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EDITED BY 2sman
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this is an ezine to share some recent work and to talk out some ideas. shout out to Luis Queral and TimOptionalB for being consumate collaborators, and look for new work by these 2. Thank you to Flux Factory crew where I was an artist-in-resident, and to Babycastles, my squad.
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several years ago I started to learn to program. i dove in heavy, and within a few years i now primarily use code as my artistic medium and teach it at the college level.
Many artists interested in programming start with Processing, the beginner-friendly language created by Ben Fry and Casey Reas at MIT. Processing is an all-in-one learning language that is designed to make it easy to work with images on a screen, and to quickly create small programs and iterate on them. I've taught Processing at The Hacktory, a hackerspace/makerspace in Philadelphia, as well as at Moore College of Art to undergraduate photo students. Even though these are intended as learning languages, I always precede Processing by teaching Scratch, a beginner, children-friendly programming language and interface that can be used standalone or in a free online app, developed by MIT's Media lab over a decade ago, and building on its long history developing the LOGO programming language and its descendents.
When you open Scratch, a cartoon cat is in the center of the screen, ready to be programmed. Programs are assembled by snapping together lego-like building bricks with instructions on them. Within minutes you can have a simple, perhaps trivial program together. Blocks say things like "move forward 10 steps" or "repeat 10 times." Due to its rapid ability to prototype programs, I have been using Scratch to create simple arcade games, 'artware' experimental art software, and to prototype more advanced apps that would take dozens of hours in any other language. Playing to Scratch's strength, I can knock out a functional and kludgy version of conceptual art software ideas in a few hours.
In the past 2 weeks I've created photozine software, 3 arcade games, running tracking software, and glitchy noise software. It's the last category that I'd like to focus on.
In 2012 I began collaborating with curator Sarah Brin on an iterative roaming exhibition and workshop we call Punk Arcade. Our focus is on presenting punk games, which include quickly-created one-off games by a single person or duo, using game-making software, rapid development, and often-times an interest in issues or aesthetics far outside the world of professional videogame design. We used the term punk to connect to the roots of punk rock, especially the DIY zeitgeist cheered on by game designer Anna Anthropy in her book 'Rise Of The Videogame Zinesters.'
Anna is a participant in the website GloriousTrainwrecks.com, a site dedicated to the creation of games 'where every ridiculous idea you had, you would just sit down and code. When you would make up a "company name" to legitimize dorking around on the computer with your friends.' I joined this community as well, and have been posting my games there, games I have been making with Scratch.
Scratch has a robust website where millions (!) of programs are shared, most by children who haven't even reached college age. All programs hosted on the Scratch website can be opened up so you can see their blocks of code or remix it into your own new programs, in the spirit of open source software.
Beginning in high school, I started performing experimental music with friends, and have been in a variety of improv, experimental and noise groups for the past 20 years. While browsing the Scratch website and its millions of programs, I came across a seemingly-infinite number of glitchy noise-y programs, likely from kids.
My favorite recent find is from a group of people that mostly have their username end in 737. Likely the vast majority are the work of a single person, as many of the accounts have been created in the past month and only post a single program. They are largely remixes of other more-professional-looking programs (Star Wars games, a chicken coop game, a driving game), with glitchy noises, infinite loops, and an inexplicable pink-and-black checkerboard theme.
For example, a user named PutneyCat (who gives credit to @DadofMrLog and @Jamohyperturbopro for earlier code that influenced his program) made a car bumping/driving game that is really gorgeous, with elegant and simple code under the hood. Someone named Untitled737 remixed this code, something that is easy to do on Scratch, to create 23768362723t476543t769276453, which is really the earlier program overlaid with random Scratch built-in noises that play from the start, as well as the generic Scratch cat logo sprite and 3 purple-and-black checkerboards. It sounds like glitchy hell, like Merzbow, like a punk software demo by a child, which is likely accurate.
All of a sudden I fall down a rabbit hole and find about a dozen accounts with random words and then 737. There's UnknownAccount737 who comments that he's "going after" a Star Wars software group by remixing their work into glitch programs, a themessenger737 (who remixed some tennis software), Error737 (who also remixed Star Wars software), Untitled 737, Wolf737 (my favorite low-res software), cultist737 (which has the most minimal software, a scary mask face with some dark bleep sounds), imhere737 (created a strange backwards music and error message program), and finally sacktroop248, who best I understand is a fan of the other 737 avatars and might just be someone who stumbled across the 737s like I myself did. sacktroop248's program is a picture of a forest and the helpful statement "this was made by the cultist of Error 737 it's werid im guessing those cultist really do know how to hack accounts and add stuff that people didn't made." There's also someone named Iditaroid and his Untitled Remix is probably the best of any of these, a remix of Untitled by Error737.
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My twitter bot Lee2sman (see section below) randomly tweeted out "Undead Death 95" one day last week. I thought that sounded like a good idea for a sub-2hr idea-to-completion video game creation sesh. So I made a 2-player game that lasts only 9.5 seconds where you are fighting blood, each hit increasing the blood onscreen, while Wolf Eyes noise music is playing until the time limit hits.
More of my sub-2hr games here
RECENTLY: APARTMENT QUEST and DRµG DOG, both playable online and bundled with this ezine.
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In the past few months I've made a few twitter bots. They play with language, translation and mis-translation, and my own interest in creating conceptual sparks that spin off into their own semi-living creative expressions that evolve over time.
@lee2sman: for those who have to explain the implications of the jazz episode
@lee2sman: I want nice cat poster in text, with markdown, multimarkdown, txt, latex, tex, ettc etc
@lee2sman: it's totally flooded, i'm going slower/bigger and it's working
@lee2sman: Dan the associate. provides embezzlement options.
@gamelan_ebooks: bong bong crash bong bong bong bong bong
@gamelan_ebooks: bong bong bong bong bong bang bang
@gamelan_ebooks: clang bong
@gamelan_ebooks: clang clang clang bong bong bong
@aliciawnderland: The dormouse IS ENIGATA IN TEKRUĈON.
@aliciawnderland: Alice, very puzzled, replied: "Well, if indeed I have to answer that question, I do not pensas-"
@aliciawnderland: The Dormouse, and closing his eyes, began to nod off, but because of the strong pinĉoj of the Ĉapelisto, it woke up again with a sudden ekkr
@aliciawnderland: And before Alice could repeatedly say something, the Griffin shouted to her sternly: "You shut your mouth!"
A few bots that exist as code but aren't live on twitter yet.
A python script to generate Philadelphia Man headlines in the spirit of Florida Man headlines. Code: https://github.com/lee2sman/Philadelphia-Man
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A remix of the above Philadelphia Man. Designed text for the end of the castle stages in Super Mario after bowser is killed and a tiny Mushroom pops up and says "Thank you Mario! But our Princess is in another castle!" Code: https://github.com/lee2sman/Mario-News-Generator
THANK YOU MARIO BUT OUR ELDER IS IN ANOTHER MUSIC FESTIVAL. THANK YOU MARIO BUT OUR TATTLETALE IS IN ANOTHER TRAILER PARK. THANK YOU MARIO BUT OUR DREAMER IS IN ANOTHER FIRE STATION. THANK YOU MARIO BUT OUR HIEROPHANT IS IN ANOTHER BEACH BAR. THANK YOU MARIO BUT OUR GUIDE IS IN ANOTHER FOOD TRUCK. THANK YOU MARIO BUT OUR WEAVER IS IN ANOTHER MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT. THANK YOU MARIO BUT OUR JESTER IS IN ANOTHER DELI. THANK YOU MARIO BUT OUR QUEEN IS IN ANOTHER HOCKEY FIELD. THANK YOU MARIO BUT OUR INNOCENT IS IN ANOTHER CIRCUS SCHOOL. THANK YOU MARIO BUT OUR SCHOLAR IS IN ANOTHER COFFEE SHOP. THANK YOU MARIO BUT OUR SPINNER IS IN ANOTHER AIRPORT. THANK YOU MARIO BUT OUR TRICKSTER IS IN ANOTHER COCKTAIL BAR. THANK YOU MARIO BUT OUR COWARD IS IN ANOTHER BEACH BAR. THANK YOU MARIO BUT OUR YES-MAN IS IN ANOTHER STREET FOOD STALL. THANK YOU MARIO BUT OUR INSPECTOR IS IN ANOTHER VIDEOGAME STORE. THANK YOU MARIO BUT OUR PHILOSOPHER IS IN ANOTHER MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT. THANK YOU MARIO BUT OUR CHILD IS IN ANOTHER BASEBALL FIELD. THANK YOU MARIO BUT OUR TRICKSTER IS IN ANOTHER DISCOUNT STORE. THANK YOU MARIO BUT OUR ACCOUNTANT IS IN ANOTHER LAUNDROMAT. THANK YOU MARIO BUT OUR WHISPERER IS IN ANOTHER HOTEL. THANK YOU MARIO BUT OUR VIRGIN IS IN ANOTHER JAPANESE RESTAURANT. THANK YOU MARIO BUT OUR THINKER IS IN ANOTHER CAR WASH.
This game is a twine text adventure game about revolution, NYC, pirate radio, and cyberpunk. It's hokey and written in leetspeak and may be unplayable. You can play it on itch.io but make sure to hit fullscreen. Good luck.
Working on a book, more games, exhibitions, music, etc. Feel free to send ideas, collaborations, bots, ........ Maybe this will happen again?
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