MFA Computational Arts Blog Week 6

Reading week came at a time, and that time was last week. I can’t say that too much reading was had over the course of the week itself, unless that includes the p5.js reference. For I felt rather inspired during the week by the homework that was set in the programming for artists and designers module. That homework was effectively to produce a form of data visualisation and I went to town!

My very first thoughts were of doing something generative based off a text dataset, and searching through the texts available on Project Gutenberg, I found that stored there was the poetry collection “Tender Buttons” by Gertrude Stein, a book I have actually read. And so began my thinking of how to turn this staple of “concrete Poetry” to, well, if not life, then digital visualization. What came to mind was to use the concrete poetry moniker as a referential for hard beats and combine that with the sort of nervous beatboxing I do when concentrating.

I spent many hours learning the ropes of p5.Part and p5.Phrase, developing my uses of arrays and loops and loading in files to create the piece that can be viewed below. I probably also could make it available, embedded in the blog page itself but then I’d have to add a click to start and refresh feature, as currently every time you run it, a different poem will be used as the source. So to see the full gamut, I can only advise that you visit this link.

You shall find below screenshots of this weeks assignment from that same module. Less time to produce means a less polished outcome, and one that runs slow. However this is a 3D generative chaotic architectural environment with a little wave that floats through. As my first foray into programming 3D, I think it’s alright. Though it isn’t particularly complex, just complicated.

Travelling through metaspace and metatime to the same here and now but a different project folder on my computer, comes the pecking bird project!!! Three exclamation points for excited emphasis mean nothing since the “peckanism” never made it onto here. However, it was a project idea of mine a while ago to have a bird bath of wine available for ladling from at an art show, and as the level of the water decreased, it would trigger birds around the space to begin pecking at the ground, or wall or whatever they were standing on, or at.

I have brought this project back for my final project for Physical Computing I this term. A slight redesign of the peckanism was required as I need the birds to just stand on whatever surface they are placed, whereas before the servo motor that drove the pecking action was placed below the bird and a wire was used for the “peck”. This new design has legs! and produces a rather unpleasant chirrupping, sort of like a bird as the servo squeaks its way to deliver a shape pop of a peck on the standing surface.

And now to begin addressing the “theory Blog” part of this theory blog. We have a final project for this module too; A group project to produce an “artefact” about our research topic.

The chosen topic of my group is “Narrative Hyperreality”, which we are exploring through the creation and investigation of “liminal Spaces”. The “liminal” is accepted as a point of transition, originally coined for the moment between rites of passage in ritualistic societies, it can be viewed through a lens of spaces of non-time, it is the “no-place” in utopia.

These spaces often coincide with the feeling of the “eerie” or “the uncanny” as not-quite real. In their lack of liveness, the purpose guiding our conceptual framework of these spaces die, and we are left only with the presence of the thing that is there, and confronted with a built space as a built space, we become detached from it, emotionally mis-aligned.

As Medium user Cute_Noumena puts it: “Capitalism creates these “monstrous” places because without them being habitable by entities they become non-sensical spaces of excess. What’s the function of a shopping mall with no people? What’s the point of a multilevel parking lot if it’s empty? How much waste is created…From an abandoned warehouse? And yet it’s not that these empty places are part of “the outside” as mentioned but they are generated, always part of something we don’t fully understand. Parking lots are taken for granted until there’s no one there.”( I put this here as a random person to cite, (it was posted on our group development page) because I believe the thinking is very strong and having read it, I’d just be paraphrasing it anyhow. (originally I had been under the impression it was a quote from Mark Fisher)

I have mentioned before the twilight hypercapitalist nostalgia fiction of vaporwave as a cultural genre, and this is essentially where we are going with our project. The artefact we hope to produce is a shopping mall simulation, whereby the user walks around and makes choices in doing so. Choices then limit the total amount of the experience that can be accessed. Our aim here is to draw this essentiality that the user, as a flaneur has agency within this realm, a space that is menacing by its accomodation, to experience that liminality in the construction of a representational space, in the objects displayed as for sale and also in the development of a narrative that is at first guided by the choice made. This narrative would be non-prescriptive, one that the user constructs as they explore a space that echoes the future in a reflection of a temple of the past. Liminal spaces are places of questioning. Fundamentally, these questions are what was? what is? and what will be? And without a provided narrative, the flaneur will naturally provide their own.

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