Students from far afield traditionally have difficulty exploring their future learning environments, but a postgraduate project by Pranesh Lal allows them to do just that – from their desktop.
While the School of Media Arts conducts regular Friday tours around its facilities, Lal’s website project offers a taste of how potential students may choose to tour institutions in the near future. The user is able to navigate themselves around the different rooms of the Commercial Music block using similar technology to Google Maps’ ‘streetview’. A floor plan guides the navigation, academic information is available in a side box, and students are able to simultaneously access songs and videos by students and graduates.
Lal completed the project in 2009, while working as the graphics technician for the School of Media Arts.
The website address is http://www.honours.mediarts.net.nz/
Below is the project’s exhibition essay by Andrea Wilkinson, also available at the Ramp Gallery website.
Ramp Gallery, Hamilton, New Zealand
27 November – 11 December 2009
New Zealand is known for its technological portrayal of statistics and information. From the innovative real-time portrayal of 3D America’s Cup races to analogue on-field advertising in skewed perspective to heartbeats-per-minute of bowlers in one-day internationals, New Zealand viewers and audiences have come to expect layers of information. In Pranesh Lal’s project entitled Ze.nith, he has considered the experience and expectation of the modern user.
With the incessant reinvention of new ways of presenting, the virtual world touches contemporary life in more ways than realised. These new ways of showcasing material provide endless opportunities for marketing, education, recruitment, the portrayal of products and the delivery of services. Having analyised existing models for virtual tours, Lal has developed a project that presents, showcases and leads a user through a self-led tour of what is on offer in the Music Department at the School of Media Arts.
Contemporary users have little regard for the technology behind the tools presented online. Beyond accessibily and ease of use, the magic of interactivity no longer provides a spark of awe, but rather users approach media with an embedded expectation of what it can/should provide. Today’s portal-based websites are built on a modular framework that allow for a user to decide what he/she sees. Information is no longer presented in a linear structure. In the case of Lal’s subject, objects which were formerly the bedrock of pre-tertiary decision-making are shared in their virtual counterparts; a CD is offered as downloadable mp3s, a tour of facilities is provided as a 3D interactive environment and what was once a newsletter is rendered as an RSS feed.
Not only does Lal’s virtual showcase offer users the possibility to sample the department’s offerings, but as a work it has far-reaching implications; it projects a vision of currency. His project is both a model and a challenge to organisations and businesses of what they will need to succeed in the years to come.
Click here to visit Andrea’s ‘thirtysomething’ website.