Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sensory Substitution



Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Arduino Board

It's been a few months since I purchased the Arduino board, and I finally sat down to start playing with it. My first program is a quick test, converting a Basic Stamp program over. It deals with (pseudo)random generation, outputting simply as LEDs.

* Random Blink
* Should change this so it's more flexible, for any start pin and any end pin.
* This is an analogous program to the random, serial/python script made for the
* Basic Stamp, which logged every single interaction in a SQLite database.
* I will add to this to make it interface with that program next.

int ledPinSet = 9;
int ledPin = 13; // LED connected to digital pin 13
int randTime; // Random 5 PINs
int randPinOn;
int randPinOff;

void setup() // run once, when the sketch starts

do {

pinMode(ledPinSet, OUTPUT); // sets the digital pin as output
ledPinSet += 1;

} while (ledPinSet <>


void loop() // run over and over again
randTime = (500,1500);
randPinOn = random(4);
randPinOff = random(4);
digitalWrite(ledPin - randPinOn, HIGH); // sets the LED on
delay(randTime); // waits for a second
digitalWrite(ledPin - randPinOff, LOW); // sets the LED off
delay(randTime); // waits for a second

There's still a serial output and an integration into python, which saves the random data into a SQLite file, but I'm sure that will be pretty straightforward.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Failure #1

I set out to experiment with effective randomness of multiple penduli. Using found materials and some string brought back from Korea, I set out to construct a scaffold to hold several.

I observed that the more pendulums involved, the more random the motion: one pendulum was very regular and predictable. Two pendulums would cross and intersect, winding up around each other, then unwind and upon separating begin all over again.

Three pendulums would have more erratic behavior. The weight would bend the scaffold more as they moved, introducing new movement. Two pendulums would intertwine, leaving the third to move freely.

The more pendulums, the closer visual approximation of chaos.

Penduli on a scaffold

I also experimented with pulsing one stick with three penduli - moving the stick in a regular up and down motion - simulating a mechanized movement that might be sustained throughout an exhibition. The results were even more interesting. As they began to swing in resonance with the pulsing, they began to wrap themselves around until they could no longer move. This became a dynamic to random state, the equation equal to zero. Very much the opposite of what I was trying to accomplish.

Penduli on a stick

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

the Senster - Edward Ihanowicz

Edward Ihanowicz was born in Poland in 1926. He created his most famous work - the Senster in 1969-71.

Senster worked using sound sensors and motion detectors to locate participants in the audience and follow them with a kind of curiosity that made it seem very life like.

He didn't attempt to mimic life, but rather emulate characteristics of living things. In "Towards a Thinking Machine," Ihnatowicz discusses artificial intelligence, saying that although "scientists are fond of definitions," there are no adequate definitions for "notions such as learning, perception, image, memory, cognition, knowledge, [and] not to mention intelligence itself. [They] are not in any absolute sense definable because they are all descriptions of relationship and attributes of natural systems and their environments. They can be demonstrated and appreciated more easily than defined or proved."

He says to perceive is to become aware of a change, that ultimately perception is just a comparison. This is an important concept - since much of my work deals with perception, and how we quantify and qualify different methods of perception to create our reality - a reality that I'm coming to understand as a simulacrum of reality in our minds: one that displaces the real thing, because it becomes the only reality that matters.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Net Data Space vs. Every Day Life --- Aram Bartholl --- --- Net Data Space vs. Every Day Life --- Aram Bartholl

This is a great idea. It encompasses several aspects, in a brilliantly simple way. Tea light candles are placed in a grid, mimicking a digital screen. Each tea light is covered by a heat-operated switch - a can that has been cut into a fan, with one half cut away. As the Fan spins, the can alternately covers and uncovers the tea light, causing on-off states. First it takes the idea of the pixel and screen, and reduces it to the primitive. The concept of binary is still present, and it is exemplified by a random natural even, encompassing the idea of chaos. The artist invites the audience to make their own, and add it to the installation, even even leaves it open ended, so that it could continue to grow in a scalable fashion reminiscent of a fractal pattern.

Failure vs. Success

Robert Kiyosaki is a business entrepreneur, but his experiences are very apropos to the process of an artist. He says that 90% of all businesses fail in the first 5 years, and of the 10% that don't fail, 90% of those fail in the first 10 years. That means that 99% of all businesses fail within the first 10 years. (3) The process of creation can be very scary and even painful. It's like "jumping out of a plane without a parachute. In midair the [artist] begins building a parachute, and hopes it opens before hitting the ground." (4) He goes on to say, that those that can fail, then get back up into the plane and try again may be able to turn into one of the best learning experiences of their lives.

Dr. Wayne Dyer also has similar things to say on the subject of failure. He suggests that thinking of all the potential outcomes of choices as "neither good nor bad, right nor wrong, even better or worse," one can begin to make choices without fear of failure. (146)

Now, I could get into dictionary definitions of failure and success, and talk about the success rate of this, and the failure rate of that. They're just words. The next 4 months are going to be about failure. Fear of failure, timidly succeeding and outright success on the first try is not an option. I am going to do everything I can to take risks at failing. If I create something that succeeds, I'm going to push it until it fails. To accomplish this, I am going to focus on creating several small projects, the goal being one per week. These may succeed, these may may not, but I'll keep getting back into the airplane.

Related post: Norm on Mistakeology

Kiyosaki, Robert. Before you quit your job. Warner Business Books, New York. 2005
Dyer, Wayne. Your Erroneous Zones. Step by Step Advice for escaping the trap of negative thinking. repr. HarperCollins, New York 1991. orig 1876

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Robot Chair, personification onto an object.

The robot chair - Max Dean
Dean found it very interesting that the audience felt for the chair. If it got stuck, "everyone is getting frustrated. But the machine isn't getting frustrated, we're projecting our own frustration into the chair." [1] Much like Norm White's Helpless Robot, the audience is engaged in unexpected ways when they personify the interactive object, also a kind of robot.

1. Enright, Robert. The Certainity of Machines:Interview with Max Dean. Border Crossings 26 no1 24-37 Mr 2007.

research for independant study

Some links for robotics and robotic artists

The Robotic Chair


September 13: Reading/Research/Creative Sketch
September 20: Reading/Research/Creative Sketch
September 27: Reading/Research/Creative Sketch
October 4: Reading/Research/Proposal Brainstorming
October 11: Proposal Ideas/Outline
October 18: Outline/Maquettes
October 25: Final Draft
November 1: Written Proposal
November 8:
November 15:
November 22: Break, Presentation "Draft"
Nevember 29: Practice
December 6: Tech/Presentation setup
December 13: Comittee review

Norman White on Mistakeology

Over at we make money not art, there's a piece covering Norm White, where he says:
Every technology has its mistakes and accidents already built in. This insight is not new, but it is still consistently ignored in an approach to technology that demands it to be controllable and safe, functional and useful. Technical dysfunctionality is 'repressed' by modern society, in a Freudian sense. Functional discrepancies between people and machines are called 'human failures' even in cases in which the technology is making impossible demands on its human user. Machines and their mistakes are thus an inexhaustible source of humour and parody. [1]
It is the chaos that is created by the unknown that creates the most interesting patterns.

I had the good fortune of listen to Norm speak at MICA, and one powerful statement has stuck with me: "I like to make things that rust." He meant that despite being an interactive artist that works with computers, he prefers if they have a physical, non-screen based component.

I think that one statement caused me to stop wanting to work on the screen, and turn away from early aspirations of being a web designer.

1 Norman White on Mistakeology. Visited 9-06-07.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Greenwich Emotion Map

Christian Nold created the Greenwich Emotion Map - a direct measurement of the participant's emotional response to the the city around them. Greenwich Emotion Map uses GPS technology and a Biomapping Device - utilizing Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) - to read the changes in the participants emotional states.

From the website:
The project is... a series of participatory workshops that invite people to [use] a Bio Mapping device and go for a walk. The device measures the wearer's Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), which is an indicator of emotional arousal.... The resulting maps encourage personal reflection on the complex relationship between us, our environment and our fellow citizens. By sharing this information we can construct maps that visualize where we as a community feel stressed and excited.[1]
This artwork has obvious allusions to the study of psychogeography - the study of the emotional and psychological effects of a cityscape. A "derive" - a seemingly random walk through an urban space, allows a participant in a psychogeographic artwork to experience new areas and characteristics of a city they may feel they already.

Jean Baudrillard stipulates that in simulating an object, the object itself is destroyed. "The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth - it is the truth which conceals that there is none."[2] In this way, the simulacrum replaces the original, because in it's representation of the original, it supplants it and becomes more important.

In Inventing a Beast with No Body, Charles Bergman draws ties between surveillance, and Jean Baudrillard's concept of the Simulacra, and the destruction of the simulated object. He stipulates that the subject of observation becomes the output of the technological device monitoring it. Interestingly, he is talking about surveilling endagered species using radio telemetry devices. "The animal with the radio transmitter disappears as a viable, embodied creature. It emerges... as a frequency on a receiver... [as] coded beeps."[3] Maps are made of the daily journeys, migration patterns, and territorial wanderings. The purpose is to track the signal, and the creature almost becomes insignificant. Furthermore, this data is often used to contain and control these populations. The grey wolf, once extinct in the United States, has been reintroduced, but now poses a threat to local cattle and sheep ranchers. Containment of the animals is necessary to protect the livestock, and often means relocated the already relocated animals. [4]

In much the same way, our technological communication devices and components, notably cell phones, become our simulacrums, and in essence replace our selves. We can use our phones, cars, laptops, and a number of other devices to call up a map of a particular area. In doing so, we have invalidated the time-honored skill of asking for directions, wandering, and getting lost.

2 Baudrillard, Jean. Simulations. Trans Paul Foss, Paul Patton, Phillip Beitchman. New York: Semiotext, 1983.
3 Bergman, Charles. Inventing a Beast with No Body. p257
4 image:

This summer

This summer was spent thinking about this semester, what has been important to me so far, and where I am going.

Last I spoke with you, we talked about ritual and my experience reading Carlos Castaneda. You suggested looking up some of Carolee Schneeman's work, and before doing that, I started to figure out what it is that interests me about Castaneda. I think that Baudrillard's idea of the hyperreal - the simulation that becomes more real than the simulated, is fascinating. We live in physical bodies, and spend much of our time thinking about things, creating identities online, and creating simulations of ourselves. Turkle talks a lot about this second identity and how it affects who we are, and how we actually learn from it, and can incorporate it into our "real/physical" lives. Castaneda used imagery and ritual to simulate an existence beyond the conscious world, and in doing so made it part of his conscious world. The work I had done with Dan and Caleb, with our collaborative piece " Park.TV" began to explore this idea, creating a simulated experience that evoked the participant to create a space in their own mind. I'm presently thinking about the things that we do and don't think about, that help us create our realities.