Jeremy Bailey is a Toronto-based new media artist whose work explores custom software in a performative context. Powered by humor and computer vision, his work wryly critiques the uneasy relationship between technology and the body while playfully engaging the protocols of digital media. Over the last decade Bailey has exhibited and performed at a range of international festivals and venues including the 2010 01SJ Biennial, HTTP Gallery, Subtle Technologies and in 2001 he co-founded the (now defunct) 640 480 Video Collective. I conducted the following interview with Bailey over email and we used our conversation to delve into a number of his projects from the last five years.
Humor, fun and nonsense often figure greatly in the current modes of communication on the web, whereby memes and sardonic blog comments are commonplace -- if not expected. Such trappings have found their way into media art practices from Cory Arcangel’s cover of Arnold Schoenberg’s op.11 Drie Klavierstucke using cat videos on YouTube to F.A.T. Lab’s Kanye West Interrupt bookmarklet. The question that these works and others like it raises is this: does humor appear to be a synergistic outgrowth of technology (and how does it relate to its development)?
In the latest exhibition "Fun with Software" at Bristol’s Arnolfini, curator Olga Goriunova seeks to document and explore how humorous approaches to software lead to innovation. Working with early net and media artists from JODI to Graham Harwood, the exhibition is a retrospective of peculiar approaches to computation. I sat down with Goriunova to talk about the show’s premise and how that premise contextualizes and contrasts the current era of humor and technology.
Created by Kim Asendorf, asdfbmp is a pixel art generator app for iPhone and iPod Touch. It creates a pixel structure by using a spatial partition algorithm resulting in fields populated by pixel patterns.
You can choose from 16 bitmap patterns and 32 colours. You can adjust the minimal field size, the probability of a new division and the proportion between horizontal and vertical division.
In the draw mode you decide which field is going to be divided. The auto mode divides until there is no more field left.
Additionally there is a mode menu where you can choose extra blending modes such as pattern, fill, outline, empty, random.
The New Museum's "Brion Gysin: Dream Machine" show is now closed, but a Dream Machine app produced in conjunction with the exhibition, which replicates the flicker effect of Gysin's renown kinetic light sculpture, lives on. Download it here for free.
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.
This software randomly generates house music using the number pi. Pi is the ratio of a circle's diameter to its circumference, a number with infinite digits in a random non-repeating sequence.
The software progressively calculates the sequence of digits in pi, starting at 3.14 and progressing towards infinity. As the program calculates the digits, it feeds the results into an algorithmic music generator containing my structural criteria for house music. The resulting piece of house music is infinitely long and static and never repeats itself.
The number of processor cycles required to calculate pi increase with the number of digits it is calculated to. After months or years of playing the song, any fixed computer hardware will be unable to calculate the digits fast enough for the song to play continuously.
The rate that the number of processor cycles increase per pi-digit is bound by the formula N*log(N). However based on Moore's Law, processor power per dollar increases at an exponential rate, doubling every two years. By upgrading computers regularly with market trends, the song can be played indefinitely.
Shadow, Glare explores such experiential disruptions through a subtle visual intervention: Without altering the computer's normal operations, the program renders a morphing series of translucent forms that seem to float between the screen's real surface and the immaterial desktop. This simulation can blend unobtrusively with any actual shadows that happen to be cast on the screen; users may continue to work or browse while only peripherally aware that the program is running. But the slowly evolving forms can also occlude the desktop and interrupt the user's focus. To Shirreff, these subtle shifts in attention characterize the experience of working at a computer: "Time evaporates, and while at points I'm engaged, for the most part I'm folded into the experience, while somehow still scanning its surface." Unlike an object in an art gallery designed for close observation, Shadow, Glare operates between the multiple levels of awareness encouraged by a computer interface.
A few months ago, we posted a week of articles covering the demoscene. This short documentary by Yle New Media Development, originally posted on Motherboard TV, is a nice follow-up to those posts. In this first episode, The Demoscene Documentary interviews the Finnish demo group Future Crew about the backstory behind their legendary demo for PC Second Reality, which premiered at the demoparty Assembly in 1993.