[nothing week 9] reading response: Notes in Justification of Putting the Audience Through a Difficult Evening

This week, we read “Notes in Justification of Putting the Audience Through a Difficult Evening” by Wallace Shawn. I read up a little about the context of this essay — it was in response to the way people reacted to Shawn’s play,  Aunt Dan and Lemon, about a young, sick girl, influenced by a charismatic family friend to support Nazism. The New York Times reviewer from that time writes, “I can’t remember the last time I saw a play make an audience so uncomfortable, and I mean that as high praise.”

The essay discusses how we enjoy watching film and other media about historical figures we know to be evil, like slave-holders or Hitler, because we enjoy a sense of superiority in knowing that we would never have supported them if we lived in that time period. Shawn challenges this idea, saying that the clarity of time-passed gives us “over-confidence” that we are somehow morally better and smarter than the people who lived back then. There were lots of things that were convincing and refreshing about Hitler, and of course those people who supported him at the time could not see into the future at the atrocities he would commit.

Reading this, the parallels to our current election are pretty obvious, as a lot of people have been comparing Trump to Hitler for the same reasons. If the worst case scenario happens, will our great-grandchildren (assuming they exist after the climate apocalypse) look back at us with the same feeling people currently have for those that stood by and let Hitler win?

The piece is a good reminder that we’re naturally easily influenced by the narratives created by people close to us, or by the media we consume. “Intellectual clarity seems to be a very important weapon in the fight against evil, although ‘clarity’ is of course a very difficult concept to define,” Shawn writes. “I think staying awake rather than falling asleep when people are talking to you is an important component of the definition of clarity.” This line reminds me of the thing people say these days: “Stay woke.”


[icm week 9] Swipe (capture & CLM tracker)

Screenshot 2015-11-04 22.42.43

(TLDR: See my Swipe sketch from this week here.)

I did something pretty simple this week. It’s just a part I decided to add to my Tinder Robot project, which I will likely also make my ICM final. The purpose of this sketch was mostly to test if I could use facial emotion reading as one of my sensor inputs for my robot.

I built this sketch in P5 off of the emotion reading CLM Tracker example, the libraries of which are quite dauntingly complex:

Screenshot 2015-11-04 23.02.18

…but I guess that’s why we use libraries rather than make everything from scratch.

Keeping with the idea of my Tinder robot, I wanted to use facial tracking/emotion reading as one of the sensors that would determine whether or not the robot would swipe left or right.

What this means for this sketch was that if the user was making an expressive face (indicating strong emotions), it would swipe right. If the user was not making an expressive face (indicating ambivalence), it would swipe left.

The way I determined whether or not the user was making an expressive face was by adding up all the values the tracker gave for each emotion it detected. The higher the value, the more of that emotion you’re expressing. This should mean that a high total value indicates a strong emotional reaction.

Screenshot 2015-11-04 22.42.54

I’m satisfied that the general concept of the sketch works, but it’s really just the bare minimum of what I have to do, so I’m considering this one just as an initial test.

Check it out here. My sketch code is below.

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