Greg J. Smith
Since 2003
Works in Toronto Canada

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.


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 " 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)

Out of Context: Artists and Web Inventories

Hi Rachel,

I don't think users are necessarily that aware of how limited their agency (or ownership) is on social web services, I think are happy to be "tourists" on these platforms and just happy to be at the party. I have friends who do 95% of their link sharing and emailing through Facebook - what happens to this information if they want to leave in three years? Would Facebook let them export this data as the basis of a new blog project? Probably not, I know people who have had their accounts mysteriously deactivated with no explanation. I'm not trying to render the administration of Facebook as melodrama, but these (and your) questions kind of linger in the background - eventually they will have to be answered.

In their own ways, I really think the above projects are useful tools in scrutinizing these web services.

In thinking about this post over the last little while I've returned to Geoff Cox's Antisocial Notworking.


Vague Terrain 13: citySCENE

Sat Jan 24, 2009 00:00 is seeking out projects which address urban representation to be featured in an upcoming issue.

Vague Terrain 13: citySCENE - Call For Work

In the 1980s architect Bernard Tschumi posed the following question: "If writers could manipulate the structure of stories in the same way as they twist vocabulary and grammar, couldn't architects do the same, organizing an architectural program in a similarly objective, detached, or imaginative way?" While Tschumi was speculating the foundation for a new type of architectural practice, his thinking can be applied to problematizing our current, informatized cityscapes. Ubiquitous computing, home-brew geospatial analysis and open source culture are rapidly changing our conception and experience of urban space. If "event" could be used as a catalyst in architecture, what paradigms might we employ to recontextualize the city?

Vague Terrain 13: citySCENE is dedicated to exploring urban representation. The issue will serve as a global index of strategies for abstracting, quantifying and documenting urban life. Subjective cartographies, architectural mashups, urban informatics, augmented reality gaming and field recording based work are all examples of research that we are interested in. What is important is that the work is ambitious and innovative.

We are seeking submissions in all formats - audio, video, photographic documentation and text. If you are interested in submitting work to be considered for inclusion in Vague Terrain 13: citySCENE please note the deadlines below and contact the issue curator, Greg J. Smith at

Additional Information

Format: Please see for full submission guidelines. Please consult this document as it is very important to read when considering the scope and deliverables of a submission. All of these criteria will have to be met in order for work to be included in the issue.

Copyright: Vague Terrain publishes material under an Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike Creative Commons License. Potential contributors are welcome to propose alternative licenses for their work - but we prefer the flexibility and open nature of CC.

Submission Deadline: Potential contributors should establish contact and provide links/information about a proposed submission before January 24th. Selected participants will be contacted by February 1st and all submission material and supporting documentation will need to be uploaded by February 15th. The tentative publication date for the issue is March 1st.

Curator Information: Greg J. Smith is a Toronto-based designer and researcher with interests in media theory and digital culture. His work is invested in exploring how contemporary information paradigms affect representational and spatial systems. These dynamics have been explored in a range of mediums including drawing, visualization, writing and editing. Greg co-curates and edits the digital arts publication Vague Terrain and is a contributor to Rhizome and Augmentology 1[L]0[L]1. Greg has presented work at venues and institutions which include Medialab-Prado (Madrid), the Annenberg Center for Communication (Los Angeles), the Public Memories Project (Syracuse), soundaXis (Toronto), Université de Montréal and TAGallery (online). He has taught digital humanities at the Department of Communications Studies and Multimedia at McMaster University and been a guest reviewer at the University of Toronto, Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD), Ryerson University and the Los Angeles Institute of Architecture and Design (LAIAD).


Google has BLOCKED Artist Homepage

Ack.. sorry to hear about your troubles Steve.
Now that you have been blacklisted by Google you should take the next step and pronounce yourself as being "bigger than jesus"..



announcing vague terrain 08: process

We have recently launched the newest edition of Vague Terrain, the
Toronto-based digital arts quarterly. Vague Terrain 08: Process delivers
a diverse range of interviews into a number of creative practices. The
issue contains the following conversations:

Chris Messina (interviewed by Malcolm Levy)
Daniel Shiffman (interviewed by Jeremy Rotsztain)
McKenzie Wark (interviewed by Greg J. Smith)
Peter Mettler (interviewed by Noir)
Tara Rodgers (interviewed by Corina MacDonald)
Thomson & Craighead (interviewed by Martin John Callanan)

View the issue:

Vague Terrain 09: Rise of the VJ (guest curated by Carrie Gates) will be
published in early 2008.

We are also looking for 1-2 guest curators for next year, If you think
you'd be up for assembling a multidisciplinary body of work on a theme
related to digital art please send us an informal proposal via

Thanks for your continued support!

Greg J. Smith & Neil Wiernik


vague terrain 08: rise of the VJ: call for work

vague terrain 08: rise of the VJ: call for work

There has been a distinct upswing of activity in the realm of
audiovisual culture over the last few years. Specifically, the role of
the VJ has become noticeably more prominent in audiovisual
collaboration, whether it takes place in galleries, electronic music
festivals, nightclubs, noise shows, academic institutions, public
intervention art, online, or other places altogether. This growing focus
on the live mixed projected image begs the question of the relationships
between moving image, sound, body, environment, economics, and
technology. Since this field is relatively new, and moving along at such
a brisk pace, it is wise and exciting for us to critically consider the
role of the VJ in audiovisual culture.

For this issue of vague terrain: Rise of the VJ, we are seeking three
types of submissions: audiovisual collaborations (in the form of a video
to be streamed on the vague terrain site), critical writing, and interviews.

Suggested topics include (but are not limited to):
-economies of VJ technology
-art historical takes on the rise of the VJ
-haptic cinema and synaesthetic approaches to live video mixing
-semiotics and/or aesthetics of contemporary audiovisual collaboration
-possibilities for using VJing for social change
-human-computer interaction
-the role of festal culture in promoting VJ culture
-mapping, precision, and subjectivity in relationships between visual
and aural elements
-interactive video installation
-collaboration strategies, processes, and concerns
-working conditions of the VJ
-critiques of VJ performance content
-copyright, Creative Commons, file sharing, and sampling
-crowd-based interaction techniques
-writing custom VJ software with programs like Max/MSP/Jitter and Pure Data
-alternative user interfaces (e.g. biofeedback, MIDI controllers, Google
Image search, etc.)
-relational aesthetics
-the role of the Internet in facilitating critical dialogue between VJs
-gender, race, age, and class concerns
-generative video
-vintage equipment vs. emerging technologies on the market
-education and information-sharing vs. trade secrets
-why VJing is so darn fun
-future movements in VJ culture

Vague Terrain is an emerging quarterly web-journal which solicits and
showcases works from a range of international artists, musicians, and
writers. Our intent is to stake a claim which samples the focus and
methodologies of academic and art journals while commissioning parallel
excursions into the sonic realm. Content usually consists of a mix of
visual art, audio, and text curated by Neil Wiernik and Greg J. Smith.
On this occasion, for issue 08: Rise of the VJ, guest curator Carrie
Gates has been invited to select content for vague terrain. Heading into
its eighth issue, is currently attracting an
audience of about twelve thousand visitors a month and has been
receiving press and support from a diverse range of online communities
and print publications including,,
Wire, and earplug.

Each issue of the quarterly examines a specific theme and all invited
artists have been asked to submit work pertaining to this topic. Since is a non-profit, unfunded entity, all submitted
work will be published without compensation. We understand that everyone
has bills to pay and a fixed amount of time they can dedicate to
pro-bono work. With this in mind we are open to recontextualization or
showcasing of past projects if they relate to the quarterly theme.
Ideally, we would prefer that some new work is done specifically with
our invitation in mind.

As a general rule of thumb for all submissions, vague terrain welcomes
the recontextualization of past work, but the onus is on the contributor
to obtain permission to (re)publish material online if the rights belong
to another publication, label, journal, etc.

about the curator:
Carrie Gates is a VJ, sound artist, educator, and academic from
Saskatoon who has been producing work over the last 12 years for
independent electronic music events, public galleries, artist-run
centres, festivals, conferences, academic institutions, and symposia.
Her work often deals with subjects such as synaesthesia, situationism,
and the fantastic, using/abusing technology as a means to tease out
diverse perceptions of social and psychological space. With the
assistance of a Production Grant from Soil Digital Media Suite, she is
currently working on an interactive installation work utilizing EEG
biofeedback as a controller for a Jitter-based video system,
investigating the paradoxical relationships between consumption,
capitalism, and human-computer interaction. Her artwork and academic
research has been shared with audiences across Canada, as well as in
Germany, New Zealand, and the United States. Gates also is a Co-Director
of the BricoLodge net.label, and is employed at the University of
Saskatchewan as a Multimedia Programmer.

submission deadline:
If you are interested in participating, please send a brief email
describing the audiovisual project, critical text, or interview you
would like to propose to Carrie Gates at by
Wednesday, November 14th. Please also send a weblink to any other
related work of yours that is relevant to your proposal.

Selected creators will be confirmed via email on Saturday, November 17th.

The submission deadline for vague terrain 08: Rise of the VJ is Sunday,
December 30th . The issue will launch in mid-January.

technical specifications:
For more information about technical specifications and legalities,
please see:

Vague Terrain: