Greg J. Smith
Since 2003
smith@serialconsign.com
Works in Toronto Canada

BIO
Greg J. Smith is a Toronto-based designer and researcher with interests in media theory and digital culture. Extending from a background in architecture, his research considers how contemporary information paradigms affect representational and spatial systems. Greg is a designer at Mission Specialist and is a managing editor of the digital arts publication Vague Terrain. His writing has appeared in a variety of publications including: Creative Applications, Current Intelligence, Rhizome, Vectors and the Handbook of Research on Computational Arts and Creative Informatics.

Greg has presented work at venues and institutions including EYEO Festival (Minneapolis), the Western Front (Vancouver), DIY Citizenship (Toronto), Medialab-Prado (Madrid) and Postopolis! LA. He is an adjunct instructor in the CCIT program (University of Toronto/Sheridan College) and has taught courses for CSMM (McMaster University) and OCAD University.

The Search for a Center: Vito Campanelli's Web Aesthetics



"Why look at Gustave Courbet when you can download free porn?" is a question posed by one of the animated characters in Parker Ito's sardonic Artist Statement (2009), a piece that both mocks and celebrates a selection of trite, blanket statements regarding media art. Ito's humorous animation is one of the many projects enmeshed within the dense weave of Vito Campanelli's new book Web Aesthetics: How Digital Media Affect Culture and Society (NAi Publishers), a sprawling examination of post-web visual culture and the cultural implications of various forms of digital media. While the last decade has yielded a considerable amount of scholarship judging and qualifying online interactions, tracking the transformation of identity and contemplating the changing nature of attention, Campanelli's writing project extends beyond these stock investigations and sets out to identify how the web has altered our means of experiencing and evaluating contemporary art and media. The browser, internet mailing lists, peer-to-peer networks, spam, MP3 files, vernacular video and numerous other everyday platforms and protocols are put under the microscope in the interest of cultivating a broad aesthetics of digital media. While these topical, episodic investigations are generally quite successful, Web Aesthetics is not lacking in fundamental structural and stylistic idiosyncrasies.

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Interview with Jeremy Bailey


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.


Code Crossings: A Review of Form+Code: In Design, Art, and Architecture


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.


Knowledge Work(s): In Search of a Spreadsheet Aesthetics


I sympathize with the protagonist of a cartoon claiming to have transferred x amount of megabytes, physically exhausted after a day of downloading. The simple act of moving information from one place to another today constitutes a significant cultural act in and of itself. I think it's fair to say that most of us spend hours each day shifting content into different containers. Some of us call this writing.

- Kenneth Goldsmith, 2004

While Kenneth Goldsmith's wry statement about knowledge jockeying is directly discussing the plight of the contemporary author, his comments are useful for thinking about other disciplines. In editing this quote, the word "writing" could easily be replaced by any number of verbs (programming, composing, painting, storyboarding, etc.) as we undoubtedly inhabit an era where creative transposition rather than raw creativity can be enough to drive a project. The ctrl-c clipboard, the layer palette in photo editing software and the flash memory of a microcontroller are all examples of spaces that serve as staging grounds for storytelling and crafting aesthetic experiences — these are interstitial zones where art gestates. Goldsmith clearly doesn't approach the creative process with reverence, and his blasé attitude is an excellent springboard into reading contemporary artistic production in relation to knowledge work. An important question: How might we appropriate this daily activity of "shifting content between containers" as a site (rather than a means) of artistic production? This article will consider the aesthetics of the spreadsheet, and act as the first installment of a series that will engage projects that explore the documents, software, interior architecture and politics of the contemporary workplace.


Imperfect Sound Forever


Many scholars within the field of media archaeology opt to focus on the backstory behind an influential medium or technology and map out how its inception and organizational logic (re)shaped the world. An alternative approach is the excavation and arrangement of fringe/forgotten prototypes into an array to problematize dominant historical narratives regarding technological progress. Caleb Kelly's recent text Cracked Media: The Sound of Malfunction uses two consumer technologies, the phonograph and the compact disc, to survey 20th century musical and artistic production. The book catalogs a broad range of experimentation with these playback technologies to create detailed timelines of misuse and critical engagement. In bracketing this realm of sound-producing practice, Kelly proposes "cracked media," a subversion of technological devices whereby "...tools of media playback are expanded beyond their original function as a simple playback device for prerecorded sound or image." Given the prominence of the glitch and lo-fi malformed digital artifacts everywhere from media art to pop music to web video, it is easy to take the aesthetics of failure for granted. The investigation executed within Cracked Media prefigures many of the discussions that underpin generative and glitch aesthetics by focusing on work that foregrounds and interrogates the materiality of two specific mediums. Kelly methodically tracks projects that subvert the CD and phonograph over the entire 20th century and in doing so he builds a fascinating discourse about musical performance and reproduction that is equally comfortable referencing Friedrich Kittler as DJ Qbert.



Discussions (37) Opportunities (5) Events (15) Jobs (0)
EVENT

Vague Terrain 19: Schematic as Score


Dates:
Mon May 02, 2011 00:00 - Sat Dec 31, 2011

Over the past few years, a strong reaction against the sterile world of laptop sound and video has inspired a new interest in analog processes, and a fresh exploration of the pioneers of the electronic arts during the pre-digital era of the 1960s and 1970s. Artists and inventors such as Nam June Paik, Steina & Woody Vasulka, Don Buchla, Serge Tcherepnin, Dan Sandin and David Tudor all constructed their own unique instruments long before similar tools became commercially available or freely downloadable--often through a long, rigorous process of self-education in electronics. John Cage once quipped that Tcherepnin's synthesizer system was "the best musical composition that Serge had ever made", and it is precisely Cage's reformulation of the concert score from a list of deterministic note values to a set of indeterministic possibilities that allowed the blurring of lines between instrument-builder and music composer that followed.
The current issue of Vague Terrain, curated and edited by Derek Holzer, features an eclectic range of young, contemporary artists who have revisited and expanded upon the philosophies and works of this earlier generation. Operating at the extreme edges of the DIY electronics scene, builder-composers such as Peter Blasser, Jason R. Butcher, Moritz Ellerich, Lesley Flanigan, Martin Howse, the Loud Objects (Kunal Gupta, Tristan Perich and Katie Shima), Jessica Rylan and Synchronator (Bas van Koolwijk & Geert-Jan Prins) all represent some of the most radical and idiosyncratic artistic approaches to creative circuitry of the moment. Their compositions take the form of systems which provide a map of what is possible, but lack a prescribed route on how to get there. The discovery—-and the risk—-is left to the moment of the performance.


OPPORTUNITY

Ongoing Call for Guest Curators


Deadline:
Fri Aug 31, 2012 00:00

Vague Terrain ( http://vagueterrain.net ) has recently entered its fifth year of showcasing progressive, idiosyncratic digital art practices. Our growth is due in large part to the contributions of guest curators who have shared their expertise and energy with us, including Joshua Noble, Kim Cascone, Paul Prudence, Rob Cruickshank, CONT3XT.NET, Carrie Gates and David McCallum. We would like to continue to collaborate with members of the digital art community, and are inviting proposals from interested artists or curators to work with us on future issues of Vague Terrain.

Journal Format: The best way to get a sense of our project is to browse the archives. Each issue is a mix of essays, interviews, in-depth documentation of multimedia projects, broader surveys of art practices and EP-length audio art and experimental music releases. We aren't locked to a specific formula and have featured issues almost entirely dedicated to article-length essays or music. Each issue should feature 8-15 contributors.

Schedule: We are looking for guest curators for issues to be published in January 2011 and onward. A curator will need about 90 days of lead time to organize an issue and establishing communication with the invited artists at the beginning of the process is one of the most involved tasks. The guest curator will work with the Vague Terrain team to set up a timeline for participating artists to follow.

Responsibilities - A guest curator is responsible for the following:

*Writing an initial statement and using it to invite artists to participate in the issue
Ensuring that participating artists understand our submission guidelines (we provide documentation)
*Ensuring that incoming submissions are approximately on schedule and complete
*Writing a forward to frame the issue theme and contextualize included work

Support - Vague Terrain offers the following assistance with the above duties of the curator:

*Provide documentation regarding submission guidelines
*Arrange for the proofreading and editing of content
*Organizing and publishing all the content that the curator has solicited
*An FTP account for the issue through which contributors can upload their work
*Once the issue is launched we will promote the material through various online art/media networks

Interested curators and digital artists should email us with the following:

*a brief abstract describing their proposed theme and how it relates to their research
*An artistic or scholarly CV or a link to a personal website
*Optional: a list of artists whose work would be representative of the proposed topic

Deadline: This is an open, ongoing call. However curators interested in the January slot should contact us ASAP as we'll be selecting the curator for that issue in early September.

Submissions and inquires should be sent to submit@vagueterrain.net


DISCUSSION

Required Reading


@Edwin "No one really knows what is in the box" That line makes me think of 'Kiss Me Deadly' and The Great Whatsit! Perhaps that divine glow is that magic that makes Apple industrial design so alluring (at least at a product launch, before the bugs are apparent).

@Thomas - the video sounds fascinating. I'm downloading it now.

Thanks for posting this Ceci!

DISCUSSION

Untitled (2008) - Igor Eskinja


These pseudo icons are even better than the real thing. This is the only time I will ever quote U2.

EVENT

Vague Terrain 16: Architecture/Action


Dates:
Wed Feb 17, 2010 00:00 - Wed Feb 17, 2010

Announcing Vague Terrain 16: Architecture/Action

The latest of edition of Vague Terrain presents a timely and nuanced consideration of ubiquitous computing. Guest curated by the American artist/programmer Joshua Noble, the issue provides a window into the practices of several leading researchers. Given the arrival of gestural interfaces and preliminary deployments of augmented reality technology and "intelligent" architecture, it is an important moment for thinking about the relationship between technology and the body. Noble on this current milieu: "All technologies reshape the body and the space around the body, from the bow and arrow to the steam engine to the telephone. It may be that we are beginning to truly see how computing and ubiquitous devices will once again reshape our bodies and our conceptions of ourselves in space."

The issue features text, interview and project contributions from: Jonah Brucker-Cohen, Golan Levin, Pierre Proske, Mark Shepard and Marilena Skvara.

To view the issue please visit: http://vagueterrain.net/journal16