quite evident that both, Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan have feelings for each other, with the way they look at each other, the way they hold each other, the way they express themselves in front of each other, but neither of them really have the courage to make the first move. It leaves the viewers very obscure about their relationship. In my opinion, I feel, the two of them weren’t really meant to click, because their relationship was mainly built because of their cheating partners and they both seemed to be using each others company to get past the rejection, the loneliness, the pain and the sorrow. They needed someone to express, they were in the mood for love, a mood for a love experience, not really in love, which makes me feel that the concept of love quite intimidated them. To completely let themselves into another person frightened them, which is why, in spite of having such a high amount of chemistry between themselves, when it really mattered, neither of them had the guts to take the first step. When they finally agreed they had feelings for each other in the end, rather than embracing those feelings, they drove each other away in the fear of society.

The film makes me wonder about certain other things then, how is it the two were married to their unfaithful partners, what is it that made their partners take the drastic step of being unfaithful. Was the infidelity of their partners just physical due to their work which made them travel or was it like their infidelity, with emotions. It made me question certain norms of our society today, is physical infidelity okay as long as it’s just to satisfy physical needs? Or is it okay if a 2 people spend a lot of time with each other, pour out all their emotions into one another (while they are married to someone else), do everything a married couple is supposed to do together, but just not get physical? What is more important, physical needs or emotional needs?