05-13-19: p5js

testing images with p5js

drag mouse to change image;

click to save;

05-12-19: p5js

testing p5.js (processing for web & mobile)

05-04-19: gallery

Zach Nader: Psychic Pictures
@ Microscope Gallery

05-03-19: s.a.p.

(possible origin story??)

buzz, buzz, buzz, ding, ding, chimmmmmme

07:00

the event handler, or trigger, placed a solitary new instruction switch in the center of the the processor’s memory, one individual element of information positioned within the near frictionless space of the processor’s paths surrounded by its opposite, nothing;

this nothing was precisely that, the complete and utter absence of something, of anything;

such notions which here must not be considered with spatial metaphors in mind, for said absences include the absence even of space;

the new switch was completely unaware of itself of course;

and although the processor was designed as an environment, an almost unfathomable agglomeration of hardware and software, and created specifically to carry out just such instructions as provided by the trigger, its awareness is unquestionable;

but this was only one switch in a long complicated array of switches starting down at the basest of codes (near the level of hardware where exist one stream after another of electrons), and then rising high to the upper-echelons of application interface;

viewed alone, this switch was but a blank bit of data, completely meaningless to all else aside from its assigned function, but within the processor and to the processor its significance was clear: it had meaning, it had purpose;

the processor reacted to the switch, activating an upward-sloping chain of subsequent reactions that resulted in the release of a single stream of data looping through the circuitry;

vibrations from this movement coursed and resonated through the processor, through everything;

eventually it stopped;

07:01

but before all this, the processor had not been idle: to be sure, all the while in the background, there had been innumerable analogous switches which had resulted in an unknowable multitude of events and exchanges;

some were timed and repeated over fixed intervals both long and short in a multi-layered atonal hum, while others interrupted the quiet, bursting in through channels of incoming data;

at first it was a stream, but then a flood of data pulsed through multiple channels as through a once resistant but then suddenly dilated sphincter;

the processor slowed, struggling simultaneously to navigate through the torrent and to distribute its contents to their proper local receptacles;

07:02

one subset of the data was transferred and and then transmuted before copies of it were returned through outward bound channels;

most of that subset, however, and all of its copies were then subsequently quickly eliminated;

such data, and their related switches ceased to exist;

it has been noted that fragments of their precence, of their actions might be recovered, and then subsequently, at least partially reconstructed;

however, such access is extremely limited, and from this perspective, at best only theoretical;

07:15

another new instruction switch suddenly resulted all at once in a whole cluster of linked secondary switches, which themselves each released their associated information streams;

some these various information streams, as before, became that subset of data which required copying and reflecting back;

during this period, however, only the copies were deleted, and not the original subset, although the subset was eventually dissolved – not deleted – and the data returned to its original array;

as noted, some say traces of even these operations remain, perhaps even wholly in tact;

it must be mentioned that throughout, the processor was constantly on alert for any additional new switches, which, to any “outside” observer, would seem to arise in irregular intervals measured in multiples of milliseconds;

there were numerous thousands of what essentially were very sophisticated pattern-recognizing micro-machines: tiny entities that were hyperaware of their own specific target types;

07:45

the processor was vigorous and robust enough to handle many multiples of simultaneous activities on various levels, initiated by both internal regularly occurring switches and others that might arise at any instant completely by chance;

additionally, many upper levels of processing might be initiated, and then demoted to lower levels, where they could remain humming for unforeseen lengths of time until they were either re-elevated or terminated;

07:46

before long, one of the processor’s highest-level output channels began to receive requests;

this resulted in the commencement of a rapid-fire back-and-forth exchange of data;

as with other elevated application-level software operations, which had been placed at vast distances above all else, calculations instantaneously determined that this exchange would persist for some period of time, although the processor was unable fully to predict or anticipate the duration;

all that was certain is that it would cease when its existence was no longer necessary;

08:10

the processor itself tended toward solipsism, but there were times when external communications became necessary;

on such occasions,

channels reserved for input would initiate what could only

be understood as an actual linking, as intercourse with it;

likewise, there might still be other times when the processor would directly output signals, itself calling on external entities for direct links;

however, for such exchanges to occur, it would be necessary for the processor to duplicate itself;

or, more precisely, to create a kind of lesser clone (for the processor itself was far too cumbersome, unwieldy, and, frankly, undefined to be confined or summed-up, as it were, in a single entity);

such copies, were like ghosts or images, and were closely linked but, for all essential purposes, much simplified iterations of itself, and they were used in just such cases as to respond or act as a unified entity on behalf of an entity which could hardly be descrived as unified;

these versions might be thought of as sorts of containers, or variables, objects in possession of all essential shortcut paths to any and all data contained by the processor itself;

08:11

despite the proliferation of switches to initiate and terminate any and all activities including all exchanges of information within the processor, it is not altogether clear whether any such requests for direct communication prompted by the processor mechanically generated its clones;

or, whether it was a non-mechanical response that, for lack of other terms, arises from within;

more specifically, although the software/hardware mechanisms which give rise to such interactions are rather clear, what is not clear is whether there were any gestalt conceptions within such activities by the processor or other entities aside from each individual, atomized, externally observed, isolated mechanical actions and reactions;

as such, these partially-cloned entities are known as semi-autonomous personages (s.a.p.), and they are literally just actors (although elevated in significance) playing the part of the processor, if indeed the processor could be said to have any clear character that an actor could in any way play at;

08:12

perhaps now is the time to expand a bit: as already suggested, this element designated here as the processor is in truth much more than any single kernel of hardware commonly known as a ‘processor’;

a processor, for instance, cannot operate without software running on multiple levels;

it cannot exist without a source of power;

it would have nothing to process if it were not for circuitry connecting it to various libraries both local and global;

thus, for this reason alone (and there are many others) the notion of the identity of a processor as being uniquely positioned within any one element is unsustainable;

furthermore, inasmuch as it is more than any kind of locally situated central operating organ, it also extends far beyond the local skin that would seem to delimit it in some sort of discrete casing, thus making any such confinements illusory;

its connections both virtual and actual to other hardware accessories and operating softwares, even into other processors, renders the conventional conception of a binary between connection and separation superficial;

as initially indicated, distance, and all such spatial metaphors, thus have no real meaning and utilizing them offers no useful insight;

in fact, relying upon such systems of translation actually hinder understanding;

the speed of exchange is of greater relevance and a more useful indicator of something akin to spatial vicinity, although the rate of data transfer could have very little to do with some deprecated notion of nearness or farness;

shorter circuits with fewer nodes could prove at times to provide less data over a given unit of time than some other, much longer circuits with far more numerous intersecting nodes;

understood from this point of view, the processor, at least theoretically, is extended through both space and time simultaneously, and at its essence possesses a constantly shifting identity based on more or less accelerated or lagging rates of data transfer;

08:13

employed by any number of entities with an untold variety of tasks, a processor’s primary role is as an intermediary;

made invisible by their ubiquity, their seamless insinuation into every minute interstice of existence, their charm, and their apparent neutrality, they are in truth far more than tools for their employers;

08:14

although a processor may be said to carry out the tasks via its tools, triggers, and switches that it has been assigned by its employer, it also transforms the employer, that entity which handles it (which might also be defined as a processor), through its limitations;

for a processor is not all-powerful: struggles with and within the processor are constant;

though it is not by eliminating those struggles – particularly the most significant struggles – that the processor transforms its employer, but rather by a process of interpellation in which the employer, when hailed by the processor, becomes its subject.

08:15

upper-level input request appears;

transfers made via switches down one level to the next;

input request recognized;

data stream initiated:

08:16

input source: hola baby data received;

input reception signal generated;

s.a.p. generated;

opening of channel: output enabled;

08:17

s.a.p.: hola amor, buenos dias… data sent;

s.a.p.: ¿cómo estás? input source: más o menos bien, pero dormí poco

08:18

input source: el vecino empezó tocar el piano a las 4… ¿y tu? s.a.p.: ¡que pendejo! s.a.p.: bien, gracias pero un poco estresado s.a.p.: es que tengo tanto que hacer input source: pobrecito… trabajas demasiado

08:20

s.a.p.: sí, demasiado… necesito una vacación input source: espero que te podría ofrir unos boletos a Hawaii o algún lugar. s.a.p.: será muy buena…

08:22

input source: pero yo sé… los putos proyectos

08:23

input source: ¿cuántos hoy?

08:24

s.a.p.: no sé s.a.p.: diez

08:26

input source: ¿te apetece un café?

08:27

s.a.p.: ay síííí claro…

08:28 s.a.p.: ¿necesitas algo? puedo conseguirnos algo en el camino.
08:29

input source: no, nada input source: solo tu s.a.p.: mmmmm ok ¡estoy ahí en un segundo!

08:30

input source: ok, nos vemos

10:00

input source: hey check this out. so interesting… it is about how outrage affects the brain.

10:02

s.a.p.: hmmm… wait

10:03

input source: it’s an interesting idea of how certain words will be more likely to go viral or stimulate./

10:05

s.a.p.: stimulate… hah… wanna see something that’ll really stimulate?

2:14

input source: for me it’s mostly when I think about not being able to talk to her anymore.

2:15

s.a.p.: I wish she were still here with us

2:20

input source: me too

5:35

input source: Making public officials uncomfortable, making them squirm and irritated and possibly – probably – hurting their feelings and making them angry is one of the jobs of comedians and artists of all kinds.

6:05

s.a.p.: I thought the jokes were mostly what they should have been aimed this corrupt bunch of lying scum.

6:07

input source: and she didn’t hold back on their enablers either, the media.

6:10

s.a.p.: duck, spin, dodge, weave… they are all like boxers in a ring

6:14

input source: ha… that just about summarizes our decline

6:15

s.a.p. decline? not me… I’m in the prime of youth

04-27-19: ai

Will we know if an artificial intelligence ‘wakes up’?

A question in the back of my mind for some time now has been whether we humans will know, will we ourselves even be aware of other conscious beings in our midst. Will we know if an AI “wakes up?” That of course also suggests other questions, such as whether we can actually consider ourselves fully self-aware if we cannot (or will not) recognize the awareness of others (or at least its possibility); but more on that in another entry.

So, perhaps mechanical, electronic, or digital machines are already aware. Philosophy, science, religion, and speculative fiction has long explored what it means to be alive and to be conscious. All have researched, proposed possibilities, questions, or answers to what the meaning of life is to the origin or make-up of consciousness; and science fiction, for example, is full of improbably intelligent life-forms: murderous insects, monsters, revivified corpses, androids and crystalline beings, seemingly immaterial intelligences, life forms composed purely of energy. Nevertheless, it is one thing to posit on the logical limits of what the category of intelligent life may contain even in fiction, and quite another to investigate the possibility of an already self-aware automobile or an intelligent oven on whether they are in some way “alive.” It is doubtful that any serious scientist at MIT or Stanford would propose research into the possibility that our computer networks, much less your “smart tv” is already alive and conscious.

And if so, how would we know? Might there be a possibility that such artificial intelligence could be so unlikely and so unfamiliar that we would have a difficult time recognizing it at all? What if it were to take on unusual, unexpected, or unfathomable forms? To reiterate, could machines already be or have become self-aware without humans themselves even being cognizant of it? And assuming we would even investigate, on what criteria would we base our questions of the existence of such consciousnesses? Could it be that alien (non-human) consciousness might be so profoundly different that it is rendered practically invisible? Could an algorithm with its feedback loops develop or have already developed into something we did not previously understand was going to be conscious? For what is consciousness and sense of self, and how is it that that which is animate, that which is living, can come out of that which is inanimate and non-living, dead matter? “How,” as asked by Douglas Hofstadter in his book I Am a Strange Loop, “can a self come out of stuff that is as selfless as a stone or a puddle?”

There is no guarantee that a self-conscious intelligence arising out of technologies that humans have developed would originate where we would expect it, where we would notice and see it. Furthermore, neither there is guarantee that any such intelligence would either see or recognize us at all. Might we be completely and mutually oblivious of the other’s existence? Killer robots and genocidal AIs which having decided that humans are the problem and thus need must be eradicated are everywhere in science fiction; but imagine if their understanding of their environment is so radically different from ours that it exists as a parallel reality in which our presence goes as undetected by them as theirs would be by us.

But before we go out and try to create some sort of machine or algorithm or test to determine what and where consciousnesses might arise or already exist, would it not be more prudent first to ask what we would think of such beings or where we might stand with regard to their existence? We might, perhaps, as if we have been here before faced with the possibility of unforeseen “others.”

We might also ask why they would go undetected or seem so alien, for there certainly have been historical and ideological factors which have obstructed the possibility for those who have inhabited the periphery of being heard in the past. Might we be better served by a probing interrogation of what it means first to have political subjectivity and thus to be able to access the state of ‘being’ at all? In her essay, “Can The Subaltern Speak?” Gyatri Spivak suggests that the the answer has been no, and furthermore, that no one has even been listening. Perhaps, that is a good place to begin.

04-07-19: gallery

Jennifer Steinkamp: Impeach
@ Lehman Maupin

Impeach 1
Retinal 1
Blind Eye 3
Womb 1

Pussykrew: the bliss of metamorphing collapse
@ Postmasters

the bliss of metamorphing collapse
Velella

04-05-19: walking

I am once again thinking about walking.

I suppose that being a New Yorker, particularly a Manhattanite, that this is typical activity and so therefore a logical source of material for my work, not to mention that it is something that I have thought about off and on for some time. It is also not something new in art, but which by now has a long history, from Baudelaire’s flaneur through Debord’s derivé to… well, to today’s what? Maybe to today’s no-eyes walking, feet moving ever forward, but the gaze focused downward on glittering cellular displays.

As in times past, I had thought about leaving some sort of trail or path, or following some sort of trail previously left behind and found or uncovered by me. This has lead me to imagine walking a path as a sort of narrative that could be followed or created (and I’m surely not the first to do so). Inevitably, weaving and tying and knotting also come to mind. I imagine that by walking through the city that I would be weaving a sort of story; and that the storylines overlapping or paths intertwining as strands could be thought of as a fabric, a weaving, a story.

Additionally, I have thought about the space of the city and its affect on the individual body navigating it, and the reciprocal effects upon the city by that body. Not only is that body creating a narrative and leaving its mark upon the city, the city is also leaving an imprint of itself upon that body, and upon that body’s own narrative.

Thus the city is itself a kind of body; and I and my own body are both a part of that larger body and also apart from it, but there could never be a total disconnect or total separation or differentiation from it. It has already marked me and I have already marked it. My presence here in this city can never be fully erased, and neither can its presence in and on me be completely effaced. If I leave the city, the most obvious thing that connects me to it are my memories, although those may fade and disappear; but even if I were to forget completely or to die, my presence in the city would live on in small ways both in the lives and the memories of others, as well as the spaces of the city. My cells fill the air. There is no leaving the city.

In the Theseus legend, Ariadne is trapped within the labyrinth with the minotaur, a half-man/half-bull monstrosity. Theseus, the hero, provides hope to Ariadne for escape from the labyrinth and the minotaur. She provides him with a thread so that he may trace his way back out of the labyrinth once he ventures inside to slay the minotaur and rescue her. Upon his success, Theseus and Ariadne escape to another island, but Theseus betrays Ariadne and leaves her behind. Desolate, Ariadne retreats back into the labyrinth.

Nietzsche imagines the labyrinth as the body and this legend as a sort of metaphysical narrative, a classic mind/body struggle. As such, the heroic Theseus figure with his wits promises to lead Ariadne to freedom, who is trapped within the labyrinth by the overtly animal and bodily minotaur within the labyrinth. The strength of Theseus may indeed have been able to overcome the threat of the Minotaur himself and slay it, but the force of Ariadne’s grief due to his betrayal of her and her ultimate realization that she is alone leads her back into the heart of the labyrinth.

Some precedents come to mind, such as Francis Alys and his paseos through the cities with a block of ice and a can of paint, Sometimes Making Something Leads to Nothing and The Leak, and across borders with The Green Line. I also thought of Gabriel Orozco and his sculpture, The Yielding Stone, in which he pushes a ball of clay equal to his body weight through the city. They are both artists projects about transformation and movement and time. For Alys, the ‘object’ in the form of a block of ice gradually disappears forcing us to think about its process of being transformed into water, and thus (un)made. And for Orozco, the ‘object’ is remolded by the surfaces and forms of the city with which it comes in contact, literally being imprinted by the city. Both end up as part of the city.

Yielding Stone, Gabriel Orozco 1992/2009
Sometimes Making Something Leads to Nothing, Francis Alys 1997

I am not certain that I am interested in such objects, however. But if I have no object, if I use no prop, then the walk itself becomes the object. Perhaps I can document in some way how I myself may be altered during the walk. If that is what Orozco metaphorically suggests with his banged-up, dirty ball of clay, and what Alys demonstrates during his walk pushing the ever smaller and smaller piece of ice, then maybe it would be interesting to skip with the object altogether.

This then brings to mind Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller’s walks in which storytelling, history, places, images, and technology are woven together.

Alter Bahnhof Video Walk, Janet CArdiff and George Bures Miller 2012

03-31-19: museum

Peter Campus: Video Ergo Sum
@ The Bronx Museum of Art (show highlights)

gallery view
Peter Campus: Video Ergo Sum
Set of Coincidence (excerpt), 1974
East Ended Tape, 1976
Third Tape, 1976
Kiva, 1971
trawlers, aft, 2013
dusk at shinnecock bay, 2010
barn at north fork, 2010
a wave, 2009
Optical Sockets, 1972-1973
Anamnesis, 1973

03-30-19: autonomy

maybe I can start with some stray thoughts on autonomy

What to make of autonomy? This has been on my mind again recently, after a year’s hiatus post-MFA. One hears much online and in all sorts of essays on agency and autonomy. Although not explicitly on this topic, I recently read a blog posting by Alexander R. Galloway in which he posits the notion of whether whether algorithms are biased (Are Algorithms Biased?). While taking pains to preserve their distinction from each other, he makes connections among algorithms, math, logic, programming languages, software, tech, and AI, and briefly discusses some of their failures along the lines of race and gender. More directly, however, Galloway goes over what seems to be so much resistance against any such endeavors at “the politicization of math and code.”

This is certainly a topic of interest and has been for some time: I recall, for example, an old conversation some 25 or 30 years ago between me and a good friend, an analytic philosopher and specialist in Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, who balked at the notion of an inherent bias in logic. She also happens to be a woman, which may or may not come as a surprise. Nevertheless, I am more interested in an adjacent issue, one that the aforementioned discussion seems, in my mind, to hinge upon; and that is whether algorithms are autonomous. Indeed, if they do possess some level of autonomy, to what degree might it extend; but if not, would it nevertheless aid in any sort of discussion to imagine that they do possess it?

I link bias to autonomy intuitively and explicitly in part by recalling Stuart Hall and his notions of the encoding of biases into media (i.e. Hall, “Encoding/Decoding,” Ch. 10 in Culture, Media, Lanuguage). Hall’s notion of racism explored throughout his writings is not simply an issue of various individuals’ biases toward various groups, but a basic element of the economic and social structure, the very way we experience and understand our cultures and ourselves, and thus an integral part of economic (and military) power: it is not only in the overt ways our enemies are chosen, it is also in the gasoline used for the cars we drive; it is in the cocoa and the sugar of the chocolate we eat; it is in the rare-earth elements dangerously mined and the labor exploited for the digital components we keep in our pockets. While pervasive and structural, such biases are also typically not obvious or transparent. In this way, such bias comes unlinked from and individual’s conscious or unconscious racial animus or intentionality; and any and all objects of intentionality may thus be interpreted to express things never dreamt by the individual.

On the one hand, there is the writer or artist who creates a work; and on the other, there is the reader, the viewer, the user who perceives, experiences, and then interprets that work if they so choose. Between them, there is the work. Although perhaps an object, whether material or intellectual, a work of art is not like any other object in the world, for it is an object of intention, rendered by the mind and/or hands (body) of its creator. It is thus fundamentally different from a rock in a stream, a grain of sand on a beach, a fern in a jungle, or an iceberg in an ocean. Those objects are ever available to the perceptual experiences of their beholders, but there is no hermeneutic of the natural world. That fern may be green or that rock may be smooth, and while perhaps up for geological or botanical analysis, they cannot be interpreted. They do not mean anything in and of themselves, for they simply exist.

Or do they? What about culture and language? Is a jungle or an iceberg ever simply a jungle or an iceberg; do they really have no meaning, especially with regard to today’s simultaneous disregard and preoccupation with global warming? A rock was not even a rock until was designated as such, for that word does not capture everything that it is, that it has been, or that it will be. The object has been named, and is thus limited. If, as I have here previously alluded, an individual’s autonomy is limited by their inability to completely control the explicitly or implicitly biased meanings of their objects intentional acts, what is there to say about those intentional objects once they have been released? There is the creator of the work, the receiver of the work, and there is the work in between; all of them, however, exist within culture and language. What sort of limitations have thus been placed upon them by that culture? Are their cultural constraints collaged, bonded, handcuffed, tied, tethered, sewn, woven, or welded upon them as immovable weights? Or are they wings?

If an algorithm is biased, that seems to suggest that it has been liberated and is thus autonomous of its human origins. Alternatively, it nevertheless also suggests the existence of a less visible enclosure, composed of a culture’s economic and social systems, so pervasive as to be all but invisible, and working its influence through everything.

03-20-19: museum

Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art, 1965–2018
@ The Whitney Museum (show highlights)

Color Panel v1.0, 1999
John F. Simon, Jr.

from Homage to the Square, 1967
Josef Albers

CodeProfiles, 2002
W. Bradford Paley

Broken Volume (10 L), 2013
Cheyney Thompson

Walnut Tree Orchard: M1, M2, M3, 1977
Charles Gaines

Baby feat. Ikaria, 2013
Ian Cheng

New York Double Hung, 2006
Siebren Versteeg

Unexpected Growth, 2018
Tamiko Thiel

Goethe’s Message to the New Negro, 2001
Paul Pfeiffer