Monday, July 27, 2009

Instruction Pieces are Self Destructive

Not directly destructive, but they can inspire the audience to create similar work. This happens in the DIY community as well: not only does it provide inspiration, but also encouragement. Art transcends its usual limitations when it is re-appropriated by non-artists and integrated into a life practice. Furthermore, when individuals look to "art" and see only their life practice, the "art" loses its audience. I would like to make more self destructive art.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Signals and SETI@home

SETI@home is a distributed computing project scanning the sky for radio transmissions that bear traces of extra terrestrial intelligence. They define a "signal" as:

  • Spikes in power spectra
  • Gaussian rises and falls in transmission power
  • Triplets (three power spikes in a row)
  • Pulsing signals
Some of these are domain specific (Gaussian rises and falls are due to the telescope passing over a signal source), while others can be generalized. For example, triplets represent a kind of repetition. When you have two of something, there is ambiguity about whether it is chance or not. You can always fit a line to two data points. When there are three events, you can measure the similarity of the two intervals, and make at least three comparisons. Pulsing signals represent another kind of macroscopic repetition. There are really just two types of features: general (repetition), and domain specific (power spikes, Gaussian rises and falls).

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Magical Situations

When you see a tightrope walker, no one needs to explain what is happening. You immediately understand the risk and skill involved, and you are transfixed by it. I'd say this is a "magical" situation: understood intuitively, without explanation, with minimal cultural context. Nature creates a lot of magical things, but I have trouble thinking of many magical human creations. Fireworks? Percussion? What else?

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Privacy Art

Whenever you point your browser to an https page, or type your password into a box with asterisks instead of clear text, or see a small lock icon next to a form, you get a feeling of security. In these situations, a language of reassurance has evolved: lock icons, for example, tend to be golden-yellow or blue-gray. Unlike other icons, which are free to be multi-colored, locks have a restricted palette that has evolved to remind us of the physical objects, "real locks", that we trust from day to day. I propose work that takes advantage of these features in the collective net-unconscious. For example: an https website that promises to keep your data secure, while requesting only random pieces of banal information.