Recent Feed Items

Today’s NY Times article “Climate Change Seen as Threat to U.S. Security:”

“We will pay for this one way or another,” Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, a retired Marine and the former head of the Central Command, wrote recently in a report he prepared as a member of a military advisory board on energy and climate at CNA, a private group that does research for the Navy. “We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today, and we’ll have to take an economic hit of some kind.

“Or we will pay the price later in military terms,” he warned. “And that will involve human lives.”

Laptop Stand, Experiment 1

Laptop Stand, Experiment 1

Laptop Stand, Experiment 1

This is the first experiment with making a laptop stand.  Cardboard mockups, Foamcore  refined design, then final one cut out of wood (bubinga).  It was really interesting to see how much my sense of process had changed since using the laser cutter.  I wanted to just draw out the shape, and let the laser cut it all, but of course we (my dad and i - he did most of the cutting work on this one) had to work step by step angle by angle, cut by cut. I forgot how to work that way, but over the last few weeks, i’ve remembered it.

I really wanted to make a round one with steam bent wood, but we never got around to it.

Together with pachube, a service to onnect, tag and share real time sensor data from objects, devices, buildings and environments around the world, you can write xml or “EEML” to link information between buildings sensors and devices. Cool, but i like the idea of simply a green code, whatever that means;.)

EEML supports installations, buildings, devices and events that collect environmental data and enables people to share this resource in realtime either within their own organizations or with the world as a whole via an internet connection or mobile network access. It can enable buildings to “talk”, sharing remote environmental sensor data across the network in order to make local decisions based on wider, global perspectives. The EEML protocol supports datastream sources that respond to and exchange data with other installations, buildings, devices and events through data stream tagging. “

I’m excited to be one of the Resident Artists for Eyebeam this Fall along with the other artists: Diana Eng, Nora Ligorano & Marshall Reese, Rashaad Newsome and Marina Zurkow. Today marks the end of my first week: getting oriented, research, setting up my workspace and more — a real treat to be in Chelsea and part of an amazing organization that has funded and assisted so many artists as well as public programs for students and much more.

For the last 3 years, I’ve been focused on a studio practice in San Francisco which has been developing many individual works including popular video and prints including Future Memories, Uncertain Location, Video Portraits and Paradise Ahead, along with several collaborations such as No Matter, Wikipedia Art and Second Front.


While this period has been prolific and fruitful, I could feel myself straying from my roots of community activism and group collaboration. Here at Eyebeam, I will be developing some open source and open hardware technologies which will enable mobile and networked video projectors using LED bulbs for power.

It is ambitious, I know. But, I think this is an amazing and prescient technology that will soon be ubiquitous. I’d like to make the means available to modification and customization by artists and others. I have my own ideas for several projects which could use mobile and cheap projection systems which can synchronize video channels.

So far, my favorite links for the build-your-own projector community has been the one at Lumen Labs which is a storehouse for ideas and conversations. Additionally, there are some useful examples on Instructables and on engadget of DIY projectors. Most involve ripping apart off-the-shelf components and modifying them to make them into home-brew projectors. Remember that the DIY projector is different than the open hardware designs.

Here is a crude diagram, which illustrates my poor handwriting, of a general design for opening up the hardware I want to make a design that is cheap, modular, open and effective. All of this for less that $500. Each unit will be able to be synchronized using custom iPhone software that I will write during my stay here (more on that later).


Modern Art / OCLC Network in TouchGraph

Since putting together the New York Times identity network, I’ve wanted to look more closely at a larger network of art identities and subjects. I reworked some of the OCLC pipes that pull related identities and associated subjects from an Identity page to output something a bit closer to a TouchGraph data file, wrapped the whole business in a processing sketch, and had it crawl 100 objects from the Met’s Modern Art department.

Modern Art / OCLC Network TouchGraph (detail)

Modern Art / OCLC Network TouchGraph (detail)

After some data cleaning, the network contains,
~3,500 nodes = 1,200 related identities + 2,200 associated subjects + 100 Modern Art Records and
~7,200 edges = 1,700 -> related identities + 5,500 -> associated subjects

Data files – Nodes (Tab delimited), Edges (XLS, Tab), Identities only X3D model

The same terms can appear as related identities and associated subjects. As in the image above, Jasper Johns the associated subject is selected, while the identity is in the upper left. I’ve color coded the nodes in the graph (blue identities, gray subjects) and they are distinct in the data.

For a network this large, TouchGraph works well a single node at a time, but extending the locality stressed out my machine and I still wanted to see the whole network. Pajek to the rescue. Below is the 3D force-based layout of only the identities.

OCLC Network - Identities Only

Modern Art / OCLC Network - Identities Only

Better, but I still wanted a closer look. Pajek exports to X3D.
Used Octaga to render; took a quick screencast…

Directionality is missing from the images but the edges only go from the numbered nodes (the starting set of Met Modern Art records) to Identity records from OCLC.

The major nodes are those you might expect. Each associated subject is presented in a tag cloud on the Identity page with a variable font size. I’ve used those sizes as edge weights where appropriate and summed them across the network here.

Associated Subjects
Sum of Weights
Exhibition catalogs 412
Criticism, interpretation, etc. 377
Catalogs 326
Biography 318
Art 298
United States 295
Artists 246
History 244
Painters 236
Art, Modern 165
Related Identities Occurences
Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.)
De Kooning, Willem 1904-1997
Picasso, Pablo 1881-1973
Pollock, Jackson 1912-1956
Rothko, Mark 1903-1970
Marin, John 1870-1953
Matisse, Henri 1869-1954
Weber, Max 1881-1961
Braque, Georges 1882-1963
Stieglitz, Alfred 1864-1946

(Ahem, Metropolitan Museum of Art appears only 3 times in the network.)

I’ve started looking at the network metrics in UCINET and Pajek but I think there has to be something said about validity at this point. What we have is a two-mode network, i.e. a bipartite data set. Not a problem; plenty of ways to look at the data. But this is more an artifact of the data collection method than reality. Object records don’t point to one other and, since I didn’t iterate, there are no connections between the collected nodes. Of course the validity of the whole data set is pretty dubious. My selection criteria were intentionally broad and uninformed – picking the top 3 identies from OCLC and then pulling in everything, ignoring rank and weight in the data collection phase. The initial goal of the pipes was to find out more about the quality of the results from OCLC – to see if a simple query would suffice. So the pipe structure will need to change if we want validity. I don’t know nearly enough about how associated subjects are mapped to identities, or how an identity is “related” to any others, or for that matter how complete the coverage is for Modern Art in OCLC. Ultimately, any analysis will be saying more about the OCLC data surrounding books rather than about the Met’s holdings. I’ll be sure to present the network analysis metrics on a more “complete” dataset.

With all of that criticism about lack of rigor out of the way; Wow. With a large enough starting set, the resulting network gets rid of the noise pretty well. I think this network is a good place to start with clear direction for improvement.

Posted in Metropolitan Museum of Art, Visualization Tagged: identities, OCLC, touchgraph

Dear  President Obama,

I just finished reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s article in June 29 2009 issue of The New Yorker called “The Catastrophist,” a profile of climatologist James Hansen.

I have thought many times about how to compose any kind of letter that would at least have meaning to me, if not to the administration, but time has run out for pondering.

I am an artist and animator, and I work with issues of climate change (
I have had more conversations than I care to remember about how it’s almost too late, how it is too late,  how it is futile and hopeless because of big business and lobby resistance. But time has also run out for conversations, and people like me need to DEMAND a message from you and a commitment to action.

Respectfully: What is the plan? When do you declare, as I believe is appropriate, an impending state of emergency? When does government step in and help save humans and other beings from a change so drastic, we will all suffer greatly? Health care, bank bonuses, better education, none of it will matter if we don’t make some serious changes in the way we manage the planet – from fuel production to consumption.

I know this is not the most eloquent letter, but I need to hear from you. I am frightened for myself, my friends, for people I know in vulnerable places, and for all the children I know whose lives will soon be altered beyond comprehension.

Marina Zurkow
Brooklyn NY

(sent to web site)

I wrote  and sent this letter last night out of complete exasperation. I’ve been feeling a murky disappointment about the murky attention being paid to climate change, and everyone says “be patient; Obama’s Admin’s hands are full.” I really hope that if you’re reading this, you’ll consider writing too.  A mediocre “cap and trade” bill got passed by the House (and even this has faced enormous resistance by both libertarians and big business) . We are at the end of the hourglass (some experts think time’s up already), and I have gone from helpless despair, to trying to exercise conviction that my small actions will make difference, to realizing it’s only pressure on government to legislate  fuel change, energy innovation and radical shifts in global behaviors. Pundits  opine that scientists don’t understand the way politics work when they state that we have a small window of time in which to slow down or somewhat restabilize the PPM of CO2 in the climate IF we shut down ALL coal plants;  but Hansen “argues that while the laws of geophysics are immutable, those of society are ours to determine.”

If you have any suggestions on how to effectively(?) reach others in gov with individual letters, please post.

Info on the Cap and Trade Bill which will go to the Senate in the fall (if we’re lucky):
Cap and Trade Bill breakdown
Archive of NYT articles on Cap and Trade
The Economist critique of Cap and Trade Bill
Job-loss critique of Cap and Trade Bill