Saturday, December 08, 2007

Internationales Forum

I am in a big group exhibition here starting tomorrow.
The art production instruction guide mentioned below told me that posting on web logs was an important part of the process.

How To Make Art

I found this while browsing the Tyler Paint web log and thought it worth re-posting.

"Art-making is one of the easiest and most lucrative of human activities.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Televised Debate that I missed.

I have been touring around the liberal blogosphere today reading commentary about the Republican presidential primary debates. The satirical remarks amused me greatly but concerned me even more regarding the continuing downward spiral and crash course of the democratic process and political dialogue in the United States. I cannot say I am greatly surprised as the entire nature of the televised debate is problematic, where it is inevitable that focus tends towards facial ticks and who picked the best tie instead of any substance in campaign platforms. It is a process of degradation for which there was concern as early as the 1950's, but the absurdity of these politico beauty pageants is seemingly perfected with each subsequent election cycle.
(see posts for Nov. 28, 2007)

"What a debate. Eight white guys all arguing over who hates immigrants and their children the most."
by kos at DailyKos.

"Howler Monkeys
If one of the "base" interest groups the GOP candidates had to pander to were tribes of meth-addled howler monkeys, could they have looked any more demented than they did during that debate?
Watching this debate, I hereby predict that the winner of the GOP nomination will be a total asshole."
by Thers at Atrios.

"112 minutes. After more than five minutes of gay talk, CNN cuts to another audience shot of Chuck Norris, restoring a straight vibe to the proceedings."
by Michael Scherer at Salon.

"The whole evening was enough to try my faith ... in democracy."
This whole article by Walter Shapiro seems to sum it up neatly.

It is astounding to me that no matter what is going on in the world, conservative idealogues will stick to the tried and true knee-jerk voter concerns of "God, Guns, and Gays." Apparently, two ongoing wars and a sinking ship of an economy are not popular topics with voters so they turn to gun porn and Bible quizzes. More and more I am thankful I do not own a television and have no access to American air-waves.

Has anyone been following the primary campaigns that could comment?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

WWW Synapses

Another beautifully animated but somewhat useless thing-a-ma-jig...
Link. Similiar to this. Or this. Or this.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

New York : Nov. 2nd

The Noguchi Museum in Queens is ten blocks from the train but is well worth the walk. It is dedicated to the work of the sculptor Isamu Noguchi, and is housed in a renovated cluster of industrial buildings. The architecture and the artwork mesh perfectly, an antidote to the warehouse or supermarket feeling I often get in other museums or galleries. Noguchi's best work wasn't there; his public sculptures, parks and playgrounds are his best work. My favorite thus far, Moerenuma Park, was posthumously built in Japan.
Link to Noguchi Museum.

Moerenuma Park, Sapporo, Japan Moerenuma Park, Sapporo, Japan

Link to Photo Album above.

I hoofed it around Chelsea for an hour and concluded that the mortgage crisis had hit the galleries.
The Storefront for Art & Architecture in Soho had a giant Lego model by the Danish design consortium "Big". The small exhibit was concerned with ideas of modular architecture, and the synthesis of architectural systems and social order in regards to housing. The fallacy of all of the models was that if architecture becomes more modular, cheaper, faster and more user-directed, that the results will resemble crystal formation, and not something messier, more chaotic and provisional. However, the Lego model was a playful and impressive depiction of the kind of society described in E.M. Forster's "The Machine Stops".
Vito Acconci's design of the facade of the gallery is really engaging. Embedded in the outside wall are several interlocking, rotating panels. This makes the gallery an extension of the street, which creates the need for the gallery attendant to continually go from model to model cleaning them of street grime and particulate pollution with a can of compressed air and a brush; An amusing consequence of the design, if you're not the one cleaning.
Link to the Storefront for Art & Architecture.

Link to Photo Album above.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The "I Want to be an Artist" Post

There was some mention of a show in Chicago in February. I would like to start having a dialogue about the details so that we can plan what we are going to do.

Chad is the curator so I believe he should start. How big are the rooms? What is the rough layout like? Drawing, painting, multimedia installation? Some sort of theme or just cool graphic stuff that people would want to get tattooed across their stomach?

I also think Pete should spend his time making cool art for the exhibition and not detailed computer models and schematics of a tattoo parlour (unless that is part of his art.)

"Punk Rock tried to kill the Metal . . ."

The "Online Gaming" Post

I recently upgraded my operating system and this gave me easy access to a number of mature, free, cross-platform, online games. I have got myself hooked on TREMULOUS, which is an online ego-shooter with a few building and strategy elements thrown in. It is a lot of fun if you get on a server where players do not spend the whole time camping in their cushy base. I would like to renew our gaming sessions and thought this might be a good place to start.

"You cannot kill the Metal . . . the Metal will live on."

Other ideas are:
Scorched 3D

These sound even better but I have not tested them yet:
World of Padman
Wolfenstein - Enemy Territory
Beyond the Red Line (Battlestar Galactica!!!)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Check out the menagerie on Golan Levin's page. A few of his applets and flash widgets haven't aged well (the novelty is gone) or don't work (at least on my installation). Several of them, though, still have the "gee whiz" appeal so important to the milieu he works in; even a decade after being made, like Blebs and his portraits grown from Voronoi diagrams (both pictured below). I think it has to do with modeling the mathematics of the natural world. (Yep, definitely something like that.)

Link to Blebs.
Link to Voronoi portraits.
Link to Golan Levin's page.

Monday, October 08, 2007


I found a game somewhat similar to the one you were describing to me, Alex. It is a freeware game of the survival genre, and begins with the player's character crash landing on an unknown alien world. The gameplay seems like it could be quite rich, but it is also incredibly difficult. It might be worth checking out, none the less.
Link via Abandonia Reloaded.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Roller coaster

The engineers at our firm are designing the footings of this new roller coaster. (The ride itself is being designed in Germany.) I saved myself from drawing and redrawing hundreds of boxes by writing a Visual LISP program that reads the spreadsheets of design data, and then draws them for me. This is pretty "junior league" and is a simple program, but I have never worked with LISP before, so it was an exercise in "stare at it until it makes sense". Anyway, it feels good to circumvent a month of work.

Friday, September 21, 2007


A Google Earth model of the mosque I am working on with one of my old professors has been posted on the client's website. I am suppressing proper names in this post because I'm sure that the client wouldn't want to be associated with 'Astromen' by way of a Google search. The model file and instructions on how to load it are provided on the client's site, as well. Link.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Future(tm) is now in alpha

From their site:
Our goals are sort of idealistic. We think there are all kinds of things on the Internet that would be improved if anyone could have a virtual place of their own. Right now, there aren't enough good games, for example, and they all seem to be about elves in tights or soldiers in battle armor. Metaplace allows more diversity. Right now, there are lots of people who want to use virtual worlds for research, or education, or business, but it's just too darn hard to get one going. Now you can create a world in just a few minutes and start tailoring it to your needs. Basically, we wanted to democratize the process of making online spaces of all sorts.
Time to start learning Lua...
Edit: More info here...

Monday, September 17, 2007

For those of you playing Bioshock...

"Greenspan was a longtime associate of Ayn Rand - yes, that Ayn Rand. The one who seemed so very revolutionary when you were 14 or so and first read “Atlas Shrugged.”

In an article published in 1963 as part of Ayn Rand’s book Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, Greenspan declared that protection of the consumer against “dishonest and unscrupulous business was the cardinal ingredient of welfare statism.”

“Regulation which is based on force and fear undermines the moral base of business dealings,” he wrote. “Protection of the consumer by regulation … is illusory.”"

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Giant bugs!

Another video from the TED Conference.
Theo Jansen is a kinetic artist / puppeteer whose machines exemplify living form. This is really visionary stuff. Tyler Paint had a post a while back about this fellow, too. The video is only ten minutes long.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A prescription for mental atrophy caused by the work week: listen to Harry Shearer's LE SHOW four times monthly.
Link to the podcast at KCRW.

A World Transfigured

The BBS DOCUMENTARY is a fascinating and careful examination of a world long gone; its author, Jason Scott, has also set up a website called TEXTFILES.COM which is a repository of the often crass and irreverent writings of that sub-culture. I frequented BBSes from middle school on until early 1999; mostly as a lurker and leech. The boards I dialed-into were much more of the public domain, rather than underground, variety. The Engine One and Engine Shop BBSes served as my Internet portals in Chicago, free of charge, until I moved away.

Link to the BBS DOCUMENTARY homepage.
There are eight episodes available on Google video. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8. Viewing the streaming version is legit because the documentary is under a creative commons license.
Link to the TEXTFILES.COM directory.
INTERNET ARCHIVE has 20 of the interviews from the documentary, uncut (link). I watched the one with Dead Lord of the Legion of Doom. He's a mild mannered fellow who unwittingly dodged Operation Sundevil and went on to run Manhattan's first ISP (link to the interview). The Legion of Doom plays a large role in Bruce Sterling's HACKER CRACKDOWN (link).

The Archive also has the two television shows that covered computerization from 1983 on, both by the same fellow, Stewart Cheifet. THE COMPUTER CHRONICLES (link)ran from 1983 to 2002, and THE NET CAFE (link) ran from 1996 to 2002. The second show has a very telling social & cultural bent.

There are many things worthy of notice on the
INTERNET ARCHIVE.; entirely unique, though, is the inclusion of material from the Prelinger Archive a "a collection of over 60,000 ephemeral (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur) films" (link), many of which lay bear the mid-20th century American psyche. Amid all the pyscho-social conditioning is a wonderful account of the construction of the Watts Towers in Los Angeles, built single-handedly by Simon Rodia over the course of thirty-years. (link to to the short movie, link to Wikipedia entry, link to 2,000+ Flickr photos of the Watts Towers).

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Pirate Bay Goes Mainstream!

The Swedes that form everybody's favorite anti-copyright group were interviewed for the Guardian. There is not much insight in the article, but I always get a kick out of reading the quotes of frothing at the mouth MPAA lawyers and executives.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

DOOM! Art Gallery Edition.

A friend of mine here in Berlin, Christoph Lauterbach who is finishing up an architecture degree, has put together a very interesting project. He is postponing his entry into the labor market as a drafting monkey to get a company off the ground dedicated to designing virtual art galleries. This is particularly for museums and blue-chip galleries, but also there is planned a service for individual artists.

As I understand the project, he will be designing a virtual urban center that will be dedicated to art showrooms and will then proceed renting out the real estate to interested parties. You can upload the two dimensional works that you want to be seen and they can even make 3-D models of sculptures or installations. The business model will follow something similar to World of Warcraft where you pay an initial fee to have your space designed and then a monthly premium to maintain the service.

This is not an incredibly new idea, as I remember a wacky visiting artist coming to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago sometime around 1997 talking about the fantastic future of art viewing in cyberspace. He even had a primitive "virtual reality" style example program. Other than that this artist painted rather uninspiring works of Nintendo controllers and tangled cables.

What is exciting here is that these virtual galleries are really well done and they are still only in a prototype phase. It is like a slow moving ego-shooter video game but dedicated exclusively to art connoisseurship. The most amusing part of the story is that their first prospective client was a guy that does really delicate multi-colored glass sculptures, which would be the equivalent of Dante's Inferno for computer modelers.

To view these virtual spaces you need a small plug-in for your web browser that the web pages in question will direct you to. Unfortunately this plug-in is only available for Apple and Microsoft operating systems.

The firm has a website called the Schauraumprojekte.
Navigate to "Showcase" to install the plug-in and see the first example.

Christoph made another example for his father who is a neo-cubist painter and antique dealer.
At the website of Galerie Lauterbach there is a Modernist two story virtual museum.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Klick! Poof!

Last week I was reading some news in cyberspace while waiting to go to a job interview. My computer, which has been commonly known to the Astromen! community as the Milennium Falcon due to its overworked nature, proceeded to make a series of clicking and spinning noises similar to the title of this post. The tired laptop then slowly shut down and upon trying to reboot I discovered that the hard drive no longer exists, which was later confirmed by my friendly neighborhood computer freaky. I lost some recent image work and other miscellanous data, so remember kids to make back-ups often, particularly if you are prone to existential crises.

For an economical amount of Eurobucks(tm) I have purchased my very first new and fancy desktop robot overlord. My girlie-friend contributed with an enormous flat screen monitor and a case with windows, neon lights, and vents that look like Airbus 380 jet engines. The thing looks like some sort of spaceship and I am concerned that a scene like the attached photo is going to develop in my apartment when it transforms and starts battling the toaster oven.

AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+, 1024MB DDR2 RAM, 250GB Hard drive, NVidia 8600GT 256MB Graphics card
Running Ubuntu 7.04 exclusively as the operating system.

P.S. - I am back online, will be returning electronic mail again, and looking forward to any opportunities for Astromen! sponsered gaming events.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


I finally saw Akira Kurosawa's 1990 film "Dreams" this evening, and thought it was unique and terrific. Though I am confused as to why Vincent Van Gogh was portrayed as an English speaking American.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Friday, June 22, 2007

Vacation Pictures

I returned Tuesday night from a 10 day trip to Scotland and Ireland. We didn't get to spend much time in any one place; but we saw a great deal. The two most impressive places were Edinburgh and Skara Brae; both are examples of organic architecture. Edinburgh was built around large bridges connecting fortifications on two tall hills. The result is a honeycombed, chaotic accretion of a city that is a delight to walk through. Skara Brae is the ruin of a paleolithic village (5,000 years old) on the Orkney Islands that was a series of underground stone huts build like a rabbit warren. Link to album.

This is my current addiction. The video above is a playback of 4 human players vs. an assault by 4 computer controlled armies with the AI punched up to the highest difficulty setting. Good times!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Microsoft Surface

Holy shit! This is the tech demo I linked to in the last post's thread, which is over a year old. But now it's not a tech demo, it's Microsoft. Cower in FEAR!!!

From a slashdot post...

"I find this very interesting from a marketing perspective. They are promoting this as if it was a product, and yet it isn't on sale - and even the implementations they are talking about (T-Mobile, Sheraton Hotels) are really trials with partners that won't be happening until the end of next year.

So what is this all about? The Vista and Office '07 launches haven't gone well from a marketing perspective - there has been a lot of press basically saying that Microsoft is losing its competitive edge. Couple that with the iPhone, and the fact that Apple is almost certainly going to be launching new products with multi-touch capabilities over the next year or so, and I think it is clear what is going on. Microsoft really want to improve their image in relation to Apple - they don't want Apple to be seen as the innovator and them as the company that's lost it.

Notice on the website [] that they have a section called "origins" giving the history of the technology within Microsoft - I think they are trying to reverse the image that they copy Apple. Now when the touch-screen iMac is launched (or whatever) Microsoft will have done a fairly good job at taking some of the shine off the launch, even though they don't have a consumer product in the area, nor will they have for some years."

More on the tech of this thing from Ars Technica...

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Cave

A 4-d CAD model has been created of the human body. A 4-d model simply relies on a layering system through which different sets of information can be isolated. VR caves, which I've seen in lectures about architectural modeling, use anamorphic projection on the surfaces of a small room to immerse a subject; like a panorama, baroque architectural painting, or in a simulator. Also, this is a bizarre image.
via Science Daily.

Re: NWN 1.69

I posted the above on the NWN forums. Bioware is taking a long time on the 1.69 patch, which will be the last for NWN 1. If they do not move the game to some sort of open source arrangement, they will be missing a tremendous opportunity for the most modular game ever made. Link.

Takako Minekawa...

... possesses obtuse and inventive powers of musicianship. Rare qualities for someone who comes from a J-pop background. Recommended for all deranged persons.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Tell it like it is...

I called my rep about this. You should too.

This is also spot on...

"But (someone protests), can't you at least admit that the Democrats are better than the Republicans? And if you love the country, or care about the world, aren't you obligated to support the lesser of two evils, even if it's only slightly less evil?

To which I reply: What's really evil is being forced to choose between people on the one hand who support the war, and accuse anyone who questions it of "helping the terrorists" -- and people on the other who oppose the war, criticize the war, pledge to the end the war, and then vote to keep it going.

Or being asked to choose between the village idiot and someone who's consistently outsmarted by him."

And from Greenwald...

"This has long been the principal flaw of Democrats and it has not changed. They are both fearful and incapable of defending any position unless, from the outset, they are assured, by their conniving and principle-free consultants, that most Americans already agree with it. The idea of forcefully articulating a view in order to change public opinion -- such as explaining why de-funding is a perfectly valid option like all the others for ending the war -- never occurs to them."

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Fallout 3

"We're running out of time!" *spoilers*


TERRORIST: Mr. Bauer, how do you stay so dry under such intense pressure?

JACK: Read the label. (pause) READ THE LABEL!

TERRORIST: D... Degree for Men?? This can't be.. its odor and wetness protection are unparalleled!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooo!

JACK: Chloe this is Jack, tell CTU I'm setting up a perimeter...

(Jack swipes degree under each arm)

JACK: ...around PERSPIRATION!" penned by Quest For Glory II of Something Awful.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Meanwhile, down at HQ...

Oh my!

Website 2.0

With Ubuntu Linux as a platform, a program called KompoZer, and a mildly improved understanding of html programming, I have managed to completely redesign my website from zero. There is not much in the way of new content, but I was hoping everyone could poke around there a little bit to make sure it is all working correctly. Any design suggestions would also be welcome, particularly by those professionally inclined to this kind of stuff.

My hope is that this is polished enough to be a good cyberspace calling card for my impending exhibition and legal employment hunts.

This project was also about learning to replace my last Windoze program. The only thing I have used lately on that OS is Planescape: Torment and I have had little time for getting involved in super intracate mind boggling wacky plot role playing computer games of late.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Microsoft Details FOSS Patent Breaches

via Slashdot...

Edit: From the Slashdot comment thread...
"Microsoft is afraid, plain and simple. This an edorsement by the market leader that Linux is ready for the desktop. They were afraid to see Novell pushing it but when Dell went onboard and picked the most user friendly of distros to do it with; Microsoft became terrified.

Do you know why you never saw something like this from Microsoft before? They didn't think it was worth their time."

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Toys and grids

Over the past couple of months, I've been noodling with a lot of free software that doesn't have the common ingredients of gameplay. Rather, the object in each seems to be to allow the user to generate/explore/discover/compose pictures. Another thing these toys have in common is that they are marvelous demonstrations of the interplay between order and chaos. I can see how this could all look like screensaver fodder. My reply to such a jaded reaction would be that there are things in life other than points, frags, and money. The following is a short inventory of this software:

Celestia is a planetarium package. Everything is placed accurately in regards to time, space and scale. It's like a pinhole camera onto the yawning infinity of the universe. A good companion for dragging out a chaise lounge into your yard on a warm night. Versions are available for all platforms. Link.

Construo is a simple program that simulates forces on articulated structures. It seems to only be for Linux. Link.

Fyre renders Peter de Jong maps. It is also only for Linux. Link.

Xaos is a fractal navigator. After the mid-nineties craze surrounding the Mandelbrot set, I thought that if you'd seen one instance of fractal geometry, you'd seen it all. They are infinitely repeating, after all. Xaos, which has 23 different formulae, disproves this idea and demonstrates that the fractal phenomena is one of tremendous variety. No longer will I think of fractals as digital tie-dye. There are versions of Xaos for all platforms. Link.

I'm reading Rudolph Arnheim's "Dynamics of Architectural Form". In it is this idea that the universe is a series of nested spatial indices, with their delimitations based on scale, and each having an intrinsic level of chaos. So the shape of our cities are ameboid and strange, but our city blocks are simple grids. The location of a piece of art or architecture in this universal index is instrumental to its definition and effect. Architecture interfaces with the landscape and the city grid, on the large end, and people and furniture, at the small end. A painting interfaces with the space of the room and its other constituents at the large end, and a painting being a portal, it relates its limits to all its subordinate parts, at the small end. At any point, the work can skip several strata and point towards something of a vastly different scale or something not present or even extant. This is very common in paintings, but in architecture it is far less so. One dramatic exception is how architecture adapts to solar exposure, much like plants do, skipping several spatial-frameworks.
All this stuff about scale and universal context is why I see Frank Stella's new sculpture on the roof of the Met as a funky planetarium.

(pictures from Flickr)

Monday, May 07, 2007

Kings of Metal!!!!!!!!!!

I was checking out random co-worker's music playlists over the network via iTunes (i know, hate away) when i ran across the most metal music archive I've ever seen. While grabbing coffee in the break room, i see the guy who owns the music and pay him a compliment. His response was, "you like that stuff?"

long story short... he burned me 12 DVDs full of metal mp3s. HELLS YEAH!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Hive mind

"Dividing the robots into separate villages that only occasionally interact with each other should also help to ensure the greatest diversity of behaviour..."
Link via ArtsJournal.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

It is precious to me . . .

After many years of waiting, and jumping through the flaming hoops of a variety of Napoleonic national beuracracies, I today finally acquired a full fledged work permit in Europe. The Federal Republic of Germany deemed it prudent to place two big stickers in my passport and it now seems heavier to bear in my hand or pocket.

So shiny, so beautiful . . . my precious . . .

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Interview on art + virtuality

I had the opportunity to participate in a seminar led by Thomas Zummer during my last semester at Tyler School of Art. He's a philosopher and artist whose understanding of the synergies of media, language, and artistic endeavor is comprehensive. This is a brief interview posted from a conference in Brussels last year. I apologize for the poor sound quality. Listen carefully, near the end of the interview he starts to talk about role-playing and game-space as a valid artistic mode that is collaborative and extensible in its very nature. Link.

This led me to waste the day watching lectures on the web. Google has several "Tech Talks" of general interest. The best ones I saw today were on the scientific method and information visualization.

Friday, April 06, 2007

On the shame of using reference...

"Back in the late 80s, one of my first jobs was drawing the unauthorized comic biographies of rock musicians, which demanded likenesses of real people and locations in every panel. But even before that, I’d started a “morgue” of reference folders, each categorized and subdivided as required (”figures/ children/ perspective”, “technology/ industrial/ 20th century”, “architecture/ urban/ interior/ office”, etc). Each folder was filled with magazine clippings, photographs, photocopies and newspaper articles. The point being not to copy verbatim, but to inform decisions already made concerning any given composition."
...via Drawn.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Transmaterial... a catalog of innovative, computationally intensive, and green building technologies. For those of us who don't shell out money for catalogs like this, there is a companion blog that has a handful of interesting things. My favorite is the marquis camouflage, pictured below. Link.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Trap

"These are not journalists..."

"These are not journalists who want to uncover government corruption or act in an adversarial capacity to check government power. Rather, these are members of the royal court who are grateful to the King and his minions for granting them their status. What they want more than anything is to protect and preserve the system that has so rewarded them -- with status and money and fame and access and comfort. They're the ludicrous clowns who entertain the public by belittling any facts which demonstrate pervasive corruption and deceit at the highest levels of our government, and who completely degrade the public discourse with their petty, pompous, shallow, vapid chatter that transforms every important political matter into a stupid gossipy joke."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Battle for Wesnoth... a "minute-to-learn" style strategy game that is a great deal of fun, and free! There are versions for Windows, Linux, and Mac. Link.