Quietly and in the background, the Third Factioneers, have been making arrangements to launch a research initiative. The current show PeaceCraft is the first project to be done under this new structure. Third Faction Institute is research collective organized as a corporate entity. The partners are artists, theorists, educators and technologists that I have worked with many times before. This corporation will provide platforms and opportunities in the future to raise money and visibility. The Third Faction Institutes’s primary goal is to directly support Third Faction’s and art or research by others of synthetic worlds and gaming by providing residencies, symposia and platforms for production.
We are The Third Faction, a collective of avatars with a shared interest in exposing biased power structures in virtual environments. Founded in 2008 in a temporary autonomous zone located in the land of Azeroth, we set forth to develop a democratized, non-hierarchical governance. The very act of labelling our group “The Third Faction” demonstrates our dissatisfaction with the existent political and corporate rule-sets. In order to achieve our goals, we continually subvert the deliberate factional conflict within game worlds through direct interaction with our supposed enemies, exploring peaceful modes of play, and bringing the ideas of political player resistance to the in-game public forum.
In 2011, The Third Faction launched Demand Player Sovereignty, a radical and participatory campaign designed to educate, raise social awareness, and instigate actions of protest and civil disobedience. DPS pushed for greater player autonomy within World of Warcraft, while drawing parallels to current global politics. Later that year, DPS gained notoriety through a series of workshops presented at ISEA 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey. These workshops looked at virtual spaces as a medium for political engagement and led participants through strategies for interventions ranging from passive resistance to anarchical actions in game.
DPS participants conducted rallies, marches and sit-ins throughout the capital cities in World of Warcraft. We rallied for avatar rights, feminist causes, and an end to the war. We petitioned the scripted leaders of these fictional nation states who, much like our politicians, turn a deaf ear to pleas of citizenry. As a result, the citizens have grown disenfranchised on both sides of the digital spectrum.
my collaborator, James Stone and I are back from the trip to present touchstone at the ISEA2011 in Istanbul. the trip was incredible as you might imagine.
At the workshop, we taught the participants skills in a a hands on workshop to build a wearable audio technology, Touchstone. The Touchstone is a mobile and tactical media broadcast platform worn on the hands of performers and activists. Touchstone is a 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 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).
the community in Istanbul and ISEA were a bit reticent in organizing as a group to go out on the streets, so we took the rigs on a ISEA cruise of the Bosphorus and demonstrated the idea.
My 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.
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.
publicDomain is an interventionist activity leveraging Etherpeg (http://etherpeg.org), the open source software that looks for the transmission of .jpeg and .gif files as they are sent over the public wireless system in the art history lecture hall at San Jose State. the images are collaged showing a real time visual study of the art history lectures on a screen outside the lecture hall.
this project grew from the research of data flow as a map of physical spaces. as i watched the flow of images at the public library i was fascinated with the differences that would be drawn i as moved from floor to floor. these image flows draw more than just the webpage images, they develop into a realtime document of the ideoscape and socioscape of the network cloud. this fact led me to watch the image-flow in many places.