ghost town

So there’s been a good 6 months between the last post and this, so here’s a recap:

1. THESIS IS DONE!
Rejoice – Here is the video documentation:

Website:  http://www.milkred.net/vortex

DT website: http://mfadt.parsons.edu/2013/projects/vortex/

Here’s the panel livestream (‘hacking art & design’ with Cap Watkins from Etsy)
http://new.livestream.com/TheNewSchool/dt2013/videos/19122604

And then here are some pictures:
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2. Wrote a blogpost for Mathbabe about my thesis!

http://mathbabe.org/2013/06/13/guest-post-the-vortex-a-cookie-swapping-game-for-anti-surveillance/

how cool is that huh??????????

3. So what’s next??
– I’m writing a book with McKenzie Wark called ‘W.A.N.T’ which we are releasing on kickstarter only! Will not be published or sold anywhere else except during that 30-day run

– working on getting a job/spiffing up resume/ applying for grants. It’s harder being an international student you have a whole pile of additional paperwork to clear **sigh** Am also thinking of applying for a PhD…. but maybe in the future

– doing normal stuff: cleaning up the cesspool of apartment (after thesis, it looked like an archeological dig site); learning how to ride a bike, possibly going to get my driving licence, catching up on reading, meeting people etc etc.

…. Mostly though, I’m trying to keep busy. I know I bitched a lot during thesis, the stress was eating me alive and I remember on the day of the opening I panicked because the code will NOT work and it was 4pm and the show opened at 6pm. I remember getting on the M train with my hair still wet and laptop balanced with a hand frantically coding from Brooklyn to Union Sq. and freaking the fuck out. Then after the opening came graduation, then dealing with family and then, nothing.

That’s the thing – you work so hard, so long and then suddenly: NOTHING! You have absolutely nothing to do, and you’re going bonkers because of it. PTSD = Post Thesis Stress Disorder, you wander around listlessly making up stuff to do, going back to the library and lab like a ghost trying to recapture some semblance of normalcy. Summer is hard for me because I depend on routines to keep me grounded, and with no one around + nothing to work for I can’t help but feel a lost and a bit unstable.

Anyway I’m trying — next week I’m going to do what I did in winter: pretend I still had classes, and work on a piece of code everyday. I don’t think I will look at thesis code for a while, but I’ve bought a book on Python and planning to look at Angular.js framework. Slowly start a work cycle again. Having nothing to do really drives me crazy >_>;;;

Indiecades East 2013!

Took a break from thesis-ing and went to Indiecades. It was great!! (and most of all, we won against NYU in the Iron Game Challenge xD;;;;;)

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game pass!! for being part of the Iron Game team, I got a speaker pass ^o^~

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Museum of Moving Image – foyer wall projection (made of thousands of gifs)

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Spelltower – It’s an OK game, kinda interesting mechanic but not complusive? I played about 2 rounds but that’s it

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Bloop – super simple idea (tapping colours) but OMG SO FUN. ADDICTIVE. Played 8 rounds, twice with random strangers (whom I dragged to play with me)

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Child of Eden – very pretty rhythm game; a cross between Everyday Shooter & Lumins(sp?) the PSP game with the blocks and music….

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Vintage 3-D game, fucking cool!

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Star Wars X-force

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GALAXY FORCE!!! omg is amazing

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Sifteo

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Racing Squrriels – quite fun!!! I liked it a lot, the aesthetics super pretty and kinda reminded me of crash bandicoot
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original Galaga!!!!

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This one was another super pretty game – the queue was pretty long, so I didn’t get a chance to play but it looked cool :0

I’ve got sunshine in a bag

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So I’ve recently changed the title of project from Pathways (linear; xy) to Vortex/Vertex which is a variant of vertex “an eddy of water, wind, or flame; whirlpool; whirlwind,” from stem of vertere “to turn”. I wanted to build on top & continue to extend the metaphor that J & I had with the seas, aquariums, tides and pools — a vortex in this sense seemed perfect because it could be applied to both space (as in the movement of space fabric) as well as fluid/liquid. To push the metaphor: you would go from the tidepools and jump into the vortex

Screen shot 2012-12-04 at 8.20.05 PMScreen shot 2012-12-04 at 8.20.16 PM

So I asked J about Dave’s workaround – i.e. faking a local server within the computer, then searching for wireless networks (comparing rest/known state to around you) and apparently yay it’s possible — and in python! I’m need to check if Python would spit it in mongo-database speak or is it possible to spit it out as JSON object (so I could link it directly with webgl-script based yay) I’m going to check up more on it…. but right now it seems like you have to download an application as well as a browser widget/plugin would would sync together while you surfed so it’s more ad-hoc and dynamic

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Met with Ed K. today as well – this is the first time I’ve officially met him for thesis!! Usually I just run into him (like randomly. everywhere.) Anyway it was lovely to catch up with him, I wanted to meet him to get a different perspective on the project because he’s an architect with a sciencefiction bent and since I was basically world-building I figured it would be good to seek him out.

He gave lots of cool references, especially about graph diagrams/graph theory (for meshtectonics) and my favourite: the ghost diagrams thing which is like super SUPER cool. Other references: Squeak, Croquet and something I didn’t really consider: “what does it mean to mine?”

And that’s a really great question – there’s the mining of website data (which gives old artifacts/links to dead planets) but was it a finite resource? What was being mined? What kind of data was being mined? All this questions and thinking about it deeply…. I have to review all the readings and then look at it again…

Other notes: Gephy, Cytoscape & Orange as examples/precedents; Laws of Form and The Mondalogy by Jeffery Spencer Brown as refs to look in emerging geography; David Reed (MIT viral media) for spread spectrum radio (c/f for J, not so much for me)

————————— Other things that didn’t fit:

Recently I went to B&N to pick up Flusser’s Vamypourthethis Infernalis, and found this while flipping through magazines:

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Great line about defining a territory: “How many adjecency matrices need to be tested? […] Each element has two possible values [..] but not all matrices are distinct, many of these merely represent reenablings of the same graph..” and then it continues to talk about creating points in matrices only through intersections etc etc which was pretty cool

This one, a friend brought it up to me:

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It’s a game called Skrillex Quest which is the idea that an old copy of Zelda is getting corrupted by dust and age and causing glitches in the game. These glitches are destroying the game and has killed the princess!! Your goal is to save the ghost princess (cos she’s dead) and destroy the glitches before they destroy the gameverse

It’s kinda cool, the gameplay is actually really lovely and the graphics are superdupersweettttt~~ and awesome!! I really like how each area is timebased, so you only have a set amount of time before you are being forced into the next zone (regardless of how much you’ve completed) which helps with the whole ‘I can’t save’ + ‘game is too long’ and so far I’ve only managed to save her once but then got killed at the nightclub ehhhh =_=;;;;;;

goldfish pantheon

I have a thesis!!!! A _REAL_ thesis!! I’m so happy I’ve been telling everyone and anyone about it because omg you have no idea what it feels — this RELIEF that swells through your entire skin that oh my fucking god you know what you’re doing at last *___* in any case, thanksgiving was the break I needed. I don’t work well under pressure, much less when I feel like a gun is pointing against my head to makemakemake(!!!) Anyway I remember the moment of realising what my thesis is (half drunk + godsknowswhatelse and in a party) and started madly texting myself before I forgot. Afterwards? Spammed everyone on facebook! (of course)

So the idea is basically that:
1. game is the real; reality is the experience of game
==> so an action like everyone entering Googlepolis (as represented by the landscape) will cause a DOS/SYN flood attack
==> the other ability is to ‘mine’ web data and arrange it in such a way to misinform bots
==> see LOIC; being able to ‘shoot’/’destroy’ bad webs
==> shifting data from one node to another when govts take it down (see megaupload)
==> completely 3D landscape generated with webgl geometry
==> minecraft with world effects!

2. Data does not exist; only memory/storage does. Therefore, internet does not exist but perhaps internetting (verb) does

3. Geography as language? it is NOT mapping but creating the symbols to understand/write your own maps

So I’ve very clearly split my thesis into 2 because it’s really too big. Thesis practice (within DT) is to build the game/representation interface itself — working with J. on that.  Things like figuring out how to make the actions create reality (it’s like magic!), how to determine the zoning/signals, transferring data etc etc basically the ‘proof of concept/interface/magic layer/representation’ part.

The language of it, like coming up with new words and metaphors and images to describe this collision-detection course, to talk about what is really happening without creating a map or being forced to give an area of interest etc etc I’m doing with Ken Wark cos he’s cool, he can really write and he’s open to stuff and also more organised than I am (most of all we really get into a flow, which is awesome). I’ve made a separate blog for it since it’s independent study, and this ‘area'(?)is tentatively called meshtectonics. mesh = because it deals with the shape of networks tectonics= because it questions the boundaries of where a network starts and ends and it’s kinda nice to be allowed to be completely emergent and just let what we’re seeing/patterns inform and create the symbols for the map instead of doing the whole ‘this is an area I’m looking at’ + ‘these are the people’ + ‘this is my map/case and their behaviour’ because that automatically dates the work and closes off parts to new extensions

More sketches from the animation/printmaking layers… check out my murderer character! doesn’t he have the best tormented expression? (he’s also driving a cadillac) I still need to ink it and clean it up a bit, but overall quite happy with progress. I doubt I’ll be able to finish the entire video by this year, but I’m hoping to get all the etchings printed out so I can assemble them over time (maybe after thesis…) and then submit to siggraph or whatever

But yea thanksgiving was really great — just being able to NOT STRESS or come for classes or deal with people was amazing……  and actually I got more work done with no one to bother me than anything else woohoo! lol thesis accomplishment

milk candy

Drawing master frames for animation. I don’t understand why I said yes, but I’m doing an animated video for Printmaking Finals — basically handdrawing every single frame, transferring it to etching drypoint, and printing every scene out to create the Most Tedious Animate video ever. Hand-drawn is bad enough, combining it with etching is a level of complexity that hurts even if I think too much about it. Anyway it’s not too bad….. except by the end of it I’ll probably be able to draw monument valley and cadillacs and dead bodies in the trunk in my sleep @_@;;;;;

ALERT!! NEW ALIEN SPACESHIP HAS BEEN DETECTED WITH A STRANGE SCENT OF APPLES

………Okay I’m being ridiculous. But look at the tiny laser-cut mecha! Suddenly I’m imagining Halo-meets-Betty Crocker dioramas lol the tiny thinger was a gift from G. for no reason at all (I love things like that)  and just felt like commemorating it lol

!!!……..Annnnnnd this is my notes from Ted & Scott. As you can kind-of-see, underneath is the original sketch for the video (amusingly this week two people told me I should go into filmmaking)

With Ted, he came up with this exercise 1. I wasn’t allowed to use any metaphors 2. Words like “Internet”, “Path”  was taboo 3. As much as possible describe what it is and it’s actually really hard for me since I think only in images. A lot of what I write and say is a translation of the picture in my head, and it’s a struggle in language. In the end we started doing process of elimination type of things where he asked me a question and I answered yes or no; or between a couple of words i.e. “trace”; “trails”; “path” I had to chose one that was closest to the idea in my head

So:
– It’s not about identity politics or creating a persona across multiple internets
– more about trails of connection; fades but never disappears entirely
– orientation in an invisible social landscape WITHOUT identity?
– graduating scale between things that are and are not “interesting”
– instead of a uniform resource locator VS unstable resource locator
– moving away from a ‘relevance’ model
– read: Jefferey Perle; Ezra Pound’s ABCs of Reading
– read: Android Dreams; Zap-Gun –> how does Philip K Dick use images to expand an idea?
– Japanese idea of ma

Then the next day I had a meeting with Scott, and it was really helpful too. I really like the 16th floor… it feels so airy and bright although I think I will never get any work done with that kind of view (just stare out all day, watch the shimmering river and people scurrying through life)

So:
– kinda managed to encapsulate the problem: my thesis is very specific, but it’s almost like the language for it doesn’t exist without reverting to cliches
– irrelevant VS anti-relevant question
– what kind of data will drive it? <— SUPER BIG QUESTION. or maybe it *is* the question of the thesis…. because right now it’s all images and not driven by any kind of change. If it is magical then it needs to cause a change in reality either online or offline or something
– prototype interaction due on Tuesday…. I’ll just build it on processing for simplicity’s sake.

Also, CHECK THIS OUT:

😀 😀 😀 webgl progress!! I also found out that while you can use jquery and webgl together, you cannot use webgl and jquery in the same script (it only supports pure javascript). Part of it is because of the order in which jquery calls elements, it just counters out the logic (bad logic)

Hopefully by next week can start implementing textures…. I aim to have a camera-ready scene by the end of semester.

widdershins

Test etching in dual colours. Just straight up wax and acid with a thin needlepoint.

I’m glad to be drawing again. It feels like a fog has been lifted, and things are clearer. Drawing always makes me feel better, even when it looks bad or the lines are uneven or wrong weighted. It’s one of the few things in my life is that consistent, even when time and memory cannot be trusted. That said, my family recently chipped in to send me a package!

Can I say how awesome my mom is sometimes? She knows I get upset when I start disappearing more frequently, and surprises me with a box of CANDY and HERBAL TEA. It’s just so hilariously like her I can’t help but smile and it’s like even with millions of miles away and so many years between it’s like rolling in the fluffiest warmest socks of love (so warm, it even keeps your toes happy!) And it’s true – it’s hard living alone in a foreign city, I miss my old friends and siblings and listening to roadside noise and shopping mall chatter and sometimes, it feels like reading with your eyes closed

Recently I came up with an idea for a prototype, or just something to show for final reviews. A wandering mage dressed in tattery red robes with a sandbucket. A blazing sun. A giant desert with shifting islands and an ocean full of sand – so hot that steam rises from the baking earth obscuring the scorching sun. In my head, I call this: desert islands

It’s a kind of game-ish, except there’s no points or no score or any of that sort. Basically you just hop from island to island where it intersects. Every time you pour sand from your sandbucket it freezes time for a moment, and then in the next turn (when it unfreezes) the islands move faster and faster. There’s no end zone. Just islands, intersections and a sandbucket.

I talked to C.P. whether it’s possible at my level of webgl to make it, and he was like: ‘yea, definitely.’ which makes me feel 1000x better. I expect there’ll be the usual problems of debugging, but I already have an exisiting collision code (thanks to processing) and since it doesn’t require external linking/back-end organisation of file systems it makes it more do-able within the time limit.

Anyway I’m meeting C.P on Tuesday, to show him the animate function I’ve been working on for webgl so xxxfingersxxx

Otherwise it’s been a lot better. Calmer. I’m actually drawing again and going out with other people and feeling less shaky. I have so many people to give thanks to, and hopefully one day I can pay them back for being so awesome (you know who you are!!) I went for J’s party on Saturday and met N & B — B actually works as a consultant to the opendata/opensource movement and she totally digs Pathways and thinks sticking to webgl is a great idea and most of all, she’s really nice (I have her email, and plan to do it soon probably after thanksgiving)

Besides that, PlayThings event is slated for next year Feb 2013 and I’m pretty excited at the panellists and potential interests and running this weekend event. It’s a nice change to do something fun, family-orientated and playful (most of all it doesn’t require zillion of hours). I reckon if thesis/art doesn’t work out, at least I could get a job in event coordination or organising.

kept coming & coming

As you may know, recently there was a hurricane in my area. Today is the 5th? 6th? day without internet/signal power. All in all, I’m thankful for having power…. the 12hrs during the peak of the storm, being plunged into sudden darkness was a terrifying experience. Anyway here are the pictures (finally!) uploaded, courtesy of starbucks wifi:

14th st union sq, on the saturday/eve of storm with all the ConEd trucks ready

lamp-post casualty

and the facade was totally ripped off. I spotted a few random stuff like bikes atop of traffic lights and a couple of dismembered car doors on rooftops too

I had to send a couple of sales parcels out (note to self: international buyers don’t give a shit about localised hurricanes) and the USPS office in my district was running on generator power and was only doing pickups since delivery was impossible. In the end, I walked 10 blocks up to the next district to get the items mailed out……

Shuttle service from Brooklyn to Manhattan – despite the horrendous line, it went pretty quickly (about 15mins and I got on) I gave up trying to get signal/internet at my place so I went to Arnold Hall where Parsons had set up a relief center.

Manhattan was a bad idea. Union Sq and everything outside the main avenues (mostly 3rd ave) was completely dark. No traffic lights, no street lamps, no signal, nothing at all. I had to borrow a torch from a fellow student to make my way home. It was so eerie. You could barely see what was infront of you, and some people were using their mobile phones as torch lights — I passed by 3 people without lights at all, almost running into them because they couldn’t see me/I couldn’t see them. On my way home I saw a horrible incident – this very well-dressed couple was fighting with their cab driver who demanded they (the couple) paid him for taking them into Brooklyn. The couple refused to pay him, saying it was ‘only a bridge’. The cab driver was so angry he was about to cry. Thinking about how much fuel costs, and how desperate the situation is — his frustrated tears.

To be honest, even though I live within the evacuation zone I was really really lucky. However, this entire week (and counting!) of not having internet, of barely *barely* having signal — basically wandering up and down streets until the network sign comes up, had really made me rethink my thesis project and the fragility of some of the technical aspects.

Webgl in particular is a fragile, fragile system. You need to initialise shaders, and unlike PHP which uses MAMP as a pseudo-server – nothing like that exists yet for webgl. Not only that, webgl is barely browser-compatible; you need to go into your preferences menu and literally enable it for it to work. Doubtlessly, not mobile compatible at all. (I shudder to think how long it’ll take to load on a phone). The technical fragility of it, the lack of support it has is making me seriously rethink whether I want to use it for thesis. It’s true that it’s exciting and wonderful, but this week – living in the aftermath of hurricane sandy; made me realise how frightening it is to get cut off from everything.

To be able to communicate robustly, is a requirement. It’s not even an ideal. It’s a requirement. Why? Because I live 9,000 miles away from my family. Because during that dark period between losing power + signal, and them watching it happen on TV, on news — they tried calling me and texting me with no answer, fearing the worst. Because I felt so alone, and lonely afterwards, no where to go and unable to contact anyone in Parsons around me, with emails barely working and nothing. There *MUST* be a better technical approach. There must be another way.

I’m returning back to the original incarnation of the idea – a mesh network of intersecting paths. Can it be done in an analog way? Can I do it via mobile phones instead? Can it be done by radio signal, or something else? I still believe strongly in the idea of intersecting paths, of potential routes and possible futures ….. all the what-ifs ever made. Conceptually, yes. Technically? we need to do a rethink, gurl.

For now I’ll let my thoughts simmer and stew. A good dish never tastes good hurried along.