Grand Text Auto

April 30, 2005

Actually I quite liked it

by nick @ 4:26 pm

I had a great time seeing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on opening night yesterday. It looks to be the first successful film based on an e-book (okay, it’s a fictional e-book, but still) and there were visual and narrative elements of it that resonated with today’s digital culture and economy in a funny, uncanny way.

The movie wasn’t perfect, but there was a lot to like and a lot to laugh at. I so enjoyed myself that I became even more puzzled than I was before about the handfuls of invective that many reviewers of the film have been flinging at it, risking damage to their digital watches in the process. Let me try to gather some of these attacks into categories and figure out where they could have originated…

“Jesus Christ! Where is Tom Bombadil?!?”

From the camp that believes that there must be an injective mapping between the book and the movie, or that the movie is simply a lossless storage medium for the contents of the book, also allowed to have some pictures and stuff as long as Legolas’s footwear is appropriate. Such filmgoers, infected with an aesthetic sort of Protestant Fundamentalism, must find The Shining and Fight Club to be travesties for not disgorging everything in the original texts. (more…)

April 29, 2005

Literary VR @ Brown

by noah @ 9:31 am
Word Museum by William Gillespie and David Dao

This weekend and next (April 30 & May 1 // May 7 & 8) we’ll be having two different exhibitions of literary virtual reality at Brown. The exhibitions will employ a room-sized immersive stereo display (Brown’s Cave) and a spatialized sound system (controlled by Max/MSP) to present 10 projects created by writers, musicians, visual artists, and computer scientists. Because we’re having small shows (6 people) spread out at 45 minute increments over the course of the day (11am to 5pm), reservations are required. Reservations are made by calling Brown’s David Winton Bell Gallery at 401-863-2932. This show, “Works from the Cave II,” is the sequel to our Cave exhibition for the 2003 Boston Cyberarts Festival. (more…)

April 28, 2005

Contagious Media Showdown

by scott @ 8:26 pm

Got a “ridiculous and pointlesss” idea along the lines of The Dancing Baby, All Your Base Are Belong To Us, or The Star Wars Kid? Eyebeam is looking for such projects for their Contagious Media Showdown. Large cash prizes are involved: $2,000 for the project with the most page views, $1,000 for the first site with an Alexa rating higher than 20,000, $1000 for the site with the most links from blogs, and $1,000 for the most popular site under an Attribution-ShareAlike license. Act now, web slackers are hanging out waiting for the next stupid but delightful silly thing to email to their list of friends: to participate, you need to reserve a slot by April 30th, and the project needs to be online by May 19th. There will also be a workshop May 7th in NYC by the creators of BPLU, Rejection Line, FundRace, How to Dance Properly, Nike Sweatshop Email, Dog Island, del.icio.us, Blogdex , and Pizza Party. Special guests from The Yes Men and the EFF.

CUNY Conference on Contemporary Poetry

by nick @ 4:49 pm

A contemporary poetry conference that includes the words “blogs” and “online” in its call for papers definitely deserves some of Grand Text Auto’s fat pipe. They’ve got a sweet URL, too.

CUNY Conference on Contemporary Poetry
Graduate Center, City University of New York
November 3-6 2005

Abstracts due: September 15, 2005. (more…)

April 27, 2005

TV is Good For You, and Interactive Art is Irritating

by andrew @ 3:04 am

…according to the the New York Times. Specifically, two articles you’ll probably either love or hate: from last weekend’s magazine, a preview / excerpt of Steven Johnson’s upcoming book Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter, on how the complex narratives and game-like structures of today’s best television shows give your mind a cognitive workout; and, separately, a harsh review of certain pieces at this year’s Boston Cyberarts Festival (a few being the type of work I’d probably call push-button art, if I were in a crotchety mood).

Jane at gamegirladvance has posted excerpts the game/TV article.

April 25, 2005

You Are Beautiful

by scott @ 7:48 pm

Yes you are!

You Are Beautiful” is a meme-type sticker and installation art project, centered in Chicago but distributed around the world. The most cool thing about this project is how its creators have taken a simple idea, a phrase that many people like to hear, and distributed it across multiple media, and then created a well-designed network photo archive of its many manifestations; a kinder, more affirming version of the “Andre Has a Posse/OBEY” idea. I was also pleased and waxed nostalgiac when I saw that most of the installations have occurred in my old neighborhood in Chicago. Spread the words.

Implementation to be featured at Provflux 2005

by scott @ 7:58 am

Nick and I recently got word that Implementation has been accepted by Provflux 2005, both as an intervention (live event) as an exhibition. Implementation’s second gallery exhibition will take the form of mounted photos from the project, a DVD of distance shots, and take-home sticker sheets on display at CUBE2 Gallery in downtown Providence, Rhode Island from May 19th through June 4th, and we’ll be in Providence May 27th-29th for the event itself, with a goal of distributing, placing, and documenting the entire novel in one weekend in one location. Bring your digital camera and camping gear if you want to join us. Implementation joins about 50 other public interventions, games, urban exploration, lost space recovery, and tech mapping projects for this fluxist/situationist/public art happening.

April 24, 2005

HyperCard Bibliography 0.1

by nick @ 12:33 pm

After finding that no such resource seems to exist, I’ve started to assemble a bibliography of creative work in HyperCard, a very influential early system used for artistic, literary, and gaming purposes. My list is no doubt very incomplete right now - I was not an early Mac user and don’t have first-hand experience of HyperCard work from back in the day. But I do have more than 50 works listed, so this may be the beginning of a useful resource.

I plan to continue to working on the list and hope that others with more HyperCard experience and knowledge can help out. I’m now dedicating this bibliography to the public domain and inviting others to contribute to it by leaving comments here on Grand Text Auto. A wiki might be more appropriate for such a bibliographic barn-raising, but I have a blog set up and don’t have a wiki that I can use for something like this, so I’m putting the list up on the blog… (more…)

April 23, 2005

Re:Writing @ Cyberarts

by noah @ 10:38 pm

7pm this Monday at Brown, and then 7pm Tuesday at the Boston Public Library, Turbulence and the Electronic Literature Organization will present their first co-sponsored event. Re:Writing: Writers, Computers, and Networks will feature performances by four writers who bridge the net art and e-literature communities. In addition to John Cayley, and Thalia Field (at the BPL) or Yael Kanarek (at Brown), they also feature two GTxA drivers who are on the ELO board and have recently had Turbulence commissions: Nick and yours truly. The events are presented as part of the 2005 Boston Cyberarts Festival (and supported by Brown’s Literary Arts program and the LEF Foundation). (more…)

Call of the Abyss Answered by Cavers

by nick @ 7:32 pm

A Ukraniam team of cavers has descended 2,080 meters (6,822 feet, or about 1.29 miles) to the deepest point ever explored within a cave. The group of nine plunged into the deepest known cave, Krubera, near the coast of the Black Sea. They were part of the Ukrainian Speleological Association’s Call of the Abyss project, funded by the US National Geographic Society. The May issue of National Geographic features spectacular photographs from the expedition.

In case the connection to new media is obscure: Will Crowther created the first version of Adventure, modeling the setting of this first work of interactive fiction (and first adventure game) after Mammoth Cave, which he had explored. While earlier games (e.g., Hunt the Wumpus) and later games (e.g., Zork) would involve more fanciful caves, this critical step in new media history was the creation of a serious, experienced caver seeking to simulate a real cave.

The connection between computer gaming and caving was certainly not lost on the Call of the Abyss project’s record-breaking team. After struggling just short of the 2,000-meter mark they they hoped to surpass, the team found a way to bypass a sump through a narrow, steep, 100-meter passage which they named “Way to the Dream.” They then named the final chamber that they reached in this expedition “Game Over.”

April 22, 2005

Shelley Jackson Reading

by scott @ 12:14 pm

Shelley Jackson Writing

Innovative print and e-writer (electronic and epidermal), Shelley Jackson, visited Stockton last night to give a reading as the featured reader at the Stockpot literary magazine release party. Shelley read a brand-new story with an unpronounceable title in the form of an equation. She was revising it in my office until ten minutes before the reading. It turned out to be a brilliant, absurd story about mortality set in a post-apocalyptic alternate reality, wherein distances are measured in alligators and timothies, and people carry their deaths and obituaries around with them, in many cases finding their obituaries more appealing than their actual lives.
(more…)

Prepare To Cyc Out

by andrew @ 11:40 am

It is reported that in the next few months a browser-friendly version of what is arguably the biggest, longest-running AI project in history, Cyc, will be made available, allowing laypeople (and bots?) to access its massive common-sense knowledge base and continue tutoring it, a process ongoing for 22 years now.

There is already a limited form of Cyc available, with a recent major update.

It will be very interesting to begin playing with this knowledge base and reasoning engine, and imagining artistic applications of it. There’s already a precedent for this — six years ago Michael applied some of Cyc’s knowledge base in his ideologically-biased documentary history project Terminal Time, a collaboration with Paul Vanouse and Steffi Domike.

The New Scientist article reporting on Cyc is also a good writeup of the history of the AI Winter.

April 21, 2005

Somebody Set Us Up the Art

by nick @ 6:39 pm
Pac-Man by Peter Gronquist

A show of original, non-digital art based on 8-bit video games has just opened at Gallery Nineteen Eighty Eight in Los Angeles. The main site requires Flash; the gallery, with 17 images of art from the show, doesn’t. (Via Dennis; The sculpture Pac-Man, pictured, is by Peter Gronquist.)

We must admit that Adam Cadre was there first, with a painting based on Joust. Although we must also admit (as Adam does) that he ripped the idea off from Matthew Bowman.

William Gillespie’s MFA Reading

by scott @ 10:35 am

William Gillespie’s Reading

William Gillespie’s MFA thesis reading at Brown University was a resounding success. William is the second writer to complete the Brown MFA creative writing program with an electronic writing fellowship (or third, if you count Noah). William enlisted me as his “band from New Jersey” to help with an Unknown reading to kick things off. It was the first time in a while that we read the Unknown without a projector, with just the callbell to clue people to links. It worked pretty well. Although he wasn’t reading strictly electronic work, William did an excellent job of integrating interactivity and multimedia aesthetics into the rest of the reading, which included readings from his box of notebooks (the audience chose entries on the basis of titles) while harmonica blues played in the background, and a reading of a newspoem which juxtaposed a news story about a school shooting with a news story about a NASA malfunction arranged into a tapestry of sound that included outer-space radiation and a haunting walkie-talkie rendition of children running amuck as they shot up their school. Well done, Gillespie, and good luck with the next stage of your career.

April 20, 2005

Processing 85

by nick @ 11:55 pm

A new beta version of Processing, a system for sketching out creative works of visual interactive art, was released today. As a sometime user of earlier versions, I’m glad to see the new one out. Processing 85 is a release of the language which is translated into Java but allows you to sidestep importing of libraries and other details, and may be more fun than Fortran 77 and Smalltalk 80 put together. Thanks to Hanna for the tip.

boston cyberarts - techartII show

by mary @ 8:18 pm

If you are traveling to Boston for the Cyberarts 2005 events, please make a stop to see work at the South Shore Art Center in Cohasset for the TechArt II show. The TechArt ongoing exhibition series in conjunction with the Boston Cyberarts Festival proves to be a vital source of new ideas about technologically-informed creative work which reflects on computer-centered culture.

Some of the themes which emerge in TechArt II are recurring in the field of digital art as a whole: computers paintings, computer-assisted filmmaking, robotic machines and environments, and computational architectures were all themes. Highlights include
(more…)

Bök Speaks Volumes

by nick @ 4:42 pm

Christian Bök, poet, pataphysician and author of the unfractioned Eunoia, came down to our crazy death country from his native Canada and did a great reading at the Writer’s House today. He read some from his first book of poems, Crystallography and presented some new work, including sound poems from Cyborg Opera, mentioned before on here. His new, pun-riddled “Umlaut Factory” really seemed to break new eggs, I mean ground. I also couldn’t help noticing that it contains the word-palindrome “feel a cop cop a feel.”

For volume two, Christian did a Studio 111 interview today after the reading, discussing whether poetry is elitist, formal and material aspects of the composition of Eunoia, poetry and meaning, novelty, Eunoia-like projects in other languages, poetry and computer programming (with reference to Racter), sound poetry, boredom, and Canadianism, among other topics. The interview will be available soon on PennSound, and will be linked from here. (Update: 8pm, 1515 Market Street, enter on 15th between Market and JFK. The reading is free and open to the public.)

Anyway, the reading was extraordinary. If you missed it, too bad, sucker. But actually, no: Christian will be doing another reading here in Philadelphia tomorrow, at Temple University’s Center City campus.

April 17, 2005

One Man’s Rubbish, Another Man’s Canon

by scott @ 5:52 pm

This is pretty darn cool news that must have classicists jumping up and down. The Independent reports that, using infrared imaging technology developed for satellites, Oxford University scientists are now able to decode a horde of hundreds of papyrus manuscripts discovered in the 19th century in ancient garbage dump in Egypt. The “Oxyrhyncus Papyri” were blackened, decayed, worm-eaten and illegible to the naked eye, but the new technology makes them readable. Fragments of previously unknown texts by Sophocles, Euripides, and Hesoid have already been discovered, and the find is expected to yield five million words of texts, “mainly in Greek, but sometimes in Latin, Hebrew, Coptic, Syriac, Aramaic, Arabic, Nubian and early Persian,” and to expand the known canon of Ancient Greek literature by 20%.

April 16, 2005

FILE deadline nears

by noah @ 4:02 pm

FILE is one of the world’s most significant gatherings for consideration and exhibition of computational language. It has taken place in São Paulo, Brazil for each of the last five years, and currently entries are still open for 2005 (until May 1). Standing backward (in English) for “Electronic Language International Festival” or forward (in Portuguese) for “Festival Internacional de Linguagem Eletrônica,” FILE includes an exhibition of digital text art, a symposium with the same focus, a section specific to games, and a parallel electronic music festival. FILE will be in early October this year — so perhaps I’ll see you in Brazil this fall? (We’ll make sure to go to Rio before heading home.)

Creative Archive Licence

by scott @ 10:45 am

creative archive logoThe UK has launched an initiative to release materials from the archives of the BBC, Channel 4, the Open University, and the British Film Institute in a form of the Creative Commons. The Creative Archive Licence will make materials available to the British public to remix and use in noncommercial projects. The terms of the Creative Archive Licence are no commercial, share alike, give credit, no endorsement, UK only. Within those stipulations, materials including 100 hours of of radio and television from the BBC and silent comedy and drama from BFI are being released for the British public to “Find it, Rip it, Mix it and Share it.” Although it’s a shame that the Creative Archive Licence will be UK only, the release of these and other materials should be a boon to artists and educators. It also makes a great deal of sense to me that publicly funded work should be made available for reuse by the public that funded it. One can only imagine the benefits that artists and educators would reap should NPR and PBS launch a similar initiative. (more…)

April 15, 2005

New For Your Hard Drive

by andrew @ 5:16 pm

We knew it would happen… what took so long, really? Virtually Jenna is, I believe, the first fully explicit, hard-core 3-D animated virtual sex game. Billed as “gamerotica”, it’s more like lewdology. Ostensibly the goal is to get Jenna’s Excite-O-Meter to the max, but based on the graphic sample videos on the website, I suspect players may be content to just, well, screw around. According to a review in Wired you can control male or female sex partners for Jenna, sex toys and a disembodied hand, as well as a camera for pornographic photo shoots, in all their high polygon-count, texture-mapped glory.

The developers, xStream3D, have plans to increase the photorealism of the animation as consumers purchase more “hot graphics cards”, which will allow players to put images of their own faces on the avatars, and order customized audio so Jenna can call out your name (hey, I already thought of that…). They plan to eventually build a larger action/adventure game that encompasses the sex play.

As a developer of directly-interactive virtual characters, I wish I had more time to write about this, but commentary from me will have to wait until we ship… for now, keep your hands above the keyboard, folks!

Spanish and Italian IF in SPAG

by nick @ 3:21 pm

The latest SPAG Newsletter, number 40, features interviews with Roberto Grassi of the Italian IF community and Ruben “Urbatain” Nieto of the Spanish IF community.

IF in Special Collections

by nick @ 12:29 pm

I just stumbled upon “Collecting and Preserving Infocom Interactive Fiction” [PDF] [PS] by Adam Mathes, who got a Library and Information Science Masters recently from UIUC:

I have chosen to use the donation to create a new collection in the area of interactive fiction, specializing in the early works published by Infocom. … Although not commercially popular today, the genre may be of great scholarly and historical importance as interactive electronic games grow both in general popularity and as subjects worthy of academic study. … Much like rare books, older computer programs are in need of conservation if their intellectual material is going to be accessible today and in the future. … a special collections library is well suited to the large task of preserving these works …

(more…)

April 14, 2005

Ludum Dare

by andrew @ 11:24 pm

The sixth annual Ludum Dare 48-hour Game Programming Competition, aka LD48, starts tomorrow at 10pm US EDT. As of this moment, 21 hours and 36 minutes before competition begins, there are currently 123 entrants, ready to go with their compilers and libraries of choice, and presumably large caches of caffeinated beverages, frozen burritos and power bars.

Latin for “to give free play to“, Ludum Dare (pronounced ‘Lude-um Dar-ay’) “is a ‘mostly from scratch’, timed, solo coding challenge where all willing game developers spend their allowed time making the best game they can under a common theme”. Voting is almost over for choosing that common theme, which includes ideas such as “repetition”, “kitchen combat”, “goop”, and “that tickly feeling in your stomach (not quite love)”.

So, if you’re not doing anything else this weekend, and you have a masochistic bent to you, why not register and join in the fun! Check out last year’s results for inspiration.

April 12, 2005

Endless Fantasy

by nick @ 11:23 pm

If you’re in the mood to see interminable video of Final Fantasy VI being re-enacted by video game consoles (that is, the video game consoles are the characters), check out Sega Fantasy VI (in English). Update: link changed; thanks, DoomRater.

I had never heard of the WonderSwan, the PC-FX, or the Playdia before this. And, I must say, some of the parts I watched were quite touching. Maybe it’s just that sappy music, though.

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