asiascape vistas

Techno-Culture, New Politics, and Philosophy in East Asia

Asiascape Vistas is a forum for discussion about the many and various dimensions of cyberculture found in or originating from East Asia. Its focus is on the interplay between these media and questions of politics & philosophy. Contributions are from the academic collective responsible for the core project, but other contributions will also be considered by that collective.
If you wish to contribute to Asiacape Vistas, please send an email using the form on the contact page.

Project Kronos

Project Kronos is a documentary film set in the not too distant future, following a mission to achieve interstellar space travel. As the mission unfolds with extraordinary results, the scientists find themselves dealing with a much bigger agenda.

Written and Directed by Hasraf 'HaZ' Dulull

China Mieville's turn-it-to-11 high weirdness reboot of "Dial H"

...something less Asiascape-esque but still fun.
(taken from

by Cory Doctorow, 23 April 

DC's "New 52" is a reboot of all its major superhero comics and several of its less-regarded ones. In the latter category is a silly Silver Age title called Dial H for Hero about a lad from Littleville, CO who can turn into a variety of randomly selected superheroes by dialing "H-E-R-O" on a weird telephone dial he found in a mystic cave.
cover of China Miéville's comic 'Dial H'

The reboot of "Dial H for Hero" is called simply "Dial H," and is written by none other than New Weird chieftain China Miéville, whose prodigious imagination and wicked sense of humor are on fine display in the first collection of Dial H: Dial H Vol. 1: Into You. Miéville doesn't apologize for the fundamental absurdity of the premise. Instead, he turns it up to 11. And then he turns it up to 12.

In Miéville's "Dial H," the hero is a morbidly obese ex-boxer in a ruined crime-town who discovers his dial attached to the town's last working payphone. By dialing it, he becomes a series of ever-weirder heroes, from Boy Chimney (a Dickensian goblin with a top hat that stretches to infinity who can strangle his opponents on thick, choking smoke) to Control-Alt-Delete (a CRT-headed underwear pervert who can reset reality to default) to Iron Snail (a roided out action hero who drags along an enormous, slime-squirting shell). These various guises are needed to fight the strange and eldritch horror that has put the rot into Littleville, and here Miéville turns the metaphysics up to 13, with worlds within worlds, each haunted by different species of nothingness and such. It's glorious stuff, bathos at its best as the humor of the various super-guises is juxtaposed on all the ponderous, unapologetic Lovecrafting bibble-babble.

image taken from 'Dial H, vol 1'

After the initial rush, the story begins exploring a series of scenarios for the dials and its many dialers through history, seeking answers to the deep, metaphysical questions raised by the existence of a telephone dial that can transform its dialer into a super-hero with a whole back-story. There are great, inspired moments here, and hints that Miéville has actually worked this all out with some seriousness, which may be the scariest thing about the whole book.
Miéville is a very funny and absurd guy, and while spots of that have shone through in his novels, they tend to be more serious. "Dial H" feels like the Miéville freak flag has been unfurled to its full glory, and is flying proudly.

Dial H Vol. 1: Into You

How Video Games help fuel Space Exploration

Sean Captain for TechNewsDaily

Dr. Richard Gariott de Cayeux
Having traveled to other worlds in his game creations such as "Ultima," Richard Garriott de Cayeux (video game developer and entrepreneur) is now doing the real thing. He flew to the International Space Station in 2008 (on a reported $30 million ticket). And his company, Space Adventures, has organized flights on Soyuz craft for about a dozen other moguls.

At the South by Southwest conference in Austin this week, Garriott de Cayeux explained why he thinks that private companies can make spaceflight radically cheaper and more common. Ideas include having NASA contract with private rocket companies for human spaceflight instead of building all its own craft (which it already does to launch robots such as the Mars Rover Curiosity). Garriott de Cayeux also promotes reusable spacecraft, which he claims offer tenfold to hundredfold cost savings.

Elon Musk of SpaceX, the most successful extraterrestrial entrepreneur so far, is testing reusable technology called Grasshopper. And so is John Carmack, creator of blockbuster video game franchises "Doom" and "Quake." His company, Armadillo Aerospace, is focused on building reusable craft.

TechNewsDaily asked Garriott de Cayeux why game creators are attracted to spaceflight.

"If there was something specific to the games industry, it would have to be from exploring virtual worlds," he said. "It would have to be … creating experiences that let people go into the unknown. Noting his many adventures, including into space, to Antarctica and to the bottom of the ocean, he said, "I find my drive to go explore is identical and very closely linked with my personal drive to create things for people to explore."

But the images in many games may not be the best thing to motivate future generations of explorers, said astronaut Mae Jemison. In a panel session, she spoke about the 100 Year Starship Project she leads, which aims to kick-start the technologies to make interstellar spaceflight possible within a century.
Many of the most popular video games over the years, including "Doom" and "Quake," are also very violent. "I'm struck by the fact that we have all the slasher, blood-and-guts, shoot-'em-up movies and stuff like that," Jemison said. "It doesn't make you very hopeful for the future."

Jemison's fellow panelist Jill Tarter of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) said that games could be helpful, "to the extent that people can … build interactive experiences that aren't always shooting and competitive."

LeVar Burton of "Star Trek" fame, also on the panel, told TechNewsDaily that he was excited about the use of biofeedback in games. "I can certainly imagine games that are … first-person experience, where you really have to be in a calm and imaginative state in order to advance in the gameplay," he said. "And I think that's a lot more productive in terms of entrainment than … the first-person shooter." [See also: Video Games Improve Surgeons' Skills]

Jemison also sees games as a way to study how people interact, which is critical to creating livable conditions for a space mission that will span entire lifetimes. Games, she said, could help to, "ferret out some information about human behavior."

Burton agreed: "Using gameplay to problem-solve — fantastic use of the technology."

Ridley Scott and Machinima Team Up to Produce 12 Sci-Fi Short FIlms

Stan Schroeder on Mashable, 12 March 2013

Director Ridley Scott (Blade Runner) and video entertainment network Machinima have partnered up to produce 12 science fiction short films.

The shorts will not be directed by Scott himself; he and Machinima will choose directors from Ridley Scott's production company — RSA. The list of possible directors is starry and includes Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas), Sam Mendes (Skyfall), Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) and Neill Blomkamp (District 9).

The idea is that at least some of these short films will lead to new sci-fi franchises, with both RSA and Machinima reaping the rewards.

“RSA has always been at the forefront of creating innovative work. With new media transforming the way audiences connect with films and filmmakers, Machinima is a great partner for us as we embark on this new model of delivering original content to fans. It’s a tremendous opportunity for pushing the creative boundaries for both our filmmakers and the audience,” said Scott in a statement.

Though 75 years old, Scott is not afraid to experiment with new formats and distribution channels. In 2010, he produced a YouTube project called "Life in a Day," which captured one day (July 24, 2010) through the cameras of people around the world.

Machinima, a video network aimed at gamers, owns the top entertainment channel on YouTube and reaches "210 million" unique viewers.

Life in a Day by Ridley Scott

How to build the perfect gaming PC for 2013 – and beyond

From The Guardian

There's little doubt that PC gaming is undergoing a renaissance at the moment. With the current generation consoles chugging interminably slowly toward retirement, frustrated gamers are switching to computers with quad-core processors and top-end graphics cards that produce visuals of breathtaking fluidity and detail.


But it's not all about graphics performance. While there are certainly detractors, Valve's digital download service Steam has revolutionalised the games buying experience, offering easy access to hundreds of titles, many at vastly reduced prices.

Meanwhile, increasingly popular online multiplayer titles like DotA, Guild Wars 2 and Tera are only playable on PC. Plus there's the explosive rise of the indie scene, with many small studios ignoring the console platforms altogether in favour of PC development. If you didn't have a PC last year, you had no chance of playing brilliant offbeat titles like FTL, Slender and Hotline Miami. You were out of the loop.

And while we're expecting huge announcements from Microsoft and Sony this year, we won't see a new console until October, with the PS4 more likely in Spring 2014. Even when these new machines arrive, current speculation suggests they're going to be built from the same sort of off-the-shelf components you could jam into a gaming PC – except with a gaming PC you can switch the key elements out a year later for something more up-to-date.

So if you're a new PC owner, or just want to upgrade your current machine, we've compiled a guide to building a decent gaming machine for 2013. I've asked several PC developers for their input, and we've tried to look at both high-end and budget options. Here goes... full article

Clive Thompson: The Folding Game

From Guernica Magazine

The info-sharing of early arcade game enthusiasts mimicked the scientific method. Now, video games and collective intelligence could change the way we approach science, shared problems, and school.

On a Thursday night in September, I raced from Midtown to Bushwick for an impromptu conference organized by Arikia Millikan in what was dubbed a mansion, but I understood to be a large house. I sat on a wooden floor as ten people talked for ten minutes each, all speaking about secrets. One such person was Wired columnist Clive Thompson, who told us how gamers had solved a decade-long scientific mystery in a single month. As a suspicious non-gamer, I was amazed to find altruism within the World of Warcraft. Weeks later, we met at a café in Park Slope to discuss how the increasing complexity of video games led to groupthink, and how groupthink has been harnessed by researchers for scientific gain.
—Erika Anderson for Guernica

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