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.

Bob Moog, R.I.P.


Bob Moog, inventor of the Moog synthesizer and revolutionizer of music, just died. May he rest in peace. Below are excerpts from two posts that appeared on this page last year about the film Moog. They were mostly critical, but the gripes were about the film and not the man, as I have nothing but admiration for him and his work.

The highest spots in Moog involve not the keyboard instrument but the Theremin, which Moog got his start building. Solos by Pamelia Kurstin and Moog himself are beautiful and otherworldly--music from thin air, only two controls (pitch and volume), no moving parts, it's the soul of economy and still inherently futuristic. How did we ever lose track of the concept?
And later:
It's interesting to watch Moogs being assembled and to hear the inventor talk about them--he's quite the spiritualist, and says he intuitively knows what sounds the circuits will make. He emphasizes the importance of playing live before an audience, and seems to distrust "music made alone to be listened to by people alone." [...]

READ ON »


This art is the bomb


Via Gawker, It’s Art So Long As You Don’t Detonate It via NY Observer, The Transom

Continuing with our insistence that FEAR IS BACK, today’s Transom has a downright disturbing item about Brooklyn artist Chris Hackett […], who is constructing a fully-functional suitcase bomb. The piece is courtesy of the Madagascar Institute, a radical art organization which is organizing an exhibition to be shown at either Cooper Union or South Street Seaport the week of September 11. Here’s to the power of perfect timing:

[Hackett] said the strength of the bomb would be equivalent to “about four pounds of TNT. It doesn’t sound like much,

READ ON »


Programming and digital art


Recently Tom Moody wrote (in part):

Does one have to write code to make art or music with digital tools? Two proponents of code are designer/MIT Media Lab professor John Maeda (on the hi-fi end of the digital spectrum) and the BEIGE crew […snip]



The beef about using consumer software is that an engineer makes aesthetic choices for you.[…snip]



[…] An analogy I’ve used is the purist artist who thinks you have to grind your own pigment to paint, either because store bought colors aren’t good enough or out of some strict truth-to-materials dictate. I think that applies to John Maeda—his “if you aren’t programming you aren’t using the computer

READ ON »


sample of our trivial existence


so i have a question, mostly for eryk, but welcome any opinions out there.


why would anyone continue to subscribe to the idea that triviality = bad, while broadening
the qualifications for things like aretistic merit? hence, the value of trivial things (i seem to
remember a mention a while ago of a found red mitten) have equal value as (for example)
desmoiselles d'avignon.

rather than broaden the good/bad dichotomy, many seek to broaden the definition of
whatever seems important. if "art" is important, claim all things are equally artistic and thus
equally important. (not that "art" is the only nebulous term, but a pretty ubiquitous one)
certainly the labels "computer art", "web art", "net art","digital" popularly obscure the real
things they refer to, such that no one agrees on any logical definition.


what's wrong with saying trivial is fine. despite the superlatives in marketing like movie ads
and artistic statements, most things are actually trivial. i like trivial things, i am lucky to have
a chance to make them. trivial things certainly don't have to equal malevolence, like hitting
somebody on the head. they also don't have to be phenominal Michaelangelo masterpieces
to be enjoyed. in fact, why would there be anything wrong with enjoying the trivial more
than the phenominal?

what's wrong with saying you can like a rothko, but not equate it with a monet? (with a
rothko, the artist is making their statement as a responce to an event, after the fact. with a
monet, the event is a responce to the artist. the statement, after the fact, is an unessential
addition to something else. a person could easily just say i like the statementy stuff, without
saying it has as much to offer, or arguing that a 4-year-old could ...

READ ON »


G-Link


glink.jpg

Real World Activities Effect Your Game Character

G-Link by Ross O'Shea is a student project where your real world activities effect your game character. This hip pouch and badge is full of electronics and as you wear it throughout the day, it senses and records data; how many steps you have taken, how much you speak, size, temperature and brightness of your environment.

This device has currently been prototyped using the RPG Morrowind. In usual circumstances, a player might make an avatar that is a fitter, stronger more attractive version of themselves. The G-Link reverses this and says if you sit in and play games all day, your character will be weaker, yet if you go out for a walk then your character will be stronger. Also if you go out in the sun your character will be light aligned, yet stay indoors and it will go over to the dark side. Recently part of the CoEDD graduate exhibition. [blogged by Chris on pixelsumo]

READ ON »



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!