<< preface

this blog is nina wenhart's collection of resources on the various histories of new media art. it consists mainly of non or very little edited material i found flaneuring on the net, sometimes with my own annotations and comments, sometimes it's also textparts i retyped from books that are out of print.

it is also meant to be an additional resource of information and recommended reading for my students of the prehystories of new media class that i teach at the school of the art institute of chicago in fall 2008.

the focus is on the time period from the beginning of the 20th century up to today.

>> search this blog


>> re:place re:view

Panel 1 was on the topic of art, science and engineering as sites/places where early experiments in media art took place, most often as a combined form of research and development, focusing on examples of their intersections. The panel was moderated by Edward Shanken, with panelists Michael Century, Stephen Jones, Eva Moraga and Robin Oppenheimer.

The first presenter, Michael Century spoke about how R.M.Baecker's research on hand-drawn digital animation at MIT's Lincoln Labs lead to the development of the Graphical User Interface (GUI)1. GENESYS was created in the late 60ies and tested by artists of Harvard's Visual Art Center. What was important to the artists was not what could be seen in the frame, but in the behaviour of the tool. Century spoke of this process of refining GENESYS, with the help of artists, as a co-invention between engineer and artist. Alan Kay, researcher at Xerox PARC, saw GENESYS' potential for his own interests, its potential of being an open ended medium with expressive possibilities, similar to clay or paper. The GUI he imagined was just like that: a personal dynamic medium. In his summary, Century thinks the reason for GENESYS' success was that it had worked as a boundary object2 between animation and computer research.

The second speaker, Stephen Jones discussed early experiments in art and technology at the University of
Sydney (from 1968 to 1975). John Bennett, a British Computer Engineer headed the Basser Department of
Computing at the University's School of Physics. The department developed computer graphics for simulations and also made animations for the US airforce, computed algorithms that were recorded frame by frame with a movie camera and later coloured by hand. After visiting the Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition in London, Bennett became fascinated by the possibilities of using the computer as a medium for artistic expression. In 1969 he gave a talk on technology and art and encouraged his students to use the computer to make art themselves. Out of this grew a rhizomatic network of students collaborating in media enhanced art projects.
What both Century and Jones wanted to show is the network of relations and flows of influences. Whereas
Century's talk showed a rather linear way from one person/idea to the other, it was different in Jones'
presentation: Starting with John Bennett a rhizomatic net of people, disciplines and projects spread out. Both
speakers followed the traces and networks of people, inventions and mutual influences. In the end Century's
presentation lead to the development of an (industrial) product while Jones' lead into manifold art projects.

Eva Moraga presented The Computational Center at Madrid University (1969 - 1973), a project made possible by the support of IBM. They gave two high end computers to the University plus a yearly financial donation of 1 Actually it was called the PARC User Interface. 2 Fred Turner uses the terms „boundary object“ and „trading zone“ in his book „From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network and the Rise of Digital Utopianism“; „boundary object“ taken from Susan Leigh Star and James Greisemer, „trading zone“ coming from Peter Galison. Throughout all panels both terms were frequently used. 18.000€. The Center should have been open to researchers from all over Spain. Its mission was to study automation of research and analysis processes in fields where automation had not been brought in yet, like „Mathematics Linguistics“, „Automatic Generation of Architectonic Spaces“ and „Automatic Generation of Plastic Forms“. IBM had not allowed the University to use the computers for administrative tasks. For that, the Center would have to buy seperate machines from IBM. IBM also influenced the Center by naming the director.
The Center's approach was interdisciplinary, the staff consisted of computer experts with international
experience and artists could apply for scholarships. A research goal would be, for example, to find out the
grammar rules a specific artist would apply when producing his/her work. Moraga's presentation remained within the field of mere facts. She didn't take a critical position regarding IBM's influence or the political situation of Franco-Spain or on how those two together had an impact on the Center's supposed autonomy. Time and Space, the panel's framing constituents, became strangely visible by their absolute absence in her talk.

The goal of Robin Oppenheimer's talk was to show the emergence of new collaborative practices and forms of communication at the intersection of art and engineering in E.A.T.'s „9 Evenings“. In the 10 month long
collaboration between the Greenwich Village art scene and engineers from Bell Labs, artists and engineers had to define a common base to work on. Oppenheimer also used Fred Turner's interpretation of the „boundary object“ and the „trading zone“ to describe this search for bridging difficulties in understanding each other's ideas, in articulating the ideas of one field in a way that was meaningful for the other and finally in being able to create something together.
Oppenheimer mentions that the ethical values of openness and egalitarian collaboration were crucial to this
experiment. I would like to question the notion of collaboration implied here: The artists involved in „9
Evenings“ had already been well established. Their names attracted the audience and still do. At a concurrent
exhibition at Tesla, an art space in Berlin, the descriptions of projects from „9 Evenings“ were headed by the
project's title, the artist and then, almost as a footnote or addendum came the name of the project engineer. So this collaboration had been less egalitarian but rather shows a clear hierarchy of art over engineering.

None of the panelists spoke about the influence of the futuristic zeitgeist of the 60ies with its perspectives of
landing on the moon, etc. Time was only present as history, the military background of the labs and the
chronological development of technologies invented for military purposes. All projects had in common that they started or were made possible in a field of military research: The Lincoln Labs as an institute of MIT and funded by the US military (Xerox PARC functioning as a commercial follow up in this case); Moraga's project placed in Franco-Spain where it was instrumentalized both by the regime to show off and by IBM (who didn't show moral fibre in collaborating with Franco-Spain, but merely wanted the Center to do research IBM would profit from and maybe even sell their products to the University); and finally Oppenheimer's presentation on E.A.T.'s „9 Evenings“ was again related to military R+D through Bell Labs.

Penalties for the panelists - Discussions:
Time was crucial to this panel in another way: Each speaker got exactly 20 minutes for the presentation, which was too short for each of them. Century and Oppenheimer dealt with it by talking very fast, so that it was hard to follow. Moraga and Jones spoke slower, but unfortunately couldn't finish their presentations. The way that these time constraints were put on this panel was quite impolite towards the speakers and their interesting topics as well as towards the audience. A result of the strictly executed 20-minutes-setup discussions after each presentation were rare and not very lively. Robin Oppenheimer had the advantage that her topic was the most commonly known and got great support from the audience: Artist Gerd Stern (USCO) had attended the „9 Evenings“ and could give an authentic impression of the event.

Moderator or Administrator?
re:place chose to have moderators for the panels, Edward Shanken was the first to go and do the job and interpreted his role in a strictly administrative sense. He didn't give an introduction on the panel's topic, but made clear the „rules of the game“: Each panelist had 20 minutes time for a presentation or otherwise would have „their heads cut off“ (sic!), followed by 10 minutes for discussion, this was repeated four times so that in the end 30 minutes would remain for a panel discussion. To structure a conference into different thematic panels suggests to me an explanation of why certain microhistories are combined. It literally wants an introduction to be made that could open up discussion in the final round. To structure the panel in this way, to introduce, sum up, and contextualize would have been the role of the moderator. And this was badly missing.

>> Helen Thorington, "What is Radio Art?",

Tate Intermedia, May 2008

What is Radio Art?

Radio art had a special meaning to those who created it in the US during the Eighties and Nineties. From the most complex hi-tech studio productions to the raw energy of live and interactive broadcasts, these artists were predominantly engaged with subverting media conventions by presenting something other than familiar radio forms.

Thus while the work might use journalistic devices or dramatic conventions, it was neither journalism, nor drama; it wasn’t music either though it might be composed entirely of non-textual sound. American radio art was a vast array of different forms that recognised radio’s distinct means and parameters, and at the same time, its creative possibilities, how it might challenge existing social and cultural norms and create/fashion new ones.

Part of its appeal, as Claire Brilliant so aptly remarks, lay in the tension created when the experimental artist tried to subvert the medium’s mainstream status while simultaneously leveraging its capacity to reach a wide audience.[i]

In the mid 1980s, when I started New American Radio, a weekly series of half-hour radio art programmes by artists for American public radio, there was a stranglehold on channels of distribution; most people, and certainly most artists, were excluded from radio production, just as we were excluded from book publishing and music distribution. Across the US, Europe and the Pacific a handful of great radio programmes focused on radio art and experimental music – The Listening Room in Australia, for instance; Kunstradio in Austria; the Pacifica stations in the US. These, however, were the only places that sound artists could enter broadcasting and take advantage of radio’s mass distribution. And those of us who produced the programming for them, whether we liked it or not, were gatekeepers. There was no such thing as open access.

Today that stranglehold is broken. Personal computers and networked connections are everywhere; and anyone with a computer and a network connection has the capital required for production and can produce and distribute whatever he or she wants – alone or with others.[ii]

The radio scene has changed. Broadcast radio is shrinking under the flood of new technologies. And, as a friend recently remarked, ‘radio art as such seems to have vanished.’[iii] Or has it?

The Networked World: Radio meets Art, meets Life

In 1996 my organisation, New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., extended its mandate to networked art (art that uses the internet as its medium and that cannot be experienced without it) and launched its Turbulence site. Turbulence commissions artists exploring the networked medium and originating innovative work for it. Several of the works on Turbulence reflect the changes taking place in production as a result of the internet. Prototype #44, Net Pirate Number Station by Yoshi Sodeoka is an online short-wave radio station that broadcasts numbers derived from websites. Software in the work goes out to websites of all sizes, grabs some text, converts it into numbers, filters the numbers and then transmits them to the listener using a prerecorded video host personality. Why a radio station that broadcasts numbers rather than music and news? The artist’s reply: ‘We hope you, the user, will look for meaning where there may not seem to be meaning… we want you to see the world in a new way.’

Still it was our blog, Networked_Performance,[iv] launched in July 2004, that brought home the truth of the radical changes taking place as a result of the Internet and its spawn of new technologies. In 2004 the blog entries archived the practice made possible by the ready availability of inexpensive portable devices – wireless, mobile phones, PDAs, GPS cards, Bluetooth, and others. Computation was leaving the desktop and migrating to the street. It would now be carried in the hand, worn on the body, or embedded in devices and in the environment.

Further we observed that the work was being produced by a growing generation of programming capable artists, artistically minded engineers, architects, academics, and others – many of whom did not identify as artists – all repurposing objects from the everyday world, embedding unfamiliar functions in them.

A boxing bag plays meditative tones when struck; an American semi-tropical climbing Philodendron functions as an instrument in a musical ensemble; a park bench moves and sings; a goblet lights up when a distant friend or lover drinks from it; a wall is so sensitive to human presence that touching it sends resonant vibrations through the bodies of the room’s occupants; a darkened room responds to the aggregate breathing of its inhabitants and the lights rise, illuminating the space.

Why create work like this? Why embed alternate functions in familiar objects? The answer resonates with Sodeoko’s earlier reply: ‘We want you to see the world in a new way.’

As mobile technologies became more readily available, those interested in transmission ideas and broadcast tools began to take radio out of the studio: In Soundpocket 2, a huge oak tree, a sculpture, and a small pond served as local radio stations, transmitting internet radio streams; Radio Cycle broadcast stories, news and sounds directly onto the streets via teams of radio-carrying cyclists. CUT-n-PASTE, an Amsterdam women’s artist group, connected its listeners with a number of personalities in Amsterdam’s nightlife, transmitting their lives by the permanent open mike of their mobile phones to audiences via radio, the internet or into a performance venue. For eight days in September 2007, The FM Ferry Experiment, transformed the Staten Island Ferry into a floating radio station, broadcasting to the NYC region as it continuously traveled between Staten Island and Lower Manhattan. Mobile Radio, Sarah Washington and Knut Aufermann’s travelling radio and sound-art project was initiated, its mission, to seek out new forms of radio art by taking radio production out of the studio environment.

Some of these radio projects broadcast alternative content; some did not. All removed radio production from its original source in the broadcast organisation’s studio and put it in the hands of artists and other creative people.

The Emergence of Sound Art as a Prominent Practice

While the issue of everyday sound’s inclusion in the musical repertoire was settled by composers some time ago, it is only recently that we have seen sound-based artistic work flourish, with manifestations ranging from field recordings and sound tools, to immersive installations and computer games.

This rapid and diverse development is particularly evident in the emerging field of sonification. Data sonification – as described by Wikipedia – has long been viewed as a valuable tool for studying complex sets of scientific data by allowing researchers to perceive variations and trends invisible to other analysing techniques; it has not been used extensively by artists until recently. Today, however, sound compositions created by the translation of data to sound are legion.

In August 2007, for instance, composer Chris Chafe let five vats of different varieties of tomatoes from his garden ripen to perfection. He and his collaborator Nikolaos Hanselmann recorded the ripening process by tracking the changes in CO2 that the ripening produces. Music was generated in real time by computer algorithms influenced by CO2, temperature and light readings from sensors in each vat. After the ripening, time was speeded up and a stand-alone computer music piece, Tomato Music was created. Tomato Music is then a sonification of seven days of ripening that takes place in the course of 49 minutes.

In an earlier work by Miya Masaoka, Pieces for Plants, a semi-tropical climbing Philodendron’s real-time responses to its physical environment were sonified or translated to sound by means of highly sensitive electrodes attached to the leaves of the plant. A human, the so-called ‘plant player’ worked with scored movements – proximity, and touch – to stimulate physiological responses in the plant. The ‘plant player’s’ interactions with the plant were then expressed in sound via midi and synthesiser.

German composer Frank Halbig used ice-core data – collected by the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica – to create Antarktica: a climatic time-travel, a concert for string quartet, live electronics and video, performed in 2006.

In 2004, Andrea Polli, a digital media artist living in New York City, sonified the summer heat in Central Park.

DJ Spooky’s most recent large-scale multimedia performance work is Nova: The Antarctica Suite, an acoustic portrait in which every sound is made from the sound of ice (environmental, geological, magnetic, atmospheric etc).

The list goes on and includes many projects where the focus is on sounds in our environment that are undetectable by the human ear: the sound of naturally occurring emissions such as radio signals created by the planet itself;[v] sounds intercepted from space; sounds of clouds – their size, moisture content transformed into musical sequences.

Still other works use the sounds of objects in our environment to create compositions.

In Music for Rocks and Water by Cheryl Leonard, performers play water and a variety of rocks which are ‘dripped, drizzled, poured, rolled, rocked, brushed, rubbed, stacked and even tickled’; sometimes they are played underwater.

Peter Traub’s ItSpace makes use of the sounds of household objects to shape a series of short compositions.

These sound works renew our connection with real life, with the objects and things around us, with the natural world, our environmental concerns, with our universe. As Leigh Landy writes,

[they] offer a return to the connection of art and life because...[their] specific content creates experiential [and imaginary] associations linked with meaning by listeners.[vi]

People latch onto a sound’s perceived origin – they recognise it; they remember; and their memories fill the experience of hearing it again. These references bring the work close to daily life. They shape something we might call an interaction with the world around us, an experience of being in the world.

For many of us the flourishing of sound art is most welcome, signalling that the hegemony of vision may not be forever and that this enhancement of our sensorial experience will bring with it a deeper understanding of our relation, not just to one another but to the world we inhabit and all things in it, and therefore a richer experience of ourselves as perceiving subjects.

From my perspective, we can look on this as one of the true positives that the re-distribution of power across society and geography is making possible.

We Together: Active Listening, Collaboration and Participation

New technologies have developed since the networked_performance blog was initiated. Based on the observation that people go online not for pre-programmed material but to do things together, commerce has returned and established what we call social space: commercial content aggregators like like MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr. Free and participatory in nature, they give users control of the media they produce and consume.[vii]

Non-commercial specialised sites are plentiful as well, sites like Jason Van Arden’s BubbleBeats, which allows users to combine colourful bubbles filled with music (or other sounds) to create new compositions. They are social spaces. As Van Arden says of Bubblebeats:

It combines the addictive diversion of a casual game, the free expression of music, and the fun of participating in an active social network.

Free, fun, participatory, social spaces are fast becoming the next broadcasters (or perhaps narrow-casters). Activated by them, otherwise passive audiences are making new friends, composing and playing music, uploading videos and photographs, talking, sharing, exchanging, and perhaps most significantly, publishing and distributing themselves.

Virtual worlds offer other kinds of experiences. There, residents explore the technologies and social ramifications of synthetic, multi-user environments, The extraordinary success of virtual worlds such as Linden Lab’s Second Life, rests almost entirely on the decision the company made to support an openness within their 3D virtual world, to turn control over to users, to make it possible for any user to add almost anything to the environment.[viii]

Changes will not stop here. New technologies, new interests, new commercial ventures, will bring additional players to the networked environment, changing existing institutions and how they relate to experimental practices. The new environmental awareness, for instance, has already unleashed a wave of innovation in every category of technology – including portable music and video players.[ix] And, according to media futurist and author Gerd Leonhard, the music industry has undergone more changes in the last months than it has in the past ten years.[x] What lies ahead? Leonhard writes,

… fully interactive, fully-share-enabled, full-length-tracks, will become a default setting on the social networks…. regardless of the record industry’s ‘permission-denied’ tendencies….

…and they will broadcast to (and from!) those always-on, always-within-reach and utterly personalised mobile devices fka [formerly known as] mobile phones, not just to or from computers. Blogs will amalgamate with, and integrate into social networks. Personal publishing will evolve to include entire ‘me-casting’ toolboxes. My taste, my list, my ears, my audience, my artists, my, my network…[xi]

Access and participation define internet activity today. The nexus of experimental activity in radio has shifted and because it has, it has opened doors for thousands whose voices were silent before, and brought with it the possibility of a creative practice that, as Sodeoka hoped for his i#44, Net Pirate Number Station, lets us see our world in a new way.

Helen Thorington, 2008

[i] Retrieved from http://somewhere.org/NAR/index.htm Stationary Flow: Process and Politics in Audio Art On the Air and Online

[ii] Yochai Benkler in The Wealth of Networks, Yale University Press, 2006 has discussed this at length

[iii] Jacki Apple in a 4/18/08 email

[iv] http://turbulence.org/blog initiated by Jo-Anne Green, co-director of New Radio and Performing Arts and the Turbulence website; Michelle Riel, Associate Professor of New Media at California State University at Monterey Bay – and myself.

[v] see Robin McGinley proposal for an interactive sound installation entitled The Earth’s Original 4.5 Billion Year Old Electronic Music Composition (A Work in Progress) which explores an artistic approach to these natural phenomena. http://transition.turbulence.org/networked_music_review/?s=robin+mcginley&x=10&y=8

[vi] in his introduction to Understanding the Art of Sound Organization, MIT Press, 2007

[vii] The observation that people were coming to the internet not for preprogrammed content but to do things together, lead to the return of commerce to the Internet after the dot.com bust and the establishment of social spaces

[viii] As Don Tapscott said in his book Wikinomics: In 2006, successful companies launched open access platforms while the losers built walled gardens.

[ix] Artists are becoming increasingly involved in large infrastructure issues There are, for instance,wastewater treatment systems designed by artists in park areas, such as the work of Jackie Brookner.

[x] Media futurist and author , Gerd Leonard on his blog, 3September 2007.

[xi] Retrieved from http://www.mediafuturist.com/2008/04/future-stories.html Future Stories #1 (8 April 2008) Blogs will be Record Labels, and Bloggers will be the new Music Moguls. BlogJs anyone?

>> exhibition: The Machine as Seen at the end of the Mechanical Age, MoMa, 1968

curated by K.G. Pontus Hultén, November 1968 - February 9, 1969

put these in correct posts: Cybernetic Serendipity (ICA, curated by Jasia Reichardt, 1968); The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age (MOMA, curated by K.G. Pontus Hulten, 1968); Software, Information Technology: Its Meaning for Art (Jewish Museum, New York, curated by Jack Burnham, 1970); Information (MOMA, curated by Kynaston McShine, 1970); and Art and Technology (LACMA, curated by Maurice Tuchman, 1970).

"Hulten remarks: "technology
today is undergoing a critical transition. . . . the mechanical
machine - which can most easily be defined as an imitation of our
muscles - is losing its dominating position among the tools of
mankind; while electronic and chemical devices - which imitate
the processes of the brain and the nervous system - are becoming increasingly important" (page 3).

[...] His (Hultén's) preferences include, in my opinion, the Dadaists, the Constructivists,
Charlie Chaplin and Jean Tinguely. This somewhat disparate collection of artists appears to be united - in Hulten's view - by their desire to dominate the mechanical world, to establish
better relations with machines so that a greater measure of humor, harmony and humanity might reign in our irrevocable marriage with technology.

[...] "The decisions that will shape our society in the future will have to be arrived at, developed, and carried out through technology. But they must be based on the same criteria of respect and appreciation for human capacities, freedom, and responsibility that prevail in art" (page I3).
"In planning for such a world, and in helping to bring it into being, artists are more important than politicians, and even than technicians" (page i).

[...] Nonetheless, he (Hultén) uses these symbols, and the application of "car" to Bugatti's La Royale (page I42), Fuller's Dymaxion Car (page I43) and Farhner's Boot Hill Express (page I8o) implies a simple distinction between "art" and "machine."

(from: William A. Camfield, The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age by K. G. Pontus Hultén (review), The Art Bulletin, Vol. 53, No. 2, (Jun., 1971), pp. 275-277
Published by: College Art Association, Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3048856)

>> Adrian Ward, Signwave Auto-Illustrator

from their website: http://www.auto-illustrator.com/

"Signwave Auto-Illustrator is an experimental, semi-autonomous, generative software artwork and a fully functional vector graphic design application to sit alongside your existing professional graphic design utilities.

Use it to explore a wide range of generative and procedural techniques in the production of your own graphic designs. Discover how easy it is to produce complex designs in an exciting and challenging environment that questions how contemporary software should behave.

Download a demo version using the links above. You will need one of the operating systems above, a fast processor (G3/G4 Macintosh 300MHz, Windows 600MHz), atleast 64MB RAM and a full install of QuickTime 4 or higher. Requires Mac OS 8.6 or higher, built for Mac OS X."

In 2001, Adrian Ward's Auto-Illustrator won a Honorary Mention in the Prix Ars Electronica's Interactive Art category. The description on Ars Electronica's website:

"Although presented much like a traditional piece of graphic design software, Auto-Illustrator expresses a vast new way of treating codeas a creative extension of the self. The routines of Auto-Illustrator have been imbued with coded implementations of the author/artist’s creative decision-making process. In effect, this results in a deferred artistic activity, away from the original author, and as it is a computer application, in the hands of the person executing it.

This brings about many questions regarding authorship and authenticity of digital artworks. It poses new possibilities for the valuation of mechanically reproduced artworks, and offers the possibility that programming (a creative act above anything else) becomes more than just a method of production (i.e., a craft)—thus rendering the author as code. This also opens us to the possibility of a real-world implementation of cyborgism. When you run Auto-Illustrator, you interact with me, the author of the code. Your final products (despite thinking they are created by you) will actually have been produced in collaboration with the me.

Also presented as a parody of Adobe Illustrator, it mimics certain interface elements in an attempt to highlight the growing inadequacies of modern software. Professional software development is now about making software for the masses, and not for the professionals. The latest incarnation of Adobe Photoshop typifies this move away from focused professionalism to extreme popularist automation; Photoshop will now render all your web page buttons for you. Hopefully, within a few years, all web pages will conform to Adobe’s graphic design specifications!

As an extreme reaction against this, Auto-Illustrator deliberately forces the user to experience a slightly jarring and dysfunctional approach to graphic design. Every time you ask it to draw an oval, it tries to draw a psychotic face. It’ll never draw the same psychotic face twice, mind you.

Process over Product?
Auto-Illustrator features a great deal of tools and utilities that allow the user to explore different ways of generating artwork. As well as allowing traditional visual design skills, users can automate their own behaviours, and reiterate them on their own artwork, or even on others’. The menus of fitters, transformations and plug-ins reveal that it is possible to codify graphic design skills as code. On a practical level, this makes generating certain visual designs easy (through automation), and yet on a philosophical level, we start to question where a graphic designer’s skills may lie. Would it be possible to render yourself purely as code, and then sell your skills as applications?"

--> hacking
--> critique of commercial software and its "creativity"
--> irony

>> Ken Knowlton, "On the Frustrations of Collaborating with Artists", 2001

Read this document on Scribd: Ken Knowlton OnCollaboration

>> Vanevar Bush, "Memex", 1945

memex: a sort of microfilm-based knowledge desk.
pre-digital precursor to the internet.

The Atlantic Monthly, 1945: Vanevar Bush, "As We May Think"

>> ASCII-Art

(images from: http://blog.modernmechanix.com)

--> compare to Knowlton/Harmon, "Nude"
--> "IX", by h3x3n (magic by numbers, hacking, critique)
--> typewriter art, keyboard art, drawing by numbers
--> compare "me and you and everyone we know"

>> exhibition: "Computer-Generated Pictures", 1965

First exhibition of computer generated art,
1965 at the Howard Wise Galleries in New York.
artists: Bela Julesz and A. Michael Noll (both from Bell Labs)

>> Golan Levin, "The Dumpster"

"The Dumpster applet allows its users to browse brief descriptions of 20,000 breakups which were posted to Internet blogs during 2005. This page presents a small selection of representative breakups, with the intent of illustrating the range of the collected information. " (Dumpster project description)

Lev Manovich on "The Dumspter":
"Although The Dumpster by Golan Levin (working with Kamal Nigam and Jonathan Feinberg) can be related to traditional genres such as portraiture or documentary, as well as established new-media genres such as visualisation and database art, it is something new and different. I would like to call it a ‘social data browser’. It allows you to navigate between the intimate details of people’s experiences and the larger social groupings. The particular and the general are presented simultaneously, without one being sacrificed to the other.

[...] But in Levin’s group portrait, you are encouraged to navigate both horizontally, vertically, and diagonally between the particular and the general. You can, for example, simply click on different circles, jumping from one breakup case to another and randomly explore the overall data space. Or you can explore the circles that are similar in colour – which means that the corresponding postings are similar in some ways. Or you can explore the circles that have an opposite color and thus belong to a different grouping. In short, the seemingly incompatible points of view of Tolstoy and Durkheim – the subjective experience and the social facts – are brought together via the particular information architecture and navigation design of The Dumpster."


>> processing

on www.proce55ing.net:
Processing is an open source programming language and environment for people who want to program images, animation, and interactions. It is used by students, artists, designers, researchers, and hobbyists for learning, prototyping, and production. It is created to teach fundamentals of computer programming within a visual context and to serve as a software sketchbook and professional production tool. Processing is an alternative to proprietary software tools in the same domain."

"Processing was started in Fall 2001 by Ben Fry and Casey Reas. Fry was a PhD candidate at the MIT Media Laboratory and Reas was an Associate Professor at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea. While Fry and Reas were employees of these institutions, Processing began as a personal initiative and development took place during the night and weekends through 2003. MIT indirectly funded Processing through Fry's graduate stipend and Ivrea indirectly funded Processing through Reas's salary. Due to his research agreement with MIT, all code written by Fry during this time is copyright MIT.

In summer 2003, Ivrea funded four individuals to work on the project for a few months. This resulted in Dan Mosedale's preprocessor using Antlr and Sami Arola's contributions to the graphics engine. The code for these elements are both copyright 2003 Interaction Design Institute Ivrea.

In August 2003, Reas left the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea and in June 2004, Fry left the MIT Media Laboratory. The code and complete reference written since June 2004 are copyright Ben Fry and Casey Reas.

Portions of the code were written by other contributors and are attributed in the source code. For example, portions of the graphics engine were written by Karsten Schmidt. There are many contributions to the Exhibition and Examples on the Processing.org website and these are attributed in context.

The Reference for the Language and Environment are under a Creative Commons license which makes it possible to re-use this content for non-commercial purposes if it is credited."

eamples of artworks done with processing:

- Golan Levin, "The Dumpster"
- Casey Reas, "Microimage"
- Ben Fry, "Valence"
- Josh On, "Inequality"
- Marius Watz, "C Drawer"
- Ed Burton, "SodaProcessing"
- JonahBrucker-Gohen, "Tech Support"
- Justin Manor, "Presidential Discombobulator"
- Alvaro Cassinelli, "Khronos Projector"
- Art+Com, "Process"
- Philip Worthington, "Shadow Monsters"
- rAndom international, "Pixel Roller"

"Processing is written in Java and enables the creation of Java Applications and Applets within a carefully designed set of constraints. It uses a 2D/3D Java rendering API that is a cross between postscript-style imaging in 2D and 3D rendering with OpenGL. Through developing Processing as a solid and general technical platform, we hope teaching the concepts of interaction and computer programming will focus more on the qualities and content of medium, rather than the technology." (http://www.groupc.net/2002/proce55ing/index.html)

>> Casey Reas


"I like to manifest the software in different media because each media gives me some sort of different way of presenting a thought or a concept. When presenting the software as running software, as interactive software, it allows me to explore the domain of response. Doing it as a print allows me to explore a new level of materiality and tactile quality, which is not possible in screen based media. All the work that is being shown here explores being able not to have control over the machine. So, in essence, it's the same software but each media gives me a different way of exploring a piece of code."

a bit further down:

"Perhaps one of your more ambitious projects is Processing, which is also featured here at Ars Electronica. It's a programming language and software environment that you are developing with Ben Fry. When and why did you start this project?

We began 2 years ago, I guess, actually, I have been programming for 5 years then. Ha-ha... time flies! Ben and I are both teachers doing all our work in software and we are really frustrated with the current software environments that exist for doing this kind of work. Nobody has really designed a software environment for working in the way that we like to work, so that's why we started building it. We always worked in software environments like C, C++, Java, and OpenGL. These environments are too complex. They're trying to do everything so they're just massively difficult to use. And what we need is just something that is specifically tailored for the work that we want to do. So in our language for example, we have a simpler and better control over color than any other programming language that I have ever seen before. So it's specifically designed for the things we find important.

An artistic tool?
Yes, it's specifically made for what we call electronic arts. Oh, and it's very good for connecting electronics to computers as well. So you're able to connect a camera or connect two computers together.

Is it possible to learn without any previous programming knowledge?
It has three different learning levels. In the most basic layer you're able to type in just a few lines of code and see a result, and the next layer there's a slightly larger structure that allows you to do things that are responsive and things that can be animated. And then, in the third layer, you are actually programming in Java itself. We taught a lot of workshops were we had people who had never learned to program before and after just two weeks they were doing really nice works. Another really important thing about the language is that we have designed it slowly over 2 years, and we have always been teaching with it and using it personally the whole time, so it grows very organically.

I heard Golan Levin quote John Maeda, saying something like "When you use other people's software you live in somebody else's dream". Do you recognize the quote? - Are 'processing users' living in your dream?

I don't know this quote directly, but it makes sense. There are many levels of software from the general to the specific. As software becomes more specific, it limits the possibilities. Processing is very general and doesn't put many constraints on the possibilities of software. In many respects Processing is living in the dream of Java and OpenGL. It's more a collage of ideas than a specific revolution…"

>> LIA


see also @c, a collaboration of LIA, Miguel Carvalhais and Pedro Tudela:

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>> timetravel

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... is a Media Art historian and independent researcher. She is currently writing on "speculative archiving && experimental preservation of Media Art" and graduated from Prof. Oliver Grau's Media Art Histories program at the Danube University in Krems, Austria with a Master Thesis on Descriptive Metadata for Media Arts. For many years, she has been working in the field of archiving/documenting Media Art, recently at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Media.Art.Research and before as the head of the Ars Electronica Futurelab's videostudio, where she created their archives and primarily worked with the archival material. She was teaching the Prehystories of New Media Class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and in the Media Art Histories program at the Danube University Krems.