Monthly Archives: October 2016

Design For Simulation – Week 5

Baudrillard views can sometimes be controversial.

Bank Robbery


Baudrillard believes a simulated robbery is more dangerous than the real thing. This is because a real bank robbery justifies having a criminal justice system but a simulated robbery there are no rules and everyone perceives the simulation to different realities. Consequently if we end up in a world where the simulation is as real as the real then the reality falls apart.


Archaeologist Walks into a Cave


Lascaux cave in France are famous for their Paleolithic paintings but the audience does not see the original. What we get to see are the paintings in the Lascaux cave 2. Baudrillard suggests that the danger of simulating something so real is that we do not know if it is real or not and therefore lose our understanding of the real thing. We start believing the simulation and forget there is an original. This hyper-reality can become dangerous if the simulation replaces the real.

We Will Take a Trip to a Theme Park


Baudrillard believes Disneyland portrays the ‘American Dream.’ He considers that inside Disneyland is the real America because it shows a perfect world and outside is the ‘unreal’ America with family break ups, drug use etc. There is no authentic or real America anymore but only a hyper-reality.

Three Orders of Simulacra 

First order: the sign directly represents or reflects a real item.

Second order: the sign is a corruption of reality.

Third order: the sign no longer represents any meaningful reality.


The Gulf War Did Not Take Place (1991)


Another controversial view of Baudrillard. He believed that the Gulf War did not take place because it was conducted using technologies eg drones and therefore the war was clinically constructed and this ‘virtual war’ replaced the ‘total war.’

The Matrix (1999)


This film takes inspiration for Jean Baudrillards ‘Simulacra and Simulation’

My Opinion

Even though realities are being taken over by simulations humans still have the capacity to decide and understand what is real and not. Simulations have a place in education, training and overcoming phobias so even though Baudrillard believes simulations can be dangerous overtaking the reality they can be used for positive experiences as well.


What is a simulation?  

A simulation is a copy of literally anything, which you model to explore various behaviours or show an idea to better understand a system.

Why do we need simulations?

To understand a system, predict data not easily available, understand data that is available, to educate and experience an event or try something new.

The SeaSim 

The National Sea Simulator is a world-leading experimental aquarium facility revolutionising marine science research in Australia. Scientists can research how climate change is effecting the environment and consequently how to save the earth.

Educational Simulations

Simulations can be used to educate and enhance an experience.

Kozma and Johnston (1991) conceptualized seven ways in which instructional technology can support learning:

  • Enabling active engagement in construction of knowledge
  • Making available real-world situations
  • Providing representations in multiple modalities
  • Drilling students on basic concepts to reach mastery
  • Facilitating collaborative activity among students
  • Seeing interconnections among concepts
  • Simulating laboratory work

(Kozma, R.B., and J. Johnston. 1991. “The technological revolution comes to the classroom.” Change 23(1):10-23.)

Science and Environment Simulations

Crown of Thorns Starfish


Coral Bleaching



The warmer air and ocean surface temperatures brought on by climate change impact corals and alter coral reef communities by prompting coral bleaching events and altering ocean chemistry. These impacts affect corals and the many organisms that use coral reefs as habitat.

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My Simulation Research – Great Barrier Reef

Coral Bleaching

In particular for coral, analysis of coral cover data from about 1960 onwards suggests that cover across the GBR has fallen from about 50% in the 1960s to about 16% now. As yet unpublished estimates by Dr Glenn De’ath and his colleagues suggest that if current trends continue coral cover could be as low as 5% in 20 years.

Climate change is driving the record-breaking sea surface temperatures that are bleaching the reef.

Coral reefs are highly vulnerable to a changing climate.

Climate change is driven by the greenhouse gas pollution produced from the burning of coal, oil and gas for energy, land-clearing and some other sources.

What the Future Holds

Annual bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef is expected by 2030, if today’s trends in global warming pollution and rising ocean temperatures continue

Some scientists think the reef in its current diverse form could be largely gone by 2050 if nothing is done.

Scientists predict that a 1.5°C temperature rise will result in 97% of the Great Barrier Reef being bleached.
Higher summer water temperatures are the main cause of bleaching.

Mass bleaching events in 1998, 2002, 2006 and most recently 2016 were caused by unusually warm sea surface temperatures during the summer season. Bleaching  in 2008 and 2011 was caused by an influx of freshwater. 

Mass coral bleaching was not documented in the scientific literature before 1979; however, significant mass bleaching events have since been reported in 1982, 1987, 1992 and the strongest sea surface warming event ever recorded occurred in 1998, where an estimated 46% of corals in the western Indian Ocean were heavily impacted or died. In 2005 sea surface temperatures in the Caribbean were the highest reported in more than 100 years,


It was placed on the World Heritage List in 1981



Populations of the COTs have increased since the 1970s and large outbreaks of starfish can occur wiping out huge tracks of coral reef.

There have been three major periods (“waves”) of COTS outbreaks on the GBR: 1962 – 1976; 1978 – 1991; 1993 – 2005; and it is now accepted that we are at the beginning of the next wave which appears to have started off Cairns in 2009.



Design For Simulation – Week 4

Virtual Reality and Antiquity

Virtual Art from Illusion to Immersion

By Oliver Grau

Virtual reality is not new but it’s place can be traced back in history. Grau describes the transformation of art history from the perception of art and images to interactive art, immersion and the development of images.

With developing technology it is now possible to experience art by ‘entering it,’ though this is more of a perception of the mind and not physical because your geographical location has not changed.

The illusion of space can be seen early on in art history. Trompe-l’oeil was a technique which created an optical illusion using realistic images in 3d. It was also successful in emphasizing a large room or window in a small space with it’s perspective drawing technique, for example, Baroque church ceilings.


The Panorama (1789), Robert Barker, was an early tool for immersion and deception. It was a cylindrical room in which a painting of the city of Edinburgh was placed. Viewed from the centre of the room it tried to deceive the viewer that they were looking at an illusion of reality and not a painting.


The Battle of Borodino (1812) was depicted as a panorama in 1912 to immerse the audience into a 360 degree battlefield experience. Painted by Russian artist Franz Roubaud ,this panorama complete with sound effects was an extremely immersive way to visualize the event.


The Diorama invented by Daguerre (1822) consisted of a mobile construction, which spun around as viewers stood in the middle and watched paintings go round and change without having to move. These paintings of an internal depiction and a landscape would create an illusion of the audience travelling virtually without leaving their geographical location.

Original caption: Photo shows people watching Daguerre's diorama.  Undated illustration. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Original caption: Photo shows people watching Daguerre’s diorama. Undated illustration. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

The Mareorama, created by Hugo d’Alesi (1900) was one of the last developments of the panorama before it became redundant. Viewers would stand on a platform representing a ship and experience the illusion of a sea voyage through lighting, sound and the imagery of a storm surrounding them.

Original caption: Photo shows people watching Daguerre's diorama.  Undated illustration. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Original caption: Photo shows people watching Daguerre’s diorama. Undated illustration. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

These early examples of illusions for creating space are an integral part of learning how virtual antiquity developed over the years to create immersive and interactive environments.

Christian Metz, a film French theorist and author of ‘The Imaginary Signifier’ (1982) believed cinema assaults all your senses drawing you into the virtual world. He believes in the ‘all perceiving spectator,’ who is absent from the screen yet always present. The audience can decide as to whether or not to let themselves go into the virtual reality realm of cinema or stay on the outside depending on whether or not they enjoyed the film.

Virtual Reality or Virtuality?

Virtuality exists between two realities. It is a space that exits in our perception but is not really there. For example the email being sent is part of the virtuality.

Firstly virtual is connected with the real using eg screens, gloves controllers. These prothetics add something to our body, which lets us interact in a virtual environment.


Next we have a model of a virtual using an enclosed room where projections take place.

The Legible City (1988), a simulated experience by Jeffrey Shaw







Design For Simulation – Week 3

Simulating Ourselves

Can we simulate ourselves? Physically we can create models of ourselves but only on a superficial level. The question is can we simulate human emotions, intelligence, behaviours and our senses.

The Turing Test

Alan Turing (1912-1952), a computer scientist wrote the Turing test, which would decide if something had artificial intelligence or not. It was to determine whether or not a computer could think like a human brain. The Turing Test is successfully passed if a computer is mistaken for a human more than 30% of the time during a series of five-minute keyboard conversations. He laid the foundations for modern computers and the information technology revolution.

With the development of technology experts have been successful in getting their artificial intelligence to pass the Turing test.

An MIT algorithm has managed to produce sounds able to fool human listeners and beat Turing’s sound test for artificial intelligence.


A computer program called Eugene Goostman, which simulates a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy, is said to have passed the Turing test at an event organised by the University of Reading.

New goals are being constantly set to see how far artificial intelligence can be developed not to just pass the Turing test but to pass the very difficult entrance exams of a college in Tokyo and fool the admission staff into thinking the AI is a potential student. Humans and machines are blurring together.


Bladerunner (1982)


A science fiction film ahead for it’s time used the voight-kampff machine test to determine which character was an AI or human.

Ex-Machina (2015)


This film is quite shocking but revealing in how technology is advancing at an incredible speed and without checks and balances the AI’s might even take over the human race one day…. Ava passes the Turing test with flying colours. (where a robot can make others believe it is human)

New Concepts for Artificial Intelligence

Japan’s robot babies raise questions about how parents bond with Artificial Intelligence

A beauty contest was judged by AI and the robots didn’t like dark skin


Anki’s Cozmo robot is the new, adorable face of artificial intelligence



Presentation Double Project

I intend to create a virtual reality (VR) experience of Seven Wonders of the World with examples taken from ancient and modern times, nature and the solar system.

My idea is to create a virtual environment of these models for educational and tourism purposes. It is important for young people to understand the historical value and the importance of preserving these antiquities and buildings and the conservation issues for the natural world. The VR experience of visiting these environments would encourage travel and the different countries and tourism agencies would benefit economically.

Initially I will create the Taj Mahal and then model The Great Pyramid of Giza, Stonehenge, Bellrock Lighthouse, Great Barrier Reef, Amazon Forest and the Rings of Saturn.

I will use Maya software to create the 3D models and Unreal Engine linked to the Oculus Rift to make the VR environment. I will add sounds to match each model. For example, Indian classical music, to enhance the atmosphere of the Taj Mahal and make it more immersive.

I will also make a website which will have information about the Wonders of the World. This will be used as a marketing tool for my VR experience and an app I anticipate to produce. The Oculus Rift is expensive and though it provides a more realistic experience I want my VR experience to be used by more people and therefore an app, which can be uploaded to a smartphone will be available to more consumers.

Major issues are ensuring the correct settings are put in unreal engine so when you use the rift there is no motion sickness, or screen door effect. The models have to be to scale of the original to ensure an immersive experience.



Oculus Rift problem

A frustrating day today. Spent some time trying to set up the rift with my laptop but kept getting the message ‘no HDMI being detected.’ After some research at home found a program to check if my laptop was compatible. As can be seen below unfortunately my laptop does not support the rift.


Contacted Levono ( my laptop make) live chat to confirm if this was true. Not very helpful at all but after emailing Lewis I have been informed that the university will be getting new PCs so problem solved.

dd dd3