Archive for December, 2006

openstudio: search for tags

Thursday, December 21st, 2006


Now you can search for tags in Openstudio. You can click in the word “love” to look at an example that shows how this works. Before, only the usernames and titles of artwork that included the queried string were to be returned.

Our addition of tags to the search engine is a little defective. For example, if you search for the spanish word “hola” (it means hello), you will be returned the following art title, “Bloodella for L. Nicholas, infl. by cyeh”. The word “hola” is present in the word “Nicholas”, but not in a meaningful way. This can be a little deceitful, since you could be delivered something that contains “basement” when asking for “semen”, where it is clear that there is no semantic relation between both words (unless you look at them from the perspective of Poetry).

It felt a little strange to probe into the guts of a tool that for the last nine months I have been using just to draw and trade, and only looking into the source code every once in a while, almost always to realize again how much I don’t understand at all. Even if I’ve contributed with a very minor change, even if it actually was not my idea, and even if I could have never done it without Brent’s mentoring, it still felt like I bent the fabric of culture with my own hands.

Winter Shine

Monday, December 18th, 2006


Revolution Paper

Saturday, December 16th, 2006

John commisioned me to make a book featuring the works created by his MAS110 students this semester. It was a very rewarding experience that involved a lot of interaction with the students. We chose to make the books by hand and bind them using a traditional japanese technique called Stab Binding. It is interesting that Stab Binding is the first thing I haven’t found in Wikipedia since I started writing this journal. We used the legendary ACG powerdrill to make the holes in the books, and stitched the pages together with a thick transparent fishline. 20 copies, one for each of the 15 students, and 5 spares, just in case some copies went bad.

The printing process was a little of a late night nightmare. Brent offered to help me and we started printing on a Wednesday night (10:00 PM, after my mechanics class), using the PLW printer and a collection of assorted paper kinds. I found newsprint stock, one of my favorite kinds of paper, and impossible to find in small sizes like 8.5×11″, since a few years ago. I had to get a bunch of 9×12″ sheets and cut them by hand, because all the other papers l got came in a lettersize format. The effort was worth it, since it is such a great paper to print on. In Mexico we call it Revolution Paper. I think it got named that way around 94 years ago during the Mexican Revolution (Wikipedia strikes back) because all political propaganda (even Posada’s) was printed on that kind of paper back then, but I am not sure. And I remember the early days in elementary school, when I used to get those free government books full of stories for class. They were printed on a thicker variant of Revolution Paper called, of course, Education Paper. I discovered Ray Bradbury and Gabriel García Marquez between the pages of those books when I was around 7 years old.

As John explained in class about futurism, design and modernity, I drifted away with my own thoughts, thinking about the future, and the idea of the future. I am not sure, but I think it was Nicholas Negroponte who claimed that, where others “write about the future”, the MIT Media Lab “makes the future”. What future is that? The idea of a reality enhanced by technology might be older as science fiction. Do you make the future by claiming the future has to be made? Do you make the future by claiming yourself a prophet?

At least half of the inventions I see around here were described at some point by Ray Bradbury in The Martian Chronicles 56 years ago. I can dig back in history to approximately 400 years ago, when people like Cyrano de Bergerac (March 6, 1619 – July 28, 1655) were writing books like his Other worlds (The comical history of the states and empires of the moon and the sun). I find it truly remarkable that Cyrano is infinitely more famous as the eccentric adventurer of a successful french theatre play written in 1897, than as the incredible visionary he was as a writer. His books can’t even be found in english! Of course, other people -like Leonardo– were already “making the future” since before the fifteen hundreds. The future will get here no matter what, and I think the wrong idea of the future can lead us towards a place that might not really be the future. Are we really making the future, or are we obsessed with an outdated idea of the future that might no longer be such a great thing after all?


Dream of SineWave

Saturday, December 16th, 2006


Classes are finally over. PlugSense is the group project I worked on (with Sanghoon Lee and Manas Mittal) for the Pattern Recognition class. After three weeks of data crunching and a ton of Stefani’s plain cheese pizza, we gathered our results and made a website I designed to deliver our work. It was a long project that kept us awake for 26 hours on the last day, and made me sleep for another 26 after we were done.

Tiny Woodworks

Monday, December 4th, 2006

Media Lab craftwork by Anita + Marcelo with a laser cutter:

The love of error

Monday, December 4th, 2006

One good thing of not knowing what you’re doing when you plot large chunks of data is the high probability of a good surprise.


The pictures above are two different close-up renders of what happened when I accidentally transposed a device’s sample matrix of current consumption over ten seconds of usage, measured with Josh Lifton’s PLUG. I was supposed to plot 10 waveforms (one for each second), and I got a crazy mesh instead. Manas Mittal, Sanghoon Lee and me, are trying to use what we have learned in our Pattern Recognition class to make the plug learn how to recognize what’s connected to it for our final project. Manas and Sanghoon have been great at explaining me the basics of electrical engineering and signal processing.

The complete mesh graph is so massive that Illustrator CS2 never finishes drawing it, and it looks like a generative animation.