Wednesday, May 31, 2006

American Idol

This is a subject that not many of you probably expect to see on this blog, but those of you that know me know that I have a deep interest in Rock and Roll and Pop Culture.

On American Idol last week, host Ryan Seacrest claimed that the 63.4 million votes in the contest were "more than any president in this country has ever received." This little factoid was spread over the Internet faster than a Britney Spears wedding! (oh, that's bad!)

So let's take a look at what some of us like to call "the truth."

63.4 million votes is quite a lot of votes! In 2004, George W. Bush recieved 62,040,610 votes. John Kerry, 59,028,111. (Source: Wikipedia). By my musician math, that's a total of 121,068,721 votes. Catch my point? That's right - Ryan Seacrest was (gasp!) wrong!!!!

In fact, according to Wikipedia, you'd have to go back to 1956 to have fewer than 63 million votes for President. (disclaimer - Wikipedia's 1960 result don't cite the number of votes).

For a far more interesting read, check this out, from the Guardian (UK): Idol speculation by Philip Cowley.

Another Pop entry coming up tomorrow (drone metal - yeah!)

Monday, May 29, 2006

Bar Code Art

Artist Scott Blake creates art from collages of bar codes.

While the site is a bit overly commercial (I suppose fitting well with the commercialism associated with bar codes), I like the portraits. A portrait of Madonna is constructed from bar codes from CDs. A portrait of Arnold Schwartzenegger is constructed from bar codes from movies. There a bunch of others, Andy Warhol included of course.

In addition, Blake offers flip books, images of shows, temporary tattoos, even custom barcodes. The website is well worth exploring, with many interactive elements. I think my favorite might be the images of titles. An ironic commentary on galleries!

via Neatorama.

We call it "life"

This has got to be seen to be believed! The Competitive Enterprise Institute has produced two ads that are pro-carbon dioxide. That in itself isn't particularly odd. What *is* odd is that these ads may as well be spoofs from Saturday Night Live. Seriously.

via Z+.

Saturday, May 27, 2006


Waves is an installation that has recently debuted at both Wade 2006, installation in public space, Toronto, Canada, upcoming in July 2006 and Kunst Computer Werke at ZKM and HfG Karlsruhe, Germany, upcoming in May 2006. As the audience interacts with wading pools, circuits placed inside bouys interpret the motion of the waves and translate that into sound.

Designed by Shannon McMullen and Fabian Winkler, this installation has a lot of potential. There are some drawbacks to the setup that keep this from being really exciting for me. First is that the circuitry and amplification are self contained within each bouy. This forces the bouys to be a reactionary device, dependent upon the input of splashing, etc from the participants (although the designers anticipate environmental influence via breezes, etc). Also, each pool is a self-contained unit, meaning that the only interaction between the pools would be sounds that infiltrate the larger space.

I'd like to see this installation move beyond the boundary of the pool in which it floats. Possibilities include having each pool generate information that is then combined into a larger sonically interactive work, or even having a method of creating waves in a different pool, which would then feed into the input of that pools bouy, which could then be transmitted to another pool, etc - creating a large feedback loop.

In the installation pictures that I've managed to dig up, the artists cleverly created three different sized pools. The impact of this is that the frequency of the waves would be different for a different sized pool. It also appears that the pools have different depths as well.

My criticisms shouldn't be taken too seriously. This is an interesting, interactive installation. I'm simply suggesting further directions that this project could explore. It is also important to note that the artists have created a clear and technologically sophisticated, yet not technologically "heavy", work of art that effectively encourages participation by the audience. Cool!

via We Make Money Not Art

Shadow Art

Via Neatorama, a link to Fred Eerdekens, a Belgian artist who combines sculpture and light to create text.

In the example below, you'll see two artifical trees that, when light is projected through at the correct angle, create shadows that spell "mhmmmhm."

Eerdekens also makes Calder-like scupltures that utilize the same effect. Some of these even spell different words depending on the angle of the light. Excellent!

EDIT: Fred's website appears to be down! Link to the Spencer Brown Gallery, which has a few pictures of Eerdekens work.


I'm trying some new things out, and I'm hoping to add a lot more functionality to the site as the summer goes on. Please tell me what you think!!!!

New things today include a very simple logo and the RSS feed. I'll also be adding and updating links throughout the day. Thanks to my internet friends who have been linking to me recently! Welcome new visitors!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Take home your own art from the Tate!

The Tate, a British gallery that shows art since 1500, has introduced a new feature that allows online visitors to create small themed collections of images of their favorite works.

Clearing copyright on some of these must have been difficult, but the ability to make these collections, to even print flyers with your text describing them is only a positive thing, at least in my mind. Just imagine if the music industry or Hollywood embraced this tactic! There has to be a common sense balance between protecting intellectual property and sharing art. To me, this project will increase the visibility of the Tate (a well known gallery already) and encourage visitation rather than discouraging it.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

John Whitney and Digital Harmony

I attended the opening of the Visual Music exhibit at the Hirshhorn last summer. While it was much more visual than music, some of the videos were interesting. I've been looking around since then on the web (and in libraries) for examples of these - especially John Whitney's work.

Now, thanks to Jim Bumgardner, there is at least a small example of Whitney's ideas from his book Digital Harmony. Bumgardner's online animation matches simple MIDI sounds with circulating dots. As each dot passes a line drawn on the animation, a sound is produced. Since the rotations of these dots are mathematically related, they can be seen as a visual representation of these same relationships in sound. I let the animation run for nearly a half an hour - it is neat!

Thanks to Information Aesthetics

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Thwarting Hooligans

All sports fans know about the power of crowds, particularly when a good chant gets going. At the University of Maryland, they actually banned the Pep Band from playing Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Pt. II" because some enterprising students added "We're gonna beat the Hell outta you" and "You Suck!" to the usual "Hey!" What can I Alma Mater might not be MIT or Harvard, but we sure do know how to make those Dookies feel bad!

At any rate, via WMMNA, some Dutch scientists have devised a system to foil such dastardly chants in Football stadiums (that's PROPER football). The PA system in these stadiums would be used to create artificial echoes, making it difficult for a large crowd to coordinate chanting, thus theoretically reducing group anger and perhaps reduce rioting.

Of course, "firms", as these hooligan groups are often known, might just get a bit MORE testy in such circumstances! (BTW - that is indeed a picture of Elijah Wood, who is starring in a film about Holliganism)

Jim Lambie - Directions

The Hirshorn in Washington DC is featuring an exhibition and installation by Scottish artist Jim Lambie.

The installation has transformed the lobby of the Hirshorn into a wildly colored space by using multi-colored vinyl tape. The artist is interested in making the edges disappear while exploring the geometric shape of the interior architecture. Anyone from DC who has seen this, please report!!!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Pressure Today

I keep saying it, but there are some really great artist websites out there. Thankfully there are great blogs like Information Aesthetics to help me find them all. Infoaesthetics linked to Peter Dykhuis's Data Paintings, which appeal to me like Jasper John's encaustic works do - just plain tactile to me for some reason. But for me the Data Paintings aren't as interesting as Dykhuis's Pressure Today.

I've been mulling over posting this for a few days, but Mike Boyd's comments about the Excel art pushed this into the blogosphere for me. This is also a daily log, with the dual logs of the daily mail and a drawing reflecting the barometric pressure reported at the same weather station each day. I'm finding myself continually drawn (sorry for the pun) to art that incorporates topographic imagery perhaps it is my interest in navigation, born at a young age flying cross country with my father, or maybe it is just that I like curvy lines....

At any rate, these dual logs have a subtle thread connecting them, in that one can't predict the mail any better than the daily barometric pressure! haha! Also, as evidence by the title, the mail brings with it a whole range of responsibility, from bills to items that require one's attention (a good sale, or maybe correspondance with a long lost friend).

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Podium Wall

Via Information Aesthetics comes word of the Podium Wall.

The Wall, to be located at 7 World Trade Center in NYC, recognizes pedestrians as they walk next to the building, projecting a blue light on the wall. The light is a vertical beam 7 stories tall which the artists claim can be seen from Freedom Park. It works by camera recognition, and the picture that I've linked to above is a web version that shows you what it will look like, with your mouse acting as a pedestrian.

Designed by James Carpenter Design Assoc., Kinecity worked on the interactive element.

This is an interesting project, seamlessly integrated into the building design. Interactivity is becoming ever more common in everyday life!

Monday, May 08, 2006

7.5 Pound Bass

Someday soon this picture won't make any sense. But I couldn't resist. An honest to goodness picture of a 7.5 pound bass caught in a private lake in Texas. What a happy day!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Rod McLaren

British artist Rod McLaren has a blog in which he has collections of his work as well as interesting commentary and links. I was drawn to his blog by the work Fully articulated: dotting the largest circular disc possible in an hour, in which the artist attempts to make, can figure it out from the title. There are other interesting examples to be found there, including concentric circles/loops drawn by pencil and what I think are paintings made by holding a pen on a sheet of paper in the tube as it travels from station to station.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Grains of Transistors

A sobering statistic:

"Last year, human beings produced more transistors (and at lower cost) than they did grains of rice." - IBM CEO Sam Palmisano.

According to the Z+ Blog, there were 10 Quintillion (10 to the 18th power) of them produced in 2003 - more than 100 times the number of ants on the planet (although I think that there are about 2 quintillion ants in St Cloud alone).

Transistors are the "guts" of electronic devices, and have become, apparently, a staple of human existance. I can't even imagine how many I'm surrounded with right now....cell phone, computer, amplifier, CD player, monitor, phone, synthesizers....not to mention the pile of parts that I've accumulated for various low-tech projects!

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Peter Cho has developed a stunningly elegant visual representation of a phonetic writing system, called Takeluma.

The computer analyzes text read into it in real time and outputs the result. Cho has a number of different methods of display, from projections on walls to a 100 foot long conversion of a text on a roll of paper. Check out the Installation website for some neat pictures (and there is a movie there as well).

I find it aesthetically pleasing for sure, but it does seem a little difficult to understand (the translation appears to make mistakes easily). But then again, this isn't necessarily a functional tool as much as an interactive work of art, and for that, I find it interesting. I especially like the examples where Cho has used historical speeches as sonic input.

Is it just me or do you find it similar to Arabic in a number of ways?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Artist Eddie Breen takes old paintings and adds his owns twist to them. He calls this process "breening"

These are whimsical and somewhat psychedelic, and often political. He gets his canvases from eBay, then returns them to eBay in their breened state. In some ways this reminds of Rauschenberg, who took a pencil drawing of deKoonig's and then erased it, wlthough there are implications in Rauschenberg that are missing here. Actually, now that I think about it, a better comparison might be remixing in pop music. At any rate, there is something appealing to me in both the idea and in the result that Eddie gets. Seems like fun!

Monday, May 01, 2006


A milestone! I've reached a thousand hits since I launched at Xmastime 2005. While not a major waypoint on the internet, I appreciate my peeps that have been checking out the place. I have some recent visitors since I've increased my visibility a bit - WELCOME! Please comment!

I hope to make some changes over the coming months, including adding sound and perhaps video. Keeping checking back, everyone!
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