Class References

Here you will find the key comments, remarks, names, artworks and titles that come up during classes, for your reference, research and project development.

All Lecture Slides with Introductory Notes and Key Concepts

Generative Narrativity

Some 20 and 21 century examples of generative approach to art making
DADA (combining pre-planned and spontaneous elements), Surrealism (Exquisite Corpse technique/method)
John Cage (via Duchamp, Zen and Budhism) – 1952 – 4:33 and many other works. Although he had somewhat naive understanding of Zen and Budhism, Cage created smart and often strong generative music and sound art.
William Anastasi (via Duchamp) – 1960’s – Subway Drawings
Nam June Paik (via Cage, via Duchamp) – 1963 – Random Access and other works.
Hans Haacke – 1963 – Condensation Cube (processual art)
Steve Reich – 1967 – Piano Phase and most of his opus.
Roman Signer: proto- or pseudo-scientific experiment, apparently absurd but with strong background narratives, often personal.

Peter Fischli & David Weiss – 1987 – The Way Things Go (Der Lauf Der Dinge) although this is not a generative artwork in the strict sense, it plays on the pseudo- or proto-scientific playful experimentation which is essential in generative art. Taking Rube Goldberg machine from comics and cartoons (most notably by the animator Chuck Jones). Later explosion in pop-culture with music videos, e.g. for OK Go done by the MIT Physics Lab, commercials such as brilliant Wieden+Kennedy – 2003 – Honda Cog, etc.
Stefan Tiefengraber – 2013-2014 – Delivery Graphic: Hidden life-supporting infrastructures, Complex technologies.
Evan Roth & Ben Engebreth – 2007 – White Glove Tracking: Identity (black grown up male becoming white female child), Sexuality, Contextual.
Jason Salavon – 2007 – 374 Farben: Averaging IKEA catalogue page coloring references Gerhard Richter’s dealing with the crisis of painting, consumerism, visual dynamics, animation and film.
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer – 2010 – Pulse Index: Being human, mortality (memento Mori), need for socializing.
Onformative – 2013 – Google Faces: Human biases reflected in technology (AI), politics of technology.
Mimi Cabell & Jason Huff – 2010 – American Psycho: Mutually emailed Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho novel (1991) page by page, then isolated Google ads as footnotes to keywords.
Jonathan Schipper – 2008 – Slow Inevitable Deatrh of American Muscle: Infinitezimal time, Americana.
Thom Kubli – 2012-2015 – Black Hole Horizon: Physics, learning playfully, joy of life.


This lecture outlines the computer games’ cultural context, and art games as a relatively small but rich subset of gaming production.

An extensive theoretical discourse on the phenomenology of (primarily computer and video) gaming.
The gamology section from my selected bibliography in new media art.
Check out Johan Huizinga’s seminal book Homo Ludens.

Some Elements of the Cultural Context of Gaming

Long Relationship Between Computer Technology and Gaming
Ferranti Nimrod – 1951  (custom-built computer playing Nim to attract the potential customers for general purpose computer systems)
X-O – 1952 – EDSAC in Cambridge U.K. (first analogue CG)
DEC PDP-1 at MIT – 1961 – Spacewar! (early digital CG)
Check out the Early History of Video Games Wikipedia article

Limitations of Programmed Experience
Programmed experience, lack of accident, limited improvisation and spontaneity are among key creative problems in game development as opposed to technically much simpler analog/physical games such as Hide and Seek.

Seductiveness and Exploitation of Human Playfulness
One example is the military use of computers games, dating from the 1980’s:
J. E. Haefeli & N. Bridwell developed Panther, a tank simulation game on the PLATO System at Northwestern University in 1975. It was purchased and further developed by Atari and released in 1980 as Battlezone, then noticed by the US military, and Ronald Reagan’s military development directives include the recommendations for systematic exploration and development of game-based systems for training. With the popularity of FPS games, the games such as America’s Army (from 2002), Full Spectrum Warrior (2003) or Black Ops (2012) were supported and/or co-developed by the US Army as both training and recruitment platforms. Similar relationship exists since the 1960’s between flight simulators and flight simulation games as training/recruitment tools in civilian and military aviation.
Another example is Second Life platform (from 2003).

Virtuality of Playing Games
Complex relationship and often unclear boundaries between gaming and real life:
Michelangelo Antonioni – 1966 – Blow Up (pantomime metaphor)
Stephen Gaghan – 2005 – Syriana (the game-like interface and operating experience of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, there are many other examples in film)
Wikileaks: Collateral Murder – 2007 [releasing the FDR/CVR data (Apache AH-64 helicopter and other vehicles and weapons) that document civilian victims] – 1999 – Safe Distance (an art installation featuring the FDR/CVR data taken from a F117 downed in Serbia during NATO bombing campain 1998/1999)

Relationship Between Computer Games and Other Media/Artforms
Multifaceted relationship between the commercial cinema and computer games reflects in mutual adoption of themes, and in different functionality of the POV/FPS perspective (also called subjective shot) in cinema and gaming.
Alfred Hitchcock – 1945 – Spellbound (hand holding a gun shot as FPS)
Delmer Daves – 1947 – Dark Passage (barrel POV)
Robert Montgomery – 1947 – Lady in the Lake (a complete feature film-noir made using subjective POV/FPS shot)
Don Siegel – 1953 – Count the Hours (hand holding a gun shot as FPS)
Ida Lupino – 1953 – The Hitch-Hiker (hand holding a gun shot as FPS)
Michael Powell – 1960 – Peeping Tom (a great film about cinema, POV/FPS stands for the villain)
Pater Yates – 1968 – Bullitt (hand holding a gun shot as FPS)
John Schlesinger – 1976 – Marathon Man (hand holding a gun shot as FPS)
Martin Scorsese – 1976 – Taxi Driver (hand holding a gun shot as FPS)
Irvin Kershner – 1978 – The Eyes of Laura Mars (POV/FPS stands for the villain)
Godfrey Reggio – 1983 – Koyaanisqatsi (POV/FPS cinematic shots edited with the shots of the gameplay)
Jonathan Demme – 1991 – The Silence of the Lambs (hand holding a gun shot as FPS)
Andrew Niccol – 2005 – Lord of War (FPS in the intro titles/opening sequence)
Alfonso Cuarón – 2006 – Children of Men (extended game-like sequences, very effective)

Art Games

Art Mods
Orhan Kipcak – 1995 – ArsDoom
Tobias Bernstrup & Palle Torsson – 1996-1999 – Museum Meltdown
Michiel van der Zanden – 2008 – Pwned Paintings No. 2
Brody Condon – 1999-2001 – Adam Killer
Tom Betts – 2002 – QQQ
Cory Arcangel – 2002 – Super Mario Clouds (absurd reductionism)
Jodi (Joan Heemskerk & Dirk Paesman) (popular games rendered unplayable)
Vladimir Todorović – 2003 – Reflections
Machinima may be regarded as a modification-based genre.

Activist Interventions
Joseph DeLappe – 2006- – Dead in Iraq
Emily Prince – 2007 – American Servicemen
Matthieu Cherubini – 2010 – Afghan War Diary

Aesthetization and Exploitation
Patrick Jean – 2010 – Pixels (wonderful short)
Chris Columbus – 2015 – Pixels (failed full feature film)
The White Stripes – 2001 – Fell in Love with a Girl (game aesthetics in music video)
OK Go – 2017 – Obsession (game aesthetics in music video)

Riley Harmon – 2008 – What It Is Without the Hand That Wields It (installation gets triggered by real-time game playing incidents)
Scott Kildall – 2010 – Playing Duchamp (online chess-playing software with Duchamp’s strategy/style)

Ben Slater: Repetition, Stories, Games

Dejan Grba: Notes on Ben Slater’s Lecture

General Remarks on Project Proposals

Be as self-critical as possible and take your creative responsibilities seriously. This is instrumental for achieving smarter, more effective and more convincing projects. Team members share responsibility in this self-critical assessment – do not abuse it by mixing the project responsibility with interpersonal relations.

Carefully go through the initial notes and comments, and balance your ideas, motives, ambitions and visions with the feasibility and effectiveness of your projects. This requires thorough thinking and anticipating the financial/material, technical (skills, tools, procedures, external services) and temporal aspects for preproduction, production, postproduction and presenting/exhibiting final projects. Make a list of the elements and factors of all these aspects for each stage from preproduction to exhibiting. Then assess and refine it continuously during your working process.

Keep in mind

1. Our ideas and imagined projects seem much stronger and more convincing in our minds than when they materialize. Check out, for example, Hitchcock’s remark:
There was a movie writer who always seemed to have his best ideas in the middle of the night, and when he woke up in the morning, he never remembered them. So one day the man […] said to himself, “I’ll put a paper and pencil beside my bed, and when I get the idea, I’ll write it down.” So he went to bed and, sure enough, in the middle of the night he awoke with a terrific idea. He wrote it down and went back to sleep. When he awoke the next morning […] he picked up the note and read what he’d written: “Boy meets girl!”
Truffaut, François. Hitchcock/Truffaut. New York. NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1966/1983: 260-261.

2. Overall, your project ideas are ambitious, artistically sound and promising so they deserve both hard work and support. Many are so complex that their completion should be pursued not just for the purpose of our class but further.

3. Keep your creative humility and don’t get hubristic. My praise of your work is also the expression of my expectations. Remember that it is hard to make something new that will engage, enrich, educate or in some other way benefit people.

Project Proposal Notes

I have systematized all notes and comments in your proposal documents. I suggest that you look at all of them since many comments apply to several of your projects, and you may find the comments valuable in other ways.

DM2006 – Su Xian, Mark, Nok Wan, Melodie – Project Proposal – With Comments
DM2006 – Shah, Chin, Chee – Project Proposal – With Comments
DM2006 – Najiha – Project Proposal – With Comments
DM2006 – DanNing, Vania and Joey – Project Proposal – With Comments
DM2006 – Alina, Nasya – Project Proposal – With Comments
DM2006 – Ying Hui, Alston, Su Yang – Project Proposal – With Comments

Project Proposal References

Alina, Nasya: Idea 1
Shinseungback Kimyonghun – 2017 – Stone

Animation and Film

Douglas Gordon – 1993 – 24 Hour Psycho (double projection)

Alexandre O. Philippe. 78/52, 2017 (documentary about the shower scene in Psycho)

Chris Bors – 2005 – 24 Second Psycho

Martin Arnold – 2002 – Deanimated (The Invisible Ghost AV rotoscoping)

Ryland Wharton – 2009 – Palette Reduction No. 4

More statistical approach (from earlier classes)
Frederic Brodbeck – 2011 – CINEMETRICS
Shinseungback Kimyonghun – 2013 – Portrait

Stat approach derivatives:

Christian Marclay – 1995 – Telephones (supercut)

Marco Brambilla, Sync: Sex/Watch/Fight, 2005 (supercut)

Jennifer & Kevin McCoy – 2001 – Every Shot, Every Episode (supercut)

Julian Palacz – 2010 – Algorithmic Search for Love [keyword-based (subtitles), automatc generation from arbitrary pool] (supercut)

Dave Dyment – 2010- – Timeline (narratively expanded supercut)

More stat derrivative and generative/participatory:

Perry Bard – 2010 – Man With the Movie Camera – Remake (online)

Jono Brandell & G. M. Brower – 2010 – Life in a Day Touchscreen Gallery (earlier class)

Nicolas Maigret – 2012-2014 – The Pirate Cinema [monitors and plays snippets from P2P transactions in real time (PirateBay top 100)]

Parag Kumar Mital – 2012 – YouTube Smash Up [resynthesizes #1 YouTube AV with AV fragments from remaining 9 of Top 10 YT videos (PhD project)]

Jeff Desom – 2011 – Rear Window Timelapse [panoramic reconstruction of the full window POV in Hitckock’s Rear Window (1954)]

See also
Takashi Ito – 1980-1981 – Spacy (analogue editing whose dynamics resembles and anticipates digital editing)

From presentations – on the pretentiousness of the art world
Brilliant series The Madness of Art (I mentioned the episode The Dealer is Present)

How Many Words in an Image?

Gere, Charlie. Digital Culture. London: Reaktion Books, 2008.

Golan Levin & Kyle McDonald – 2011 – Eyeshine (interactive installation)

Vladimir Todorović – 2002-2003 – Selfportrait (web art and prints)

Luke DuBois – 2005 – Play (computer vision)

Shinseungback Kimyonghun – 2012 – Cloud Face (hacking CV)

Matt Richardson – 2012 – Descriptive Camera (Mechanical Turk)

Daito Manabe & Ryuichi Sakamoto – 2015 – Sensing Streams 80MHz-5.2GHz (sonification and visualization of high-frequency electromagnetic signals: mobile, satellite, wi-fi)

Hiroyuki Masuyama – 2002 – 01.01.2001-31.12.2001 (stop-motion + time-lapse)

See Also
Aaron Koblin – 2005-2009 – Flight Patterns
Matthieu Cherubini – 2010 – Afghan War Diary (online)
Robert Lazzarini – 2001 – Skulls
Pablo Garcia – 2010 – Profilograph (after Muybridge)
Tamás Waliczky – 1997 – Sculptures
Etienne-Jules Marey – 1887 – Flight of the Seagull (plaster cast)
Luke DuBois – 2010-2011 – A More Perfect Union

Apophenia and Pareidolia
David Fincher, The Game, 1997 (also David Cronenberg, eXistenZ, 1999 for blurring the distinctions between life and gameplay in the context of video games)
David Fincher, Fight Club, 1999

Intro Lecture

Jono Brandell & George Michael Brower, Life in a Day TS Gallery, 2010. Interactive platform screening sets of all 80,000 YT submissions for the film Life in a Day by Kevin McDonald.

Jonathan Minard & James George, CLOUDS, 2015. Interactive VR documentary with abstract animations generated in real time.

Virgil Widrich, Fast Film, 2003. Rearranged film snippets accentuate obsessions and stereotypes of conventional cinema.

Brown, Donald E. “Human Universals, Human Nature, Human Culture.” Daedalus, Vol. 133, No. 4, (2004): 47-54.
The list of human universals, compiled by Brown.