Fall 1: Week 5

blog post by ann

Time flies with week 5 marking the halfway point for SFPC’s class of fall 2017. Week 5 also marked the start of artist-in-residence Golan Levin’s two weeks at SFPC, and the first guest lecture of the semester with Salome Asega. See more below!

Day 1 (morning): Typography, repetition, and Muriel Cooper

Week 5 kicked off with a lecture by Zach Lieberman on typography and repetition. He introduced students to the work of Muriel Cooper, a pioneering media artist and graphic designer who, in 1984, founded the Visible Language Workshop (VLW) at the MIT Media Lab.

Before the Media Lab, Cooper was the first art director of the MIT Press, starting in 1967 and overseeing the production of over 500 books. She is perhaps best known for Hans Wingler’s Bauhaus: Weimar, Dessau, Berlin, Chicago.

At the VLW, Cooper developed the “information landscape,” which was a new interface design for text. After Cooper presented the new UI at the TED conference in 1994, Bill Gates, intrigued and excited by the possibilities, “personally asked for a copy of the presentation.”

Cooper tragically passed away shortly after the TED conference at the age of 68. However, her work has continued to inspire designers and technologies even today.

After researching Cooper, her student at the MIT Media Lab John Maeda, and her colleague Jacqueline Casey, Zach shoed students how to load type into openFrameworks. He then walked through some simple text manipulations, and explained how OFW treats type as a path (series of points) and how those points can be tweaked for compelling visual effects.

Zach demos text manipulation

Day 1 (afternoon): Meet our Artist in Residence: Golan Levin

After a short break, students reconvened to meet artist-in-residence Golan Levin. Golan is a new media artist who’s work focuses on interactivity and the “expressive use of computation.” In particular, he “applies creative twists to digital technologies that highlight our relationship with machines, make visible our ways of interacting with each other, and explore the intersection of abstract communication and interactivity.”

Golan also advised Zach during his graduate studies at Parsons, and they have collaborated on several projects over the years. Golan will be spending two weeks with students at SFPC.

In his introductory talk, he walked students through several of his projects, and did a deep dive on the development of a passion project of his that was 10 years in the making: The Augmented Hand series.

More poems, less demos
Taeyoon, Golan, and Zach (the gangs all back!)

Day 2: Futurism, Feminism, and a Guest Speaker — Salome Asega

On day 2 students were treated to a guest lecture on alternate futures by artist Salome Asega. Salome is an artist and researcher, and the co-host of speculative talk show Hyperopia: 20/30 Vision on bel-air radio and the Assistant Director of POWRPLNT, a digital art collaboratory.

Salome has participated in residencies and fellowships at Eyebeam, New Museum, and the Laundromat Project, and has given presentations at New Inc, Performa, Eyeo, and Gather Festival. Salome teaches in the MFA Design and Technology program at Parsons at The New School and is a Technology Fellow at the Ford Foundation.

Salome, who’s work “sits at the intersection of how cultural art and artifacts are recorded and preserved,” showed the students her projects Crown Heights Mike, Level Up, and the Iyapo Repository.

“‘futuring’ as a verb is done when you know you’re not recognized in certain systems so you have to create new systems for yourself.” — Salome Asega

She also talked about the politics of futuring, and the importance of giving voice to, and imagining futures with, those who are generally written out of mainstream sci-fi and speculative fiction. Salome talked about Afrofuturism and creating futures for and by Africans and the African diaspora, with a focus on black Americans.

“What do you have access to right now that you know someone else doesn’t have access to and how can you find ways to share that out?” — Salome Asega
Q&A with Salome

Afterwards, ann and Qiao presented on The Cyborg Manifesto and Gulf Futurism respectively.

ann shows some cyberfeminist art

ann started her talk with an introduction to first and second wave feminism in the US. She used that as a jumping off point to discuss Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto. In particular, she talked about how Haraway was inspired by women of color feminism and the writings of Chela Sandoval. She then showed works by cyberfeminist media artists working in the 90s, many of whom were inspired by Haraway’s manifesto.

Next, Morehshin played a short piece of the xenofeminist manifesto. The class then discussed the meaning of kinship and whether it might be possible to form relationships or kinships with non-humans.

Morehshin lectures on xenofeminism

After the discussion, Qiao gave a presentation on gulf futurism. She talked about the long history of speculative desert fantasies (e.g. tower of Babylon) and how current day developments (e.g. Jeddah Tower) continue that historical narrative. She also talked about escapism and recontextualization, and how media, such Japanese anime dubbed in Arabic, are reconfigured for the local context.

Qiao talks about geography and gulf futurism

Day 3 (morning): Wrapping up Handmade Computer with Taeyoon Choi

Day 3 was the last lecture by Taeyoon Choi for part I of the Handmade Computer course. Starting next week students will be learning about microcontrollers with Pam Liou.

Students started the day by sharing their half-adders from the previous week’s homework and talked through how to implement a full adder.

Next, Taeyoon lectured about time and memory. He introduced the idea of a capacitor, which is similar to a battery in that it stores and releases electrons, but at a much more steady rate. Capacitors are used to smooth the output of power supplies, and power components such as motors.

Because they ‘fill up’ and release energy at a constant rate, they can also be used to make clocks. After the lecture, students used capacitors to create their very own LED metronomes.

Hyojin and Matt work together on a clock

Day 3 (evening): Field trip to Data & Society

Later that day, students went up to Data & Society, where Taeyoon is currently a fellow, for whiskey Wednesday. Before mingling with community members and visitors, students met with researchers Claire Fontaine and postdoc schoalr Peter Krafft, and fellow Rishab Nithyanand, who introduced their work on education and inequality, behavior science, and (mis)information distribution networks respectively.

Above: students meet three of the D&S fellows Below: Mingling with community members at Whiskey Wednesday

Day 4: Small Machines with Nick Montfort

Day 4 was students’ first class with Nick Montfort, who is teaching the code poetry class for the next three weeks. His section, titled Small Machines, focuses on what is possible with short, stand-alone programs.

“A poem is a small … machine made out of words.”— William Carlos Williams

The class started by looking at Nick’s Memory Slam project in which he recreated six classic poetry generation machines using javascript. The students downloaded the code and played around with changing words and parameters to create their own generative poetry.

Students discussed the difference between syntax, semantics, and pragmatics, and how tweaking the parameters in one area can significantly change the meaning in another.

Nick lectures on code poetry

And a few more pictures from week 5!

Fernando gives a talk on Unity and playful interactions
pizza + pizza = ❤

Mark your calendar for Student Showcase in November 11~12 at SFPC, 155 Bank Street, NYC!

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