Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Back to Blogging

Wow so I feel really bad for neglecting this blog for so long, its just been a really hectic semester. So many new developments. My goal is to get back to my daily update schedule since I have so much new content that I have created and new projects to showcase.

In addition to my hectic school schedule I have also started two internships. I have begun work as an interface designer for an awesome new web start-up company called Youtorial. Check them out! Youtorial is a new approach to online tutorials and learning.

I have also begun an internship redesigning the website for the venture capital firm Inflexion.

If all that isn't enough I have also finally started developing my augmented reality mobile device application for Droid. All those hours of Java tutorials and exercises that I have been forcing myself to do since March are finally paying off. I never thought I'd say it but I can code!

And just to top things off I am enrolled in one of the coolest courses I have ever taken, digital fabrication, in which I am learning to use 3D printers, laser cutters, and 3D scanners. I will have some cool pics to put up of all that is involved in that.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Out of town

Sorry I haven't been updating much this week but I have been out of town. When I have some time later this evening I will be sure to post some new and MIND BLOWING things and get back to the update a day schedule.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Disposable culture

My girlfriend and I live in a house on a relatively busy street corner for Gainesville. Because of this I occasionally find rubbage in our front yard that has been discarded by degenerates, laggards, or bums. Typically its just a beer can or a Styrofoam cup but what i found today reminded me what type of society we live in. While I was cleaning the front porch i noticed a wal-mart bag idling on the outskirts of our yard. When I picked it up to dispose of it I discovered that inside it contained the ripped up packaging for a new cell phone AS WELL AS THE OLD PHONE, battery and all! This asshole was so eager to get to his new piece of technology that he couldn't even wait to get back from the store to discard of his old phone properly, much less to be bothered to recycle or donate it. 20 years ago cell phones were a breakthrough not to mention extremely expensive. 10 years ago cell phones were a convenience and a still a luxury for some. Today they have the same value as a beer can or Styrofoam cup. Disposable culture.

One of my paintings

I just felt like putting this up here. This is an oil painting I did about three years ago. It is one of my first attempts at painting but I still really like the finished work. Painting is something I would really like to get back into given the time...
The painting is a depiction of one of the vistas of The Void Castle, This is the terrace of the banquet hall of the bodhisattva.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Top secret: work in progress

Here is some top secret pics of one of my works in progress.
I used some of the foam block you saw in the last post to carve this. It will be a housing for an arm mounted radio frequency locator used to track down my radio emitting guerrilla sculptures. After carving the foam I than began to smooth it out and add texture by skinning it in plasticine. When It is done I will make a silicone rubber mold of the positive and make a polyurethane resin cast. After the resin model is made it will house the LCD, Arduino, and Radio receiver you see in the pic below. The LCD and speaker let you know when you are getting close to one of my radio frequency emitting sculptures. You will be able to wear the piece on your forearm.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mold making!

I recently made myself some plexiglass mold walls and got to mold making!

I like using plexi-glass for mold walls so that you can see that whatever material you are pouring is getting even distribution (but really it just looks cool).
I decided to pour a block of rigid polyurethane foam so that I could carve it into positives for other sculptures, specifically for my line of wearable arduino enabled reactive sculptures which I will show you some progress on in tomorrows post!

I really like to carve in foam because you can use all of the wood carving tools like gouges and never have to worry about the grain. Foam carving is easy breezy baby.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Local Art Show

Went to a local art show this last weekend in Gainesville with Francesca. Some of our friends from undergrad turned this old church building into a gallery and host shows about once every month. Every time they have a new show they completely repaint the interior of the gallery turning the space itself into an art installation.

Here are some pictures of the gallery walls and the paintings. The gallery used to be called Daacha but I believe they are now calling it "The Church of Holy Colors".


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Techno-shamanism and Augmenting Human Empathy Pt. 2

(continued from yesterdays post).
The desire to become augmented is an appealing one. The issue arises when we examine the socio-economic conditions under which human augmentation would occur, which brings us back to our quote at the beginning of this essay. Under the current world economic system wealth is distributed extremely unevenly with a small fraction of the world’s population controlling a vast majority of wealth and resources. It is important as artists and designers that we begin addressing these issues now before it is too late for the digital future.

The extremely wealthy already exploit the world’s poor and middle class for labor and production of services off which they profit immensely. It is this class of people that will be able to afford the best and most advanced augmentations to their beings (the robotic hand for Pierpaolo Petruzziello cost 3 million dollars), under a capitalist system, allowing them to become hyper-intelligent and live to near immortality.

It quickly becomes easy to imagine a dystopian future in which these super-augmented individuals may not even consider themselves human any longer, viewing the rest of human populations as mere live stock, similar to H.G. Wells “The Time Machine”. Or in Jaron Lanier’s latest book “You are not a gadget.” A new reign of digital feudalism will come into effect, with most of the worlds labor force replaced by robots controlled by the ruling elite, middle and lower class humans will become digital peasants, working for free just to be allowed to exist (Lanier).

These possible outcomes are frightening to say the least which is what brings me to the crux of my work as an artist and designer in the digital realm. We seem very interested in increasing the power of our bodies, or the intellect of our minds, or the length of our lives all through technological means, but I see very little interest or research in augmenting the things that make us most human, when a warm cat sits on our lap and we smile, when we lovingly laugh at a toddler who stumbles while learning to walk, when we feel sad because we see a lonely man eating a sandwich by himself in a park. It is our ability to recognize the universality of our human condition within each other that makes life most rich.

It is empathy that I am most interested in augmenting. I believe that we can invent technological means to enhance the empathetic response in each other, allowing the world to see that we are all reflections of each other. This would foster greater understanding and cooperation among humankind allowing us to achieve the level of unison that will be necessary in conquering global problems such as climate change, environmental degradation, world hunger and eventually interstellar travel and the next phases of our evolution.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Isadora patch

Here is a snapshot of an Isadora patch I made last night using Isadoras Blob tracking "actors" to manipulate live sound and video by moving an object around in front of my webcam.

I connected the tracked objects vertical position to a send note "actors" pitch and the horizontal position to the notes velocity. SO when you move the object up and down pitch goes up and down and when you move it left and right the volume increases or decreases. I also added a sound watcher "actor" and connected the volume output to the size parameter of a dots effect "actor" and lastly connected this to the video input of a projector "actor". SO when you view stages you get a live video feed with the "dots" effect applied and the louder the notes being played get, the bigger and more spaced out the dots in the video get.
It was really super simple and you have any questions please post to comments

Techno-Shamanism and Augmenting Human Empathy Pt. 1

“The future has already arrived. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.” The quote is by William Gibson the visionary science fiction author of Neuromancer. This statement captures the essence of what is at stake here in the digital age. If Ray Kurzweil’s presupposition of “The Law of Accelerating Returns” holds true and technological progress is increasing exponentially rather than linearly than the next few decades will not only see great technical achievement but the very redefinition of what it means to be human.

Ever since proto-man began flint knapping hand axes millions of years ago human-kind has been inexorably intertwined with technology. Our ability to shape the world to our choosing is what has allowed humanity to inhabit every landmass on earth. For millennia the lens of technology has been used to sculpt the exterior world, now for the first time in human history the lens is being turned inward as we alter our very selves.

Every day new breakthroughs are being published in the realms of genomics, robotics, nano-technology, quantum computing, etc… that we don’t even bat an eyelash at achievements that would have been unthinkable 20 years ago. Once the stuff of science fiction is now becoming common place. In 2008 Junichi Ushiba and his colleagues at Keio university, using brian-computer interface technology, developed a way for people to control their avatars in the three dimensional world of second life via thought alone.

Brain-computer interfaces can already do far more than just allow us to control characters in second life. In December 2009 Italian amputee Pierpaolo Petruzziello received a robotic hand that he could not only control with his mind but that he could feel and receive feedback from as well. Combine this technology with the video that’s been circulating the web of Ishikawa Komuro Lab's high-speed robotic hand, capable of pitching a baseball or dribbling a basketball exorbitantly faster and more accurately than a human hand, and things really start to get interesting.

The military, not to be out done, is investing heavily in new technologies of human augmentation in their never ending quest for the perfect killing machine. A 2009 blue-ribbon committee of the National Academy of Sciences is recommending that the Army expand its research into how a soldier's brain, blood and nerves work so it can develop futuristic applications that can increase performance in combat. The study describes one application of augmented reality, to provide a virtual overlay associated with the trigger of a soldier's weapon, which provides a sensory feedback when it locks on a target identified as a foe. The soldier can be trained so that he pulls the trigger without thinking, "decreasing the time between acquiring and engaging the target," .
In addition military defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin have unveiled recent advances in human-robotic interfaces such as their 2009 presentation of the HULC or human universal load carrier (you got to love a good acronym) which is a robotic anthropomorphic exoskeleton. An onboard micro-computer senses the user's actions and ensures the exoskeleton moves in concert with the operator enabling the user to easily lift over 200 pounds.
We are seeing voluntary enhancements and augmentation to normal human performance even in the mainstream such as pro athletes like the golfer Tiger Woods or the MLB pitcher Mark Henderson undergoing elective Lasik surgery to improve their vision beyond that of normal 20/20. Woods was already seeing 20/20 with contact aided vision but after the procedure improved his vision to 20/10 he won five straight tournaments.
Already humans with prostheses composed of advanced materials are outperforming their non-augmented counterparts. On January first 2010 Amy Palmiero-Winters was the first woman with a prosthethic leg to place first overall (men and women) in a competitive running competition. She outran the second place finisher in the 24-hour ultramarathon by a whopping 36 miles.

The Italian runner, Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee with two specialized prosthetic legs, was blocked from competeing in the 2008 Bejing Olympics after the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) introduced a rule banning competitors that were deemed to benefit from artificial help in competing. It was determined that Pistorius’s legs were able to move through the air fast than that of an “able-bodied” athlete. One spokesman for the IAAF claimed they did not pass the new rule to discriminate against the “disabled” but that “The point here is what's going to happen in 10 years? What happens if it continues to evolve?" Very good question.
Obviously these runners did not choose to be amputees. However, it is not too much a stretch of the imagination to see how in the near future, advancements in the speed, utility and more importantly the aesthetics of the prosthesis will become so sufficiently overwhelming that an “able bodied” human athlete would willingly swap out their biological legs they were born with for the chance to be as fast as a cheetah.

Enhancements and augmentation abound, with these previous paragraphs being a slim survey of what’s already happened. To take current technologies and advancements that are in the pipeline and try to imagine the future is staggering, almost anything seems possible. Sherry Turkle an MIT psychologist believes that AI and robots will reach a point in which we will prefer to spend our time with robotic counterparts over our human relationships. Techno-determinist forecasters such as Ray Kurzweil believes that in the near future we will be able to scan our brains and reconstruct our personalities digitally, living forever, encased in silicone.

It’s hard to say what will really happen, as I find people in the sciences and technology sector put a lot of blind faith in progress. Automatically assuming that technology will set us free, they scoff at religious individuals seeking immortality for their soul while they clamor for the “singularity” with the same fervor as a zealot. However, if progress is to continue at the accelerating rate that it is today it is almost inevitable that future generations, through technological augmentation, will be much smarter, stronger, and longer lived than we can imagine today.
(To be continued...tomorrow).

Friday, July 30, 2010

Check out some pictures of my sculpture Mono-culture:
Mono-culture is an examination of our societies dependence on a vast genetically invariable, artificially supported monoculture of a single food crop: corn. The work reveals how our agricultural practices create not only monocultures of food crops but more dangerously, monocultures of the mind . Industrialized agriculture not only standardizes the means of production/consumption but the producers and consumers as well.
The sculpture is automated and embedded with a motion sensor. When viewers/participants approach the table to partake in some emblems of American food stuffs such as Coca-cola(high fructose corn syrup) or Doritos corn chips the suspended "corn hive" comes to life, violently shaking kernels loose from vinyl seed sacks. The kernels than fall to a metallic floor connected to an amplifier, producing a cacophonic deluge of falling corn, like sand falling through a nightmare hour glass.

Here is a rare pic of the work in progress. The sculpture is composed of welded steel, vinyl, electronics, and corn.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

My thoughts on: The Digital After life

Possibilites of a Digital Afterlife
What happens after you die? Well according to the gospel of the good book (the facebook that is) you are guaranteed immortality in perpetuity as long as the Facebook shall live. Mankind has agonized and lamented over the answer to this question for as long as we have been capable of recognizing our own mortality. Entire religions influencing tens of millions of people have arisen based on the promise of an answer. Now for the first time in history we may be seeing some quantifiable results thanks to social networking services such as the Facebook.

Facebook has reached a point of maturation and scope that it is estimated that over 3 million of its users may actually be deceased. I first encountered this phenomenon of digital ghosts when an acquaintance, Barry Bernard, unexpectedly passed away. He had gone to the beach and was sadly drowned by a rip current. His last status update eerily stated “Getting ready for a fun day at the beach”. Since it is facebooks explicit policy to never release password and login information Barry’s literal “last words” haunted the main page of his profile for months as people poured out their emotions over his death on his Facebook wall.

Facebook spirits began materializing in earnest with the new “reconnect” feature that encourages users to interact with other users whose accounts have been idle; the goal of the feature: to bring infrequent users back into the Facebook fold.

My sister’s best friend, Christina, passed away from a lifelong battle with cancer over a year and a half ago. Now Facebook’s reconnect algorithm recognizes her accounts inactivity and frequently pops-up her profile picture suggesting that I interact with her in some way. The first time this happened I was taken aback as well as offended by Facebooks machinic insensitivity towards a person that has passed away, clearly I cannot “reconnect” with her. However the more I thought about it the more I thought that maybe this is the beginnings of digital immortality.

In fact the issue of what is to become of digital avatars or online personas of individuals who have passed away has spawned new services that offer to manage your post-humus internet footprint, services such as Legacy Locker. Legacy Locker offers a monthly fee or a lifetime membership to manage your digital assets after your death. They provide databases to store all of your email, banking, passwords, social networking data etc… as well as whom to release this information to upon your death.

Facebook recognizing this issue has created a memorializing service. Only upon a family members request and only after investigating that the individual is in fact deceased, Facebook will move a profile to “memorialized” status. Once a profile has been memorialized it will prevent new friend requests as well as disable non-friends from viewing the profile. However, all other features remain enabled such as wall posting and photos.

Not only does Facebook now memorialize the departed it has even played a role in their departure. Cyber bullying has been a buzz word in the media since digital social networking’s inception, social misfits in real life can now be bullied twenty four hours a day seven days a week in digital life. With the advent of cyber bullying however there have been real world deaths, the teenage victims taking their own lives in some cases. Their online husks now become inverse memorials to the technology that enabled their tormentors to reach them. Granted they didn’t have to be a part of Facebook but if you’re not on Facebook you might as well be a non-person anyways.

There has been some media attention surrounding the issue of the deceased and Facebook but it is still not such an issue as to be on the public mind. As this technology grows and becomes more imbedded in our lives however, these are issues that will not be able to be avoided. Especially as the intelligence of these networks and computer intelligence increases in general. We as a society will have to devise laws as to the rights of the digital deceased.

Consider this, if a young individual now begins using a product such as twitter and continues so until their natural death that could be over 80 years of mundane and idiosyncratic information collected about nearly every detail of this persons life. As machine intelligence evolves along with this collection of personal data matrices it could be perfectly possible that the machine could reconstruct a simulacra of the deceased, continuing their twitterings and musings about their daily lives based upon constructions and analysis of their accumulated personal data, literally picking up where they left off.

I already see this happening in the example of Facebook popping up my deceased friend Christina, when she pops-up I sometimes click on her profile, scores of people still post on her wall daily about how they miss her, or about some old memory. I feel this constant interaction is due in large part to the “reconnect” feature. If this were an era pre-FB the bereaved would mourn for a time and eventually people, all but the closest family members, would move on. It is as though Facebook is the master and the profiles the marionette. Though Christina cannot respond, perhaps it is only a matter of time.

The techno-determinist and digital immortality proponent Ray Kurzwiel posits that it is through incredibly advanced scanning technology that we will be able to record every facet of our human brain and upload it, in one fowl swoop, to a digital format, existing forever as digital selves. I personally have found his method of digital integration further in the realm of science fiction than anything possible, as what is to say an exact copy of a brain would produce that brains personality. Perhaps it is much more likely that we have already begun the migration to a digital existence as we upload every minute detail of our daily lives, and slowly over time and through the evolution of machine intelligence we will all be reanimated in the ether of cyberspace.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Early progress on empathy enhancer

Lately I have been furiously working on my projects :) and have not been posting a lot so here in this post I will bring you all up to speed on my project status.

Originally I set myself the task of finding ways to augment the quality of interpersonal communications through technological means. I realized that it is empathy and your ability to have others empathize with you that creates powerful and effective communication.

Some of the methods I had propsoed in class to acheive this goal involved possibly projecting images and colors onto or behind a user that would be reactive to the users communications, or to possibly have appropriate tones and sounds play through a user triggering a device with the fingers. Ultimately I settled on a project that would focus solely on negative emotional states such as discomfort or anger.

The goal is to create a device that will measure users negative emotional states and project these feelings into others in the immediate vicinity. Effectively the enhanced individuals emotional state influences that of the groups. Here is a pic of the device and circuit in progress:
To do this I have hacked a biofeedback sensor to read skin galvinity and heart rate, both being indicators of distress. I utilized a Darlington pair for the transistors to amplify the signal. I have hooked the device to an arduino microcontoller that will then trigger an ultrasonic emitter that I have but need to assemble still. (It has been shown that when ultrasonic beams are projected at people that they experience sensations of discomfort. )

Once i get the sensors and the ultrasonic emitter working properly I will than build the device into a sculptural wearable that I have drawings of but not machetes yet. So my next steps in order are to 1) get ultrasonic opertational 2) build machetes 3) embed device into a wearable sculpture.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Some of my collages

Similarly Different
This first collage was inspired from Tufte's Visual Explanations text. Its just a simple juxtaposition of a serendipitous relationship in shape and form. I had these bronze bird skulls that I had cast recently that i knew I wanted to use. I flipped open an old children's book and found an image of an ice cream cone that was exactly the same shape and size of the skull. I liked the relationship of the two, of similar difference, so i decided to constrain them here in this collage.

totem factotum
This second collage has become a visual analog for some of my work here at Digital Worlds on technologically augmenting empathy. The layout mimics the chakra system while paralleling Maslow's Hierarchy of needs, linearly up the center, while forwarning of ego or desire driven augmentation around the sides of the image.
It is my fear that as we begin to augment our mental and physical bodies through technological enhancements that we will forget to augment our very souls. The powerful consumers of the world will be able to even more effortless exploit the worlds poor through their enhanced state of beings.
I worry that as we merge with machines that our empathy and human spirit will wither if we do not actively seek ways to incorporate the incorporeal into technological systems.
That is my purpose of these projects I am working on, to actively seek solutions to this problem.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Kid games

So I have been teaching an after school art program for kids ages 5-7. For their most recent project I am trying to teach them how to bring concepts from the drawing board to life so I am having them all construct their own board games. Today we started with our concept sketches. Here are a few of them:
A game called "quick" in which players
try to get through a forest as fast as they can
without getting eaten by a bear.

A game like chess but with less pieces
only one piece can capture the "king"
and only one piece can kill this "king killer"
also the board spaces will be hexagons to allow
for 6 degrees of movement
A soccer board game in which the ball moves
via dice rolls but players move one square at a time.
An action adventure board game with many divergent paths.

In addition I am simultaneously enrolled in a Game Design class as part of my masters degree at UF's Digital World's. I find it interesting (and a bit sad) that 5 to 7 year olds were able to generate more original and cohesive game concepts than a lot of the people in the class!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Thoughts on: "As We May Think" by Vannevar Bush

Time for a history lesson:
"As we may think" By Vannevar Bush .pdf
Don't you hate it when you have a great idea only to discover that some one else has already thought of it? Well guess what, good ole' Vannevar thought up the internet and desktop PC's all the way back in 1945! Vannevar postulates that a desk sized device he calls the "Memex" could be created to store, index, and search all the worlds information. He proposes that advancing technologies in magnetic film and tape be used to make increasingly small microfiche that could contain all of the information. A bit implausible in retrospect but luckily for us the semiconductor was invented some 15 years later and made all this "digital" stuff possible, otherwise I'd be blogging to you all from my Memex Microfiche 3000.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What is Information Visualization?

I will not be answering that question in this post.
Instead I am more interested in the phenomenon of information. It has been said that in the last couple decades we (humans) have produced exponentially more information than we have ever produced in all of history(due in large part to accelerating computing technologies).
Jean Baudrillard in one of his papers laments this as the saddest thing to ever happen to modern man, our information obsession in which we must generate and categorize information about everything but NO MEANING is ever produced.
He gives the example of a recent airplane crash in which recovery teams collected the majority of debris of the wreck and pieced the plane back together in attempt to discover why the plane went down, We gain no meaning, no solace from this activity, the deaths of the individuals on board still remain pointless and tragic, the human condition is still one of suffering, we have only garnered more information to be analyzed and continue its ad nausea profusion. SO the question than is how do we construct MEANING? How do we use our abilities of visualization and expression to make sense of it all?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Walter Benjamin and the Aura

Arturo this is in response to your Optical Vermeer post (which was in response to Francesca's Camera Obscura post). I have read Benjamins "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" and for the most part I agree with him. The root of art in ritual gives credence to an "original" object that has been labored over for many hundreds of hours. Benjamin posits that reproduction diminishes the authority of the orginal (part II paragraph 3 last sentence), however I believe that reproduction may actually augment the aura of the original and brings art closer back to ritual. The Mona Lisa is perhaps the most recognizable work of art on the planet. It is really just a portrait of a rich mans wife from 100s of years ago, yet people flock to it from across the globe. If it were not for the unlimited proliferation of prints, photographs, postcards etc... would the Mona Lisa need to be housed in a bullet proof pressure controlled chamber? If you want to read Benjamins treatise here is a link: Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Interaction Vs. Story

As I mentioned in class I had the thought yesterday that perhaps stories and interactivity are incompatible. That maybe we are trying to force it, maybe stories are inherently un-interactive. Now that of course would be blasphemous and make this course awkward, but let's look at it. In a sense what makes stories such a powerful and enduring medium is that the user/listener is passive to the active storyteller (be it a person, book, movie etc...) An incredible story completely enraptures you.

A quick example: I finally saw Toy Story three last night; the movie took me in and created a an experience. I laughed, I cried, and I marveled at Pixar's ability to reveal elegant truths through the use of story. All of this emotion and realization came from a masterfully constructed combination of storytelling, sound, and visuals.

So this leads me to the topic; is it actually possible to create a story as compelling as the one i just experienced if I was forced to make decisions? But free will and choice are always good things right? I'm not so sure when it comes to stories. When you must interact, that is make a decision on the conscious level you are immediately ripped from the visceral flow of the story. When you read an enthralling novel you first lose conscious awareness of the page turning, than the pages themselves seem to disappear. However in the format of a modern interactive sory such as a video game, the constant high level decision making ultimately pulls you out of the narrative and lessens it's effect on you. That is why I have seen plenty of people cry over movies, books, or theater, but not over videos games (well not for the same reasons).

However, I did re-read some of Jesse Schell's game design book and he did bring up some interesting emotions in chapter 2 that games can engender that maybe other formats can not, such as feelings of accomplishment, or of responsibility.

So computer or video games are not at a complete loss as a format for an interactive story. They can create some experiences and emotions in the user. However, the challenge than is, how do we make the action or decision making process in interactive stories become so non-demanding that it can become as unconscious as turning a page. Sorry the post got so long :) (bonus question: can we keep users from making bad stories and still call it interactive?)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Jesse Schell on Making Everything a Game

Jesse Schell is an interesting guy and a very insightful game designer, I have read his book "The Art of Game Design: a Book of Lenses" and found it applicable to more than just games. Most of the principles in his book can be applied to any sort of experience or interaction design. Here's a video of Jesse ranting about turning everything into a game; give it a watch he has some interesting and maybe even scary ideas:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Just found this video about a guy named Muti Randolph from Brazil. He is an audio-visual master builder and makes some really cool stuff using combination of sculptural elements and digital technology. He uses programs such as Isadora, after effects, etc... With my background in sculpture and my current MA in digital arts I could really see my self doing stuff like this in the future

Monday, July 19, 2010

Reconfigurable House

Arturo and I were talking about "smart homes". Most smart homes exhibit total control of the user by obscuring the computing elements. These smart homes though attractive in concept may not meet all the needs of the user. Here is an example of a "smart house" that is reconfigurable. They say that "In contrast to such smart homes, which are not able to adapt structurally over time, the many sensors and actuators of Reconfigurable House can be reconnected endlessly as people change their minds so that the House can take on completely new behaviours."
Check it out

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I know no one reads this blog...yet. But get ready America cause I'm getting serious about my blogging. I just spent some dedicated time today and queued up seven new posts to post one every day this week. Every Sunday I will begin creating my queue of posts for the following week of progress of my works and artworks, thoughts, discourses, rants, interests and all that. I am finally ready to make a concerted effort to be part of the internet, cloud, dialogue, whatever!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Hey everyone I hope you all had a fun and productive fourth of July weekend. I know I did! I just wanted to share some of my progress here on the blog. For a while I have wanted to continue my series of digital artifacts by making a device that when blown into sends messages to twitter based on your blood alcohol content, like some sort of digital web2.0 party horn. I got the necessary parts for it on Thursday and began working on it on Friday. I had initially thought it would take the course of the semester to complete, but once I started I got obsessed! I finally got the entire thing working sensor, twitter, bluetooth and all yesterday. The best part was testing it on my drunk friends celebrating the 4th!

Here is a pic of it naked, i still need to make a cool case for it:

The code still needs some fine tuning and I would like it to also play sounds, which shouldn't be hard to incorporate. The best part is that I am finally starting to feel competent with writing the code and wiring the devices. When I started this program in January I had never written a computer program in my life.

Also just recently I have had this idea for a movie or maybe more of a tableaux. I want to create a hyper-linked 3D tableaux of ambient scenes aesthetically composed of a combination of dioramas, collage, and real footage. So when I wasn't obsessing over my twitter breathalyzer I took some time to start putting this together. Here is just an initial low-res mock-up.

Hopefully when I have some more time i post a complete tutorial to making the breathalyzer.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Beating Some Common Sense into Interactive Applications

Imbuing computers with "common sense" has long been a holy grail of computer programmers and users alike. This article detailed some of the various attempts by researchers at the MIT media lab to create such AI systems that could do things such as discern user meaning without direct statements of mood, or suggest images and pictures based on content.

As Stephen and I mentioned in class, while reading this article we kept picturing the loathsome Microsoft paperclip. The paperclip was designed to facilitate document creation, however users HATED it. The application was intrusive and insulting (not to mention smug).

I think it is important to note that not only must these common sense systems understand content and context they must also have the sense to recognize user need. In general people hate being offered help or advice when they were not seeking it or when they were intent upon solving a problem themselves, it makes the person feel inadequate, or less than.

As I type this blog post I realize a successful "common sense" application that users have been using and loving for well over a decade now; the spellchecker. The spellchecker is unobtrusive as it does not immediately demand my attention. It simply underlines misspelled words that I can fix in the moment or go back through my document and correct all at once. In addition the spellchecker does not pretend to be my friend in the way that the paper clip does, it simply is. I want my machines to support and expand my sentience, not compete with it.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Arduino radio TX/RX

It's late and I'm tired. Here is most recent shots of progress on radio TX and Arduino RX . This is more for my game project for the locating device but the things i have learned working on it apply to the mood broadcaster that I am working on as well. I modified another example I read in which the person used a 555 timer and potentiometer to blink an LED w/o an MCU or any other device. It was my hope that instead of the output timer of the 555 timer leading to an anode of an LED i would instead hook it to the data pin of the TX. I could than theoretically use the potentiometer to input values to the 555 and continually "blink" or broadcast that specific value out. The arduino with the FM receiver hooked to the RX or 0 pin of the microcontoller could than be told to listen for and return only that value or above that is being broadcast from the independent TX circuit.When the value was detected it could turn on the LED (and later scroll text in an LCD), hooked to pin 13 and ground of the MCU. This is my theory or method thus far. SO far i am not sure if its responding correctly or not. RIght now my hunch is that something is still amiss. I believe i need to test it with a 100k ohm Potentiometer as right now I am only using a 10kohm pot.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Future of digital Studies Conference

I attended the Futures of Digital Studies Conference with Francesca over this past weekend. As you have probably already read the conference was maligned by some technical problems, though from what I could tell not the fault of Digital Worlds, and in true new media theorist fashion the conference goers quickly re-appropriated these technical issues as grounds for further theorization.

As much as I enjoy the lofty discussions and theorization on what all this "digital stuff" means to us as a culture, in tongue and cheek, I came to the realization that anyone could write a critical discourse on new media by following this simple formula. 1)combine antithetical statements with 2) made up words and 3) sprinkle with digi- or techno- prefixes and suffixes.

To cope with the reverberating feedback coming over the speakers Francesca and I took turns adding words to a page to write our first discourse on New Media. Here it is:

We incorporate the incorporeal personal meta-verse through electro-plate tectonics with bipartisan unilateral machinic politics in order to augment dematerialized techno-cultural
holons. Technopaganism cross-polinates Norse-Luddism to create hypertextualility in
context of finitely disembodied passively proactive emotional cyber conversion. Ipso facto
digital genitalia converges stationary nomadism's radically pro-viral paleo-conservative
agenda with pseudo-Foucaultian phallic decentering.

Hope you all enjoy it and keep adding to it in the comments!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


And yes even though any mammal with internet access can have one as well I still feel a sense of accomplishment. Not for any feat of digital wizardry but for the fact that i finally got around to it.

Myself like many people with apposable thumbs was initially opposed to blogs, largely for the dumb as fuck name. The asisninity of the meaningless name perfectly captured the inherent nothingness of our culture.

I thought I wasn't an early adopter. As John Stewart quips in his polemic against the mass medias bandwagoning of twitter, "New does not automatically equate to good". I realized however I was only not an earlier adopter to things I hadn't discovered first. Resistence to internet weblogs was only an insecurity: "What if i throw a blog and nobody comes." (on a side note it's funny that blogger recognizes the word blogging, blogger, and blogs but not weblogs, their origin name, in its spell checker)

I overcame this wariness of blogging when I began this january to be required to post to a blog as part of a graduate seminar in digital arts and science. What really brougth me around to the power of blogs was the realization that you do not write blogs for others but for yourself. I now have my own personal searchable database of everything i've written or ever thought was cool. Also i didn't want this awesome name to be taken by a schmoe.

So in the spirit of blogs i leave you with a probable misquote, as Yogi Berra famously said "Blogging is 90% mental and the other half is physical."


Obligatory F1RST POST!!!WOOT!