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Posts from the ‘Visual’ Category


Graphagos and Deniz Cem Önduygu

I must say that in the 21 years that I have being teaching, for the most part, I have been unusually blessed in my students, both undergraduate and graduate – but especially graduate. I do not have a lot of them, since I have a bit of a reputation for being a hard-ass when it comes to thesis writing: Although I supervise design projects, I still expect every graduate student who works with me to write a righteous, well referenced thesis that explains and substantiates their thesis project. So, few tend to take the bait. But those who do so, usually turn out remarkable work.

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And none more remarkable than Deniz Cem, who developed an evolutionary graphic design system based upon Darwinian theory as his thesis project. Not only did he conceive of the idea and its interface, did a tremendous amount of research related to the theoretical premises of the work, but he also sat down and learned the programming language Processing and actually developed the code that makes the system run.

For several years Cem hesitated publishing Graphagos since he was worried about plagiarism. And justifiably so – the project is one that is innovative enough to whet the appetites of a lot of bad guys out there who may want to hijack it and profit from it. Although this concern is very real and still valid, he has now finally made it public and I am absolutely thrilled to share it. Read moreRead more


The strangely mirrored tale of Volund

Last Spring I did a collaborative project with Heidi Dahlsveen on her LEA granted simulator in Second Life. Heidi is a storyteller, and she wanted to investigate Joseph Campbell’s “Hero with a Thousand Faces,” visualized and re-told through a Nordic Hero, Volund, who goes through an adventure in twelve stages – a concept that hugely excited me as well. I am really happy to say that the project got very good attention in SL, lots of people came to visit and lots of photographs were taken by the visitors. And these photos inspired me to make my own series. Not a documentation of the project, but rather a personal interpretation of what I had previously built. Read moreRead more


From Azimuth to Cypher

This year while I was teaching my Theory of Artistic Practice class I tried to make a case for using research as a basis for making stuff, rather than theorizing upon finished output. From last year I already knew that the students would be quite adverse to the course’s contents – to the idea that, as artists and designers it is nowadays also expected of them they should be able to theorize upon their work and that was precisely what they were going to learn to do here. (The class is mandatory for first year graduate students, they all have to take it). Telling them that writing will help get them jobs in academia and stuff like that doesn’t really work either: They simply don’t believe you. So, I came up with this alternative that would turn research into part of the actual creative process. I think some of them caught onto this, and actually enjoyed taking the class in the end.

At some point in the semester, while I was teaching the class, I was asked to make something that I could submit to an exhibition of very small artifacts that will take place in England sometime next year, curated by my colleague Lanfranco. Which I did do. I made a tiny solar system, a virtual metaverse artifact that is so small that you cannot even properly see it since the camera starts to bounce when you zoom into it. So, far so good – it was in fact very small. I liked the way it looked also – no problems there either. What I did not like at all was that the idea of the solar system itself was very hackneyed. Read moreRead more


The Tower of Heteronyms

The words that you will read as you fly up and down this tower belong to four individuals – Bernardo Soares, Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis, and Alvaro de Campos, who were the literary extensions of the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa (1888 – 1935). Not only did Pessoa write under over 50 different names (of which the above-mentioned are the most prominent ones) but he claimed that these were not mere pseudonyms since it was not just their names that were different to his: Rather, they were fully fledged ‘others,’ with uniquely developed individuated personalities and appearances of their own, whom their inventor called ‘heteronyms.’ Such was their disparity that Pessoa did not consider them to be ‘alternative selves,’ but rather thought of them as fully fledged others, indeed to the extent that he even created elaborate horoscopes through which he charted their individual futures independently of his own.

However playful Pessoa’s preoccupation with them may seem to have been, the heteronyms were not simply a game; they were a highly intellectualized construction that occupied Pessoa’s entire adult life. They were the co-travelers of a voyage of self-discovery, or self-invention which he worded as “to pretend is to know oneself,” an existential circumnavigation that would not end until Pessoa did. ‘Pretending’ was actuated through these discrete personalities lived by the author within himself and was given expression through the poetry and prose which they authored, to which Pessoa did not claim ownership of. Read moreRead more


Decapoda goes to the forest…

From the very first time that I heard it as a child I have had strong (almost gut) feelings concerning the tale of Little Red Riding Hood: I was horrified by the killing of the wolf. Inconsolable, in fact – to the point where my father had to invent a whole new ending to the story so that I would stop the tantrum that the actual tale had provoked.

So, when storyteller Heidi Dahlsveen, with whom I have collaborated on wonderful projects before, asked me to work on “the other side of the tale” of LRRH I said yes immediately*** since I saw a way of laying my old childhood demons to rest by doing so. The Companion, Heidi’s island upon which my landscape is displayed together with Soror Nishi and Cherry Manga‘s gorgeous interpretations of “the other side of the story” will open to the public in a few more days.

I am not very good with stories, and I am especially not good with ending stories, so my tale of the other side of LRRH is also without an end. (Although, I have been toying around with some kind of ending which I may yet do at the end of the show in April, if Heidi will be able to give me the extra time for that since it will mean a lot of re-building).

My problem with ending stories is that unfortunately my mind seems to only work through absurd connections that inevitably lead to further complexities; and absurd connections and complexities usually do not wrap things up, but instead leave them hanging in a most unsatisfactory manner.

My “other side of the story” favors the wolf. And here things already get quite complicated since the story starts with the wolf killing the grandmother. And then LRRH kills the wolf (or has the hunter help her do it – but the hunter is not really a major figure here, I don’t think). So, why is LRRH a monster for me – and always has been? And why isn’t the wolf so, even though he started it all by killing grandma? The wolf kills to eat, and that is what wolves do. For him grandma is “meat.” LRRH however kills for a vendetta – to mete punishment upon a creature for following his need for nourishment. Which, in my book, makes her a murderess par excellence. Whereas the wolf is just like the rest of us – merrily sitting down to his juicy steak… And I am fairly certain that I saw this distinction even when I was a small child. Read moreRead more