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.

Top 5 - 10


The World Series Of 'Tubing - Jeff Crouse & Aaron Meyers

Greg J. Smith is a Toronto-based designer with an active interest in the intersection of space and media. He is co-editor of the digital arts publication Vague Terrain and blogs at Serial Consign.



Five 2009 projects that deal with the translation of online experience into environments, events, artifacts and performance.

► World Series of 'Tubing - Jeff Crouse & Aaron Meyers
The everyday action of "favoriting" online media is expanded into a participatory game show (video above). A pair of contestants square off by selecting viral videos from YouTube and this media is "played" in an augmented reality card game where a live audience determines the victor. (see Paddy Johnson's adventures as a contestant)

► What my friends are doing on Facebook - Lee Walton
The ubiquitous status update is used to inspire an ongoing series of charming short videos. Banal announcements, everyday routine and the inhabitation of domestic space make for surprisingly entertaining vignettes. (see Walton's vimeo channel to access the entire series and Marisa Olson's writeup from February)

► WOW PoD - Cati Vaucelle, Steve Shada and Marisa Jahn
An architectural testament to the "shut in" tendencies within MMORPG culture, this project creates a playspace that addresses the needs of the player and their avatar. A built in toilet, cookware and food dispensers are hardwired into the World of Warcraft interface underscoring the dedication/obsession demanded by these types of online communities. (See the video documentation of the piece)

► Bicycle Built For 2,000 - Aaron Koblin and Daniel Massey
Updating the 1962 experiment in speech synthesis by John Kelly, Max Mathews and Carol Lockbaum, this project employs the Amazon Mechanical Turk webservice to outsource the production of molecular elements of the song Daisy Bell. The resulting 2,088 voice recordings are reassembled into a strange, bumbling chorus - is this what the future of labor sounds like? (see Peter Kirn's analysis)

► Are you human? - Aram Bartholl
Riffing on the scrambled aesthetics of the CAPTCHA challenge-response test, this project creates real world artifacts out of online protocol. These text objects are deployed in the gallery, as identity document business cards and (most interestingly) on the street amongst the "urban markup" of tagged surfaces.(see photographs of the sculptural objects in the gallery and out in the wild)

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Notes on Going Under


But the whole discourse of noise-as-threat is bankrupt, positively inimical to the remnants of power that still cling to noise. Forget subversion. The point is self-subversion, overthrowing the power structure in your own head. The enemy is the mind's tendency to systematize, sew up experience, place a distance between itself and immediacy... The goal is OBLIVION. - Simon Reynolds, "Noise"

Replace the word OBLIVION with DE-EVOLUTION and you have encapsulated the essence of the strangest art-music project that ever emerged from Akron, Ohio. While a quintet of jerky ectomorphs in hazmat suits (seemingly) singing about sadomasochism breaching the Billboard Top 20 in 1980 seemed unlikely, the legacy of DEVO is fraught with such contradiction. Formed in 1973, DEVO began as a polemical performance project, became a major buzz band and then crumbled under the weight of the attention they had cultivated. Outside of influencing a generation of musicians and artists, a surface reading would suggest the band only registered a few blips on the broader pop culture radar—"Whip It", their pioneering music video work and a legendary Saturday Night Live performance—but tracing the dramatic arc of DEVO reveals a fascinating back story. While the group might be most easily read in relation to their 1970s Ohio peers Pere Ubu, The Dead Boys or Chi-Pig, more enduring points of reference may be found in the deadpan, dour and decidedly humorless synthpop of Telex, Gary Numan and Kraftwerk. Comparisons notwithstanding, DEVO defied categorization and their creative exploration of emerging technology, hermetic logic and contentious relationship with the mass market make them quite relevant to new media artists—they're just the band you want!


Racing the Beam: The Atari VCS as Platform


Considering the evolution of video game consoles (seven generations and counting), the cultural significance of the Atari VCS alone would justify another book-length appraisal. However, Nick Montfort and Ian Bogost's collaborative text Racing the Beam, published this past spring by MIT Press, was developed with a broader mandate in mind. The book is the first in a new series dedicated to a "platform-focused" approach to media scholarship. A cultural reading of the Atari VCS would address aesthetics or "reception" to the console and Bogost and Montfort argue that it is possible to drill down from that strata of analysis to interface, then form/function (narratology) through to code. The scholars acknowledge that while code has become a nexus within media scholarship in recent years, it is possible to dig deeper still to platform - "the basic hardware and software systems upon which programming takes place... the foundation for computational expression." The subsequent analysis of the Atari VCS is firmly grounded in the technical capabilities of the system. Under this scrutiny the figure of the console melts away. Racing the Beam surveys six seminal cartridges in relation to key components which include the MOS Technology 6502 microprocessor, the Peripheral Interface Adaptor chip (PIA), memory and the pivotal Television Interface Adaptor (TIA) - the operation of which inspired the moniker of the book. This sounds dry (and at times it is) but the duo do a remarkable job of providing a close, nuanced reading of the design decisions, play and game space of the titles in relation to the assemblage of electronics that underpins the system.


Variable Frame Rate: Multimedia Performance at MUTEK 2009


It is understandable that we sometimes overlook the surge of innovation and experimentation that has taken place within live musical performance over the last decade. A culture obsessed with emerging channels of distribution and incremental software upgrades is almost predisposed to overlook the virtuosity (or lack thereof) that drives live performance. A pertinent frame of reference in considering evolving paradigms in musical performance is the MUTEK festival, a progressive electronic music summit that takes place in Montreal each spring. Launched in 2000, and having just celebrated their tenth anniversary this past week, MUTEK has consistently programmed dynamic lineups of luminaries representing various facets of global house, techno and experimental music communities. The festival has cultivated an idiosyncratic identity that references the pulse and dense revelry of the after hours scene while also showcasing more amorphous, adventurous multimedia and gallery-oriented projects. In addition to positioning Montreal as a key node within international electronic music networks, MUTEK has developed into a platform for showcasing integrated audio-visual performance.


Means of Production: Fabbing and Digital Art


Several years ago, while making the lecture circuit rounds, American architect William Massie described a key goal within his practice as moving towards a more direct translation between bits and atoms. Architecture has always thrived on the tension between representation and material assemblages and what he was addressing with this comment was the dawning of an era characterized by a new proximity between digital models and physical output. In selected contexts, artists, architects, and designers have been exploring these accelerated development cycles for a decade but the involved technologies are descending in price so quickly that, for example, 3D printers are now cheaper than laser printers were in 1985. A key question: how does the looming ubiquity of these tools and workflows apply to the production and display of new media art? This article will explore digital fabrication (aka fabbing) at a variety of scales which include the curatorial questions raised by these new hybrid industrial design/sculpture objects as well as the implications on the practice of individual artists. Before delving into either of these milieus it would be useful to acknowledge some common language and terminology associated with fabrication and recognize some important precedents.