The theme of Repair for this year’s Ars Electronica festival was apropos, as the festival moved to the Tabakfabrik, a former cigarette factory and sprawling complex of buildings that was churning out cartons of Marlboros as recently as last year. The smell of tobacco was still heavy in the air, and evidence of the factory’s work continued to linger: ear plugs still available in dispensers, pneumatic tube carriers still sitting in baskets, and boxes emblazoned with cigarette logos being used as exhibition design material. The factory, which is a protected historic landmark, is beautiful and perhaps deserved a Golden Nica of its own -- for best representation of the festival theme.
Form+Code: In Design, Art, and Architecture is an ambitious new text that investigates the creative exploration of software across numerous disciplines. A collaborative venture between artists Casey Reas, Chandler McWilliams and the graphic design studio LUST, the book presents both a succinct history of computational design and an indexed guidebook of strategies and approaches. Form+Code fundamentally differs from more traditional, tutorial-based books on creative coding by delving into precise contextualizations of the origins of various tangents within software art. The scope of these nuanced discussions is both sweeping and extensive. For example, within the space of six pages, the authors examine the computer as a drawing instrument starting with Ivan Sutherland’s Sketchpad proto-CAD workflow (1963), then turn to advances within various proprietary applications, which opens up into a discussion about digital representation and fabrication. Form+Code is full of these compact histories, and each is tastefully illustrated with related contemporary projects and (sometimes surprising) precedents and predecessors. Op-artist Bridget Riley’s Polarity (1964) sits in a spread beside Martin Wattenberg’s music visualization The Shape of Song (2001), highlighting the similarities in the graphic language of luminaries from two distinct generations.
OFF BEAT REPEAT is a pattern making machine developed and designed by Sally Thurer and Mylinh Nguyen with the help of Dan Michaelson.
The above video is a milestone in consumer electronics history: it was the first recording to document the unwrapping of a new gadget that was titled as an unboxing. While individuals have been gleefully ripping open the packaging of their electronics for decades, unboxing is the relatively new practice of recording these moments and uploading them to video sharing services for public display. The 2006 video embedded above features veteran technology blogger Vincent Nguyen as he unpacks a new Nokia E61 smartphone and related accessories. Nguyen removes the device, displays it to the camera while commenting how thin it is, and then dryly lists off the remainder of the objects in the box. On completion he utters "Basically that's it… ummm, for now."
While Nguyen's removal of a smartphone from its original packaging was decidedly drab, unboxing has become a fixture in online consumer electronics coverage. Major players like Endgadget have entire streams of content populated with seasoned technology experts (almost always male) rifling through waybills, wielding box-cutters and carefully extracting shiny new netbooks, gaming consoles and cameras from their packaging. I've watched about three dozen of these videos over the past few days—scanning for signs of intelligent life—and they are remarkably ritualistic: styrofoam is carefully set aside, manuals are flipped through, battery packs are commented on. In doing this field research I've come up with two hypotheses of what unboxing represents:
1. A practice that has emerged as as extension of page view journalism whereby gadget blogs can get traffic without doing any actual 'reporting'.
2. Glib theatre where adults joylessly reenact moments from their childhood when they received and opened gifts.
While both of these readings of unboxing are equally applicable, I prefer the latter, where each of these tiny ceremonies is ...
Based on the idea of summer VACATION, BFFA3AE will program the 179 Canal website to reflect the discovery and unraveling of this season. Summer is an aberration in our year, a time where heat takes over our lives and a productive diligence is thrown to the wayside. An absence assumes our lives (absence from work, school, life) and instead we live in the ideal and fantasy of what Summer becomes. We anticipate this time of year with a child like earnestness and we willfully throw ourselves into a haze, from which we slowly find our way back into reality.
An image will be presented as the front page of the website of 179 Canal. Every day a new image will be uploaded to the main page, a slight alteration done to the image of the day before. Slowly, the image becomes more and more abstract, until the end of summer VACATION when only a blur remains, ushering us on to the next season of Fall.
JULY 24 - SEPTEMBER 4, 2010
In this project Ciocci and Crouse have redesigned Light and Wire Gallery’s characteristic website so that every time you visit a new page, a different layout or WordPress Theme is loaded behind the gallery’s usual content. Crouse's code randomly loads 1 of 20 different Themes, while Ciocci has visually modified each one. Fundamentally, the WordPress theme system is a way to “skin” one’s website. Not only does this determine the look of the site but the WordPress themes can provide control over the presentation of the material on a website. As one clicks through each theme, this generic design platform that largely informs the aesthetics of the web is revealed for its amateur quality.
How did the World Wide Web look before this Internet boom, before it became a riot for star backgrounds, bouncing envelopes and under construction signs?
Well, in 1991, Tim Berners-Lee went live with the first web page TheProject.html located inside the hypertext/WWW/ folder on a computer called "nxoc01" at CERN. Neither him, nor any of his colleagues made an effort to preserve this first version. The only thing we know is the URL http://nxoc01.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html and the way the first page ever looked in november 1992. That's early enough, still half a year before the Mosaic browser would be released and people outside of CERN would start to make their pages.
It is difficult to estimate how many pages created in 1993-1994 made it into the new millennium in their primordial way. If you manage to find something that was put online that time, it would in the best case display a 1995-1996 skin, like the Russian Space Science Internet -- redesigns clearly shaped by the then-new Netspace browser.
But there is a way to find pages that live for ever in 1993. To present them to the new students I look for "Prof. Dr." in Google.
Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) Technical Coordinator