#NetNarr Flash Echo: Watching the Unfolding of Digital Art

Recipe for Story

The folks in Networked Narratives have held two “flash” events on Twitter, examining a piece of Digital Art and tweeting to a series of questions. Both of the Flash events happened when I was either working or sleeping (which is fine, since part of the NetNarr community is overseas).

I decided to keep exploring, anyway. So, this is a bit late. Consider it an echo.

The first piece of Digital Art examined is called Sky Magic Live at Mt. Fuji: Drone Ballet.

The artist group explains: “This was done so by utilizing more than 20 units of these flying machines, flight swarming formations, music, and 16,500 LED lights to combine into a single audio visual extravaganza.”

Sky Magic Live at Mt.Fuji : Drone Ballet Show from Sky Magic on Vimeo.

My reactions:

That was stunning in its coordination and synchronization. I almost felt like I had too many lights on in the house as I watched. What came to mind is how the drones and the LED lights was the art in movement and Mt. Fuji was the landscape backdrop to the art. You never lose sight of the mountain, even as the lights on the drones dance to create the ballet. You do lose sight of the drones, however, which is interesting. The technology disappears. The mountain is left in sight. The lights dance. I wondered about the ways they pulled this off, with the music (which I really loved) and the dance and the drone flight patterns. I’d love to see the blueprint for this ballet, and be the fly on the wall as they grappled with the technological challenges. Is this art? Yes, this is art.

The second piece is entitled Eunoia II.

The artist, Lisa Park, explains: “Throughout the performance of ‘Eunoia II’, the intensity of my feelings at the time are mirrored in the intensity of the sound in terms of volume, pitch, feedback, speed, and the panning of the sound output. The result was that the water responded in real-time creating different formations of ripples and droplets in unpredictable patterns.”

Eunoia II from Lisa Park on Vimeo.

My reactions:

Huh. First, I liked how we could see her setting up the art, the water. The views of the world, of humanity, at the start led me to expect something else, entirely. Maybe a piece of public art. But this art was very private, and I was having trouble making the leap from that public space, and her emotional response to the crowd and city, to the ripples on the water. It wasn’t clear to me what emotions she was tapping to make the water dance. The intention — of using emotions to create sound to create physical interpretations with nature — is intriguing. There was something very beautiful of the views of the water in motion, connected to her feelings, but I wanted more from this piece, although I would be hard-pressed to say exactly what I wanted.

I wonder and marvel at how artists see the media and technology around them and think, can this be used to create art? Is this art? Like our struggles with defining (or not) the term Digital Writing, this concept of Digital Art continues to be something we grapple with, play with, argue for and against, and celebrate when our hearts are touched by the experience.

Further investigation of Digital Art continues with the Net Art site, which has all sorts of intriguing possibilities.

Peace (it’s in art),
Kevin

Visual Thinkery: Elements of Digital Writing and Networked Stamps

Elemental Design... (1)

I saw Alan Levine sharing out an element he made the other week in a tool created by Bryan Matthers, at his Visual Thinkery site, and I decided it might be fun to give it a try. Bryan’s tool is pretty simple to use, and yet, the visual design is appealing. I made four elements, all connected to the concept of digital writing.

Elemental Design... (2)

Give it a try. Bryan has licensed his images and tools via @bryanMMathers is licensed under CC-BY-ND

Elemental Design... (4)

And he encourages folks to play with making.
Elemental Design...

And now he has just added a tool for making visual stamps. I had to try it out.

CLMOOC Stamp

and

NetNarr Stamp

Peace (making it happen),
Kevin

#NetNarr: Sketchnoting Dark Mirror’s Nosedive

This week in Networked Narratives, one of the assignments is to watch the “Nosedive” episode of Black Mirror on Netflix, which tackles through its dystopian vision how the world is revolving more and more on the “like economy.”

Black Mirror Sketchnote: Nosedive

The Black Mirror Wiki (yes, of course, there is a thing) explains:

Lacie Pound lives in a world where anyone can rate your popularity out of five stars, from your friends to strangers you meet on the street.

As with other Black Mirror stories, this one takes the tech-infused idea to the extreme, as Lacie tumbles into social media wasteland after her own brother trends her downward.

I found the ending to be interesting, where Lacie has all of her approval technology removed after an episode, finds herself in jail and yet approaches real happiness and freedom when she starts to trade insults with another prisoner. They are no longer shackled by technology.

Black Mirror Sketchnote: Nosedive

I decided to sketchnote the story as I watched the episode, to try to capture in doodles what I was seeing and thinking about. This was the second time I have seen Nosedive, so I sort of knew what was happening.

Peace (ecaeP),
Kevin

#NetNarr Comic Strip Story: The Return to Arganee

 

Horse with No Name

For the start of Networked Narratives, I decided to send one of my comic strip characters on an adventure through the fictional world of Arganee. So Horse with No Name (I left The Internet Kid at home) set forth and met some strange creatures — bots and dogs and alchemists —  and went on a Quest. I had fun making the comics, which I did in a just a few days in a burst of storytelling and then released them somewhat daily into the NetNarr stream over two weeks time.

I often wondered what the NetNarr students in the two University classrooms were thinking, if they even caught the comics. They were just starting class, and maybe barely wandering into the hashtag.

You can read it as a PDF with this link.

Another option is a Padlet that I set up, with all of the comics in order.

Made with Padlet

Peace (making comics),
Kevin

#NetNarr Research: (re)New Media Art and Cultural Jamming

A research endeavor in Networked Narratives is an invitation to curate and document early examples of New Media Art from a book no longer readily available, except for its examples in the Internet Wayback Machine. Cool. Work done to document the art will eventually end up in this Tumblr site.

Students from different NetNarr classes and the open web are invited to join in. Scroll down through this post, about midway, and you will find instructions. From that same NetNarr call to help document early New Media Art:

For an appreciation of current digital art we will explore these foundational examples of digital, networked art. They represent a time of wild experimentation, new technologies, but also to see what could be done with much slower and less sophisticated internet. But also, we will examine the issues of how well digital art holds up over time, especially when many were created with technologies not currently available, or have themselves vanished. It also opens the door to question the ephemeral nature of digital art.

Here is mine, which looks at an example of early cultural jamming with technology and media and art:

  • Title of Art Work: ToyWar
  • Artist name(s): ®TMark
  • When it was published on the web: October 5, 2013
  • Technologies used: Website design
  • Current URL (if still available online): Not available
  • Link to Wikibook page (in Wayback Machine)https://web.archive.org/web/20131005190945/https://wiki.brown.edu/confluence/display/MarkTribe/RTMark (or specifically, for ToyWar: https://web.archive.org/web/20131005021204/http://toywar.etoy.com/)
  • A brief summary of the piece, not just copied from the book (quotes are okay, but write your own analysis of the piece): The ®TMark (or art mark) was a network of anti-corporate parody and satirical artists, designed to poke holes in the nature of the emerging Internet and information networks through what is known as “cultural jamming.” It’s first venture was known as the Barbie Liberation Organization and it later was the target of a legal battle from the musician, Beck, for its appropriation of his music. ®TMark often asked for ideas from its audience, and supported and even funded the development of such art. Its work had a significant anti-corporation nature to it that rattled the business world. The ToyWar effort is a good example, as it used biting satire in a real-life legal battle that unfolded in the courts over the use of the name “etoy,” with an actual toy company fighting a small artistic collective over the name and the web domain name. ®TMark’s project zeroed in on the way the business world takes ownership of names through legal battles and intimidation, and this cultural jamming project is reflective of an era when corporations began gobbling up URL and domain names. The®TMark group seemed to have developed extensive “war documentation” of the battle between a small company and the larger corporation, turning the financial and legal battle into a form of public art and protest, including the development of a “game” in which ®TMark members took part in Denial of Service attacks at the corporate website in a form of virtual “sit ins” and other new media protests.
  • Screenshots that represent the work
    The ToyWars Documentation Project
    The ToyWars Documentation Project
  • The ToyWars Documentation Project
  • Information on where the artist is now: It seems as if the ®TMark may have fallen apart or merged into other anarchic collectives. Online searching reveals little information about the project and the collective’s website link seems to have been taken over by some Japanese contraception company marketing the “after pill.” Joke? Not? Subversive Art? I don’t really know.

Interesting stuff …

Peace (in the documentation),
Kevin

#NetNarr Photo Indoor Safari: Seven Photos in a Mad, Crazy Twitter Dash

NetNarr Photo Safari

The cool thing about taking photos is that you have to look at the world a bit different. It’s not just the device you see through, it’s the way your eye sees the world through the lens that sees the world.

Yesterday, before the Networked Narratives Twitter Chat (which I forgot about until it had started), there was a NetNarr Safari activity, which involved taking seven photos over 15 minutes with different visual prompts coming in over Twitter.

I arrived when it was over (or, as we say in CLMOOC, I was right on time), but then decided, what the heck … and so I did it on my own, scrolling back through the NetNarr Twitter feed.

I didn’t leave the room I was in, so my safari was not all that wild. Microphones instead of monkeys. Socks instead of snakes. But I liked how the physical confines of my space forced me to consider the visual prompt (like, two objects that don’t match or one color or some kind of tracks), then look quickly, make a decision, snap the shot, tweet the results and move on.

The downside is it felt one-sided with no interaction with other NetNarr folks (and except for Wendy, whose safari I see this morning, I haven’t seen anyone else’s), since I was late and the Twitter Chat had already started (I was late to that, too, but enjoyed the topic of Digital Art.)

Peace (looks like),
Kevin

Writing Poems in the #NetNarr Network

I’ve been trying to make sure I curate and collect some of the poems I have been writing each day for the Daily Arganee in the Networked Narratives space. I worry about poems getting lost. My intention with these particular poems with this particular project is to come to the prompt at a slant, so the poem may not always match up with the prompt. Instead, they are inspired by the prompts.

Peace (poetics),
Kevin

#NetNarr: New Media/Video Game Art Examples

New Media Art quote

These come from the annotation activity of an article called New Media Art, a chapter from a collection published in 2006. In Networked Narratives, one of the activities this week is to annotate the article and examine the nature of New Media Art (or whatever title it has these days.)

I was intrigued by some of the early examples of video games as the source for art, and found two examples referenced in the writing that still live on the Internet. Notice how each artists used elements from the game, but remixed and remediated them in such a way to create something new and inventive.

Pretty interesting ….

The first video example of Game Art is The Intruder (although this is only a video capture since the original experience no longer exists with modern browsers, as far as I can tell)

From a description of the original experience, via BookChin

In Natalie Bookchin’s piece, The Intruder, we are presented with a sequence of ten videog ames, most of which are adapted from classics such as Pong and Space Invaders. We interact via moving or clicking the mouse, and by making whatever we make of/with/from the story. Meaning is always constructed, never on a plate. The interaction is less focused on video game play than it is on advancing the narrative of the story we hear throughout the presentation of the ten games.

The Intruder – Natalie Bookchin (1998 – 1999) from jonCates on Vimeo.

The second example is Velvet Strike

From its description:

Velvet Strike was a set of counter-military graffiti sprays for a spray-gun modification in the networked game Counter-Strike. Players could both download and spray images from the collection in-game and also create and contribute new spray paint graphics to the intervention. The project was created in response to the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and specifically the proliferation of militaristic anti-Arab, anti-Muslim Counter-Strike modifications following 9-11. Velvet Strike faced a massive backlash from gamers (particularly in the form of misogynist verbal attacks directed at Schleiner), raising important questions surrounding the uncritical acceptance of violent military fantasy in games and the role of networked multiplayer games as public space.

And then there is something simple, and yet beautiful, about something like this: taking video of the clouds in Super Mario and making the clouds into their own video. That’s what Cory Arcangel did in 2002.

In the NetNarr Twitter stream, one of the students shared a blog post with images of cities he built within a gaming city itself, and I decided to do a little remix. Using game worlds as the setting for Media Art is intriguing.

What I wonder about is this: are there communities out there doing this kind of work of appropriating video games into art still today, in 2018, and how might I learn more about how to teach my sixth graders — who are now video game designers — to do something similar with their own video games designed and published this school year?

Hmmm.

Peace (game on, into story),
Kevin

 

 

Book Review: Design is Storytelling

I never really thought all that much of how designing a physical space or a physical object is really about the invisible art of telling a story. In Design is Storytelling, by Ellen Lupton, that fact comes to the surface — that the decisions we make in creating tangible objects or immersive experiences can have a narrative arc to it.

This book was a bit uneven for me, but I suspect I am not its target audience, either. (That seems to be museum geeks, designers and business thinkers). Lupton is a senior curator of Contemporary Design at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum (I didn’t even know that existed) and she brings a real museum-layout-theme thinking to this book. The prose felt a bit stiff to me, but many of the illustrations in here are helpful. (I guess, design IS story.)

She focuses her chapters on overarching ideas of Action, Emotion, and Sensation, and within there, she explores such things as Design Fiction and Narrative Arc of objects and space; creating fictional personas as you plan the design of something, particularly when a problem needs to be solved; and how multi-sensory design might inform the way something evolves over time. She explores building design, and app design, and business layout decisions (such as considering the concept of the Hero’s Journey within a typical IKEA store.) Colors, perceptions, interactions, touch … all these and more are explored here within the frame of experiencing stories.

 

I’m thinking more now of how museums work to consider layout of rooms and doors, and of the use of media in museums (sound, color, image, signs) that help a visitor navigate the “story” the curators are hoping to tell. I wonder about architects a bit different now, and the way that their work informs our interactions with buildings and space, and what narrative those design choices surface (or hide).

And I am thinking of a new 3D Printer Maker Club we have started at our school with our sixth graders. How can we get them to think beyond “making an object” to making objects as part of “telling a story” somehow? It seems to me, and it clearly visible is to Lupton here, that we can and probably should think of story as deeper and richer interactions with the designed world, and it all starts with narrative intentions.

Peace (designed to last for love),
Kevin

#NetNarr Twitter Analysis: Where, When, How and …. Why?

NetNarr Network Play

I followed a link to a Twitter Analysis tool via Networked Narratives as part of an examination of our digital lives in the spheres of social media. This all connects nicely to the Digital Audit of this month’s CLMOOC. Convergence is nice.

The Twitter Analysis tool provides a useful visual glimpse of a single user’s interactions in Twitter. Mine is no surprise. I do a lot of sharing and writing and working in the early morning hours (like, eh, right now), and I will often use various devices and platforms throughout the day.

NetNarr Twitter Analysis1You can see the time period earlier this month where I took a step back from Twitter — and I wrote about my weeding out of Twitter followers and folks I have been following — and then NetNarr brought me right back again.

The NetNarr folks — Alan Levine and Mia Zamora — also shared out a larger networking analysis tool, which CLMOOC has used before, to show various interactions. The TAGs Explorer for NetNarr is here and open to check out. I am one of the open participants, but both Alan and Mia have university students in classroom experiences as part of NetNarr.

NetNarr Twitter Analysis2

All this analysis of our Twitter activities remind us the where we tweet, and when we tweet, and how we tweet, and hopefully leads to discussions or reflections on why we tweet.

For me, it’s simple. I am a better teacher and a better writer, and a more thorough digital explorer, thanks to my connections and interactions on Twitter. Despite all of its messiness and despite the concerns over privacy and harassment, I still find Twitter to be one of the many places where my tribe hangs out on a regular basis, and shares, collaborates, makes, and reflects together.

That remains a powerful draw.

Peace (analyze it),
Kevin