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.

Pixel Platypi

Here he is, to brushing the history of the GIF against the grain.

here's some other still pics i tried out:

watched Star Wars because of ILM and that Turps article

largely inspired by my friend Maise James' drawing style I think. Drawn on Windows 7 MSPaint.

also watched "Slackers" by Richard Linklater whilst drawing on a Macintosh 1.0 MacPaint emulator. (Those to come soon) This was after reading a chapter in White Noise: An A-Z of the Contradictions in Cyberculture by Andrew Calcutt, he has a chapter called Hackers v Slackers which is a kind of interesting take on the kinds of contrasting stereotypes written about Generation X in the media: the internet simultaneously breeding a dangerous generation of computer hackers posing a threat to international security, v. gamers/listless youth who never leave their bedrooms.

p.s. Also re Starwars and Digital Paint Programs, was reading this:

Martin Constable on Painting & the Digital Remastering of the Blockbuster. Issue 5:
issue cover shotIssue 5

Been working but not been uploading in a while so its all kind of coming in a lump. These aren't v good.

nice colour combos. these were green arrows that were covered in grey, with a purple border and some yellow underlining that was also partially masked in grey.

two blue pentagons in a graphite pencil effect fill. one with a graphite pencil effect outline, the other with no effect on the outline. outside a basic blue fill too.

little paintings

i like this little thing

all the brushes in all the thicknesses in Windows 7 MSPaint.

Look at these fabulous tools. Can you name them all? I like crayon (bottom left) and oil paint (bottom right). Who maps out the individual structure of these marks and how do they decide on them? That's the kind of thing I'm trying to get at, basically.

The Chicago Cultural Centre seating area. A strange kind of safe haven

Drawn with the "oil paint tool" in Windows 7 MS Paint, then background fill applied. Didn't look very good printed out. Few of these did.
I'm trying to work out what it is about the tablet that lends a different feel to these things (than drawn with pencil) it may be that it is simply a case of approximating a pencil or pen and drawing in a way that feels closer to the tool being approximated than when drawing with a mouse. But how as an artist does one try to address that within the drawing? Why do I think that is important to do? Is it even interesting to do so?
In terms of an evironment to draw in on a computer, one thing about working in a cafe is that other people are on laptops too, and it feels comparatively a safe place to sit and work and watch (and draw) people. Part of the thing about these cafes that is so weird is that presumably these people with laptops have them so that they can work at home, or to be flexible between home and work. If they have laptops they can probably afford to make their own coffee too, but not infrequently they(we) choose to pay for the privilege of someone else's labor time to make us coffee, so that we can sit and work in the vicinity of strangers and drink coffee.
But then again the thing about laptops (which I think Stephen Johnson refers to in Interface culture, but it maybe Matthew Fuller in Software Studies, I'll have to double check) and, indeed web culture more generally is that the boundaries between work and leisure are blurred and so our laptops become this place where one accesses both employment (sells one's labor time) and entertainment (pays for one's leisure time - even if one is streaming stuff - time is money so the time you spend searching for the latest thing you want to watch for free us traded for time you could have spent selling your labor).
And indeed if you work in the culture or entertainments industry the boundaries between work research and leisure might become none existent and yet then you would probably get bored of whatever it is you HAD to work on and look for something else.
So when I am sat in a cafe in the middle of the day, daydreaming or drawing with my tablet and laptop, or writing my thesis or not writing my thesis (not getting paid, paying for all of this time), I experience a kind of distance from the activity I am doing. I choose to experience this in the company of a lot of other people in the same space. Alienation in the future is perhaps not how we imagined it would be in the past (in pods or something) because we are there already in our spacey chipboard curved walls of the nearest franchised beverage outlet.
Reverie "au bon pain"…

My ambivalent relationship with 21st Century Cafe Culture continues.