Swipe your card to start the show!
What card? Your student ID will work. So will a Buffalo Wild Wings gift card. Your gas card. Maybe even your credit card! Take your pick.
I’ve created a personalized melody just for you! But you have to swipe your card to hear it.
What’s the matter? I would never use your data to create a database to sell to advertisers. I wouldn’t do that.
Don’t you want to see the show? Go ahead: swipe your card! Who cares if your data isn’t private anymore. It’s worth it, believe me. It’s a good show.
It’s not like I’m recording all of your data and selling it on the dark web. I would never do that!
Or would I?
No, of course I wouldn’t. *
*Or would I?
(No, really. I wouldn’t.)
(Or would I?)
Second Person Shooter (2019)
Sound Design by Joel Matthys
“Do violent video games cause violence?” seems to an evergreen
question, especially after a mass shooting when politicians and the
media need a scapegoat. But this game seeks to make the question
more personal. Rather than shooting some nameless unknown enemy, the
game asks what happens if you shoot the one you love most: yourself.
It employs a webcam to make a real-time feed of yourself the target
you must destroy. With an excess of 1980s aesthetics, the game prods
you to shoot yourself enough to become a Top Killer, when you’ll be
rewarded with a high score screen and your photo in rotation for all
others to see. Or you could just quit, you loser.
High Score Screen Burn Slow Burn (2018)
Does a video game need a player? HSSBSB argues no, being the first
zero-player game for the Atari 2600. It is experienced by watching a
square randomly traverse an endless map of mostly empty screens.
Occasionally, an abstract item appears on the screen, and the square
might collide with it, earning points. And so the game continues,
the score creeping ever higher. The game runs on a cartridge and
Computer generated images on canvas
ArtyBots is a family of programs that use Twitter to tweet
algorithm-generated artworks that “make hell a more pleasant
place,” according to one commenter. Each bot follows an algorithm
to generate or manipulate its images in a unique style. This
exhibited work shows a sequential conversation among all of the
ArtyBots members, and the canvases are hung in order from left to
right, top to bottom. In order, the participants are:
@ArtyAbstract takes random mathematical equations and paints a
picture, using the equations to determine the red, green, and blue
values for each pixel.
pulls a random creative commons image from the photo-sharing site
Flickr and superimposes it with an image it receives, often altering
the colors of both.
returns something similar to the photographic negative of an image
reduces an image to a tiled mosaic based on colors it finds within
generates simple random equations and uses polar coordinates to
remap an image it receives.
is perhaps the strangest member of the family. It divides the image
into a grid, evaluates its overall colors, assigns a letter based on
its calculations, then writes that letter in a contrasting color.
- @ArtyEdit is
like a child who has access to standard controls of an image editing
program: brightness, contrast, enlarging, and various types of
enhancing. It randomly tweaks those settings.
reduces an image to the eight colors possible by turning either on
or off the red, green, and blue values for a particular pixel. The
possible colors are black, white, red, green, blue, cyan, yellow,
superimposes random simple shapes such as rectangles and triangles
on top of an image, again modifying its colors.
makes a kaleidoscopic image by taking random walks from the center.
The program takes a pixel from the center of the original image and
copies it to a new one, often mirrored and copied. It then moves to
the next pixel in a random direction. The result is a winding of
trail of pixels that only ends when the trail hits the edge of the
is the sibling of @ArtyTiles, tessellating an image into triangles.
behaves as if each pixel is a grain of colored sand that could be
blown across an image.
uses a mathematical translation to bend an image into curves.
paints thousands of small semi-transparent circles and ovals to
repaint an image in an impressionistic style.
- In addition
to generating original images, @ArtyAbstract can also create
abstract works from images it receives based on recursively
generated mathematical equations.
All of these bots are active on Twitter, where they are constantly
conversing. Users can also submit their own images to a particular
bot and it will reply with its alterations.
Seven Broken Mysteries (2019)
Sound design by Joel Matthys
This piece combines the old and the new, exploiting the tension between them. A 1949 Silvertone radio has been modified to house a microcomputer inside it which supplies digital data from three of the radio’s knobs. These knobs control words on a screen that create brief two-line poems. These poems are then sent to AttnGAN, and after about thirty seconds show the corresponding art is shown. The words selected also guide the soundscape created via the Freesound project, an online repository of creative-commons licensed sounds. The sounds, of course, are played back through the radio’s original speaker.
Torch Sung (2019)
BJ Best and Joel Matthys
What kind of art might artificial intelligence make? This multimedia
exhibit features art mediated by algorithms. The starting point is
poems created in collaboration with AI. Best took all of his poems
from the past twenty years and fed them into torch-rnn, an AI model
that has no previous knowledge of language. Instead, it studies a
source text and learns to create words by studying the patterns of
their letters. The resulting output is similar to the original,
writing words that the program has determined might exist but that
often have tenuous syntactical connections and meaning. Best then
edited the resulting texts into poems somewhat more sensible. Those
poems were then fed into AttnGAN, a different AI program that paints
quasi-realistic pictures based on a text description: here, the
poems. Data gleaned from these images are then fed into a program
written by Matthys to create music. The program reads the image from
left to right, taking the averages of hue, saturation, and brightness
for four vertical bands, and uses that information to generate
sounds. Finally, Matthys created 3-D printed sculptures based on the
mathematical concept of attractors, counting the ratio of vowels to
consonants in each line of the poems, and using those numbers to
generate the final objects. The overall effect is one of
transmogrification, how the same data can produce surprisingly
Listening Box (2012-2019)
Live Processed Audio
The music we make is intimately tied to our bodies. Rhythm is an expression of our heartbeat; melody comes from our voices; phrases are born of our breath. But a computer has neither heart nor lungs. Left to it’s own devices, what kind of music would the computer make?
All of the sounds in this piece are generated live by the computer, without input or control from a human operator. There are no predetermined rhythms, or pitches, or timbres. The computer listens to its own body, through contact microphones on its case. The input sound is analyzed, filtered, and arranged into gestures according to timbral and dynamic similarities.
The computer is placed in a plexiglass box to shield it from the sounds of its environment. It has only its own “body” to listen to, though if you tap on the box, you’ll certainly discover that it hears you.
Will intelligent computers make music that sounds like this?
Tectonic Shift (2016)
Live computer projection and sound
Tectonic Shift is a portal into ritual and communication across cultures. The computer is processing a live video feed, looking for patterns, connected blobs of movement, trying to make meaning from its input, just as we the observers try to make meaning of the protection. The location of objects within the frame trigger triggers sounds: synthetic wind chimes, African-style drumming and recorded audio from rituals across the globe. You are invited into a ritual space through the medium of the computer’s vision.
Color Life (2019)
Computer graphic on canvas
The images from Color Life are stills from a digital simulation of evolution, a process known as cellular automata. In this piece, each pixel has an identity defined by its color. Pixels that are surrounded by similar pixels are more likely to survive and reproduce. Eventually they form into complex organic shapes as they compete for space.