Art For Algorithms

art-for-algorithms

My first article for Furtherfield as guest editor is now online:

Rob Myers takes a look at how we can subvert the operation of the algorithms that the Digital Humanities, corporations and governments use to read, see, and draw conclusions about human expression by treating them as the true audience for contemporary art and literature.

http://furtherfield.org/features/articles/art-algorithms

The Art Of Management

1e997476-b186-4794-6dbb-525ac4845ab1

I have an article about the Management Theory context (I promise it’s much more interesting than that might sound…) of socialist Chile’s “Cybersyn” system at AVANT:

http://avant.org/media/art-of-management

A big thank you to Stephen Fortune for suggesting I write something and for improving it so much by editing it.

Critical Coins

dogeart
(Illustration from: http://ofdoge.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/art-doge/, copyright the artist.)

To make the process of art reviews and criticism more transparent and quantifiable, we can use cryptographic asset tokens to represent critical opinion and valences.

See here for how:

http://robmyers.org/critical-coins/

Easier Dogecode

I’ve added a Dogecode runner that uses dogepartychain.info‘s API rather than requiring a local dogepartyd instance to be running. You can get the runner as part of the Dogecode source code here: https://github.com/robmyers/dogecode And you use it like this:

dcrunw DFibwNZvuJaHM9bD6x1WA63urkHiE4tWzF

which will fetch the program encoded as Dogeparty tokens at the specified address (DFib…) and run it locally. Here’s some addresses to try:

DCvDS9g9VUZ94MSLbWi4zWRtxHrXeEctZ3

DFZkhTXwAWW7PqBvVkohCFWobipqw3xmAn

DFibwNZvuJaHM9bD6x1WA63urkHiE4tWzF

DQuineX1BTF4ZD6DQxxsbUgVttmR4LvrdY

Dogecode

dcrun -u rpcuser -w rpcpassword DCvDS9g9VUZ94MSLbWi4zWRtxHrXeEctZ3
Hello World!

Cryptographic asset tokens can represent all kinds of things.

Including computer programs. Introducing…:

Dogecode

(There are several other projects called Dogecode. This isn’t them).

Dogecode takes computer programs in the Brainfuck programming language (chosen for simplicity of encoding):

++++++++[>++++[>++>+++>+++>+<<<<-]>+>+>->>+[<]<-]>>.>---.+++++++..+++.>>.<-.<.+++.------.--------.>>+.>++.

and translates them into a csv file of token amounts using dcc:

INCB,8
JFOR,1
INCP,1
INCB,4
JFOR,1
INCP,1
INCB,2
INCP,1
INCB,3
INCP,1
...

which are then sent to a Dogeparty address (slowly) as a series of token transfer transactions using dcsend:

Sending lots of tokens. Make sure you really want to do this.
Waiting for token state to synch
Row 1: INCB,8
Waiting for token state to synch...........
Row 2: JFOR,1
Waiting for token state to synch.............
Row 3: INCP,1
Waiting for token state to synch........
Row 4: INCB,4
Waiting for token state to synch..................
Row 5: JFOR,1
Waiting for token state to synch.......................
Row 6: INCP,1
Waiting for token state to synch.......................
Row 7: INCB,2
Waiting for token state to synch......
Row 8: INCP,1
Waiting for token state to synch......
Row 9: INCB,3
Waiting for token state to synch......
Row 10: INCP,1
Waiting for token state to synch.....................
Row 11: INCB,3
Waiting for token state to synch..............
Row 12: INCP,1
Waiting for token state to synch.....

The transactions encode the program on the address, which can then be fetched and run as seen at the top of this post using dcrun.

For more details see the whitepaper.

Update: There’s an easier to use runner and more examples here.

Blockchain Aesthetics 2

Visualizing Bitcoin blockchain transactions – click on each image to run in your browser.

Each hash as instructions for a turtle graphics pen:

turtles

Life games with each hash as the starting board state:

lifes

A Chernoff Face of each hash:

chernoffs

Cellular automata with each hash as the initial row:

cellulars

Quadratic curves with the bytes of each hash as the control point co-ordinates:

beziers-not-really

Essay Corpse – Accelerate Aesthetics

(This essay wouldn’t gel and I abandoned it. “XXXX…” means “do more here in the next writing or edit pass.”
Do get “Speculative Aesthetics” and “Class Wargames”, they are both wonderful books.)

Urbanomic’s “Speculative Aesthetics” is a freshly mined block of well-contextualised ideas, including some insightful discussion of Accelerationism’s relationship to aesthetics. That relationship is one I’ve been thinking and writing about in ignorant parallel.

 

I do not understand (I mean that literally: I’ve tried to parse the arguments and failed) the idea of overdetermined adherence to a teleological ideology as “freedom”. Whether the eschaton is religious, political/economic or technological, I don’t regard submission to its inevitability as freedom so much as a kind of Dice-Mannish false blamelessness. The fruit fly that buzzes in an endless repeating pattern through a featureless space is neither free nor showing free will. But then nor is the liberal consumer or subject of history in any absolute sense, however right Popper was about totalitarianism.

 

Abstraction is a word that describes many different phenomena, XXXXXXXX

 

At the same time as reading (or “reading“) “Speculative Aesthetics” I’ve been reading Richard Barbrook’s excellent”Class Wargames” book. Barbrook’s history of Guy Debord’s “Game of War” casts the game convincingly as a pedagogical tool for inoculating the political Left against the temptations of vanguard politics. Debord’s game represents the field and forces of battle at the time of the Napoleonic wars at a high level of abstraction compared to the average SPI/GDW-style wargame , making them a general representation of armed conflict. In order to win, one must recapitulate the tactics of Napoleon or Trotsky, with their attendant sacrifice and bloodshed. Having played at being Napoleon, players can both defeat them and will understand why they wouldn’t want to become or follow such a leader in real life.

This indicates the value of Acceleration’s strategy of abstraction, from specifics to generalities and back. Failing cloning, there will not literally be another Napoleon. But there will be scenarios in which another clever general might need to be defeated, either on the battlefield or in politics. There’s nothing Accelerationist about a board game, but there is about its use to create a distributed clever general. And it’s in distribution that Accelerationism can avoid vanguardism.

 

The legacy of CCRU can easily be painted as sitting uncomfortably with Accelerationism’s emphasis on rationality. But the irrational, imaginative, mystical, fictional nature of much CCRU/Orphan Drift/Nick Land output is rational – it can be rational to use irrationality when there is no rational means of achieving a rational end. This is instrumental irrationality, and it’s a standard part of creativity. Creativity theory tells us why – if thinking sensibly is leaving you stuck in a rut then thinking irrationally may get you out of it. Whether surrealist games, Edward de Bono’s “lateral thinking” or chemically assisted imaginings, XXXXXXXXX.

 

This is a very different kind of abstraction from the Real Abstraction of Marxism, or the representational simplifications and distillations of Data Visualization. Accelerationist aesthetics must achieve a new kind of abstraction via either a CCRUian instrumental irrationality as a mythological attractor and search space exploder, a Debordian detournement and redemption (rather than gentrification) of data visualization , or a remix of both.

MYSOUL

20141110080048_Komar&Melamid_We_Buy_and_Sell_Souls_5

I have placed my soul on the blockchain, representing it as a cryptographic asset token.

The MYSOUL token is on the Dogecoin blockchain as a Dogeparty asset:

http://dogepartychain.info/asset/MYSOUL

I’ve divided it up into 100 units. This is more efficient that having a single token to represent the soul and transferring it to a single owner, as competition within the market will both reduce costs and allocate this resource more efficiently than a monopoly could.

To make ownership of my soul more accessible, I’ve also created a MYSOUL asset on the Bitcoin blockchain with Counterparty:

http://www.blockscan.com/assetInfo/MYSOUL

This is also divided up into 100 units. Counterparty is more expensive for transactions than Dogeparty, but is more widespread, so it’s good to have both options.

Blockchain Aesthetics

squares

These images are examples of real-time generative patterns visualising Bitcoin transactions. I wrote them in html5 using blockchain.info’s WebSockets API to get notifications of the hash value of each new transaction.

You can click on each image to open a new window actually running that visualization.

Above, each row is a transaction with each byte of 32-byte hash rendered as a square of colour from a 256-colour palette.

words

Above, each sentence is a transaction rendered in a standard list of words.

bitmaps

Above, each bitmap is the 32-byte hash for each transaction hash rendered as a 16×16 1-bit bitmap (original Macintosh-style, 1 is black).

transactions-spots

Above, each row is a transaction with each byte of 32-byte hash rendered as a spot of colour from a 256-colour palette.

drawings

Above, each transaction is rendered as a drawing of lines connecting x,y co-ordinate pairs taken from the low and high 4 bits in each 8-bit byte in the 32-byte transaction hash. Each transaction is joined to the next as part of the same continuous drawing.

faces

Above, each bitmap is rendered as before and then blurred. A face recognition algorithm is used to find any collections of pixels that accidentally resemble faces, and these are outlined in red. This is machine pareidolia.

As well as clicking on the images to run each visualisation, you can view a list of them here (including both the block and transaction-based visualisations – the former run much slower):

http://show.robmyers.org/blockchain-aesthetics/bitcoin-html5/

You can get the code here:

https://gitorious.org/robmyers/blockchain-aesthetics/

https://github.com/robmyers/blockchain-aesthetics/