Meshu is a project by Rachel Binx that uses data visualization to make custom jewelry. By connecting Meshu to foursquare, the shape of custom jewelry is determined by ones foursquare check ins. A line is drawn between each point an individual has checked in at, and the resulting polygonal shape filled with lines and connections is a representation of where they have been. It can be printed in acrylic, wood, nylon and sliver. This project interests me because it taps into numerous aesthetic and design tropes that people are curious about in contemporary culture, and pushes them one step further. Custom 3D printed jewelry is a preexisting commercial market, though the ability to print the same shape over and over does not leverage the 3d printer as a unique tool. This project also taps into a contemporary desire to visualize ones self and share that with others. Using tools like foursquare allow people to be both unique and connected. Large-scale data visualizations have also become an entire field of work and a recognizable aesthetic. This project wraps all of these common themes into one art project and the final result is both practical and poetic.
“ 4. The Critical Engineer looks beyond the “awe of implementation” to determine methods of influence and their specific effects.”
To me this means: Making something new is not enough. It is not enough to use computation and engineering in a impressive way if the impressive element is the fact that it works. It is not enough to take advantage of a naive audience and impress with the lowest level of criticality, while relying on the novelty of futuristic technology. Aiming for only the “wow” factor of a working prototype is not a sustainable practice and does not reflect the work of a critical engineer. A critical engineer is not looking for the short term glory of something that is impressive because it works. Instead a critical engineer looks past the short term and uses their ability to ask questions and make things with a purpose, not just becasue they can. This purpose is to think about the tools they are using in the context of the world, and more specifically in the context of their interests. Only by employing this kind of critical thinking can a critical engineer determine the way they want to influence others with their work, and learn from their work. Determining methods of influence and their effects requires a hypothesis and goal that can be evaluated after the completion of the work. This evaluation will be complex, where as the evaluation of a project that relies on the “awe of implementation” a binary question; does it work?
Pentametron ( @pentametron) by Ranjit Bhatnagar is a twitter bot that searches twitter for posts that happen to be in iambic pentameter and retweets them. Iambic pentameter is a line of verse with five metrical feel, each consisting of one short or unstressed syllable followed by one long (or stressed). There is something wonderful and poetic about this, as each tweeter did not know (I am assuming) that their tweet was iambic pentameter. It is a simple acknowledgment of older ways of organizing language in a highly contemporary way of writing. Ranjit Bhatnagar works with interactive and sound installations, with scanner photography, and with internet-based collaborative art.
Laura Juo-Hsin Chen is a creative technologist and self proclaimed “doodler” from Taipei, Taiwan. She uses her background in traditional 3D animation and desire to celebrate the mundane and the weirdness of human interaction to make captivating virtual reality experiences. My favorite of her projects is “Poop VR” which is a communal virtual reality pooping experience. The aesthetic quality of the virtual reality experience is very high, as it combines the lovely aspects of hand drawn animation with the weirdness and absurdity of virtual reality as a medium. The idea of the project is that while pooping, you can check into this virtual reality shared space, and see avatars of other individuals pooping in their respective location, also logged into the vr experience. You can interact with other users by saying hello, walking around and shooting poop at each other. The virtual reality experience is completely browser based which is very interesting to me, as it seems to have the ability to be a truly interactive experience using the current climate of virtual reality.
Camille Utterback’s External Measurements series began in 2001 and presents an interesting example of interactive art in a museum setting. This project has existed in multiple iterations, but across each, a digital work of art is augmented by physical movement around the room it is in. The projected image is a representation of an aesthetic system which responds to input from an overhead video camera. Custom tracking allows parts of the digital work to respond entirely to the movement and placement of the people in the room. I am particularly interested in this work as it excels both as an aesthetic work of art and a creative use of interactive technology. Her work does not rely on technology as an aesthetic, but instead as a tool for pushing what could have been a still image further. She does not compromise her aesthetic interests for technology and thus is able to produce unique and beautiful works of art that benefit from both her technical interests and the aesthetic systems.
Nervous System is a generative design studio that works at the intersection of science, art, and technology. I am inspired by their “Generative Jigsaw Puzzles” collection. They partnered with artists to make visually engaging prints for the top of the puzzle. Then, using a custom software that simulates crustal growth, totally unique pieces are laser cut into the puzzle. The result is a one of a kind work of art that is both a unique art object, work of generative art and usable puzzle. I am very interested in making works that serve a multitude of purposes. I am especially inspired by how this project is a simple and elegant project that is digitally computed and results in a physical object that can be enjoyed by both someone who appreciates the computation that went into it and someone who does not.
Mark Wilson’s plotter work is on the edge of total order, as he has a set task a plotter is executing, but complexity is derived from the use of the machine as the hand of the painter. He is programmatically instructing a machine to paint, thus elements of complexity are generated as the machine is being instructed to interpret the visual goals of the artist.
Problem of Creativity. This problem arises, in my opinion, from voices who are concerned about the progression of generative art in relationship to traditional art making. I find this point to be mute because It’s existence poses no threat to existing art forms if it is in fact not creative. But the progression of contemporary art has proven that works like these have artistic merit on their own, and as a movement. Thus they are inherently creative and debating the artistic merit of an entire genre of art only solidifies its place in art history. Though I do agree that like any art form, individual works of generative art should be held to a high standard of criticism, and determining the creativity of a work is part of that evaluation. It is not enough to just rely on a mastery of the tools used for generating the work.
I chose to watch Sara Hendren’s 2015 Eyeo lecture. To quote her website, She “is an artist, design researcher, and professor based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She makes material art and design works, writes, and lectures on adaptive and assistive technologies, prosthetics, inclusive design, accessible architecture, and related ideas.” She designs objects and interventions that question the idea of what is “normal” while providing enlightened solutions to the many problems people face when they bump up against societies restrictive idea of normalcy. She is able to provide both practical solutions that double as poetic gestures, by working with experts on the issue, those effected by it first hand. Whether it is building a podium for someone who does not fit the standard podium size, or designing ramps for skateboarders and wheelchair users, she gathers her research from the source, and works with the people she is designing for. The final product embodies both an elegant design object, and a conceptual work of art, as the expert simplicity of her solutions highlight the serious neglect of otherness in design. I was particularly taken with her ability to talk about her work and act as a surrogate for neglected voices in design. She has expert public speaking skills, and I learned a lot about how to organize a presentation by watching her present.
The first word/ last word paradigm rings true throughout art’s relationship with contemporary technology. The pressure to either be the first or the best is specific to technologies relationship with art becasue the tools themselves trickle down in accessibility. An artist with institutional access and connections to the contemporary world of technology can strive to be first by using the tech tools accessible to those working in technology for artistic means. An artist who has situated themselves in a strictly art context, alongside those working with more traditional mediums, will never be the first to use a tool in an artistic context, but has the potential to, as this article put it, stand the test of time. This is possible when a deep understanding of art and art history can be applied to contemporary technology. I find myself questioning this relationship frequently, and wonder if this paradigm is the result of the fact that any one person can not be both an expert fine artist with a capital A, and also be on the cutting edge of technology and clued in to insider shifts in the software/hardware climate. Though that being said, I am curious about how interdisciplinary programs can promote a generally multidisciplinary artist working at the forefront of both technology and art. I am interested in seeing how this new approach will potentially alter the First Word / Last Word paradigm.
The book ‘so sorry’ compiles all of the emails I sent from 2011-2016 in which the word ‘sorry’ appears at least once, in reverse chronological order. There were 214 emails that met this criterion, from two different Gmail accounts of mine. Each page of this book contains a redacted version of one of these emails, in which only the sentence that contains the apology is left visible, without its context. Each page also includes the time and date each email was sent. After I included an email in the book, I permanently deleted it from my email account.
The emails were retrieved ‘by hand’ in order to ensure that no sensitive information was copied over. The date, time and full content of the emails were stored in a JSON file. Using p5.js I redacted all sentences that did not include the word “sorry” in them. The book was then laid out computationally in Adobe InDesign using Basil.js.
For this assignment, I wanted to experiment with drawing 3D models in p5js. My first step was acquiring a 3d model. Since there is are shortage of nude female figures online, I figured I’d grab one.
I then reduced the number of vertices (also I got rid of the hair because it was 2 much) and explored the points as a .xyz file. This kind of file can be opened in a text editor, and is a csv list containing the x,y and z coordinates for each point in a model.
I copied that info over into an array in my sketch and drew the model from that info. In retrospect, I should have further reduced the number of verts. I tried this with 3D models made using photogrammetry, but the organization of points was not nearly as conducive to this method of drawing models.
For my clock, I wanted to emulate the movement of a mobile. I wanted the elements of this mobile to come from Calder’s animal drawings and wire sculptures, as I have always liked those and wished that he put them on his mobiles. To do this, I made a little application that loaded in an image and stored my mouse clicks. I traced Calder’s images and printed out the necessary coordinates to recreate them. I then brought the coordinates over to my clock program. I played around a lot with how the pieces could move in a way that looks somewhat natural but also represents time. In the end, there are 12 animals, and the number of animals that appear on the screen represents the current hour. ˇThe animals rotate around in a circle once per minute.
For my looking outward, I chose to examine the project “HYPER-REALITY” by Keiichi Matsuda. While it is not necessarily interactive in a literal way, the project presents a speculative first personexperience for future augmented reality that I find myself re-watching on a regular basis because it is so rich in depth. It feels interactive because of the amount of thought it, and the amount of thought it generates in the viewer. The quality of the special effects are extremely high, and they are arguably surpassed by the richness of conceptual content. The video presents a dystopian future for wearable augmented reality and bio feedback/internet of things style devices. As a big fan of cyberpunk novels, this project reminded me of some of my favorite books. Not only because of the content, but because of the artist’s attention to narrative detail in the story. Although the content presented is absurd, the linear path from contemporary technology, to the technology presented in the video is very clear. And it is made clear without the need for any explanation that breaks the mythology of this world. I think it was made by filming in a city, and strategically overlaying generated and digitally content on real places, paying close attention to perspective lines. I would imagine that this work was inspired by cyberpunk books and films.