The End of Hearing: project website

After much too long spent on too much stuff, I finally managed to set up a proper project website that I can be satisfied with. Visit The-End-of-Hearing.org and see for yourself!

On the new project website you can both watch 'The End of Hearing' film in HD and see the photos in big format. There are two full stories and the Science Fiction Prototype available for read. Finally, there is a section mentioning all the recent, current and upcoming news about the project. I promise to keep it up-to-date, so make sure to keep in touch!



The End of Hearing: CS'11 workshop in Nottingham

Busy times. Last week I returned from Nottingham after a two-days long Workshop on Creative Science 2011 (part of the Intelligent Environments 2011 conference held at the University of Nottingham), where I was given an honour to present my science fiction prototype: "The End of Hearing". The quality and variety of talks was surely a surprise to everyone who gathered to listen. Enough to say that for me the whole event was as much about engineering and science, as creative thinking and design. I would like to thank everyone who was involved in organising it—this is a genuinely hot thing today and it can evolve into something really big and important tomorrow. But most of all, it has a potential of becoming a free-minded platform of designer-scientist collaboration... at least I would hope for that.

It was also great to meet some mighty people and get to know their work a bit closer: Regina Peldszus, Marc Tuters, Kevin Tassini and Tiina Kymäläinen. I enjoyed your presentations very much—well done, guys!

I am looking forward to taking part in the next workshop in 2012.

Below: 1 & 2] Notthingham Trent University monumental fascist-like building. It looks dated now, but it is a high-tech education facility inside! 3] modernist lights in one of the twin lecture halls—love it! Slick, tidy, modern and effective. Reminds me of some lovely old shops in East Berlin equipped with forgotten products from the Bauhaus era.





The End of Hearing: feedback #3

I have processed all the collected feedback (64 forms in total) and this is what it looks like after quantifying, summing up and distributing all the data:

Initial feedback conclusions:

1] we believe that future can be shaped and that design can help us do this;

2] we value hearing and think that we can adapt to future soundscapes;

3] we are undecided about the role that noise plays in our lives.

More specific conclusions should be published soon.


The End of Hearing: feedback #2

I collected 65 "Hearing Trade-off" test questionnaires in total. This is what I expected to have in the end of the Rochelle Experiment. So what will I do with all this now?

There are some aspects of the "Hearing Trade-off" test, which will determine the way I will need to treat the results, and which also became apparent already while conducting the experiment. One such problem is the fact that the test was semi-open (or maybe semi-closed) and that the answers may thus not direct anywhere explicitly. I need admit here that collaborating with a sociologist, statistician or any survey specialist in the future may be my lesson here. Nevertheless, I will try to put together and interpret the findings I managed to collected.

Whether I will be able to write comprehensible recommendations for the scientific and design professional communities is one thing. Another one is that the show in the Rochelle School was a great success! I managed to capture peoples' attention, inspire their imagination and make them think. Therefore, I have proved that it is possible to communicate science fiction based on scientific evidence to the public. It is also possible to engage people in a conversation focused around rather complex topics. Finally, it is now certain that people want to engage in the discussion about our future—there is hunger for communicating, explaining and democratising science. And science fiction proved to be a great tool of this purpose.

Above: an attempt at juxtaposing all collected "Hearing Trade-off" tests in one image. As this method of quantitative evaluation might have worked well for the first survey, this time I will probably need to employ different, maybe more traditional methods...


The End of Hearing: interacting in the show

The MACD show at the Rochelle School has been attracting great number of people and it is hard to find a moment during the day to do anything else than offering my time in the gallery to the visitors. And it's great! The show is widely praised and especially our Digital Media sector receives some good attention.

The private viewing night was very busy. A lot of visitors were queuing to enter the first floor with our digital and interactive presentation. My work received some publicity both online (https://twitter.com/#!/marekkultys) and real-life while having a number of interesting conversations. Thanks to my sister, Dotty, I managed to conduct over 30 "Hearing Trade-off" tests on that one night. Also a big thank you to Mela (melayerka.com) who took all those photos for me. Well done!


The End of Hearing: the script

This is a post that by my negligence is posted too late. It should have been here long before the films published recently and even before any report from the workshop front. What I forgot to include is the script.

The script for the film I produced became the canvas for building objects, drawing diagrams, shooting the film and everything in general. So here it is:

We redesign the “Present” before it becomes the “Future”.

The Design for the Future Institute is an independent London-based think tank. We use design thinking and employ scientific expertise to foresee and evade the pitfalls, and dead ends of civilisational development. The DFI's role is to predict and redesign future changes from today. We do this by means of product design, changing human behaviour, as well as by inspiring scientific developments.

Today, the DFI launches a new investigation into what came alongside the technical progress by default. Noise pollution changed our soundscapes and new listening habits brought about new risks. In reaction to this, the DFI designers identified three critical areas for their informed intervention: mass hearing impairment, sound conditioning technology and augmented hearing implants. Each area has been explored in a scenario envisioning potential consequences of today's fiction becoming future reality.

At the Design for the Future Institute, we identify and analyse the pitfalls of civilisational progress. Our recent survey shows that most of us recognise an increasing need for more silence in our lives. If we continue to absorb more and more noise every day, very soon our soundscapes will become intolerable or even damaging to our hearing. At the DFI, we have been thinking about this problem.

This is the Otomixer—the hearing regulation tool of the future. It temporarily impairs human hearing in order to adjust its sensitivity to noise pollution. The straightforward “what you hear is what you get” interface translates equaliser settings into a customised drug compound, which can be used as a daily wellness pill or a life-long vaccination against noise. Adapting to the environment in this way is easier than rethinking our civilisation or changing the world around us.
At the Design for the Future Institute, we research and support new spin-offs from emerging technologies. Sound conditioning is a revolutionary method intended as a protection from noise-induced hearing loss. But unexpectedly, it is also a source of an adrenalin rush, and of great pleasure. We see it as an exciting and lucrative opportunity for the experience industry. At the DFI, we provisionally called it the “blasting sport”.

The Acoustic Amusements Centre is our proposal for creating an arena for blasting sports near the third runway at the Heathrow airport. It is designed to give a second life to an area degraded by noise pollution, as well as an opportunity to redefine the boundaries of what we will know as entertainment in the future. Although already raising a lot of controversy, the blasting sport is a fact.
At the Design for the Future Institute, we design and advocate the augmentation of human senses. Our evolving symbiosis with technology calls for even better ways of interfacing and communicating. It is also an opportunity to extend our natural capabilities. At the DFI, we motivate scientific research leading to reinventing our hearing.

AIR—the Augmenting Implant Radio—is a new, radical way of augmenting human aural faculty. It is a miniature radio receiver that connects to the human central nervous system via the cochlear nerve, providing an audible perception of everything happening in the ether. After implanting, the AIR capsule dissolves, enabling the neurons to grow around the implant. In the future, the AIR can help mitigate noise-depravation-based sleeplessness with adults, and given to newborns it can become a fully comprehensible sixth sense. Today, in the age of the information flow, quantitative perception of information is paramount.

Today, what we do at the DFI is science fiction. But in twenty years time this fiction may become the reality for us all.

This is why the DFI's strategy is to challenge the public with the visions of the future. This is in line with our mission: to educate people about current issues and to advise the authorities on prospective changes.

We want to confront you with potential changes happening in the future. We also want to include you in our design process. Every volunteering viewer, who wishes to take a leap into the future or respond to the presented scenarios, is advised to take our “Hearing Trade-off” test. In recognition of your help, you will be rewarded with an AIR implant.

We want you to redesign the future with us.

We ask for your feedback!


The End of Hearing: feedback #1

I am currently conducting the Rochelle Experiment—a feedback session in the CSM MACD final show.

After explaining my scenarios to the audience, I am giving out a questionnaire with a variety of semi-open questions. I am aiming at collecting 60 feedbacks and presenting it in the CS'11 conference in Nottingham in July this year.


The End of Hearing: films #3

And this is a separate post with the full, 6:50 minutes long "The End of Hearing" publicity release. Enjoy!

The End of Hearing from mrklts on Vimeo.

The End of Hearing: films #2

After two weeks of restless filming, cutting, recording, animating, tweeking and so much more, I finally created "The End of Hearing" publicity films.

The whole thing is 7:00 minutes long and divided into 5 chapters:
1] Design for the Future Institute intro;
2] DFI scenario #1: The Otomixer;
3] DFI scenario #2: Blasting!;
4] DFI scenario #3: Augmenting Implant Radio;
5] call for participation in the DFI's "Hearing Trade-off" test.

I uploaded all of them on Vimeo, so please feel free to watch it.
Thanks a lot to my sister, Dot, for letting her voice and face for the film, as well as my girlfriend, Mela, for letting her hand in one of the chapters.

These are the consecutive chapters #1, #2, #3, #4 and #5:

The End of Hearing #1 (intro) from mrklts on Vimeo.

The End of Hearing #2 (otomixer) from mrklts on Vimeo.

The End of Hearing #3 (blasting!) from mrklts on Vimeo.

The End of Hearing #4 (air) from mrklts on Vimeo.

The End of Hearing #5 (call) from mrklts on Vimeo.

The End of Hearing: scenario diagrams

To assist explaining the scenarios I prepared for the final show, I created three posters, which guide through the complicated processes of sound conditioning and blasting, radio signal reception through the AIR implant and artificial silence vaccinating using the Otomixer.

The posters are not intended to be self-explanatory. The processes are just too complicated to place them on one poster and not make it look too busy. And anyway, I wish to have those conversations with people coming to the show, asking questions, making strange suggestions, not understanding half of what I would be saying...

These are the posters: