Review of Shih Chieh Huang at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in Daily Serving

daily_serving

The flickering, multi-colored lights of Shih Chieh Huang’s installation Synthetic Seduction, now on view at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, reminds me of the cellular and molecular models found in biology classrooms. When I was a student, one of the ways in which I learned about organic forms was by placing mitochondria, lysosomes, and nuclei in their correct locations in these models. Huang also re-creates life with synthetic, mundane materials, but with much more technical and mechanical sophistication. While Huang’s forms may not overtly mimic reality, his work serves as an interpretation of structures working in concert. Read the entire write-up here.

Friday Night Reading

Friday Night Reading

There’s nothing like spending a quiet night with a hot cup of tea and reading for pleasure! While the Rushkoff book is directly related to my research, it’s an easy and accessible read on a relatively complicated issue of programming and contemporary culture. I plan on finishing up Saturday afternoon. As for The Influencing Machine by Brooke Gladstone, I’ve eyed this book since it came out and finally picked up with Program or Be Programmed. I’m a huge sucker for graphic novels and perused this one in particular since it is describes the history and current state of media. I’ll let you know how that one turns out. It looks great considering she covers topics from government outreach to journalism to fairness bias to the notion of objectivity. In any case, I wanted to throw something on the blog since I’ve been busy with work, school, and a few freelance projects (which I will be posting soon – hint: Asterisk SF’s next issue is the IDEA issue and a few curatorial contributions in the pipeline for a couple of larger art shows – fun times!).

All right, I should get going. It’s not even Friday, it’s EARLY Saturday morning! Eeeesh. Til next time!!

Arts Organization Feature on Gray Area Foundation for the Arts

Asterisk Arts Organization feature on Gray Area Foundation for the Arts (GAFFTA)

On San Francisco’s bustling, highly trafficked Market Street, the organization Gray Area Foundation for the Arts (GAFFTA), is changing the face of arts and technology in a significant and dramatic way. Seeing a lack of representation in the digital arts movement accompanied by a profound interest in creating a space where such art could be seen, founder and Executive Director Josette Melchor created the nonprofit in 2009 in the midst of a financial crisis. Despite the downturn in the economy, Melchor dedicated her efforts to creating a space for both aspiring and established artists and creative technologists. From interactive artworks and data visualization to creative coding, this organization has become one of the most prominent spaces for arts and technology, fostering change and innovation not only regionally, but also internationally.

At its core, Gray Area works with established artists such as Aaron Koblin and Camille Utterback to expose the public to software-based works that are both interactive and immersive through various tools of technology, such as programming, coding and data visualization. Integrating audio- and sensory-based controls, the works you might experience at a GAFFTA exhibition or event undoubtedly showcase most ingenious and experimental uses of programming technology and how contemporary art is created. Even donations to Gray Area have been made into a work of art. The nationally recognized and award-winning work Seaquence is a virtual art piece intertwined with a participatory aspect where donors are given a gift in return: a musical life form. Resident artists Ryan Alexander, Gabriel Dunne and Daniel Massey co-created this interactive music platform, forming multifaceted art to dynamically and physically enable donors to see their contributions transform within a virtual environment, thus becoming part of an even larger visual- and music-based system. Gray Area artists, technologists and faculty are constantly forging radical new ways to bring the community into the creation and discussion of the work. Although the organization can easily boast its tremendous creative talent, the exceptionally skilled faculty aims to teach novice technologists within the community both technical and artistic skills such as programming and electronics. The goal is to draw different sets of curious minds into the discussion and progression, bridging the gaps between arts and technology.

Gray Area is particularly well known for weekend events called hack-a-thons, which gather creative professionals across multiple disciplines such as art, engineering, education, architecture, journalism and writing. These events facilitate the creation of mobile applications, with objectives such as fostering transparent communication between citizens and government officials. Hack-a-thon participants also produce conceptual artworks that transform public data into visually dynamic pieces. More recently, the nonprofit was awarded a $100,000 grant by the National Endowment for the Arts to put toward the implementation of a National Data Canvas Project. According to Gray Area, “The project will distribute data-driven art in urban environments across the United States and will include a mobile application for public use. Utilizing data.gov, the project will allow the general public an enjoyable and engaging way to discover new information through artistic data visualization and interactivity.” Essentially, the project will allow for artists, designers and developers across the nation to create works in their own region based on creative coding assembled by the San Francisco–based Gray Area team.

Situated in San Francisco’s Tenderloin, Gray Area wanted to take part in the overall revitalization of the neighborhood by bringing some the city’s brightest creative talent to the district to assist in affecting change. As this center takes on even more demanding and worthwhile projects, there is one particular initiative that is both notable and eye-opening. The Creative Currency: New Tools for a New Economy is the latest initiative seeking to bring community leaders and organizers, politicians, artists and technology professionals together to affect change within a community with their collective skills.

Originally published and posted to Asterisk SF Magazine, please click here to view

Come Out and Play Festival & Exhibition Game Test Experience | Sensoree’s Galvanic Extimacy Responder (GER)

What if you could physically see and identify a person’s emotions through visible biofeedback? Or gauge a potential mate’s interest? How many times have you wanted to know what someone else was feeling? Growing up, it’s common to wonder what any of us might do with extra-sensory perception or abilities. Although there is no way to implant programs and download directly into our bodies or hardwire our brains (yet), creative technologists are constantly finding ways to work with how we learn and engage through game play. Aside from language, one of the defining features of human nature is the ability to express emotions and feelings. Whether it’s through our facial expressions to the tone and pitch of our voices, advancements in technology allow us to figure out ways to learn more about human interaction. Sensoree’s Galvanic Extimacy Responder (GER) may provide fascinating answers to many of the aforementioned questions. GER designer, Kristin Neidlinger, created a soft wearable device reflecting the mood of the wearer. Although taking the intimacy of emotions and offering up a tangible and experiential connection to others might seem playful and whimsical, it speaks to the human desire of connection. The Sensoree website provides a simple yet robust description of the GER,“The high collar, bowl positioned with LEDs reflects onto the self for instant biofeedback and acts as a tele-display or external blush for the other”.

Last Sunday, a group of eager game testers gathered at the SOMArts Cultural Center in San Francisco. Armed with anticipation, the testers included game designers, ZERO1 art ambassadors, developers, engineers, art patrons, avid gamers, artists, and creative technologists. The diverse range of participants resulted in a wide array of feedback for the Sensoree design team. With an affinity towards anything psychologically based, I opted to test Sensoree’s GER, which is defined specifically as the “sensor that detects excitement levels and translates mood into a palette of affective colors”. The game participants wore a large soft fabric ring that resembled a cowl neck scarf. The GER fabric was translucent enough to display soft colors with a corresponding emotion:

  • Green = Zen | Peaceful | Placid
  • Blue = Calm | Relaxed | Focused
  • Purple = Inspired | Alert | Perked
  • Pink = Excited | Aroused | Eager
  • Red = Nervous | Delirious | In Love
  • White = Nirvana | Bliss | Transcendent

Variations of game play included teams of approximately four individuals deciding on a particular emotion and eliciting that particular emotion for the team mate wearing the GER. At first, one of my teammates tried to make my scarf a steady red. Not so surprisingly, he asked me to imagine a very angry editor wanting changes to a work that took me quite some time to finish. Yes, it went straight to red. For the team challenge, I wore the GER and my teammates instructed me to close my eyes and imagine overtly serene landscapes (i.e., babbling brook, a quiet mountain side, etc.) while encouraging me to focus on my breath. Hoping this would translate into green lit GER, it took my team about ten minutes to have the GER emanate green and consistently keep me in a ‘zen, peaceful, and placid’ state. Yet, the GER works differently for each person. For SOMArts Gallery Director and Curator Justin Hoover, the GER was constantly lit at Blue with very seldom color changes. Later, the group learned he studied Martial Arts! Not too entirely sure what that says about me or my sweat glands other than I probably need to meditate a bit more to control my emotions! Either way, Sensoree’s GER had the entire group of testers discussing the overall design and objective of the GER, which seemed to provide Neidlinger and her team some useful information on how the GER might perform within a larger audience.

On our daily commutes, we see faces turned downward to phones and headphones or ear buds blocking out the sounds of the environment. Therein lies the conundrum of how we interact and evolve alongside rapidly changing technology. In looking at the intersections of art and technology, ZERO1’s biennial theme ‘Seeking Silicon Valley’ aims to showcase innovation emerging far beyond the physical region as well as deepen our understanding of cultures and sub-cultures on a global scale. Although the Galvanic Extimacy Responder (GER) may be based in technology, it necessitates and reminds us that human interaction is the catalyst for connection in our search for the meaning and understanding of Silicon Valley.

Originally posted to ZERO1, please view here

ZERO1 HackFlux at The Glint

Seventy two hours overlooking the San Francisco cityscape in a mansion atop Twin Peaks sounds like a pretty nice getaway, doesn’t it? For the artists and creative professionals last weekend at The Glint it wasn’t very much time to create a mobile application for the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial. But the groups pulled through with some amazing ideas and a network of new friends and potential colleagues. Hackflux participant, web developer, Anna Billstrom, remarked that it was,

“…nice being in a personal space. From the very beginning, from the first pitch, I talked honestly about what inspires me and even when ideas did not make sense, people went along with the them”.

Nika Jones, Cloud Computing and Web Developer shared a similar sentiment,

“I had the chance to collaborate with back-end designers, artists, and developers. It was an interesting space. It helped to bring out a lot of creativity and ideas. The people I’ve met here are people I would want to stay in touch with.”

Danielle Siembieda, ZERO1’s Community Engagement Manager, opened up the final day of the hackathon by introducing jury members and extending gratitude to The Glint co-founders, Alexandros Pagidas and Damian Madray, who were also jurors for the weekend’s event.

As ZERO1’s inaugural hackathon, the team gathered for a weekend of creative thinking and coding in the hopes of creating an application that could be implemented as a useable product for the ZERO1 2012 Biennial. In addition, the application is slated to be open source for other teams interested in creating their own iteration of the winning app. Cultivation of ideas and allowing other to build off of what has been created are only a few elements that help make hackathons successful. With open source coding, these apps and products are developed, reworked, and possibly cast into another format all together. For HackFlux, the jurors were looking for the following criteria:

  • Viability – Is it feasible to create the App with the resources provided? Can it be sustained and maintained?
  • Concept – What is the strength of the idea? Is it creative? Innovative?
  • Does it meet the scope of the App and beyond?

The jury consisted of the following individuals:

The tech advisory committee consisted of the following individuals:

  • Brendan Wypich
  • Dan Zeitman
  • Doniece Sandoval
  • Greg Gopman
  • Michael Shiloh
  • Myles Weissleder, SF New Tech
  • Rajiv Patel
  • Sarah Nahm
  • Sian Morson

PROJECT TEAMS

Team Visitor Information App (VIA): DC Spensley and Nika Jones

Spensley and Jones proposed an application that included three modes: scheduling, event, and mapping. The development of this particular app was based on the previous biennial. The idea was to have the end user experience the biennial with the convenience of planning and mapping out the experience they want! Ideally, the small events screen would take the user to event options with information pulled from the ZERO1 website. A “Share” option would be built so people are able to connect prior to an event. The map suite would be based on iOS mapping but work in conjunction with android and Google Maps. Parking availability pops up and the “Stars” signify where you have been. The user testing has been estimated at 90 days and would require receiving a ‘tickle’ via SMS or audio (for the visually impaired).

Team Parque Art: Romy Ilano, Athena Chow, and Timothy Evans

The Parque Art team presented a product feature to work in conjunction with another fully developed app. Essentially, the team envisioned (re)making the journey to biennial events as a basis for their work. They started their presentation with the idea that “parking is never a pleasant experience” and team member, Romy Ilano noted during the introduction, “Disneyland cleverly turns the trip from the parking lot to the entrance into a wonderful adventure (i.e., tram ride, fairy, etc.)”, which was the impetus for creating the Parque Art app feature. Since attendees spend approximately 10-15 minutes between their car or public transportation and the final destination, Parque Art, ideally, would help ‘set the tone’ for the overall biennial experience. The app would include soundscapes, simple mp3 audio (i.e., audio art, spoken word poetry, music, etc.) of participating biennial artists. Geo-location through a mobile web API would be embedded into the primary mobile website.

Team ZERO1 IN: Allison Holt and Lisa Benham

The ZERO1 IN team developed an idea that is a location based app/module that could serve as the foundation for a fully developed app. The ZERO1 IN app would include an interactive festival map and guide along with a “Printed Map” for individuals that do not have a smartphone but want to participate in the gaming experience. Overall, the app is an interactive scavenger hunt. The three levels of complexity included: 1) Feeling Clever, 2) Middle Path, 3) Where am I? The breakdown of level is listed below:

  • Feeling Clever: Ability to choose a language to explore the biennial (64 language via Google translate)! Very few dots and cryptic clues leading to artworks and exhibitions.
  • Middle Path: Less ‘dots’ on middle path (UNLESS you unlock), technologically, the experience would rely on human cleverness!! Artist’s text and cryptic photograph included on this level.
  • Where am I? Complete guide and details to the biennial! No guesswork!!

With enough development time, the team was hoping to develop features that would allow users to filter artists (i.e., music, LED-based, visual, etc.), take pictures, and create a mosaic of the biennial experience.

THE WINNING TEAM

Team REACTOR – The Reaction Trader: Anna Billstrom, Kelsey Innis, and Helen Mair

The Reaction Trader app idea by Anna Billstrom, Kelsey Innis, and Helen Mair would allow users to react to artworks with geo-location as a way to connect with other users. The app would allow crowdsourced reactions to artworks through drawing, speech, or texting. With every reaction, the user will receive two anonymous comments in return of the same artwork, which serves as an incentive to truly engage and interact with other biennial goers! The team stated there would be notifications based on location, log-ins to other social networking sites (i.e., Facebook, Four Square, etc.), and the ability to rate and flag reactions. The higher rating a comment receives, that comment would be placed into a public gallery for all users to see!! With the gamification of comments, the Reaction Trader is definitely a promising tool to promote interactivity. One of the impressive aspects of the Reactor Team’s weekend was an actual working demo to showcase on the final day! In the future, visualizations of reactions may be built into a living map of the biennial!! As the winning idea, the REACTOR team will work with the Core Team towards the development and launch (September 2012) of the application to approximately 100,000 end users! ZERO1 will market and be accessible beyond Biennial dates to work with the winning team!

ABOUT THE ZERO1 APP LAB

The objective is to create a seamless visitor experience through mobile technology for the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial. This year’s theme is “Seeking Silicon Valley”. Our goal is to create a collaborative social science experiment exploring how an app can create community, interaction, and navigation in a clear and interesting format. We plan to utilize a variety of techniques and practitioners that will include, but is not limited to: alternate reality, geo location and mapping, mobile technology, storytelling, and augmented reality. Secondly, we plan to develop a ZERO1 API that can be built upon and used by ZERO1 artists, fellows and used for future ZERO1 Marketing, Programming and Garage.

Check out photos from HackFlux on Flickr here

Originally posted to ZERO1 blog, please click here

ZERO1 Artist Alumni, Tim Roseborough ~ “A Puzzling Display” Online Arts and Culture Game

A Puzzling Display by Tim Roseborough

Official Press Release and Text Source: Tim Roseborough, Digital and New Media Artist

A Puzzling Display” is a new artist-created online arts and culture game, where registered participants compete and test their arts and culture knowledge. Inspired by the annual “puzzle hunts” hosted by institutions such as MIT and Microsoft, Silicon Valley digital artist Tim Roseborough has created “A Puzzling Display”: an Internet-based set of 20 intelligent and challenging interactive puzzles covering topics such as art history, music, film and culture.

In the 21st century, gaming and game-related paradigms are steadily integrating themselves into contemporary culture. “A Puzzling Display,” continues Roseborough’s exploration of the techniques and theories of gaming and play in the context of contemporary art. The website will be accompanied by an exhibition of Roseborough’s limited edition prints that translate each puzzle into the artist’s “Englyph” writing system, created via hieroglyphic-like images from everyday language. With an aim of blurring the distinction between fine art and diversion, Roseborough’s virtual artwork incorporates interactivity, video, sound art, and computer animation to take a fresh look at arts and culture. For “A Puzzling Display”, Roseborough has utilized limericks, silhouettes, common names, videos and art charades to challenge gamers.  All of the challenges are fun, but not all of them are easy. The order in which you play the challenges is up to you.

  • Win points for correct answers, check your overall progress and compare your score with other players on the scoreboard.
  • The competitive game time coincides with an exhibition of prints related to the game at the New Art Center in New York City.
  • The dates of the exhibition are May 1-19, 2012. The game begins at 8am EDT on May 1, 2012 and ends at 11:59pm EDT on May 20th, 2012.
  • The first five players to reach a perfect score or the highest five scorers at the end of the competition will receive 8″ x 10″ prints from the exhibition signed by the artist and infinite bragging rights!

A Puzzling Display: How to Play

1) Register:

Register for the game by choosing a username and email. You will be asked to verify your account with an email address. Your address will not be shared with or sold to a third party.

Q: Why do I have to register to play?

A: Registering with a username, password and email address will allow you to play the game at your pace, check your progress and compare your progress with others’.

2) Pick a Challenge:

Pick from twenty (20) challenges. You can play the challenges in any order you like.

Q: Should I start with the first puzzle? 

A: The challenges are loosely arranged from easier to more difficult, by you may have skills and knowledge that may help you do better on some puzzles more than others. Feel free to explore!

3) Explore the Puzzle:

Read the instructions above each puzzle carefully, as they hold clues to solving the puzzle. Be sure to click around the puzzle space below, as the challenges are sometimes behind the Englyph artwork.

Q: I’m stuck! Can I get some help?

A: Don’t be afraid to use search engines or the links provided at the bottom of this page to help you solve the puzzles.

4) Enter Your Answers

Answer entry fields are always below the puzzle space. As an aid, the correct number of letters for each answer is displayed. Your score on each challenge will be revealed immediately after you submit answers.

Q: Does punctuation count in the answers?

A: Letter counts do not include punctuation except for the dot (“.”) in a URL, but feel free to enter appropriate non-letter characters. They will not be counted in your answer. 

Q: How many times can I submit answers?

A: You can only submit answers once per challenge, so check them carefully before submitting. Feel free to write down your answers on scratch paper. 

Q: When can I see the correct answers?

A: Correct answers to the puzzles will only be posted after the main competition is over, after 11:59pm, May 20, 2012.

5) Check Your Progress

You can track your progress by clicking on the “My Progress” link and check your scores against other players by clicking on the “Scoreboard” link.

About the Artist

Tim Roseborough is a digital artist and musician. His artwork and exhibitions have been featured in numerous publications, including Art In America, ARTNews, San Francisco Chronicle, SF Arts Monthly, SF Examiner, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Roseborough has performed and exhibited his artwork nationally, including the 2010 ZERO1 Biennial, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Root Division, Artexpo New York, The Garage San Francisco, ARTWork SF, and the Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco. Mr. Roseborough lives and works in San Francisco, California. Please visit his site and learn more about A Puzzling Display here.