Friday, April 15, 2011

Snappy Snaps

I wrote this a while ago but didn't know where to put it:

The man in Snappy Snaps in Cornmarket Street, Oxford, UK, wore a St Pauli sweatshirt and I thought at the time he was Romanian or Albanian. He told me that the policy now is that I must pay when placing the order for the prints - no longer when I come to collect them. He said that he trusted me, but his boss would not allow it, because people keep leaving orders and forgetting to come to collect them. Upstairs they have boxes and boxes of unclaimed photos. In an attempt at a humorous exchange, I suggested he stage an art exhibition of all the uncollected photographs. I didn’t even like the idea much but it was one of those things that must have already been done somewhere. He wrinkled his nose in dissatisfaction. He said, with an earnestness that slapped my art-student-knowingness sideways, that most of the photos are of such bad quality that it would not be worth exhibiting them. His grammar left occasional ambiguities in his speech, but I understood perfectly when he looked into my eyes and remarked,

“The digital camera has destroyed the art of photography, today it is more like a machine gun”.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Not sure what happened here, in Rainbow Painter, but I like it.

Upcoming Events

VCS Exhibition and Symposium:
here, by the way, you can also find my VCS profile and other links related to the Visual and Critical Studies dept at SAIC.

I am also speaking at eChicago, 2011, on the panel Technology and Revolution, on Friday, 22nd April at 2.15pm, held at University of Illinois, Chicago. See schedule.

I shall also be giving a short talk on Walter Benjamin at the 3rd Annual Platypus Convention, on Saturday, April 30th, at 2.45pm (time tbc), held at the School of the Art Institute, Chicago. See schedule.



This Program is called GraphX and it mimics DeluxePaint for Amiga

Monday, April 11, 2011


Are we making our technology over in our own (past) images?

Are we making our images over in our past technology

Are we making our images over in our past images

Are we making our technology over in our past technology

Are we making ourselves over in our past selves

Are we making ourselves over in our past images

Are we making ourselves over in our past technology

Are we making our technology over in our past images

Are we making our technology over in our past selves

Are we making our images over in our past selves

‘Mankind is preparing to outlive culture, if need be.’ – WB: Experience and Poverty

‘Its self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order.’- WB WorkOfArtMechanicalReproduction

Saturday, April 9, 2011


A brief midterm paper, close description of The Print Collector, by Honore Daumier.
Posted here with an image from some collage stuff I was doing a year or so ago, that included a sketch of the same painting. I keep returning to it in the Art Institute, it is one of my favourites.

The thinking behind the collages came from a little section on Gloves in Walter Benjamin's One-Way Street, and from a very nice pair of gloves that I got for Christmas from my Auntie and left in a scanner at school, and when I went back they had gone.

My favourite paint tool so far

This is my beautiful Dorena by Craig Hickman
you can download it here

Craig Hickman was the original creator of KidPix.
My Beautiful Dorena is a quirky tool, with a narrative and sound effects that go with it. It is a program that has really been designed for the fun of making as many cool effects as possible.

He also has a lot of other strange tinkerings on is website to explore. And some interesting photomontage.

Friday, April 8, 2011

computer club website

I'm not quite sure what the parameters are, there doesn't seem to be a theme, but there are some interesting an quirky things being posted. Some better than others. These are some of my favourites.

"Sampler" - Cotton Reels as Pixels

Although I don't normally go for gimicky art projects, my whole current project is gimicky so I may have to revise this idea (esp. since I recently posted a pick by Patrick Hughes, maybe I do actually like gimicky stuff anyway). However maybe this project (Devorah Sperber's) is not actually gimicky, or rather it is, but it has been really well excecuted, so I like it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Richard Shoup SuperPaint Demo

Why do we have to consider this, when much more advanced graphics were being produced? Well, tool makes simpler images, but as a raster graphics program it is more 'user friendly' , or, supposedly, more 'intuitive' to approach by newcomers, than raster graphics programs. And yet, such tools begin to require a lot of RAM (comparitively, to say, Ivan Sutherland's original sketchpad) in order to be able to operate. Not as much as the videos below, but as the personal computer begins to develop, so do does the need for RAM in order to make such operations possible.

looking back at CG developments

Fascinating Rhythm, Bell Labs, 1987

Ohio State University, circa 1987.

Quest, 1985
Rendered on 108 Apollo Workstations.

Bell Labs, 1978.

Jim Blinn, For NASA, 1978

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Colour Process

Patrick Hughes
Colour Process
Edition 250
76 cm x 55 cm
Flowers Gallery London

patrick hughes


(Phone rings...)

excerpt from:

i somehow had an idea that it would be really nice to see this interview writ large in a gallery space. Prob don't have the space to do it for the upcoming show, but we'll see.

Friday, March 25, 2011


From Gillian Rose's Love's Work, p.125.

'Previously, modern philosophical irrationalism was seen retrospectively by philosophers and historians as the source of the racist and totalitarian movements of the twentieth century. Now, philosophical reason itself is seen by postmodern philosophers as the general scourge of Western history. To reason's division of the real into the rational and the irrational is attributed the fatal Manichaeism and imperialism of the West.

This decision by the intellectuals that reason itself has ruined modern life, and should be dethroned and banned in the name of its silenced others, is comparable to the decision to stop small children, girls and boys, from playing with guns, pugnacious video games, or any violent toys. This brutally sincere, enlightened probity, which thinks it will stop war and aggression, in effect aggravates their propensity. This decision evinces loss of trust in the way that play (fairy stories, terrifying films) teaches the difference between fantasy and actuality. The child who is able to explore that border will feel safe in experiencing violent, inner, emotional conflict, and will acquire compassion for other people. The child who is locked away from aggressive experiment and play will be left terrified and paralysed by its emotions, unable to release or face them, for they may destroy the world or himself of herself. The censor aggravates the syndrome she seeks to alleviate; she seeks to rub out in others the border which has been effaced inside herself.

Philosophers who blame philosophy for the ills of civilisation have themselves lost the ability to perceive the difference between thought and being, thought and action. It is they who expunge the difference between fantasy and actuality, between the megalomania projected on to reason and the irreverent forces which determine the outcome of actual conflicts. They have inflated the power of philosophical reason, conferring on it a suppostitious dangerous potency. It is the philosophers, not reason, who thereby degrade the independence of political realities and contingencies. Terrified of their own inner insecurity at the border between rationality and conflict, between the new academic political protestantism and politics as the art of the possible, they proceed as if to terminate philosophy would be to dissolve the difficulty of acknowledging conflict and of staking oneself within it. To destroy philosophy, to abolish or to supercede critical, self-conscious reason, would leave us resourceless to know the difference between fantasy and actuality, to discern the distortion between ideas and their realisation. It would prevent the process of learning, the corrigibility of experience. The ill-will towards philosophy misunderstands the authority of reason, which is not the mirror of the dogma of superstition, but risk.'

Monday, January 31, 2011

solution to chicago cold

1) tape up windows against draft.

2) cover with space blankets!

I had this one left over from when I was making sculptures with them, many moons ago. Glad I brought one with me. I knew it would come in useful.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

note to self

read this

wierd grainy things

This was made on MacPaint emulator (i've just cropped the window this time to focus on the image. It was made by trying to keep changing between the textures so that none would dominate (although the diagonal lines sort of do a bit).

Here is a Hazy thing made on Paintbrush.exe a freeware paint program made to run on new macs in an approximation of an MS Paint/MacPaint- type tool. But I haven't found any textures on it so this is just with the "spray can" tool. But the spray can is its own funny texture, but here it is sensitive to how long you hold the cursor down at any particular point and so in order to get an even feel to the overall tone I had to keep dotting over bits again with white spray when it got too dark and black spray when it got too light. Why am I trying to make pictures that just look like "white noise" or something? Note to self - why is it white noise?

they are both a bit ghosty as they aren't really even at all. This one is a bit neo-Seurat whereas the one above looks like a fake faded t-shirt print.

Wo they do sort of look like they might have things in them. I encourage projection. Maybe I can get famous starting a conspiracy thing of my own. Like I can channel spirits through lo-fi imaging software. The medium is the message and blavatsky is speaking to me...""""""""""""/////""""""""))))0000000000

Saturday, January 29, 2011


This is one of the brushes in photoshop, clicked on the same spot once more each time. The colour kind of "bleeds" a bit more up to a point and it isn't very noticeable. Or you have to move the brush in order to obliterate more of the white space in between the different contours of blue. This series ends up looking like mould growing.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Feng Mengbo, Long March

From PS1 Website

Whilst in NYC I visited PS1 Centre, in Queens and had the chance to see this installation by Feng Mengbo, Long March: Restart (2008)

PS1 Website Says, "Lifting imagery from classic games like Street Fighter II and Super Mario Bros., along with propaganda motifs from Communist China, Mengbo invites visitors to direct the hero-a Red Army soldier-via a wireless controller and combat the various enemies in his digital path."

Its a kind of strange mix of imagery and I am not entirely sure I know what the artist is trying to convey, as the red army protagonist hurls cans of coke as ammunition at his capitalist american enemies - which include soldiers and, as a finale, some sort of giant floating cyber-alien-octopi thing.

The landscapes he travels in vary from American to Chinese. The strangest thing was when watching the game played through by someone who had practiced, after vanquishing the last monster, the character seemed to be left in the last level, without any kind of final congratulatory message, without seemingly any portal to walk through, but over seen by a large pixellated portrait of Chairman Mao. One then simply is left to reload and start the game again.

I wonder if it was something that had not been completed properly at a lower level, as the gamer went through exploding everything in his path. I didn't think my game pad skills honed enough to be able to attempt getting further (I had tried a Nintendo Entertainment System - like how I refer to the full name?! - in the summer and not got past the first level of mario before I had sore patches on my thumbs).

However, I sort of regret not having a go.

If I were to interpret the narrative of the game it seems that one can only successfully combat capital within capital itself, and that Chairman Mao's red army is a symptom of this as much as the coke cans. Both exist within the realm of capitalism. It is hard to know though, as a viewer, if the artist included any 'cheats' or if there was in fact a secret way of transforming capital once and for all, or if the artist was really trying to say this was a game that one couldn't complete, or that it could be as frustrating as banging one's head against a brick wall. In any event these are all sorts of attitudes that do exist, and perhaps the game was simply drawing attention to them in some way.

The other good thing about this was the form of the installation. On one long wall you played the video game - you followed the character on the screen along the scrolling landscape much in the same way as mario or street fighter. On the opposite wall, a kind of close up window was projected, which had been programmed to follow the character in the screen, but englarging the pixels, so that rather than entering the game landscape in the same way, the viewer was brought to examine the way the landscape and the characters had been composed by blocks of color, and see the whole wall as a moving, semi-abstract projection of enlarged pixels. As a player in the game, you had to switch which wall you looked at to play after each level, as the full landscape and the close up landscape would swap sides. It may have just about been possible to play looking at the close up, as the figure was still recognisable, however, the landscape was vastly easier for gaming purposes as one could anticipate what the next obstacle was going to be in advance of the character meeting it. There must have been a separate program developed to do this close up, and to control the projectors. (on the ceiling, for each long wall there were about four projectors linked up to transmit each image).

(This perhaps added another layer of dialectics to the piece as one kept having to turn around to view the next part of the story? Hmm. something like that. need to think about it some more)

Notes from visiting Jon Cates

So nice!

He recommended I interview Alan Kay at al...before its too late.

Was interesting to talk to him about different ways in which older forms of software are reclaimed, and why it is more often the older/obsolete kinds of software that are used in these reclamation projects. Two things are important here - copywritght/ data rights management/digital locks placed on newer forms of software are harder to crack, and in general these obsolete kinds are also cheap and relatively easy to obtain.

It was also interesting that he noted that for young people (20 yr olds) its not a case of nostalgia about these tools, but rather a new kind of phenomenon that has arisen with the internet of feeling like it is possible to just call up any point in history and experience the possibility of reinhabiting that period. The kind of belief that you can search for anything on the internet and you will find it (even if that doesn't always quite work out - there is a kind of assumption that it is possible to do so which just was not ever imagined by previous generations. That this ability to just call up an old kind of media (and probably get one's hands on the actual thing, through online 2nd hand shopping) enables a tangible experience with another point in the history. (In the case of computers - in the history of electronic hardware).

He also expressed a reservation for the kinds of attitude, in looking back at the history of computing, or in working with older software, when it was tinged with the spirit of "going back to a simpler time" in computing - as in a way it was a form of escapism from the more complex digital world we inhabit.

He also told me about the real history of Alan Kay and the guys at Xerox Parc and how they were screwed over by Apple but I'm sure most people reading the internet know about this kind of thing so I am going to check my facts first and then try to recount this episode.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

conspiracy cropped

This is from a bit in the film where there is guy is collecting TVs and trying to tune into some kind of subliminal messages through the wavelengths. He also has a TV strapped to his back.
I feel like I would like to accompany this with the application of Adorno's essay against occultism, but may be straying too far from the boundaries of my thesis. However I think that Andrew Calcutt is right to point to the contrasting character of the Hacker/Slacker in cyber culture. And part of the kind of paranoia bound up in the attitudes of this/to this character-type is something to do with a kind of misplaced anxiety over "control" mechanisms in contemporary culture - which ends up mystifying rather than unveiling a real understanding of historical events.

MacPaint Emulator

Drawings using a Macintosh 1.1 Emulator with original MacPaint.exe
Drawings done using template while watching Richard Linklater's Slacker (1991)
Sometimes I paused the DVD.