Friday, August 5, 2011

The Archives

I recently did a digital painting as a response to some essays by Mikhail Bakhtin. This particular quote was really interesting to me:

"I am conscious of myself and become myself only while revealing myself for another, through another, and with the help of another. The most important acts constituting self-consciousness are determined by a relationship toward another consciousness (toward athou)....The very being of man (both external and internal) is the deepest communion. To be means to communicate....To be means to be for another, and through the other, for oneself. A person has no internal sovereign territory, he is wholly and always on the boundary: looking inside himself, he looks into the eyes of another or with the eyes of another....I cannot manage without another, I cannot become myself without another; I must find myself in another by finding another in myself (in mutual reflection and mutual acceptance)."

Naturally, being me I read it and thought about games. Because I always think about games? Hmm. I do have other hobbies, really. With the advent of more and more sophisticated choice based/ morality meter/ ethical dilemma games, I think this quote has a lot of relevance in games. Through the choices we make in simulated RPG environments we can learn a lot about ourselves. Even in other game types, like strategy games, this is true. Are you aggressive or defensive? If you're playing Civ 5 do you research wonders early, or go straight for the mass armies? 

I think that when Bakhtin wrote this he was implying that it is through our interactions with people that we learn more about ourselves, but I was intrigued at the substitution technology can take for human interaction in this regard. So I decided to draw a picture about my thoughts on the matter:

The Archives.
It's meant to be a little ironic.

 I decided to invent an advanced library system, which would catalog not only archived copies of all media outlets, but also compilations of information cross-referenced with known behavioral patterns of individuals which could be mapped to create simulations of those people within a certain degree margin of error. Essentially it would be a master computer catalog system that would save all user profile information and use that information to create simulated versions of real people who you could speak to. The more information the system had associated with an individual, the smaller the margin for error.

 While the person depicted could be using these tools for any number of purposes, when I drew this I imagined her using a private reference room in the archives to access genealogical information about her family. She would be able to sift through news reports, blogs and articles, then use the computer system to tie related data to user profiles for deceased relatives to create more accurate simulations. It’s a somewhat literal interpretation of the quote, but I thought it would be interesting to see what you could learn about yourself through your interactions with technology, or in this case the search for the self through simulations of one’s own genealogical history.

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