- For the breakfast installation, I placed a bowl with Cookie Crisp cereal — my favorite morning treat. On the side, a glass of orange juice; as well as a bottle of milk. The items were placed next to an emergency exit on the bottom floor of the building.
- For the lunch installation, I placed a glass of Diet Coke and a plate of stir fry under a water fountain on the first floor of the building.
- For the dinner installation, I placed a plate with leftover meatloaf and mashed potatoes next to a glass of milk. It was installed next to the front entrance of the building, under one of the path lights, as to make sure it was as visible as possible even at night. While the choice of pairing milk with meatloaf might seem odd, it is reflective of the kind of meal I have at night (provided I arrive home at a reasonable hour).
On the same day, I read both the beginning of Beautiful Trouble by Andrew Boyd and a piece assigned by guest artist, Mandy Morrison. Beautiful Trouble is a guide for artists who want to work in socially, visually, and performatively effective ways. The piece Mandy Morrison assigned was “Dancing with Twitter,” a piece in The Mobile Story written by Susan Kozel, Mia Keinanen and Leena Rouhiainen. Their performance, entitled “IntuiTweet,” (Farman, 81) explores the kinesthetic sensations of movement as transmitted over Twitter and realtime re-enacted by other collaborators. Beautiful Trouble’s piece on “Media-Jacking,” written by Patrick Reinsborough, Doyle Canning and Joshua Kahn Russell, discusses using an opposition’s media power and time to create a disruption in favor of your cause or message (Boyd, 72). In light of the recent rise of politicians using Twitter as their broadcast, I thought it would be appropriate to take back Twitter. This idea solidified as I reread Daniel Dennett’s Memes and the Exploitation of Imagination; one quote about replication stuck in my mind: “a scholar is just a library’s way of making another library” (Dennett, 126). That day, I started the Twitter “Scholar’s Library.”
Since then, Scholar’s Library has been a project that I have worked on intermittently, adding to the Library over several months. Each tweet is composed in a consistent format, both visually and performatively. My initial goal for Scholars Library to
- Interact with people, semi-organically in physical and digital space
- Detail an aspect of who these people are are, and therefore how to read their contribution
- Produce a ‘fact,’ whether factual or otherwise
For a visual format, I wanted to take each of these into consideration and develop a finished piece that was both different from the physical interactions and exactly the same in its intention. I created a simple formula for this:
The consistent performance aspect was initially unintentional. As I began speaking to people to create tweets, I found that I was very nervous and often couldn’t quite think of what to say. I noticed after the third person that in my nervous nature, I had repeated the same three questions every time:
- Name? This is going online, so you can use your name-name or an alias.
- Someone who you admire? It doesn’t have to be the person you admire most, just, someone.
- What is a fact you know?
These questions acted as a small interview, which in turn formed the tweets.The project continued as a simple side project to indulge my own creativity until mid-November. At this point, by the recommendation of my wonderful life guide Angela Ferraiolo, I began to focus more on Scholar’s Library as a conference project. This is when the library entered the real world. I developed and re-developed the presentation of the Library several times: initially, I considered projecting tweets onto the windows of the Sarah Lawrence Esther Rauschenbush Library during our finals week as a playful distraction, similar to the “99% bat signal” of Occupy Wall Street fame (Boyd, 273). However, as we did not have the ability to project on these windows (yet!), I had to rethink the physical aspect of the Library. I considered the qualities of the Library, the nature of the short-form tweet, and why I even wanted to present my Library in the campus library. Finally, I realized that what I wanted from the large-scale projection was two things: visibility and legitimacy. What is more visible and legitimate than the thousands of books in a college library? I started to rebrand the visual components of the twitter page. There were several versions of the Scholar’s Library icon. The basic design modified the book logo from Library of Congress, as it is an open source image. The color scheme also remained consistent as I intentionally chose a very stable and intellectual deep blue and white. The versions of the icon happened because, firstly, I could not decide what to put in the book! First it was a question mark, to reference the semi-factual nature of the project; after that, it became a simple S, for scholar; by the end, the symbols I chose were quotation marks, to honor the spoken component. In critique, my clever and thoughtful art/life director Angela Ferraiolo reminded me to consider one thing: replication. The origins of both the Dennett quote and Scholar’s Library was theories of how knowledge replicates. Replication is what lead me to the final icon, a book on a beautiful descending sea of identical books, fading as they moved farther and farther from their ‘source material.’ With my new digital digs, I planned. I wanted to be sure that I distributed the tweets at a time when there would be high circulation of atypical books. Of course, the perfect time was our impending finals, when approximately 1,300 students rush to the library to write papers on niche subjects they moderately care about. The next issue was “where.” Deciding which books to store the tweets in became a sort of game. But again, I returned to the many knowledgeable artists of Beautiful Trouble: “Stay on message” (Boyd, 178). My focus wasn’t about windows, or finals, or even the delicious chai that they never have in the library cafe. It was about the process of learning and replicating knowledge. Therefore, it seemed most appropriate to install the tweets in a series of books with language or fact related to the tweet. This was paired with opening the Scholar’s Library page on any available computer in the library and setting it as the homepage, giving the Library both a digital and physical preference. At the installation, there were 20 tweets in the library. This resulted in 80 books. Installation was hilarious and taxing. Over the course of four hours, myself and my collaborator Wynn Heyward scoured the shelves for our 80 books. The list spanned all sections of the library, intentionally, and featured many silly or strange titles. Several students stared as we scampered through the library, tweets in hand, placing the small slips of paper logo-out in the books and turning them so the tweets stuck out in the aisle. There were a few books we could not find in this process; most were replaced with nearby alternates, but some were shuffled in with the extra tweets I had printed earlier. At the end, these extra tweets were positioned at the front desk, and after a long day of scholarly adventures, we left. There are very few things I would do differently about this project, as I intend to do many different things with it in the future. I consider this the Opening Day for Scholar’s Library. It was successful in that I gained a few followers and noticed a few slips gone; it was unsuccessful in that I wished I had had more tweets, more help, and a generally larger production. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and plan to continue on with the Library. If anyone has a contribution, find this Scholar and we will let the world know.
“The development of public opinion for a cause or line of socially constructive action may very often be the result of a desire on the part of the propagandist to meet successfully his own problem which the socially constructive cause would further. And by doing so he is actually fulfilling a social purpose in the broadest sense.” (Bernays, 73-74)Bernays’ idea of social uplift or change happening in conjunction with and for the intent of business made me think. Earlier, we also studied Nikeplatz, a piece by Mattes & Mattes. Nikeplatz was created as a reaction to people placing company logos, and therefore brand identities, both on their body through clothes and in their spaces through advertising. However, the piece itself was simply a performance of Mattes & Mattes unveiling a building-sized sculpture of the Nike logo in a public park and interviewing passing people about it. This proved much more effective than a simple statement like “corporate logos are bad” or “where are you putting brands?” Because Mattes & Mattes’ piece was not necessarily the construction itself but rather the reactions, people felt that their opinion was their own, and in natural reaction to the over-the-top commodity occupation. Much like Bernays suggests, the most potent propaganda isn’t direct, but conscious of how to influence social dynamic. I desperately wanted to join in on the fun. The Hug Machine’s redesign involved three necessary components: soft materials, a feeling of enclosure, and an enforced distance between participants and Heimbold itself. My mission was to redevelop Heimbold as a space, sneakily, so that people would feel both welcomed and comforted in a typically hostile space. The combination of these key elements are what lead me to the cocoon. Cocoons wrapped their occupants in soft, shapely domes that were produced naturally in high-bug/butterfly/worm areas. The metaphor of nature invading a deeply removed and unnatural space excited me, as did the easy recognition of the material and shape. It was going to be wonderful. For the cocoon, I studied many naturally occurring cocoons. The shape that appealed to me most (and seemed most iconic) was the shape of a moth’s cocoon; the silkworm’s cocoon had a texture that fit my ideal balance of softness and ephemeral weightlessness; finally, in considering how humans should interact with it, I referenced Nacho Carbonell’s Cocoon Seats, an installation that allows people to interact from the shoulders down with their heads in a cocoon. Although I wanted a singular experience for the cocoon, the way that Carbonell creates a simultaneously singular and social experience greatly appealed to me. After a consultation with our fearless art leader, Angela Ferraiolo, I began experimenting with fabric. This featured a bucket of cornstarch, several fabric samples from the internet, and a tiny knife. My process was testing each fabric (felt, cotton, wool, and raw cotton) for two things: rigidity and fluffiness. I distressed each fabric by sliding the small knife into the surface layers of the fabric and pulling up small tufts; this proved most successful for felt and the raw cotton. However, the second test for rigidity eliminated the felt, as a few days after applying the cornstarch, the felt molded. In sight of my research, I ordered six feet of raw cotton batting for my cocoon. This is where the real construction began. I spent several days cutting the sheets of batting into two panels, designed so that when they hung together, they would look like the moth’s cocoon. To support and set this style, I also sewed in over 25 ft of copper wire so that the cocoon could bend in odd shapes and styles, but maintain its overall shape. There were two wire inserts other than the outline of the cocoon, which gave the piece its sense of depth and movement. The final step, and my personal favorite, was the lights. To reinforce the ephemeral feeling of the light, fluffy distressed cotton, I sewed in four LED copper string lights, creating spirals and curves along the inside of the piece that later wove up the copper supports that held it in place. The lights were beautiful, and glowed just enough that they were visible from the inside but somewhat hidden from the outer world, helping to divide the conceptual cocoon space from the real world Heimbold Space. The installation itself both succeeded and failed, in my opinion. When hanging the actual cocoon, I ran out of the copper wire that I used to suspend it from the supports of the second floor staircase. Although tragic and frustrating at the time, I nudged, angled, and twisted the wire until it came to a satisfactory, semi-closed shape. The final touch was two small stitches that closed the cocoon from the back and a single red chair underneath, to encourage people to not only interact with the piece, but do so leisurely. There are several things I wanted to do differently in this piece, but I consider them lessons for future projects. My biggest regret is, like the cautionary tale that Seres Lu tackles in Graffiti vs. Street Art, my piece was art. There was something inherently limiting and classist about my piece being art, which was counter to the intent of an equalizing, sheltering space. Still, in my many trips through Heimbold, I caught several people resting in that red chair and staring up at the lights that twinkled around them. As an artist, I see many conceptual and aesthetic flaws in my piece (namely, the uneven hand stitches that secured the wire within the piece and oddly bourgeois nature of art)— as a student, I thought that the cocoon was a perfect respite.
I wanted to criticize space and Angela challenges me on how self righteous it comes across. In frustration, I realized that what I wanted to do was explore Heimbold through my emotions and my memories. It is a micro-Situationist with thoughts and ideas from Vito Acconci Following Piece, The Art of the Question by Anonymous, and Tom Finkelpearl’s “Participatory Art”, as well as my own experience as a theater student. I initially wanted my project be more aggressive but I was convinced against it by Angela. As I developed the places and spots to visit I made a few consistent spots tp visit.
1. I was started on the top floor and ended on the bottom floor of Heimbold.
2. During the show I enter bathrooms of all genders. I stick my hand in the toilet.
3. I told different and often conflicting versions of the same story. The conflicting nature of it comes from conflicting natures on the same stories. For example I framed one tour as a descent into my feelings and chose not to in another.
4. I ask people questions about whatever story I told and asked them to do things. Including but limited to:
- sing a note
- look out a window
-sneak down the stairs
-play inside a rolling cart for film department
-reassure me that I am doing ok
-Stare at other students.
4. Rely on my humorous personality to entertain even when I felt drained and unsatisfied.
What I feel about my piece and what I learned.
The first thing I noticed was the stress and lack of confidence from the first performance to the last. I became more emotionally drained from performance to performance. This led my tours from being confident and playful to (internally) more fearful and transgressive. What this change was that no two tours developed the same meaning. The same way that remembering alters the memory itself over time, so did the descent from the top floor to the bottom. I felt that my piece became less about the construction of my Heimbold experiences to my failure to maintain the same thinking of it. I couldn’t remember the right questions or routines and would, varying degrees of success, make up new ones. This in my mind is painful and yet in retrospect completely in line with the performance project as a whole. Because my relationship with my performance became strained and possibly unhinged so did my demonstration of the space. This meaning is of course very different for the audience, but their experience of the space was more of an amusing tour of memories, make believe, and activity that I would not experience at first.
One theme that sticks out in the retrospect is the transgression. Transgression here appeared in three forms: transgression of social mores, transgression of comfort level, and the failure to transgress against one authority instead of another. Lets start in more of a note form of each kind and what that means about Heimbold.
-Social mores I would violate and ask the group to participate including put my hand in a toilet, enter a gendered bathroom as a group, stare at a stranger walking by, play in a rolling cart, and stand on tables. What this did was provide a moment of playfulness but also give a eye on two elements of the space. The first is that there are things you can do that are fun that aren’t wrong or hurtful. The second, there is no true rebellion over the space. My playful attitude has zero effect on the architecture of the building beyond add a feeling onto it, like adding invisible graffiti onto the space.
-I never transgressed the comfort level of any of the participants. I did transgressed my own comfort level when i initially put my hand in the toilet. By having my audience witness it I did unsettle the impossibility of the action. It’s small but it will be something remembered nonetheless.
-Finally i felt i push beyond my comfort zone in a positive way. I have touched on this early but I do feel that this performance has pushed me out of a certain comfort around my art making and I would like to further with it.
Let’s have a little urban fantasy. You’re on top of a skyscraper. You look down, and you see the neon world below. It’s beautiful, it’s alive.
And I wanted to capture that.
To build a living place, just pretty neon buildings alone are not enough. After all, the buildings are nothing without the inhabitants. And so, the streets are full of life. They are filled with traffic, with people going around their lives. An entire system that simulates a small world is behind each pair of these headlights.
When I first found out about this class and interviewed for it, one of the examples of what I considered “Art from Code” was a beautiful video by baku89 that utilized cellular automata. I found it so fascinating that a mathematical model made out of a grid of cells – all using pretty simple rules that determine if a cell will be “filled” or “empty” in the next generation – could produce something so beautiful.
All the pieces ended up falling together in a way that pushed me to explore cellular automata further: this class’ final prompt being “systems”, and the discrete mathematics’ class’ exploration of logic.As this class progressed, I found myself exploring and implementing cellular automata rules, and even creating a few of my own, such as this automata, which generates a city grid, similar to Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Woogie Boogie: So, for my conference projects – both for Art from Code and Discrete Mathematics – I chose to work with cellular automata.
Having finally returned to New York City after spending a lot time living in suburban hell, Manhattan was all that I had on my mind.
I thought back to other generative projects I’ve seen – and one in particular stood out. Called Pixel City, this screensaver generated an entire city, full of unique buildings and even street traffic. But the traffic wasn’t really “alive”. And I wanted to fix that.
I decided to base my project on a cellular automata called Rule 184, expanding upon it to create a more interesting traffic simulation in two dimensions (hence, I called it “Beyond 184″). The Rule 184 cellular automata simulates vehicles moving on a one-dimensional road with a very simple set of rules:
- If a cell is occupied, and the next (right) cell is empty, the cell becomes empty
- If a cell is empty, and the previous (left) cell is occupied, the cell becomes occupied
- If a cell is occupied, and the next cell is occupied, the cell stays occupied
- If a cell is empty, and the previous cell is empty, the cell stays empty
I expanded upon these rules, adding a “cooldown” – that is, the ability of cells to stay in place for one or two generations before moving. This gave me the ability to have a city with “cars” that can move at different speeds. Along with that, I made it so that cells with a lower cooldown will not be able to come to a full stop immediately – simulating how actual vehicles in the real world will have different braking distances depending on how fast they are moving.
I brought this rule to two dimensions by creating a “source-destination” structure, which allowed for moving 1-D traffic cellular automata to two dimensions with minimal modifications. With this structure, as applied to the Rule 184 above, a “road” cell’s “source” and “destination” values dictate what a cell considers its “previous” and “next” cell. By requiring the cells to be connected to one another (that is, a cell’s destination value should be equal to the next cell’s source value for the chain to be complete), I gained the ability to control traffic flow.
I added a unique type of road cell that is called an intersection. This cell, instead of using a single “source” and “destination” value, has two of each, and with every generation, determines which values should be used, with the underlying logic attempting to move traffic from busier roads to less busy roads – after all, throwing more cars at a traffic jam doesn’t help anybody.
You can find more detailed information on how this cellular automaton was created in the paper I wrote for my Discrete Mathematics class, which, along with the source code for the simulation, are available at the GitHub repository.
Believe it or not, that grid filled with squares is the very same simulation you saw at the beginning.
Doesn’t look that great, huh. That’s because it needs a home. It needs to live inside of a city.
Time to put the “art” into “Art from Code”.
The city motif was present in my creations since the very first thing I made for the class:I ended up taking a more minimal approach, and before I brought the city and the traffic model together, this is what I ended up with: Once I brought the two together, it wasn’t just city-inspired creations that helped me with the process. Little bits of everything I’ve learned this semester all came together to create my neon city. The alternating colors that I used were obtained using the same method I used to create the random files and folders that I used for a part of my self-portrait. The random buildings and the way I ended up having them use different colors was born from an experiment for one of my other projects – one that didn’t even make it into the final project.
One of the wallpapers I’ve made before gave me the idea to reduce my buildings to glowing blocks of neon.
With all that, I eventually ended up with my final result. A living neon city.And I think it’s pretty nice.
For this project, I did something very new—maybe not at this point because it feels like I have been repeating that statement a lot in this course… but at the time it still felt new! I began working on the polygon starter file with no real linear ideas attached to it. The most stable ideas I had included two goals: make something that could resemble deep space, and experiment with color. I also wanted to work with the snowflake sketch.js, but I left that out because I thought the piece was going in another direction and I could not find a way to fit in that felt right.Before starting with the code, I found the starter colors. I call them starter colors because I did not end up using any of them and knew very well that I would not toward the end. A majority of the code works around what colored polygons I wanted to emphasize over the others. In a sense, I tricked myself into thinking I had found my colors and worked from there. The colors I used were very similar to the abstract clock assignment’s colors in their saturation, which, looking at them both now, is surprising. Over this semester, coding has helped me play with color theory. Just like with coding as I explored it, I learned it. But before then I did not like bright and saturated colors. They can easily over-stimulate me due to my sensory integration disorder. But in my system piece, I think I found brightness levels I am comfortable with. When I started out, I played with semi-randomized lines in the front to add more of the dimension that I originally sought. I also played with a turquoise grid and kept the polygons small. But it was so separate that I felt it was missing the point of the assignment and thought I had coded myself into a corner. As I worked with them, the lines, grid, and circles grew apart into their singular characterizations. The randomized lines in the front never connected to the polygons in the back or added enough depth and, to my frustration, became more out of place after each session and seemed to be the only ones that were evolving. The code itself was also set up as very separate, and toward the end of the project, I felt I had coded and colored myself into a corner. How would I get them to work together as a functioning system? At first, staring at Molnar’s Une retrospective for inspiration felt counter-productive. It was still separate! Looking at it now, I know that the more I worked, the more the colors began to expand and almost blend until it arrived at the final result. And I know now that Molnar’s painting isn’t actually that divided. Or, one doesn’t have to look at it that way. In each work, she uses the implication of movement. From Lettres da ma mere (Letters from my Mother) to the one I showed above her lines and shapes always suggest that a change is occurring. I already had the polygons spinning and wanted to keep that but then I began experimenting with making them move in another way as well. The spinning along felt monotonous. Adding a loop, I made two of the cut-off and off-center polygons rotate across the screen in a recurring wrap to make it a little less expected and languid. I also changed the direction of some of the polygons, the opacity and, of course, the size. I think the turning point was when I got rid of the lines. Once I did the subtle changes were highlighted more and made room for adding smaller and less translucent polygons in the back. To conclude, I think I accomplished a lot with this piece. The process felt natural and I think the spinning sequences and imperfect interactions help to make it more entertaining to a curious audience. The colors are vibrant (for me) but do not overpower it (or myself). And the movement remained odd yet weirdly calming. Thank you for the opportunity. Izzy Singer
Every single one of the petri dishes we were experimenting on became contaminated, including the controls. While this had negative effects for our experiment as a whole, it did end up looking extremely interesting. Our experiment became largely more complicated than expected in terms of usable data, but much more interesting as a person interested in fungal and bacterial growth.
My original plan for this system was to try and replicate the original experiment, including the ten Andropogon seeds and the mystery fungus. I spent perhaps too long trying to set up an easy and clean system for setting up the seeds. However, I decided it got too visually complicated. I realized it would become very easily unclear exactly which seeds had germinated and which had not. So I instead opted to go for a single large seed in the center of the dish. This would make understanding the system more feasible. While making this choice made some visual issues easier, it did set me back quite a bit and made much of the work I had done useless.
Once the seeds had been taken care of, I then started work on the actual contaminants themselves.
First I wanted to go with the black dots that covered the plates and surrounded the seeds.
Then, I wanted to replicate the odd beige rings that were found around many of the seeds. The second photo is not the most successful at actually capturing how they looked, but I was looking to replicate a series of being rings that surrounded the seeds individually, in nearly the same shape as the seed itself, only larger. Finally, I wanted to find a way to recreate the look of the hyphae, a network of fungus that took root in the material we used to grow the seeds.
Right now, this is how my system looks. It is still a work in progress, held back slightly by the time spent on the initial, unused idea.
From here, I need to instate the system by which the seed germinates or not. I also hope to add another contaminant in, one based on the black spheres that grew in the plates shown below. I also hope to add more detail to the seed itself.