The Longformers

In the past 50 years we’ve moved from large format broadcasting to micro-casting: targeted, short bursts of information, tailored to the commercial motives of the broadcaster and curated to the so-called needs of the consuming public. As scientists begin to study the effects of these new media on our cognitive and neurological processes, I find myself concerned with society’s weakening ability and motivation to stay properly informed of the goings on in the various public spheres in which it is made up.

Every culture, however, has a counter-culture. In the decade leading up to present day, for example, we have seen a strengthened “slow food” movement, working against the mass food production and distribution of the agribusiness industry. As future generations are faced with both an increasingly facile media as well as a decreased physical ability to consume the “long-form,” how will those looking to stay knowledgeable about their world years from now consume information?

Longformers documents the tools that might be used by this counter-culture as it tries to take on these challenges in the name of a well informed public. A collection of mixed media artifacts, the project considers: how the group would recruit and train new members; the specific forces they are working to counter-act; and how they would document their progress. All of this is intended to inspire a tangible criticality in our next generation of digital native. 

Shape, Inc.

Shape, Inc. is an interventionary program that is meant to disrupt information design’s effortless permeation as de facto representation of what is “true” thanks to a culturally hegemonic privileging of scientific fact, numbers, and data over meaning making through discourse.

This ironic and satirical speculative multi-media narrative is made up of a number of artifacts, including Shape, Inc.’s commercial prototype of a 3D object that floats above a user’s shoulder in an ever-present representation of her values and belief systems, negating the need for the user’s interlocutors to understand her through dialogue.

“Things can become so familiar,” writes James Carey, “that we no longer perceive them at all. Art, however, can take the texture of a fabric, the design of a face, and wrench these ordinary phenomena out of the backdrop of existence and force them into the foreground of consideration.” As Shape, Inc. develops as a project, manifesting itself in different media at each iteration, it seeks to force a sincere questioning of information design’s seductive qualities into that foreground.

Terra Preta Lost Cities

Terra Preta Lost Cities represents a suite of projects that seek to make tangible the algorithmic hegemony in our contemporary systems of entertainment and convenience.

TPLC is made up of two projects:

The YouTube Descrambler seeks to burst the filter bubble manifested by YouTube's Algorithmic investment in—and capitalist motivation to promote—popularity.

Whisper is a device that scrambles your data before algorithms use it to provide recommendations. It can facilitate surprise and serendipity. Maybe your coffee isn't made immediately after you shower and you need to run to Starbucks where you meet the person you end up falling in love with. It can also facilitate dangerous, harrowing experiences. It's possible that your car doesn't correctly infer the route you'd like to take in the morning to the office and instead takes you alongside a sheer cliff. You, the user, choose the degree of scrambling with a simple dial that can be changed at any time.

Inking Darwin

An exploration of the relationship between the cultural tropes associated with Charles Darwin and a popular form which those tropes often take: the tattoo.

Produced for Professor Miranda Mollendorf's History of Art & Science in the Fifteenth to Twentieth Centuries, Harvard Summer 2014

Prometheus Clock

The Prometheus Clock uses a combination of PHP, Python, AppleScript, Shell Script, OpenFrameworks, and MadMapper to search for, download, sort, and project 16 YouTube videos at once onto a custom 14-foot geodesic dome. The piece, designed and built through a collaboration of artists, designers, architects, and a seamstress, seeks to provide its viewers with the experience of Prometheus, a Greek titan with access to a constant stream of human consciousness.

The project was on display in April 2012 at the Fresh Media art exhibit in Boston, the MFA Thesis show at MassArt in May 2012, The American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA in September 2012, the Mazmanian Gallery at Framingham State College in October 2012, the Fourth Wall Gallery (images below) in Boston, MA in January 2013, and at Fresh Tilled Soil's UXFest in Watertown, MA in October 2013.

Conceptualized and built in conjunction with Daniel Buckley.

Audio-Reactive Light Walls & Ceiling

Skeptic's audio-reactive light installations translate data collected from their respective environments into visual representations through an array of RGB LED's and a single Arduino board. Over the past year, the artists have installed the system at venues around Cambridge and surrounding areas, each time customizing the piece to the space in which it was being installed. When the Together Festival sought to enhance the experience of a DJ performance at the Middle East Downstairs, traditionally a concert venue, Skeptic used industrial lighting diffusers commonly found in office drop-ceilings and 300 LEDs to create an 8’ x 12’ audio-reactive display that was mounted on the ceiling over the dance floor, effectively shifting the focus from the DJ to the dance floor and reminding the crowd that they are an integral part of the performance.

Visions of Occupy

This project, created as part of the Occupy Hackathon in March 2012, seeks to pair two pillars of the Occupy movement: the beliefs we have which inspire us to occupy and the occupations themselves.

Using data collected in winter 2012 by the Occupy Research General Survey (administered by OccupyResearch), we take the answer to question 42—”In just a few words, what are you trying to achieve with your participation in the Occupy movement”—and pair it with a Flickr photo tagged with the camp name that the same respondent mentions. This means that while the photo displayed and quote may be completely unrelated (both in source and in specific content), viewers are presented with locational context and imagery.

The resulting pairings are presented on a Tumblr blog, where participants in the movements are encouraged to submit their own combined photo-text responses.