I am sure it’s been done before, possibly hundreds of billions of times, but as a small coding exercise whilst writing my PhD I wrote a little piece of code which renders random iterations of Raymond Queneau’s Hundred Thousand Billion Poems on a web page. I re-found it whilst working on another project. Here it is:
I’m happy to announce that I am one of the nine resident artists at V2_ Lab for the Unstable Media as part of their Summer Sessions programme this year. I’ll be developing a sound project that I am quite excited about – more details to follow soon.
This weekend I took part in the annual Sci Fi London 48 hour film challenge, in which participants have to write, shoot, and edit a sci-fi film in 48 hours.
My film had to include the following elements:
Title: Rules of the Game
A prop and action: A character opens a sealed padded envelope and pulls out a card.
A line of dialogue: The count for this stuff is off the chart, probably best you don’t get it on your skin.
Here is the outcome. It’s a 5-minute film about an ambitious inventor named Larry Hammer in the midst of an experiment. The film-making had all of the constraints you’d imagine (no budget, limited time, one person) but it was great fun to make. I hope you enjoy it!
I did the writing, shooting, directing, editing, starring, and soundtrack (à la Tommy Wiseau?). I also had some generous script advice from Amy Butt and Pippa Palmer, for which I’d like to express thanks.
I’m very excited to be giving a lecture as part of the Bartlett’s Constructing Realities lecture series next week. If you are in London, please do pop in on the 15th February. It will also be the first chance I’ve had to see the Bartlett’s shiny new campus.
Scripted performances: digital and absurd machines
‘Scripts’ in architecture are usually associated with computer-based design programming. However, this narrow usage belies a rich vein of concepts intrinsic to architecture and authorship. This lecture poses the script as a useful critical and methodological tool within architectural design, absorbing and reinterpreting ideas from behavioural psychology, computation, dance, immersive theatre, the Absurd, and the Oulipo. The lecture is illustrated through a series of projects completed during Palmer’s residency at the Palais de Tokyo and PhD by Design at the Bartlett spanning dance, film, installation, and data manipulation.
Ollie Palmer is an artist and designer based in the Netherlands. He holds an AHRC-funded PhD by design from the Bartlett and was artist in residence at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris from 2015-16. His work has been exhibited around the world, including at the V&A Museum, Opera Garnier de Paris, Seoul Museum of Art, and the Royal Institute of British Architects. He co-authored the winning proposal for the US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2018, and sits on the project’s curatorial advisory committee. He formerly taught within the Bartlett’s Interactive Design Lab and at the School of the Art Institute Chicago. He currently teaches at TU Delft.
A film about propaganda and the production of fake news, created entirely using the techniques of the Internet Research Agency propaganda factory in St Petersberg.
Room 11, Bargehouse, OXO Tower Wharf – free entry
Wed 7 Jun 11:00-13:00 (ArchFilmFest Selection A, 120m total)
Thu 8 Jun 11:00-13:00 (ArchFilmFest Selection A, 120m total)
From the live performance at Opera Garnier de Paris on 18 June 2016, featuring choreography by Simon Valastro. Two dancers attempt to communicate via a new technology which converts their movements to words, using vector space translation.
Bargehouse | free entry
Room 11, Bargehouse, OXO Tower Wharf
Sun 11 Jun 11:00-11:46 (ArchFilmFest Competition Shortlisted)
Sun 11 Jun 13:40-14:26 (ArchFilmFest Competition Shortlisted)
Bargehouse, OXO Tower Wharf
The first known use of multiple cameras and multiple screes, Thompson said, was in 1896 in a process called “Cineorama.” Ten cameras were mounted . in a balloon. As the camera ascended the Paris rooftops, the cameras photographed a 360-degree image simultaneously. Synchronization was accomplished by a shaft running vertically upward from a platform where two men stood. The chaft had an eccentric in it so that each man could hold the section as he turned it manually. A huge cogwheel at the top operated the cameras in unison. Needless to say, the speed of the cameras was not constant. An attempt was made (the film was shown, I believe) to show this film at the Paris Exposiiton of 1896. To give the maximum illusion of reality, the audience was asked to stand in a basket similar to the gondola of the balloon. An alarmed and aroused fire department terminated the performance. Like all motion-picture film of that time, the stock had a nitrate base. When heated, it could have blown up and literally dispatched the entire audience.
- Kranz, Stewart. Science & Technology in the Arts: A Tour through the Realm of Science/Art. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co, 1974. 181.
We don’t talk about computers like we used to. Whilst writing up my PhD thesis, I came across this teaser video for my Nybble project. It was designed to elicit the interest of potential dancers and the public who may come to view the work. The dialogue is taken from a 1962 film called Logic By Machine, commissioned by IBM and put out on the equivalent of KQED-TV / National Educational Television (which I believe became PBS?).
There is a poetic, dreamy discussion of the potential that computers have to change the way we see ourselves in the world:
The computer is then given the problem in the form of numbers or instructions pertinent to arithmetic. It is the arithmetic logical task that the computer is organised to do. Once instructed, it can do as much arithmetic in a minute as a man in a lifetime.
A man in a lifetime…the lifetime of all mankind is but a brief moment in the long history of this earth of ours. And only yesterday in the history of mankind has man made any significant advance in his control over his earthly environment.
Whilst in Korea last year, I came across this incredible rock playing an instrumental version of Celine Dion’s Oscar-winning My Heart Will Go On.
Hold me, Jack.
As far as I see it, the Trump team’s rejection of facts, and the idea that we live in a post-truth world is nothing more than a refusal to engage in conversation with any other entity. It is a lazy and dangerous argument, and a threat to democracy. I will explain why.
In the 1970s Gordon Pask proposed a cybernetic theory of communication. It is called Conversation Theory, and it relates to the way in which we communicate with other individuals.
It begins from the basic premise that our minds are machines which have the purpose of learning. Each mind forms concepts — that is, understandings of topics — which are in some way malleable. If you could only define the term tree within your own mind once, for example, you would not be able to see any new types of tree as trees. Instead, your definition of tree changes each time you experience, discuss, or think about a tree. The redefinition of concepts, the reaching of new understandings, is an essential part of learning.
One way we reach new understandings is via conversation. A conversation is an interaction between two individuals, in which both state and re-state their understanding of a concept, until they can both agree upon a mutually satisfying definition. A conversation requires the individuals involved to define and redefine their understandings.
Political opinions vary wildly, and largely depend on different definitions of terms like freedom and rights. In a democracy, every individual can form and hold their own definition of such terms. My freedom probably looks different to your freedom. We may not agree on the exact definition of the word, we may disagree wildly on where freedom starts and stops, but we will both agree that there is such a thing as freedom. Indeed, by talking to each other, we will probably learn something about the others’ opinions, we may modify our own ideas, and at the very least we may learn something.
Conversation in politics requires a basic premise: that there are definitions of certain concepts that both parties can agree upon. These are known as facts / truth. A fact may be that WWII was from 1939–45. An opinion might state that it could have ended sooner, had x been done by y. We can all agree on the fact — but we are able to disagree about the opinion.
If we cannot agree on facts, or the fact that there are facts, then our entire conversation will be spent simply restating these premises, rather than discussing potential problems and solutions. It is dangerous to believe that we live in a post-fact world, because it denies the possibility of ever engaging in meaningful conversation. Stating that there is no truth is the same as stating that we will never understand each other. Without meaningful conversation, you have no voice, and there is no democracy.
Reject the idea that we live in a post-truth world. It is toxic, poisonous, and threatens democracy. It is an idea that exists merely to silence all of our voices, and shut us all out of conversation. Whether you are on the left or the right, this affects us all.
Notes and articles
- Scottie Nell Hughes’ claim ‘There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore of facts’
- Wikipedia: Post-truth politics
- New York Times: The Age of Post-Truth Politics
- The Intercept: Some Fake News Publishers Just Happen to Be Donald Trump’s Cronies
- Introduction to Cybernetics / Pask Archive
Paul Pangaro’s website is a great resource for cybernetics, and the best archive of Pask materials I know of
- Conversation theory in two pages
from Paul Pangaro’s website
- Gordon Pask biography
with a good explanation of basic conversation theory at the end
- Pask presenting conversation theory
at the Architectural Association, 1995. If you want to be thoroughly confused…
The French Audiovisual Archives (INA) made a lovely short film about the collaborative process Simon Valastro and myself used to make Scriptych, a performance at the Opéra National de Paris earlier this year, as part of my residency at the Palais de Tokyo.
Thank you Franck Podguszer and the INA team!