For very young kids (~6 yo) it was helpful to have parents around, some were shy so this helped break down barriers and get them thinking more creatively. This would probably be difficult for kids under 6. The barrier seemed to be operating scissors and needles. Kids really wanted to use needle and thread rather gluing.
We needed more batteries. It would be good to figure switches or rechargeable batteries.
Listen Up, It’s Bushwick!
Zachary DSound walk and recording workshop to create a sonic map of your neighborhood.
Artists:Zachary Dunham, Ida Benedetto, Taeyoon Choi
How do we experience the sounds of our neighborhood?Which are the sounds that define it? By making simple recordings from a walk around your neighborhood, and thinking about the ways in which sounds demarcate and blur geographical boundaries, we can create a unique experience with these sounds. Recorders are placed on an enlarged physical map and are easily played back though pressing the simple recorders mounted to the map.
Note: Step 1 is optional. It's easy to do the workshop without hacking the recorders. Doing requires additional time, and assumes some basic electronics experience.
1.) Recorder Hack
2.) Assemble the Bare Map.
Hang the mat board on a wall
Using a projector, project a simple map to help sketch streets, and boundaries for your map.
3.) Discussion and Sound Walk
Brainstorm as a group about the sounds you think define the neighborhood.
Place pins on the map where you think you might find these sounds.
As a group or individually, spend 45 minutes walking, listening and recording these sounds.
Return to the map and decorate it with the recorders using double sided velcro.
Reflections on this workshop
Leave enough time to meet, discuss, talk about the neighborhood.
The workshop can be lead in a linear manner as described above or more freeform. This approach would allow participants to visit the map, take a recorder out to the neighborhood on their own, record a sound and return to the map. Over the course of an afternoon or a day the map becomes populated with additional sounds and returning participants can be surprised by each other's recordings
Literature is first and foremost about having ideas important enough to discuss and write down in some form. So you have to ask, "What is the literature that is best written down on a computer?" - Alan Kay
When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink… Probably it is better to put off using words as long as possible and get one's meaning as clear as one can through pictures and sensations. Afterward one can choose -- not simply accept -- the phrases that will best cover the meaning” - George Orwell
What is the new literature? What is the most direct method of communication in an era of digital technology?
Much like Orwell’s ‘long words and exhausted idioms’ I think there are similar over-trodden tropes in digital technology that emerge to fill in the empty space where real meaning might have been. A project where you use a Kinect to control X with your body. What does it say about X, or about your body? I don’t know, but I guess it’s kinda neat.
In my poetry studies in college we focused a lot on how “form is content, content is form.” When Shakespeare leaves off the final stress in a line of iambic pentameter, he does it for a reason, it creates a palpable void that means something at that point in the poem. With our current state of digital technology we have unprecedented capacity to communicate with form, but instead we just see form being used to communicate itself. The Kinect shows you cool stuff you can do with the Kinect. Parallax scrolling shows you that parallax scrolling is pretty. I am all for things that are fun, cool or pretty and agree they are ends in and of itself, but they needn’t be the only ones.
When Alan Kay asks, ‘what is the literature that is best written down on a computer?’ I think of a literature that is felt out through Orwell’s ‘pictures and sensations’ and embellished with words to get the meaning across. People have become complacent in the complete control they have over endless pages of text across the internet: listicles thrive on their skimmability, longreads a gratifying self-flagellation. I want a literature that is more surprising, more frightening, more intentional in its medium, something that might require the reader to pay attention to how they are being told rather than just what.
But this creates a problem as to where one should focus attention: on developing technical skills to better communicate through ‘pictures and sensations,’ or on actually ‘having ideas important enough to discuss and write down in some form.’ Over the past two years I have been much more focused on developing new technical skills at the expense of interesting things to say, and mostly I think that is ok. I’m not convinced that important ideas and the ideal form for communicating them need to come from the same person.
In other mediums (music, film games) increased complexity of technology has simply led to more people being involved in the process. But writing, the discipline dedicated to the most direct communication of ideas, has remained the stronghold of the isolated auteur. I think it is important that there be people whose primary responsibility in life is to think about the world, but I don’t think they should necessarily be solely responsible for figuring out the best way to convey that thought. Just as data visualization allows for public consumption of vast troves of statistical information, I’d like to see new forms develop for better public understanding of theory, human experience and political argument.
For myself I’m interested in experimenting with my role on both sides of the equation: making myself a vessel for other writers I admire (a la Keats’s negative capability) and thinking long and hard about something and working with others to express it in in the best possible way. The new literature is immense and has barely been explored, there are so many things I still want to try. I hope you will join me.
When I arrived at SFPC and started the Critical Theory class, had no idea what to expect. I was unsure how or if this class would tie in to the many technical things that I was looking to learn. But then again, everything was new.
I had never written a line of code in my life. Shutting down my business and finding daytime care for my kids presented some hefty challenges. My temptation was to triage coursework into one of two categories; those I felt I had time for (coding), and those I felt I didn’t (everything else). But despite my temptation to step away, something kept me reading this course material, and engaging in these conversations.
It wasn't until now, at the end of it all, that the pieces came together. A connection formed—a synaptic snap pulling from our class analysis of "the internet of things", discussions around wearable tech, Sara Hendren's Adaptive Technology lecture, and the moving protests and online activitiy which followed the tragedy in Ferguson. There has been a shift in the way I examine new questions about technology. It’s largely a result of the lens through which we have been looking at the world.
Thus I decided to approach this writing as if I were creating a class description. So here it is: my Critical Theory abstract, engineered to reassure a slightly less wise, cynical me and to explain why it is important to thoughtfully examine, our role as “poetic technologists” in a dynamic, socio-political, economic and artistic era.
Critical Theory Course Description
As computational power reached a critical mass in the eighties, society found itself faced with unique questions; some old, many new. Many are yet to be imagined. Within the technology of our time there still lies latent, a vast potential. We have already created unprecedented shifts in the balances of power, in our social interactions, in our perceptions of self, and in our vision for the future. We continue to be faced with new choices everyday. The stakes, it seems, have been raised.
As “poetic technologists”, we have a responsibility to approach our craft thoughtfully. Our tools and our pallets are still in developmental infancy. And like an infant, our medium is dynamic —impressionable. By reflecting upon our heritage, we stand a better chance of meeting new challenges informed with vision, purpose, and accountability.
Through readings and discussion, in this class we will examine the repercussions of our technological evolution. In exploring our own political and socioeconomic heritage, and by examining our creative and technological motivation, we will strive to develop an informed awareness—an awareness that may allow us to evolve responsibly and thoughtfully in our crafts.
Christo ADigital surveillance is a leitmotif in media art practice. But, art and voyeurism have been entangled from the get go. New or old, "surveillance" is our new descriptor for scopophilia in our current "weaponized" social discourse. Surveillance is aligned with an act of an institutional power, while in our current mediated environment the individual is the capture and distribution method. Digital culture membership requires implicit or explicit participation in surveillance. Transparency goes both ways. I can see you, you can see me.
Christo AIn media art, the frame has atomized and the observed record is fragmented into particles of information: data. The scale of the iota is offset by its volume, mass and sheer pervasiveness. This mountain of sand accumulates at the scale of petabytes and lives in silicon (eternally?) The technology/technique of capturing this personal, biometric, and transactional data is a method not an end. It relies on reconstitution, presentation, distribution and access. Individual and institutional access to the previously inaccessible is the opportunity to peek at something that hasn't been seen before. This thrilling exposure is tricky territory though. Depending on how power dynamics are employed, the observation can become exploitation and – when mechanized – create a state of surveillance.
Christo AVoyeurism and its antecedent, the Peeping Tom, have not always required a sophisticated lens to satisfy their needs. Desire was once enough. The origin of the Peeping Tom story is part of the history of Lady Godiva. The story goes Lady Godiva was pleading with her husband to offer tax relief to the the town villagers. Her husband responded that he would stop collections when Lady Godiva rode naked through the town. Godiva instructed the townspeople to close up their windows and doors in respect for her and she took up the challenge. Yet one man, Tom, bore a hole through to see her and as she passed by he was struck blind by Heaven.
Christo ATechnology allows the voyeur to create distance from observational behaviors and their implications. If our telescope lets us look across the city and see the anonymous actions of another, our fascination — our engagement — is fed by access to privacy and intimacy, but also in our power to do so without consequence. The "extensions of man" are multiplied in n dimensions. The fetish of technology and our belief in its grand project allows us to further our distance, anonymize our watching as we sift through the most specific details, even the most mundane or arcane. We perceive we are closer to something that moves farther away in observability. What are we looking at, or maybe what are we looking for? Where is the art in it?
Christo AThe audience of surveillance and the stakes are as much part of determining the location of the art as are the techniques, concept and documentation. It is a performative experience that is for the surveilled as much as the objectified outputs that can be shared in a gallery. Surveillance art identifies its location in its dislocation. It is about the observed, the methods of observation (and their aesthetic artifacts), the locus of experience, the implications in audience participation, the politics of watching and the act of identification. At what point will these infinite peepholes, our personal panopticons, our desire to see it all, flood us to incomprehension. Will we ever see it?
Steve meant well but if he knew how many hours of Candy Crush would be played on the iPhone would have done things differently?
“It Worked.” Was an ambivalent Oppenheimer's response upon the first successful test of an atom bomb. After Nagasaki Oppenheimer traveled to Washington to hand-deliver a letter to the Secretary of War expressing his revulsion and his wish to see nuclear weapons banned.
My vision would be for tools and software to be created with a humanitarian goal. More discussion and thought should be put into the benefits and unintended consequences of what we build BEFORE it is built.
We fetishize success. Making and creating a 'thing' has become the achievement itself, regardless of what the 'thing' does. Teaching mastery of tools may not be as important as teaching people to think critically about what they are making and why.
"Literature is first and foremost about having ideas important enough to discuss and write down in some form." -- Alan Kay
It doesn't matter what you say, just keep saying it. Quantity > quality.
In theory, the Internet is simple to explain seen on a global level. With just an IP address of the destination, all of our machines can send network packages with whatever content we would like to other machines connected to the internet. I can create a package with the command to get a webpage from a server (http), a packet with an email I want to send (smtp), or a packet with encrypted images that I send to another person. The Internet allows me to wrap arbitrary digital content in a packet, send it, and it will try to take care that it's delivered at the destination. For free (for the average user).
The route these packages will take is out of our hands. The transport layer of the Internet is a mesh of other machines all having a small knowledge about their surroundings. My packet jumps between all of these machines in the direction of the destination address until it is received by the destination. What are the machines that my packet will transmit through on its way to the destination?Machines form the infrastructure we expect as a human right to have access to in the western world. Its machines that are placed at telecoms all over the world and cables that are connecting them.