Category Archives: brighton

Long time, no see

Weeeeell, it has been some time since my last post. In that time I lost my house, my job and my laptop charger decided to pooter to a stop. It’s been going pretty frickin’ swell I can tell you. That and my lack of human contact contributing to a wee bit of stress and strain with my main source of human contact. I’ve been quite hard on her and it’s not really fair. BUT I’m moving to foggy old London town and received a part in The Importance of Being Ernest in the Brighton Fringe so praps things will start to look up!

Home? Cake? YES

Now I’m going to share with you yet another strange going on in the Old Stein. Walking toward the bus stop at around half nine in the evening I had to pass through a wide alleyway that connects the Lanes with the Stein. It was already quite dark and when I glimpsed two black clad figures loitering awkwardly by the wall I felt a touch of apprehension. However, as muggers their demographic was all wrong; a man, mid-thirties and an older woman, portly both wearing black wind breakers. Their conversation halted abruptly as I passed, furthering their suspicious nature and the long, awkward silence was suddenly broken by the bleep and crunch of a police walkie-talkie. The pair wore their best poker-faces and made no move to answer it.

So, presumably I’ve been witness to yet another act of terrible police surveillance in the Stein. Maybe they’re onto me. Maybe I’m not as paranoid as I should be! I;d rather think they were criminals who’d pick up tips on theft after watching Drive.

Anyway, I’ve got to go move house again. Toodles.

I think we both need the toilet.

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Hybrid Space: The Final Frontier

Recently, I had this fantastic idea for a video game. Upon reading about various Alternate Reality Games (ARG) and with a vague grasp of recent Augmented Reality applications, which overlay real, physical images captured on 3G mobile devices with digital information, I thought why not combine the two? Create a Virtual Augmented Reality game which blended the the real landscape with a parallel fantasy one? Over diminishing pints I outlined a version of Pokemon to my friends (and anyone within earshot) where one’s own geographical location formed part of the narratives, where special items or Pokemon could only be obtained in certain locations, forcing the player to trade and explore. I was sure I was onto a real money-spinner.

The only downside would be how horrendously long it would take you to walk through a field.

However, like all things, it turns out I’m about ten years behind. In her essays “Playing Life and Living Play” (2008) and “From Cyber to Hybrid” (2006), Adriana De Souza e Silva talks extensively about such Hybrid Reality Games (HRG) which have emerged from the convergence of applications and media to mobile, internet-supporting  platforms and ones which simultaneously use physical space as well as digital space. These games, and mobile technology generally, create a new space which reconfigure users relationships both geographically and socially.

Essentially, the ability to carry the internet around in your pocket fundamentally changes one’s relationship with the various social spaces we inhabit, be they physical, digital, work or play, continually blurring the lines between them. You may answer work e-mails while you eat, tend to your cabbages on Farmville while you commute or map your urban excursions on some 3G gadget (I would probably still be wandering around Whitechapel in the dark if not for my girlfriend’s shiny iPhone). Silva correctly asserts that far from disconnecting people from their physical environments, as has been widely suggested, these new technologies instead enrich and expand one’s connection to the physical realm.

While the majority of people in 3rd wolrd nations rely on farming for subsistence bored white kids can get addicted pretending to.

While the majority of people in 3rd world nations rely on farming for subsistence bored white kids can get addicted pretending to.

I noticed a funny example of this dramatic shift of spaces, personal, public, physical and private on the bus to uni the other day. A fellow student sitting beside me flipped open his iPhone and began to use the gay dating/social networking application Grindr which allows the user to identify fellow gay users in the vicinity including such detailed information as how far away a fellow user is in metres. Naturally, I assumed he was just trying to see f I was on it, of course, but it still struck me as a notable shift in perceptions of space and privacy. Mobile applications allow us to be completely private in public and vice versa.

Yes of course I'll trust my personal information and exact location to an application that seems to be using a bondage hockey-mask skull as its mascot.

Play or game space has always been one that’s been considered an alternative space, “outside” of reality. HRGs shatter this distinction via their ability to transcend confined game space (such as a board, or video-game level). The main tenets of these games are that they merge these spheres, they are collaborative, usually requiring group action to progress, and require a development of trust. As in all play space the “fun still derives from the assumption of interacting with another and specifically from the potential of interaction” (Fink, 1974), so the attraction is social and social engagement. The creation of social spaces requires three elements: the material, physical practices, representations of space and the spaces of representation (Lefebvre 1991). These games satisfy each, the physical urban environment the game takes place in, its digital representation and finally the constructed, fictional narratives that blur with the ordinary space of the city (Silva, 2008).

Example of Hybrid Reality Game

Silva talks about how these games, such as I Like Frank (2004), Botfighters and Mogi, forces the player to re-evaluate the physical space they inhabit and can promote exploration and discovery of physical spaces through location based objectives. But the games also force personal and socio-spacial renegotiations also.  The anonymity granted by the user allows for “a safe environment for experimenting with one’s identity” (Silva, 451) and thus the blurred boundaries between digital and physical spaces may extend to personal ones. Also, in order to be part of the game and interact with other users, tracking their movements, etc., one must allow oneself to be tracked, which requires an act of trust in the other players. They must have the interests of the game at heart and must enforce each other. Although trusting online teammates can be tricky business as the anonymous and consequence-free nature of the art can allow users to simply leave instantly if they become frustrated.

LOL RAGEQUIT!

We see here in this video the Augmented reality creating Hybrid space by overlaying the real image with new digitalised data, mediating reality through technology into a narrative. I believe that as gaming tastes and trends continue to expand further than repetitive first-person shooter nonsense and into the more lucrative markets of iPhone games and apps we’ll probably see more diverse and engaging HRGs, which will connect users through their negotiation and exploration of this new hybrid environment.

There is, as ever, potentially a dark-side to the seemingly innocuous fun. To engage in the Hybrid space you must connect using a variety of social media tools and applications which continually gather data on the user in order to function. Take an iPhone’s GPS orFourSquare’s grotesque “checking-in” function. HRGs run the risk of joining the aforementioned applications as agents promoting the normalisation of surveillance culture. It allows private firms to collate inordinate amounts of data on users, allows them to track not only our tastes and behaviours but also where exactly we are at any given time and as usual, the user gives this to them on a platter. As ever the users will be complicit in their own exploitation. The hybrid space allows for many interesting, innovative and unprecedented social interrelationships and is undeniably shaping the ways in which we negotiate space, physically, digitally and mentally but it may come at the cost of true privacy.

De Souza E Silva, Adriana. “Playing Life and Living Play: How Hybrid Reality Games Reframe Space, Play, and the Ordinary.” Critical Studies in Media Communication25.5 (2008): 447+..

De Souza E Silva, Adriana. “From Cyber to Hybrid Mobile Technologies as Interfaces of Hybrid Spaces.” Space and Culture (2006): 261-278

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So, This is England

I got a distinctly Shane Meadows vibe as I walked home today. Coming into the Avenue estate I passed by a rotund boy in a shell-suit who sheepishly pulled a chocolate-ship cookie from his pocket and aimed it mouthwards. Just then I heard a shout from the drive-way to my left. A huge, thick-necked man in a tracksuit shoved violently against  another balding man.

“What the FAHK did you just say to me?!”

Two large ladies ran into the scene to break it up with much flailing and wobbling. I turned my eyes from the scene, not wishing to draw attention. The heavens opened in an act of cliched pathetic fallacy and the estate was tinted with a Kitchen Sink grey. The young boy then hobbled at top speed past me, short of breath and wimpered a little as he ran. His cookie dropped to the ground in front of me as he turn desperately into the next house, shattering into a pile of crumbs. Seriously symbolic and that. Then two decidedly larger ladies and another tracksuited roundy kid ran breathlessly pass me toward the action. Then another two sizeable maidens. Then an old, leather-skinned man in a denim suits, handlebar moustache and a ponytail. I had a serious case of FOMO, lads.

And speaking of Shane Meadows I’ve been inhaling the follow-up series This is England ’86/88 ON 4OD and quite loving it. I do, however have a few niggles and quibbles with it. Like how they just forgot Banjo and Meggs were violent racists. Full review later on but for now I’ll leave you with this startling revelation:

Kelly from Misfits, Harvey from This is England

They’re only bloody brother and sister!

Enough, off to bed, big day ahead. Many gorgeous people to see. The first person to guess where I’m going gets a prize! Here’s a clue:

Yes, you're right! It's Hull!

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More Observations to evoke Awe and Lol

Observation 1: I have never seen an Oriental Asian woman smoke. And a quick google for a suitable image here turned up way too much porn.

Observation 2: Preparing for a Musical Society fundraising night in the Pavilion Tavern, known colloquially as the Chav Pav Tav, my Tipperary friend and I were playing a choice selection of CHOONS from my tinny speakers as we hastily downed our cans. It was 90s night but our tastes steered chronologically toward the millennium and we rediscovered this gem:

And we decided that it just doesn’t sound right not being blared from a mobile phone.

As we eventually wandered into town, tummies fizzy with lager, we were approached by an older gentleman asking for a light. His skin was tanned, accent vaguely Eastern European and he was smartly turned out, replete with a fedora and broad moustache. He kindly offered us a pre-rolled cigarette for the use of my friend’s lighter and, smiling, he wandered off on his way. It wasn’t until he turned that I noticed the amber light reflecting off the tears on his cheeks.

90s night was an occasion of awful fashion, warm glasses and absolutely fantastic music. I’ll take Haddaway over your Rhianna everytime, society. And what with hipster trendy dress sense starting ironically adopt hideous 90s dress sense I wasn’t quite sure who’d come for the party or who was just a bell-end.

what I don't even..?!

I ended up losing my mate, finding myself on the beach by the pier having a sing-song with some kind of band(?) and being plied with beers, fags, group hugs and heartfelt promises to meet up for coffee the next day. Richard if you’re reading this then you’ll already know I missed our date. There were also Frenchmen. So, yay, FRIENDS.

Just a picture wot I took in Brighton

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Observations and Overheard Conversations

Growing up in Ireland as an English kid with chip firmly attached to shoulder I always expected moving back to Blighty would in some form feel like coming home. After shouldering the guilt of 700 years of oppression, rape and imperialism I spent my misinformed teenage youth using Morrissey lyrics to express my complex dual heritage, and pretty much, any other state of being I was feeling (intensely) at the time. I think I even once told a girl that she was the one for me, “fatty” (she had rather chunky calves).

Truly a fitting spokesperson for my mind

Upon arriving in this strange land, replete with its chunky, randomly sized currency, its busy, buzzy pace and politely curt attitude I realised for the first time that I wasn’t of this isle either. London is still magic, just less magical once the tube becomes just the way to get home rather than the rollercoaster of your memory. It feels as though I’ve being playing Life on Easy Mode, living in Galway. Easy Mode is fun but your achievements always seem worth more when the difficulty settings are raised a dash.

Relocating to the city of Brighton, on the south-most tip of the UK has been illuminating. Hipsters. Many hipsters. I immediately felt underdressed for catching the bus to uni and was just gobsmacked by what seemed like a parade of Urban Outfitters models. One difference I’ve picked up here is the value placed on buying tons of shit. There’s a real focus on high-street clothes and a fixation on brands I’ve not encountered before. I always thought this whole “materialist, valueless generation” thing was invented by the media to have something to complain about but these kids would really nick trainers in a riot. Also, no one needs glasses that big. I’m just jealous, really.

Not all it appiers to be

I’ve come across some odd little things in my short time here. The strangest of which I put down to having consumed the last four episodes of BBC’s brilliant Sherlock on the gorgeous iPlayer (Nationalist independence cost us this valuable asset, for shame). Anyway, I was wandering down St.James street with my girlfriend toward the Old Stein when we spotted a seemingly homeless man begging outside of Sainsbury’s; our intended destination. Hands in pockets I puffed up my upper lip and pulled a sheepish gurn, planning to avoid eye-contact: the universal gesture for “Really sorry mate I am a really socially conscious liberal guy who feels your plight and others like you and would love to help you in anyway but I’m really skint right now and the money in my pocket is purely for the Coke can I desperately need, really sorry I’m not evil don’t judge me”. Coming against us was a rather smartly dressed man, suit/tie and expensive jacket and when he passed the beggar he pulled from his inside pocket a small, black object (a mobile, mp3, something electronic and glossy) and tosses it to the weary vagabond. The homeless man, unperturbed swiftly dematerialised the object within his own tatty jacket and continued to beg visibly. The two never shared eye-contact or acknowledged eachother in any way. So I’m all…

The homeless man is young, mid to late twenties, piercing on the left nostril, well kept, his hair is short, and though his clothes are tatty and worn there appears to be a considered colour palette of browns, oranges and faded yellows that would fit our expectations of a beggar and my sandy-haired virtual Watson of a girlfriend points out that he looks very clean. That’s what I need, you see, a “normal” perspective and my unparalleled mind misses all the sappy human elements! The “spy” is similarly aged, dressed businessman like…and…er…he…um…SPY….that’s all the Sherlocking I can do. And it leads me nowhere. But I can tell you one thing. They were crap spies.

The Royal Pavilion was a strange place indeed. Go there for the opulence, the grandeur, the tearooms, but most of all go there for Dragon.

Other points of interests include the three mass evictions I’ve witnessed from buses through town, along derelict buildings on the Old Stein. Loads of bailiffs and specialist coppers running into squats and dwells taking on their elemental nemeses, hippies. I imagine it must be like a Star Fleet officer finally getting to fire  phasers at Klingons for these baton-happy bobbies. Why do these damn hippies hate freedom so much? Why can’t they be happy with the myriad choices and freedoms they already have? And if they can’t afford it they should chose a loan! Dirty commie, hippies. The best part was the running commentary from the two wiggers in the back of the bus.

“Look at dem cops, look at dem run, bruv,”

“Rah, bruv! Rah!”

I ended up following their conversation the entire way home, trying in vain to decode its complex, hybridised lexicon.

“I was on my onesie, yeah, and I spotted a berserker and I said ‘yeah sexy momma, get on this coal train!'”

“No way, did you say that, bruv”

“I did!”

“Is it like one on one?”

“Yeah, twenty ones. One on one on one on one.”

All I conclude was that they must have been part of the same network as the Homeless Spy and knew I was onto them. Their back and forth was a mixture of secret MI6 speak and genuine interest in sexy mommas.

Some more of Brighton's Best

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