Archive for the 'plw' Category

Celebrating Muntadas

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

I just came back from MIT after an amazing weekend participating in the public space? lost & found — symposium and exhibition to celebrate the twenty five years of Muntadas at MIT. Muntadas was my teacher and mentor during my Media Lab years, and has remained a great friend after that, and I was honored to be part of this exhibition with my work on surveillance in the Red line of the MBTA subway system called The Red Line Tour.

It curiously snowed upon my arrival, even though it is almost May, and the city of Boston was in a state of disarray due to the preparations for the 2014 edition of their famous Marathon, but the weather cleared up beautifully and my constant delays didn’t stop me from having a fantastic time hanging out with old friends and making new ones, both in the categories of human friends and place [or location] friends.

I stole the following images from the symposium blog. The picture with the circles shows where I was and where my artwork is. If you are in Cambridge Massachusetts before October 30th this year, please don’t hesitate to visit this exhibition in the MIT Media Lab. The featured Public Art projects are all extremely interesting, and the Media Lab itself is a mind-blowing experience anyway, so just do it, ok?

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Propagación de Ficciones

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

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Maria Paula Lorgia y AnaDK me invitaron a participar con una plática en el Seminario Transmedia y Narrativas Audiovisuales 2013 en Bogotá, Colombia. Después de mucho deliberar, AnaDK y yo decidimos expresarnos en forma conjunta, y combinar nuestros pontos de vista con el objeto de discutir los populares conceptos de Transmedia y World Building:

Los términos importados World Building, originado en la ciencia ficción estadounidense para describir la construcción de escenarios capaces de albergar mitologías y épicas completas, y Narrativa Transmedia, originado en discusiones académicas recientes de teoría crítica para describir métodos de propagación de historias o superhistorias a través de plataformas múltiples, describen en si mismos técnicas de construcción narrativa que aprovechan al máximo los recursos de comunicación característicos del medio digital.

Esta charla busca despejar el aura esotérica que rodea ambos términos al examinar conceptos paralelos y ejemplos que aprovechan técnicas similares para crear sistemas narrativos abiertos, y establecer, de una u otra manera, un espacio de agencia creativa y participación para el público que los consume.

La charla completa se encuentra disponible en YouTube para quienes puedan estar interesados:

En el ámbito del evento tuve el privilegio de conocer y convivir con fascinantes personajes en la impresionante ciudad de Bogotá. Entre ellos cabe mencionar a nuestro viejo amigo vVvA y su paisano/tocayo Andrés Burbano, que hablaron de Modos y Logicas Transmedia, y Arqueología de la Ficcion, respectivamente (y fueron condensados en el mismo video, a pesar de hablar por separado), y el artista metamático digital Pablo Colapinto, quien nos habló de los laberintos en su cabeza.

La ciudad de Bogotá respira profundidad, color e historia. Una vez más, estar de visita en América Latina me hizo revivir lo familiar, todas las cosas que me han hecho falta durante mi exilio Norteamericano, incluso viviendo en una ciudad invadida por mexicanos como es Los Ángeles. Aquí hay unas imágenes que jalé del Instagram:

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Pappy Tracker Icon

Monday, September 30th, 2013

I just finished the icon for Pappy Tracker, a new iOS app by Buzamoto that tracks all sightings and appearances of the extremely desired and almost impossible to find bourbon Pappy Van Winkle across instagram and twitter. To put it in Buzamoto’s words (from the description in iTunes):

By constantly monitoring Twitter and Instagram for up-to-date information about where others are finding this prized bourbon, you get a leg up on the competition. When it comes to tracking down this bourbon, knowledge is everything. The PappyTracker helps you find the information you need, and notifies you when new information surfaces.

After many trials and a lot of deliberation with Buza, we settled for a flat and simple style following the iOS 7 new graphic direction, and we chose to peg a location icon on the shoulder of a bottle to represent the action of tracking the Pappy. I am VERY satisfied with the result.

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Has this happened to you?

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

I recently rediscovered a video recording iPhone app called 8mm. Evidently, it makes your mobile video look like an old movie filmed with an eight millimeter camera.

Every time I go for a walk I take my phone out to record locations, landscapes, moments, or anything else that calls my attention. Last Wednesday I was walking back to the office when I saw these two guys asking the mailman to take a picture of them using a picturesque Venice wall as a background. I walked right in the middle of their interaction and recorded them as I walked by. The mailman took off in my direction and the other two guys just walked away into Rose Ave.

Then yesterday while browsing through my Tumblr dashboard I stumble upon the picture taken by the mailman in some Hip Hop blog I follow. The original post is here. The blog I follow and the original item were separated by a long list of intermediaries (more than 20).

This is the first time I find myself experiencing a moment where the following two conditions are satisfied:

1. This moment is recorded by me and by at least one stranger.
2. The stranger’s recording of this moment finds it’s way to me through an online social network.

This might already happen to a lot of people, and I am expecting it to happen a lot more frequently in the future. For now, I am just going to upload my movie somewhere and somehow connect it to that picture.

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Hello Microsoft Research

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

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I just came back from giving a talk in Microsoft Research about Art and Digital Technology. Andrés Monroy-Hernandez from MS Fuse Labs was kind enough to invite me, and they already have a webpage with a video from my talk. I know I say “like” too often (sigh), but the idea still comes across strong. Let me know what you think!

Here is the draft I put together as an intro to the talk:

In a little more than three decades, digital technology has reshaped human communication, causing a profound impact in all aspects of culture, where new modes of creation, dissemination and consumption of cultural value have already created and erased whole industries. I will use the subject of art to explain what happened during the 20th century, and I will show how electronic and digital media played a key role shaping a new set of “Contemporary Art” principles. Furthermore, I will show how these principles find a perfect match in the digital medium itself, where objects are replaced by systems and processes, and contemplation is replaced by interaction and participation. Inspired by these principles, I will describe a series of software pieces that deal with issues of creativity, audience participation and cultural value.

IML400 Spring 2013 Edition

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

I’m teaching IML400 at USC again this Spring. So fun. I am extremely grateful that my employers at Wemo Media are letting me do this. I am sure they are aware that letting me keep a teaching front will only benefit my involvement in the company.

The semester kicked off in an interesting way with an event featuring the recent work of two thirds of my thesis advisors from the Media Lab. Reas and NickM presented their book 10 PRINT [babble] GOTO 10 and sustained a long and interesting discussion with a bunch of other digital humanists about the digital text and other [digital] things.

Going back to the subject of my class, I have to say I was very happy with the results I got from the Fall 2012 edition. In this page you can find links to the class websites and their final projects. Some of them are fairly interesting in terms of concept and execution —like this one and this one— and over all I believe we reached my goal of helping them learn how to learn. I feel they got to a point where we could have continued with a next semester of serious design and interactive storytelling work. Perhaps in the future I will be able to teach a season two of creative web production, but I am actually not sure I am ready to push the boat into deeper waters yet, so I will remain teaching at an intro level for a while.

I am excited to have a cool teacher assistant this semester —Adam— a USC PhD candidate who develops awesome games and recommended me a great intro to javascript book [eloquent javascript] that will help us a lot later in the semester.

ScriptKit by BuzaMoto

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

We are generally familiar with the idea of programming as writing code, but there are many other ways to program, like making circuit boards for example.Using examples like this as metaphors and having alternative ways to represent and visualize the structure of a computer program can be of great help to understand how it works. This alone has been a good reason to inspire developers and educators in a number of efforts to develop computer programming interfaces that provide a visual aid to writing code. Some examples are MaxMSP, Quartz Composer, vvvv, Morphic, Scratch, and the more recent Light Table of Kickstarter fame.

The programmer’s interaction with the program, however, has remained limited to the traditional inputs available to a computer: the mouse and the keyboard. The keyboard might be one day replaced by voice recognition as the best available input device for writing, and the mouse offers a very limited single point input to the graphical user interface. This limitation is likely to have greatly influenced the design of the visual programming systems I mentioned before, and it is interesting to think in which ways new systems might take advantage of new input interfaces. Since it’s inception, the computer input/output loop remained immutable until very recently. Today the emerging trends of miniaturization, mobility and multiple touch screens have completely rewritten the role computers play in society. In the near future, we can definitely expect computers to exhibit a large variety of form factors and input/output solutions.

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With ScriptKit, Buza explores this problem in the realm of the touch interface as represented by Apple’s iPad. In his own words:

ScriptKit is a touchable programming environment for building simple mobile prototypes on iPad using native iOS UI components and social media APIs, available via an intuitive drag and drop interface.

This means ScriptKit not just proposes a new way to design programing interfaces in multiple touch devices. It also incorporates native support for experimentation with available web services through their APIS, making this environment stand out as a practical tool to prototype and test viable networked/mobile touch based software designs.

And by the way, the nice logo with the building blocks was conceived and designed in Los Angeles by me ^_^

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Coda: Here are two interesting readings on the design of programming environments (courtesy of DribNet): Learnable Programming and Visual Programming, does it suck?