Final Project Update 2: Methods/Setup

Previously I was working on collecting screen recordings and thinking about how I can make use of the inbuilt screen recording function on Quicktime to capture my working process. I was quite comfortable with the approach, until I started using Periscope more after the micro-project we did on it a few weeks ago. I enjoy using Periscope quite a lot, because the function of Periscope addresses the “live broadcast” aspect of the project.

As discussed with Randall, I will be incorporating both Periscope and the screen recordings as part of my project. My work process is active both online and offline, so I think it will be necessary to include both aspects of it, rather than limiting myself to one channel. The next phase of my project will look at how I can incorporate both Periscope and screen recordings. So I might use a split screen function for this or something that allows me to screen two types of broadcast. Periscope videos can be viewed online, so there won’t be an issue for me to screen my live broadcast together with my on-screen process.

I would call my project a work in progress of a work in progress. The process of making my work is important and I enjoy opening up my process to others. I don’t think the nature of my work is very obscure, that the concept would be difficult for others to grasp, but I sometimes struggle with explaining my work because I think of my work as a big mind map: there are separate ideas that are linked with each other. For example: writing > illustrating > collecting > remixing. By broadcasting my process, I am highlighting each little concept as I work on it by actually showing (instead of explaining) my work.

As mentioned in my last project update, I find it useful to incorporate the use of Periscope because of the interactive elements of the app. I like the ongoing, immediate response from my audience although I haven’t figure out how to reply to comments live. It’s a bit tricky anyway since I’m drawing. I told Randall about this and he suggested that I can communicate with them via paper: I’ll just write my response down on paper so they can see it. I think I might do that as part of the work.

Research Critique: Tracking Transcience

Hasan Elahi’s work Tracking Transcience is a webcam project. He developed a GPS tracker and a network device that allows details of his current location to be made available online. Here’s a description of the work:

an embrace of surveillance for its subject’s own protection; Elahi has protected himself from unwanted scrutiny by making his entire life and whereabouts publicly accessible.

— from Creative Capital

Which gives this project the subtitle: The Orwell Project — more than just putting this information out there, Hasan is also critiquing contemporary investigative and surveillance techniques.

Think of Tracking Transcience as a self-updating blog/Instagram. The website refreshes periodically with new sets of images. The homepage image displays Hasan’s current location.

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Here’s a generic webcam capture from the website. I found this capture to perfectly embody the description of the webcam as stated in the reading:

Its low resolution, grainy pixelation lends it an antiquated, pre-television quality, while its stubborn stasis echoes the stern discipline of the surveillance camera. These qualities imbue the webcam with both a sense of documentary authenticity and of liveness that is central to its appeal and status: people log in to webcams to see what someone is actually doing now (or what is actually happening in the space now)

The situation in this photo is as perfectly real as reality: the mess on the table is reflective of an individual with a desk-bound job. The chair turned away from the table suggests the individual getting up from the desk and moving quickly away; as if we just caught this moment just as he left the table. It’s this kind of authenticity that gives the webcam its sense of appeal and also the eeriness of surveillance.

 

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Some other images from the website include the meals he had, which are less creepy.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 8.49.23 pm

Here’s a grid display of webcam snaps, which is kind of like a montage of what he is up to at various points during the day/week. What I find fascinating about this in particular is that it even captures a urinal, which reveals that this network device goes with him almost everywhere.

Another interesting point raised about the webcam in the reading is the behaviour/subject that is being placed in front of the camera. The images generated by a camera of any kind suggests the user’s attitude towards the camera, as pointed out in the reading: flirting with the camera, impressing the camera, and ignoring the camera. In the case of Tracking Transcience, Hasan Elahi is likely to be ignoring the camera. He does make an effort to place the camera in such a way that we get a clear view of what he is doing/looking at, but the footage are nothing very controversial or extremely fascinating, perhaps just rather accurate depictions of his reality.

Micro-Project: Glitched Abberations

These experiments were really fun to make. The results are all really unpredictable. I chose a variety of images (slightly overexposed, dark, greyscale, etc) to edit and see what effects I can achieve from the experiment. I took screenshots each time I make an edit to the text file, so here are some of the process shots. I’m glad I took the screenshots because the end result were so different from the saved .jpg, when I go back to Photoshop to save them. Still interesting results, nonetheless!104grrb01

I started off by editing only the top part of the code, which seem to break the image into monochromatic layers. I like the result of this one, it really transform the original image into something quite exciting.103grrb02

The colours in this photo is rather flat and faded. For the next image, I scrolled down all the way to the bottom and edited the code there. The effect was comparably drastic to the first: after a second edit, the image became a series of lines. The lines were also quite flat, nothing very saturated, like the original photo.55grrb04

Next, I tried a greyscale photo. The result is absolutely exciting.  It’s quite interesting to see how this one produced such a colourful results. My favourite part is how the glitchy lines, after rounds of edits, became a smooth streak of gradient.28grrb06

This is one of the more exciting result out of all the images I’ve tried. It has the same result as the greyscale photo; both have streaky gradient glitch lines, but what is interesting is how at one point of the edit, the “glow” of the text seemed to be separated from the text itself, creating a ghostly glitchy effect. It kind of reminds me of what you can do with slow shutter speed on a camera.38grrb05

This one looks like a 3D image. After the first edit, the result didn’t seem to change too much, the image just separates into different segments.

Here are the images opened in Photoshop:glitchab01 glitchab02 glitchab03 glitchab04   glitchab07

These experiments were surely exciting, but as with experimental art, sometimes I ask myself, when is it complete? I try not to over-do the glitching as a result of being encouraged by a previous outcome, because I’ve gone through a few images that became totally ‘destroyed’, and previous outcomes couldn’t be ‘saved’. Anyway, after I opened them in Photoshop, I realised they are all different from my desired outcome. Perhaps this is the nature of chance aesthetics.

WordPress Theme Sketch

Theme URL: http://bever-gif.com/theme/

This theme aims to present data in a single-page, long form manner. The data is my blog entries from 2005-2015, which I’m currently breaking down and building the tags by hand. (literally!) I would call this an experimental theme, that does not aim to function as a working theme, where new entries can be added and viewed. The theme uses existing WordPress widgets and the structure of the blog as an interactive way of presenting information. This is what I hope to achieve in the virtual part of my work. 

Here’s the outline of the theme:

(Note: this sketch is meant to be as simple as possible. My aim is to try and work out the function, before I add in the visuals.)

calendar

calendar

At the top of the theme is a calendar. Think of this as the big cloud that holds all the entries together, from various years. The entries are grouped in months rather than years, for example: January 2005, January 2006, January 2007, etc. The months are links: upon clicking them, more specific entries will show up.

month

month

Let’s take October for example. When October is selected, a tag cloud will show up.

tagcloud

tagcloud

The cloud describes the topics that are written in this month, over the years. This is the key feature of this theme as the tag cloud is an overview of how the content in my blog have progressed in the span of the time I’ve been writing it. A click on the tag will bring up even more specific entries.

tag

Let’s select the word ‘computer’. The theme will then list all the entries written about ‘computer’ in October, over the years.

years

years

When a specific tag is highlighted, it will list the years with this topic. *I forgot to add, but next to the year, there should be a number that displays the amount of posts.

entries

entries

Upon clicking the year, the entries will finally show up.

 

the glitch moment(um) by rosa menkman

Was introduced to this reading in Internet Art & Culture class. Rosa Menkman is a Dutch artist who is specialised in glitch art. She is also a theorist, specifically in the area of glitch art, so this piece of writing is a key reading for my project.

Some relevant points for my research:


brief history: the notion of glitch art was just crossing over from sound culture, and leaking into visual art cultures only sporadically. The bugs Goto80 used gave a very specific texture to the sound (the result of noise artifacts) and I began to develop and recognize visual equivalents to this process. I found more and more artifact-based correspondences between audio and visual technologies, such as compres- sions, feedback and glitches.

the collapse of pal (2010): I tried to underline that there is more to glitch art, and more at stake, than just design and aesthetics. The work addresses themes such as planned obsolescence, built-in nostalgia, critical media aes- thetics and the gentrification and continuing development of a glitch art genre.

definition of glitch according to rosa: I describe the ‘glitch’ as a (actual and/or simulated) break from an expected or conventional flow of information or meaning within (digital) communication systems that results in a perceived accident or error. A glitch occurs on the occasion where there is an absence of (expected) functional- ity, whether understood in a technical or social sense. Therefore, a glitch, as I see it, is not always strictly a result of a technical malfunction.

relationship between technical and metaphorical or cultural dimensions of glitch culture. Focusing on the glitch within this broader perspective makes it possible to think through some of the more interesting political and social uses of the glitch within the field of digital art.

Moreover, glitch transitions between artifact and filter, or, in other words, between radical breakages and commodification.

glitch studies manifesto:

2. Dispute the operating templates of creative practice. Fight genres, interfaces and expectations! Refuse to stay locked into one medium or between contradictions like real vs. virtual, ob- solete vs. up-to-date, open vs. proprietary or digital vs. analog. Surf the vortex of technol- ogy, the in-between, the art of artifacts!

4. Employ bends and breaks as metaphors for différance. Use the glitch as an exoskel- eton for progress. Find catharsis in disintegration, ruptures and cracks; manipulate, bend and break any medium towards the point where it becomes something new; create glitch art.

5. Realize that the gospel of glitch art also tells about new standards implemented by corruption. Not all glitch art is progressive or something new. The popularization and cultivation of the avant-garde of mishaps has become predestined and unavoidable. Be aware of easily reproducible glitch effects automated by softwares and plug-ins. What is now a glitch will become a fashion.

.gif + dither: Graphics Interchange Format is a bitmap image format that supports 8 bits per pixel. This compression can therefore consist of no more then 256 colors. The format supports animation and employs dither (a grain or block artifact). Dither helps to prevent images from displaying or transforming into large-scale patterns such as ‘banding’ (a stepped process of rendering smooth gradations in brightness or hue).

what happens to glitch? However, if the cause of the glitch remains unknown, the glitch can either be ignored and forgotten, or transformed into an interpretation or reflection on a phenomenon (or the memory there- of) defined by a social or cultural context (conventions, histories, perspectives) and the technology that is malfunctioning.

humanizing errors: A glitch represents a loss of control. The glitch makes the computer itself suddenly appear unconventionally deep, in contrast to the more banal, predictable surface-level behaviors of ‘normal’ machines and systems. The glitch has become a new mode; and its previous uncanny encounter has come to register as an ephemeral, personal experience of a machine.

accident of art: Notions of disaster, aesthetics of failure and accidental events have been integral to modern and contemporary art, Avant-Garde progressions and turnings.

To invent the sailing ship or steamer is to invent the shipwreck. To invent the train is to invent the rail accident of derailment. To invent the family automobile is to produce the pile-up on the highway. To get what is heavier than air to take off in the form of an aeroplane or dirigible is to invent the crash, the air disaster. As for the space shuttle, Challenger, its blowing up in flight in the same year that the tragedy of Chernobyl occurred is the original accident of a new motor, the equivalent of the first ship-wreck of the very first ship.

— Paul Virilio

cultural meaning: Virilio argues that although many people encounter ac- cidents as negative experiences, an accident can also have positive consequences. The accident doesn’t only equal failure, but can also ‘reveal something absolutely necessary to knowledge’. The accident (and thus the glitch) shows a system in a state of entropy and so aids towards an understanding of the ultimate functioning of a system. This opens up space for research and practice, and the arts are a special domain for this. Dadaists and Surrealists cannot be understood without World War 1. Virilio explains how WW1 blew reality into pieces and how the cubist painter Georges Braque collected those pieces and put them back together, not just as a formalist experiment or as a destruction of perspective but as an artistic realism appropri- ate to the techno-cultural present. Thus, many artists could only use some (destroyed or mutilated) form of figuration. This understanding leads Virilio to conclude that in the art of the accident. In the digital realm, what has come to be known as glitch art deals with the digital dimension of error, accident and disaster from different angles, within a larger context of cultural meaning.

defining glitch art?  Their destructive or disfiguring processes have no technological name, definition or explanation (yet). For this reason, it is necessary to not only define and categorize glitch at technological levels, but also to look closely at how specific media are exploited on a more complex techno-cultural level.

databend generative artists such as stAllio!, glitch-irion Pixelnoizz and Hellocatfood.

inherent openness of glitch as a concept makes glitch art difficult, if not impossible, to define.

binary approach to glitch art? 

Design-driven glitch art has tended to be referred to as artificial or ‘glitch-alike’. Iman Moradi has gone so far as to develop a true-false binary to deal with these matters of glitch imitation, which he explains with the following statement and schema: Because of the intrinsic nature of this imagery and its relation to pure glitches, both in terms of process and viewer perception, I felt the need to form a word that adequately describes this artifact’s similarity with actual glitches and present it as an obviously separate entity. Thus the term “Glitch-alike” came about to fulfil this role. […] Glitch-alikes are a collection of digital artefacts that resemble visual aspects of real glitches found in their original habitat.

binaryglitch

intentional faux-pas: They challenge the ideological aspects of proprietary design by misrepresenting existing relationships between specific media functionalities and the aesthetic experiences normally associated with them.

You cannot prohibit the catastrophe, you must surf it!11

– PAUL VIRILIO

the perfect glitch: The perfect glitch exists, momentarily, at the shocking tipping point between (potential) failure and a movement towards the creation of a new understanding. The glitch’s inherent moment(um), the power it needs or has to pass through an existing membrane or semblance of understanding, helps the utterance to become an unstable ar- ticulation of counter-aesthetics, a destructive generativity.

built-in obsolescence and pop culture: technological progressions causes built-inp obsolescence. things are designed to last x number of years before they become obsolete. I would like to argue that this economical reasoning is very much connected to the growing fetishization of nostalgic imperfection in (glitch) art, which over the last decades has become a kind of conceptual virus. Today it is completely normal to pay extra money for aesthetically appealing plugins like Hipstamatic or Instagram, that imitate (analogue) imperfections or nostalgic errors, like ‘faux vintage’ lens flare and lomographic discolorations.

 

 

blogspot.jodi

jblog_01 jblog_02 jblog_03

During 2006 and 2007, Jodi made the work <$blogtitle$>, based on the social publishing tool Blogger, from Google.13 <$blogtitle$> looks like a Blogger page in a broken state. The pages generated by Jodi’s (mis)usage of the tool are either filled with gibberish or in ruins. It’s hard to say: perhaps you are looking at back-end code.

Jodi indeed plays with different language systems, for instance the visual and the non-visual source (code) of the Blogger software. Template formats such as the title of the blog, the post headers and certain blog addresses in the link list appear all in ruins, while Blogger-specific images like comment-icons, dates and additional otherwise functional visual elements are now reduced to theatrical objects.

glitch’s formal fragmentation signifies that the work is ‘open’ to inter- pretation and meaningful engagement.

By ruining the Blogger medium, Jodi’s use of formal fragmentation opens the platform itself up to deconstruction, interpretation and further active engagement. As a result, the meaning of the ruined work is never finished, whole or complete.

However, for the reader to actually give meaning to the ruins, they must take the initiative of imposing (their own select) new constraints, new frameworks of analysis and limitations on other possibilities.

this openness also had a negative consequence: Blogger interpreted the blog as a malicious spamblog and consequently blocked it. This act could be described as a rather rigorous ‘death of the author’, in which the meaning of the work is not negotiated, but instead dismissed and deleted.

<$blogtitle$>, Jodi shows that a glitch can be com- pletely constructed (by the artist), but also that such constructs can in turn reveal the con- structedness of software-generated knowledge and expression.

— Rosa Menkman, The Glitch Moment(um)

Jodi.org is the brainchild of two Internet artists, Joan and Dirk. Keying jodi.org into your address bar spawns a series of webpages that are rather crazy, like they are taking over your browser. Some of the effects generated by the website include: constant page redirects, flashing images, auto-downloads, wacky URLs. Their style of internet art/glitch art have been described by Wikipedia as “the work of an irrational, playful, or crazed human.”

One of the side projects that resulted from Jodi.org was the duo’s experiments with Blogger pages. I came across the work while reading Rosa Menkman’s Glitch Moment(um) essay.

Jodi deconstructed the standard Blogger pages, causing it to look broken. The pages looked like what would happen if you enter the source code of the pages and remove some important parts of coding, that renders certain functions useless (i.e incomplete HTML coding to display an image, that resulted in a broken image icon).

I find this work quite an important point of reference for my WordPress theme sketch, which Boyan, Cynthia and I are working on, especially when I think about how I can deconstruct my blog archive by manipulating the functions of a WordPress blog: perhaps altering how categories/tags are being displayed.

 

Research: Derrida’s deconstruction

Notes from various books on Derrida’s deconstruction.

Deconstruction For Beginners, Jim Powell

Our minds work by way of binary opposites. They form pairs:

east/west
male/female
mind/body
muslim/pagan
christian/pagan
sacred/profane
speech/writing

Our minds make use of this kind of either/or logic to put everything in the world into neat little categories. The problem is that we tend to privilege one memeber of the pair and repress/oppress the other. This kind of phallogocentric thinking governs not only our social life, but our philosophical, scientific, literary and legal thought as well.

Deconstruction is a way of reading a text.

Derrida Reframed, K. Malcolm Richards

Destruction is not a negative act, but also a positive act, such as clearing away something that is no longer useful. The term ‘to deconstruct’ conjures an image of a structure or object in mid-air, suspended, all of its parts visible. Deconstruction can also conjure an image of something in the midst of collapse, not destroyed, but falling apart — a ruin, even. To deconstruct something suggests that the act of taking something apart can be the first step toward understanding something anew.

The idea of delay can be thought of in the way the meaning of a work of art accrues only with time. When we examine works of art or popular culture closely and on more than one occasion, the meaning of the work will be different over time. If delay is one element to differance, then difference is the other. This spatial distance structuring our exterior relations to the world is simultaneously a structure dependent on internal constructs. These internal constructs framing our relation to the world collide with the myriad external structures that come to mediate our visual experience.

The role of institutions in constructing our image of the part impacts in some way our image of the present. In framing what is included and excluded for an exhibition, numerous decisions must be made. In the space of the archive, however, reside objects that have the potential to deconstruct the values framing an institution. (Christopher William’s) work offers powerful examples of how an artist’s work can be further appreciated by approaching it from a deconstructive stance. Williams also works frequently with archives, finding in the space of the archive a space filled with potential for deconstruction.

Final project update: Periscoping

periscope01 periscope02

Been using Periscope to take videos of things that I’m doing. Again, I must stress that I don’t do very interesting things everyday. Most of these videos are just footage of me trying to keep up with my to-do list. I don’t overthink when I shoot the videos, and I’m not particularly concerned about where the camera is pointing or if everything I see can be seen through my Periscope eye. I’m just capturing things the same way that I’ve been using the Quicktime screen recording function to record my actions on the computer.

For example, I made a 5 minute broadcast of my FYP meet on Friday. I just left the phone there while class was going on. After class ended, I reviewed my footage and I realised that there’s been quite a bit of interaction going on while I wasn’t looking. From the comments I can gather three things: 1) people are viewing it from various places in the world. 2) dudes make up a large % of my viewership. 3) dudes are creepy. Apart from the comments made by these weird dudes, I find that there are people who aren’t just aimless viewers. There was this guy who could tell I’m in NTU. Someone asked about the haze situation here. I quite enjoy this live/anonymous interactive part of Periscope.

I think I can try to incorporate my Periscope videos with my screen recordings. I’m encouraged to pick up my phone and document my surroundings more actively with Periscope, compared with other social media apps. I asked my friends and family if they are familiar with Periscope, and some have not heard of it. I like it at the moment as it is not used widely in my social circle, which can give me some space to make these broadcasts kind of ‘anonymously’, and having this live audience that’s constantly changing might be helpful for my work as well, rather than making broadcasts targeted towards people who already know me.

dearrrrrrr data!

Today I was introduced to the work of Stefanie Posavec (Thanks Astrid!). I think this is most important thing I came across this week. I’ve been hitting a plateau of late, realising that I have a big bunch of concepts and data and not knowing what to do. So this came at the right time.

I was going to write a post this weekend about reducing things. I feel like I have a buffet of thoughts and references, and now it’s time to sit down and edit my research. I’ve decided to narrow it down to just analysing my blog data. I’m going to do away with the other things that I wanted to do, like remake my visual journals. I’m also going to explore ways that I can present my analysis in the outcomes I previously presented.

Here’s one that I came up with after class. I was going to do an illustrated piece on internet art and culture, but a part of my worries about the work being irrelevant, needless and appearing like I’m just doing a drawing for the sake of doing so. So Stefanie’s infographics really gave me an idea of how I can link the illustration with my concept.

infovis_01

I’m inspired by the methods that Stefanie use to make her infographics and show that data can be represented in illustration, and not just some abstract shapes, lines or graphs. That really gave me an idea of how I can make my illustration a form of infographic too. Above is a quick sketch I made to express this idea. Over the following week, I’m going to collate my tags from my blog entries. The tags will be colour coded. Colours will be applied accordingly when I’m making my illustration, making a link between the composition of the work and the analysis of the data.

I think infographics will definitely take my work to the next level, and help make my project concept more concrete. Certainly achieved quite a bit during today’s FYP meet. If people ask me what my project is about, now I can say to them “I am deconstructing my blog.” Over the next week, I will write more about it and start making some stuff. Excited.. 😀

Research Critique 5: Shredder and Riot

 

shredder02shredder01 shredder03 shredder04

Shredder, 1998

 

shredder05 riot01 riot02

Riot, 1999

Mark Napier’s Shredder and Riot were alternative web browsers made in the 1990s. The main aim of these browsers was to deconstruct the webpage as it is conventionally viewed, by manipulating the underlying source code and re-presenting the data in their own elements. It is like taking apart a Lego sculpture and rearranging the bricks around.

In Rosa Menkman’s essay, she examines the beginnings of glitch art in sound culture:

The notion of glitch art was just crossing over from sound culture, and leaking into visual art culture only sporadically. Glitch more fully entered my vocabulary for visuals and networks when I began an artistic collaboration with the musician Goto80 (Anders Carlsson) in 2007. He explained to me how he exploited the Commordore64 sound chip for the creation of music. The bugs Goto80 used gave a very specific texture to the sound (the result of noise artifacts) and I began to develop and recognize visual equivalents to this process.

I feel that there is a textural element to both Shredder and Riot. The deconstructed website produces interesting outcomes.

shredder03

Take this screenshot from the Shredder browser, for example. The blue part is made up of the source code: the line height of these coding text have been tweaked drastically. The extreme condensing of these lines produces a solid area of blue, and some of the background elements peek through the spaces in between, creating an interesting, textural effect. The blurry, pixelated images look like marbled texture too. The outcome of these glitched elements look like a collage made by a machine.

In the Glitch Studies Manifesto, here’s a description of glitch art as a progressive art form:

4. Employ bends and breaks as metaphors for différance. Use the glitch as an exoskeleton for progress.

Find catharsis in disintegration, ruptures and cracks; manipulate, bend and break any medium towards the point where it becomes something new; create glitch art.

Most of the works we discussed in recent weeks were artworks that were made with a piece of technology that is relatively new; artists who are keen to experiment with the purpose that these kind of technology have been designed for. Like Douglas Davis’s work The World’s Longest Sentence, Mark Napier’s Shredder and Riot were made in the late 1990s, when the Internet phenomenon was still rather young. It explores what can be done with the Internet browser than using it purely to surf the internet or to obtain information. Taking apart the surface of a website, “manipulating the medium”, was the creation of something new in the realm of something that is still new.

The machine no longer behaves in the way the technology was supposed to. Its glitching interface, strange sounds and broken behavioral patterns introduce tension into user intentions; an astonishing image (or sound) must be some how negotiated amidst a normally much more boring masquerade of human computer relations.

I also found this point very relevant to what the Shredder and Riot was designed to be like, particularly for Riot. The Riot browser really created this chaotic effect: elements of a webpage strewn all over, and the web page look really wild and crazy. If a user were to navigate a website using the Riot browser, it must have been quite an interesting experience, particular in that time, when websites looked simple and it was not diffucult to get around. A Riot-ed website probably would have made navigation way more interactive, with the user having to forage through this chaos to search for the links and to demystify text and images that have been layered over each other.