Francis Hwang
Since 2003
Works in Brooklyn, New York United States of America

PORTFOLIO (4)
BIO
Francis Hwang is an artist, writer, and software engineer. He was Rhizome's Director of Technology from 2003 to 2006.

Internet Mapping: Katrina Aftermath


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via NYTimes - excerpts:

Internet Mapping
For Victims, News About Home Can Come From Strangers Online
By KATIE HAFNER
Published: September 5, 2005

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, hundreds of displaced residents and their relatives - along with people like Mr. Sprague - have turned to the Internet for information about a home feared damaged or destroyed. Many are using Google Earth, a program available at the Google Web site that lets users zoom in on any address for an aerial view drawn from a database of satellite photos.

By the end of last week, a grass-roots effort had identified scores of posthurricane images, determined the geographical coordinates and visual landmarks to enable their integration into the Google Earth program, and posted them to a Google Earth bulletin board - the place ZuluOne turned for help.

Most of the images originated with the Remote Sensing Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which has been posting them to its Web site (noaa.gov) since Wednesday.

Taking inspiration from the online volunteers, Google, NASA and Carnegie Mellon University had by Saturday night made the effort more formal, incorporating nearly 4,000 posthurricane images into the Google Earth database (at earth.google.com) for public use.
[...]

Kathryn Cramer, a science fiction editor in Pleasantville, N.Y., whose Web site (www.kathryncramer.com) has served as a clearinghouse for overlay information, said the effort started early last week when she and a few others wondered about the exact location of a levee break and created an overlay using a photo from the news media.

"We were getting a lot of decontextualized disaster photos that didn't give you a real understanding of what was happening," she said.

In a related online collaboration, at www.scipionus.com, people are plastering a Google street map with electronic ...

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Scrapple


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A Physical Score Table

Scrapple: A physical active score table, by Golan Levin, is a physical version of the screen-based Audiovisual Environments (AVES) devised for the Scribble performance in 2000.

In Scrapple, object placed on the table become sound-producing elements that determine the score's rhythm and pitch. They are interpreted as sound-producing marks in an active score: flexible shape-holding curves allow for the creation of melodies, a group of small toys and other moving objects yield ever-changing rhythms. Video projections on the table turn the installation into a simple augmented reality, in which the objects are elaborated through colorful and explanatory graphics. [blogged by Regine on we-make-money-not]

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Pink Noise


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Urban Noise Pollution Displayed on Street Advertising Boards

Pink Noise by arts collective HeHe.org will be installed in Witte de Withstraat, Rotterdam on Sept. 10th, during the live event Hands On Hands Off organised by V2. Bruit rose (Pink noise in English): The interaction of this work is based on visualising the ambient sounds in the environment aswel as the passerby. The light emmitting panels, usually used to divulge numerically formatted information, are instead détourné from this didatic function and serve as an animated visual, disengaged from all the gloss that usually occupies this urban advertising space. [via URBAN SCREENS 05]

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Primary and Other Remote Locations


Algorithmic pattern-matching of the landscape (utilizing the C5 Landscape Database) on Lemay Island and the Silver Island Mountains, Box Elder County UT, Aug 12th-15th, 2K5.

For "Primary and Other Remote Locations", the South East corner the Center for Land Use Interpretation's Remote Location property on Lemay Island was used as an input point.

A database containing topographical data for the surrounding area (including Lemay Island, Floating Island and the Silver Island mountain range which includes Crater Island) was searched, seeking points with similar topographical characteristics. The database search isolated five topographical others of the CLUI Remote Location; or as we call them, the "Other Remote Locations".

The "Other Remote Locations" were visited with the help of GPS, four wheel drive, a[nd] hiking. The sites were documented, with the primary goal of producing landscape paintings in which agency of site selection, often assumed to be the natural province of the painter, is turned over to the algorithm and the data; digesting the landscape data through pattern matching, and allowing the data to tell us where to go.

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African Textiles Made with Logo Program




African Textiles 2

African Textiles 1


Via Travis Hallenbeck, African textiles using a programming language called Logo, specifically the GS LogoWriter on an Apple IIGS computer. The page linked to, a text written 12 years ago, goes into great technical detail as to how the patterns were created. I was not previously familiar with Logo or even that generation of Apples; it looks like another language-cum-family of gear (like Amiga, NES, etc) with a philosophy and a cult behind it. Obviously I'm spewing hot air here, being more interested in the beautiful finished product than how anyone arrived at it. But see What is Logo? if you're as un-up-to-speed as I am and want to know more.

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Discussions (176) Opportunities (7) Events (2) Jobs (0)
EVENT

"Post Post Modern" panel discussion tonight at SVA


Dates:
Fri Apr 28, 2006 00:00 - Fri Apr 28, 2006

Friends,

Sorry if this is a repeat, I didn't see it posted here earlier. I'm in a panel discussion tonight at SVA, details below ...

------
Friday, April 28th 2006, 7pm
School of Visual Arts. 209 East 23rd Street,
(between 2nd & 3rd Ave.)

Artists Talk on Art is pleased to present 'Post Post Modern,


DISCUSSION

Signing off


Hi everyone,

Today is officially my last day at Rhizome, so I wanted to send out a
quick note and officially bid farewell. Actually, this isn't so much
a farewell, since I'll still be around, just as another member. The
only difference, really, will be that you will all have to put up
with my miscellaneous ramblings, without the benefit of me actually
writing code for you. ("Oh, great", I can hear some of you thinking.)

Patrick May has been in the office since February, and the transition
has gone better than I could've hoped. He'll be in touch with y'all
soon, but let me just say that he's hit the ground running and
already has a batch of fresh new ideas to improve the user experience
at Rhizome.

Patrick, Lauren, and Marisa make a phenomenal team, and it's going to
be a kick to stand back and watch where they take Rhizome in the
future. I'm happy to be moving on, but I have to admit I will miss
working with and for the other folks on staff.

I will also miss working with the Rhizome community, many of whom
I've had the privilege of getting to know well over the last three-
and-a-half years. I've enjoyed having so many people to learn from as
the field has continued to grow. And although some of our discussion
about Rhizome policy has been, mm, how you say, contentious, I always
kept in mind that it is mostly driven by the desire to see Rhizome,
and the entire field of new media arts, succeed. Without its
opinionated users, Rhizome wouldn't be what it is today, so thanks to
all of you.

As for my plans in the near future: Still unfixed, and right this
minute I suppose I like it that way. I'm actually going to be
vacationing a bit next month, with old friends to visit in Barcelona,
a friend's wedding in Minneapolis, and then quality time with my
family in Washington State. After that, who's to say? I'll be sure to
keep y'all posted, in between posting here about hallucinogenics and
XML and everything in between.

Thanks, everyone. And keep in touch,

Francis Hwang
ex-Director of Technology
Rhizome.org

DISCUSSION

Patrick May to be the next Director of Technology


Hi everybody,

Last November, I notified the Rhizome community that I would soon be
stepping down as Rhizome's Director of Technology. Today, I'm very
happy to announce that our next Director of Technology will be Patrick
May.

Patrick comes to Rhizome with an exceptional background in both
technology and in the arts. His previous position at the publishing
company Source Media gives him extensive experience with developing and
maintaining large, content-driven sites with limited resources, and
this experience will come in handy at a highly dynamic,
community-oriented website like Rhizome. He is also active in the free
software and Ruby communities: He is the creator of the Ruby-Web
library, and has presented at the International Ruby Conference.

Patrick is also the cofounder and Director of Programming at the
Williamsburg-based artists' collective Open Ground, helping to guide
the consensus-based curatorial process that furnished Grand Street with
four years' worth of always surprising group shows. He is an artist
himself, and his creative practice incorporates a software library he
created that automatically publishes consecutive iterations of images
to an artists' blog; he discussed this tool at Rhizome's second
"Blogging and the Arts" panel discussion.

Being Rhizome's Director of Technology, of course, requires more than
just a knowledge of programming, and more than a familiarity with new
media arts. Rhizome has always been an undersized organization with
oversized ambitions, and we continue to explore ways to deepen the
nascent connections between art and technology. Patrick's resume hits a
lot of the right topics, but what's most important is that he's able to
think of the big picture--not just in terms of artworks and lines of
code, but also in terms of organizations and communities. I'm confident
that he will make the perfect partner for Lauren and Marisa as the
three of them lead Rhizome in the future. We've accomplished a lot in
the last year, and I'm excited to see what changes will come in the
years ahead.

We are expecting the transition process to work like this: Patrick will
come in on February 2nd, and he and I will work side-by-side throughout
February as I train him in. My last day will be March 3rd, but even
after then I'll still be available to Patrick & the organization in
general.

I'm quite happy to leave this job in Patrick's capable hands. I hope
you all welcome him as kindly as you welcomed me.

Francis Hwang
Director of Technology
Rhizome.org
phone: 212-219-1288x202
AIM: francisrhizome
+ + +

DISCUSSION

Re: schizoanalizys for beginners


On Jan 19, 2006, at 8:07 PM, Marisa Olson wrote:

> I have long been appalled by the way that theorists supposedly steeped
> in
> psychoanalytic readings could misdefine schizophrenia and then
> consistently glamorize this very serious, very misdefined condition as
> some sexy alternative to 'reality.' There is a long list of scholars
> who've become quite famous in the course of building and upholding this
> farce.
>
> Now I'm all for creativity, metaphor, and wordplay, but I feel that
> any of
> us with a ligitimate interest in these discourses or in contributing to
> any kind of meaningful conversation have a personal responsibility not
> to
> entrench this kind of grossly irresponsible scholarship.

Good thing Rhizome doesn't try to have an official stance on psychiatry
;)

I'm not familiar with D&G's writings on psychiatry, but it's quite
possible to be critical of mainline psychiatry without necessarily
glamorizing the condition of schizophrenia. A lot of the good
"anti-psychiatry" theory moves to put such conditions out of the
individual context, and into the social context, which was part of
psychiatry's brief in the beginning but has been slowly leached out of
the practice as it became more closely lashed to modern technocratic
society.

I agree with much of what Eric wrote here:

> In Mircea Eliade's research, the role of the schizophrenic is enabled
> by some tribes and excluded by others. In complex social networks,
> which we are a part of, the schizophrenic is excluded and sent to the
> shadows.
> As well capitalism has no room, or need for the schizophrenic. They
> don't contribute to the nations wealth in an open market system.
> Witness the homeless today and the Bedlams of the past. Providing a
> social space doesn't cure the chemical imbalances, but it can give
> them a nurturing environment and a sense of belonging.
> It isn't a cure, but it does provide needed dignity.

Though I'd go a little further and say that ultimately it may not be
correct to describe schizophrenia as a condition requiring a "cure" ...
You could also remove the normative aspect from psychiatry altogether
and simply that schizophrenia is a condition, a statistical outlier,
but not necessarily more or less healthy, just different.

I don't want to trivialize or glamorize the problems faced by those
with mental illnesses. In fact, my dad works in the industry, so I grew
up with all sorts of terrible stories about mental illnesses.

But if you're not normal, and that makes it difficult to live in
society, who's to blame for that, exactly? Homosexuality was only
removed from the DSM within the last 50 years. If you grew up gay in a
Christian fundamentalist household in a homophobic small town, and
revealing your desires to anybody might get you condemned or beaten or
killed, and then you grow up with serious intimacy issues, whose fault
is that?

Or, to take a much more harrowing example from the cutting edge of
psychiatric pathology: Some psychiatrists are beginning to look into
what is currently called Body Integrity Identity Disorder, which is the
overwhelming desire of a person to voluntarily amputate a very specific
part of their body. These patients (who are almost always men) feel
that a certain part of their body (almost always below the waist)
simply doesn't belong to them, and that they would be more whole
without it. Like pre-op transsexuals, they often dress the part, for
example by tying their leg back and wearing loose fitting pants that
are clipped up where the missing part would be.

And, although research on this is extremely preliminary, at this point
it would appear that the only known treatment is actually amputation.
Some of these patients are able to pursue this in a proper medical
setting, but as you might imagine some are forced to do it themselves,
using whatever tools you might imagine a person might use if they were
forced to self-amputate without the benefit of a medical staff, an
operating theatre, or anesthesia.

The New York Underground had a pretty amazing documentary on the
subject (I think two years ago), and a few of the interviewees were
people who had taken this step. They all looked astoundingly happy.
Their condition was cured. They were just without one leg or foot or
whatever ...

Now, this is pretty horrifying stuff, and it's clearly not normal in
the statistical sense, but why is it unhealthy? We know, for example,
that plenty of people who lose their limbs in accidents are capable of
living rich, fulfilling lives. So why can't the same be true for
somebody who loses his limb on purpose? And what should society's
response be to this? Should we make it easier for people to get, to
twist a Christian fundamentalist phrase, "amputation-on-demand"? Or
should we force them to pursue years of experimental treatments--shock
therapies, medication, aversion therapy, etc., etc.--in lieu of just
getting an amputation, which is on its own a very established, safe
medical procedure?

Anyway, back to schizophrenia ... It's quite possible that the world is
going to become increasingly hostile to its schizophrenics, largely as
a result of the spread of global capitalism. Cities are worse for
schizophrenics than the countryside, so a future in which more than
half the world's population is urban doesn't bode well for them. The
complex web of invisible power relations--whether technical, financial,
social, or legal--required to get along in the 21st century probably
don't do any good for the schizophrenic's propensity for paranoia.

Maybe the trade-offs are worth it, maybe they're not. I personally
can't claim to be pure in this respect, anyway: I live in a big city
and I work with the internet and I even find the Economist to be
interesting reading. But maybe it's a shame that we're implicitly
deciding that from now on, society has no place for the schizophrenic.
And maybe it's a copout to say that it's because of biology that they
don't fit in, when it's just as much because of culture.

Or maybe the decision isn't so final. Maybe the fragmentation of
culture that comes with the spread of information technology actually
works against the idea of reality as consensus--and thus in favor of
the schizophrenic. Any world that has a place for furries and centaur
porn and Everquest economies and transgenderism and people who dress up
like Uruk-Hai on the weekends might actually have a place for
schizophrenics, right? Who's to say.

Francis Hwang
Director of Technology
Rhizome.org
phone: 212-219-1288x202
AIM: francisrhizome
+ + +

OPPORTUNITY

Looking for nine fiction writers


Deadline:
Sun Jan 15, 2006 12:19

I’m looking for nine fiction writers who want to collaborate with me on an artwork that has been commissioned by Turbulence.org. I don’t want to give too much away, but I can say that the work will involve writing collaborative, improvisational fiction online. I can’t honestly say how good the final product will be, but I think it’ll make a fascinating experiment—provided, of course, I’m lucky enough to have good writers to work with.

Each writer will receive a $200 stipend for participation. Participating in this artwork will require a light, but ongoing commitment: perhaps an hour a week, from March to June.

No particular experience, or publications, are necessary. However, you should be mildly comfortable with technology, enough to use a website like MySpace or a blog host like Blogspot. It would also be okay if you had a friend who could help you with the technical stuff. Basically, the project involves a little tech setup, and I don’t want to have to do a lot of tech support for other people.

If that doesn’t sound too maddeningly vague, please let me know if you’re interested by emailing me at sera@fhwang.net. I’d appreciate a few writing samples, and if you have any experience with improvisational anything (stand-up comedy, music, even live-action role-playing), it’d be useful to know about that, too. Also, please feel free to ask any other questions. Thanks!