Archive for May, 2014

“4000 lines of one bare circumstance”

Monday, May 12th, 2014 by dparker90

Hi all,

Here’s an excerpt from my final paper (finally!). Read the full version here:

John Keats’s Endymion (1818) – his longest work and first major publication[1] – has long been excluded from the canon of British Romanticism. While some anthologies acknowledge its existence in passing, most make no mention of it. Even Anne Mellor and Richard Matlack’s critically acclaimed British Literature 1780-1830, for example, includes lengthy excerpts from Keats’s earlier unpublished poems while confining Endymion to a single footnote.[2] This purposeful neglect speaks not only to the poem’s universally acknowledged badness – Nicholas Roe calls its lines “awkward and convoluted”[3] – but also to contemporary critics’ insistence on creating consistent authorial oeuvres. How, they wonder, could the youngest of Romanticism’s “big six,”[4] the poet who went on to write “some of the most admired poems in English literature,”[5] have composed such a bad poem? The most common answer is that Keats’s talent had not fully developed; Jack Stillinger discounts the poem as mere training material for better poems that followed, [6] while Roe treats it as a marker of Keats’s youthful radical political influences that he would abandon in later and better works.[7] By trying to squeeze it into a tidy critical framework, these critics do not adequately account for the work’s formal anomalies and overall messiness; more importantly, they fail to question what its condemnation indicates about our standards of poetic excellence and, more broadly, the limits of acceptable discourse practices. This critical sidestepping speaks to our tendency to smooth over difference, anomalies, and ruptures in search of discursive cohesion and fluidity. With its inconsistencies and flaws, Endymion is one such rupture in the seemingly cohesive discourse network of Romanticism.

My paper, then, investigates what this rupture tells us about the unspoken and invisible limits of this network; Endymion exposes those limits by extending beyond them. I argue that its “bad” poetics unabashedly calls attention to it as a mediated work of art – that is, a product of pen, paper, print, hand, and various other constraints imposed on its composition and publication – whereby it reveals and critiques Romanticism’s dominant discursive principle of unmediated natural language. While the movement’s emphasis on nature and natural language has long been recognized, this established aesthetic principle’s relationship with media – and, as I argue, its reaction against it – has not yet been examined. The critical backlash against the poem from its first reviewers, I contend, shows how itsformal flaws forced readers into an uncomfortable awareness of poetry’s inherent artificiality and mediation that was contrary to its dominant natural aesthetic. While prominent poets and thinkers William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge argued for poetry’s relationship to nature and strived to make their verses as close to natural speech as possible, Keats rejects this principle and instead exposes seemingly natural poetry as the product of mediation. In this way, Endymion is not only a reaction against the dominant aesthetic discourse of its time, but also speaks to the way in which writers of this period took advantage of media in order to critique it.



INPUT: NOISE / OUTPUT: SOUND (M.A.L. sound collage) + project write-up

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 by willm2

INPUT: NOISE / OUTPUT: SOUND (M.A.L. sound collage): Final Project Write-up


Listen to the MP3 here: INPUT: NOISE / OUTPUT: SOUND (M.A.L. sound collage)




Among the Dadaists, Futurists, and Surrealists we read in week 7, I was especially interested in Luigi Russolo and his letter which detailed his idea of a Futurist orchestra. His comments about the restrictive nature of contemporary (at his time) music, based on the Greek system of tetracords, was an interesting compliment to the works on discourse network we had read the week previous. By limiting all sound to the consonant intervals mathematically determined by Pythagoras, the Greeks “made impossible harmony they were unaware of.” (Russolo 5) I saw this as an illuminating analogy to the reality-system we view as absolute, but which in fact is merely a product of a certain way of knowing. Russolo’s desire to create noise machines based on the sounds of modernity (cars, industry, war) seemed to spring from a desire to cast off the restrictions of a false-absolute world-picture. Where I broke with Russolo was his technophilia. He wanted to replicate and amplify the sound of machinery because he thought it an appropriate soundtrack to the “increasing proliferation of machinery sharing in human labor” (Ibid 5); it’s clear from his letter that he whole-heartedly thought the mechanization of society was something desirable.


My simultaneous interest/criticism of Russolo’s noise-art project led me to the conception for my own project: a sound collage of the Media Archaeology Lab.




My intent in creating a sound collage was two-fold: first, to show a different model of sound that could stand in contrast to the still present and still limiting array of ‘respectable’ sounds that structure today’s interchangeable mainstream pop music (most of which ironically sounds like the work of machines), and second, to critique Russolo by resisting the idealization of technological progress. In sum: noise can be beautiful, progress not so much. I wanted to reconceive the notion of archive (in the Foucauldian sense) to build on the latter idea. The Media Archaeology Lab is arranged in a way that sometimes suggests an improvement of technology over time. The line of portable computers, for example, begins with the oldest and ends with the newest. When arranged in this fashion, it is hard not to see a refinement of form and an improvement in components. While this improvement is not a complete fantasy (I really don’t want to carry around a 25 pound “portable” computer), it is reductive to view the devices by only these two variables. By scrambling the linear archive, we open up the possibility of new variables to discuss. A sound collage makes no explicit suggestions for other ways to arrange media; it does, however, show that technology can be set into different arrangements, some harmonious, others cacophonous.


The collage I did not want to make would have begun with the churning and groaning of primitive machinery and ended in the total silence of the Apple Store (sans customers). Instead of this narrative, I sought to represent one that was random, strange, circuitous, ruptured.




Creeping like a thief across the freshly waxed floors of the M.A.L. on a Thursday night in April, I laid my Macbook Pro alongside the Apple ][e, inserted the 5¼ floppy disk of bpNichol’s First Screening, flipped the power switch, and hit record. The program was GarageBand, bundleware with every MBP, the microphone was a silver circle on the computer’s side no bigger than a thumbtack. While I did not end up using First Screening in the sound collage, it became the first of around 55 devices/sounds I committed to the memory of my laptop. I tried to record the sounds that were most emblematic of each machine. The entry/eject sounds of computers that required boot-disks. The serene start-up tones of every Macintosh computer. The hideous whine of the NeXT Cube harddrive reading itself on start-up. I captured ambient sounds: background conversation, keyboards clicking, office chairs skirling over the tile floor. The only sounds which were expressly musical (except perhaps for the Mac start-up tones) were those of videogames for the Vectrex, the NES, and the Atari 2600. Asteroids on the 2600, I later discovered, was the first game to ever feature music. I also made noise: I vigorously shook an 8 inch FORTRAN disk (in effect, flopping it).


After I recorded at least one sound from nearly every computer/device in the lab, I set about organizing them by type. Not hardware or software type, but sound-type. Drawing inspiration from Russolo, who organized city sounds into six categories, I arranged the M.A.L. sounds as follows (those used in the collage are bolded):


Drone / whir / buzz

-Altair fan

-Apple Lisa fan

-NeXT Cube fan

-Intellivision Ice Magic

-IBM fan

-Xerox 6016 printer


Susurrus / warble

-FORTRAN disk flopping

-FORTRAN disk pulled in/out of sleeve

-Mouse scraping across table

-Office chair rolling

-Powerbook trackball


Percussive / plosive / thunk

-Nintendo load cartridge

-Atari load cartridge

-Intellivision load cartridge

-Altair switches being flipped

-Mac disk load/eject

-Apple ][e disk load/eject

-Apple III disk load/eject

-Commodore tape deck open/close

-Radioshack disk load/eject

-WP print sound

-Olympia typing

-NeXT mouse clicking

-Amiga mouse clicking

-Portable Mac open/close

-3×5 disks stacking

-3×5 disk datagate open/close

-Osbourne typing

-Apple III typing


Beep / screech / error

-Word Processor error

-Apple ][e error

-NeXt Cube hard-drive read

-Apple ][e start-up screech




-Vectrex start up

-Vectrex Star Trek

-Vectrex Star Castle

-Vectrex Melody Maker

-Nintendo Track and Field

-Nintendo Zelda 2

-Atari 2600 Asteroids



Mac Centris startup tone

-iMac startup tone

-iBook clamshell startup tone

-Powerbook startup tone

-eBook startup tone

-iMac 3 startup tone

-iBook G4 startup tone

-Mac Classic 2 startup


After I had organized the sounds in this fashion, I came up with a general plan for how the collage would work. In order to present a non-linear (and non-corporatized) archive, I wanted to mix new/old, hardware/software, intentional/unintentional sound, error/proper functioning, and machine/human. I wanted the beginning and end of the collage to be similarly ambient, with the middle being a site of dissonance which would increase to the point of discomfort on the part of the viewer. The Drone, Susurrus, and Charm categories featured heavily in the beginning and end, and Percussion mainly occupied the middle. I kept the sounds of the beginning continuing through the middle dissonance, though at a reduced volume, then brought them back for the end. While I did clip and loop various sounds, as well as adjusting volume, I made absolutely no changes to the sounds themselves, happily ignoring the hundreds of ‘effects’ that come with GarageBand. Nor did I alter pitch in any way. Some odd effects happened unexpectedly of course. For instance, I did not expect the FORTRAN disk warble to have such a strong underlying bass-tone. I arranged the sounds in a kind of rhythmic order, sometimes layering two or three identical versions of the same sound in order to get more volume or to mask their beginning or end. The Altair fan and the Xerox 6016 printer sounds were layered three times each, while the eMac start-up tone was partially overlapped across 5 different tracks. I faded various sounds in/out accordingly to create smooth transformation of mood throughout the collage.




One aspect of the collage that caught me by surprise was how it took on the sounds of other machinery. In particular – and this may be a product of endless repetitive listening – the FORTRAN disk warble began to remind me of an oncoming train. In my demo of the project, another student (Sammy I believe) remarked that the cascade of Mac start-up tones at the end reminded her too of an approaching train. This is an apt metaphor for the sound collage. A train barrels into the station, at first its sound is distant and ambient, not entirely unpleasant. As it closes the distance, the sound of its machinery grows louder and louder until it becomes a din. Just as it becomes overwhelming, unbearable, it somehow returns again without ever having left, again distant and calm, and again growing louder.


Works Cited:


Russolo, Luigi, and Robert Filliou. The Art of Noise: (futurist manifesto, 1913). New York: Something Else Press, 1967. Ebook.

[DELETE]: A Media Archaeology of Word Processing

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 by brandontruett

I post here a short abstract of my final practice-based project, entitled “[DELETE]: A Media Archaeology of WordStar and the Osborne’s User-Friendly Ideology.”

In this paper, I focus on the Osborne 1 and its bundled WordStar word-processing program while also accounting for its user manuals. More specifically, I emphasize the role of the delete function as a site where interface design, hardware, and software intersect to disturb the ideology of the user-friendly as endorsed by the user manuals. At the end of this essay, I offer a postscript in which I point to the brief historical moment when the Osborne users tapped Lee Felsenstein’s philosophy of open user access to the machine, as evidenced by his affiliation with both Community Memory and the People’s Computer Company; in the tradition of Felsenstein’s mission, the Osborne users transform the Osborne 1 into a toy rather than a tool.

This paper draws on my semester-long work in the Media Archaeology Lab (MAL) wherein I interrogated the ideology of the user-friendly and its relationship to word-processing technology; see my previous posts for a trajectory of my ideas. Moreover, I admit that my paper is heavily theoretical as it incorporates a range of media and media-archaeological theorists such as Siegfried Zielinski (particularly his praxis of variantology), Friedrich Kittler, Lori Emerson, and Matthew Fuller, as well as Michel Foucault’s notions of archaeology and biopower. However, I attempt to historicize my approach by examining source material (i.e. InfoWorld articles and the newsletters of the People’s Computer Company).

To learn more, feel free to peruse my essay!

M(A)LI – MAL Accessibility Initiative [codename “Mali”]

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 by kylebickoff

Hi all—what a great class, what a great end of the semester. I was ridiculously impressed with everyone’s finals—it seems to me that we take too few courses where we all have a chance to see that amazing individual work everyone produces for the final project.

Here are a few notes on my own final, and a bit of a further description. When developing an idea for this project, I sought out to make it practical and to create a real impact. I asked, how can my project benefit the Media Archaeology Lab, and how can I use my newly gained knowledge from this course to improve the experience of a researcher at the Media Archaeology Lab?

My project morphed as I continually developed new ideas for MAL improvement projects. What I found was that I really wanted to take this opportunity to work outside the bounds of the work I normally engage in. Within the past few weeks, the MAL has received donations from several different donors, and has accumulated weeks of full time work to add to tasks at hand. My archival work in the lab is very often dominated by accessioning of materials, writing up descriptions of donations, completing documentation for each acquisition, and finally curating these new materials. This sort of work is necessary, but at times such a process prevents one from thinking abstractly about the collection as a whole. Moreover, it can force one to approach the materials from the perspective of the archivist, rather than that of the researcher.

By taking on the perspective of the researcher I have shifted my perspective in the lab. I began by engaging primarily with theoretical approaches to Media Archaeology I have gleaned from Parikka. Moreover, Zielinski’s Variantological approach to understanding Media Archaeology has very consciously shifted my approach to understanding the media in the lab.

As described in my presentation, I continued making cards for each system on display in the lab. I have created 45 of these cards for the workstations. The cards take a minimalist approach to addressing the instant needs of researchers in the facility. Although this may not seem significant, the cards have taken me many hours to make. I have carefully researched each system and tested the software demonstration on each to be sure the descriptions are accurate. This took at least 14 hours. Moreover, adding each fact and the basic “powering on” instructions has taken at least an additional 10 hours (given the 45 systems, and their oftentimes slow speeds). On top of the card layout, design, and printing, I have realized the true difficulty of this process. Moreover, engaging in this process has shown me how much care similar projects at other institutions take.

I have also taken on some additional work in the back room. I have removed the Compaq 386, the Apple Portable, an iBook G3 clamshell, and a PowerBook 165 from display. I have instead improved the aesthetic and placed the OLPC and digital Etch-a-Sketch on display. I have also connected the two Timex Sinclair systems (ZX-81 and 1500) to a television in the back, though it seems that there are still some compatibility issues to work out. Come by the lab and see all the changes!

To take a look at my Prezi, which I presented to the class and created to visually indicate the problems I address and the importance of my project, I’ll include the link here. (

Again all, thank you much!


Manifesto for Selfies with the Moon

Monday, May 5th, 2014 by asobol

First: I want to thank everyone in class. It was great. I have so many new ideas to mull over now.

Second: I’m going to continue to work on Selfies with the Moon — I will continue to write poems for the project, and I invite those of you who have Instagram to follow along (@selfieswiththemoon). And I want to take back that thing I said about how I wouldn’t have prints made of these poems — they should exist in whatever format the reader wants them to. I want to encourage every possible reading experience, open it up for manipulation, dissemination, etc.

Third: Following the Futurists, I wrote a manifesto for the project (though it quickly became less a declaration and more of a dialectic constantly contradicting itself). Read it here: Manifesto for Selfies with the Moon

Fourth: here’s a handful of the poems I’ve uploaded to Instagram…

IMG_20140407_133759 IMG_20140411_154540 IMG_20140414_213335 IMG_20140405_115313 IMG_20140403_093201 IMG_20140411_134637

IMG_20140402_112105 IMG_20140402_115856 IMG_20140402_130451 IMG_20140407_125638

Final Project – Word Processor Art

Monday, May 5th, 2014 by contromal

Hey guys! Here is my Artist Statement from my final project and the resultant products:

Theoretical Grounding and Artistic Purpose

​The standardization of “user-friendly” and its seemingly invisible presence teaches man through inculcation to respond to his machines’ prompts. Our culture accepts the incredibly specific role “creators,” the makers of machines and their programs, design for consumers of computers. Nietzsche writes that “our writing tools are also working on our thoughts” (qtd. in Kittler 200). Users engage particular programs for prescribed purposes and anticipate a predictable type of product. It is through disobedience to these learned behaviors and responses that I draw attention to media in my final project. I compose visual images (comprised of words) in a program not intended for that purpose (Microsoft Word). By breaking from the expected form, which would resemble something quite similar to what I am writing now, I ask the audience to scrutinize how machines, especially the graphical user interface (GUI) of computers, influences the consumer’s utilization of computers. In particular, my project questions how machines influence users’ thinking and how the “user-friendly” inhibits creativity. When the user manipulates a program in ways not intended by its creators, in many ways, he fights the limitations of the GUI. The process dissembles the notion of “user-friendly” as a transparent influence over a product and reveals how media shapes the author, his creative imagination, and his invention.

​When Steve Jobs introduced the Apple Macintosh in 1984, he designed his product with “user-friendly” in mind. The Macintosh was the first personal computer marketed specifically for the masses. This computer features a GUI, which allows the user to initiate computer processes by using a mouse to navigate the visual images on a virtual desktop, in lieu of textual commands. In a blog post excerpt from the second chapter of her book Reading Writing Interfaces: From the Digital to the Bookbound (University of Minnesota Press 2014), Lori Emerson outlines the effect of contemporary GUIs on the consumer. She points to the accepted and prevalent model, originating in the Macintosh, as a point of man’s exclusion from the functions of the machine, which the user accepts because of his illusion of
control. She writes that:

user-friendly’ now takes the shape of keeping users steadfastly unaware and uninformed about how their computers, their reading/writing interfaces, work let alone how they shape and determine their access to knowledge and their ability to produce knowledge. As Wendy Chun points out, the user-friendly system is one in which users are, on the one hand, given the ability to “map, to zoom in and out, to manipulate, and to act” but the result is a “seemingly sovereign individual” who is mostly a devoted consumer of ready-made software and ready-made information whose framing and underlying mechanisms we are not privy to. However, it’s not necessarily the GUI per se that is responsible for the creation of Chun’s “seemingly sovereign individual” but rather a particular philosophy of computing and design underlying a model of the GUI that has become the standard for nearly all interface design. (Wendy Chun qtd Emerson 2)

Modern personal computers rely on the popularized GUI model to cultivate the consumer’s superficial relationship with the product. Instead of the user imagining what a computer might do and programming it to do so, he surveys the list of available, ready-made programs and uses one for its intended function. A user, for example, might not understand how a search engine like Google shapes his experience of information. This user might equate a search on Google to searching the entire internet (or the entirety of human knowledge, for that matter). Because of this assumption, he remains unaware of websites Google excludes from its database and oblivious to how Google presents and privileges information. Furthermore, the user gains access to this database by responding to the keyword prompt Google’s search engine requires. The “user-friendly” design shapes how the user searches and filters his experience of information. In spite of the seemingly infinite expanse of information presented, the program limits the creativity of the user and the diversity of the resulatant information. Emerson explains that “Without a fully open, flexible, and extensible architecture, the home computer becomes less a tool for learning and creativity and more a tool for simply ‘handling information.’” “User-friendly” transforms into to a tool of unquestioning passivity. Its systems stifle originality. The system allows users to control, access, and move information, but it trains the user to react to prompts. The user composes on word proccessors, calculates in spreadsheets, and draws in Paint. And, since the use of these machines saturate our society (at this exact moment, I have a PC, a tablet, and a smart phone within three feet of me), it is natural that the habit of interacting with these machines increasingly influences users’ cognitive processes and patterns.

The term “user-friendly” is of course loaded and slippery. It derives from consumer desires and creator requirements. Consumers want to be masters of their machines without feeling dumb or discouraged. Moreover, many resist investing the time, energy, or attention it requires to become experts. Computer corporations devote themselves to creating “user-friendly” devices, which make the consumer believe that they control their product and that the device empowers the consumer. Creators construct the glossy illusion of “user-friendly” with intense labor. In a 1995 issue of Forbes, an article entitled “New Hope for Computer Illiterates” cites the general manager of IBM personal systems division Richard Thoman’s estimate that one in three personal computers taken home “fails.” This overwhelming failure rate motivated creators of personal computers to improve how the consumer both interacts with computers and anticipates interacting with computers. Kelly Stapleton, leader of one of Microsoft’s “usability” think-groups cited in “New Hope,” says that her research division works towards understanding what types of frustrations “novice” users encounter while computing. She relates that “We found surprising things, like people doing budgets in the word processor rather than a spreadsheet because the spreadsheet was too intimidating” (89). The article stresses that “It’s not enough to establish standards so that different parts of a computer system can talk the same language. You have to get inside the mind of the consumer and figure out how to make that language intelligible to him, too” (89). In order to achieve “user-friendly,” programmers watched consumers through one-way mirrors, product teams met for tens of hours with computer-using families, and companies fluxed telephone support lines. Creators devoted themselves to discovering how average consumers consume computers and designing computers which speak and are understood.

Creators trumpeted the “user-friendliness” and transparency of their machines, which came increasingly under criticism as “novice” consumers bought their way into personal computing. “New Hope” laments the “unfriendliness” of computers still experienced in 1995:
Mail merge lets Microsoft Word, the company’s popular word processor, add names and addresses ‘instantly’ to a form letter. But there’s nothing instant about mastering the feature: Walking a perplexed user through mail merge typically takes 30 minutes. Computer pros might have laughed off such problems a few years ago, when most computers sat in offices that had in-house help. But now that the personal computer business is moving to the home market, murky, quirky software and hardware can lose a customer forever. Some marvel that consumers keep on buying, despite their disappointments. (88) The economic impetus of “user-friendly” certainly gained momentum in the 1970s and 1980s, but the battle against “murky, quirky software and hardware” waged on through the 1990s. It continues today. The threat of losing consumers, through a not-so-transparent GUI model, drives the development and determines the marketability of a machine.

In order to create a system, which more efficiently runs (one that is “user-friendly”), the system of variables must be closed. Creators needed to standardize the production of computers and their componenents and relegate man to his place as just another interchangeable part in the system. This concept, although cultivated in computing in the 1980s and 90s, has been an element of how man experiences media for as long as media has existed. Systems of writing, paper, and writing utensils standardize written language. Man, as consumer, becomes increasingly passive in his mediatic participation, espeically as systems become more complex. In Jonathan Crary’s essay “Techniques of the Observer,” he discusses Sir David Brewster’s kaleidoscope, which was invented in 1815. According to Crary, Brewster views “productivity and efficiency” as essential to this visual machine (22). More importantly, he considers it a “mechanical means for the reformation of art according to an industrial paradigm” (22). Evolving visual and industrial technologies require man to play a specific part in the functioning of the machine. No longer the maker, man becomes an element of the machine. Crary justifies this move by applying Marxist theory to elucidate human-machine relationships, “In the factory, Marx contended, the machine makes use of man by subjecting him to a relation of contiguity, of part to other parts, and of exchangeability… the apparently passive observers of the stereoscope and Phenakistiscope were in fact made into producers, by virtue of specific physical capacities, of forms of verisimilitude” (33). By becoming necessary not to the functioning, but to the purpose of the machine, man becomes part of the machine itself. He continually embraces illusions, which deceive him into thinking he maintains control: “An apparatus openly based on a principle of disparity… inevitably would give way to a form that preserved the referential illusion more fully than anything before it” (Crary 35). Man depends on the illusion of natural, human privilege to structure his consumer existence. For our current society, the ways in which consumers want and expect the quick, accessible, and “user-friendly” still denote man as a component of the machine. We become increasingly dependent on technologies as self-explanatory extensions of ourselves and lose sight of what exists external to these tools.

The theoretical grounding for my project centers on Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media. In a chapter entitled “The Medium is the Message,” he writes that “…the ‘content’ of any medium is always another medium. The content of writing is speech, just as the written word is the content of print, and print is the content of the telegraph” and “Indeed, it is only too typical that the ‘content’ of any medium blinds us to the character of the medium” (10, 11). My project attempts to unearth McLuhan’s “character of the medium,” by disrupting the seamless, ubiquitious nature of personalized computing, which reinforces the normalized mode of the GUI. The ever-present PC, in many ways, parallels the presence of the typewriter in the 1960s and 1970s, which led artists to experiment with the gridlike form of mechanical type to create typewriter art, which called into question the form and influence of the medium itself. Emerson writes that the pervasiveness of the typwriter had made it “invisible to its users. It is precisely at the point at which a technology saturates a culture that writers and artists, whose craft is utterly informed by a sensitivity to their tools, begin to break apart that same technology to once again draw attention to the way in which it offers certain limits and possibilities to both thought and expression.” My project imitates the hacker-typewriter artists Emerson discusses.

In my compositions, I draw attention to the limitations and requirements of the computer as media and the word processor as a program. I ask the reader to consider how the visual images I construct, along with the words that assemble them, strengthen or undermine comfortable and familiar interfaces. Niebisch requires that the ‘abuse of media’ requires one to “(ab)use media technologies… in the system in a way not intended by hegemonic powers” (9). To this end, my conceptual poetry reassembles advertisements, articles, and instruction manuals in the two dimensional shape of the lauded product on the pages of a word processor. Visual and rhetorical devices, meant to seduce the user into placidly dismissing the limitations of technology or the influences of media, interact with the user in this new construction, which takes shape in a program not intended for prose-like compositions. These difficult-to-read compositions emphasize the presence of a GUI in the “user-friendly.” They are a product of the program in which (and artifacts from which) they were composed. If the observer interacts only superficially, casually observing the image with no interrogation of the words, the item remains “user-friendly.” However, as he transitions to an active reader of the project, he must work to discover what occurs underneath the most accessible interface.

Like the typewriter art of the 1960s and 1970s, the intent of my art is to draw attention to the the media of the composition. My work disobeys the prompts of the GUI to emphasize the idea that pre-packaged programs elicit conditioned responses and stifle genuinely creative uses of computing devices. I do not suggest that personal computing would be better off without a GUI. However, I hope that my work points to the creative space negelcted by blindly accepting a supposedly invisible interface and encourages consumers to acknowledge how media influences their thoughts and creations.








Also, as I was working with transferring my compositions, some of them were “glitched” by the new interface! I would love to extend my project to explore these types of images. Here are three exciting ones:




The Final Result

Sunday, May 4th, 2014 by eadodge


The results turned up some interesting questions about the complacency of education in the blackboxing of technologies. Enjoy!


Final project: The Phonograph

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014 by sdileonardi

Final project: The Phonograph

Success is subjective, right? It may not work, but it was worth re-inventing. I hope others enjoy taking a look at my final project and maybe even respond with a comment. I make some claims about how the phonograph might fit into a variantological perspective that may not be entirely accurate, so challenge me!

Please do let me know if there are issues with the link so I can fix them. 

Thanks to all my classmates and Professor Emerson for a great semester,


Never Quite Done – The Process is the Project

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014 by angelarovak

What occurs to me most is that my project could continue on almost indefinitely. With this realization, I am consciously stopping for now. Please head over to The Process is the Project for the “final” result. I hope you can spend a bit of time clicking through and I truly hope you enjoy. I am particularly fond of the Artist Statement.

It has been a pleasure, and an eye opening experience, to say the least.

To quote myself: “I am the common factor, I am the medium through which these elements worked.”

Lefting the User-Friendly – Final Project Post

Friday, May 2nd, 2014 by samanthalong88

Here is a link to my final project, “Lefting the User-Friendly:  An Experiment in Altered Images.”

And here’s a few excerpts from it: