Processing 1.0 Launched

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Processing, the open-source programming language and production environment developed by Ben Fry and Casey Reas, turned 1.0 yesterday. While it started off as tool for sketching and teaching the fundamentals of programing, Processing has developed into a full-fledged alternative to expensive proprietary software for the creation of everything from data visualizations and interactive installations to music and video. In just 7 years, Processing has grown into one of the primary tools used by contemporary artists working on digital projects, and stands as one of the finest examples of the power of open-source development.

Visit the Processing website to download the 1.0 version and start making things!

Read more about the 1.0 Release on Casey Reas' blog.

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Movie Magic

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In the first decades after film was invented, its practitioners wrote brilliant, poetic essays debating whether what they had on their hands was a new medium or simply a tool for furthering existing practices like theater or painting. These artists very often used the words "magic" and "wizardry" to describe what they were up to in creating moving images. Today's films use devices further removed from the real to give us the illusion of reality and whether to perpetuate the appearance of seamlessness or to assuage the ADD-addled minds of contemporary net-surfing viewers, everything is way way sped up. Enter Kurt Ralske. He'd like to slow things down. The Boston-based artist's video installations, performances, digital prints, and software art have long addressed the formal questions many people have ceased asking about film, particularly the relationship between sound and image and stillness versus motion. This was the case with his "Alphaville" (Motion-Extraction-Reanimation), in which he reprocessed elements of Godard's famous film and stretched and repeated them across a wider plane, questioning the function of surface and duration in the original piece. In a new project entitled Zero Frames Per Second, Ralske has dissected the films of Godard, Kubrick, Murnau, and others into a series of still images. Each film is represented by two frames--one condensing all motion into a single image and the other accumulating all moments of non-movement. The artist explains that, "Within these images the cinematic experience is freed from duration, narrative, and signification, producing a visually abstract record of the information from the 150,000 or so frames per film." The works free the mind to quickly take in a film in the slowest of slow-motions. They are on view at New York's School of Visual Arts through September 12th. - Marisa Olson


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Baltimore Rising

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The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is home to a very interesting set of new media artists--both faculty and students--and exhibitions like "sight.sound [interaction] 2.0" are securing the space as a breeding ground for new ideas. An annual exhibition curated by Jason Sloan and open through March 14, the show brings together local and international artists whose work--much as the title implies--explores audio/visual interactivity. "sight.sound" doesn't aspire to a much tighter curatorial theme than that, but this allows viewers to create associations of their own, ranging from labor commentary to the aesthetics of experimentation. For instance, Nashville-based collaborators [Fladry+Jones] and DJ Black Noise meditate on collage theory, as it has shifted from the era of expressionist film to the present, by offering a 30-minute remix of Fritz Lang's film, Metropolis. The original film comments on the relationship between workers and the ruling class in an increasingly mechanized society, and the artists' remix offers a contemporary take on this evolving narrative. Baltimore-based artist Colin Ford conducts an experiment in color psychology, asking visitors to identify the hues that represent business brands, such as "Starbucks Green" and "Verizon Red," and each subsequent visitor's selection is averaged with their predecessor's, which Ford believes turns corporate power on its head by allowing consumers to " alter the meaning that the brand holds." Local artists Dan Huyberts and Will Rosenthal bring play into the fold with their fun projects. Huyberts's Circuit Bent Video Sculpture Aural Vision 1 allows viewers to "watch" nature recordings on a television, using a photocell that triggers the screaming of a circuit-bent smoke detector. Rosenthal's Cideslide is an interactive video game inviting users to choose their own adventure in navigating what Rosenthal describes as a surreal "Lynchian" world by using ...

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Cory Arcangel's "Colors" Available for Download

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Artist Cory Arcangel, in keeping with his practice of providing public tutorials for his art projects, recently made his video application "Colors" available as "Colors PE" or "Personal Edition." Arcangel used "Colors" to screen Dennis Hopper's film Colors in his 2006 exhibition "subtractions, modifications, addenda, and other recent contributions to participatory culture" at Team Gallery, and the same version of the work will be exhibited in the upcoming show "Color Chart: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today" at the MoMA. To begin experimenting with Arcangel's application, click here. Further information about "Colors" from the artist's website below:

"A couple years ago I made a very small video application called "Colors". This video came out of my interest in wanting to make something using slit scan. This is a very common and quite easy technique where basically something is photographed through a slit. After spending some time trying to teach myself how quicktime works and how video is displayed on a modern computer, I finally ended up with Colors. Anyway, basically Colors PE (the personal edition version) is a small application that will play any quicktime movie using a slit scan technique one line at a time starting from the top."

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Blinking Lights

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"There is a certain beauty in trying to fulfill the potential of the obsolete. As we have become a culture that is defined by the latest and greatest, and at the same time built in obsoleteness. Why are we in such a hurry to progress when we haven't realized the potential of what we have, where is this thing called progress taking us?"

This anxious quandary, posed by artist Mike Beradino, elucidates the concept behind his use of outmoded technologies. The New York-based artist has created several works that reflect upon the rapid consumption of technology, where a piece of software or hardware is embraced one moment and tossed out the very next. His lo-fi, 8X18 LED grid pieces, Liquid Pixels (2007) and blinken (2007), for example, employ the spirit of DIY, tinkering and the open source movement as a foil to an increasingly dense technological mediation within and throughout daily life. Liquid Pixels uses the LED display to create morphing patterns of ferrofluid, while blinken narrates a perverse, LED animation of a character free falling from a roof as clocks spin out of control. Beradino was inspired to create these LED pieces by the techno-primitive genre of "flashing/sparkling/blinking" art known as "Blinken" which, in 2001, emerged out of the German hacker community, Chaos Computer Club, who continue to remain active today via the BlinkenArea portal. The BlinkenArea hackers have developed a Blinken-centric operating system (BlinkOS), their own programming language (ARCADEmini Assembler), software for Blinken programs and animations, and a far-reaching manifesto for its role in "world domination," which includes an entertaining set of bullet points for achieving said domination. This auto-obsolescence as practiced by Beradino and the Blinken hackers may employ tongue-in-cheek rhetoric, but it could also be seen as an increasingly viable strategy of dissidence ...

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Crafting for a Cause

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Reacting to rampant industrialization and increased division of labor at the end of the 19th century, a group of artists, designers and architects founded what would become known as the Arts and Crafts Movement. William Morris, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and others denounced the machinations of industrialized production in favor of the more romantic and socially responsible ideal of the craftsman. Although predominantly an aesthetic impulse, the ethos behind the Arts and Crafts Movement has inspired more overtly political and ecological movements in recent history. For example, in the 1960s and 70s, the suburbanization of the United States prompted increased interest in "back to the land" movements. The Foxfire community looked to the mountain culture of the Appalachians as keys to more sustainable and community oriented lifestyles, and the Whole Earth Catalog both advocated and provided tools for ecological and socially responsible living. In recent times, against the backdrop of globalization, unprecedented corporate control, and war, an interest in grassroots craft-based movements has emerged in full force. Shedding their predecessor's suspicion of technology, today's crafters realize the political benefit of the immediate access and increased connectivity afforded by new technologies. The New School for General Studies in New York City will examine the strategies of a new generation of craftsmen in the upcoming talk "Crafting Protest". Scheduled for Saturday January 26, panelists will discuss the "role of craft in forming national identities, especially in times of political turmoil or war; notions of patriotism; feminism and the domestic sphere; and economic models that circumvent conventional market models." Moderated by art historian Julia Bryan-Wilson, participants include Sabrina Gschwandtner, artist and founder of KnitKnit, a periodical that celebrates the convergence of craft and contemporary art, and Cat Mazza, whose software KnitPro was developed in opposition to sweatshop labor practices. Artist and Designer ...

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Fact Checker

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Hot on the heels of the Iowa Caucus, with the 2008 US Presidential election race accelerating, artist Jon Winet is releasing a tool that can help educate people on the issues at stake. The Electoral College Widget is an easy-to-install widget for the Mac Dashboard and features digital flash cards with statistics and crucial info related to each of the contenders and issues such as poverty, health care, and religious discrimination. Given that the device is only for OS-X users, Winet and collaborator Craig Dietrich are also working on a cross-platform Ticker that will stream text, photos, audio, and other election-related content. Meanwhile, the widget is just one component of The Electoral College, a "year-long media project focusing on the U.S. Presidential elections and democracy in America." Winet is no stranger to covering elections and other political spectacles and aspects of The Electoral College grow nicely out of his Goal! 2006 project, which leveraged the popularity of the World Cup games to inform readers about under-reported issues important in the homelands of the athletes. In the next year, Winet will work together with community organizations and local activists to operate The Electoral College as "a hybrid new media art/ journalism project that recognizes the unique moment in history of this election, and the opportunities and challenges presented for democratic, civic engagement." The site will be a 24/7 headquarters for updates on the elections and critical discourse, beginning with the publication of an essay by D.L. Pughe, entitled "When Luck Grows Hard: Real Life in the Fiction Capital of America." Check out Winet's YouTube channel for videos related to the project and stay-tuned for Facebook apps and SMS subscription services. Meanwhile, the Electoral College Widget can be downloaded here. - Marisa Olson

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