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Analysis of Project Design
Caren Kaplan and Reagan Kelly’s Dead Reckoning is a very innovative project which details the historical significance of visual perspectives in military operation and their impact on visual culture. The project chooses four topical areas, Perspective, Chronophotography, Edge Detection, and Targeting. Within each segment, the user performs simple tasks, such as dragging an airplane across the screen or zooming in on an aerial photograph from World War II. The task, however rudimentary, serves as a visual introduction to aerial perspectives. During this process, text boxes appear with more detailed information about the action the viewer is performing. By allowing the viewer to virtually experience the perspective before reading about it, the viewer can contextualize the subject matter. Furthermore, Dead Reckoning rewards the user for interacting with the interface, displaying additional information as the user moves the airplane across the screen and succeeds in effectively engaging the user’s attention.
The multimedia aspect of Dead Reckoning is highly visually stimulating, using floating text boxes as yet another medium to communicate their controlling idea. The text boxes appear in sometimes rapid succession, obscuring one another and blocking the line of sight of the viewer. This forces the audience to manipulate the text boxes so that they can comprehend the screen layout, which speaks directly to their idea of visual perspectives. The only flaw in this setup is that some of the text boxes which are obscured cannot be brought forward, thus making it difficult for the viewer to fully experience all of the text and image.
The information presented within the text is not only about the history of perspectives and vision, but also about the application of these concepts to specific historical situations, such as Hiroshima and Desert Storm. While the material presented shows a wealth of research and effort, the diversity of the material seems to confuse the main idea of the project. The supposed topic is aerial perception and construction of targets, but these ideas are interspersed with portrait-like stories and other pointed political statements that, though interesting, serve to distract the viewer from the main thesis. Nevertheless, Kaplan and Kelly ultimately present a thoughtful and engaging experience for learning about the multiple portrayals of visual perspective through the context of military operations.
- Sonia and Tiffany, University of Southern California, 10.09.2007