School for Poetic Computation (SFPC) is an artist run school based in New York City. Its fall 2016 immersive saw 12 students from Argentina, Japan, China, The United Kingdom, as well as different parts of the United States participate in the program. SFPC classes centre around code, electronics and theory. Students meet about five days a week, each day with three hours of classes lead by teachers and the curriculum was shared online at the SFPC Fall 2016 repository. This fall, Ramsey Nasser taught Radical Computer Science, Philip David Stearns taught Electronics, Caitlin Morris taught Physical Computing, Taeyoon Choi taught Poetics and Politics of Computation, Ingrid Burrington taught Architectural History of Computation. There were additional workshops by Artists in Residence and teachers including Zach Lieberman’s workshops on Kinect and openFrameworks, Patricio Gonzalez Vivo’s workshops based on the Book of Shaders, Francis Tseng’s workshops on Machine Learning. There were also public events such as SFPC Salon with distinguished speakers and field trips to organizations such as the Eyebeam Art and Technology Center. The SFPC Fall 2016 program was organized by Taeyoon Choi, Lauren Gardner and Robby Kraft. Weekly updates from the immersive were posted on SFPC blog.
In the final week of the program, SFPC students presented their work in progress, ideas, sketches in the Final Showcase. SFPC’s motto is More Poetry, Less Demo, the showcase is not an exhibition of completed projects, rather an opportunity to share the learning process at SFPC and for the community to meet the students. Here is a selection of projects presented at the showcase.
8-bit Full Adder Rhythm Machine by Agustín Ramos Anzorena
Rhythm Machine is a 8-bit Full Adder. Users can mix the sound of binary addition into a stereo output. The machine incrementally adds an initial random number over and over again. There are two knobs in the controller, the 4 most significant and 4 least significant bits, respectively. The knobs are routed to the stereo headphones intervened with relays and the users can control the rhythmic pattern by understanding the nature of the changing bits. The computer does not hide itself. It’s explicit exposure of wiring reveals a calculating machine that is alive. The computer is based on logic gates with binary functions, just like the core of computation since George R. Stibitz’s “Model K” Adder. The installation invites the audience to experience the arithmetic bedrock of modern computer science with a ludic rhythmic implementation. You can also find the schematics + PCB files + Learning Notebook, to create a Full Adder yourself. Read more.
Agustín Ramos Anzorena is an electronic artist based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He explores light, form, abstraction and visual composition. He’s interested in the nature of electronic computation, the way it interfaces with humans and how humans are affected by it.
Counterpoint by Dan Gorelick
Counterpoint is an instrument which transforms drawn lines into musical note patterns. The melodies are visualized on a projection where colored circles represent the patterns drawn. The circles follow the drawn sequence in a sinusoidal path. On a music stand rests an iPad where viewers can draw lines or can add additional patterns by connecting with their mobile devices. The piece celebrates collaboration between viewers which creates more complex melodies. The visualization and views are web applications, and a Node.js server connects all of the pieces using websockets. The sounds are generated by SuperCollider, which interfaces with the server using Open Sound Control (OSC). Read more.
Dan Gorelick is an engineer and musician living in New York City. He studied computer engineering at Boston University, while focusing on interactive design in the College of Fine Arts. Currently he is exploring the possibilities of making music accessible and interactive.
Neural Mirror by Jason Toy
Neural Mirror is a device that acts as a portal to a hidden look of the viewer. Using artificial neural networks, the mirror reflects back an image in different hallucinations and styles just like the viewer’s emotional state in the ocean, constantly swaying and changing helplessly with the forces of nature. Each AI rendered image represents a different emotional state that the person sees themselves through: anger, sadness, shock, happiness, using different colors, styles, and hallucinations. The hallucinations were made with images of opposing concepts such as life versus death and technology versus nature, chosen to invoke opposing thoughts on the viewer’s life. Thousands of images were manually collected to train this intelligent system. Neural Mirror is built with Processing, a camera, tensorflow, and raspberry pi. Read more.
Jason Toy is an artist with a background as a machine learning engineer and entrepreneur. Jason explores, manipulates, and plays with new intelligence paradigms to understand the core of intelligence through different modalities and physical forms.
◯ by Hiroshi Okamura
This piece is a ball of which is wrapped with yarn. Throwing it make a musical sound and dropping it play a cartoon sound. It is my philosophy to focus on a circle. I want to create a humorous interaction. I imagined a cartoon world, where a ball makes sound. I want to create a real life experience that feels like a cartoon scene. I want to make the sound with musical instrument such as flute. Because almost all of cartoon sound effects are made with musical instrument. Dropping sound depends on flying time. It plays light sound when flying time is short. It plays heavy sound when flying time is long. An application installed on iPhone which inside the ball. The applications made by openframeworks with open sound control (OSC). View video.
Hiroshi Okamura is a visual and sound artist who also works as an interaction designer, animation director and musician. He studied graphic design at Nihon University College of Art. He started independent art project as “Ages5&up” in 1997. He joined a band ‘Delaware’ in 2007.
Sign Guestbook by Bryan Wilson
“Sign Guestbook” is an experiment in making marks with pen and ink on paper simultaneous to their transformation as projected light. As the participant writes with ink on the pages of a dictionary, their marks are retraced at high magnification with white lines projected on the panes of a sliding glass and wood door in front of them, so others can witness at a distance as they write. As they lift the pen, their lines turn to closed shapes and fill with still images of their face or body, taken by the camera hidden at the back of the pedestal. The shapes persist, move and react in relation to one another, each one attracted to the previous. The piece is created with Processing, Raspberry Pi, a Wacom tablet, and a PS3Eye camera. Read more.
Bryan Wilson is an emerging artist based in Seattle, working with code, electronics, drawing, animation, and curation. He is interested in the way we shape lived spaces and the environment with mark and object making, and how they both manifest and re-shape our desires.
The Ghost of T.S.Eliot by Ruby Childs
The Ghost of T.S.Eliot displays a set of generated poems, alongside headphones playing a reading of the poems. With new advances in machine learning a computer becomes more and more creative in its own right. This project explores whether an artist can continue eternally; not only through pre-existing works, but new works, created by using machine learning. This piece used a Recurrent Neural Network trained on T.S.Eliot’s poetry to generate new, unseen poems.
Ruby Childs is an avid pattern lover, artist and data scientist currently based in London, often in New York. She has a great interest in how Art can be combined with Machine Learning techniques to push human creativity forward so it becomes a partner, rather than a threat to traditional art processes. Ruby spends a lot of time on physical art processes such as dyeing, printmaking and ebru.
Not Moving Sofa Problem by Baku Hashimoto
This piece is inspired by “the moving sofa problem”, an unsolved mathematical problem as a kinetic sculpture. The “sofa” moves through the L-shaped corridor forward and backward repeatedly. Baku used Cinema4D and Python to calculate and design this piece. After fabricating all the parts by a laser cutter, Baku crafted the piece by sanding its surface for three days. Through this piece, Baku tried to express that his main concern is its aesthetic aspects, not the technology. Read more.
Baku Hashimoto is a new media artist and video director based in Tokyo. He has worked in the fields of music videos, web interactions, installations, and a title sequence of Japanese anime. His way of thinking can basically be described as “making new ways to make”, in terms of both philosophically and practically. He has tried to rise against some certain similarities which are unconsciously added by some specific tools and technologies.
Chatter Box by Katrina Allick
Chatter Box is a multimedia installation of what appears to be a large crowd yelling and arguing from the inside of closet with a sliding door. Simulating the experience of walking into a room where everyone had just talking about you, Chatter Box, when opened, immediately descends into faint whispers, isolated coughs, and a single voice yelling, “No! Get out!”. The closet acts as a symbol for both secrecy and hidden information in our society. While hidden information is a threat to society it is also a consuming obsession whether it be a politician’s declassified emails or someone’s sexuality. When presented with gossip, hype – merely words – how can we as individuals dictate the difference between curiosity and cultural voyeurism? This project was made possible with the help of Katrina’s brother Christopher Allick, who contributed code to the hardware of the piece.
Katrina Allick is a recent New York transplant from San Francisco, CA. Katrina hopes to pursue a creative director path, she hopes to stay connected to DIY spaces that encourage the incorporation of more people of color, women, and queer individuals into the coding and art worlds.
SFPC Blog By Alex Wagner
“SFPC Blog” is a blog about attending the 10-week Fall 2016 semester at School for Poetic Computation. On the first day at SFPC, Taeyoon asked us to create posters of our goals for SFPC. One of my goals was to make “AN SFPC BLOG WITH 1+ ENTRIES PER DAY”. I printed 10 most memorable days from the first half of the semester on a 12-ft by 5-ft corkboard wall space in the hallway leading to SFPC. Read more.
Alex Wagner is a multi-disciplinary artist and writer in New York City. His most recent work focuses on the preservation and documentation of educational experiences, and the archiving of those experiences. Mediums include blogging, field recording techniques, documentary filmmaking, and print media.
Kaleidoscope by Dannie Wei
The Connected Kaleidoscope is an interactive art that encourages the participants to create kaleidoscopic image of themselves and daily objects. The web camera captures real-time image and then turns it into computer-generated images in an aesthetically whimsical projection. A simple interface consists of a turning table and button, as well as Arduino and Processing code. Participants intuitively learn to utilize the system to change the rotation and the number of the symmetries of the kaleidoscopic image. Participants can discover how the daily mundane objects can become to colourful, magical surreal environment surrounding themselves in the images. This project was made possible with the help of colleague Hiroshi Okamura, who contributed the primary code and Robby Kraft who helped refine the code.
Dannie Wei is born in China and based in Melbourne. She is an educator-turned-artist. Her art is primarily inspired by my experience in teaching children and community facilitation. She creates participatory experience to explore new modes of expression and play and seek understand how to design experience for the participants. She thinks about how to create tools for children to help express their creative voice through experimentation.
Radical Research by Medhir Bhargava
Radical Research is a demonstration of what is possible within alternative learning communities like SFPC. The project’s focus was to fearlessly prototype a glucose sensor embedded into textile materials, working towards a wearable device for everyday people to understand how their diet impacts blood sugar levels over time. The display mainly deals with a documentation of the creative and playful process involved with this prototyping, showing a timeline in the form of textile samples that were used in experimentation/creation. A byproduct of this process is an aesthetic that speaks to the artistic practice involved in what may seem like pure scientific research. Over the course of 9 weeks, a proof-of-concept glucose sensing platform was created. The hope of this project is to challenge others to break out of institutional norms and leverage the unique value alternative educational spaces offer. This work simply wouldn’t have happened without the support and diversity of perspectives at SFPC.
Medhir Bhargava is a creative technologist driven by project-based problem solving. Previously he has worked in various capacities as a software engineer, project manager, and computer science curriculum developer. He is interested in and actively seeking out interdisciplinary projects.”
Untitled (A print collection) by Adnan Agha
A collection of eight ideas printed in large (18×24 in.) and small (2.16×3.3 in.) format. Each presented a pithy description for a sarcastic, cynical, or otherwise absurd project. The small cards featured the ideas in outlined text while the large prints were also accompanied by simple, precise illustrations. In addition to the precision of the computer-generated illustrations, Adnan drew captions and additional features by hand to add an imperfect personality to them. Each kernel creates a situation—often darkly humorous ones—that force people to reconsider the interconnectivity, hidden human relationships, and surrounding power structures they take for granted.
Adnan Agha is an artist, filmmaker, and game designer. After graduating from NYU, he founded independent studio Nevernaut Games with three classmates. You can also find him on Twitter where he makes Bad Jokes™ and talks about his cat.
For upcoming workshops and announcement of the program, please sign up to the mailing list on SFPC website.