Category Archives: Systems Aesthetics

Systems Aesthetics: An Artist Is Not A Isolated System

IMG_9959 For my conference project, I decided to do a sculpture based on the artist Hans Haacke and my understanding of systems. Hans Haake was the main inspiration for my conference project however I also took from the ideas of sculpture from Damien Hirst, linking to his use of large glass vitrines and his exploration of air and its relationship with movement. The simplicity of these works stood out to me and became the basis for the formation of my conference project mixed with the classes evolution of our understanding of systems. Looking at Hirst’s “What Goes Up Must Come Down” 1994, “Mental Escapology” 2012, “I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now” 1991 and Hans Haacke’s “Blue Sail” 1964 – 1965, and (Angela’s favourite) “Condensation Cube” 1965 (2006) (2013), I created my “An artist is not an isolated system”. Taking from their simplicity in materials, in display and focus; this work stands in between Hirst and Haacke. 2005-185-a-b_02_d02 hans-haacke-condensation-cube DHS3089view2rt3_771_0 DHS1841rt_s_771_0 DHS4632v2_c_771_0 I had this work envisioned in my mind, however as I was testing it out and constructing it, it did not go exactly as planned. I found that some of the fans I had purchased and tested out were not strong enough so therefore did not make the ping pong balls jump around the case like I had envisioned. I wanted constant active movement in my work and the air was to be the instigator of this. A minimalist structure would be the base for this however as I began experimenting the idea – the work began to evolve itself, shifting the system I had planned and the outcome I had proposed. IMG_9938 Researching Hans Haacke for my conference I found a variety of interesting statements from him revolving around systems, art and the museum space which became another level to the transformation of my ideas and the evolution of the work; “The artist’s business requires an involvement in practically everything… The total scope of information he receives day after day is of concern.” “When works of art are presented like rare butterflies on the walls, they’re decontextualized. We admire their beauty, and I have nothing against that, per se. but there is more to art than that” “Museums are not normally presenting the works on the walls as provocations to work. It’s more like going to a Jacuzzi” “An artist is not an isolated system. In order to survive he has to interact continuously with the world around him… Theoretically there are no limits to his involvement.” When speaking about his piece, “Mental Escapology”, Damien Hirst states “My idea of a perfect art piece would be a perfect sphere in the centre of a room. You would come in and walk around it; it would just be there, floating without strings or wires”. I am reflecting on this in my piece – playing with simple visual trickery. Throughout the semester, I think we had been constantly searching for immense action and change in each of the systems we studied and created and instead (with my work) the power sits in the cleanliness and subtly of the changes that occur within. Playing with the presumption that something drastic may occur at some stage also becomes a part of the system, manipulating the viewers expectancy when interacting with the work. I think the use of the text and the Hans Haacke quote adds another layer of meaning and significance. The power of the work does not lie in the constant and large movement of the ping pong balls jumping around the cube like I had planned for the piece, but instead is the combination of the text, the slight movements of the balls and the sound of the fan. I envision the work in a large white room, standing solitary in the middle of a sterile room in which the sound of the fan fills up the space and only movement is seen when being with the piece for an extended period for of time. Movement of the audience also becomes essential to the piece in order for the viewer to read the text around the cube, however this system does not need an audience nor cares for it to continuously evolve. The text can also be read differently from person to person as it can be read as a wrap around or focusing on each side of the cube – how the viewer reads this all changes everyone’s experience and perception of the work. Its self evolution may be slight but now I prefer that to my original intention of having the balls jump all around the perspex box. Preferably I would have the fan be the same size as the cube therefore it is cleaner and tighter visually, however I do not this this effects the power and/or message of the work overall. By just using white ping pong and black texts this minimises the possibility of distractions and instead the eye becomes more focused on the subtlety of the movement and the meaning of the text. IMG_9962 If I were to redo and reshape the piece, I would work with perhaps different materials such as feathers, cellophane – lighter materials that would move easily with the power of the fan. I would also consider working with a smaller cube and perhaps making 2 or 3 with different materials. Overall I am pleased with how my piece turned out. I think at the beginning of the semester I would have never done anything like this. The title “An artist is not an isolated system” is essential. The artist is never static, everything can be an inspiration and a starting point in which a system can be found and evolve from that point on.

Conference Project & Post-Mortem: SONOSPECTRUM

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 6.56.57 PM Proposal: After hearing Steve Reich’s experiments in sound through 12 Instruments and reinterpretations by Philip Glass in the hours and O Superman by Laurre Anderson, I was fascinated by generative music, and looked towards the Beads library in processing. Intended to follow Evan Merz’ instructions on the library in his book Sonifying Processing but later extrapolate on those lessons with visual additions as well as additions of my own code. Post-Mortem: The Beads processing library was complex, but set an easy groundwork with Glide and Gain that was used throughout all versions of sound generation. My most simple artwork of the many I experimented with was Warlock Groove, which used different parameters to turn an audio files into a wave,  and those variables would be randomized at the start of each run of the sketch. My next experiment was with TalkBack which uses the computers microphone to read the hertz of sound coming in and creates a playback. My next set of experiments with the Beads library used visuals that also determined the audio being played. For Roundabout and MusicBox I had four shapes bounce around the screen, and their x and y positions would determine which minute parts, or grains, of the sound file were pulled from creating a randomized sound. pic-0945 pic-1801 My next experiment in sound generation pulled off a sketch I created called Heart which used vertex drawing to make what looked like a polyhedron. I used several Beads codes to attach frequency creation to each of the points of the polyhedron, and found an interesting but not “full” noise. So I used my inspiration from Reich and played a second iteration of the sketch creating a discordant sound that fit the shape and movement of the “hearts, which became called Heartbeat and Heartbreak. pic-1948 pic-2318 Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 6.58.15 PM Finally I worked with a synth generator that used a clock to play random synth matchups and edits, which I then paired with the visual of expanding circles which I entitled GrapeSoda. pic-1697As a whole I was pleased with the experiments, especially Heartbeat and Heartbreak. Ideally as a next step I would want to experiment with the installation of these pieces of how placement could add to the interpretation of the noise. -note: sound will be added to this piece as soon as I figure out how to  

Blackspace: A Lot of Noise in a Crowded Space

IMG_6020 For my Blackspace I created a room full of water bottles, which I thought would be interesting to navigate in the dark but never expected would be a musical and noise generation experience. The original aim was to place water bottles in a manner in an enclosed space, where people would then have trouble navigating in the dark. The first run through with our class I found that the bottles made interesting noises as they crashed, and those noises in turn attracted people to kick and move the bottles around in a louder fashion. Later run throughs had people almost immediately try to make noise and move around in the dark space. IMG_6019IMG_6022What was enthralling was after the set-up I could use the moving wall to enclose people, and besides encouraging more careful groups they system could exist and expand on its own. Presentation of the piece also became important as I tried to have it in our showing, removing labels of the bottles as well as integrating the wall as an area setter to begin the piece. What was wonderful was being able to just have a start and not worry about an end.  

System 3: Infinitesimal

pic-6013 For my final system I built off of our cellular automata code, replacing the squares with text. I also put a transparent black background so new iterations would only compile over old as opposed to completely replacing. Pictured above is the code after around a minute. The way it works is all the boxes that would typically be white or the color of the background are now grey and opaque, while the shaded in boxes determined by one of the simple rules of cellular automata randomly choose colors from a set and words from an array. These arrays are created from passages from the book Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, which tells a surreal narrative about an African-American man and how his race renders him invisible throughout various events. This book is perhaps one of my favorites, but my selection of the book came with the images and colors it evoked. Firstly the main part of this automata and the system integrated is the balance of the words as unimportant and relevant. The piece I believe can stand simple as a visual without the words being read, representing a feeling of invisibility. Whereas some words and phrases can easily be read due to the way I align the text and have colors shift, reflecting the strong moral and identity questions that the novel brings up. But before I discuss that use of the novel, I must discuss the components of the system that differentiate it from a simple cellular automata. First, text of varying lengths falls in less of an organized pattern than the squares usually used in cellular automata. I also edited some of the rulesets of the cellular automata so I would have less proliferations that covered the whole screen, allowing for most run-throughs of this sketch to start as below, with one word coming to the forefront in red. And slowly the words would cover the whole screen. In the third image below the cellular automata shifts one row down, which allows for the text to not infinitely cover itself. pic-0132 pic-0323 pic-0484 After around a thousand frames, the color shifts from red to either green or purple/pink, and changes the array to another passage. I have selected three passages that have meaning to me and to the book and split them up into three arrays. Below is the progressing of the system as it shifts arrays and colors. pic-1356 pic-4167 pic-9407 pic-19741 One of the main differences of this system from my previous two is that it can evolve continuously as it exists. After being run from 30+ minutes the below two frames resulted. pic-201689 pic-211231  

Systems Aesthetics: System 2 Branch Unfolding

System 2-4 Moving on system 1, which attempted to recreate the systematic approach that Ron Resch used on paper crumpling, I changed the trajectory of my attempts at manual systems with a digital tool I was very familiar with: Adobe Illustrator. My thought was that Resch was able to create such a complex system from simple rules because he had spent weeks in a way studying the paper through interaction, and I guessed that my knowledge of Illustrator would give me a similar understanding. I began with the CMYK color settings of lines, creating a two more lines at the end of each end of a single line. The more left line would have a small decrease in magenta, while the right would have a decrease in yellow, resulting in the image below. System 2-2   The splitting of lines would end when the magenta or yellow value reached zero. Again I lost the feeling and nature of a system due to my own manual input. I quite like the result of this system attempt, but acknowledge that it is not a true system. As there is no room for evolution and self-sustained change.

Systems Aesthetics: Corporate Bliss

George Washington - Mike Brondbjerg

George Washington – Mike Brondbjerg

 
Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 12.02.43 PM

Thomas Jefferson – Mike Brondbjerg

Part 1 of the sketch

Part 1 of the sketch

Bliss with a quote by Robert McChesney

Bliss with a quote by Robert McChesney

The struggle of logos maximizing profit from the media and the Internet.

The struggle of logos maximizing profit from the media and the Internet.

Proposal: My Systems Aesthetic’s conference project has truly evolved. It began with some inspiration from Mike Brondbjerg, who created a project called Dead Presidents (http://www.kultur.design/portfolio/dead-presidents/) . He worked with portraits of old presidents and beautifully “distorted” their faces. In the beginning I didn’t really have an idea with what I wanted to do. Did I want to re-create Brondbjerg’s work? Upon our first conference project, Angela and I decided that I would need to convert original images into SVG images and then learn PShape. I created my first sketch with an SVG image of Homer Simpson and Friedrich Hayek. The Homer image was easy but the Hayek image was an actual portrait I wanted to use. I was inspired by Tim Wu’s book, The Attention Merchants. Tim Wu famously coined the term “net neutrality” which advocates free access of content to all Internet users. Within the depths and depths of content found on the Internet, such a stance is necessary. Tim Wu examines how private lives have been permeated by capitalism. The lack of space to breath from advertisements has encouraged people to stay less informed politically and diminished democratic participation. The evolution of the media of mass communications is primarily driven by technological innovation.Wu suggests that one of the first stages of grabbing attention came from newspapers, with the advertisements of Jules Chéret. Advertising brought me to my final project: company logos. I was also inspired by the television show Silicon Valley’s title sequence of Uber and Lyft struggling against each other.   Digital technology has allowed humans to advance their freedom; however, capitalism limits this freedom. Robert McChesney, author of Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism Is Turning The Internet Against Democracy, compliments Wu’s book by examining how companies control the Internet. Through lobbying, the government has allowed a few companies to control and regulate the Internet for profit. Advertising traffic is monitored and sold in order to commercialize the Internet. For example, Facebook likes are monetized for advertisers. A quote from McChesney’s book prompted me to choose these specific companies: Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Google. However, 4 logos were not enough to take up a sketch. I looked up other corporate and media influencers and found: Twitter, Walmart, Snapchat, BP, and HP. These companies all have the power to influence public opinion.   After the election, I was extremely angry at the media – because I spend the night at the Javits Center expecting Hillary Clinton to win. As she was losing the monitors were showing some political talk show. A political elite, either Rachel Maddow or Nicholas Kristof, stated that average Americans would blame the media for Clinton’s loss. While there are many factors behind Trump’s election, that statement angered me greatly. Between the end of November and February I stopped checking my social media accounts and by association the news. I was completely unaware of Donald Trump’s antics, the latest memes, and shopping trends. It was a blissful time but inconvenient. I had no idea about the Russia scandal. I had little to no knowledge of the officials Trump was picking. People need to know what goes on and that means sacrificing attention to advertisements. The blending of factual content and advertising in the media makes it difficult to escape. The Internet is becoming a less regulated place, in which large companies can control traffic and dictate who can see what. It is best to be aware of it.   This project serves to show the world I think companies have the potential to take over our general day-to-day activities.   Post-Mortem:   I learned a new concept in Processing for this project: Bounce. I also learned how to upload images and logos into an array. The system behind my project is the rules behind allowing the logos to bounce off the sides of the sketch. I also played with frame count, which I had used a lot in Pre-Frontal. I added a quote by Robert McChesney because I thought it would mean something against Microsoft’s Bliss background. All of these companies are competing against one another to see who can influence people more, and then in turn gain profit. Furthermore, the beginning of the sketch contains the drag of the logos because I felt that it created a sort of a maze. Internet users are stuck between Facebook and Google and the conflict between who can grab your attention more.   Next semester, I do hope to learn how to take high definition screen shots of my sketches so that the movies made in MPEG Streamclip aren’t blurry. I am proud of this project because I feel that it conveys how I feel about corporations and the media. The title of this piece is “Corporate Mess”, which I think captures the struggle of companies to maximize profit from users of the Internet. 

Blackspace: Astrophobia

IMG_0286

Me & my edited Blackspace Project

Kelsey at Projector Night

Kelsey at Blackspace

Sage walking by!

Sage walking by!

Projector Night audience

Blackspace Audience

Viewers

Viewers

Blackspace was modeled after our darkness theme, which prompted me to change my project. It was more or less the same – polygons bouncing off the sides of the sketch along to track by Fort Romeau. However, in one of our open studio classes, Angela suggested that our original Blackspace project was only the prototype. The final project should be completely different. In my original sketch, I was unhappy with the way the polygons bunched up at the top of the sketch. That was why I had created two separate films and put them together (one going forward and one in reversal). I found out why the polygons were bunching up at the top – it was the result of me expanding the radius to emerge off of the screen if the radius was over 50. While that was one of my favorite parts of the original sketch, I didn’t add to the final project. Rather than conveying the same anxiety of polygons expanding off the screen, I played around with the radius. The end result were sketches that looked like brushstrokes. I also borrowed a concept from my System 2: the color wheel. I created more sketches, slightly different from the other. There was one with blue and orange. One with purple and yellow. One with red and blue. I created more variations of colors but only included a couple in the final video. I like the idea of putting my sketch under the stairs but I don’t think it was dark enough to be considered a Blackspace project during our performance. I should have tried to find a switch that would turn off the hallway lights. I kind of wish that I had chosen an enclosed space to present my project rather than the hallway. However, even the Blackspace installation was not my final project. It is no longer Astrophobia but Anamnesis. I love the idea of having audio but not the idea of using someone else’s audio. It’s hard finding rhythms and lyrics that I want to go with my piece. However, over winter break, my mother and uncle found old tapes of my grandmother singing classical Rabindrasangeet. She died last year in a car accident and since then I’ve always felt time is too short. There are still moments I want to have with her. Bobby made me start thinking of trying to emulate her in some of my sketches. During our Blackspace rehearsal and while Bobby was presenting, I was asked “Did anyone you know die recently?”. It was a question that really hit me. Since I was playing with time in Astrophobia by reversing and speeding up some of the videos, I decided to change the audio and use the brighter polygons. Here is a link to the final project: https://vimeo.com/214226762    

Systems Aesthetics: Pre-Frontal + Systems 1, 2, & 3

System 1
Folded and outlined paper

Folded and outlined paper

Natural 3-D shape from folds

Natural 3-D shape from folds

I am not particularly proud of system 1 and I felt that it did an injustice to Ron Resch’s amazing project. I simply folded a piece of paper a couple of times and hoped for the best. How could someone devote so much time to folding paper? I just noted how the folds were making the paper raised and 3D. Nonetheless, I am proud of System 2 and System 3 and consider it a much better development from System 1. After class, I was inspired to take it further by coloring the shapes in. I had big ideas with keeping the paper in it’s natural raised shape (like in image 2). I wanted to paint them in coordinated colors. System 2
IMG_0363

Color Wheel 1

 
IMG_0362

All of the 6 color wheels on folded paper

IMG_0364

color wheel 2

System 2 was the origination of my color wheel theme, which I used for my final blackspace and projection night sketch. I was inspired by Grace’s System 1 project that focused on folded paper and color. It made me think about which colors complement each other and how colors can be a system. I felt that my system 1 did not go as far as Ron Resch’s did. I did not have as much time to sit and figure out different rules for my paper folding. I wish that I did because the different variations would have been really interesting. Rather than folding the paper further I decided to go off of my end result from system 1. The folds I had created resulted in triangular shapes, which reminded me of color wheel cones. So, I grabbed a box of colored pencils and began coloring each triangle fold. The triangular outlines along the edges were primary colors. The next row of outlines were the mixes of the primary colors. The next row were the mixes of the secondary, creating the tertiary colors. I did this for about 6 sheets of paper. This resulted in different variations.   I thought it would be easier to color each triangular outline. However, I found myself forgetting my own rules or not having the correct colored pencils. The next time I do this I would also not use colored pencils since they did not show as brightly as I wanted them to. Time was also a constraint. I set my project up about 4 hours before I had to leave my apartment. I thought that this would be an ample amount of time to finish up even more than 6 pieces of paper. However, I noticed that time was running out and I rushed the coloring process – which made the colors look too light. The chance of my error was high since I was working quickly towards the end. I wasn’t able to find certain colors and became frazzled. I think of myself as a processing sketch. I wrote the code for myself in the beginning (the rules of coloring and folding) but I was still subject to errors because of my state of mind and environment.   System 3
Elon Musk

Elon Musk

Kim Kardashian Crying Meme

Kim Kardashian Crying Meme

(i googled iridescent since it's a current social media trend)

(i googled iridescent since it’s a current social media trend)

  Here are some images showing the progression of images I used for system 3. My initial goal was to take our in-class glitch code further and turn it into a system. I wanted to also incorporate parts of my conference project along the lines of digital influencers and corporate capitalism. I had recently read some articles about Elon Musk and the future of Tesla which prompted my to try and distort his face. I wasn’t too happy with the way it looked with Musk, mostly because I could not grasp how to utilize the glitch code with his face. I decided to use the original image during our in-class glitch code. The Kim Kardashian crying face is one of my favorite memes/cultural icons. Kim Kardashian is someone who is famous for being a businesswoman. Despite not being an actress or musician, she is incredibly famous and takes space in much of the media. The media that Kim Kardashian dominates gives me a sort of escapism from our capitalist culture. The thought of working 9 to 5 and sometimes even later, regardless of whether it’s a field I love or not, is almost soulless and tiring. It’s no wonder that people (including myself) find solace in the media and other trivial things that do not produce intellectual thought. Adorno labeled the media we use as a distraction as the culture industry, which was my system 3’s original name. I had fun playing around with glitch code. Especially, with adding polygons and watching their actions around the glitch art. However, after showing it in class I wondered if using Kim Kardashian’s face was trivial. So, I coded Pre-Frontal. Pre-Frontal has an iridescent background with a larger glitch bar going vertically down the sketch. I chose to keep the polygons and thought it was interesting as the polygons collided with the glitch bar and created a rainbow effect. Furthermore, I added a frame count to create different rules for the ways polygons come into the sketch. I titled this “Pre-Frontal” because it is a part of the brain that moderates social behavior. Social behavior is oftentimes dominated by the media and political elites.
projector night (5)

Blackspace: The Garden of Life

Image/Poster ATTRIBUTION: Callum Bayle-Spence, his work *sys.#2/blck.spce* What I ultimately called The Garden of Life, based on John Horton Conway’s Game of Life.
Blackspace System Description:
A 2D space that emulates Conway’s Game of Life, except the designs usually implemented are rejected in favor of something more {{floral}} – one tulip, that is one garden ‘node,’ determines its neighborhood, and then behaves accordingly as it moves through its life cycle (or not). Scaled up and projected into a dark space, this becomes a dynamic simulated garden as an installation piece where the isolated ‘flower,’ earthy and natural elements of the designs offset the stark black of this new environment, creating an effect of dislocated, floating intelligence perhaps: a system that auto-perpetuates.
shot (on iPhone, self) from further away, actually right though a group assembled for Boobies piece

shot (on iPhone, self) from further away, actually right though a group assembled for Boobies piece

This idea was developed out of figuring out how to do an animation sequence in Processing, from an image array, and loading that to the screen dynamically (System #2), and combining it with our class’s original simple_GoL code.
The System Description also gives an idea of what I had in mind going into the project: –something dynamic –integrating design ideas I had been developing in Pixel Art –permeated by a sense of intelligence –projectable, even decorative. Could be put to use as such in the future too! –needs to work nicely in a black, dark space I think I achieved these goals. Complications, and frustrations, include dealing with code errors, more or less descriptive and helpful in that sense, in Processing. This came to a head when I decided I really also want to port this to the web (see separate post for that.)
another angle, shot on iPhone, self

another angle, shot on iPhone, self

Putting the project on display at out Black Space event was illuminating (no pun intended), but to a degree, the results were also predictable. I was happy with them to be sure. The piece, understood as part of the collectively created space, was one of the less obtrusive. It was not a live group performance in the middle of the room, with or without bottles! It was instead on the wall. There, however, it was all the more persuasive, encapsulating the ideas in the System Description, and as such, striking surprise in more than the occasional passer-through and visitor: they would stop, and look more closely to see what is actually going on in this presentation. I really enjoyed that more subdued engagement the work was producing! Another aspect of this work I enjoyed is, that once the thing is built, I can lean back and enjoy these sorts of pleasures: the code is running on its own. It’s a system!
another close-up like the one used for Callum's poster: shot on iPhone, self

another close-up like the one used for Callum’s poster: shot on iPhone, self

Having a dark, black in fact, background was a no-brainer, though I did experiment initially. The black background is what ultimately gave the animated tulips their sense of suspension, just floating in the darkness.

Systems Aesthetics: System 1

92e2d1df57e74a5b9281aa34bbed29a4 After Ron Resch’s Paper and Stick experiments and systems, I attempted to investigate his method and define his system in simple steps that could be recreated: My notes of all his processes were: He aims to solely crumple the paper and do no other motions: Only allowed to crumple > diagrams the essential folds > lines becomes straight, triangles or equilateral triangles > triangles become the central idea to the folds > later squares and hexagons > lines in the folds can be turned into essential shapes >>> shoot light at solids > turn the folds into rounded shapes > turn paper models into sticks > hook together with gelatin > shaded shadows create patterns >>> platonic solids can be connected in joints to other shapes > now shapes can transform by shifting along connections >>> squares connected together move predictably > attempts at 3D movement of up and down > sticks in an octahedron together form a dome >>> buildings and applications My simplification of steps became (with the help of some class suggestions):
  1. Use paper
  2. Fold paper
  3. Restrict freedom (only crumple)
  4. Follow/diagram “essential” folds
  5. Simplify to essentials for shape-making
  6. Some ideas control, some follow
  7. 2 different things work together
  8. change material, keep process
  9. Find pattern, change pattern order
  10. higher iterations/quantities
  11. join multiple created systems
The simplest way for me to next interpret this system would be to try and recreate some of it, at least what I considered the bare beginning of it with the paper folding. d334e3835709441aaac6c15d7905f37a 587523442a6849d091fb04de930d929e I found that even small iterations of following Resch’s process were tedious and hard to remain focuses and as systematic. I ended up following a slanted folding pattern, but soon found myself trying to move forward and expand in several different ways.f6e2abc0b9514e61816f7765ce6e61b2 2425d7ed4113426dbbe9acffc6859dc2 The crumpling of paper evoked a certain destruction, so I leaned towards trying to rip the page instead of crumple. I found interesting patterns but found it hard to discern a pattern. I next tried to use an object, a ball in this case, to do the crumpling and folding. Again, my results were not as concise as I would have liked, so I attempted to contain them.f1f332a8020347ab9760d8550701c312 e3a02a90fc624ccc94c3d1e5253e29ba I instead tried to limit the space the paper existed in, and found it an interesting extrapolation, but not a good reflection of Resch’s exact process. These experiments illustrated early on how complex the creation of the rules of system could be and how detailed it truly was to make the decision to just simply crumple paper.  

Systems Aesthetics: A Psychogeographical System: Blurring Parochial Domains

IMG_5412 Heimbold Visual Art Center on the Sarah Lawrence College campus is widely criticized by the student body. Its unpopularity is in large part due to the fact that various parochial domains functioning within the space do not intersect. Painters, sculptures, film students, professors, random passers-by and so on, interact and work in separate spatial realities with no reason to leave them. Most of these groups are not familiar with environment and people in other bubbles/zones. As a result, the center is far from being a creative hub and a well-functioning public space desired by the majority of the students. The conference system initiates a series of communitarian derives that lead to playful intersections of Heimbold’s parochial domains. Passers-by are given a choice to continue to walk to their respective spaces or to participate in an adventure that leads them to environments they rarely visit. The journey starts on the bottom of the lower staircase in Heimbold. The participant of the performance walks through 5 stations located around the lower level where they are given materials to build musical instruments/simple art pieces. Each station is marked with cardboard arrows and enables the participant to rediscover the visual arts building. On every station the person is given the option to leave the performance. Created musical instruments have the potential for further communitarian engagement and provide memory of the intersection of parochial domains.   List of requirements -encouraging in changing traffic flows/intersection of parochial domains -social object – engaging with people around -spacial object – engaging with the space -divided into steps/stations -requiring personification/uniqueness -able to to be kept after the performance -easy to construct -cheap to construct -entertaining Plan for stations
  1. Cups
  2. Filling/beans/noise making elements
  3. Personification/decoration – paint
  4. Personification/decoration – stickers,glitter
  5. Top for the cup+tape to close
List of materials: -40 cups + containers -40 tops -few bags of beans, lentils, rice -8 large cardboard arrows -markers -glitter -stickers -paint -paint brushes -duck tape for floor -duck tape for cups IMG_5414 IMG_5424IMG_5432IMG_5439 IMG_5443 IMG_5452 IMG_5457 IMG_5459 IMG_5460

Language-Ideas Further to (and a Bit Against) Re-Imagining Conference Work

conf.{B}.OLD1.&and.conf.NEW1.frame.work_ideas I have found an analogy to our system-considerations, musings, etc. in my work in designing and developing for the web: what I find is that the system idea is actually instrumental in defining that transition point between a web site (static, 1D) and an /application/: somehow multi-dimensional, functional, more dynamic. I can draw a direct connection from the definition we have been building for systems more generally (starting point, consideration of the neighborhood, auto-evolution) but also, it becomes clear in the actual experience of /building/, that somehow the thing I am working on is becoming more complex, almost taking on the characteristics of language, and in that, I think, it becomes systematic. Meaning patterns appear, and more concretely tools I use in one instance are adapted to another: in fact the way the DOM works, the cross-pollination of html, css and js on the client side, and then (in my case) python within the Django framework for web applications on the back-end, all start talking to each other in unsuspected ways! Suddenly, I can invoke a design idea I came up with months ago by mere reference to a css class: the design becomes part of a new pattern just established and brings /continuity/. In all sorts of manners, there are echoes, reflections, … I think of /A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction/ by Christopher Alexander here. This book obviously is about architecture. But things get really intriguing when I actually take the basic modus operandi (identifying abstracted, archetypical instances, using them consciously for design projects) and apply it to a whole new field: what I am doing here. So it really is a language then. I chose the punctuation, the occasional exclamation mark, or rather, this comes out of itself, organically: that, to me, strikes at the heart of what actually makes this a language. Like human language, that lives on, mutates, and is around long after the actual bearer perishes, this has a life of its own, with its own rules, idiosyncrasies. This is the system in my conference work, actually.
close-up, angled shot of the piece live @blackspace

Black Space: the Garden of Life; & Porting to the Web, a Technical Post-Mortem, as a Guide for When You Want to Put (Black Space and Processing) Stuff Online

Image/Poster ATTRIBUTION: Callum Bayle-Spence, his work *sys.#2/blck.spce/sys.#3* The transition from local to web was a little less than straight-forward. What follows is an exploration of the tech of assembling this piece for showcasing not on my computer locally, not on a project in Blackspace, but for a global audience online! First, there are some syntactical differences to work through, that go hand-in-hand with file structure changes ( – on the web, there is actually not a data folder that is used for images and other media!) /* @pjs preload=”/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_01.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_02.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_03.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_04.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_05.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_06.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_07.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_08.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_09.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_10.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_11.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_12.png,/static/processing/Garden_of_Life_fix/tulip_13.png”; */ The above is now the first line in my file set-up, required to pre-load media so that the code can pull them as soon as they are ready. This process of getting images ready is the major limitation to performance on the web! (To consider when implementing image-intensive application such as an array of animation frames, as the present writer found himself doing.) Apart from this there was one particular error that made my life harder – it was an error that we actually talked about in class, in the Game of Life code. In my case, I was adding up neighbors that did not exist, so an out of bounds thing ultimately: I changed //add up neighboring cells for(int x = 0; x < columns; x++) { for(int y = 0; y < rows; y++) { int neighbors = 0; for(int a = -1; a <= 1; a++) { for(int b = -1; b <= 1; b++) { //throws error processing-v1.4.8.js:13556TypeError: undefined is not an object (evaluating ‘$this_1.grid[(x+a+columns) % columns][(y+b+rows) % rows].previous_state’) in browser ?? neighbors += grid[(x+a+columns) % columns][(y+b+rows) % rows].previous_state; } } to //add up neighboring cells for(int x = 1; x < columns – 1; x++) { for(int y = 1; y < rows – 1; y++) { int neighbors = 0; for(int a = -1; a <= 1; a++) { for(int b = -1; b <= 1; b++) { neighbors += grid[(x+a+columns) % columns][(y+b+rows) % rows].previous_state; } } The important thing is, the error did not show up as an Out of Bounds Error, but a Type Error! So things like this kind of error conflation make troubleshooting a bit harder. I think I caught on to the issue when I used the developer console in Chrome (Safari was not showing any details apart from Type Error): another thing to keep in mind when going about these things ( – different browsers do also handle debugging differently!) Final, little, thing was this issue: I was not able to use fullScreen(); command in Processing for online stuff. Which was hard, because I use that a lot for local.

Introduction (to my /New/ Conference Work)

EDITOR’S_NOTE//sys.3.OLD1//conf.NEW1.introduction From abundant CIA evidence it seems clear that the present application is the original brain child of none other than Henry Rhodes Hamilton (HRH; although the actual authorship remains disputed). Founder of the Perfect Light Movement (PLM), this quixotic character of the early 20th century is known to us by way of a profoundly detailed index to a suppressed autobiography, written after a prolonged episode involving a plane crash and capture by insurgents, in Cambodia. After the Tenth Convocation of PLM the proclamation of HRH’s divinity reports of Scientology-style apparatuses for measurement of personality types, explanations of the universe, and sometimes less specified purposes, start appearing. These ideas were born out of His interest in telepathy, and the experiments He Ran Himself. Hotly contested from the start, but especially following CIA infiltration and seizure of the equipment, most fruits of this labor have been lost. It is only thanks to this humble editor’s efforts that some of the original functionality of this instance could be restored for posterity. It is unclear whether the results produced have validity (for our times), or even follow the scientific (or any) method. HRH, His Righteousness Himself, always had a vision that arguably transcended sanity, so much is clear. As such, when he asked for this application to be built, he also requested that every user and the information they submitted, along with the IP address for the machine they were using, is taken and collected in a large unspecified data storage facility in Tucson, Nevada. The nature of this project is both mundane, and metaphysical. On a practical level, HRH is compiling the most extensive birthday calendar known to man, for personal, congratulatory use. He hates forgetting people’s birthdays. On a more metaphysical level, HRH is convinced of the endlessly mirroring, echoing, fractal nature of information. What does it mean to be born in one place, at the time of great disaster in another? There must be a connection! Perhaps it is in the individual’s life, but maybe, just maybe, it’s a game of numbers: HRH believes, at the end of all of this, the database in the Nevada desert will hold the answer; like a tree, a Tree of Knowledge indeed, this thing emerges and stands tall in a wasteland of random Facebook quizzes.

Conference, All New! Presentation Response, Integrating an App and a Site

conf.{C}.OLD1.&and.conf.NEW1.pres.nttn.resp(onse) The main question, and criticism, food for thought certainly, that I was given at my conference presentation was about the complexity of the system, and inherent limitations of (fixed) databases, even in combination with each other. Is there a point where it takes off, becomes its own? Can it be more intelligent, or will it just be a more cumbersome project? The other Jack’s (Jack C.’s) project threw up the question of relation of the text to the visual impression, with regards to interpretation by an audience. We were wondering about control (of the artist, the audience) over the making of meaning. With this interesting over-arching idea space in mind, I would argue the text-basis of my system #3, “no1” or “The World on Your Birthday” is the demarcation point to my overall conference project, the system inspired architecture and design (facade) of funkelsteine.com. On the question of meaning then, and particularly of this as (web, and other kinds of) design and taking systems into account: I would argue, the intersecting space where design takes on the features of system is an interesting space for design certainly, for systems too, to the mind of the designer again, where for systems things are a little more binary. Does it qualify as system? Yes/no. Apart from this, what is the significance of a category like “being interesting” for systems –– something I ask myself at this point. For my project though, some of the take-aways from our class did directly inspire ideas for the building process: the interesting ones I think I touched on are – – simple rules can lead to complex results (this one is basic, but also:) – randomized access point for system initiation – integrating of interesting results in the physical sphere, digital rendering, cross-over of things like Ron Resch’s paper work – polygon and processing system inspiration applied to design; random, systematized, coded visuals
IMG_0146

(_)Elements, or: Ron Resch Now Digital (Picking Up: An Early System)

conf.{A}.OLD1.elem.ents.&and.conf.NEW1 Because the application is a system that only exists in relation to a user, a user who ultimately has to click and search through the application for it to reveal itself fully (it is informational, it exists on a server somewhere, but it is only actually “there” when it is read. Kind of like the tree that falls when no one is looking, except this is more about /use/: there is only a point to it if someone uses it) – it has to have an appeal and an elegance and a /flow/. What emerges in our systems class is the idea of systems aesthetics, and I find the perfect application in an actual web application, at precisely this intersection of machinery and observer. For it to work well ultimately, these separate entities must work together, and the actual meeting point is the aesthetically sophisticated system. Where if it does not have sophistication (visual appeal in color and form, elegance and good function), the system is not only not engaging, but won’t be used in the first place. The internet and its web apps and sites are designed more and more to be consumable: something that is not palatable can easily be discarded in favor of something more usable. The internet is competitive and the drive goes towards consumability, in this sense. But anyway, it’s what I wanted to achieve in designing a portfolio of systems: an actually system-inspired application, that more than anything, marches to the drum of system aesthetics. While always being mindful of the too much and kitsch that might go with that. I don’t want to be the person with the crazy power point – all those transitions and effects, so that the thing is just unprofessional in how dynamic and centerstage it is. (You know?) Finally, some concrete examples of what I mean here, in funkelsteine.com: – the tabs in top of the site alert the user to their location in the logical flow of the website – the center piece of the page is a an animated triangular design (svg images loaded by a script) inspired by the work in my analog system right at the beginning of the semester (Ron Resch paper folding ideas). It is based on the scanned version of the actual, physical Resch fold: IMG_0146   Subsequently turns into (screenshotted): Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 11.03.42 PM – sitting on top of this field of triangles is a pop-up menu that follows the user and collapses depending on their location on the page (css menu manipulated by script). The idea was to have this be very dynamic, and also centered (literally) and prominent, hovering slightly above the rest of the page (drop shadow): the social media icons that will populate this “flower petal” menu are central to the content ideas of the project. The idea is that these things get shared and find their way to lots of users, so that something really /systems/ grows out of it. Apart from these design ideas inspired by systems aesthetics, of course, the whole website, and the actual code that runs it, on a sever, is a system. I also decided to appropriate the thing as a portfolio of my work this semester: I am also showcasing the Garden of Life (processing piece running on Conway’s Game of Life logic), and last semesters work in Unity, on ADAM, on this website!

Blackspace: lttl mtch grl

I re-performed my analog system from earlier in the semester, lttl mtch grl. The system had view to no revision with it. The only major change was adding matches to be lit in order to keep track of time. The performances went incredibly well overall. Each time I was able to get my audience to comfortably take part in a psychodrama-lite system. Things I learned:
  • People want happy endings. The piece is meditational in many ways, so people want the sense of comfort to finish the piece. Although that is how the story itself functioned (the Little Match Girl has a happy ending), I did not find it satisfying. In more experiments I will explore this.
  • The movement space was much smaller, allowing a cramped feeling to appear and create more impact.
  • Generally, people feel weirdly nice about it, as if they awoke from a nice dream during a nap.

Systems Aesthetics: A Later System Degrading Sound

screen-0434screen-0455screen-0116 For the System 3 assignment I attempted to make a system using Processing’s minim library. Getting up to speed with minim’s language was quite a task to begin with. In particular, I struggled with the complex manner in which classes are utilized by minim. Once I got a very simple tone instrument set up, I felt quite accomplished. My next idea was to map a quality of the instrument to a quality of a shape. I ended up mapping amplitude to the diameter of a circle, creating a very simple positive relationship—as the diameter grew, the amplitude increased. I then decided to incorporate more shapes and to try having the shapes trigger a new instrument. Again very simply, I had to squares appear at the chosen maximum diameter/amplitude of the circle/instrument, both of which triggered an instrument on appearance. Now, as described, this is not really a system. It’s just a set of commands. However something surprising happened when I ran my code. The computer somehow couldn’t run the sound effectively, or there was something I had not taken into account within the relationship of increasing diameter to amplitude. What ended up happening was that each tone overloaded the previous (or something like that…) and the sound gradually degraded, producing a sort of weird phasing effect alongside the rhythmic pulsing of the circle. This degrading effect seemed quite random as well. Each time I ran the program, it sounded a bit different, dependent on whatever goings on were in happening in the back of my hard drive (or something, I don’t really know why it did what it did).

Systems Aesthetics: Kinect + Processing

For my conference I always knew I wanted to do something interactive. Interactivity is probably the most fun I can have with programming, I love the gratification of being so involved in a system. I came into this class with interactivity in mind, but I figured I’d only be using my webcam. That is, until Angela provided me with a Kinect. Learning Kinect was probably one of the most complicated things I’ve done. Sure, there’s a lot of documentation around on the web, but it’s a very intimidating process. Thanks to Daniel Shiffman I was able to learn how to configure my Kinect into Processing. My first week with the Kinect, all I was able to do was open the examples from Shiffman’s Kinect library. It offered examples from Point Tracking to various Depth Images. Luckily Shiffman’s library is up-to-date and compatible with the newer versions of Processing. His Point Cloud example was the basis of my work for Blackspace (as explained in one of my previous posts).
Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 2.27.11 PM

RGB Depth example by Daniel Shiffman

In order to do what I wanted to do for conference, however, I’d have to install a really old version of Processing. Angela lead me to a really great book: Making Things See by Greg Borenstein. The entire book is written about Kinect and Processing, but due to the fact that it was written back in 2012, I had to go back in time with my programming. I had to learn all about something called SimpleOpenNI, which honestly I’m still not quite sure I understand, but it is basically a library that works really well with the Kinect. OpenNI is dated, though, and isn’t even compatible with Processing anymore.SimpleOpenNI provided something really useful that I wanted to learn about which is skeleton tracking. It seemed like the best option to make the fun, interactive sketches I wanted. So in order to useSimpleOpenNI, I had to go way back to Processing version 2.21. The installation ofSimpleOpenNI itself was so complicated, it took me a few days. Basically it took going to someone’s Google Code site, finding the appropriate version of SimpleOpenNI, downloading the SimpleOpenNI Installer via my laptop’s Terminal, then bringing that library into Processing. Borenstein explains it very well, and now I feel silly for how long it took me to figure out.
Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 5.26.45 AM

Processing 2.2.1 Interface

SimpleOpenNI’s skeleton tracking feature was really important to me. Basically within the library, you can access joints from the skeleton (seen by the Kinect) and use them to help track movement. Depth is interesting enough, but I wanted full body movement. My first task was to create the skeleton, then draw ellipses at each of the joints. The skeleton itself is extremely sensitive to the movement and often ends up in really crazy/hilarious positions. The Kinect is also capable of registering (I believe) up to 4 skeletons at a time, but I decided to just stick with the one for now.
Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 9.08.24 PM

Skeleton Tracking on Depth Image

The setup of the skeleton code was so convoluted to me in the beginning. It took going through the sources within the library to even remotely understand how it worked. Eventually it clicked and I was able to figure out how to reference each joint’s x and y coordinates. Each joint within the SimpleOpenNI library is recorded via PVector, and in order to actually utilize the information it’s necessary to make use of built in functions: getJointPositionSkeleton() and convertRealWorldToProjective(). These translate the Kinect’s information into usable data for us. From there, the possibilities are pretty endless. There was a lot I wanted to do, but not enough time or understanding to do it. I was able to create two small-scale sketches using my skeleton data. Instead of having the skeleton visible and on the Kinect’s depth image, I thought it would be more fun to see the actual RGB camera reflected back on screen (the Kinect offers 3 versions of images: RGB, Depth, and Infrared). So for one sketch I have a stream of bubbles coming from out of the user’s hands as well as bubbles floating up in the background. It’s really satisfying to move my hands around and see the bubbles follow, and I was really happy with how the sketch turned out. The other one is a sketch that uses the joint of the head, neck, and shoulders. Based on the falling snow system we did in class a while ago, I learned that there are a ton of text symbols that can be called within Processing. I went and found the unicodes for a few heart shapes and created red hearts around the user’s head that follow them as they walk around. It’s a really sweet sketch and fun to play with.
IMG_9455

Conference presentation

IMG_9458

“Hearts”

The presentation of my conference to the class was very successful. The systems worked (mostly) how I wanted them to considering the old version of Processing and the v1 Kinect. It’s really great to see everyone’s reactions and have fun with something I’ve worked hard on for a while now. Overall, my experience with the Kinect has been positive. It took a lot of backtracking and extra research, but I now feel a bit more comfortable with it. My work this semester has been on the Kinect version 1, but now there’s a version 2 that can track a few more joints and contains some updated features I’m eager to try out.It was worthwhile to go back to the older version of Processing, but I much prefer creating things with Shiffman’s library in the up-to-date version. There’s a very distinct difference in quality and fluidity of movement. I hope to continue with the interactive qualities of programming, and I’m so glad I got a chance to basically learn something from the ground up. As intimidating as it all can be, I am absolutely open to talking about with anyone and helping in any way I can. Helpful links:

Systems Aesthetics: A Later System: Varied Connections

My system 3 consists of various shapes created at random, with the center of each shape connected to one “main” shape via a line. As the shapes move around and collide with each other, they are then sent in other random directions based on where they collided. The shapes collide with each other as well as the borders or “walls” of the sketch. When a shape collides with the wall, it takes on a new shape each time. With every collision, the shape’s velocity increases a small amount, so with given time the sketch will eventually lose control and move incredibly fast. Based on these guidelines I had written down, I feel my take on System 3 is successful. Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 12.59.25 AM System 3 was very difficult for me to start. I knew I was required to make the system self-evolving, but I had no clue as to how to incorporate that idea. I went back to earlier systems we created in class together, and I was very interested in our early Polygon System. I loved the idea of generating new shapes and setting guidelines for their creation. I saw a lot of potential in using polygons in a self-evolving system, so I went back to the code of creating a polygon class. Once I was able to generate random polygons, I was very interested in the idea of collision and how that could transform the system into a self-evolving one. Collision was extremely difficult. The Processing website has an example of two circles colliding with each other and the walls of the sketch. I was able to gather bits and pieces from their example code to allow my Polygons to detect collision. Once collision detection was complete, it was just a matter of how I wanted to present the sketch. The lines I added were created by accident and without an idea in mind, but I really liked how they looked. They allowed the polygons to become connected and provided the sketch with unity. When the sketch picks up speed, it adds a whole new dynamic rather than just watching a bunch of shapes bounce around. It allows the viewer to keep track of certain shapes and their trajectories.
system3

normal-ish speed

crazier speed

crazier speed

There is a small interactive feature I implemented  as a precaution to a problem I ran into a lot earlier. Before altering the velocity and distance within the code, a lot of shapes would get stuck in the four corners of the window. They’d just infinitely bounce back and forth between one wall, then the other. Just in case it kept happening, I added keyPressed features that would slightly shift the x and y coordinates of the shapes via the arrow keys. I would have liked to incorporate more interactivity and qualities of a self-evolving system, such as more changes of color and perhaps utilize time as well. This system shows how simple ideas can lead to complex phenomena. At first a simple collision of polygons turns into a wild and rapid frenzy on screen.