World’s smallest escape room induces claustrophobia and dread

METRO newspaper reported this week on Goldsmiths Computing student George Larkwright’s coffin-like escape room, which exhibited at the MA Playable Experiences degree show. We reproduce it here…

Why spend your weekend watching TV or drinking in a pub when you could be locked in a small box, trying desperately to escape?

We live in a time when ‘fun’ includes pretending to be in prison, smashing TVs, and choosing to go into horribly stressful situations, and so it makes total sense that someone has created the world’s smallest escape room, measuring 120cm by 70cm by 50cm.

Just like any other escape room, the idea behind The Subject (that’s the official name of the room) is to work hard and figure out clues in order to break free. Unlike your average escape room, there are no padlocked doors and dark corridors. Instead, there’s just a box.

The Subject is the creation of Goldsmiths student George Larkwright, 24, who wanted to create a truly disturbing escape room experience to induce claustrophobia, desperation and dread. Sounds delightful.


One player is shut inside and needs to figure out the clues on the box’s walls

Fed up of seeing escape rooms used for corporate team bonding and smug selfies, George designed a challenge to make players leave ‘haggered and almost aged by the experience’.

The room, which is basically just a big coffin, is designed for two players. Player one is locked inside the box, while player two has to help them escape.

Inside the box is a pencil, paper and a torch. The trapped player has to decode a load of cryptic messages and clues written across the box’s interiors. The player outside the box has to look through a load of documents and figure out a code in order to piece information together, solve the puzzle, and unlock the box, freeing their pal.

The theme has some pretty dark sources of inspiration. George first thought of the idea after watching Kill Bill 2, which includes a scene in which a bride is trapped in a coffin. He then drew inspiration from the horrifying histories of wartime human experimentation and the American security services mind control programmes during the Cold War.

George has a load of experience writing for theatre, so was able to pull together these ideas into a tricky narrative that sounds more than a little bit stressful.

The contestant in the box is a prisoner of war locked up in a laboratory, while player two is a secret services operative tasked with freeing them, all under a 30 minute time limit.

As we said, this is supposed to be fun.

George said: ‘I want participants to emerge haggard, almost aged by the experience, but also triumphant, proud of navigating a game that is both physically and mentally taxing.’

The Subject was part of the Experiments in Play exhibition, for students at Goldsmiths at the weekend. The quickest escape thus far took 17 minutes. George now plans to take the box on tour, so keep an eye out for dates if you fancy giving the challenge a go.



Welcome Week 2019

The new academic year begins on Monday 23 September, and we’re looking forward to welcoming all our new and returning undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Monday 23 September

Wednesday 25 September

11am – 1pm: Undergraduate induction events

  • FOUNDATION YEAR, Room LG01, Professor Stuart Hall Building
  • COMPUTER SCIENCE, Room LG02, Professor Stuart Hall Building
  • BUSINESS COMPUTING, Room 306A, Richard Hoggart Building
  • GAMES PROGRAMMING, Room 306A, Richard Hoggart Building
  • CREATIVE COMPUTING, Room 219, Whitehead Building
  • DIGITAL ARTS COMPUTING, Room 208, Whitehead Building

Thursday 26 September

All students are welcome to meet Hacksmiths, our student-run tech society. They’re running an exhibition of games and other tech creations they have made in the past year or so.

  • 11am – 3pm: Meet Hacksmiths, Weston Atrium, Professor Stuart Hall Building
  • 3pm – 6pm: Undergraduate social event at New Cross House

Friday 27 September

Postgraduate induction event

  • 1pm – 2pm: Tea and cake social, Whitehead Building foyer
  • 2pm – 3.30pm: Welcome to the Department of Computing, Ian Gulland Lecture Theatre, Whitehead Building
  • 3.30pm – 4.30pm: About your degree programme
  • 4.30pm – 7pm: Postgraduate social event at New Cross House

Experiments in Play

Join us for a showcase of inventive and experimental playful experiences developed by students on the MA Independent Games & Playable Experience Design.

Website: EXPERIMENTS IN PLAY
Course: MA Indie Games + Playable Experience Design

The exhibition promises to push the boundaries of what games can offer as a medium, and experiments with the vast capabilities of play. Expect an array of inventive and experimental playful experiences that sit at the intersection of games, interactive design, and creative technology.P

  • Opening gala: 6pm-10pm, Thu 19 September 2019
  • Exhibition continues: 10am-8pm, Fri 20 and Sat 21 September 2019

Work on show includes physical performances and workshops, interactive literature, VR & AR experiences, alternative controllers, and playable works of art, as well as more traditional video game and board game experiences.

The show explores the possibilities of embodied and immersive storytelling and alternative narrative structures, considers how games are evolving to critically impact on issues of gender, mental health, sexuality and intimacy, and reimagines a world of gaming that champions inclusion and accessibility.

As part of the Experiments in Play showcase we are holding an Opening Night Gala, which will feature a series of talks and panel discussions. Speakers will be announced soon.

Website: EXPERIMENTS IN PLAY
Course: MA Indie Games + Playable Experience Design

MA/MFA Computational Arts Degree Show 2019

We warmly invite you to Goldsmiths’ 2019 MA/MFA Computational Arts degree show exhibition, So how is that working for you?

It’s our biggest exhibition to date with more than 60+ computational artists. There will be interactive installations, performances, workshops, panel discussions, drinks and nibbles.

Private view + party: 5-10pm Thursday 5 September 2019
Where: St. James Hatcham (‘The Church’), Goldsmiths. Google map
Exhibition continues: Friday 6 September (11am-8pm), Saturday 7 September (11am-8pm) and Sunday 8 September (11am-5pm).

ARTISTS’ STATEMENT

Working through the ever evolving tensions around technology and art, we feel the responsibility to explore and reflect on some critical questions surrounding the past, present and future of technologies that permeate our everyday lives.

How do we situate and consolidate our artistic agency within a world where technologies are seemingly integrated into the very fabric of society on the one hand and weaponised and used against us on the other?

What is the role of computational art in the Anthropocene’s era where technology is simultaneously part of the problem and part of the solution?

So how is that working for you? is a speculative response to these questions and tensions. Comprising current work from our practice, the show traces a route through seven conceptual threads: intelligence, phenomenon, narration, network, matter, embodiment, surveillance.

List of performances and events

Instagram feed

Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer Women’s Experiences of Unwanted Interaction on Online Dating Services

Are you a lesbian, bisexual, or queer woman (or non-binary person with similar experiences)? Have you used an online dating service? If so, tell @khniehaus about it by taking her research survey!

Online dating can be a fraught experience for many people, and women in particular have been shown to experience gendered harassment, generally, online, and in dating-specific contexts. While there is a relatively small amount of data and academic research about heterosexual women’s experiences with online dating, there is even less data and scholarly research documenting the experiences of lesbian, bisexual, and queer women with online dating. Anecdotally, many lesbian, bisexual and queer women describe experiencing high rates of targeted harassment while engaging in online dating activities. Based on these accounts, Goldsmiths Computing PhD researcher Kiona Niehaus is interested in whether these negative experiences, while they reflect broader social attitudes and trends, may also be the result of user interface and interaction design decisions that shape users’ interactions with various online dating services.

The results of this survey will be used to shape forthcoming academic work about the affordances of various online dating platforms, how those affordances may influence negative user experience for lesbian, bisexual, and queer women using these services, and to suggest potential design solutions toward making online dating services less fraught for these users in particular. If you are a lesbian, bisexual, or queer woman (or a non-binary person with similar experiences) who has used online dating, you can take the survey here: https://lambda.doc.gold.ac.uk/index.php/264413

Goldsmiths Computing at the semi-finals of Mayor’s Entrepreneur 2019

Grzegorz Rybak, Goldsmiths BSc Computer Science student and Web developer, writes about his experience at the semi-finals of the Mayor’s Entrepreneur  2019

On Friday 15th March I had the honour of participating in the semi-finals of the Mayor’s Entrepreneur 2019 with our Undergraduate final-year project (ULA: Ultimate Listening Assistant)!

Being in the top-30 tech projects chosen to progress to the semi-finals out of 625 applications from all London’s Universities (and even start-ups), the stakes (and the stress!) were enormous but it shows how exciting the project we’re doing is – not only to us, but evidently to others as well!

I’m happy to tell you I delivered – I strongly believe – the best pitch I ever performed! I pitched about the idea of text transcription and summarization along the normal recording that ULA does and a potential content-sharing platform that could be a business around it (as this is a very entrepreneurial competition).

Finally, I must also say I was happy to discover I was one of the youngest among the contestants and the only undergraduate I’m aware of – most of the participates were Postgraduate or PhD students.

As you can gather from the above, the competition level was extremely high (I’ve never heard so many amazing tech-product ideas in such a short time!) therefore I won’t be surprised if ULA doesn’t make it to the finals, but nevertheless, I greatly appreciate the distinction of being selected to such an exclusive company with an undergraduate project.

Photo credit: Marcello Pelucchi
Grzegorz “ULA: Ultimate Listening Assistant” in front of the expert-judges in the “The Chamber”, the city hall’s grand auditorium (this is the place where they also shoot the finals for the “Apprentice”)

Also at the semi-finals was Goldsmiths Computing PhD student Hadeel Ayoub pitching the BrightSign glove – I really hope she reaches the finals because her pitch was seriously amazing!

Visual cortex recruitment during language processing in blind individuals is explained by Hebbian learning

Rosario Tomasello, Thomas Wennekers, Max Garagnani & Friedemann Pulvermüller

Max Garagnani, lecturer and co-programme leader of Goldsmith’s MSc in Computational Cognitive Neuroscience has co-authored an article recently published in Scientific Reports. You can find the full, open access version here.


Rosario Tomasello, Thomas Wennekers, Max Garagnani & Friedemann pulvermülle from original Open Source article covered by Creative Commons license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Abstract

In blind people, the visual cortex takes on higher cognitive functions, including language. Why this functional reorganisation mechanistically emerges at the neuronal circuit level is still unclear. Here, we use a biologically constrained network model implementing features of anatomical structure, neurophysiological function and connectivity of fronto-temporal-occipital areas to simulate word-meaning acquisition in visually deprived and undeprived brains. We observed that, only under visual deprivation, distributed word-related neural circuits ‘grew into’ the deprived visual areas, which therefore adopted a linguistic-semantic role. Three factors are crucial for explaining this deprivation-related growth: changes in the network’s activity balance brought about by the absence of uncorrelated sensory input, the connectivity structure of the network, and Hebbian correlation learning. In addition, the blind model revealed long-lasting spiking neural activity compared to the sighted model during word recognition, which is a neural correlate of enhanced verbal working memory. The present neurocomputational model offers a neurobiological account for neural changes following sensory deprivation, thus closing the gap between cellular-level mechanisms, system-level linguistic and semantic function.

Creativity, independence and learning by doing.