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Generated By Artificial Stupidity

Today’s cutup always generates a surplus of images with which I sometimes try to generate more interesting collages and sometimes create animate gifs with a series of similar sized images.

The raw gif for this series ended up being a bit too large for my blog to handle but after processing via https://ezgif.com/ it brought it down around 10MB which I could upload.

$ identify coalesce-Oct-30-2021-114.jpg
coalesce-Oct-30-2021-114.jpg JPEG 1000x820 1000x820+0+0 8-bit sRGB 196458B 0.000u 0:00.000

The images come from stories I randomly select in my mostly unread RSS reader. Each day I select 100 random stories, scrape the images and text from them and reassemble. Since I am not able to read all the stories in my RSS reader I would like to take a random sample of material from them and create this assemblage which will at least give me a vague idea of what is happening in the Internet world today.

As if I didn’t know a certain Internet site was pitching a new idea. Which will go horribly wrong in my opinion, but what are you going to do. Make art is one thing I can do, or at least try.

In my RSS reader at the moment there are 89,307 unread stories. So there is a lot going on I will never know about, but with this method I have devised of “cutting up” the Internet I can filter out a few interesting things.

#!/bin/bash

DATE=$(date +"%b-%d-%Y")
IMAGE_NUMBER=$1
IMAGE_SIZE=$2
DELAY=$3
EXPECTED_ARGS=3
E_BADARGS=65

if [ $# -ne $EXPECTED_ARGS ]
then
  echo "Usage: Needs a number to put on the end of the file name, plus the
  image size of the images to animate. Also put the delay as the third 
  paramter"
  exit $E_BADARGS
fi

IMAGES_TO_ANIMATE=$(identify coalesce-"$DATE"-* | grep "$IMAGE_SIZE" | awk '{ print $1 }')
echo
echo " * Images To Animate:"
echo ""
echo $IMAGES_TO_ANIMATE
echo ""
echo "File Name will be: coalesce-$DATE-$IMAGE_NUMBER.gif"
echo

convert -delay "$DELAY" $IMAGES_TO_ANIMATE coalesce-"$DATE"-"$IMAGE_NUMBER".gif

Above is the script that has to be run from the directory where all the collected images live. It is a fairly dumb bash script.

~/Werk/coalesce/2021/10/30/images$ shellcheck create-gif-series.sh 

In create-gif-series.sh line 27:
convert -delay "$DELAY" $IMAGES_TO_ANIMATE coalesce-"$DATE"-"$IMAGE_NUMBER".gif
                        ^----------------^ SC2086: Double quote to prevent globbing and word splitting.

Did you mean: 
convert -delay "$DELAY" "$IMAGES_TO_ANIMATE" coalesce-"$DATE"-"$IMAGE_NUMBER".gif

For more information:
  https://www.shellcheck.net/wiki/SC2086 -- Double quote to prevent globbing ...

If I quote the variable which contains all the image names the script will not work. Running the script to create a gif:

~/Werk/coalesce/2021/10/30/images$ bash create-gif-series.sh 5 1000x820 30

If the variable is quoted in the command as shellcheck suggests:

convert -delay "$DELAY" "$IMAGES_TO_ANIMATE" coalesce-"$DATE"-"$IMAGE_NUMBER".gif

Would result in:

convert-im6.q16: no decode delegate for this image format `' @ error/constitute.c/ReadImage/560.
convert-im6.q16: no images defined `coalesce-Oct-30-2021-5.gif' @ error/convert.c/ConvertImageCommand/3258.

But if I leave the command unquoted then it will produce an animated image like the ones above.

The blog post here explains this is due to the “IFS” or Internal Field Separator in bash. From what I gather when the variable is quoted, it is interpreted as a list of things which should be split by space, tab and line feed. Which is not what I want. I am not claiming to understand, this is a fuzzy part of bash that I don’t entirely grasp. Sure enough I could illustrate with the “cat -et” command:

echo " * Images To Animate: Quoted"
echo ""
echo "$IMAGES_TO_ANIMATE" | cat -et
echo ""
echo " * Images To Animate: Not Quoted"
echo ""
echo $IMAGES_TO_ANIMATE | cat -et
echo ""

Then using another image size (this would make a really big gif)

~/Werk/coalesce/2021/10/30/images$ bash create-gif-series.sh 6 4046x2275 30

 * Images To Animate: Quoted

coalesce-Oct-30-2021-137.jpg$
coalesce-Oct-30-2021-184.jpg$
coalesce-Oct-30-2021-374.jpg$
coalesce-Oct-30-2021-3.jpg$
coalesce-Oct-30-2021-60.jpg$
coalesce-Oct-30-2021-81.jpg$
coalesce-Oct-30-2021-89.jpg$

 * Images To Animate: Not Quoted

coalesce-Oct-30-2021-137.jpg coalesce-Oct-30-2021-184.jpg coalesce-Oct-30-2021-374.jpg coalesce-Oct-30-2021-3.jpg coalesce-Oct-30-2021-60.jpg coalesce-Oct-30-2021-81.jpg coalesce-Oct-30-2021-89.jpg$

I don’t quite understand, but it’s good to know. I think I could make an array, or disable the IFS variable by setting it nothing, or just ignore not having quotes on that variable which is what I have chosen to do for now. Eventually I would like to rewrite the scripts in Python, and learn the wrong to do this in a new language. But not today.

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Connections

Developing these things, relationships. Is it the only way to get things done? The Chinese word 关系 “guānxi“. In a sense it is, no one exists in a vacuum.

The goal is to build my own online art gallery. My own art museum. I have things that I would like to put in it. There are things I would like to start collecting. There are things that I would like to link from it. Connections. It’s more of a longer term plan and I’ll sure need some help.

For now I keep working toward being able to work on TheWork. Making small steps. I made some animated gifs from the “coalesced” images I collected today. I noticed there were many 500×500 pixel images, so I grabbed them all…

~/Werk/coalesce/2021/10/25/images$ identify coalesce-Oct-25-2021-* | grep 500x500 | awk '{ print $1 }' > animate.txt

And coalesced them into a .gif like so:

~/Werk/coalesce/2021/10/25/images$ convert -delay 10 -loop 0 coalesce-Oct-25-2021-107.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-119.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-124.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-136.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-137.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-139.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-142.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-143.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-148.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-156.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-168.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-176.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-178.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-1.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-220.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-230.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-233.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-238.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-268.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-287.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-296.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-298.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-301.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-315.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-316.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-317.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-318.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-329.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-337.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-338.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-343.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-346.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-34.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-35.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-375.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-395.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-396.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-399.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-47.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-4.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-62.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-72.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-76.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-88.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-93.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-95.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-96.jpg coalesce-Oct-25-2021-1.gif

I tried the transitions at different speeds and not sure which is best. The typical 10 value I use for the delay which is much shorter than a second? A millisecond? I dunno what unit of time it is, but it’s quick. Seizure inducing quick which can be annoying so I’ll include it at the bottom. Starting out a little slower, here is what the transition looks like at a delay of 60:

Here is a delay of 30:

Here is the delay of 10, I hope you are ready for the strobe effect:

The last one went well w/ the latest Ministry album which I listened to today:

I started out the day listening to St. Vincent which is a bit calmer but tempered by a bit of the same cynicism maybe that Ministry brings to the table. It is needed now even more that 1989 I dare say. I really wasn’t going anywhere with this, but there are some connections for me.

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VOCAT

I added a new letter to my initialism for judging which of my creations are worthy of displaying as an artwork. I added a final T, which allows for it to still have a fun sounding pronunciation.

  • V for the vibe of the thing.
  • O for originality, does the image look unique, like something you haven’t seen before?
  • C for composition, do the different images or layers work together?
  • A for aesthetic, does the image look like art?
  • T for how transformational the image is. Does it depart from the source material, or is there something from the source material that still defines the image?

The scale is one to ten for each category and of course just arbitrary judgements that I would not likely cast the same way twice. It allowed me to pick this image as the most suitable collage to represent my art today:

coalesce-Oct-10-2021-214.jpg

It’s suitably abstract, it has a certain style and really doesn’t depend on any one element from the source material. There were many other images that I scored very close to this one. This scoring a 42 out of 50. There were several 41’s today like this one:

coalesce-Oct-10-2021-368.jpg

Looking through some of the images I somewhat randomly allocated in the daily cutup, if I went through the images again I would most certainly judge differently. I skipped over this one, but I think it deserves a second look:

coalesce-Oct-10-2021-202.jpg

There are some identifiable features in there but I think the composition works well. Not the best day for collages today. Yesterday there was one simple collage that struck me. I didn’t bother to rate it on the scale, I knew it was the one from the effect it had on me.

It has this kind of after school special sort of feeling. The mask hanging on the door knob and a couple embracing. It’s sort of suggestive, but of what I really don’t know. It stopped and made me think though. Since it feels very now to me, I’ve offered it on Hic Et Nunc as an NFT. Hic Et Nunc, which means “here and now in Latin, is supposed to be a kinder, gentler NFT marketplace using the Tezos blockchain.

I’ve stopped creating NFT’s on the OpenSea marketplace for now, using the Ethereum v1 blockchain, but there are 100 NFTs available there in this collection.

I’m closing in on a year of cutups on Coalesce.me. I looked back over the past few months today and it’s an interesting way to reflect back on things. They are like a dream of the news and things I’ve read over the past few months. Some days the cutup is memorable to me, and I remember the quick assembly process and my thoughts and reactions to the text and images, and other days are a mystery and I can’t really remember having seen them before. Some days I skim over the text quicker than others. Sometimes I might look up something a name or phrase that got posted in the text. Or recognise something in an image. Whatever it is I am doing it’s something I have to do. Dealing with the passage of time and the urge to create something.

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Two Decades

Two decades of largely living digitally. Two points in time where we all take a reality check. Thinking back to my twenty year ago self, I would never have guessed that I would be half way around the world and marking the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 by getting my second dose of vaccine to help protect against a virus causing a global pandemic. The fact that America was attacked by terrorists and that a global pandemic has happened are not surprising to me, I saw the warning signs for both well before they happened. Still no less shocking when these terrible things ultimately manifest. Things are not going to get much better I’m afraid. The cycle of violence in the world is set to continue. It may have been hundred years since the last major pandemic, but then next one might not stay in abeyance that long. What can you do. We can try to use less electricity. Burn less oil. I don’t think we are going to do a very good job of it. One thing I set out to do after the 9/11 attacks was to not own a car. I’ve only been partially successful in doing that. I share a car with my wife. I don’t drive to work, but she does. I still consume a great deal of electricity. My work is on the Internet and this is powered by electricity, with out the Internet well, I guess I would get by, but my life as I know it would be very different. I couldn’t make this digital collage for instance:

coalesce-Sep-11-2021-389.jpg

I wouldn’t be making “generative art” which twenty years ago I was just beginning to comprehend. I didn’t quite understand it as an art-form at that point but I was thinking about it. Now I have a daily art practice. I create at least 400 digital collages a day. Most of them going unseen, but when I get chance I try to review them and pick out my favourites. I’ve devised a scale for picking out the ones I think work well. Some people worry about taking copyrighted images off the Internet, but do traditional collage artists worry about where they get their material? If you are cutting up magazines to create collages do you worry about violating copyright? Maybe you are not scanning those collages and putting them online and trying to sell them. As electricity consuming NFTs no less. Let’s just say I will claim fair dealing if anyone asks. And go from there.

My goal is to begin working on floydwilde.gallery, inspired a great deal by this website:

I believe we need more sites like these that are just fun and promote the digital arts. There is blank piece of digital paper in front of me. More than that an empty digital space that I want to fill. The only problem is that I need to consume electricity to fill it. It’s purely a selfish need. I need art in my life and I want to curate it on my own terms. I’m doing research on green web hosting and advocating for it where I can. But I need power. Let’s just try to use less of it. One idea for a art project is to have a site that is not always on… A website that is only available for 8 hours a day for instance, and then shuts itself down. It’s a art site, not a commerce site, where you need to buy buy buy at all times. Make money while you are sleeping, is that your dream? Ha, see what I did there. Ok that’s enough writing for today.

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Chance Operations

One incentive for myself to write here more often, is that in the RSS reader that Coalesce.me draws upon to create the daily cutup, is a subscription to this very blog. I’ve idly thought about writing a script to go through and pull out random images from my personal photo collection and collage them together in some way. If I put some images into this post, there is a chance they will be selected for the daily cutup.

The National Museum of China

But how to select a random image? Well, are large portion of the photos I have taken, mainly w/ my Canon EOS M10, are in my ~/Pictures folder. So a quick google around for “linux filesytem pick random file” I found a suitable command mentioned here:

The actual recommended way did not work for me, but further down in the comments someone suggested using “shuf” which is a command I used in the cutup script also.

[email protected]:~$ find Pictures/ -type f | shuf -n1
Pictures/2017/08/24/IMG_6352.JPG

Yielded the photo I took from the inside of the National Museum of China a few years ago.

Sunset in New Zealand

It gives me a way to explore my photos directory and potentially insert them into the collage maker. It’s a slim chance but you can’t win if you don’t play. Unless it’s the lotto, in which case I agree with Fran Lebowitz on your chances there. Out of the 400 images generated each day, I usually only look at about 40 or 50 to insert into the daily cutup. But on some days like today, I’ll look at a few more. The ones that didn’t make it, like this one.

I should probably do something more productive with my time. But I don’t have much of it, time that it is, on this sunny and warm spring day. Above is image #1 generated today. Works for me as a basic digital collage. Here is #400, the last in the batch:

Welp, that is all the time I have for day. Someone just opened my door and said, “It’s a Norwegian Blue”. Time to go.

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Today’s Favourite Collage

Everyday I take random images from my RSS reader, and composite them with random options fed into ImageMagick. Which I’ve mentioned before. WordPress really doesn’t have a way interlinking posts does it? Anyway.

Just looking at the blocks of things you can do w/ WordPress, oh look a verse block. I did start writing a poem the other day.

Standing on the shoulders of giants
First of all they are not giants
They were just regular people like you and me
Sure, some of them were taller than others
But the point is they were just human like the rest of us
They may have been smarter or more talented 
But altogether human
And we are not standing on them, we are learning from them

Something like that, I’ve already thought up 1 or 2 other versions. Starting a few days ago in the shower. That is where poetry comes from. Not some muse or inspiration, it’s the shower.

So I didn’t start out planning to write that, but there it just happened. What I really wanted to write about is the collage selection process. In the daily cutup I don’t have a way yet of inserting the collages randomly. And honestly it’s just a crap shoot everyday, which is why the 400 are created. Sometimes the options don’t work and a collage is not really created. I’m certainly not saying my process is perfect, it’s just the best I could do in the time that I have. But sometimes the options do work and I’m pleased with the way several images are composited together. It’s quite a time consuming task to go through the images and judge which ones worked best. I’ve spent many hours looking at the images and trying to come up with a scale. The scale I came up w/ is called VOCA, for Vibe, Originality, Composition and Aesthetic.

The VOCA scale.

So if I really had time, I would first quickly go through and select my favourites. Then from my favourites narrow down to a even smaller batch, the short-list, and then judge them on the scale. And that is how I would choose which one I would make into a NFT, my selection for June 6th here.

I’m done with the NFTs for now though. Now I have decided to just focus on my blog here. It’s time to write and just journal things here for now. I am of course interested in what’s going on here:

But not enough to learn how to use Tezos and a new blockchain wallet etc… Oh, I just randomly found an article from one of my new favourite sites looking for that. There is so much interesting stuff going on in the world…

Anyhow Today’s favourite collage on the VOCA scale. Also I cheated and only looked at the last 100 or so collages, but this is what I came up with:

https://coalesce.me/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/coalesce-Sep-05-2021-319.jpg

Vibe: You know the vibe of the thing. How does it make it you feel? This image above had the vibe of the collage of the day.

Originality: Does it take the source material and do something new with it? Does it look unique? I think this image scored higher on that:

https://coalesce.me/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/coalesce-Sep-05-2021-313.jpg

Where the first image has more recognizable elements from the source material. I mean you can recognise a chair in 313 but there is a still from the upcoming Dune movie which forms the basis of the 319 collage. And if you look closely the other figure superimposed on the man in the hat is Jemain Clement from What We Do In The Shadows. I don’t normally like recognisable people in the collages but it’s unavoidable and the composition on the left side of the image is good. Could use more work on the right side, where it’s interesting but just the set design of the film coming through.

Composition: Do all the elements of the collage work well together? Are they combined in an interesting way that doesn’t look like a random computer program assembled it? Having a hard time finding an example of that today, but this might have a higher score in that area:

https://coalesce.me/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/coalesce-Sep-05-2021-299.jpg

Okay it still looks a bit random, but there is some sort of composition there. There are hard edges from the layered images, but they work better than in the first or second images. And finally:

Aesthetic: Basically, does it look nice? Do the colours work?

The above images would also score highly for me in this category. I think the blues and reds work well together and there is some nice patterns in there. In fact I think 299 might be my favourite of the day. There was one more I think deserves honourable mention:

https://coalesce.me/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/coalesce-Sep-05-2021-388.jpg

I mean it looks like there is a Apple watch in there, you can’t get much more aesthetic than that right? Since I don’t have time to go through the 400 collages each day, I just randomly upload an assortment which get put into the daily cutup. The last one here, 388 was included in that batch but the other three I have mentioned here, 299, 313 and 319 were not and on most days they would just go ignored and unseen. Since today I have some time I was able to go through all the images and pick some favourites.

So you tell me, what the hell is this? A waste of time. Well be that as it may, it happens. This is how I consume and regurgitate the Internet in 2021 and try to make art.

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Some cats I’d like to buy

Searching for collage on OpenSea this morning, I found:

https://opensea.io/assets/matic/0x2953399124f0cbb46d2cbacd8a89cf0599974963/47381297343834251554447485538334712152815840020733518414048122919960551882753/

The first time I tried to buy it the gas cost was around $60. I waited a few minutes and then it went up again. I guess I’ll come back later.

This photography is amazing:

Today an interesting title:

I had never heard of the Haim sisters. I enjoyed this live set from last year:

Today I am learning me some Kubernettes.

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Express yourself

This is a concept that is easier said than done. Although it certainly brings this song to mind.

You have to choose your art form. Mine happens to look something like this today.

https://coalesce.me/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/coalesce-Sep-04-2021-364.jpg

A collage which was generated for, but not included in the daily cutup. One of 400 collages I generated today. Why? Why not, someone has to do it. That is my philosophy anyway, about digital collage. Like the mountain when asked why he climbs mountains. Because it’s there.

https://coalesce.me/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/coalesce-Sep-04-2021-394.jpg

For me it’s the adoption of an art practice that keeps me going. No one else would be looking at these images and constructing this textual sculpture in exactly this way. The generated text seems to be a narrative. It’s not, but my mind wants to make it into one. With out any real conscious effort it tries to make connections and meaning.

I reach out and she clasps my hand. “Stay same thing. Someday, maybe.”

I visualise a scene in some unmade Anime, a women shot, in broken English farewells her would be foreign lover. I don’t mind telling you the text for the titles are plucked out from a mass of text, which is later further processed and recombined.

Los Angeles polite post assumes that this will be the result of these changes of dual workers and caregivers, and some “gender baggage” will have an impact because they can escape people from provoking future wealthy people. Shot, she took my hand. “Keep it as it is. One day, maybe.”

This text has been shuffled and translated in and out of Chinese, but you can recognize some of the source material is the same. It’s rough text that doesn’t really make sense. The point is to de-construct the text and recombine it in an unexpected way. A way to generate new ideas. A daily oracle based on the text and images being published on the Internet, that I might look at but don’t have the time. Digested and regurgitated into a slightly gross pattern. There is no meaning but what you make of it — what you can derive from it. It’s just a thing that I do, a service I provide.

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Incremental Improvements

Eventually the daily cutups at coalesce.me will be completely automated. But today we are not quite there yet. While a series of scripts create the cutups and collages, choosing and inserting the collage into the post each day remains a manual task. I don’t really know how to automate that part yet, but I have some ideas and realising those is a bit further down the road.

Since I knocked together some scripts to create the cutup each day last November I’ve only been making some small changes and tweaks here and there. Formerly the cutup job would run at a given time, and choose the 100 last stories sorted by the id the database assigned to a piece of content. Not necessarily the most recently updated stories by date. And besides, what I really wanted was something like a random selection of stories over the past day. Not the most recent 100 stories from a choose time. Which is what I was trying to achieve and kind of failing to get. So today I changed the query from this:

select content from FEEDENTRYCONTENTS order by id DESC,id desc LIMIT 100;

Which ordered the results solely based on the arbitrary id number the database assigned to the piece of the content. To this slightly more complicated query:

select content FROM FEEDENTRIES INNER JOIN FEEDENTRYCONTENTS ON content_id = FEEDENTRYCONTENTS.id where updated > DATE_SUB(CURDATE(), INTERVAL 1 DAY) order by RAND() LIMIT 100

Which is simply joining the entries table which has the date the entry was updated, and selected 100 random entries from the past day. I am not exactly sure how it is defining the past day, it seems like entries could be from the current day, all the way back to just after midnight for the previous day. So maybe the results from a little bit more that the past 24 hours. Which is good enough for me.

It’s also possibly for me to grab the url of each story, and the thought crossed my mind to fetch more text from the actual url that my RSS reader is serialising. Not all feeds provide the whole text of the story, just a summary and sometimes nothing but a title. But I am getting enough a text to work with so not really inclined to fetch more. Whatever is in the RSS reader’s database is what I have to work with.

There are more improvements I want to make on this long road to full automation. I would like to use those url’s for each story to randomly create hyperlinks to the source stories, and just randomly allocate them to bits of text in each post. No idea how to do that yet, but it will take some experimentation I am sure. I might be creating something like a staging.coalesce.me only I need to think of a better thing that staging to call it. Maybe next.coalesce.me to start experimenting more while keeping the current process going.

Welp, next incremental improvement might be to create some montages automatically when I have enough small images to work with. Something like…

MONTAGES=$(for i in coalesce-*; do identify $i | grep 150x150; done | wc -l)
if [ "$MONTAGES" -gt "100" ]; then
echo "create montages"
fi

And they say this isn’t work.

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Painting with Brain Waves

The City Gallery exhibit called The Algorithmic Impulse closed about a week ago which meant it was time for me to go and pick up my artwork that I had created as part of it.

Back in January I went to the City Gallery and donned an EEG headset and sat at a desk writing Chinese characters while Simon Ingram’s Monadic Device drew a picture from the output of my brain waves.

Here is the finished product:

This is a page from my notebook I was working on that day:

Not exactly any resemblance but the long stroke and small dots which for the bottom part of 意 (yì) and 思 (sī) do remind me of some of the long curving strokes and little dots throughout the work that the machine created.

Now what I am going to do with this thing? For now it is sitting on top of the piano in the hallway.