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look art

look-art-300x146My work was chosen by turbulence.org guest curator Rubaiyat Shatner into a National Endowment for the Arts funded exhibition, “look art“. The exhibition was executed entirely in the form of MUSH (Multi-User Shared Hallucination) or MUD (Multi-User Dungeon), a text based game platform common in the 1990’s. These early network games were the progenitors of the visually sophisticated contemporary games.

My proposal to construct a painter’s studio in the game platform was one of only three projects selected to be a part of this creative technology revamp. I wrote and programmed a text based experience of the studio environment which also included portraiture completely constructed from text (see exhibits xx – xx). I included a ‘hidden’ library for experienced game users to discover as a nod to the historic MUSH/MUD fantasy narratives.
I made ASCII (text) portraits of a number of my colleagues in the field. This technique has been a popular form in new media since the advent of networks. There are numerous generators available on the web to automatically create ASCII images, but I chose to lean on my history as a painter. I spent hours carefully constructing the text portraits ‘drawing’ one character at a time; then looking at the image from a distance to carefully edit the picture.

The MUD/MUSH media are all about the community, the participation, and the social. In the gallery, I have chosen to honor members of my community, the CADRE Laboratory for New Media. These images are of the people I deeply respect for the collegiality, high standards, generosity, and even the fights and disagreements from which all colleagues are constructed.

jmorganMy statement:

I first approached the Look Art project with a desire to explore the fundamental process of encoding images as demonstrated by Sol LeWitt. When I considered the nature of the Multi-User Dungeon as a site for art practice I saw an immediate affinity with LeWitt’s methodology of pattern, codification, algorithm, and especially instruction sets.

The correspondence to the tradition of the Multiple and the subversion of the Original are two corresponding concepts to the MUD found in the Lewitt wall drawings. In the MUD environment, as in all computing, the idea of the original becomes completely disoriented. As Lewitt wrote on Diagonal Lines in Two Directions, Superimposed (Plan for Wall Drawing, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York), 1969: “The wall drawing is perceived first as a light tonal mass… and then as a collection of lines. Neither the wall drawing, this drawing in ink, or the photographic record of the wall drawing are definitive, but all are of equal importance.” The Multiple is the native form for all computing but especially in the case of the MUD/MUSH. This is an ecology based on communication and without replication the domain collapses. Lewitt’s instruction sets for drawings and the text of the MUD environment figure as the coded architectonics for both.

The ‘magic’ for the MUD as well as LeWitt’s work happens in an interstices between form and apprehension. This operation is guided and executed as language. In the MUD of course language is the stand-in for our native perception so that a player may react to environment and stimulus. Language especially as exhibited in the wall drawings of LeWitt operates as a similar mediating force. The instruction set for a LeWitt drawing that functions to guide the craftsman to render an environment which becomes the perceptive stimulus for the gallery game.

This environment had encouraged me to confine my designs within a few fundamental variables that are historically true: 1. images would only span 80 characters wide (thanks to Mr. Morgan for reminding me of this) and 2. the images are within to be rendered in light colored text on a dark background. Both of these rules were encoded as a respectful nod to the interface of the original MUD’s and to try exercise the work in the purest sense of the form.

As I started encoding images for the exhibition, I soon grew tired of the pattern images. Patterns while true to the inspiration fell short of being native to the project. The patterns gave way to portraits, which I discovered was another affirmation of the nature of language and communication. The MUD/MUSH environments are about the community, the participation, and the social. In the gallery, I have chosen to honor members of my community, the CADRE Laboratory for New Media. These images are of the people I deeply respect for the collegiality, high standards, generosity, and even the fights and disagreements from which all great friendships and peers are constructed.

Maelstrom Accord

Maelstorm Accord, 2010 is a new project by Third Faction to create a mixed realities aid events.
embroidered patch example of reward for participant in Maelstrom Accord

The proposed installation is a complex set of props and actors a la trade fair exposition stationed with players of the Maelstrom Accord. These agents will recruit new WoW players and distribute propaganda, quests, and achievement / trinkets as rewards for completing humanitarian deeds. Work stations in the installation will allow new and returning recruits to carry out mixed reality questing. Methodologies from passive resistance to anarchical actions in game will be coupled with real world forums about liberty and tied to charitable causes positioning the player as a multi-dimensional agent of change.

touchstone

depiction of Touchstone project

i have started another collaboration with James Stone, we have ‘formalized’ our relationship by registering mr-bricolage.us. we have proposed a new phys comp project workshop for ISEA2011 in Istanbul. it item is wearable tech that sonifies objects that are touched by the actor. we see this as a platform for performance and activism.

the proposal:
Mr. Bricolage, Asmuth and Stone, propose a DIY wearable technology workshop at ISEA 2011 for activists, performers, and community members. The workshop will consist of demonstrations, discussions about strategies for use, and most importantly a hands on workshop to build Touchstone devices. The culmination of the workshop will be a local performance and/or action.

Touchstone is a mobile and tactical media broadcast platform worn on the hands of performers and activists. Touchstone is an strategy for contesting the urban/performance landscape rather than a product.

The technology of Touchstone is built upon audio exciter circuits embedded in gloves which transform the hands of an agent into broadcast transmitters. Touchstone agents activate objects as a temporary/ad-hoc public address systems, by simply pressing their palms against it. Touchstone is a discrete technology platform:  (1) it is virtually invisible on the garb of a performer/agent and (2) it is light and flexible; agents or performers can easily move (or escape). Moreover, it is a cinch to produce; the system does not require advanced electronics knowledge and is easily assembled from surplus, inexpensive, and/or widely available consumer technology.

Asmuth and Stone eagerly hope to collaborate with performance and activist groups from Istanbul or the adjacent regions. The team would appreciate any help from the ISEA community in locating organizations that would be interested in utilizing this platform.

Keywords: body; sound; broadcast; collaborative;  hacktivism; low tech; wearable; DIY; tactical media; performance
Authors: James Stone, Thomas Asmuth
Email: info@mr-bricolage.us
Go to mr-bricolage.us for more details

studies for my past life as yuri

some drawings I have been working on
graphite drawing Drawing

shouldercam

I attended 2010 ZERO1 SJ Biennial as a visitor and spectator. I decided to try to capture as much as possible to bring back to Pensacola. In order to foster this I tried to design a set of mobile broadcast tools in order to record the events and interviews. I purchased a new mobile camera built into a ear worn bluetooth module called Looxcie. I also designed and built a shoulder mounted remote controlled tilt-pan web cam the shouldercam. this is an wearable adaptation of accelerometer controlled pan-tilt unit.

the first design was to build a shoulder pad—sort of like a piece of armor, but I found it too complicated trying to quickly design a harness.

I then realized I could build it into the shoulder strp of my backpack that I would undoubtably wear when I was out.

autonomous singers

i want to introduce two new autonomous circuits i have built and added to my e-beastiary. the circuits are variations based on the solarsoundmodul by Ralf Schreiber. the critters are photovoric singers that employ a Schmitt Hex Inverter IC, resistors, capacitors, piezo buzzers, and a photovoltaic cell. the modulation is slightly different on each output pin from the varied combination of capacitance and resistance. they range from creaking to screaming, lilting to terse. more…

802.11 planar antennae paintings

this is a project in non-optimal aesthetic design. the straightforward premise is to use fractal/self-similar lines as a formal pictorial element and as a planar antennae packaged as the form of a painting. the ‘dragon curve’ is the drawing element that represents this merged idea. each segment is tuned to a quarter wavelength of a particular channel of the 802.11 standard and allows the work to merge with the local network and become part of the delivery of the network.

circuit design is a field concerned with optimization spatial and electrical relationships of the formal plane. the pictorial space of these planar antennae paintings is less concerned with optimization of the engineered space and is an attempt to create an aesthetic experience in the transmission of the network. certainly, there are specifications that are peculiar to the design which must be maintained in order to serve some functionality (such as the segment length/channel ratio) but, this design in decidedly non-engineered as the optimal utility of the spectrum. these device-object-tool-fetishes seek an optimization of aesthetics.

the mechanics of community

  the mechanics of community is the latest DIWO project. we are coming together as a community to turn the most public gallery at San Jose State’s Art & Design School into an open workshop on electronics. we will be teachng artists how to use small electronics & robotics in their work and practice.

James Stone is collaborating again with his class called Augment Teddy, in which we will create cyborged teddy-bears.

on Tuesday we are taking advantage of the school holiday to build a small simple bot that can follow the brightest spot of light (what i refer to as ‘moth behavior’), the Quickly-bot. here’s an old blog post about the device & a followup

you can follow our Ustream simulcast and recordings at:http://www.ustream.tv/mybroadcasts/clips/diwo%3A-mechanics-of-community

the classes and worshop is open to all SJSU students, faculty, and staff and there are no charges for the classes but there is a small charge for the kits ($10 or less).

the mechanics of community

postcard for mechanics of community

mechanics of community is a DIWO project created community and transforming the most public gallery at San Jose State’s Art & Design School into an open workshop on electronics. artists were taught how to use small electronics & robotics in their work and practice. James Stone participated as a guest instructor with a project called Augment Teddy, in which we will create cyborged teddy-bears.

on Tuesday we took advantage of the school holiday to have an all day workshop to build a small simple bot that can follow the brightest spot of light (what i refer to as ‘moth behavior’), the Quickly-bot.

fontanaBot

a machine inspired by a nostalgia of modernism, an absurdist algorithm.

fontanaBot (2008) is a sattelite arm programmed to autonomously design and execute ‘slash series’ works as an homage to Lucio Fontana. the robotic arm is equipped with a vibrating razor blade. the programming decides the number of slashes, where they start and where they end. fontanaBot is a collaboration from the Mr. Bricolage team, Asmuth & Stone. click here to go to the Mr. Bricolage blog.