Blog

Zebra Ear, Deer Fur, Piece of World Record Polar Bear. - March 11, 2019

I am not a diarist, but I do hold my memories very dear. Objects have taken over the role of archivist in my life. When I pick up something as insignificant as a receipt or an old tee-shirt, I am reminded of where and under what circumstances it came into my life. The objects become a link to the memory. In the case of a somewhat trivial memory – the location of one of a hundred dinners with a friend – the object feels like my sole link to that memory.

MARC Agents - March 06, 2019

MARC Records MARC records are the keys to the castle. They represent access to vast swaths of human knowledge and understanding and they give us the ability to sort, search and classify this knowledge in useful ways. And yet, approaching the records directly feels like approaching the Library of Alexandria without knowing how to read: I spent this week trying to understand how to make a “machine readable” record into something a bit more approachable for humans.

FM / VHF / UHF - March 01, 2019

For this assignment, I recorded voices on three frequency bands of radio: FM broadcast (87.5-108Mhz), Very High Frequency (30Mhz to 300Mhz), Ultra High Frequency (300Mhz - 3 Ghz). Unencrypted radio is unique among modes of communication / conversation in how messages are passed from individual to individual. Messages are usually broadcast for all to hear and it is up to the intended recipient to decide which messages they should receive (through both analog and digital systems) and respond to.

Narrative Maps - February 11, 2019

At what point in our relationship with a character does narrative emerge? For some background, I watch documentary content on youtube, and have noticed a trend in my viewing habits: I will start watching videos from a particular presenter because I am drawn to the content. As I watch more videos from that presenter, my interest will shift from the content of the videos to the presenter themselves.

Gates of No Return - February 07, 2019

What struck me first on visiting Paa Joe’s “Gates of No Return” at the American Folk Art Museum was just how vibrant and bright each of the pieces was – in stark contrast to the horrible histories they represented. If I hadn’t known the history of the sites and the people that passed through them, I would have spoken of the whimsy with which they were at times represented. One of them in particular was colored in brightly colored blobs, which I assumed was a somewhat fanciful recreation of the rocks from which it was constructed.

Joe, age 11, picking morel mushrooms - February 06, 2019

Joe, age 11, picking morel mushrooms A young boy in a sporty blue and white jacket and baseball cap looks directly at the camera. He holds out his right hand to show a morel mushroom he has picked. His expression is honest and unposed and shows a hint of a smile. This photo appears as part of the Coal River Folklife Collection - a collection of photos, audio recordings, and other media, which sought to record, ‘traditional uses of the mountains in the Big Coal River Valley of southern West Virginia, and explored the cultural dimensions of ecological crisis from 1992 to 1999.

Hourly Comic - February 03, 2019

A day in the life, following an hourly comic format:

Painting Agents - December 19, 2018

This project uses reinforcement learning to train an agent to paint a picture. I wanted to see a particular effect – namely having a number of agents working autonomously (i.e. controlled by separate ‘brains’) and cooperatively to complete a task. What is Reinforcement Learning? Reinforcement learning is a method of training a machine learning model. It uses a reward structure, rather than a set of known (labelled) data, to learn how to complete a task.

Paradise Blues - October 23, 2018

This project explores real-time interactive world-building in virtual reality. Users speak and objects appear around them. They ask kindly and mountains move. Basically, it turns them into the gods of their own terrible little worlds. Voice control allows virtual reality to feel a little closer to our reality, in which spoken words have meaning and merit responses. This experience allows us to consider what might happen when virtual reality advances enough to feel truly real: will we all succumb to the temptations of complete control and live our lives in VR?

The Future We Wanted - October 08, 2018

This short story presents a not-too-distant future in which people have complicated relationships with other people, with their own self-concept and with ‘virtual identities.’ In short, very little about this world feels unlike our own. The aspect of this future scenario which felt most interesting was how the main character and her (AI-native) children had a very different conception of the virtual assistant, Augusta. I was reminded of a talk from Stefania Druga (Media Lab) about her research into ‘Growing Up with AI’.