Dat 402 – Digital Culture

Dead media or zombie media?

Siegfried Zielinski’s concept of ‘deep time’ is adopted from geological research and a focus on a horizon of durations of not only thousands, or millions, but billions of years of history. For Zielinski, this idea points towards the need to look at media too in terms of their long-term relations that radically steps out of the short-term use value that is promoted by capitalist media industries. As a political and ecological twist to this, one project that takes its impulse directly from media-archaeological and dead-media debates is the Dead Media lab by Garnet Hertz – the already-mentioned California-based artist and writer. Hertz’s creative practice is informed by deep involvement in various ‘tinkering’ methodologies, from circuit bending to DIY robotics, and he has been able to connect that with media-archaeological interests – something we have, in collaboration, also called ‘zombie media’ of the living deads of media culture (Hertz and Parikka 2012).

Hertz’s project picks up Bruce Sterling’s call for a sustained interest in knowledge of media that are dead, and discarded outside normal use in everyday life – but still can have much artistic and other value. Hertz twists this further into an ecological project, or even ecosophic in the sense that Félix Guattari (2000) talks of ecosophy as reinvention of the various transversal relations between the social, the psyche, the economic and the environment. Dead Media Lab becomes hence much more than a lab for repurposing information technology – Hertz quotes the statistics on the hundreds of millions of still-operational devices that are discarded in the US alone. It is also a social laboratory for those practices that engage both in thinking about future green information technologies and in promoting community engagement in DIY methods that are inventive everyday reuses and appropriations of the art methods of the early twentieth-century avant-garde – repurposing existing media and ‘readymades’ becomes less about Duchamp and more about circuit bending and hacking workshops at community centres. It closely relates to the ‘rematerializing’ tendencies in electronic waste that force us to think about the natural history of electronics, well analysed by Jennifer Gabrys (2011).

The link to media archaeology becomes most clearly voiced in this part of his Dead Media Lab call – innovation through media history:

The history of obsolete information technology is fruitful ground for unearthing innovative projects that floundered due to a mismatch between technology and socioeconomic contexts. Because social and economic variables continually shift through time, forgotten histories and archaeologies of media provide a wealth of useful ideas for contemporary development. In other words, the history of technological obsolescence is cheap R&D that offers fascinating seeds of development for those willing to dig through it. This lab encourages the study of obsolescence and reuse in media history as a foundation for understanding the dynamics of media change. (www.conceptlab.com/deadmedia/)

As cheap R&D, media-archaeological ideas about memory, time, duration and obsolescence are part of a wider artist–activist engagement. Less a textual method, circuit bending and hardware hacking are related to thinking about media history in fresh ways that also engage with the important question of how we are able to reuse devices that too easily and too quickly end up in waste sites.

Hence, work such as Hertz’s ties in to both the lineage of media-archaeological artists such as DeMarinis, who has also been interested in the wider environmental ideas concerning media (nature as media) and equally to such initiatives as, for instance, the Mediashed in the UK. Mediashed key activity revolves around the call for ‘free media’ that are outside the proprietary platforms, and hence open both legally and technically. Mediashed’s work has focused on both software and reusing waste and junk materials (such as electronic devices and parts) for community and artistic purposes. In addition, they have shown an interest in ‘obsolescent’ forms of communication in their EcoMedia theme days and projects that expand the idea of communication to various techniques, from shouting, spitting and smelling to pigeon communication, all found in natural bodies. (For a connection to media archaeology and imaginary media, see Parikka 2011a.)

In such projects, we are moving farther away from what has usually been the safe ground of media archaeology. Even if ‘redundancy’, ‘obsolescence’, ‘time’ and ‘dead media’ connected the approaches of both free media activists and media archaeologists, the latter have, as Kahn too flagged, been reluctant to be that political. Yet to me, this link that Hertz is able to make is of crucial value in expanding media-archaeological theory and art methods. Hence, in addition to Mediashed, another clear link would also be the UK-based Redundant Technology Initiative (http://rti.lowtech.org/intro/) that grounds all of its activity in ‘technology that they could acquire for nothing’. As such, it has meant concrete spaces for Free Media tinkering (Access Space is characterized on their website as ‘an open-access digital reuse centre’ for learning and teaching), as well as projects that recircuit back to recent media history, even in the form of Mac Hypercards, ASCII-text, 28.8K faxes repurposed as part of an imaginary TV-feedback system, and manifestos promoting ‘low tech’ (http://rti.lowtech.org/).

As we argue with Hertz (Hertz and Parikka 2012), techniques of media-archaeological art like circuit bending are crucial for a wider environmental consciousness. The aesthetic tactics and various ‘minor’ methods such as circuit bending, hardware tinkering and so forth are important links to a wider activist stance towards technical media. The increasingly closed nature of consumer technology (see Guins 2009) is the other side of the coin in this call to reuse old technology. This closedness is what really defines proprietary platforms. A large amount of current consumer technology is not meant to be opened, tinkered with and reused, and this is guaranteed through various measures, ranging from Digital Rights Management that legally restricts users’ possible actions to the various design strategies that make it very difficult to engage in, for instance, circuit bending. Such techniques can indeed be seen as ‘minor’ but they are important for illuminating how technological solutions relate to power relations. Even design solutions – using glue instead of screws – are part of this wider regime of controlling patterns of (re)use (cf. Kittler 1997).

Furthermore, this relates to the wider politics of ‘planned obsolescence’ (Hertz and Parikka 2012), which can be seen as the background for much of consumer society, including technology. In such perspectives, the wider history of reuse in avant-garde art

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from Duchamp to DJing and VJing not only is about innovations through remixing and mash-ups, but is set against the demand for originality and newness that drives production of technology. As a form of governing production and demanding constant replaceability, ‘planned obsolescence’ has, since the 1930s, been seen as a form of enforced obsolescence and as supporting new product design. Yet, during the last decades it has become even more evident that such a drive for creation is unsupportable in

terms of the ecological load it creates and distributes very unevenly as part of the global economy.

 

Siegfried Zielinkski – concept of time

Siegfried is a German media theorist, he was a part of the media theory: archaeology and variantology of the media at Berlin University of the arts. He wrote and directed the documentary film “Responses to HOLOCAUST in Western Germany” which is currently collected at the pale centre in New York.
In 1989 he took up his first full professorship at the university of Salzburg.

Dead media is about the explorative use of dying media recycled as a literal artistical medium. It is often associated with theorists such as; Siegfried Zielinksi whom is renowned for his theory of deep time of media which, unveils the hidden layers of media development from decades with the likes of the Greek philosopher Empedocles. Furthermore, artists like Garnet Hertz a Canadian known for his electronic artworks including the likes of circuit bending and research into the area of critical making. Overall Dead media exposes and encompasses the methodology of “Bringing in the new with the old”.

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DAT 404 – Web technologies

Top 10 websites

I have made a selection of top ten websites that I can use for inspiration.

  1. Bert BV – https://bert.house/en/

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2. Basic agency  – http://www.basicagency.com/yir/

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3. Mike Dekker – http://mikedekker.com

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4. Sennheiser –  http://www.sennheiser-reshapingexcellence.com/en#

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5. Weather – https://weather.withspotify.com

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6. Rainforest foods –  https://www.rainforestfoods.com/experience/#!/slide-intro

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7. Kaliber – https://kaliber.net

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8. Shake interactive – http://shakeinteractive.no/en/

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9. Lucyhardcastle – https://lucyhardcastle-thefifthsense.i-d.co/en_gb/room/molten/

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10.Indofolio – http://www.indofolio.com

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DAT 405 creative coding

The brief I was given for this brief was to produce a connect 4 game with Processing an open-source language based on Java.

View the code on Github

Processing

For the past fourteen years, Processing has promoted software literacy, particularly within the visual arts, and visual literacy within technology. Initially created to serve as a software sketchbook and to teach programming fundamentals within a visual context, Processing has also evolved into a development tool for professionals. The Processing software is free and open source, and runs on the Mac, Windows, and GNU/Linux platforms.

Processing continues to be an alternative to proprietary software tools with restrictive and expensive licenses, making it accessible to schools and individual students. Its open source status encourages the community participation and collaboration that is vital to Processing’s growth. Contributors share programs, contribute code, and build libraries, tools, and modes to extend the possibilities of the software. The Processing community has written more than a hundred libraries to facilitate computer vision, data visualization, music composition, networking, 3D file exporting, and programming electronics.

Processing is currently developed primarily in Boston (at Fathom Information Design), Los Angeles (at the UCLA Arts Software Studio), and New York City (at NYU’s ITP).

Education

From the beginning, Processing was designed as a first programming language. It was inspired by earlier languages like BASIC and Logo, as well as our experiences as students and teaching visual arts foundation curricula. The same elements taught in a beginning high school or university computer science class are taught through Processing, but with a different emphasis. Processing is geared toward creating visual, interactive media, so the first programs start with drawing. Students new to programming find it incredibly satisfying to make something appear on their screen within moments of using the software. This motivating curriculum has proved successful for leading design, art, and architecture students into programming and for engaging the wider student body in general computer science classes.

Processing is used in classrooms worldwide, often in art schools and visual arts programs in universities, but it’s also found frequently in high schools, computer science programs, and humanities curricula. Museums such as the Exploratorium in San Francisco use Processing to develop their exhibitions. In a National Science Foundation-sponsored survey, students in a college-level introductory computing course taught with Processing at Bryn Mawr College said they would be twice as likely to take another computer science class as the students in a class with a more traditional curriculum.

The innovations in teaching through Processing have been adapted for the Khan Academy computer science tutorials, offered online for free. The tutorials begin with drawing, using most of the Processing functions for drawing. The Processing approach has also been applied to electronics through the Arduino and Wiring projects. Arduino uses a syntax inspired by that used with Processing, and continues to use a modified version of the Processing programming environment to make it easier for students to learn how to program robots and countless other electronics projects.

Culture

The Processing software is used by thousands of visual designers, artists, and architects to create their works. Projects created with Processing have been featured at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and many other prominent venues. Processing is used to create projected stage designs for dance and music performances; to generate images for music videos and film; to export images for posters, magazines, and books; and to create interactive installations in galleries, in museums, and on the street. Some prominent projects include the House of Cards video for Radiohead, the MIT Media Lab’s generative logo, and the Chronograph projected software mural for the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center in Miami. But the most important thing about Processing and culture is not high-profile results – it’s how the software has engaged a new generation of visual artists to consider programming as an essential part of their creative practice.

Research

Software prototyping and data visualization are two of the most important areas for Processing developers. Research labs inside technology companies like Google and Intel have used Processing for prototyping new interfaces and services. Companies including General Electric, Nokia, and Yahoo! have used Processing to visualize their internal data. For example, the New York Times Company R&D Lab used Processing to visualize the way their news stories travel through social media. The NSF and NOAA supported research exploring phytoplankton and zooplankton diversity that was realized at the University of Washington as a dynamic ecology simulation. Researchers at the Texas Advanced Computer Center at UT Austin have used Processing to display large data visualizations across a grid of screens in the service of humanities research.

Foundation

The primary charge of the Foundation is to develop and distribute the Processing software. This includes the original Processing (Java), p5.js (Javascript), and Processing.py (Python). There is more information about the Foundation at http://foundation.processing.org/.

History

Processing was started by Ben Fry and Casey Reas in the spring of 2001, while both were graduate students at the MIT Media Lab within John Maeda’s Aesthetics and Computation research group. Development continued in their free time while Casey pursued his artistic and teaching career and Ben pursued a Ph.D. and founded Fathom Information Design. Many of the ideas in Processing go back to Muriel Cooper’s Visual Language Workshop, and it grew directly out of Maeda’s Design By Numbers project, developed at the Media Lab and released in 1999. The Wiring and Arduino projects, in turn, grew out of Processing while Casey was teaching at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea in Italy. Processing also prompted John Resig (jQuery) to build Processing.js, a JavaScript version that then inspired more related work such as the Khan Academy curriculum in computer science. Versions of Processing that use Python, Ruby, ActionScript, and Scala are also in development. Processing and its sister projects have inspired over twenty educational books.

 

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