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Generator.x is a conference and exhibition examining the current role of software and generative strategies in art and design. [Read more...]
Archive for August, 2006

Alex Dragulescu: Extrusions in C major (detail) / Blogbot (detail)

[Read pt.1 for completion] Dragulescu’s Extrusions in C major uses music as its input, specifically the “Trio C-Major for Piano, Violin, and Cello” by Mozart. Here the artist rigorously describes his mapping: Different colors represent different instruments, while each segment of the fragmented forms represent a single note, with characteristics such as velocity and duration controlling the development of the form. The final form represents the temporal structure of the piece.

Blogbot and related projects Havoc and Algorithms of the Absurd represent a slightly different approach with a performative flair. Blogbot generates “experimental graphic novels” from content found on blogs. Texts are presented as though being read, appearing line by line accompanied by visual icons.

The online example What I Did Last Summer appropriates pixellated images of war machines and soldiers taken from computer games. They are then used to illuminate a narrative of fragments from two blogs relating to the Iraq war. One is by an American soldier and contains details of raids and military maneuvers, the other is the famous blog of Salaam Pax, the Baghdad Blogger. The introduction of temporal and graphic aspects to the text turns it into a performed narrative. Simultaneously, a graphic composition of increasing complexity is created as the text grows on the canvas.

Lev Manovich speaks of data visualization as the New Abstraction (see Data Visualisation as New Abstraction and Anti-Sublime, Word DOC file). In this context Dragulescu certainly presents an interesting take on info-aesthetics, with complex data sets being appreciated for their structural beauty alone.

Alex Dragulescu is from Romania and currently leads the Experimental Game Lab at the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts at University of California, San Diego.


Alex Dragulescu: Spam Architecture (detail) / Spam Plants (detail)

Romanian artist Alex Dragulescu turns data sets into raw materials for the generation of tantalizing 2D and 3D forms. Rather than scientific visualization intent on clarifying the content of the data, Dragulescu creates graphic and temporal compositions notable for their strong graphic qualities.

Spam Architecture is one project that has garnered much attention recently. Here spam is translated into three-dimensional form by analysing keywords and patterns in the text. Like its sibling project Spam Plants, it explores the mapping of textual data into spatial configurations.

All trace of the original data source is absent in the final result. No reference to the textual material remains, nor of the analytical process involved. Instead, a single coherent form is presented, with no signifiers indicating its origin. In this sense, the spam data could be said to simply constitute an arbitrary pseudo-random data input, with the result bearing no semantic connection to the raw material that it was generated from.

Dragulescu does not provide clues or any rational way of evaluating the nature of the mapping. But nor does he make a claim to producing literal meaning. Hence the viewer is free to enjoy the results as a complex formal experiment in which spam undergoes a process of transsubstantiation, transformed from a source of irritation into intriguing objects of great beauty.


Generator.x has been on extended (and unannounced) one-month holiday, but now summer is ending and blogging will slowly resume. To warm up, here are a few random links that have accumulated:

  • AOL reSearch has just managed to release a substantial data set containing 20 million search queries from over 650 000 users. What was probably an eager attempt at scoring Open Source brownie points, has rapidly become a public relations disaster. Americans are rightly paranoid about their privacy, and the data set is likely to include personal data like names, social security numbers, unpleasant searches for porn and violent images etc.

    The original post has not surprisingly been removed from AOL, although a cached copy can be seen using Google's cache. Mirrors posting the data set can easily be found, one of the best bets is to try the Bittorrent download. While the release of these data is bad news, it’s sure to be of interest to information visualizers and dataminers. It would almost be surprising if no art works came out of this debacle.

    Read Techcrunch for a good overview of the whole story.

  • Kunstverein Medienturm in Graz will feature a show called Further Processing in September. The show will show software-based works created with Processing, and also give a presentation of the tool itself. Contributing artists are Pablo Miranda Carranza, Fabio Franchino, Ben Fry, Golan Levin, Lia, Mark Napier, C.E.B. Reas, Karsten Schmidt, Martin Wattenberg, Marius Watz. The show is curated by Sandro Droschl (director of Medienturm and one of the curators behind Abstraction Now) and myself.
  • Art.ficial Emotion 3.0 is an interesting exhibition at Itau Cultural in Sao Paulo, Brazil, featuring a major presentation of media artists whose works relate to cybernetic theory. See Paul Prudence's writeup on Dataisnature for a summary. Regine over at we-make-money-not-art recently did a interview with Guilherme Kujawski, one of the curators of the show. In it he presents his ideas about the exhibition and its relation to cybernetic theory.

    For visual impressions of the show, see the following Flickr sets : mrprudence, watz.

  • Code & Form is a new blog I’ve started to cover more technical and code-related issues that would be too geeky for Generator.x. This separation of content means that Generator.x will be more clearly focused on finished works and theory, rather than tools and technology.
  • Ars Electronica is around the corner, if anyone is going and would like to meet up please send me an email on marius at unlekker net. I had thought of organizing an official Generator.x gathering, but there are not enough hours in the day… Hope to see some of you there anyway!