a poem


(in increasing order of effectiveness)

12. Constants, parameters, numbers (such as subsidies, taxes, standards).
11. The sizes of buffers and other stabilizing stocks, relative to their flows.
10. The structure of material stocks and flows (such as transport networks, population age structures).
9. The lengths of delays, relative to the rate of system change.
8. The strength of negative feedback loops, relative to the impacts they are trying to correct against.
7. The gain around driving positive feedback loops.
6. The structure of information flows (who does and does not have access to information).
5. The rules of the system (such as incentives, punishments, constraints).
4. The power to add, change, evolve, or self-organize system structure.
3. The goals of the system.
2. The mindset or paradigm out of which the system — its goals, structure, rules, delays, parameters — arises.
1. The power to transcend paradigms.

from donella meadows institute

internet yama-ichi observations

“A free to attend “Internet-ish” flea market. Featuring over 120 vendors!”

website here and facebook event here

  • i’m gonna be “that guy” and wonder aloud: at what point can we expect “internet-ish” art to engage with things that affect real people’s lives? cards inked by hand with computer-combed data sets are neat and so is ASCII porn, but it feels weird to continually defend a lack of groundedness as “experimentation”
  • that said, lots of people! IRL! cool space!
  • lots of anxiety about how much time we spend on our phones, how flaky we are, how ADD we are, how awkward we are
  • lots of making computer-generated things by hand (pixel pillows, pixel tapestries, IRL spam, IRL emojis, IRL memes, Instagram photos)


A photo posted by @ken_jagan on




icm: random() and mousePressed() sketches

prompt: Create a sketch that includes all of these:

  • One element controlled by the mouse.
  • One element that changes over time, independently of the mouse.
  • One element that is different every time you run the sketch.

periwinkle block in thunderstorm

see updated notes after the code block below

i didn’t use the bar2 object this time, but will keep working with this set of code. in my dream world, a bunch of shapes start at the top and move to the bottom at different speeds. the shapes don’t have to stay in their column forever, but they don’t bounce back up when they hit the bottom of the canvas. maybe i can assign a random() x-coordinate to accomplish that? and random speeds within a range? the flashing background is intense and ridiculous and i’m keeping it for now!

updated notes to “periwinkle block in a thunderstorm” (long-hand since i spilled coffee on my laptop and was letting it dry until right now):

existing code
existing code
ideas for getting blocks to drop from top of canvas to bottom
ideas for getting blocks to drop from top of canvas to bottom

ideas for getting blocks to drop from top of canvas to bottom

stupid rosh hashannah program



icm: static screen sketch

prompt: Create your own static screen drawing: self-portrait, alien, monster, etc. Use only 2D primitive shapes—arc()curve()ellipse()line()point(),quad()rect()triangle()and basic color functions—background(),colorMode()fill()noFill()noStroke()stroke()Remember to use createCanvas() to specify the dimensions of your window.

cyberduck duck portrait

duck sketch code

sliding bar

sliding bars

procedure: do an awkward/difficult thing

hypothesis #1: in contexts where norms mandate how we behave, procedural art framing can provide us with an alternative social script that empowers us to do things that would otherwise feel awkward or be socially inappropriate.

norm: women are supposed to have long hair. men are supposed to have short hair. procedure:

  1. if you identify as a woman, cut off your hair.
  2. if you identify as a man, grow out your hair until it reaches your shoulders. you may wear it in a low ponytail, but not a man-bun.

norm: projects that involve trips to the hardware store are for experts and i am unqualified/incapable of teaching myself what i need to know to build or restore something. procedure:

  1. find a rusty object in the craigslist free section.
  2. contact the owner and arrange to pick it up.
  3. pick it up.
  4. buy rust remover at the hardware store.
  5. remove the rust.

norm: the police are doing what’s best for my safety and i should not intervene or pay attention to who or how they arrest. procedure:

  1. film police when they’re making an arrest.
  2. invite your friends to the site of the arrest.
  3. tell your friends to film too.

norm: prisons protect us from criminals and are a net good for society. procedure:

  1. evaluate the labor conditions inside prisons.
  2. consider the race and socioeconomic status of people inside prisons.
  3. add up all the money inmates make for the work they do.
  4. compare this amount to the amount they would make for the same work outside of prison.
  5. add up all the money they spend on phone calls and commissary.
  6. evaluate the environmental and psychological impact of prisons on the places where they are, the people who staff them, the people who design and construct them, and the people who live in them.

hypothesis #2: procedural art can highlight the difficulty of some procedures and promote empathy.


  1. leave your family.
  2. move to a country where you don’t speak the dominant language.
  3. find housing.
  4. find work.

where would these instructions live?

  • on stickers on the subway (like this or this)
  • projected on the sides of buildings (which buildings? how big?)

response to john cage’s “water walk”

john cage’s “water walk” does two things:

  1. it pushes at our ideas of what counts as music. the audience is forced to ask: what’s the difference between an instrument and a bathtub? why can’t a bathtub be an instrument? what kinds of sounds count as music? why can’t bathtub sounds be music? toasters and bathtubs are particularly powerful in raising these questions. the piece would feel different if, for example, he’d played a guitar with a violin bow; performing this piece with more appropriate noisemakers would make a different point—maybe that we could be a little more creative with our existing instruments. but calling toasters and bathtubs “musical instruments” is radical in that it gets to the root of how we bound our categories.
  2. the piece also says something about the process of making music. it says that rhythm is whatever timing happens in the interaction between instruments; it is not a pre-determined length of time between beats. it is bottom-up instead of top-down. it is open-ended instead of defined from the start, since every performance of “water walk” is different depending on the context. the piece is site-specific. it shares traits with jazz, but it’s not jazz.

i love that cage worked on this problem of categories with objects and also with words. he wrote poems called “mesostics” which incorporated formal constraints and randomly selected words.

“In taking the next step in my work, the exploration of non-intention, I don’t solve the puzzle that the mesostic string presents. Instead I write or find a source text which is then used as an oracle. I ask it what word shall I use for this letter and what one for the next, etc. this frees me from memory, taste, likes and dislikes… ”

in another interview, he says:

“Reading Finnegans Wake I notice that though Joyce’s subjects, verbs, and objects are unconventional, their relationships are the ordinary ones. With the exception of the Ten Thunderclaps and rumblings here and there, Finnegans Wake employs syntax. Syntax gives it a rigidity from which classical Chinese and Japanese were free. A poem by Basho, for instance, floats in space . . . . Only the imagination of the reader limits the number of the poem’s possible meanings.”

at the same time, i have concerns about the reception of his ideas outside Art World. his work makes me wonder whether it’s possible to make big conceptual points like he does while also engaging in and with public discourse.

from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/565061084468320925/
from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/565061084468320925/

pcomp: what is interaction?

prompt: After this class’ discussion and exercise, and reading Chris Crawford’s definition and Bret Victor’s rant, how would you define physical interaction? What makes for good physical interaction? Are there works from others that you would say are good examples of digital technology that are not interactive?

interactivity is a dialogue. chris crawford says in the art of interactive design that interaction is not graphic design or watching a movie or reading a book or alking to a brick wall. this feels narrow to me in a way that bret victor starts to open up in his brief rant on the future of interaction design.

crawford’s visions of the future might look like the pictures under glass that victor critiques for being flat, literally and metaphorically. victor valorizes the hammer for extending the capability of the human hand. crawford probably wouldn’t consider hammering a nail to be interactive.

the nail isn’t hammering back because that’s not what nails do, but it is in dialogue with the hammer. crawford only reads interactivity as a dialogue where both parties are speaking the same language. this flattens reality and strips richness from our experience of the world.

Pictures Under Glass is an interaction paradigm of permanent numbness. It’s a Novocaine drip to the wrist. It denies our hands what they do best. And yet, it’s the star player in every Vision Of The Future.

as victor notes, tech not-visionaries dream of putting more pictures under glass so we can poke at them with our fingers. for some, pictures of words under glass have replaced books—but as any book lover knows, reading is only partly about seeing words. it’s also about tearing and folding pages, underlining and doodling and highlighting, carrying the thing around, peeking at other people’s covers on the subway, trading and borrowing. books exist as shareable objects in the world in a way that opens up opportunities for humans to interact with each other.

“sharing” like “interactivity” is a buzzword worth thinking about in this context. i wonder what elements of IRL sharing are missed when i share a photo or thought on facebook, twitter, instagram, or skype/google hangout.

a not interactive digital technology: the brilliant, elegant, almighty rice cooker. a temperature sensor triggers a shut-off switch when the temperature inside the rice cooker rises above 212 F. as long as there is water in the rice cooker, the temperature stays at 212 F. once all the water boils off, steaming the rice, the temperature rises and shuts off the device.


Your rice cooker shows that there are times when limited interactivity is appropriate. Rice gets made better if we don’t interfere, so the interactivity between us and the cooker is limited to telling us when it’s done. How does it signal us? Or does it sit there silently, letting the rice go cold?

my rice cooker doesn’t give a signal. it only has two settings: COOK and WARM. when the water has boiled off, the cooker automatically rests at WARM until i unplug it. there are more advanced rice cookers with timers and notification systems.

How would you explain Crawford’s concept of different levels or scales of interactivity?  What are the qualities of those scales? Time? sensory richness? multimodal flexibility (i.e. a device that can either make a noise or vibrate, depending on which you want)? Are there other axes on which to measure interactivity?

yes, this is a great point.

When is the tangible ideal that Victor lays out less than ideal? Are there applications to which a less sensually complex system is more appropriate?

definitely! when mobility is limited, for example, an interface that only reads dramatic gestures becomes really problematic. i victor had to make the extreme point he did because so many of our devices are built around a “pictures under glass” model of interaction.