New in the ArtBase: Twilight Screensaver (1991) for Atari TOS

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There is a new addition to the ArtBase's collection that we are rather excited about: TwiLight (1991-1997), a screensaver for Atari TOS by Dragan Espenschied, Alvar Freude, and Peter Scheerer. There are two points to be excited about here: first, TwiLight now holds the crown of being the oldest piece of software in our collection. Second, Espenschied has amazingly completely reconstructed the screensaver's various modules as in-browser simulations, using the original graphics and HTML marquees. On the following page one can see what is a relatively accurate representation of the original software. If you'd like to run the original software in an Atari TOS compatable emulation (or vintage hardware), the orignal software can be download here: LZH (925 kb), ZIP (939 kb). 

 

 

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The Download: Angela Detanico and Rafael Lain

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Screenshot of Pond Type interface

This month on The Download featuring an interactive software piece by Brazilian artists Angela Detanico and Rafael Lain.

Pond Type (2012) transforms the QWERTY keyboard into a hauntingly beautiful musical instrument for digital poetry. Inspired by Brazilian concrete poet Augusto de Campos's "Pulsar," the artists Detanico and Lain designed a ripple typeface for an exhibition of the poet's work for the Elisabeth Foundation for the Arts. For The Download, they combined the typeface with sound to create an interactive version of Pond Type.

After selecting any text or poem, the viewer is instructed to type slowly and wait for each word to vanish before typing the next. By deliberately slowing down the urge to type quickly, the artists delay gratification and encourage careful listening.

The Download gives a first look to great art for Rhizome members. Start your own digital art collection by becoming a member today.

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Book Review: Programmed Visions: Software and Memory

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ENIAC programmers, late 1940s. (U.S. military photo, Redstone Arsenal Archives, Huntsville, Alabama), from Programmed Visions by Wendy Hui Kyong Chun.

After “getting fit” and whatever else people typically declare to be their new year’s resolutions, this year’s most popular goal is surprisingly nerdy: learning to code. Within the first week of 2012, over 250,000 people, including New York’s mayor Michael Bloomberg, had signed up for weekly interactive programming lessons on a site called Code Year. The website promises to put its users “on the path to building great websites, games, and apps.” But as New Yorker web editor Blake Eskin writes, “The Code Year campaign also taps into deeper feelings of inadequacy... If you can code, the implicit promise is that you will not be wiped out by the enormous waves of digital change sweeping through our economy and society.” 

If the entrepreneurs behind Code Year (and the masses of users they’ve signed up for lessons) are all hoping to ride the wave of digital change, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, a professor of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University, is the academic trying to pause for a moment to take stock of the present situation and see where software is actually headed. All the frenzy about apps and “the cloud,” Chun argues, is just another turn in the “cycles of obsolescence and renewal” that define new media. The real change, which Chun lays out in her book Programmed Visions: Software and Memory, is that “programmability,” the logic of computers, has come to reach beyond screens into both the systems of government and economics and the metaphors we use to make sense of the world ...

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Untitled (Standards) (2009) - Michael Guidetti

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Watercolor on canvas with animated digital projection; Approx 3 hour loop [VIDEO]

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Grafikdemo (2004) - Niklas Roy

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Grafikdemo is a physical wireframe model of a teapot inside a Commodore CBM cabinet. The model can be rotated by pushing keys on the keyboard. Sophisticated lighting of the model makes it hard for the viewer to distinguish whether he sees a real digital model or a fake computer screen. Grafikdemo explores the transition between reality and representation in a playful way.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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How Large is an Atom of Music? A Tour through Today’s Spectral Music and Software at UCSD

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Well, the short answer is .093 seconds. That’s about the shortest amount of time mathematicians need to generate a full analysis of a sound’s component frequencies.

On an even smaller scale, computers typically store sound information in 44100 samples per second. This makes up the typical waveform view of sound that most are accustomed to seeing. However, each sample only gives information about amplitude (or volume), which is a pale portrait of sound. Sound in the physical world is essentially an unfolding of waves over time. Therefore, when translating from physical to digital, frequency information over time is essential to give a meaningful atomic definition of any sound.

A waveform view plots time vs. amplitude. A spectrogram plots frequency vs. time with color representing amplitude

Armed with the calculus technique of the Fast Fourier transform, mathematicians typically take the amplitude values from a mere .093 seconds of sound and draw a complete audio portrait. This portrait consists of the volumes of each component frequency that makes up a complex sound.

Thus, the Fourier transform is the key tool for spectralists, a loosely related group of composers and scientists whose goal is to analyze and resynthesize sound using sound’s most basic digital elements. Spectralists literally rip apart sound into its tiniest grains and develop diverse strategies to reconfigure those microsounds into a new sound barely resembling its original form. Between the two poles of granular analysis and synthesis, musicians have only begun to chart a new world of expression.

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Pure Data read as pure data (2010) - Nicolas Maigret

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The content of the Pure Data application is read as pure data into sound and pixels (rgb + extrude)

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Images from Jonathan Zawada's exhibit "Over Time" at PRISM

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Why the Earth is Green, 2010

The exhibition focuses on large-scale landscape paintings whose topographies are derived from graph data. Zawada collected and compared a variety of data series that extrapolate information over time, such as “Marijuana usage among year 12 students vs. CD and Vinyl record sales between 1975 and 2000” or “Value of land per square meter in Second Life vs. Value of land per square foot in Dubai between 2007 and 2009.” The data is then manipulated through a 3D fractal program and the resulting environment becomes a virtual abstraction that mimics a mountainous landscape.

Painted on linen, the landscapes are a response to the “virtual” reality of digital experiences that are highlighted by the intrinsic flatness and surreal color palate. Invoking the robotics hypothesis of the “Uncanny Valley,” the works take on an android quality, a sense of reality but not quite, registering with the viewer as both familiar and dissimilar. This theme carries through to his drawings, juxtaposing the hyper-real with the conceptually abstract and underlining the temporality of human experience.

-- DESCRIPTION FROM STATEMENT FOR "OVER TIME" AT PRISM (DEC 16, 2010 — FEB 12, 2011)

Flight 77, 2010

Earth Movers, 2010

Very Hot Nights, 2010

Land Sale, 2010

Originally via TRIANGULATION BLOG

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Rectangle & Rectangles (1984) - Réné Jodoin

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This is a didactic film in disguise. A progression of brilliant geometric shapes bombard the screen to the insistent beat of drums. The filmmaker programmed a computer to coordinate a highly complex operation involving an electronic beam of light, color filters and a camera. This animation film, without words, is designed to expose the power of the cinematic medium, and to illustrate the abstract nature of time.

-- DESCRIPTION FROM THE NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA

Originally via DIAMOND VARIATIONS

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From the Rhizome Archives: Code As Creative Writing--An Interview with John F. Simon, Jr. by Jon Ippolito

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In this series of posts, we will be reblogging content from Rhizome's Archives, available here. This interview with John F. Simon, Jr., conducted by Jon Ippolito, comes from Rhizome's former publication, the Rhizome Digest. It was published on March 23, 2002. You can peruse old editions of the Rhizome Digest here.

Big thanks to Rhizome's curatorial fellow Natalie Saltiel for help with this post.


Date: 3.12.2002
From: Jon Ippolito
Subject: Code As Creative Writing--An Interview with John F. Simon, Jr
Keywords: software, programming, design

This interview took place in January 2002, on the occasion of the Guggenheim's acquisition of John Simon's Unfolding Object. More info at http://www.guggenheim.org/internetart.

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Jon Ippolito: You've been working on or near the cutting edge of digital art since the mid-1980s, when you were programming image-processing routines for CCD [charge-coupled device] photography. Yet you often cite sources of inspiration from the world of pen and brush rather than the world of pixel and browser, and I see some of these influences of Modernism-for example, the influence of Paul Klee in your plotter drawings [1994-95] and Sol LeWitt in Combinations [1995]. What is it about those artists that speaks to you?

John F. Simon, Jr.: I am interested in analytical approaches to creativity. A new technology doesn't erase a life's work of thoughtful, creative production. The ideas are bigger than the medium. There are many examples in art history where artistic practice could be described as algorithmic-an approach to experimentation by rule making, including LeWitt and Conceptual artists in the 1970s also Paul Klee in the 1920's along with many other Bauhaus professors.

An even older example would be Dominican priest-scholar Sebastien Truchet's 1722 work on the use of combinations in tile design. His study uses square tiles of two colors that are divided diagonally. He assigned a letter to each of the four possible orientations of this kind of tile. He then made lists of letters describing the sequence and orientation for laying out the tiles. The lists functioned like instructions or programs for constructing the design. Craftsmen would pick a pattern out of his book and use the lists of letters as assembly instructions. Another even older example would be the analytical techniques used in the design of the Alhambra and in much Islamic art.

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