by Tomoya Matsuura, sound artist, student of SFPC Fall 2018, TA for SFPC Summer 2019 in Yamaguchi.
This post is about the eight day of the School for Poetic Computation’s SFPC Summer 2019 in Yamaguchi at YCAM. You can also read Taeyoon’s introduction, and recaps from Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6 and Day 7.
The final day of SFPC Summer 2019 in Yamaguchi started with students’ preparations for their final showcases — perhaps some students were working overnight in their hotels. The students only had the last night to prepare and 3 hours to rehearsal, but all students did it very well at the end.
For the final presentation, students had 5 minutes to share their ideas about “Technology is as a gift” and exhibited what they had learned during this week by showing their homework. Some students even created art pieces as their presentations within this limited time.
Apart from students, Jane and Melanie (They are both teachers of SFPC camp) also printed special collective zines for each class — folder poetries and original games. I made p5.js visualization of L-System taught in Robby’s class.
The summaries of students’ presentation are as follows:
“System as a gift”. Bohyun Jung reinterpreted the theme of this workshop “Tech as a gift”. He made a simple matching system for coffee chat (participants would be randomly paired and had an opportunity to have a conversation with other students/teachers), initially suggested by one of the SFPC students Kiwako. Nevertheless, one day, we had a singular number for the matching system, so there was a student who didn’t have pairs. At this time, Bohyun realized that he just cared about the coding for a coffee chat at the and it seemed he had seen his friends as just data Someone would be left alone if a number of people are odd. Bohyun felt rewarding as he took a lesson from his works, what if he was seeing this system as a gift for the people.
Chara Wang(Miyabi), a graphic designer from China and now based in Osaka made a 3D graphics animation with plants and origami to show what she had learned from workshops, especially one of the classes “Garden Mathematics” by Robby Kraft. It’s beautiful that she put an animal origami around the flower in the golden ratio which she learned it from Robby.
Fabian Frei, from Switzerland, wrote a bunch of folder poem about a lot of places he visited in Japan, inspired by Melanie Hoff’s class “Peer to Peer Folder Poetry”. Before SFPC, he was creating artwork of an imaginary product description which was generated by a machine. He had an idea that machine could also write a poem, but in this workshop, he found it interesting to write a poem as a creative exercise. He printed out his poem on paper and handed to the audience as a gift.
Hind Al Saad from Doha looked back at this workshop and her previous activities. She realized that we both could create a complex system from simple components. For example, in Melanie’s P2P Folder Poetry, folder was an abstract object to create a system: tree structure and finally they are shared with Dat protocol and organize a complex network. In her folder poem, she created Yamaguchi version of Power of Ten by Eames with nested folder structure — zooming in and out scale of daily life objects from 10^-15m to 10²⁴m.
Juppo Yokokawa from Fukuoka gathered acorns from a park in front of YCAM and made cute creatures for each students. Acorns needed collaborators like squirrel to spread out to the world, and thereby, he used acorn as the metaphor to present his idea. He stated he wanted to change the educational systems in Japan — especially economic inequality starting from university he belonged, looking back a small forest thickly grown in a few days.
Juri Fujii, who had a background of Human Computer Interaction (HCI), impressed by SFPC’s motto “More Poetry, Less Demo”, the opposite motto to “Demo or Die” which was frequently used in the HCI community. She felt that there are many aspects in one things then created a final work. A piece of paper was placed inside a cardboard box with a small hole. The box inside was tinted with colored light constantly alternating. On the paper, there was only one character “嫌” which meant “hate”. When the light was green, specific parts of the character would disappear and you would find “スキ” which means “like” in Japanese.
Karnpapon Boonput (Jim), a web developer and designer, had a question that “how to teach someone articulate a question under a limited time?”. Through this course, his question turned into “how to build an environment that encourages someone to articulate questions?” For example, we had Body and Gesture Workshop in every morning. Richi, the teacher of this workshop, pushed us into more intimate communication with each other by using gestures, for example, passing imagined object from person to person with gestures.. Inspired by this workshop, he created a simple web app that could modify a word by inserting characters from other word like “difficult” + “bar” -> “diffbicultat” to explore human capabilities of imagination. We could test whether Google Translate could recognize the modified word and mostly it couldn’t. Even though, people sometimes could guess the original word from a limited information.
Kiwako Sakamoto, started her presentation with unrecognizable language for minutes. She was inspired by a lot of non-native English speakers who was trying to communicate each other without the cultural barriers, so that we could build a new community for ourselves. And she wrote a script in various languages for participants and mixed up by using codes. That was the language above. She tried to recognize and raised a conversation between people who lived somewhere we had not met yet. She tried to be a cultural ambassador which Taeyoon talked on the first day.
Koji Hirohata, who has an engineering background and is working in advertising agency, took many photos during workshops but he felt that the photos could be seen from one perspective only , he wanted to broaden the perspective his memory and shared them to the people. For this reason, he created a simple app that trims pictures in a circular shape randomly. A certain part was picked up and told us the stories about their memory and the photo can be seen from any angles. During the exhibition, he was receiving and sending the pictures by using this application to share each other’s photos.
Marika Kiya, an engineer based in Tokyo, explored human relationships through her interest of developmental disorder called dyslexia who cannot read sentences easily. It was hard to know they couldn’t read sentences because we couldn’t feel the sense from other people. Therefore, she was interested in imagining different feelings. She created characters whose specific parts were removed or bent. At the first glance we couldn’t read the characters or we could only see meaningless characters but once we saw the right sentences, we were able to understand it as readable sentences even after the right words were hidden.
Masaya Ishikawa, a video artist and designer, created a stop motion animation with 10 different sizes of stones. He was inspired by the unique pedagogy of SFPC camp, particularly in students’ homework of Handmade Computer by Taeyoon. They consisted of various forms and decorations from identical circuits. The most interesting part was that he intended to make an open-ended framework for creating animation. He showed us an extended sample of animation that used screw and motion to continue beyond an instruction.
Mel Huang, a designer and an educator from Melbourne. Australian are fascinated in “Pattern”. Inspired by Robby’s origami workshop, she started to find a connection of “pattern” in other classes like a tree structure. She finally made a drawing game with a playful pedagogy. We could create colorful geometric patterns by following simple steps.
Nariaki Iwatani, a creative coder from Fukuoka made an open method called #hashedpoetry. Hash in computer world means squashing data and makes new one like hashed potato. We cannot restore the original data from hashed value but he thought there must be some flavors of origin rest. He wrote a poem for each students and hashed them into hex color code. Then he painted small pieces with each color and handed them to other students as a gift.
Natsumi Wada from Tokyo who has grown up with sign-language as her first language, explored possibilities of communication. She made a gift for audiences that contained either of 3 instructions
- OTSUKAI: walk over the showcase in a specified route
- The questioner: give a question to the exhibitor
- Be Exhibition: as you read literally!
She turned the whole exhibition into a playful object to raise unexpected communications.
Satomi Osaki from Tokyo was impressed to the theme of the workshop “Tech as a Gift”. She realized everything in the world was like a cycle, like energy, air, water and soon. She started to think of an object as a receiver of a gift. She made folder poetry as a letter to a computer and also visualized the energy flow of computer like battery and data to emphasize computer as a receiver of the gift.
Tatsuo Sugimoto is an educator from Saga. Just before coming SFPC, Saga Pref where suffered from a heavy flood and the district he lived in was also damaged. However, he had an idea that people could communicate face to face because disaster alert could not tell precise information. Then he designed a model of mesh network for local district to notify information of specific area to each other, inspired from distributed network taught in the class.
Takashi Mukoda, from Hiroshima designed a game which sounded impossible to win, but it’s easy to make it. The game was called “Close the Window” . The rule was simple: if you can close the popup window without using mouses and keyboards, you will win. At a first glance, it seemed impossible but if we took this rule in more flexible perspectives, it would be easier. For example, we could close a laptop physically. He inspired from Jane’s class that playfulness made us more aware of the world and physical level interaction. After SFPC campm, he would create an application which allowed us to write an email with our body movements.
Takuma Oami, from Sendai. He created a prototype as his project: B.P.M(Beat Per Mankind). He was curious about how to keep rules flexible when someone broke the rules.
At first, he tried to solve this by creating something new but, through “Playing the World” class by Jane Friedhoff, his curiosity was shifted to be aware of problems and find hidden rules surrounding us.. Then he started to think about the most strict rule on earth: time. He created a digital clock based on the human heartbeat for the audience to discuss it.
Yufei Weng, a designer from Shang-hai, China, had a question, “Does technology make us happier.” She explored how could we bring emotion and a feeling back to the technology, so she created fonts based on handwritten characters by students/teachers/YCAM staff. The fonts are not universal and professionality but has a specialty for our relationship. She wrote thanks messages for participants with these fonts.
Yuki Horikawa, a university student from Yamaguchi, made a small circuit sculpture with a pendulum and LEDs. He looked back at the workshops and found a common point within classes: working with hands and having fun during learning. And expanded his paper circuit in Handmade computer class into 3D sculpture with handmade switch with a pendulum and freely shaped paper and copper tape. He said he got his sense for poetic computation as having fun, and sharing it with the other people and then receiving views from different perspectives.
After the presentation, Taeyoon gave a part of his workshop “Distributed Web of Care” as a gift for students and audiences — closing eyes and sensing the existence of the other person by pinching and holding one long shared string.
I was a student of SFPC 2018 fall session and an intern in YCAM 4 years ago. For sure, Both YCAM and SFPC were 2 of the best communities which I had ever enrolled despite the time I belonged were only 2 months and 3 months respectively. Thus I was really surprised that people could create such intimate relationships and building a community in such a short time.
One of the reasons I felt is the workshop had a theme “Technology as a gift”, not only SFPC’s motto “More Poetry, Less Demo”. Also, Taeyoon mentioned on the first day that “Artist/We as a Cultural Ambassador”, these theme pushed all participants — including YCAM staffs — to discuss different aspects of poetic computation as works in student’s final showcase instead of deepening individual insight as like 10 weeks session.
At first thought, it was difficult to imagine how poetic computation was related to building community. However, today, and actually not only today but in the whole human history communicating through technology and computation must have existed in there.
“Tech as a gift” helped students to understand the stories behind the technology. It eventually meant we needed to spend more time to take care of our current society — logic gates behind a computer, terminal behind GUI, rules behind games and programs and nature behind mathematics.
Also diverse and different backgrounds of each student and also many non-native English deepened this aspect — even for teachers because this was their first time to have SFPC camp in Asia.
Rolling back the time to Taeyoon’s introduction before presentation by students. He introduced about special T-shirt designed for this SFPC camp in YCAM. There was an image on the T-shirt was a Dandelion in Yamaguchi. It was shot by Keina who was the main coordinator of this program at YCAM. Dandelion was a symbol of Decentralization that could travel anywhere beyond borders.
After the showcase, we had a graduation party to celebrate this grateful meeting, dense, and short time in a week and farewell to be flown up by the wind to all over the world.
This posting has been edited by Felix Lo and published by Taeyoon Choi.
Photo: Naoki Takehisa
Courtesy of Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM]