Futures from the Past

August 18th, 2017

I discovered a peculiar book store called Future Dreams Books during a long walk on a recent trip to Portland. There, I was met with box after box full of science fiction publications that dated all the way back to the twenties and thirties. Some of the magazines in these boxes were unaffordable, like a seven hundred dollar priced magazine featuring the first appearance of a text written by H. G. Wells, but other instances of the same publication were available for as low as eight dollars. They just didn’t feature anything written by authors of such prominence. But they still featured the same kind of amazing futuristic art in their covers —the kind that still holds a nineteenth century flair to it— and I couldn’t help but purchase a few. Here are two of my favorites.

You can browse through many more book and magazine covers here and here. A small note about this collection: I’ve acquired most of the publications featured on these collections at the basement of the Harvard Book Store, the Brattle Book Shop in Downtown Boston, Pandemonium Books and Games in Central Square (Cambridge MA), Angel City Books and Records in Santa Monica CA. Some of them I scanned after borrowing from the MIT Science Fiction Society Library, and a few more come from random news stands in the streets of Mexico City.

Bitcoin Orgy

July 29th, 2017

I was invited to direct a collaboration with poet Johnny Payne for Transmedia Borders. Here’s the text I wrote to introduce the work and two video art experiments I made in collaboration with Bernardo Cubria and Karen Sours Albisua:

Once again I crossed the line. I’ve never done this before, to take the poems written by someone else and have them performed by actors whose only direction was “you’re a head floating in empty space, you’re Siri and you’re Chavela Vargas and you live inside my phone”. Inspired by the poems, I dreamt of a virtual chorus of digital angels floating around me, but I summoned a spectral connection to the society of the spectacle instead. When I pulled out my phone and showed the videos to my friend he said: “this has no narrative purpose. It is purely lyrical”. I briefly experienced satisfaction.

El asfalto de las grandes ciudades me atrae con su olor a casa. De un laberinto a otro se me ha olvidado quién soy, de donde vengo y adónde voy. Intacta, la frontera permanece, pero la noción de origen se disipa con la diáspora. El desarraigo se fortalece. En cada lugar la identidad se traslapa con otras, y todo se ve cada vez más igual, repetido y transnacional. En este ir y venir de construcciones y artificios pierdo el hilo conductor que antaño iluminó mi certidumbre. Sin certeza mi ambición se dispersa. Mi horóscopo dice: grandes cambios se avecinan, y no pienso en otra cosa que más de lo mismo.

It is perhaps because the digital devices hiding in our pockets are slowly replacing our internal monologues with the shallow cacophony of everyone else’s sensorial inputs that I felt compelled to disconnect these voices from any redeeming qualities they might have claimed in the original text. In this world, transformation is monotony, and there is no desire left beyond possession.

El texto es código, recetario y sistema formal, es la materia prima, partitura, programa y punto de partida. En su origen, la imagen es palabra realizada en la mente, y como tal pertenece a cualquier medio. El mensaje no es el medio even when the medium is the message. Para el texto, no hay más frontera que la frontera del lenguaje. Y si quieres un masaje de cabeza nada es mejor que la poesía estocástica de Johnny Payne.

Orgia Bitcoin v4 from blackaller on Vimeo.

Hombre de Puerta Trasera v4 from blackaller on Vimeo.

Real Knowledges, Virtual Designs Panel at AIGA Converge

June 2nd, 2017

I just presided as chair on a panel discussion around emerging design practices in VR called Real Knowledges, Virtual Designs: A Roundtable On Conducting Practice-Based Research In Virtual Reality at the AIGA Converge Conference in the School of Cinematic Arts at USC. The group featured an eclectic collection of VR practitioners including me, Samantha Gorman from Tender Claws, Kate Parsons from FLOAT, Tonia Beglari from Browntourage, and Adam Sulzdorf-Liszkiewicz from RUST Ltd. It was nice to hang out at USC with Adam again, who put this all together and was the best Teacher Assistant ever a few years back, when I taught IML-400 there.

Cintiq

May 13th, 2017

I think I’m finally getting a hold of it.

VR Story Panel at the Ivy Film Festival

April 21st, 2017

Last Summer I spent some time mentoring —and taking advantage of— Adam Hersko-Ronatas, my intern from Brown University at Wevr. As a gifted filmmaker interested in VR, he worked in almost all the productions we were running at the time, positively influencing every single one of them. And he was even able to find the time to produce his own VR film called Parched, that has been selected for a couple of festivals already, like the Ivy Film Festival at Brown University and the National Film Festival for Talented Youth in Seattle.

Adam’s accomplishments are well deserved, and I’m grateful that he invited me to spend last weekend at Brown University talking about VR as a medium for storytelling. I met a lot of great people, and I had a few interesting conversations with music composer Germaine Franco, Senior Editor Graham Roberts from the New York Times and Adam Blumenthal, VR artist in residence at Brown University. I spent most of my time at The Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, and amazing building with lots of interesting art and media stuff in it. I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic about the MIT Media Lab while I was there 😀

Fail to Retry

April 5th, 2017

A new EP from Rest in Haste featuring my cover art comes out this month, and it will exist in the physical world as a limited edition Compact Disc! I can’t wait to get some copies in the mailbox. Listen to the single Don’t Play Dead and buy this record.

Mangchi Live at Viva! Pomona

March 30th, 2017

Wevr just made available on Transport a couple of pieces I directed last year featuring the band Mangchi performing live at Viva! Pomona. This is pretty cool. We used the Google/Gopro Jump Odyssey camera system that completely removes the painful step of stitching together stereoscopic spherical footage. Basically you film your stuff with your 16 camera rig, upload the footage to the Google cloud Jump service, and get back perfectly beautiful stereoscopic equirectangular footage ready to be enhanced with a traditional postproduction workflow. No more countless hours stitching together every camera.

In addition to this, David and Mangchi let us put our cameras anywhere we wanted —something uncommon when capturing a live performance, since the best location for a VR 360 camera is always right where somebody wants to be. Thanks to this we managed to capture the heart at the madness that only Mangchi can deliver and inspire on their audience. From their backstage naked body-painting rituals to privileged spots on the stage and the middle of the mosh pit, we get you as close as you can get to experiencing the raw power of this eclectic band at its fullest, loudest, and most colorful.

Here is a 360 Preview in youTube: