Aesthetics Art Free Software Projects Satire


I turned the scripts I use for avoiding various cardinal sins of art
writing into an Emacs minor mode. This means that you can run it in your Emacs session as you write.

What do you mean you don’t use Emacs? Don’t be silly. 😉

Art Free Culture

Free Licencing For Art

Free Culture is primarily a synonym for free speech. In art, free speech is generally referred to as free expression. Artists face limits on their freedom of expression from various laws that limit their freedom to depict the visual environment, notably copyright law and trademark law. A successful strategy for tackling the restrictions of copyright on computer programming has been the use of “copyleft” licences that ironize copyright law in order to promote rather than restrict individuals’ freedom to use and adapt copyrighted materials.

Copyleft protects the freedom to use any materials that it covers wherever an individual may encounter them. It is inalienable and indivisible freedom. Weakening copyleft weakens this, and doing so should only be considered as a tactical last option.

Legal documents such as licences, however simple, can always have unintended consequences. Copyright law is complex and licences should always be drafted by lawyers familiar with the area. But this isn’t to say that alternative copyright licences should be motivated by lawyers or simply follow the faultlines of copyright law. They should be expressions of principle made rigorous and enforcible.

Software copyleft licences are tailored to the demands of writing and using software. But software is very different from other media covered by copyright, so this does not mean that other artifacts covered by copyright should have their own medium-specific licences. Culture is a dialogue, and much contemporary culture (including much contemporary art) is multi-media, or is adapted from or refers to work created in other media. A single-medium cultural licence would limit freedom of expression rather than protect the coherence of the medium.

It is possible to use non-copyleft “permissive” alternative copyright licences as a means of making irrational economic gifts of works to other individuals. The use of these gifts may support an individual’s freedom of speech. But this does not protect freedom of speech in general as the work they create using those resources need not be licenced to respect the freedom of its audience in return. Copyleft therefore protects freedom of speech more generally than permissive licencing.

Given all this, the licence that I believe should be used by individuals committed to artistic freedom of expression is a legally drafted general-purpose copyleft licence for cultural works. This excludes software licences (like the GPL), documentation licences (like the GFDL), and non-copyleft cultural works licences (like CC-BY and CC-NC-SA). It also, for reasons I will explain, excludes the FAL.

Aesthetics Art Art Computing Generative Art Projects Satire



Produces modified versions of images resembling part of an ouvre.

You’ll need opencv-python installed for this. PIL should already be installed.

[Original image by Tommerton2010 CC-BY ]

Aesthetics Art Politics

DDOS, Aesthetics, Speech

Distributed Denial Of Service attacks have a form. They have a political form, and they have a spatial form. The latter is the network topography of the attacks. At present the spatial form (and its properties) are incidental, but it is possible to make them part of the political message. This could make the form of the DDOS political speech and/or artistic expression.

Firstly the specific servers and the clients accessing them can be chosen for their geographic position using a system such as GeoLite. Shapes, diagrams and letters can be drawn in this way to communicate a specific message above and beyond the mere fact of the attack.

Secondly the properties of the network traffic sent to the servers can be varied to encode a message. The timing of messages can be used to transmit values and thereby numbers, text, images and even sound or video although the latter would be very slow.

The problems with these schemes are that the variation of traffic volume involved in structuring the messages, the topography of the Internet and the effects of the DDOS attack itself would work to destroy the coherency of the encoded messages. This functions as a commentary on or allegory for the effectiveness of reasoned argument versus simple rage.

Attacks of these kinds could be simulated using virtual machines on a closed network. This would function as a proof of concept and as art. Capturing and visualizing the network traffic of the attack would serve to recover the intended message or to track its degradation, and again would function as art.

Aesthetics Art Art Computing Free Software Politics Projects Satire


SendValues is a network testing tool that sends mathematical, aesthetic and textual values using the properties of rather than the contents of network messages.

You can get the source code here:

Both a stand-alone command-line version and an IRC-client version are included.

SendValues uses a naive pulse-width-modulation scheme for encoding values. Any improvements to the code gratefully received.

Here is the README:

SendValues is a system for transmitting aesthetic expression and political speech using properties of network protocols.

There are two versions, a command-line client and an IRC client. They use the same code and concepts apart from their different interfaces.

* Concepts

** Senders

A sender is a way of sending information over the network using an IP-based protocol. SendValues has the following senders:

TCP – Sends messages as TCP/IP connections.
UDP – Sends messages as UDP packets.
SYN – Sends messages as SYN requests.
HTTP – Sends messages as HTTP requests.
PING – Sends messages as ICMP echo requests.

Senders may be specified to the command line or IRC clients by these names.

** Values

A value is a message to be sent to a host using a sender. Values are quantized by the sender and transmitted over the network as naive pulse width modulation values.

SINE – A sine wave (argument is number of steps).
SQUARE – A square wave (argument is number of steps).
SAWTOOTH – A sawtooth wave (argument is number of steps).
TRIANGLE – A triangle wave (argument is number of steps).
TEXT – A block of text (argument is text to send).
IMAGE – An image, to be sent as 1-bit pbm data  (argument is image URL).

* The Command Line Client

The command line client takes all of its arguments from the command line.

-h, –help       – Print the help and exit.
-o, –host      – The host address to send to.
-s, –sender     – The sender to use (from the list above).
-m, –method     – The values generation method to use (from the list above).
-a, –argument     – The argument to the values generation method.
-c, –cell     – How long each value takes to send (in milliseconds).
-d, –duration     – How long to send values to the host.

These all have default values, including host which defaults to localhost.

* The IRC Client

The IRC client takes its initial configuration from the command line. Once it has connected to an IRC channel it takes commands from messages on that channel.

Command line arguments:

-h, –help    – Print the help and exit.
-s, –server    – The IRC server to connect to.
-p, –port    – The port on the IRC server to use (defaults to 6667).
-c, –channel    – The channel on the server to take commands from (omit #).
-u, –user    – The user on the channel to take commands from.

Channel and user default to “artcommands”.

Commands to the IRC channel have the following formats:

START [sender:]host[:port] kind[:argument]

Start sending values of the given kind to host using sender.
Where only sender or port are specified, the clients will guess which.
Argument can be a number of steps for wave senders, a url for the image sender, or arbitrary text for the text sender.

STOP host

Stop sending to the host. The host must be specified exactly as it was in the START command


Stop sending to all hosts.

Aesthetics Art Art Computing Free Software Generative Art Projects

Streaming Aesthetics: Shape

Streaming Aesthetics: Shapes
Here’s the code for Streaming Aesthectics: Shape . You can compile and run it in Processing.

It follows Twitter to see when people tweet shape names and then draws those shapes, packing them inside each other.

There’s some unused code for more complex shapes, but “star” and “cross” appear in the Twitter firehose more often than geometric shape names.

Next is Streaming Aesthetics: Pattern .

Art Free Culture Projects

The Urinal Is In A Show

The Urinal project is being presented as part of a collection called:

Free Yourself?

Curated by Furtherfield, in:

International Art in Village Halls
Penryn Town Hall
Private View: Friday April 15th
6.30pm – 8.30pm

Aesthetics Art Art Computing Culture Free Culture Politics

An Aesthetics Of Disappearance

I stumbled over this anti-face-recognition project again and, post-“world’s ugliest t-shirt” from “Zero History” I enjoyed it even more:

This technique can work in reverse, causing false positives and misdirected automated actions:

And it can use objects other than faces, operating on sensors other than 2D cameras:

When more and more human activity is being structured and quantized to make machine processing easier, aesthetics can disrupt this.

“…the opacity of the aesthetic offers some much needed resistance to the kinds of transparency increasingly demanded…”

An “Aesthetics Of Disappearance” and of false positives

[Via Netbehaviour]

Art Free Culture

Artistic Freedom Of Speech Under Threat

In the US a judge has declared a series of paintings illegal because of copyright. They cannot be shown by their owners:

This will have a chilling effect on artistic production in the US. It’s also deeply silly.

In the EU a clothing manufacturer is suing an artist for making a painting including an image of one of their handbags. Again:—-genocide-maybe.shtml

This would have a chilling effect on artistic production in the EU if we had any kind of Fair Use culture here to chill.

But don’t worry, Fair Use still applies to lawyers’ blogs when they want to explain that it shouldn’t apply to artists:

Permission culture and censorship may seem reasonable when they don’t apply to you. But they’re not.

This is the worst environment I’ve seen for artistic freedom in the West in some years. We urgently need to promote and protect artistic freedom as part of free culture and freedom of speech in general.

Art Art History Free Culture Projects

Shapeways Urinal Print

My print of the Urinal has just arrived from Shapeways.

Here it is in its packaging with an SD Card for scale:


And here’s a tasteful installation shot of it:

The original blog post about this project, with links to the source files, is here.