Develop a project in which you combine some of the concepts and tools you learned in this class with your existing practice.
No assigned theme or format. It has to have a digital/computational component but also go beyond screen and computer-only based work, incorporating object making, performance, social practice, in either the process or the end product.
Here are some inspirations and strategies (some of them are technologically very sophisticated):
The next assignment involves the creation of a virtual pet. The goal is not to create a sophisticated simulation but rather provide an illusion of life-like behavior.
The Digesting Duck, was an automaton in the form of a duck, created by Jacques de Vaucanson in 1739. It appeared to have the ability to eat kernels of grain, and to metabolize and defecate them (it didn’t, the food was collected and the feces was already there).
The Tamagotchi effect is related to the Eliza effect, the tendency to unconsciously assume that computer behaviors are analogous to human behaviors, to attribute to the computer’s response more understanding than it actually has.
Created at the MIT by Joseph Weizenbaum between 1964 and 1966.
There have been many attempts to blur the boundaries of sound and visual arts. Instruments for the eyes have been conceptualized since the obscure ocular harpsicord in 1725.
In the early 20th century many artists claim to be affected by synesthesia and incorporate their affliction into their art making.
Color Organ invented by composer Alexander Scriabin in 1915 for his Prometheus: Poem of Fire.
That’s the one that got accidentally turned upside down, and Kandinsky got the epiphany of non-figuration.
Pure painting like music, an “internal necessity” – leap into abstraction.
“Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.”
He worked with other composers, making librettos and stage designs.
Experimental filmmakers embrace the idea of visual music. Music as a pathway to abstraction.
Oskar Fischinger – An Optical Poem (1938)
Norman McLaren – Dots (1940)
“Made by painting directly onto clear frames of film, as pictured in the frame enlargements below. Interestingly, the music was created in the same way, painting directly into the area on the film strip usually reserved for the soundtrack.”
Norman McLaren – Synchromy 1971
“To produce the film’s musical soundtrack, McLaren photographed rectangular cards with lines on them. He arranged these shapes in sequences on the analog optical sound track to produce notes and chords.”
John Whitney – Permutations (1968)
Early computer animation, he applied musical principles such as the harmonic progression to the generation of images.
The interest in enhancing musical experiences with visuals re-emerged in the 60s and 70s with psychedelia and the “expanded cinema”
Liquid light shows – overhead projector + live manipulation of fluids. Late 60s – today.
Exploding Plastic Inevitable events by Andy Warhol, 1966 – 1967
Atari video music, 1976. The first (analog) electronic music visualizer.
More images here
Although decorative patterns have been employed by Greeks and Romans, Islamic artists achieved an unprecedented degree of mastery due to discoveries in Mathematics and aniconic precepts. (geometric, calligraphic, floreal)
But flash-forwarding to machine-influenced or machine-derived ideas of repetition.
And of course patterns emerge in textiles throughout cultures. Rich symbology embedded in the traditional Kente cloth.
In August 62 I started doing silkscreens. I wanted something stronger that gave more of an assembly line effect. With silkscreening you pick a photograph, blow it up, transfer it in glue onto silk, and then roll ink across it so the ink goes through the silk but not through the glue. That way you get the same image, slightly different each time. It was all so simple quick and chancy. I was thrilled with it.
– Andy Warhol
In Op-Art (60s)
Abstract subgenre, short lived but influential all across interior design, fashion and advertising. Op-artists were exploring the limits of perception, creating visually tense images and optical illusions.
Repetition + variation in textile design:
In minimalist music:
Steve Reich – Clapping music 1972
In early computer art:
In «Cubic Limit,» Mohr introduces the cube into his work as a fixed system with which signs are generated. In the first part of this work phase (1972–75), an alphabet of signs is created from the twelve lines of a cube. In some works, statistics and rotation are used in the algorithm to generate signs. In others, combinatorial, logical and additive operators generate the global and local structures of the images.
10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10 From the Commodore 64 manual
These artists seemed to be fascinated by the apparent randomness (unpredictability) of these machines and let them “do their thing”.
On the opposite side of the spectrum there is Sol LeWitt who didn’t use computers but conceived many of his works as a series of instructions. As if they were meant to be created by machines (art gallery interns).
Many of these artists are still around but in the ‘90s computer art morphed into new media art and interactivity and social engagement became the main focus for artists working with technology.
With the democratization of robotics, drawing machines started to get out of the gallery (see graffiti writer) and became more autonomous.
Mechanical Parts by Matthias Dörfelt a robot that draws randomly generated “connectors” aka robot genitals.
Cory Arcangel gradient works are a playful post-modern legacy of computer art.
Computer assisted and generate drawing in the age of Artificial Intelligence (Neural Networks)
Or you can check this impressive formal analysis of Choose your own adventure books:
We have to go back in time to find more “noble” precursors of non-linear and interactive storytelling.
And the DADA movement
To make a Dadaist poem
Take a newspaper.
Take a pair of scissors.
Choose an article as long as you are planning to make your poem.
Cut out the article.
Then cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them in a bag.
Shake it gently.
Then take out the scraps one after the other in the order in which they left the bag.
The poem will be like you.
And here you are a writer, infinitely original and endowed with a sensibility that is charming though beyond the understanding of the vulgar.
– Tristan Tzara, 1920
Writer William Burroughs in the ’50s applied this technique to his own writing.
(And David Bowie, and Kurt Cobain, and Thom Yorke…)
Jorge Luis Borges
The Garden of Forking Paths (1941)
In the short story a character named Ts’ui Pên tells everybody that he wanted to write a book and build a labyrinth. Nobody ever found the labyrinth, only a very confusing and contradictory book. We then discover that the book *is* the labyrinth. In the fictional book, every chapter is followed by “every” possible continuation.
"In all fiction, when a man is faced with alternatives he chooses one at the expense of the others. In the almost unfathomable work of of Ts'ui Pên, he chooses - simultaneously - all of them. He thus creates various futures, various times which start others that will in turn branch out and bifurcate in other times. This is the cause of the contradictions in the novel"
The Garden of Forking Paths - Jorge Luis Borges
Agusto Boal’s Forum Theatre (1960)
In this process, the actors or audience members could stop a performance, often a short scene in which a character was being oppressed in some way (for example, a chauvinist man mistreating a woman or a factory owner mistreating an employee). The audience could propose any solution, so long as they conveyed it on stage, working, acting, and directing not from the comfort of their seat.
Kinoautomat by Radúz Činčera 1967 – the first interactive film
“The film is a black comedy, opening with a flash-forward to a scene in which Petr Novák (Miroslav Horníček)’s apartment is in flames. No matter what choices are made, the end result is the burning building, making the film —as Činčera intended— a satire of democracy”
Founder of Oulipo – Ouvroir de littérature potentielle (workshop of potential literature).
Hundred Thousand Billion Poems (1961)
web port here
Computer Lib / Dream Machines – Theodor H. Nelson, 1974. Self produced later republished by Microsoft.
Like many early geeks, Ted Nelson saw computers and networks as empowering tools and advocated for the democratization of these technology (You can and you must understand computers now!).Personal computer = personal liberation.
Ted Nelson coined the term Hypertext in the 60s.
“A system of non-sequential writing that would allow the reader to aggregate meaning in snippets, in the order of his or her choosing, rather than according to a pre-established structure fixed by the author.”
Years before the world wide web was implemented. A visionary application called Hypercard (1987-) already tried to make hypertext creation accessible to anybody
The concept of hypertext is now familiar to anybody thanks to the World Wide Web (invented in 1990 and popularized in 1995 with the invention of modern browsers) but in the 80s it was a quite exotic medium, especially for non-utilitarian uses.
Still some fiction writers started to experiment with the hypertext as literary form.
Afternoon, a story by Michael Joyce (1987) used a tool very similar to what we are using today Twine.
A cool example is “253” by Geoff Ryman here originally published in 1996.
Adventure games popularized another way to control and navigate interactive texts: the parser.
The most vital legacy of hypertext literature and parser-center storytelling is Interactive Fiction.
IF uses more sophisticated structures than the simple branching and a parser for the interaction, usually employed to navigate spaces, interact with characters and objects in a game-like fashion.
IF is a kind of universe on its own which deserves its own course. A great introduction and a collection of resources can be found on Emily Short’s website.
In the last years a movement of game makers revived the hypertext fiction tradition adopting a tool called Twine. These authors were attracted by the accessibility and flexibility of hypertext creating a variety of experimental and personal works.