Music I’m Currently Enjoying

Bela Emerson‘s cybernetic cello performances are excellent. New album out soon!

Brad Sucks is mis-named. His college-radio-friendly Beck-ish rock wouldn’t normally be my cup of tea but it’s BY-SA and it grows on you.

Amanda Palmer is, fortunately, not really dead because her debut solo album is great.

And on the retro front I’ve been enjoying Tangerine Dream and The March Violets…

Failed Transubstantiation

When I was at art school, two of my colleagues found a wall from a
demolished building on some wasteland out of town that would have made
an excellent canvas for a mural they were planning. But it was covered
in graffiti. Real graffiti by kids with spraycans, not
destined-for-publication graphic designer posturing. To make their
mural they would have had to destroy it.

One of them later acknowledged to me that they’d done the right thing by not doing so.

Art Fag City On Surf Clubs

The excellent Art Fag City blog comments on Marisa Olson’s contribution to the “Surf Clubs” debate. AFC agrees with some of what Marisa says, then comments –

I don’t understand why reposting material without attribution on a blog
should take the work out of circulation, or remove a pre-existing
narrative/economy.  Sure they carry a different authority when posted
by a well respected net artist, but this doesn’t negate their history,
nor is it any way distinctive from the mechanisms of other online
social networks.  After all, an influential DIGG member carries
authority too.

For me it is this ventriloquism, and the assumption that artists are somehow doing it better, that is part of the ethical and aesthetic problem of Surf Clubs. And if Surf Clubs are just an accurate representation of the means of production and social relations of Web 2.0, why are they so reliant on the artworld reputations of their contributors?

AARON and Phosphenes

Dr. Malotki’s latest focus is on designs called phosphenes, which are
as fundamental to art as time is to language. He said the same 15
abstract geometric constants appear globally in art created as early as
300,000 years ago. They are grids, zigzags and patterns of dots. They
are the first objects drawn by children; we doodle them when we talk on
the phone.

These are the same kind of rock drawings that inspired Harold Cohen in the 1970s with AARON. And if you look at AARON’s drawings from the late 1970s you’ll see precisely these phosphenic forms (among others) being created by the program. Cohen called AARON’s repertoire of the time “cognitive primitives”. Malotki’s work seems to bear this out.

Black Swans and Scapegoats

As capitalism does another ideological reset the excuse du jour is that the credit crunch was a highly improbable event, a “black swan” (it’s not just a bad song by Thom Yhork).

If this is true then the people who sold unsustainable mortgages to get the commission on them then sold them on rather than take on the risk of those mortgages were behaving irrationally, because they could not have foreseen that anyone would default on them. This would raise more questions than it answers.

The problem isn’t probability. The sub-prime market was exploited in the way it was because of its probabilities, not despite them. The problem is greed. And self-pitying denial won’t disguise that, however dense the notation.

GNU Is 25 Today

It’s the twenty-first anniversary of the announcement of the GNU project today. GNU is a project to create a Free Software operating system, that is software for your computer that does not allow other people to restrict your freedom to use it.

I’m writing this on a laptop running Fedora, which is a Free Software distribution based on GNU. I’m writing it in Firefox, also Free Software, using Movable Type, again Free Software, running on a Free Software web server.

From almost no Free Software a quarter of a century ago to pervasive Free Software today. There is always more work to be done, and new threats to the freedom to use software freely, but GNU has been a great success. Never let anyone tell you that pragmatism is more important or more powerful than ethics.

Happy birthday GNU!

Repositories Of My Work

To help distribute and archive my work I’ve created repositories at Beanstalk and GitHub.

I’m uploading my art projects to Beanstalk. The Beanstalk repository is a Subversion repository, accessible here –

You can find out about Subversion here.

I’ve uploaded my code projects to GitHub. There’s one Git repositor per project, accessible here –

You can find out about Git here.

I’m not expecting to accept changes for most of these projects, but I am expecting to change the code projects and add to the art projects and it’s good to have a public source for work. So version control repositories seem like a good idea.

Site Moved Again

A big thank you to Matt for hosting this site for the last few months.

If anything on this blog or the site is broken do let me know.

It should be easier to comment here now, you can comment anonymously again.

Support ORG!

ORG, the Open RIghts Group, are the UK equivalent of the EFF (differences in law and political culture aside).

They have been doing excellent work over the last couple of years; getting into government consultations, bringing issues to the attention of mainstream media, observing electronic voting, and giving Andy Orlowski something to wring AdWords revenue from.

You can help support ORG from just five pounds a month. Having been to ORG HQ I can vouch that they are a lean and mean outfit and that your money won’t be wasted on bean bags or lava lites.

Click here.

If you’re in the UK and you’re interested in Free Culture you should support ORG. Don’t make me name names, people. 😉


art_generators has been renamed “frame”. It works as a noun and a slightly pretentious verb. I’ve registered a Rubyforge project and switched the build system to Hoe.

Just a bit more testing then it will be time for a release.