“Portrait of the Artist as a Data Cloud I + II” and “The 9″

Originally posted on The New Krass:


Portrait of the Artist
as a Data Cloud I +II

Karin + Shane Denson
20″ x 20″
Acrylic on canvas

These “Data Portraits” are data-generated objects based on personal Internet usage, processed with a custom Python script written by Luke Caldwell and hand-painted by Karin Denson. Scanning one of the nine QR codes on the right will unlock augmented reality (AR) scenarios that will be superimposed on the Data Portraits. The scenarios, some of which are interactive, explore various facets of contemporary interactions between physical, virtual, and augmented realities.

The 9

Karin + Shane Denson
20″ x 20″
Acrylic on canvas

Scan one of the 9 QR codes and point your device at the two “Data Portraits” on the left. Each of the QR codes triggers a different set of augmented reality (AR) contents on the Data Portraits. Experiment: try touching, listening to, or moving the objects on your screen.

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User-friendly Gnomes

Originally posted on The New Krass:


The big AR Gnome welcomes you to the “Making Mining Networking” exhibition at The Edge, Duke University. Today I added descriptions to the paintings so you can start your tour with your mobile device at any point of the exhibition. Nevertheless I still recommend  to start with the “Tutorial Level”:


Tutorial Level

Karin + Shane Denson
20″ x 20″
Acrylic on Canvas

Scan this painting with your mobile device to get a brief tutorial on how to use the works collected here under the title “Making Mining Networking.” You’ll also find links and videos with context and background information about the processes and motivations behind the works.

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From Building Dwelling Thinking to Making Mining Networking


Making Mining Networking, a collection of works by Karin Denson and myself, opened yesterday at Duke University’s digital research, collaboration, and exhibition space The Edge, as part of the Network Ecologies project organized by Amanda Starling Gould. Also on display are fascinating works by Rebecca Norton. The show will run until Fall, so check it out if you get a chance. Be sure to bring along your smartphone or tablet with a QR scanner installed, as all of our pieces are scannable, interactive works that will open an augmented reality browser.

I have previously posted our exhibition statement (here), and our video “Sculpting Data (and Painting Networks)” offers the best introduction to what we’re trying to do in the exhibit. For what it’s worth, though, I also wanted to post a few additional remarks about the title of the collection that I made yesterday in our talk:

The title of our current collection, “Making Mining Networking,” includes a kind of oblique – possibly awkward – reference to Martin Heidegger’s essay “Building Dwelling Thinking” (Bauen Wohnen Denken). This is not in any way a “Heideggerian” exhibit, though; as you’ll see, it includes Marxist subtexts throughout that should militate against that. We are skeptical, in particular, of Heidegger’s Romanticism, but we think that the oblique reference serves to highlight a few things:

First of all, if building and dwelling were the quintessential human activities for Heidegger, our title suggests the possibility of some developments that couldn’t have been anticipated by him and that have to do with the advent of digital media, among other things.

“Building,” which for Heidegger opened up spaces and gathered “worlds” for communities that came into being around the Greek temple or the bridge across a romantic German river, gives way today to more local, far less grand practices of “making”; the maker culture that centers around 3D printing, physical computing, and other technologies might be emblematic of this shift.

And “dwelling,” which for Heidegger described the supposedly authentic mode of existence of mortals upon the earth, becomes infinitely minable today, as mining comes to name physical and virtual processes that transform the mere fact of living into the source of a surplus value that can be accumulated, processed, and exploited.

And finally “thinking,” which for Heidegger implied a profound sort of “questioning,” aimed at getting to “the ground” of Being in all its Romantic mystery, has perhaps given way to a more superficial, also not unproblematic, mode of relating things: the pervasive mode of “networking,” which connects people and things in both systematic and haphazard ways.

Finally, though, the reference to Heidegger is also meant to signal our commitment to interrogating these developments in terms that might indeed resonate, if only awkwardly, with Heidegger’s mode of questioning – in terms, that is, of the impacts that making, mining, and networking, as characteristic activities of our contemporary moment, have on our lifeworlds and on the reorganization of spatial realities through the addition of virtual and augmented layers.

We hope, however, that our mode of interrogating these things is a bit more playful, a lot less earnest, and a lot more fun than Heidegger would approve of…

In that spirit, go check out our data-driven garden gnomes, who are currently residing both in The Edge and all around Duke’s West Campus:


Network Ecologies Arts in the Edge


Poster for the Network Ecologies exhibition, which pairs Rebecca Norton‘s affine geometry-based work with the data-driven, generative, and AR-enhanced pieces that Karin and I have assembled under the title “Making Mining Networking.”

Opening event next Monday, April 20, 2015:

Full Schedule
All events in the Edge Workshop Room unless otherwise specified

2:00: Exhibit Opens (Edge Open Lab), Artists available for questions

3:00 Formal events begin: Welcome & Introduction

3:30 Artist Talk, Shane + Karin Denson + Q&A
4:00 Artist Talk, Rebecca Norton + Q&A

4:30 Mini Hands-on Digital Arts Workshop with Artist Rebecca Norton – make your own digital affine image!

Reception to follow.


More info here: http://sites.duke.edu/digital/training-events/

Video: Post-Cinema and/as Speculative Media Theory, Part 3: Patricia Pisters, “The Filmmaker as Metallurgist” — #SCMS15

Above, Patricia Pisters’s talk “The Filmmaker as Metallurgist” — the third of five videos documenting the “Post-Cinema and/as Speculative Media Theory” panel I chaired on March 27, 2015 at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies annual conference in Montreal.

See here for more information and a general introduction to the panel.

Up next: Adrian Ivakhiv. Stay tuned!

Participatory Poverty (after Hito Steyerl)

This piece collects a variety of images circulating online and thinks about the status of what Hito Steyerl calls “the poor image.” Of particular interest is the conjunction of technological, political, socio-economic, and aesthetic facets, factors, and practices that Steyerl identifies in her provocative essay on the subject. Significantly, Steyerl breaks with both nostalgic or backwards-looking approaches to the “end” or “death” of cinema and with the one-sided celebration of a so-called “participatory culture,” which tends to ignore the capitalist framework within which fan-based acts of appropriation and expansion are themselves appropriated as “immaterial labor” in the service of big-business entertainment franchises. This project seeks to highlight the ambivalent status of the poor image, utilizing techniques of datamoshing and databending, themselves fan-based techniques for image impoverishment that have also been employed in high-profile projects (e.g. big-budget music videos) and projects with a high-cultural cachet (e.g. gallery art).

In order to question the confluence of technical and socio-economic/political considerations at work in the poor image while avoiding too much editorial interference or interpretation on my part, the video above works generatively – drawing materials from YouTube and collating them according to the itinerary dictated by the search results for the term “poor image.” That is, the first 44 search results (from a query conducted on April 8, 2015) are cycled three times, in the order of their appearance in the list of results – initially taking the first ten seconds of each clip, then the next five, and finally the next second. After combining the images, in this order, all I-frames were removed (so-called “datamoshing”), thus establishing unexpected – and, I think, interesting and sometimes telling – connections between the clips.