Thursday, October 14, 2004

IO Meyer Pizza Night at UNSW

Last Monday I was kindly invited to speak at an informal presentation night at the UNSW. This forum is run by the Media and Communications department.

It was a real treat to present my favourite projects and to talk ideas with a group of people with similar backgrounds and interests. The main theme of my talk was 'Best Moments and the Importance of Play & Collaboration'. I wanted to get to the heart of what makes an interactive media project really work and cited team structures and education as some key ingredients. We had plenty of time for discussion afterwards and I left feeling really refreshed. In the commercial arena there's just too little time for any meaningful explorative discussion. Too often work is driven toward the predictable and toward template generation and often, the most enriching possibilities of good collaborations get swamped by 'process' and production procedures.

Monday, October 11, 2004


Whatever happened to 'OpenAtelier'. John Maeda made an announcement about this concept a couple of years ago and it seems to have stalled. I was really excited about the idea when I first read about it.

All they have posted so far is the 'Treehouse Studio' site - a prototype for the Atelier which is a bit thin so far. It certainly doesn't represent a creative or 'unimaginable space' the Aesthetics and Computation group mission statement promises.
"At the MIT media laboratory aesthetics + computation group we work toward the design of advanced system architectures and thought processes to enable the creation of (as yet) unimaginable forms and spaces."

I'll keep coming back until I see something awe inspiring...

Interact1 and the Man from Neen

I received a lovely chatty email from an old friend of mine in the UK, Bob Cotton. He has just put together an exhibition of interactive media in the Barbican in London called 'Interact1'. He is currently developing some interesting interactive TV programme concepts. He's already produced one successful show for BBC2 which was called 'Crisis Command'.

The Interact1 show respresents an interesting cross section of creative works ranging from information to product design:

The item that caught my eye was...the movement/manifesto started by Miltos Manetas who popularised the term 'Neen'.

"The word Manetas wanted was "not exclusively about technology in art, but more about the style, about the psychological landscape," he has explained. "We have two kind of lives now -- a real life and a simulated one. I wanted to give a name to this psychology."

In May 2000, during a packed press conference at the Gagosian Gallery in Manhattan -- and a panel of people like Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker ready to provide (tongue-in-cheek) analysis of the term -- Manetas unveiled the new word. Actually, it was the squeaky, synthetic voice of a Sony Vaio that made the announcement.
The word was "Neen."

In his subsequent
Neen Manifesto, Manetas declared that the term represented "a still undefined generation of visual artists. Some of them may belong to the contemporary art world; others are software creators, web designers and video game directors or animators." He later added: "The identity of a NEENSTER is his state of mind. Because he will publish everything on the web, his state of mind reflects on the public taste. NEENSTERS are public personas."

Glad to see there's still room in this world for media pranksters in the Malcolm Maclaren model...I find it really bizarre that Pinker of all people was present at the opening. Judging by what I've read (The Blank State) Pinker's appreciation of anything to do with contemporary visual or digital art is incredibly limited. Hmmm...strange.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Golan Levin and the Bitform Artists

Media pranksters like Manetas...move aside! Golan Levin should have a movement named after him. Maybe 'flongers' or 'bitformers'.

Golan really represents a rare and special breed of technical creativity...

The Bitforms gallery in New York is an inspiration - just wish there was an equivalent here in Sydney!

I notice too that the physical interface work by 'Bitformer' Daniel Rozin is being featured at the Interact1 show. Someone really needs to curate a show featuring this work here in Aus.

Tipping Point

Just finished reading 'Tipping Point' by Malcolm Gladwell over the weekend. Really interesting concepts outlined in a quick, popularist manner. It makes you reassess all social trends and behaviours in a more analytical way.

"It's that ideas and behavior and messages and products sometimes behave just like outbreaks of infectious disease. They are social epidemics. The Tipping Point is an examination of the social epidemics that surround us."

Cellular Automata

Last Friday night, I was at a barby having this fascinating conversation with a friend* about the history of Cryptography (as you do). It reminded me about a scientist I'd read about and his theories including 'Cellular Automata'...that very complex systems can be generated by simple building blocks.

Delicious and fascinating stuff...all online:

"A New Kind of Science" by Stephen Wolfram.

*Pip Jones - who heads up VictoriaReal here in Sydney...tasty new website at:


I notice that the 2004 Machinima festival has been delayed 'a few months'...hmm I wonder how long it will take for Machinima to evolve into a richer more widespread artform. I envisage a new tool inspired by Machinima that will become professionalised and used to cut production costs for movie story boarding.