Preliminary sketches:

This project began with the observation that the ‘infinite scrolling’ UI pattern in web development—where content is appended to the end of the document when a user reaches that point—is typically sedentary, discreet, & performed—at length—alone in private space.

Browser Bike aims to defeat all my common observations by creating a browsing experience that is fully engaging—both in physical demands & by dominating the user's field of view—& performed in public or shared space.

The project was installed at Art Center College of Design, Media Design Practices' Work In Progress Show on December 14th, 2012. Here, guests were asked to submit hyperlinks via Twitter to @browserbike, & then ride through their choice URL as a "browserscape" (ahem, "netscape" was already taken). The process intends to extrapolate the browsing experience in physical space & physical effort, but simultaneously attenuate browsing usability to purely scrolling, with no other active controls (i.e. hyperlinks), thus creating a very (physically) active, yet (interactively) passive, experience.

With that in mind, Browser Bike, in its form and stated justification, may be the heir to Jeffrey Shaw's The Legible City, a series of installations—created between 1989 & 1991—consisting of projected virtual environments representing cites as three-dimensional text. The environment is navigated via stationary bicycle. Shaw writes: "The handlebar and pedals of the interface bicycle give the viewer interactive control over direction and speed of travel. The physical effort of cycling in the real world is gratuitously transposed into the virtual environment, affirming a conjunction of the active body in the virtual domain."

Fact : DNA-based computers are possible

“Scientists have devised a computer that can perform 330 trillion operations per second, more than 100,000 times the speed of the fastest PC. The secret: It runs on DNA.”

- National Geographic, 2003
Fact : In symbiosis two or more species interact win relationships that are mutualistic, parasitic, or commensalistic

“Ectosymbiosis, also referred to as exosymbiosis, is any symbiotic relationship in which the symbiont lives on the body surface of the host [...] Examples of this include ectoparasites such as lice, commensal ectosymbionts such as the barnacles that attach themselves to the jaw of baleen whales, and mutualist ectosymbionts such as cleaner fish."

- Wikipedia, 2013

This work extrapolates a fiction from fact, regarding a manufactured symbiosis, where computational enzymes (in this argument, enzymes are promoted to “species”) are an important part of the mobile computing platform used by humans, and human activity and warmth supports the life of the yogurt enzymes to do their computational work.

An exploratory workshop exercise helped set questions about what forms of this type of wearable enzyme clothing could take. Through drawing croquis and sketching ideas, the conversation was opened up to the possibilities for utility and beauty with this new wearable concept computing platform.

From this workshop research, I went on to design wearable bladders of yogurt: Vest, chaps, codpiece, bandoleer, vest, glove, & satchel. I am imaging that these wearable yogurt computers are made popular through joint PR campaigns by fashion and tech companies to make them symbols of status and beauty, often regardless of computational necessity.These computational enzymes interact with the body and the brain, acting as an auxiliary brain, doing complex computational tasks that are simple for machines, but difficult for humans. (Quick: What is 3.4 / 5.95 * 394/27?)

My interest here is on the materials and what is considered beautiful through “designed” makeovers of otherwise unglamorous materials—yogurt & plastic. I’m interested in how biological computing takes form in future development.

Photo credits: Gene Lee & Sangwoo Han
Advisers: Ben Hooker & Christina Agapakis

New Aesthetic x Critical Making / full text

This writing discusses the idea of New Aesthetic, as theorized by James Bridle, who succinctly describes it as “material which points towards new ways of seeing the world, an echo of the society, technology, politics and people that co-produce them. The New Aesthetic is not a movement, it is not a thing which can be done. It is a series of artifacts of the heterogeneous network, which recognizes differences, the gaps in our overlapping but distant realities” [1]. I will be giving support from the subsequent and related discussions to assert that Critical Making, as theorized by Matt Ratto, and New Aesthetic have an intersection where there is an opportunity for new conversations, particularly where a data collecting machines and algorithms can and should be involved in the conversation of their own creation.

The idea at the core of the New Aesthetic can be most readily discovered through the massive collection of brief Tumblr postings that Birdle has amassed under the New Aesthetic banner [2]. The posts are only fragments, exit points to other sources where critical and journalistic articles appear. All of which seem to argue toward the idea that our techno history is well composted (as Bruce Sterling would say) and that makers and their inventions are in conversation. For me, this idea was crystallized at the “New Aesthetic” discussion panel, lead by Birdle at 2012’s SxSW conference. The panel was subtitled “Seeing Like Digital Devices” [3]. In the sense of “seeing”, there is an argument for the “nascent personality” [3] of technology created through sensors and algorithms, and I propose that that quasi-intelligence (or sentience) can be both a catalyst for, and contributor within, a new critical discussion, one surrounding these machines (or programs) own meaning and the relationship toward humans and the world. New Aesthetic is an argument—in large part—for acknowledging the artificial intelligence which is hidden in plain sight, but escape us under the veil of novelty, banality, and what amounts to society’s new normal.

New Aesthetic is the sensoral understanding of the world that comes to shape a machine’s world view, and the “argot language” [4] of coded machines as they communicate to each other, and those machines’ linguistic and visual translations outward toward humanity­. The discourse that the idea has generated through the subsequent feedback—instigated primarily by Bruce Sterling’s strong response in April 2012’s Wired Magazine telling dedicated readers that New Aesthetic “belongs to a small group of creatives right now, [but] we have every reason to take it, and its prospects, seriously” [4]. I accepted the challenge, as did others. In our research, a rich discussion emerged, from both the position of the technological world and the art world, but should be enlarged to include Critical Making, specifically. Sterling said of the prior definitions of New Aesthetic that they are a “private solution to [one’s] own personal creative problems. Well, I myself don’t believe that.” Sterling, considers himself mostly a writer (i.e. a critic, a theorist) and his description is this: “The New Aesthetic is a ‘theory object’ and a ‘shareable concept’ [and] is ‘collectively intelligent.’ It’s diffuse, crowdsourcey, and made of many small pieces loosely joined. It is rhizomatic [...]. It’s open-sourced, and triumph-of-amateurs. It’s like its logo, a bright cluster of balloons tied to some huge, dark and lethal weight. [...] It’s contemporary. It’s temporal rather than atemporal. Atemporality is all about cerebral, postulated, time-refuting design-fictions. Atemporality is for Zenlike gray-eminence historian-futurist types. The New Aesthetic is very hands-on, immediate, grainy and evidence-based. Its core is a catalogue of visible glitches in the here-and-now, for the here and for the now.” [4].

In the scope of Critical Making, it is interesting to ponder a near-future scenario where devices may inform the maker in the process of making. Will these “nascent personality” devices ever be able to participate in a critical discussion during their own construction? To what degree and is this something to fear or welcome? Can theorists like Sterling use the ideas of Critical Making and New Aesthetics to inform some new understanding that is part critical making and part critical response? Sterling says, “Bridle is a Walter Benjamin critic in an ‘age of digital accumulation’. Bridle carries out a valiant cut-and-paste campaign that looks sorta like traditional criticism, but is actually blogging and Tumblring. His New Aesthetic Tumblr bears the resemblance to thoughtful critique that mass production once did to handmade artifacts” [5]. But in response, Kyle Chayka notes: “the genre is a collection of data points, observations on what is happening rather than meditations on how or why it is happening, or what we can do with it. The reason for this absence, as Sterling hints at but doesn’t point out outright, is that the New Aesthetic is not yet an actual aesthetic movement. It’s just reality. [...] The New Aesthetic, as it exists in drone technology and Google Maps imagery and data surveillance, represents a ground-level change in our existence. Instead of shocking society, New Aesthetic art must respond to a shocked society and turn the changes we’re confronting into critical artistic creation. Artists are only just starting to take the raw material of the New Aesthetic and aestheticize it in a conscious, intelligent way” [5]. And so too are academics.

In the scope of Critical Making, this idea begs the question, when made things “think”, or form some sensoral world view, when should they be invited into the fold of being a participant in the critical discussion of their own making (or the making of other things). Johnathan Minardin’s response to Sterling states, “The tools we make shape culture. The culture of
technology is a human culture and a human experience. Reconciling with our inventions, we embrace the stylized pixel-goo as a reflection of ourselves” [5]. The things we’re making are able to tell stories about us that we cannot discover ourselves. A critical dialogue with the machines that are telling us the contemporary stories of our lives, seems more logical than not. With that thought, I would invite New Aesthetic into the fold of Critical Making, for the reason that it describes what is already happening: The phenomenon of machines forming world-views worthy of consideration and worthy of listening to.

[1] new-aesthetic.tumblr.com/about
[2] new-aesthetic.tumblr.com
[3] booktwo.org/notebook/sxaesthetic
[4] videos.liftconference.com/video/4823292/we-fell-in-love-in-a-coded
[5] wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2012/04/an-essay-on-the-new-aesthetic
[6] thecreatorsproject.com/blog/in-response-to-bruce-sterlings-essay-on-the-new-aesthetic

Photo credit: Ian Besler
Critical Making is a zine project by Garnet Hertz

Paper prototype:

Digital photography has revolutionized the way that the general public creates, stores & consumes photographic media. The portability, instant gratification &—more recently—the social engagement of photography via channels like Instagram & Facebook has made photographic imagery both more prevalent &, arguably, more important to our lives than ever before. Recent advances with mobile phone cameras makes photography for virtually everyone immediate This project attempts restore some reverence & gravity to photographic monograph, as an object of art, in a image-fatigued digital culture. A traditional book has a different presence than an ebook, this project investigates the means in which ebooks can be vehicles for meaningful art experience that doesn't resemble the casual act of ebook reading (on iPad, Nook, Kindle, etc.) that many have come to accept as banal. easy. Fueled a boom in photography by amateur photographers. With this volume, photos—once relatively rare treasures in the days of emulsion have become more disposable under the wave of digital file photos that are so immediate that grasping onto even the best has become a challenge. And we say “grasping” not just as one will save a file to one digital folder for archive, but instead to grasp in appreciation, nuance, & reflection.

Considering the space that photography exists today. It is interesting that the both print thrives & that the hardbound book survives as a more tangible & substantial tomb for work of a certain caliber. The monograph & the well-versed photo essay are put to paper in weighty volumes. But we ask, can the same strength of the work be carried by a digital delivery? Has the ephemeral nature of Instagram, Facebook, & Flickr & other amateur & semi-pro photographers using digitally networked photo services & display technologies predisposed us, as viewers, to seeing all photos on devices as lesser or temporary? Can additive light convey the same message as the subtractive light of prints, particularly when viewing photo media that predates the digital revolution? If there is a way for the monograph to be effectively shown as an ebook, what affordances does this media offer in place of the weight & tangibility of the bound page.

A hard cover book that affords the reader a high-quality, quiet space to experience photography remains the preferred “device” for presenting a body of fine art or journalistic work, but does this necessarily have to always be the case?

Significant segments of the professional photography world initially resisted the shift to digital, but as the resolution quality of digital prints matched & then surpassed that of film, digital has become the dominant mode of all kinds of photography, from amateur to journalistic to fine art. Photographers may still utilize film in their practice, but nowadays this is a alternative strategy of making. The digital revolution has either seduced or forcibly captured most working photographers shooting images. Should not an ebook format also emerge as a true platform for displaying “real” work with brevity, engagement & interest that parallels the bound book form? We think yes. The ebook monograph should offer something important to the photographer or editor wishing to entomb a body of work & offer something to the audience that reaches beyond novelty to something powerful.

Chief of the questions that we will tackle is how to balance the purposeful narrative layout created by the author/photographer with the potential remixing & reconstituting affordances offered by an ebook. An even more important challenge is that of quality, which is one of the chief hallmarks of a photographic monograph. How does an ebook reproduce both the quality of the photographs (certainly the Apple retina display & follow-on display improvements help to serve in this area) & the aesthetic quality of created by framing strategies inherent in a photographic monograph. More than books that rely mostly on language, there is a meditation quality inherent in the experience of reading a photographic monograph. How can this experience be mediated &/or improved through the ebook platform.

With the previous considerations in mind, we have elected to select the work of Jamel Shabazz & his book Seconds of My Life as our laboratory for creating an ebook of a photography monograph. Because Shabazz’s career spans the transition from analogue to digital photography, Seconds of my Life provides a good functional challenge to the creation of an electronic monograph.

Fortunately Jamel Shabazz participates in the digital world, & as ebook designers, we have access both to digital work though his website & his Facebook feed. This will allow us to consider the role of incorporating new content created by the artist. We will certainly also consider the incorporation of photography created by the public that comments on Shabazz’s work or contributes to his line of inquiry.

Shabazz’s work also provides our design team with rich opportunities in terms of content. Because Seconds of My Life chronicles the black community of New York City as well as the greater African diaspora in the '80s, '90s & '00s from a journalistic perspective there is ample opportunity to leverage secondary cultural, historical & location-based material to orient the reader. Even in the the artist’s note of the printed publication, Shabazz introduces interactivity into the work by providing a musical playlist that he recommends listening to, “to understand the essence of these images & the spirit that created them.”

In summary, this project attempts restore some reverence & gravity to photographic monograph, as an object of art, in a image-fatigued digital culture. A traditional book has a different presence than an ebook, this project investigates the means in which ebooks can be vehicles for meaningful art experience that doesn't resemble the casual act of ebook reading (on iPad, Nook, Kindle, etc.) that many have come to accept as banal.

More about our project around the work of Jamel Shabazz can be found on the project's website: secondsofmylifejs.wordpress.com

This project was produced by Aaron Fooshée & Divya Gaitonde, with a nod to Eric Schubert.

What would it be like to mute selective parts of the physical world? This investigation is a rough look at how information can be heightened by the attenuation of other information. As the mediated world increases the scale and volume of messages, each individual message has less effect. The reduction of messages, and even places & people (or their digital representations, at least) is something that happens online, both electively and automatically. And here my explorations are not unbiased. My scenario envision a world that is attenuated and not expanded by more connectivity and technology. I am interested in the idea that radical customization, often a branded as a feature (and it often is, and a good one), unchecked, it can narrow perspectives by quieting dissimilar points of view in a move toward, cyberbalkanization or "splinternet". In a splinternet, users' social groups and information-space becomes smaller and smaller, creating insular online communities, with echoing images, rhetoric, and active agents, without much interference from those outside the established circles.

Continuing a thread found my earlier project, Browser Bike with my project here, Perceptionator is again recontexualizing UI patterns in terms of real-world physical space. My study regards how new physical computing ideas could interact with contemporary UI patters borrowed from the days of desktop’s dominance. These now common UI patters are now conventions and will be composted into the next generation of computing.

The Perceptionator film is a design fiction around the idea of truncating the stimulus of the real world, via context menus, in a way that computer users are now familiar with (i.e. software context menus, social media user blocking, dating-site search queries, and e-commerce browsing toolbars). The simlated effect is a muted experience of life. The current trend in “good usability” is that computer users should only be given as many options as required to satisfy their level of need at that moment. Here, I'm interested in two forms of UI: The context menu, and the user-enabled devices to hide content. I’m applying these ideas to searching through physical space.

Within the operating system and the program, words in lists become muted—grayed out—as to hint at their presence, but letting the user know they are not in the correct context to find any use of it. Options are unavailable because they don’t apply, and this eliminates confusion and clutter. What if this was to apply to an augmented reality view of the world? Persons, places, and things, are reduced to rough and inaccessible traces.

Example of muted option in UI:

In Operating System and program design: lists of menu items only show what is contextually relative to content or state. Unavailable items are only hinted at, typically in grayed lettering, making the user aware of the promise of functionality, if the correct steps are followed.
Example of muted option in UI:

In video games, often levels are locked, beckoning to be reveled—by purchase or rite of passage. The visual cue of muted levels is a call to action to engage the game.
Example of muted option in UI:

In social media, a user can hide content from a particular person, entity or on a particular subject. The other party remains in your network and unaware of this personal firewall against messages. Indication that further content is hidden may or may not be apparent. The muted content allows viewers to receive less messages they are not interested in, which makes desirable messages be seen more readily.
Example of muted option in UI:

In online advertising, natural search results—those calculated using search metrics, not advertiser dollars—are muted, or rather shouted down by paid results which appear, above natural results bigger & bolder text.

This impetus for this project was, at it's beginnings a brief informed by a collaboration with advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi for Toyota Motor Corporation. In early explorations, I considered what the quest of the buyer might look like. What does the path of desire look? Desire is the root of the search query. So, how does it begin? How does it end? What kinds of paths to what kinds of ends do people go through?

This film was the end product of a research project that began in the highly mediated Las Vegas strip, where I explored and documented the space through it's messages, both explicit and implicit. The overwhelming experience culminated with a desire to pair down the physical world and have a return to some simpler notion where we get all that we want, with none of what we don't. There is a danger in this overtly idealized scenario where a person would be less free and less able to have serendipitous experiences, in a place where persons are walking around with true blinders to everything but things that fit their already known ideals. The film culminates with a certain ambiguity with a slight sense of false hope, that is meant as a critique of the trend toward customization of one's life with options that eliminate all unpleasantness through planned ignorance.

This project also continues a thread found in prior group work, Calabasas Murmurs, which focused on a suburban community that is geographically prone to isolation except by few inroads. In the project, conversations among community members were sampled then distilled to rhythmic word patterns, in effect, lessening the real-world experience in a way not dissimilar to The Perceptionator.

In the case of our this suburban example, commuter culture and freeway systems can let people pass through neighborhoods on a daily basis and be completely oblivious of the communities beyond the freeway's walls. Through these channels, freeways through voids, one's "community" can be just a few square blocks separated thirty miles apart. The freeway attenuates the driving experience to just a road, muting the everything but a hint of the community beyond it's enclosing sound barriers.

This related exercise in filmmaking, looks at the idea of degrading—effectively lessening—the filmic representation of real-life through technology layers. A camera camera and a monitor allow one to see one's self, but through a webcamera fed into a computer output to a tv, which is recorded by a VHS camera which is fed to the viewing monitor. The camera and monitor is front facing, but behind this, there is layers of technology obfusgating, degrading and lessening the quality of the representation.

Las Vegas Research in collaboration with Eric Battin
Film actor: Vivian Tu
Adviser: Tim Durfee

Jellyfish. Killing Machine and The Cool One. These proper names, applied to these simple forms and simple movements through motor actions, create objects that have an animistic quality. These two objects through their form and slight movement try to take on lifelike qualities. The Jellyfish pulses in a way that is destructive yet calm and The Killing Machine is a bit over eager in it's prickly antagonism of the The Quiet One.


#instahunt is a game is two-fold. It begins as a treasure hunt-esque game where player-generated descriptors define what players must locace on the Instagram network. From users, these search prompts range from the broad & poetic—"On the Exactitude of Memory"—to the detailed—*placeholder*

designed around constructing exquisite corpse-esque relationships between images taken from the Instagram network and fixed to physical cards. The images are generated in an initial phase of gathering

Continuing the a theme found in a prior work, Seconds of My Life, the theme of grounding the photographic image in a era of ephemeral, fleeting images that are immaterial and fungible.

Advisers: Elise Co, Yuri Suzuki, Jeff Watson & Casey Thomas Anderson

Calabasas Murmurs is an unorthodox exploration into suburban space, through field recording, transcription and algorithmic language processing.

The final product is a collection of printed scripts of distilled suburban language, printed at situational scale, for the repeated practice of social performance, in order to fit in with a specific closed community.

The direction of the project was shaped, in large part, by the anxiety around being outsiders in an affluent, small community network. This collection of printed scripts is a hypothetical toolkit for practicing common language patterns (in this instance, most frequent word pairs), situational behaviors, with the intent of taking the skills into Calabasas to pass, undetected, as community insiders.

Calabasas itinerary (as determined by top results for common queries on Yelp):

1. Agroua Hills / Calabasas Community Center
2. Wells Fargo Bank
3. Old Town Calabasas Farmer's Market
4. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
5. Chevron Food Mart/ Gas Station
6. Sagebrush Cantina
7. Edwards Grand Palace Stadium 6 Cinemas

This project was produced by Aaron Fooshée, Gene Lee, Sangwoo Han, & Nancy Kwon.

This time-based video installation strives to communicate the rough ballet of the car crash to viewers through a designed experience that plays out privately over 23 minutes.

The view enters underneath the curtain and is presented, at close-proximity, an analog video monitor and a strobing light in the lower periphery. These lights are are actuators, pulsing to the curve of recent airbag deployment data in the vicinity of the studio. The quality of light—color and strobing interval speed—corresponds with number of airbags deployed, and the value of the cars being destroyed.

The video footage is a collection of Russian car crashes clips culled from YouTube. The collisions are largely captured from in-dash cameras and outdoor surveillance cameras. The playback speed of this video in the installation was originally controlled via Kinect detecting viewer movement (after prompting viewers react to stimulus with crash-like regression), but in the intimacy of the private-view installation, this proved to be unnatural worked against the strangely peaceful effect of a more meditative viewing. A meditation aided greatly by a Philip Glass composition overlaid on the original source audio.

The aesthetic & construction choice of the installation is informed partly by the Readymades of Marcel Duchamp and pornographic video arcade booths. Readymades for their successful application of context to create an experience from existing things (in this case: video, hardware, software, frameworks). VIdeo arcades for their ability to create a space that is private, in public, thus allowing for personal pleasure, but with the knowledge of a potential voyeur.

The future for this project lies in discovering a way to add control to the video experience that brings users closer to the crash experience, as opposed to taking them out of it, as Kinect proved to do. I am considering eyetracking as an alternative that would keep the hypnotic nature of the project in tact.

Video: Car Crash Compilation 2013 #8
Audio: Donald Joyce, 'Dance IV for Organ', Glass:Organ Works, Music of Philip Glass. 1993.

The push toward efficiency and the abundance of information (i.e. data) has created a pace which leaves many people feeling ultimately dissatisfied. "Information Overload" is now a true medical term. In response to this observation, I thought about how the ideas of the Slow Movement and the history of formats might inform me about a better way to relate with information.

My practice focuses on how our human relationship with data can be improved through counter-intuitive methods: throttling, misinformation and wholesale deletion. My prototypes — analog and digital — are playful but deliberate explorations what a sensor can be and how that sensor can create meaning that has physical and experiential qualities that are "Slow". I'm also investigating the notion of separating individual data from collective data, in a way that is more poetic and communal then quantitative and individualistic.

The Case for Slow Data / full text


With zero to little data, zero to little understanding can be gained. But more data doesn’t infer a richer understanding of the subject being measured. Big Data is not synonymous with better data. Quantity and quality are autonomous. And there are very human limits to how much data (read: information) that one can mental absorb, consider, and remember. There is an arc where information comes most clearly into focus. Not enough is too shallow, too much is too deep.

We’ve already crossed into the threshold of Big Data—as a marketing term, as a self-conscious conception of humanity, as a new wrapper around our concept of reality, and as a physical and operational infrastructure. This writing aims to reveal some provocations around the meaning and experience of living within a sensed, quantified, stored and recalled society. The human experience is more and more primed through a recursive loop of data collection and analysis. I’m making a case for rejecting the new normal. For resisting the pull toward total, real-time, hyper-sensed Big Data culture. Less is more—still. Mies van der Rohe appropriated that aphorism to describe the Minimalist Art Movement, which rejected the cluttered art that came before it. It’s time to appropriate Less Is More once again, this as a flag over our techno-centric, data driven lives.


New technology of the massively disruptive order, takes a while to get right. We can only speculate how people felt before recorded history, but recorded history is a good enough place to start.

The last disruptor of the same magnitude of the Internet was Johannes Gutenberg’s movable type printing press system. This technology, with its ability to quickly, reliably, and affordably encode and disseminate information, was the original global-scale-data-game-changer. But in its infancy, the process’ optimization was confused with some residue of the previous order’s technology. The machine was not yet optimized.

In her Book, Cyberspace Renaissance, Leah Marcus illustrates the simulacrum of the scribe’s manuscript during the big bang period of the Gutenberg Galaxy (nod to Marshall McLuhan). Marcus writes: “One of the interesting features of the early decades of printing is that printers started out by conceptualizing the books they produced as manuscript-replicas. They designed typefaces that resembled the dominant manuscript hands of the period; they hired hand illuminators and rubricators for the most sumptuous of printed volumes; they used Incipits rather than title pages. They appear not to have perceived the printed book as a fundamentally different form, but rather as a manuscript book that could be produced with greater speed and convenience than formerly.” (390)

A similar simulacrum may exist with digital data being set in a mold cast by five-hundred years of print. It could be that the optimized language of data has not arrived and that the strongest affordances of data have yet to be discovered through the new mediums and new scales. Print data is to digital data as the manuscript was to the printing press—and that very well may be a true statement. Current data visualization techniques are largely skeumorphs of old scientific texts, sci-fi shows, and minimalist graphic design. The entire idea of experiencing data may develop in a new direction while residue of the past falls away.

A different metaphor could be that humanity is trying to navigate an alien landscape with our grandfatherly compass. The old compass will probably move, but it won’t offer an accurate reading. It’s only with a time and that we retune our compass or find a new instrument. We haven’t yet learned how to safely navigate this new terrain with some borrowed tools, but humanity will make better tools in time.


The cognitive limit of the brain dealing with new information is indeed an arc. It forms a bell-shaped curve. Humans are not machines. It is evident that there are limits to the brain’s ability to deal with information. Joseph Ruff of Harvard’s Learning Innovations Lab makes a case for limiting data intake: “As the amount of information increases, so too does information processing and the quality of decision-making. However, after a certain point is reached, the decision-maker has obtained more information than he can process, information overload has occurred and decision-making ability decreases. Any information received beyond that point will not be processed, may lead to confusion and could have a negative impact on the individual’s ability to set priorities as well as remember previous information“ (Ruff, 1). Human beings, as clever as we are, are simply not biologically wired to consume Big Data as our machines have encoded it. Making human readable sense of this scale of information is a challenge and I would say that the mechanisms that encode and decode Big Data are still with bugs and it’s noisy. Disparate large data sets do not usually speak the same language and gaining complicated insights from Big Data is—well—complicated. Even within a single large data collection, the meaning is likely to be obscured. The world is the sample size in this new all-encompassing experiment, and it’s housed in a marketing office in front of a one-way mirror.

These cognitive limit or our own and the technological limits of data itself are compelling reasons to push back against those machines (and their operators) that attempt to extract data from our individual lives and to resist the push the idea of real-time sensing without a strong qualitative inquiry about the results.

Data is called volume, there’s an analogy in there about how signal clips at high volume and effectively all I hear is terrible noise. Information Overload is now a recognized disorder.


“Bad”, or more accurately, “inaccurate” information is what shapes a large part of the good in human experience. The failability of memory generally retains the good and forgets the bad and inconsequential.

Returning to Leah Marcus’ writing in Cyberspace Renaissance, she notes that “in a culture of primary orality, so the theory goes, there would be little physical distance between author and audience because in the absence of writing or other reliable techniques for reproduction, the performer and the author would likely be one and the same, and able to gear a specific performance to the perceived tastes and interests of a given audience.” (391)

These points are in contrast with the permanence and fidelity found in data. Data doesn’t remember how humans remember. And this might not be good, particularly when the other is viewed as superior and not just different. It is frightening when data is given the status of an unbiased observer. A white paper by Auto-ID Labs calls data, “‘trusted data’ because it is sensed, not human reported” (Fleisch, p17). It is unbiased, but only as far as the system that created collected and installed the recording mechanism.

And furthermore, all data is not information. All data is not necessarily fact, no more than a human memory—an eye-witness account—creates a full record. A dictionary defines informing as being ‘made aware of something’ the active agent in that definition is not the transmitter, but the receiver. Much data is not information in the sense that other information is information. It’s a shortcoming of language as much as a shortcoming of the data. Strictly speaking, the definition that most applies to massive sensor data is just “a signal or character.” (read: “We get signal.” “What!” [Zero Wing])

The fallibility of human memory has shaped human experience. There is value in leniency of information. I believe there is a right amount of fuzziness in much information, particularly the qualitative measures, is a benefit of our biology that could be extend to our machines. “Human first” data collection, and nothing less.


Ann Blair, a history professor at Harvard and the author of Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information Before the Modern Age, tells of the historical experience of information overload. Scholars prior to the press’s invention were extremely occupied with the wealth of handwritten information, and the new technology that pushed those scholars into information overload, as they were unprepared with the new resolution of information. Blair writes, “What strikes me as unique about our age isn’t so much that, as individuals, we feel overloaded and panicked about all the information we should know, but the fact that everyone, whatever your walk of life, everyone now experiences overload.”

Svetlana Sicular, IT and business consultant at Gartner, offers us a perspective from inside of the biggest Big Data institutions. She is cautious in a blog post titled “Big Data is Falling into the Trough of Disillusionment.” The article eludes the idea of Big Data, which in itself is largely a marketing term, is not a magic bullet of understanding and outcomes, at the beck and call of those who mine it. Instead Big Data may be a tool for framing questions more than outputting answers. In a word, working with Big Data is “work”, hard work. After a peak of inflated expectations, a feeling of disillusionment follows. Big Data, while very real, still exists largely in a state of science fiction in media. The fantasy has been sold to CEOs and the general public. After the honeymoon phase with the idea is over, “the next stop for big data is negative press.” (Sicular)


In 1986, the Slow Food Movement emerged in response to McDonald’s reaching the heart of Rome. This encroaching restaurant represented more than fast and affordable burgers, it represented an affront on the known experience of food, and even more ghastly, an affront on the hub around which relationships between family and friends have historically been formed and strengthened.

Fast food was (and is) an attack on the historical—and I would say instinctual—experience of a meal. Fast food represented a new institution that aimed to disrupt the previous one. Carlo Petrini, the figurehead of the Slow Food Movement would surely argue that the personal and sociological aspects of finding and consuming food is an important part of culture and individual happiness, one that can’t be short cut. The Slow Food movement holds that much of the beauty and wholesomeness of food requires a concentrated and unhurried interaction with it. Time creates the experience that makes food good: Time to produce it. Time to prepare it. Time to savor it.

It could also be said that through an intimate relationship with food, that generations of families have been bound for survival. Working together as stewards of the land for mutual survival gave one not only an appreciation for the meal, but also a feeling of connectedness to one another through the shared experience, and a connectedness to the nature and one’s community. Generating food that helps place oneself in the context of the natural world.

Petrini rejected the idea that fast food was a good thing and human progress. The underlying logic grew into a larger Slow Movement with many champions rallying for a slower experience of life’s moments.

Today there is a small rally forming around Slow Data. Stephan Few, of Perceptual Edge, a small information consulting firm, writes, “it is time to extend the Slow Movement to the realm of information technology. In this time of so-called Big Data, too much is being missed in our rush to expand. The entire point of collecting data—using information to better understand our world and then make more informed decisions based on that understanding—has been forgotten and is certainly not being achieved in our manic rush to throw more technology at a problem that can only be solved by making better use of our brains.”

In response to the 3Vs of Big Data— Volume, velocity, & variety—as sloganeered by Doug Laney of Gartner over a decade ago, Stephan Few offers a new set of alliterative tenets: Small, slow, & sure.


Blair, Ann (2013). Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information Before the Modern Age. Yale University Press, 2011.

Few, Stephen (2013). The Slow Data Movement: My Hope for 2013. Perceptual Edge. January 2013. http://www.perceptualedge.com/blog/?p=1460

Fleisch, Elgar (2010). What is the Internet of Things: An Economic Perspective. ETH Zurich / University of St. Gallen. Auto-ID Labs White Paper. WP-BIZAPP-053. January 2010

MARCUS, L. S. (1995). Cyberspace Renaissance. English Literary Renaissance, 25: 388–401. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6757.1995.tb01454.x

Ruff, Joseph (2002). Information Overload: Causes, Symptoms and Solutions. Learning Innovations Laboratories, Harvard Graduate School of Education, December 2002. http://workplacepsychology.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/information_overload_causes_symptoms_and_solutions_ruff.pdf

Sicular, Svetlana (2013). Gartner. Big Data is Falling into the Trough of Disillusionment. January 2013. http://blogs.gartner.com/svetlana-sicular/big-data-is-falling-into-the-trough-of-disillusionment/

Zero Wing, “All Your Base Are Belong To Us”. Taito. 1989. http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/all-your-base-are-belong-to-us

View MDP Circulation in a larger map

Data collection is often about the quantifiable, noticeable, & uniquely identifiable. This experiment allows group collection of GPS tracking data collected from one or many devices to be mapped together on a single map. The individual paths of coordinates are transparent, not opaque, and they overlap one another. Individual trips, and individual contributors are lost among one another, forming a single abstract, impression of activity in a space. There is a concentrated and exacting method of submitting individual user data, but this user data is lost in the overall composition of data markings on the map.

This not-quite fully-automatic collection and reporting method required by individuals which outputs not-quite discernible individual results, I argue is a poetic design exercise in Slow Data, where individual user's are actively contributing to a map that is in effect, more qualitative than quantitative in its measurement.

Advisers: Phil van Allen & Benjamin Judkewitz

Textfiles & Beyond, The Archive of Jason Scott Sadofsky / full text


___ ______ _____ _ _ _____ _ _ _____ _____ _____ ___ ___ ___
/ _ \ | ___ \/ __ \| | | |_ _| | | | ___|_ _| ___|/ _ \ | \/ |
/ /_\ \| |_/ /| / \/| |_| | | | | | | | |__ | | | |__ / /_\ \| . . |
| _ || / | | | _ | | | | | | | __| | | | __|| _ || |\/| |
| | | || |\ \ | \__/\| | | |_| |_\ \_/ / |___ | | | |___| | | || | | |
\_| |_/\_| \_| \____/\_| |_/\___/ \___/\____/ \_/ \____/\_| |_/\_| |_/
we are going to rescue your shit

Above, you see the ASCII art header copied & pasted from the textfile accompanying the original .torrent archive of Geocities. There are currently zero (0) seeds at the time of this writing ;,,,( https://thepiratebay.sx/torrent/5923737/Geocities_-_The_Torrent

Adviser: Shannon Herbert

This project began at weekly bar night, with observational field recording (video & audio) as documentation tools. As researchers, we came without motives as to what we wished to discover. Instead, we tried to let the interesting layers of this eccentric, fashionable, Arts District Downtown scene blossom for us naturally. And it did.

After field research was conducted, we chose to focus our attention on one behavior present at this nightclub, whereby cars passing through a narrow one way street bisected the crowd that spills from the mouth of the venue.

As surely as cars do pass—irregularly & infrequently, but certainly—they cause a disturbance event in the social circles that pool together. Our observations lead us to view these disturbances as useful event-devices that allow for graceful exits of conversations. If people are waiting for a moment to depart, certain events can disoriented those in conversation and allow for escape. Or, had not any prior escape have been desired, these events still show opportunity to break concentration to make a new judgement on how best to proceed in social affairs. At our bar site, the largest disturbance events are slow-moving cars with horns blaring & considerately barking security guards that cause social mixture.

We ask, what other ways could these disturbance events be employed, in a way more exacting and controlled? From this inquiry, we considered a novel device borrowed from the language 'canned responses'. We use a visual pun to poke fun at the real desire for such devices, for the events that can get you out of a situation without fault. The canned response outsources personal responsibility for words and subsequent actions.

Our can devices pull language sampled directly from interviews conducted around MDP & Pasadena coffeeshops. These interviews reveal that our hunches may be right—that people rely on their own metaphorical canned responses to evade or exit conversations. In our physical cans, we sampled some of the choicest terminal language.

Our last move was to devise a dispenser for our collected can responses. This commodifies the graceful (and sometimes not so graceful exit), for people who would pay a sum for a helpful technology to deal with uncomfortable conversation.

This project was produced by Aaron Fooshée & Walt Chiu

The film above is a Facebook browsing performance captured February 10th, 2012. The imagery comes from personal Facebook's Handwritten status updates. album. Handwritten Status Updates constitute the output of a concept put into effect beginning April 26th, 2011 & ending—abruptly—on February 21st, 2013 when my Facebook account was terminated without warning, reason or repercussion.

The fact that my account was banned may reinforce the ideas that lead me to begin this project in the first place: The Social Network—when allowed to exact its control as it does—is normalizing & dehumanizing to profile creators & the created information artifacts are disembodied, bumper-sticker-ized, resists individual authorship, & exist only in so far as the network allows. If my messages can not be picked apart effectively by algorithm for the benefit of advertisers gaining more insight on my shopping habits & all their related fears & desires, then I am a parasite & a target for removal. I am not a person being creative, I am a nuisance evading advertiser-centric algorithm. My view is speculation, of course, because Facebook's support email, the only address that I'm allowed to direct questions toward, did not reply to my inquiry as to why—specific or general.

Douglas Rushkoff, in his book Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age, points out that I—& probably you too—are not Facebook's users. We are Facebook's product. Facebook's advertisers are their users & the social networking business is catering toward their needs (& to our needs, only by proxy).

This film & my local copies of images are the only proof that these messages were sent out into my social network. Over the roughly three year period that I posted these images to the network, it became a great pleasure to take the time to create & upload these messages. It was a small pleasure to see the posted reactions of friends who found some pleasure themselves when confronted with these unusual posts. It may appear as novelty, but the process of slowed-down creation changed my relationship with how I thought about my messages to the world via Facebook, & the form of others' messages reaching me.

The micro-blog format can lead to micro-thinking. I used to write about my day in longer form—many paragraphs—on LiveJournal. Then came the shorter-form, then the micro-blog then the hashtag, then the image alone. Handwritten Status Updates, rejects the quick & easy, simple & homogenized, the momentary. My methods required special hardware & software. While simple & often brief in message, these messages required a period of conception in message and in form more than a one-liner of plain text.

Rick Owens is a speculative re-branding of fashion designer brand Rick Owens' flagship Rick Owens brand and sub-brands DRKSHDW, lilies, and a new proposal for a Rick Owens Home brand for the furniture objects that the designer is now producing.

Styleguide :

Adviser: Gregory Mar

Mixed photograpy produced as Kult. Kult does photography and video services including image production and equipment rentals. We have been in operation in Los Angeles since 2010.

Kult is Aaron Fooshée & Leo Matus

The Well was born in 2010 as the flag flown over a physical warehouse in Los Angeles near USC. The physical space was built out to serve as a creative space to a small handful of friends in their creative and entrepreneurial endeavors. It was all at once a photo studio, salon, carpenter's workshop, fashion hub, office, loft & party space.

The Well's brand equity was purchased by an investor in 2011 & the brand's equity in "cool" was leveraged create a upscale clothing boutique in Downtown Los Angeles.

The Well was conceived by Jefferson Tangradi, Jeremy Yuge, & Aaron Fooshée
Model photo credit: Neil Favila
Mixed Illustrations & studies :