Author Archives: tigistk

Art and Technology

In thinking about we feel fine I was conflicted in trying to figure out how I felt about the project, in terms of its function.  This desire to attribute some sort of purpose or functionality on this project is most likely embedded in this idea that our technology must be used for some sort of productive end goal.  The project of we feel fine IS doing something, it is creating a documented compilation of what we have coded as feelings all over the internet.  As users of the internet continue to blog and express what they are thinking, doing, feeling with the specific words “I feel,” it is an interesting concept to explore the internal and individual emotion through the written and shared word of “feel.”  Perhaps we can draw conclusions about the shared experiences and lives of the people who are using cyberspace to express these deep and heartfelt emotions with the world.   In recognizing this as being the work that we feel fine is doing, it becomes easier to understand the diverse role that technology and the internet can play in our lives.  Clearly there is the use of digital technology in an art space and atmosphere, which is easy to understand because the function in that work is not necessarily tied to producing some sort of object or completing a task.  However, projects that use technology in ways that straddle that line between art and machine are more interesting to look at, and ultimately open up our eyes to the multifaceted uses of technology.

Final project

Here’s the link to my final project:

The applets aren’t up there, but let me know if you want them sent to you!

Reflecting on Writing Machines-Spring 2010

This class was really one of my favorites.  I think there were a lot of things that worked really well in terms of how the class was organized and run, as well as the content of the class.

Google Wave turned out to be a really helpful resource for the class.  At first it took some getting used to, but it did allow for everyone to assist in putting up ideas from the class discussion and then have that as a resource later.  The class room’s physical layout and the fact that everyone had a computer to use was pretty key to the class and using google wave made it easy to keep everyone from getting too distracted on their computers.
The blog was really helpful and interesting and a nice addition to the class’s discussions, readings and goals, the only thing is sometimes two posts per week were difficult to keep up with.  Otherwise people brought in a lot of really interesting ideas and connections onto the blog, expanding our topics even further into our lives/cyberspace.  Also, leaving up the blogs even after the class is over is great and will allow us to constantly look back and check out the interesting connections we’d made all semester.

The readings were awesome – the progression of the topics made sense in a theoretical and historical way – with each topic building off the last.

This was really a great class and I think that one thing to not change though is in keeping it small – I don’t think the class would have worked as well or been as engaging if it were in a much larger setting.

Thanks for a great semester all!

Technology and Violence

In McKenzie Wark’s Gamer Theory this idea of the military entertainment complex is brought up a number of times.  Wark discusses a transformation of game play from a physical space to a virtual space; this shift is not limited to conventional games though this is also evident in war games.  As war becomes increasingly more digital, it becomes easier to remove the physical violence and human face of warfare.  This concept is interesting in the sense that frequently we hear of the digital age as bringing the ability to connect us all over the world.  Online social networking tools are growing as the primary choice for businesses, institutions and communities to connect people across the world.  How then is it possible to think of this technology as a tool of destabilizing the concept of humanity within our brains and facilitating violence into the lives of those we have never seen?

To consider how closely technology can be transformed from a tool into a weapon is a scary thought.  Just as we had read that many of the initial uses of internet and computer technology were for the purpose of military surveillance, it is only so long before we can no longer conceive of a global universe as being connected to the physical and emotional aspects of being human.  As the web and digital technology has the capacity to connect the lives of people across oceans perhaps there is a tragic loss of the human emotion that comes along with the loss of the physical being.  This brings to light the issue of as technology becomes more interactive will we become desensitized to more frequent and large scale uses of violence?

Serial Novels Changing the Role of the Writer

Scott Rettberg’s Kind of Blue provided a different take on what I had conventionally thought of as the serial novel.  The serial novel conjures up images of 19th century literature as being written and distributed in serial form and being compiled into long books that we currently read and wonder why they are so long.  Rettberg’s novel though is in the 21st century and is distributed through the form of e-mail, providing the reader with an ongoing experience of mystery and excitement for the next installment.  This modern take on an old phenomenon makes me wonder what it is that separates these two pieces of work and if it is tied to the form in which the literature is being written and distributed or if there is no difference between then and now.

The cost and time needed to print and produce print literature in a serial form is different than that of sending out an e-mail for free.  While, Rettberg isn’t getting paid for each installment that he writes it is clear that this is not about making a profit from these serial novels.  In the digital format the serial novel does more for the reader than it does for the writer, the reader is given full accessibility, convenience as well as intrigue without much work other than opening an e-mail. This changes the nature of the serial novel because the experience of print was focused around the consumption and act of procuring the next installment of the author’s book, while Kind of Blue is more about the reader being able to instantaneously experience the work that is being written.  If literature in the digital age works place the reader as the primary subject, then what happens to the writer?  Are they more appreciated in the world of print?

Body as Text

Shelley Jackson’s book Skin is an interesting concept because it brings the reader into this more sensory experience of reading.  In knowing that people can become words through the use of their skin it begins to do a lot to change this concept of reading, but it also does a lot to change the concept of our physical bodies as part of the reading experience.   This idea of investing one’s body into this piece of literature in order to consume and read the literature is the most corporeal experience of immersion that one can have when reading.  This makes me wonder if reading is an experience that needs to be bodily as well as mental in order for it to take on different forms and create different pathways into our cognition of the text.

This reminds me of this book called Tactile Mind by Lisa Murphy, which was created with the intent of creating pornography for the blind.  (Here is a CNN video about it) The $225 book is derived from images taken by photographer Murphy and then made the images raised of the page, with Braille text featured alongside the images.   This concept of using one’s hand to perceive a visual image is an interesting way to think about how our bodies and the text we read can become intertwined with one another in a number of ways.  If a body can become a book as in Jackson’s Skin and a book can become a body as with Tactile Mind it becomes increasingly more clear how easily our bodies and technology are evolving together.

Rough Draft

Here’s a link and I’ve e-mailed to the google group what I have so far of the actual program.  It might be confusing right now, but let me know what you think.


The Bug and Control

Ellen Ullman’s The Bug parallels the life of Roberta Walton with Ethan Levin’s as well as paralleling these human lives with that of the machine.  In doing so we as readers are able to understand the machine not in the terms of it being a machine, but rather an entity that functions within the world as a part of our life.  As Ethan’s search for the bug becomes increasingly difficult and important as the stakes are raised, we start to truly see the computer and the machine as something that can go beyond human control and desire.  In a novel that explores the world of a computer programmer, one could expect to gain more of a solid grasp on the power that humans have over machines in a more detailed way.  With the intermittent writing and explanations of code and programming, we as readers are able to further understand the close work these programmers have with the machine. However when the bug is identified as being elusive and “flakey” we are made aware of the way in which computers are not solely functioning under the control of the human.

As the bug begins to destroy Ethan’s life, the reader can start to acknowledge some critical issues to consider in the digital age.  As we have tried to position computers as different and separate from our lives as humans and our privilege to lived experiences, we have also failed to see the similarities that emerge during moments of chaos.  While human life can not be as easily programmed and “debugged” as computers can be, once “bugged” all rules or codes that we live by or have written are all no longer considered stable.  By recognizing that at our worst we are most like the machine, perhaps we can then begin to think about how what it is about our best that distinguishes us from the computer.

Project Outline

So here is a written map of the way I plan for my project to take form, I’m currently working through the aesthetic look of the interface.  All comments are appreciated!

I.     Initial Screen: Introduction to Web 2.0 and to four stories that lead to four different aspects of how one can use Web 2.0 as a tool for social change, selfempowerment, fun and education.

a.     The guide is meant to target youth and students specifically within communities that are often undrrepresented and denied access to digital media literacy tools.

b.     The program is navigated by pressing on certain words that are linked to another section of the program.

i.     i.e. by clicking on the section titled Video the user is directed to a story of a student deciding to create their own video utilizing Open Source Cinema.  The print narrative will then transition to a visual narrative of how one would use the program.

II.    The narratives are those of 4 students interacting with media through four different programs.  In each of these narratives as the student in the story decides to use each tool the user also learns how to navigate these diffiernt programs.

III.  Each narrative is modeled around four concepts of Video, Audio, Print, Play,  Within each level historical and legal contexts are included within the narrative to provide a theoretical component to the practical use of each program.  Below are components of each theme to be explored and coded within the program/narratives I’m writing in Processing.

a.     Video

i.     Objective: To provide a tutorial of using film to convery messages of interest and address the issue of representation.  As well as explore the concept of open source software and media as a tool for collaboration and community building with potential for positive real life consequences.

ii.     Progam to be instructed for use:  Open Source Cinema

b.     Audio

i.     Objective: To show and explain how music has been used historically and can now be digitally created with creative and social purposes.

ii.     Progam to be instructed for use:  OpSound

c. Print

i.     Objective: To show how literary traditions can be expanded through digital means.

ii.     Program to be instructed for use: Blogger and Blogspot use

d. Play

i.     The student in this narrative is modeled after me as the user of Processing creating a program and offering a basic understanding of how Processing works through an example of a simple pong-like game I coded.

ii.     Objective: To explore how learning these technologies can also be used for enriching one’s own experience with digital tools for fun AND for education.

iii.     Program to be instructed for use: Processing and A Force More Powerful

1.     A Force More Powerful is a video game that teaches non-violent strategies for social change.

IV. Once the user has navigated through all the paths within each section they are then offered the options of which narrative they would like to view/interact with next.

V.   Final Screen: A conclusion that will be derived from my the six page appendix, explaining the social relevance and motiviations for this project.

VI. Appendix:

a.      Critically explore the role of a mediated public sphere and how that impacts certain communities in different ways.

b.     Draw on our readings to explore how technologies have developed within our society.

i.     Within the context of the technical aspects of these tools as well as their relation to the greater shifts in thought occurring during that time period.

Project Proposal

I would like to do a creative project that touches on three themes that I want to address: accessibility to these technologies, learning how to use media, and the functionality of these technologies.  I propose to design an electronic piece of literature that will essentially serve as a how-to-guide of using these technologies. The guide however will be targeted to an audience that does not usually have access to these technologies or access to learning how to engage with them.  The idea behind this stems from my interest in thinking of ways to bridge the digital divide while also being able to personally conceive and engage with technology in innovative ways.

My project will consist of an electronic piece of literature that through engaging with the technology the user will be introduced to content that explains the processes at work during the experience.  It will have technical explanations as well as theoretical concepts – framed within a historical context – to allow the user to understand the work that is being done with the technology. I plan on designing this technology through the technical skills I have with a program called Processing, which will have an interface similar to that of the cyber text literature that we had read, but it will be completely designed and computer coded by me and then put online for use.  This will allow me to exercise practical skill while being able to invent a new experience for myself and other users – keeping in mind that each experience is going to be different. My hope is that this literature becomes a tool that exemplifies theory in practice, a way of facilitating education through technology theory.  By clicking on different prompts the user will be directed to textual information that they will read to receive information or technological lessons, or they will be directed toward interactive forms of the text that asks them to use the instructions provided earlier to test their functional skills in the technology.  This guide will be fulfilling to me as a creator but also to larger communities as a tangible and interactive tool for education and social change.