TECH CROSSING

Sure, it seems like scientists get to have all the fun with creating artificial intelligence projects these days. But with the possibilities expanding, what would happen if an artist played around with making A.I.-based art? Well, this is exactly what Sofia Crespo, the artist behind “Trauma Doll”, is doing. She has created “an A.I. doll that suffers from PTSD, anxiety, depression and other psychological demons” and creates “digitally generated memetic collages” as a way to cope. Learn more about the innovative project and check out some of Trauma Doll’s most unique memes and collages via Creators Project! Quite the artistic way to bring awareness of mental health issues center stage!

Some might say all art is a form of portraying memories and emotions. We write from what we see, think, feel and know. We paint from what we see, think, feel and know. We make films inspired by our own pasts or that of others. But what would you say if I told you that a London-based tech studio has developed an actual algorithm for turning a person’s memories into real digital paintings. Literally. This is what Random Quark has done! Scanning a person’s brain while recalling a specific emotional moment, they can identify the type of emotion a person is experiencing. By using the Geneva Emotional wheel, they can categorize those emotions into even more specific types (i.e.: what KIND of SAD are you feeling?) and turn that into data. The results are never the same so each pattern and painting is born unique to that memory. To learn more, check out Random Quark’s website or head to Booooooom to see more examples! Time to take those crazy memories and turn them into real art!

Ah, remember the good ol’ days, when 2017 was to be heralded the year of virtual reality? It seems we’ve still got a ways to go, with sales of VR hardware falling below forecasts and many overseas startups already going bankrupt. With so many challenges facing the growth of the technology on the consumer-level playing field, it seems the tech is still fighting the good fight. Every new industry faces these “growing pains”, according to Clayton Doherty, co-founder and president of the World VR Forum, held last week in Switzerland. But with every setback is an unforgettable experience behind a headset. Creators put together a list of 5 reasons the tech will continue to survive and thrive: from being used as an empathy tool to its potential in other industries, such as healthcare, check out the full list here!

Ever wonder what watching a CGI cyberpunk inspired operatic video performance would be like? How about watching a CGI cyberpunk inspired operatic video performance featuring an AI having a complete mental breakdown? Yea, we haven’t either. But now that the idea has been planted in our heads, it sounds totally up our alley. And looks like we are in luck because Italian artist and musician Datacode has created this very concept! His 35-minute B&W audiovisual experience titled ‘Wraithmachine’ is what he calls a “cyberpunk operetta of the postman age”, following an AI’s “birth and sudden sentience”. The first chapter of the experience, ‘Chapter 1: Origin’, was released on a limited edition USB stick that sold out within hours. However, Datacode has released pieces of the full version, rearranged to track remixes by different artists. These “Reworks” follow in the spirit of the AI’s awakening. Datacode told Creators: "Wraithmachine concerns a particular data error that gives rise to the first 'choice' that the machine has to take. Soon the number of choices grows and the machine finds itself having to 'think' differently and autonomously, thus creating a true artificial intelligence trapped in its limited and inorganic body. A sentient entity as a wraith within the machine.” Scrap equipment and circuit-bending gave birth to the visuals and sound design in a totally new way. Be warned, the hyperactive glitch/strobe effect here is not for the visually senstive. Head over to Creators to learn more about the philosophies and technologies behind 'Wraithmachine' and its inception and to watch some examples of Datacode’s Reworks! 

Ah, virtual reality. So many opposing opinions on the technology and what direction its future is headed. However, attend any successful or up-and-coming film festival and you’ll see something about VR in all of their programs. Certainly, there’s still something to enjoy about the tech and people want to experience what all it can do. Take, for example, the smells wafting through the VR Arcade at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Three VR films at the festival incorporated smell into their experiences with, guess what?, success! Triggering yet another level of immersion in an already immersive field, Kathryn Bigelow & Imraan Ismail's "The Protectors: Walk in the Ranger's Shoes", Milica Zec & Winslow Porter's "Tree", and Marshmallow Laser Feast's "TREEHUGGER: WAWONA", all smell like....dirt. In a good way. Merging the possibilities of virtual reality and environmental awareness is transforming and tapping into something totally new and exciting. Head over to Creators to learn more about what’s 'smelling' fresh at Tribeca Film Festival this year!

In the world of virtual reality, all eyes are on 2017. Though the technology shipped out and started to become a bit more mainstream in 2016, this is the year of possibilities for VR advancement. VR installations and centers are on the rise, allowing consumers of the media to try out new experiences without investing in the gear. One of the companies heading in this direction? None other than IMAX. Known for bringing larger than life experiences to larger than life screens, the IMAX VR Experience Center in Los Angeles had its soft launch last month. And the company plans on rolling out even more VR centers around the world! Read more about the different options you can partake in at the LA flagship over The Verge!

Yesterday, we discovered Netflix’s mind-reading prototype called Mindflix. Like something out of a science fiction film, Mindflix’s sensors basically tap into your brain in order to recommend something for you to watch. Now, since this technology is not yet available on the market at this time, you might be looking for a little help in a more realistic sense. This is where Cinetrii comes in. The site connects you with films based on mentions of related work in film critic reviews. By tracing artistic lineage in film, it searches quotes from critics that compare a film in question to others that are similar or are influencers. Yes, it is a very specific type of curatorial help in navigating you towards similar films if you already know your tastes. Even if mainstream film critics aren’t necessarily your top source for discovery, why not at least give it a try and possibly uncover something new! We tried it out with our recent favorite "The Love Witch" and the suggestions were all pretty spot on recommendations! Looks like we've got a list of new films to watch! Fancy a try? Read more about Cinetrii over on Gizmodo!

Mindflix Helps You Navigate Netflix With Your Brain

Over here at Indie Street, we practice a very indie audience-minded form of curation to make sure you don’t have to shift through a bunch of noise in order to get to the quality stuff. However, giants like Netflix, which offer thousands of genres and films - both good and….questionable - can’t be as geared towards a specific type of viewer. You can spend a lot of time rifling through titles when you could have been using that time to actually watch something instead. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a way to skip the scrolling and synopsis reading and just get to the watching action? Well, engineers over at Netflix might have found a solution in Mindflix, a sensor headband which reads your brainwaves. When wearing the prototype headband, Netflix users can browse the application without a remote control or anything! All you need is a (working) brain. With that, you can select a movie or TV show just by thinking. Mindflix works by detecting activity in your frontal lobe. The headband was successful at the company’s annual Hack Day but there’s no word yet on market release. Here’s to the future and perhaps Indie Street mind-reading headgear one day?! Until then, learn more about Mindflix by watching the video below! 

Since last year (and specifically in this case, last year’s Sundance Film Festival), virtual reality has exploded. 2016 really was the year that the technology was truly pushed on the consumer level and filmmakers/artists started experimenting with the possibilities even more. But could 2017 be the year of an audience breakthrough for VR? And could it happen at the Sundance Film Festival this upcoming week? Senior Programmer and Chief Curator of Sundance’s New Frontier, Shari Frilot, sat down with No Film School and gave them a sneak peak into some of the highlights from this year’s New Frontier VR program. From a VR palace, narrative and documentary experiences to even augmented reality, this year’s festival is poised to be an exciting one for the new technology. Check out the highlights over at No Film School!

Can the virtual become truly real? Can it become art? These were the questions being asked as the Virtually Real project opened at The Royal Academy of Arts in London last week. The first ever 3D-printed artwork in virtual reality went on display this weekend as part of an exclusive collaborative pop-up between HTC Vive and The Royal Academy. Artists used programs like Kodon and Google's Tilt Brush to also bring 100's of simulated worlds to life. Though the experiment and exhibition are now over, the questions raised will definitely have people thinking about how VR can merge with our own world, at least in an artistic sense. Read about how The Royal Academy students brought their work to life on a virtual canvas and how they approached the successes and failures of the technology.

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