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:
947244_10100199480985332_1744072430_n 419165_10151791742004928_1192710118_n 425211_10151791718249928_1155571705_n 970683_10151497839014667_123349338_n

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 Will not be published or sold anywhere else except during that 30-day run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 >_>;;;

documentation


interview(?) with Ken Wark & Jonathan Baldwin — actually I’m in it too, but only a bit. I think it’s more like a filmed discussion, which is pretty weird. I did it as a joke because I was given an assignment to document an interview and then decided hey! I would document – but I would do it as a time lapse without sound (lol)

but it ended up pretty cool – like without sound, you REALLY have to pay attention to how people’s body language plays as part of the discussion. It’s like vibration frequency or  particles in matter vibrating in response or neurons connecting or something and it’s really rather fascinating since you literally watch the conversation – all the ebbs and flows and pauses and awkwardness then slumps down to a more relaxed posture and the stillness and even the people who are listening aren’t still and it’s like seeing “oh yeah! people are thinking!”

I have other things but I have to finish other work first 😡

I’ve got sunshine in a bag

IMG_0200

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

Screen shot 2012-12-04 at 8.42.50 PM

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:

IMAG1670 IMAG1671

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:

Screen shot 2012-11-29 at 3.08.26 PM

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 =_=;;;;;;

rolling girl

During Thanksgiving while thinking about thesis, came up with way to ‘test’ the collision/intersections idea. Rather than asking a friend to go with me on the same webpage at the same time and talk about it, I’ll say HELLO personally to every single one of my 551 facebook friends. Every. Single. One.

conditions:
1. the ‘action’ or invitation would be the same for each person regardless ie. HELLO
2. I would only respond to those people who responded to be at 3.48am/the time that I was online
3. Responses that came the next day, or after the time would not be considered

Basically I created an artificial momentary scenario where you had to be on the same website (facebook), at the same time as I was (3.48am, Saturday EST) and somewhat acquainted (not entirely random, but not as close a tie as exchanging mobile numbers/texting)

Screen shot 2012-11-30 at 10.21.39 PM

So in this case, the response was at 11.50am — hours after the initial action/moment so I didn’t respond. I wanted it to be as similar as it was browsing webpage at the same/browsing pathways widget would-be (basically, about a window of 5-15mins max which is about the time it takes for people to scan through a large page of linklist) Out of 500+ HELLOs I had about 2 true responses (in which they responded almost immediately)

Screen shot 2012-11-30 at 10.22.45 PM

The first was from C.E who was an art critic I met in Kassel during (d)OCUMENTA 13. How we met was a strange accident — he was a guest in the bbq party held by the Kunsthochschule Kassel (their autunomous art dept).  We shared a (rather drunken) cab back, in which he helped me get rid of a student who kept bothering me and also the first dude to ever kiss my hand (in a very gentlemany, knightly way lol). Afterwards, we lost contact until I added him on facebook. In general like most facebook friends, our contact was shallow and limited to liking various status etc

At the first HELLO, it invited a secondary collision – first a reminiscence, then:
Screen shot 2012-11-30 at 10.55.08 PM

(I like to think that unimelb has trained to me so well that I can quote philosophy even after imbibing questionable substances lol)

But what’s fascinating to me, after re-reading the conversation is that  what we talked about: extistenz, the machinations of the art market and state of contemporary art; mystification & derrida’s obfuscation etc etc it was like we had found edges between that overlapped; stellar collisions in a venn diagram that will; once the event is over; separate once again into their distant stars. Despite the transient, almost random nature of each connection,  it was a bit like getting up exactly where you left off as though we were the oldest and friendliest of friends and yet the intimacy produced was quite similar. At the final ‘good night!’ (at 6.15am) we had been talking for 2hrs and I still see him online once in a while on facebook but I don’t talk to him at all. A collision after all, is a momentary one.

The second person who responded was W.C who was the moderator of a chatroom and BBS in 2001 (when I was 13) At that time I was in secondary/middle school, and most of the frequenters were university students…. I stopped going there about 2-3 years later when I moved on to other things but she had added me a while ago (in 2011). Even though I accepted her request, the last time we genuinely talked was probably back in the heyday of 2001:

Screen shot 2012-11-30 at 10.22.19 PM

We did a brief update about what went on in the last 10 years, squeezed into the shortest fragments; and then she brought up someone I knew really well in the IRC – user ‘eat’. We were great online friends, and pulled pranks together like syn-flooding; stealing other people’s handles and pretending to be them; spamming totally useless information etc etc but I had TOTALLY lost touch with him after 2001 when he switched university (thereby dropping several months in favour of IRL shitz)

Screen shot 2012-11-30 at 10.56.08 PM

And there it was! W.C (who was previously a librarian, now a civil servant) now works in the same building as the biggest troll in her chatroom – Eat. A random collision; and then a few days later I got a friend request from my old friend….. how strange it seems, a single gesture can result in so many wildly spinning directions; pathways opening up; new connections being made and things that happened before reverberating back into presence like a ripple in spacetime.

The fascinating thing about this kind of structure, or maybe the secret to it’s fluidity is maybe because it collides but doesn’t require maintenance. It collides for that moment – that edge to edge meeting, before separating again. The momentary-ness doesn’t make it less important, in fact it regenerates the relations (internal and external). We tend to think separation as a quantifier in relationships (i.e. it either weakens or strengthens) but in the case of meshtectonics it is part and parcel of the daily routine. It collides, overlaps, then separates to find new collisions as it drifts.

I came across this article by NYmag recently: Alone Together describing the state of loneliness and the definition of it within the scope of a large city. While I’m not particularly interested in the couple/marriage stats, many points are similar to how I would describe meshtectonics:

“All these transient connections were forming,” Cacioppo marvels. “These people weren’t even conscious of the many ways they were forming.”
and:
“The idea that you’re isolated when you’re online is, to me, just wrong,” says Keith Hampton, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania. “It’s an inherently social medium. What starts online moves offline, and what starts offline goes online.” Which explains why the people with whom you e-mail most frequently are your closest friends and romantic partners. “Online and offline life are inherently connected,” he says. “They’re not separate worlds.”

That transient ballet of movement he observes in Grand Central, is basically a kind of activity in a meshtectonics. Plate tectonics realises the solidity of territories; nations turned governments tagged our identitypolitics to the earth we were borned in, mapping our routes with passports and IDs; urban planning led to cartography of tangible objects later translated into information matrices; vectoral data (leading later to the paradox: “information is everywhere. information is meaningless without reference”) further on we have even more stylised, abstracted instruments from interactive charts to google maps to data visualisation p0rn and yet – what of the weak ties? the multiplicity of relations? the drift? The hand that holds open the door when you step on the train; later turns into your colleague 10 years later. The hacker you met online turns into the senior in the graduate school you unknowingly applied to. A dazzle of collisions, each brighter and more tangible than the next.

—————————————————————–

Then I met up with J. and Dave to talk about different approaches to producing the game, and what I do without crashing system integrity.

J’s initial suggest was to use CRON commands to scan for wireless, but that way would create huge problems from API (‘how do you get unix to talk to web?’) to security (‘if you mix machine + web language or create an interface for mixing, you could get your personal files hacked’) The second way we thought of was to tap directly into the mac Airport EX card to grab the array of wireless networks available at a set interval (i.e using networksetuptool command ‘for everyy 5000s, scan area for wireless and grab the array of
wireless signals’ using cocoa/obj-C then use opengl to interface with webgl. Written out and google’d on, it was entirely do-able (due to the strange ability of opengl/webgl to pass itself as a null script type, therefore a machine language being pass-through html5). However doing so would open your computer to a host of security issues – a syn flood could *technically* kill your computer, and nMap would just cause the entire network/computers to collapse since it won’t just ping your browser but ping the opengl/webgl memory it was pulling from base level too.

Dave’s suggestion was to run an apache-based application file (kinda like how MAMP worked) where it each computer pretended to be a local host (say port88) and that would be the ‘rest’ state and it’ll just keep checking for wireless network and spit out the array as a JSON object so I didn’t need to worry about the translation of obj-c into webspeak and also mantain the sanboxing security integrity (since it’s basically treating the local computer as a server) The problem with this method is that it requires downloading a file and running an external application (not just a broswer plugin) and that was something I was trying to get away from… it’s a give and take I guess, just have to decide which is more important. Also I contacted L. to ask for his opinion on how to do it, so hopefully he will have a solution.

——————————————————————

Also recently, I came across this article about consumer profiling titled Who Do Online Advertisers Think You Are by NYtimes. It’s made me think about the weird dicotomy about surfing – one hand, there’s the perception of endless possibilities and power to do anything; and yet there’s this underlying system that is slowly defining and reading every single of our gestures and interpreting it as a profile that can be bought and sold (is it like selling people I wonder?) I’ve always been really careful about what I purchase and regularly ‘seed’ misinformation but that’s because I’m aware of it….. and not many people really are. To some extent, even if you do know the system you can’t beat certain things, like companies that look for mac addresses vs windows users — hotel/hostel suggestions for mac users are priced higher because the ‘convention’ in ad targeting shows mac users more willing to pay more for nicer places to stay. Whether it’s true or not is irrelevant, the problem is that consumer profiles are beginning to define our opportunities for interaction.

It made me immediately think – if they were tracking people based on cookies, what if you could pick and choose which cookies you chose to show? thereby creating personalised consumer profiles? instead of being wholly information-deterministic, it could be a two-way thing. I know you’re tracking me, I chose to be profiled as “A&B&C” – and most of all, I was thinking what if you could make cookies like materia slots?

final-fantasy-vii-materia

One of my favourite RPGs ever was Final Fantasy 7, and they had this cool materia slot system — materia was basically these gem-like things that held abilities that you could use in battle. Depending on your level, you had a certain number of slots to hold these abilities. In the same way, what if you had a giant cookie bank collected from all the websites you agreed to let cookies in with, and when you traversed the web you could rearrange your cookies to create distinct consumer profiles (do battle with advertising!!)  That would be so cool isn’t it? and that would incentivise the game a bit more

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.

blind game again

So tired, I fell asleep during my last class today. Anyway most importantly – Prototype: Exhibition in Cloud just opened!!!


omg you have *no* idea how happy I am that it’s over. All that work+++ over the last 6 months finally finally culminated in the exhibition opening. There was so many things in this show that nearly screwed us over: problems with two seperate themes coming together as a event (different professors gave seperate themes to their students); then Makerbot backing out as a sponsor, then Hurricane Sandy which set back our production schedule by a week etc etc etc and that one moment where we decided whether or not to have the show at all in wake of the storm…………..

So our piece, titled Marchenmaker (tale-maker; story-maker? marchen is like folk story?). Description:

Märchenmaker is an exploration in how myths, folklore and history are entwined to form cultural narratives. Using a collection of archetypes gathered from our personal experiences in Berlin/Kassel as well as monuments of history and fable characters, we have created a set of miniature stamps where the public can create their own memorial maps across a giant papered wall.These stamps are made to resemble antique toys, as a nod to Germany’s manufacturing past. However, they also exist in the digital cloud and can be mass produced anywhere in the world as a downloadable font and 3D printable sculpture.

So after this show ends on 21st, will take it down and it will travel to Berlin in January (yay!) The opening was pretty great too and T. came!! (yay) also had a very interesting *hintage* so with luck there will be some hope of what to do next after thesis…..

____________________

Then today for Writing&Research we had to put up our thesis object + writeup; mine being the ball of twine + story-ish posted earlier. I figured twine would be a nicely apporiate gesture – not only did it make path, intersecting created knots and it left traces…. plus mythologically it fit neatly into the narrative.

ALSO AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS! Philip K Dick? Borges? YES YES YES. I have good feelings about this. Good like omg!there-will-be-thesis-ideas in there kind of good.

Talking about thesis I’m still seriously considering changing a chunk of it and maybe moving towards a more mesh-network friendly or mobile device friendly system. Pathways still exists (as in the idea of being able to ‘hop’ from intersection to intersection) but maybe applied differently. It’s still stewing in my mind……. at least, it should be more accessible and doesn’t require so much setup (or at least a variation of it that is mobile friendly)

All the Borges’ reading has been really useful though (thanks C.!) Most importantly, I promised to do a writeup or some kind of scenario for C. — it’s kinda weird, he professes not to know anything about technology and he really is *not* my target audience (both of us know that) and admittedly it’s a challenge to get him to understand it — but at the same time he gives me really good references. Like the “plz go read Borges.” and “look at architectonics” and it’s almost like — because he doesn’t get it easily, it makes me want to try more and make him ‘get’ it. (kinda like in the beginning when I was testing all my projects with a ‘what would mom think?’ meter)