Yesterday I spent the day in a weird world of weather. Hurricane Ophelia barely touched Bournemouth, the seaside town where I live on the south coast of England, but what it did do was bring clouds full of sand from the Sahara Desert and dump some of it on my car.
It also filled the sky between me and the sun so, like many people across the UK, I passed the day in an eerie red-lit Martian world of dust and red light. Attached to this post is a picture of the view from my window that morning. It looks like the cover of a 1950s pulp SF paperback. By noon the sun, still embedded in the pillow of dark sky, had turned deep deep orange We were all rather thrilled by this weather. We were physically safe where we were, but excited by this connection with something so much bigger than ourselves. What might this tell us in terms of biophilic design?
It’s the middle of the night in the San Andreas mountains and a deer is wandering through the undergrowth. The crickets are really loud, sometimes an owl hoots, and traffic can be heard in the distance beyond the regular clip-clop of hooves. The animal heads downhill towards a cluster of houses, gallops through a courtyard and runs out onto a highway where it’s narrowly missed by a speeding car. For a while it wanders slowly down the middle of the road as vehicles slow to a stop to let it pass until eventually, inevitably, it’s hit by a truck. But count to three and it’s upright again, unharmed, and trotting down the verge once more.
You’re watching a deer cam with a difference. Animal cams are generally popular because they let us watch creatures in the wild and from a safe distance, a reality TV for birds, bears, and numerous other species. But the San Andreas Deer Cam is being live streamed direct not from a forest or a woodland clearing, but from a video game. Artist Brent Watanabe has programmed the animal directly into Grand Theft Auto V, and you can watch it live on Twitch TV. Needless to say, in that kind of environment it frequently gets shot or hit by a car, but since it’s indestructible it just pops up again and keeps on running. It’s not completely immortal, however, because the project is due to end on April 20th 2016.
Watanabe explains that the San Andreas Deer Cam is a live video stream from a computer running a hacked modded version of Grand Theft Auto V. The mod creates a deer and follows it as it wanders throughout the 100 square miles of San Andreas, a fictional state in GTA V based on California. The deer has been programmed to control itself and make its own decisions, with no one actually playing the video game. The deer is ‘playing itself’, with all activity unscripted… and unexpected. If you donate money to the Deer Cam, it goes directly to The Humane Society. Find out more at his website and make sure you see it before the closing date.
A while ago I reported on the Room with a View scheme at Dorset County Hospital. It feeds live images of the countryside to large LCD screens in isolation rooms used for immuno-compromised patients with leukaemia and other blood cancers. During those terrible nights when a seriously ill patient lies awake in pain, or is afraid and cannot sleep, they can at least look forward to the arrival of the sun.
The new project has been inspired by the concept of technobiophilia – ‘the innate attraction to life and lifelike processes as they appear in technology’ – to develop new ways in which mediated nature can be applied to medical science.
The organisers are seeking content for the new channel and would love to hear from any artists interested in showing their work this way. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.