VNS Matrix / Merchants of Slime

Live on June 30th, a digital archive for Australian cyberfeminist collective, VNS Matrix / Merchants of Slime.

’90s-period CRT phosphor colours, monospace fonts, highly structured and interlinked data, emerging from over a year of conversations and work with the Merchants of Slime. Deep adoration for Web 1.0 aesthetics, sliding into contemporary possibilities for accessibility, interaction, responsiveness, and clarity.

By far the largest project I’ve undertaken, handling archival data management, utterly masses of PHP, JS, and CSS, and teasing out over months the design, aesthetic, and movement through hundreds of pages and thousands of media files – all while trying to keep it properly accessible, semantic, responsive, logical, even simple, while the phosphor burns the screen.

Heaps big thanks to Virginia Barratt and VNS Matrix for going, “Yeah, Frances is what we want.” And hectic reps to research assistant Clare Bartholomaeus for all the scanning and cataloguing.


Slime is Live, Cunt

Phosphor burn digital archaeology slime archive for the 21st century, cunt.


Georg, with whom I worked on co-writing The Station, asked me if I’d like to do another piece of co-writing with him, this time an opera libretto. I said yes (duh!). Last Friday, we had a three-way chat with Henry Vega, the composer, about Alan Turing, neural networks, science fiction, queer stuff, and all, for a sharp hour (Georg’s good like that with his one-hour meetings).

Today I spent a couple of hours (after some dipping of toes last night) in installing TensorFlow-Char-RNN, a “a character level language model using multilayer Recurrent Neural Network,” as made wildly lovable by Janelle Shane of Letting neural networks be weird. That involved installing TensorFlow. I went for the direct MacOS approach (after toying with either a Vagrant VM or Docker container) of the Virtualenv flavour. Plus Python 3. And pip. Dependencies. We have them.

A bit of faffing around, and out is spat a ‘Shakespeare’:

t ‘vkdwsa avf
neu irot rS
, mvuaeea giCsouo aed renat rs
;iiweszteseooiiWhe thrr l st !htt :hsre

I mean, I was expecting a single, long ‘aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’, so this was progress.

More faffing, fans to 6000rpm, CPU to 500%, and some short while later, ‘Shakespeare’!

Before we proceed any further,
Or each doth now foul branch with thy preser’d up
Young to devise me him;
But in my jewities rebeeve me to this,
Your soul than daggers and breeding
some abrother Arms
What will be pronound with a husband; he’s beauty much or a slaughter,
But I’ll wring my false find than how ill.

Nailed it.


Ars Electronica

Wednesday in Linz. I had to pick up some requirements for S.J Norman’s Rest Area and pick up Kali Rose from the train station, all the way from Amsterdam to be the person in the bed in the van of Rest Area. I had an hour to kill, and had planned Sunday for mediæval art (did not happen), so went to Ars Electronica.

I’m rethinking my museum-ing, or at least for the moment not taking hundreds of photos, editing and blogging scores. These are simply things I liked and felt motivated enough to photograph. There’s so much in the museum, and much of it is temporal, interactive, and 3-dimensional; photography doesn’t serve these well.

I sent “Your unreadable text message to +43 664 1788374” for Stefan Tiefengraber’s your unerasable text. My phone autocorrected. It was pushed to the shredder then sat there, unshredded. The pink of the Biolab was so, so, very hot, florescent, candy, neon pink, rendered as something less than all those and fuchsia by my camera. Markus Reibe’s Protected Areas 2 is the closest thing to recognisable, non-interactive, 2-dimensional art I saw, on a wall documenting the history of what was digital / new media / computer art, and what I just call art these days. The atrium of Ars Electronica was bus yellow and grey cement. If I had time, I would have spent hours here with hundreds of photos.


Our first manifesto we released by fax. We didn’t …

Our first manifesto we released by fax. We didn’t have problems spelling the word, ‘cunt’; I think it was the word ‘manifesto’ we had problems with.

VNX Matrix, Virginia Barratt & Francesca di Rimini, overheard in Wired interview in my lounge


Nothing You Have Done Deserves Such Praise

An occasional yet delicious pleasure when an email from Jason Nelson unfurls in my Inbox, he of sydney’s siberia and other digital creatures, and i made this. you play this. we are enemies (which means the last time I got an email from him was three years ago), and now a commission from Turbulence called Nothing You Have Done Deserves Such Praise. I played immediately.

I seldom see Flash on the internet anymore, which adds a sense of the archaic to his work, yet it suits perfectly; I can’t imagine having that same feeling of sublime and crappy if it was all HTML5 (though it might be possible and even look identical). It’s also been a long time since I last looked at his site, so without playing every game of poetry, I think Nothing You Have Done Deserves Such Praise, is his best yet. I ended by walking into a beige void and keeping walking, keeping walking, falling, falling, falling off the screen, nothing. I aspire to make art this good.

actually the whole purpose of this was…

actually the whole purpose of this was…
actually the whole purpose of this was…
actually the whole purpose of this was…
actually the whole purpose of this was…

you see, I got an iPhone.

In exchange for some work. It’s only a 2G, original, 8gb, but…

The first thing I did of course was jailbreak it. And having a choice in the matter, decided on pwnage tool, mainly for the excellent command line stuff. It took all of a few minutes to work out how to do this, courtesy their unlock wizard (which I think makes a mockery of the whole ‘iPhone is a walled garden stifling the true 8-bit 1980s era of computer hackery and creativity’), and having never done this before, was quite impressed with it finishing, syncing with iTunes immediately and enjoying the pleasure of my usual SIM card shortly after.

And then into the wonderful world of iOS hackery and places I’d never heard of before. Lucky my years of schlepping around the similar fringes in Mac OS have given me some familiarity with this side of town. The biggest realisation was this is not just an iPod with a phone attached, or even a consumer media device; it’s an entire operating system and hardware, or to put it in cruder terms, it’s a computer.

It makes me want to play with the iPad also, because I think in all this – the tacit approval of the jailbreaking and hacking community by Apple, the introduction within the native operating system on a user-accessible of things which Cydia and other repositories have had for years, e.g wi-fi syncing, folders, multitasking – it is a conceptually different approach to computers and interfaces.

Or more succinctly, I can do most of what I do on my laptop now on my iPhone. A distinction between can and enjoy is necessary, and further elaborates on my desire to play with an iPad, as the smallness and slowness of the process is tiring, like going back to dial-up. I can do remote server administration with SSH, VNC, FTP, either using graphic interfaces in a variety of apps, or command line in mobile Terminal. I can pass files around and edit them using the same protocols or BlueTooth, Wi-Fi, even making a mountable USB disk. I can read all the blogs in my RSS feeds, and keep them synched with my laptop, the same for Mail, Address Book, iTunes, Calendar – all so elegantly done I don’t even consider that it is being done. Things is equally smooth

Then there’s the stuff I used to invent cludges for between my laptop and phone for when I’d be out – BVG timetables, maps of Berlin, offline route-finding, other excitement like translation dictionaries, my entire library database so now when I wander into a bookshop I know what I might want to buy, a guide to knots, an interactive star map…

The camera though is terrible. Even my old K750c with its broken camera was better. It’s actually embarrassing and Apple should have done a better job earlier because it truly does suck. SMS is also crappy with the default app – speaking of which, many of these I either replaced or hid, though I’d prefer just to delete the atrocious Stocks app, I mean really whose wanker idea was that?

But this isn’t the post on jailbreaking I kept thinking I’d write. This is more about an idea I had, a moment of “… uuhh… … awesome!!!…” when I thought, “if I do this, then that, and it should work, then I’ll be able to do that!”

So… On my iPhone I installed Veency, the VNC server, along with OpenSSH, because there’s nothing like ssh-ing into anywhere to make a smile, and finished off with ISSH. Then I wondered why things weren’t working.

I could get into my phone from my laptop using JollysFastVNC, but not the reverse. Oh, I forgot to turn on Remote Login and Management in System Preferences. So then over on my iPhone, I SSH’d into my laptop, screensharing all around…

MacBook Pro screenshares into iPhone, screensharing into MacBook Pro, screensharing into iPhone, screensharing into MacBook Pro, screensharing into iPhone, screensharing into… yes, the whole point of all this was that I can do this.

(I could have uploaded the files with AirSharing, then shifted them around my iPhone perhaps with iFile and uploaded from there via FTP with FTP On The Go just to prove it was possible, ah but… Oh and it’s a game of Buzkashi, yes, that’s a calf, ohne Kopf.) (And yes, my carrier is the Beast.)

sydney’s siberia and other digital creatures

No, I don’t actually remember which Mac forum I discovered Jason Nelson and secrettechnology on. I do though highly enjoy receiving infrequent emails from him with his latest odd, poignant, beautiful pieces of art. Much happiness then, and wishing I had more time to play, when I discovered not one but three new pieces with Australianness… (yeah all nostalgic because of the too easily remembered winter and dreaming of Adelaide beaches and sun.)

Hope your world is more than curious.

I have some semi-newly birthed digital artworks/poems inspired by Australian locales to spread out across the net. And of course feel free to critique and/or send to anyone everywhere.

T: sydney’s sibera
D: an interactive and infinitely zooming digital poem

T: Birds Still Warm from Flying
D: an interactive/re-creatable poetry cube

T: wittenoom and the cancerous breeze
D: digital poem created from ten sections

again and as always you rock and cheers, Jason Nelson



Along with upgrading my laptop to 10.6 on the weekend (I always, always do these things last at night, and know I’m going to break something and so telling myself, “Don’t do it, you’ll mess something up!”, “No, no, it’ll be alright… I’m awake this time…”) and breaking my AirPort, sundry plugins and my SQL installation, I gained 15gb of space, extra, extra fastness, (especially for opening encrypted sparse packages), a feeling of accomplishment, tiredness from staying up till 4am, and mousepath.

I also began cleaning out 8 years of bookmarks, and was rummaging through my net-art folder when I found Anatoly Zenkov’s small piece of Java code (download here). Much reminiscing on early 2000’s code-art…

So, here is around five hours of my day today, compared to some it’s quite light, mainly because I use the keyboard so much and was mostly coding.

we are enemies… secrettechnology

Discovered on a mac forum that I’ve been on for years, and the best game I’ve played in years also, i made this. you play this. we are enemies. And then I discovered Jason Nelson’s website. I think I must have emailed him somewhere in the game… He wrote back asking for a ‘strange story or unusual encounter’. I thought my life tends not to be so interesting so sent him one of the dreams that made ‘alptraum’ in all the people i can remember sleeping with…, the one with the plane crash in the Himalayas where I end up bleeding to death from a bullet in my upper arm. Sometimes why I love art is so clear.