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Darkling Cruft

This cruft program updates every hour, capturing images from surveillance cameras watching the streets of New York City. An auto-generated animation is created which seems to obscure specific details as it also focuses the viewers attention on new shapes and colors.

For, you know, nuncle,
The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long,
That it's had it head bit off by it young.
So, out went the candle, and we were left darkling.
—King Lear, Act I:IV


Erebus: Watching the Dreams of Others

The "Erebus: Watching the Dreams of Others" series of woodcut images are prints that begin as appropriated digital images from the CCTV surveillance cameras watching the streets of New York City. The source images of Erebus were created by the Darkling Cruft. From this flowing stream of digital surveillance, selected images were then made into woodcut prints.

Because things are the way the are, things will not stay the way they are.
-- Bertolt Brecht


Twittering Machine Object/Performance

The twittering machine is wheeled forward onto the stage, a small wind chime hangs inside the cage like structure, ringing as it moves. A handle is turned, and a small camshaft raises and lowers a platform covered in feathers inside the cage. As the handle is cranked, white feathers begin to squeeze through the wire mesh of the cage, falling to the floor. The mixed audio of Donald J Trump and Frank Sinatra begins to play, amplified by the orange cone. The handle continues to be cranked, feathers issue forth. The sound stops, and the twittering machine is wheeled off stage.


Angry Meditation Cruft (Stone Mind)

Automated computer code samples audio from a a streaming radio station, mixed with muzak from grocery stores in 1975 and recent news images scrapped from Yahoo! News.

THE STONE MIND
Hogen, a Chinese Zen teacher, lived alone in a small temple in the country. One day four traveling monks appeared and asked if they might make a fire in his yard to warm themselves.

While they were building the fire, Hogen heard them arguing about subjectivity and objectivity. He joined them and said: "There is a big stone. Do you consider it to be inside or outside your mind?"

One of the monks replied: "From the Buddhist viewpoint everything is an objectification of mind, so I would say that the stone is inside my mind."

"Your head must feel very heavy," observed Hogen, "if you are carrying around a stone like that in your mind."


Deservings Cruft

This cruft program started running every 30 minutes beginning on August 1st, 2017. These 48 daily auto-generated images are a residue documenting this moment as we bear witness to the breaking news coming out of Donald Trump's White House. In the age of Trump, there is no other news.

... All friends shall taste
The wages of their virtue, and all foes
The cup of their deservings.
—King Lear Act V, iii
deservings cruft


Ecce Homo

The ongoing Ecce Homo series of mixed-media images are electrostatic prints that begin as appropriated digital images of Donald J. Trump political rallies. These are are manipulated digitally, then scaled up in size and printed. The printed images are then used as the starting point for drawing and painting which simplifies the complexity of the image and stains the subjects.

Ecce Homo ("behold the man") are the Latin words used by Pontius Pilate when he presents the scourged Jesus Christ, bound and crowned with thorns to a hostile crowd shortly before his Crucifixion. These images are created in response to political changes unfolding on a global scale. Two specific events that triggered the making of these images were the British vote to leave the European Union, known as Brexit, and the election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States. The Ecce Homo series of images bear witness to this political change.


Value Meal Cruft (Trumpet Mix)

Automated computer code samples audio from a Donald J. Trump speech, and various streaming radio stations. Images from various fast food restaurants are also downloaded from online sources, which are then combined into this fragment of an audio collage inspired by Vaporwave.


Cenotaph Cruft (Intermission)

This cruft video consists of images from CNN's coverage on the morning of September 11th, 2001, with manipulated samples of streaming radio. The middle section is a computer voice reading content from Breitbart News, accompanied by selections of elevator music with an image of a tropical beach.


Ecce Homo: Resist

The ongoing Ecce Homo series of mixed-media images are electrostatic prints that begin as appropriated digital images of Donald J. Trump political rallies. The source images of Ecce Homo: Resist were created by the Deservings Cruft. Prints were made from selected images, which were then completed with the addition of wax crayon and ink.


Twittering Machine #2 (at delphi)

This twittering machine object is simply a bottomless corrugated cardboard box. Coming from within the box are the sounds of a poorly tuned FM radio emitting scratchy static, voices and occasionally music.


Babel (shadows in the rear-view mirror)

Since the summer of 2013, the main stream news has been filled with a constant flow of information leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowdon regarding the complete surveillance system created by the National Security Agency with the infrastructure and help of companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple. Together the government and corporations have created an automated system of looking, sharing, and hiding. Our personal information is shared by automated machines, and looked at by processes controlled by hidden algorithms. The aesthetics within these systems now control almost every aspect of society

Description of the Live Art Event:
The Department of Homeland Security and images reflected back from the Internet on Yahoo! Image Search are combined with computer voices and audience members reading manipulated text simultaneously in a composite of ever dense sound and image, resulting in a gradual loss of legibility.

This performance consists of a laptop with a printer and a projector. The computer code runs and scrapes text from the Department of Homeland Security's website. The common English words are removed, and the remaining text is passed to Yahoo! Image Search. The images and text appear with various degrees of opacity, overlapping and flickering in an ever changing composite of images. The sound of a metronome is heard at 60 bpm. The audience watches as the images continue to build, and at various intervals a computer voice speaks the words as the printer prints a long paper trail of text in a vertical column. The paper is passed from person to person, each audience member then reads the text. This continues to build slowly at first, to an ever complex and dense cacophony of spoken word, computer voice, flickering images, and the sounds of an inkjet printer.



Ecce Homo: Moscow Sketchbook

A trip to Moscow, Russia for the month of December 2016, allowed me the chance to study Russian Icon Painting, Russian Constructivism and Soviet Socialist Realism within the context of contemporary Russian culture. All the while, I was reading news of Donald J. Trump adding primarily ex-Goldman Sachs and ex-Generals to his cabinet. It is within this experience that I am working on these smaller scaled images contained within a Moscow Sketchbook.


Red Queens Race (surveillance machine)

This is a performance piece that uses computer code, that scrapes recent text from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's blog. The text is sorted, common words are removed, and each remaining word is passed to Yahoo! Image Search. The resulting images are dowloaded. An audio file plays, which is spoken word from the book "Zen Mind, Beginners Mind." My web camera is on, and my image is shown on the desktop. As the audio plays, one of the downloaded images pops up, which I then close. These images continue to appear in pop up windows. The code creates a screenshot, which I then drag to the bottom of the screen. More images are downloaded and opened onto my desktop. I continue to try to close the windows. A second and third audio file of the same spoken word begins to play. More images open. More screenshots are created. More audio files play. I attempt to close the images as they are opened, but over time, the speed increases, and eventually as more of the same audio files begin to play, my entire desktop is overtaken. The race ends when the entire 8 gigs of computer memory is full, as hundreds of images and audio files are opened until, out of memory, the screen goes black and the machine stops in one long slow meditative hum.


Placebo Cruft
(Reparation for Events Real and Imagined)

This cruft algorithm selects search terms from a compiled list of life events that most people document with photographs. The search term is passed into Yahoo! Image Search, one of the resulting images is selected and a nostalgic filter is applied. With our network connected mobile devices the time between living an event and documenting that event has collapsed. The Internet is becoming one large database of shared social experiences that this work relies upon as source material. Every time this program runs, an image is pulled from this database, processed with a filter not unlike those used by Instagram, shared on my website, and then archived. This new CRUFT builds upon the collected images uploaded to the Internet, to create an ongoing narrative speaking to reparation for events real and imagined.

Needing to have reality confirmed and experience enhanced by photographs is an aesthetic consumerism to which everyone is now addicted. Industrial societies turn their citizens into image–junkies; it is the most irresistible form of mental pollution. Poignant longings for beauty, for an end to probing below the surface, for a redemption and celebration of the body of the world—all these elements of erotic feeling are affirmed in the pleasure we take in photographs. But other, less liberating feelings are expressed as well. It would not be wrong to speak of people having a compulsion to photograph: to turn experience itself into a way of seeing. Ultimately, having an experience becomes identical with taking a photograph of it, and participating in a public event comes more and more to be equivalent to looking at it in photographed form. That most logical of nineteenth-century aesthetes, Mallarmé, said that everything in the world exists in order to end in a book. Today everything exists to end in a photograph.

On Photography, Susan Sontag

placebo cruft


Reparation For Events Real and Imagined (tile #9)

For this series of paintings, I selected images from the Anesthetic, False Positive, Placebo, and Phantom Limb Cruft. These cruft are made from the collected database of our socially shared experiences found on the Internet. Photographed memories of so many others are selected by the algorithms, and then later selected once again by myself, these images are taken from this shared database and converted from bits to atoms, transforming ephemeral memories into egg tempera, one of the most traditional and permanent mediums within the history of art.

Reparation For Events Real and Imagined (tile 9)


Blue Colic Cruft

This computer program downloads an image from the web of a surveillance camera located in Southern Illinois. The camera points at a pastoral scene consisting of a row of trees next to a country road, and in the distance is a small body of water. I was struck by the simplicity and beauty of this image, contrasted with the knowledge that someone for some reason is watching. What is the purpose of surveillancing such a peaceful place? When the CRUFT computer program downloads an image from the camera, as well as a short sample of news from the National Public Radio, they are copied and repeatedly manipulated by the algorithm, creating a short video that mashes together two different kinds of streaming data in what becomes a violent stuttering cough.


Data Loss (Corruption) Cruft

This cruft algorithm downloads a recent photo from the Whitehouse.gov website as well as a report published by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism listing U.S. covert drone war casualty estimates. The text file of casualty estimates is literally inserted into the binary code of The White House photo. The drone war information becomes hidden from view, but corrupts the image producing visual distortion often referred to as a glitch. This work uses digital leftovers, consisiting of information either usually forgotten, or in the case of the drone war information, it is usually hidden, and in the process this cruft re-generates a new image by altering the data, which then reminds us of it's origin.

data loss cruft