Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

CRA Newserator

Newserator is a custom RSS aggregator that I built to break the filter bubble effect in online news consumption.  It allows a user to simultaneously view news feeds from both sides of the political spectrum, filtered by reputation and also keywords.

The feeds are curated in an evolving list of media sources, according to a private set of criteria.  At some point, convening an actual editorial board to oversee the list of feeds is planned.

The host site, Citizens Rights Alliance, is an advocacy site dedicated to the intersection of the Horseshoe Theory as it pertains to Civil Rights.

The goal is to expand minds and illuminate common ground.

Give it a try.

Essay: In Defense of Anti-Science

Published in Volume 21, Number 2 of Skeptic Magazine.

It’s obvious that technocracy will have a place in future human society.  As we squelch anti-vaxxers and climate-science deniers, we must be very careful that we also provide sturdy avenues for public feedback on emerging technologies, lest we let technotopia slip into just another form of fallible human oligarchy.

You can read a version of the article on my medium account, as the version in Skeptic is behind a paywall.

Skeptic Magazine Vol. 21 Num. 2

Skeptic Magazine Vol. 21 Num. 2

FF Draft Mocker

In the world of Fantasy Football, draft prep is everything.  Here’s a little tool I built for a friend; it consumes draft position data and helps the user predict their team based on position and depth chart.

The tool runs draft simulations from any or all spots in a given draft, and also allows the user to select form various common scoring systems and snake vs straight-line draft formats.  (For an interesting look at the math of the snake pattern, see this stackoverflow thread).

Draft Mocker

Draft Mocker

The Red Spot Rhythm Section – Worry: Songs of Homan Freed

Worry Album Cover

 

Worry: Songs of Homan Freed is a collection of songs and journals recently discovered from a future broadcast leaked back in time.  The Red Spot Rhythm Section, along with some special guests, have recreated these temporally homeless songs in this brief retrospective.

Review: David Bowie Is

Whitehot Magazine feature

Whitehot Magazine feature

This review has been published in Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art

http://whitehotmagazine.com/articles/bowie-is-at-mca-chicago/3090

David Bowie Is
MCA Chicago

By JOSHUA SIEGAL, NOV. 2014

It was nearly not so. Bowie was not the drug of choice for this show; he was merely what the next guy at the party had a good supply of. Geoffrey Marsh, of the Victoria and Albert Museum who first put together this show, admitted as much quite candidly during his press preview with the MCA’s Michael Darling. The V&A had originally wanted another global rock superstar as the subject of this show, he who for legal reasons must not be named.  That show fell through, and was shelved, until the opportunity to work with Bowie’s archivist came knocking.

It has long ago been proven that art can live and breathe on the Rock and Roll stage.  With the David Bowie Is exhibit, the MCA Chicago and its partners attempt to prove not only that the reverse is true but also that a well-scaffolded marionette show can bring Rock and Roll detritus to life.

David Bowie Is must certainly be a coup for the MCA Chicago, at least financially speaking, but we probably won’t hear anyone in London, Paris, or Berlin crowing about seeing the names of their cities listed alongside the others.  Chicago considers itself a global metropolis, but, with its second-city neurosis, it often acts a bit like a backwater “world-class city,” one that feels the compelled to proclaim it such.  The triumphalism of the press surrounding the MCA exhibit reveals a lot about the state of modern art in the “Paris of the Midwest”.

London: Bowie’s birthplace, capitol of his native country, backdrop for his nascence.

Berlin: adopted home and locus for a period of Bowie’s creative reincarnation.

Paris: a fashion mecca.

Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is where this exhibition properly belongs, stylistically and contextually. If the MCA dreams of repurposing an entire floor as the North American Museum of the Natural History of Rock and Roll, this show would be a winning shot across the bow.  If it intends to remain the Museum of Contemporary Art, then we must be content to let them cough into their sleeve and collect the admissions fees.

Cultural history transplants rather shamelessly to disjointed locales. This is unabashedly a collection of artifacts, which – though presented chronologically – tries to reassure everyone that it’s not a retrospective.  When the remains of Tutankhamen came to this city, they were appropriately hawked for viewing not at the Art Institute, but at the Field Museum, alongside dinosaur skeletons and Native American dioramas.

MCA patrons of the Bowie exhibit will breeze past a small and completely free chamber of dangling Calder mobiles, straight into the maw of an expensive synesthetic leviathan.  This is not to say that the show – as spectacle – is unworthy of the door price.  Technological plumage can be expensive to display, and in this, perhaps, the show finds a kind of conceptual match: Bowie was a technological innovator – this show is innovative.  Get it? But what plumage – location-aware headphone sets allow the visitor to experience an audio scape digitally cross-faded, tailored to his or her personal wandering proclivities (running haphazardly through the exhibit space produces a fantastically surreal live audio piece, though one not endorsed by the security staff.)

At this, the matter and presentation are expertly married: what better subject than a musical icon of the video age, to pair with roaming audio technology?  Interview snippets blend through the various zones with recorded music, which itself reveals as synced video soundtrack, but only as the video comes into view. There is much to absorb here in exhibit-craft.  Banished is the over worn “video bench” where tedious pieces loop at length in a tomb: no video among the many on offer lasts longer than three or four minutes, all of them nestled in some larger context.  Digital media leaps from and winks at glass-cased artifacts from its own past: Bowie’s handwritten notes, sketches, storyboards, and paintings. Well-placed mirrors render interlaced 1980s videos into appropriately trippy dimensions and a recreated studio room cascades talkback ghosts and out-take voices down through the space.  The viewer is like an ant wandering on a circuit board inside the head of robot Bowie, stunningly attired in one of his glittery costumes.

The culminating interdisciplinary face-stuffing of the exhibit is a room that splashes together live concert footage, a novel 3D sound experiment that attempts to recreate audio immersion in said concert footage; a stand of theatrically garbed mannequins; stage plotting dioramas; rock show lighting and video montage.  This is the grand finale of the fireworks show, it doesn’t quite come together, but it’s effective in the same way that being vomited on by a loved one is effective: undeniable, and hilarious to the degree that it’s somehow pleasant – it’s Bowie overdose.

So the exhibit really is the exploration of the real history of a fake persona, which was almost a completely different real history of a completely different fake persona.  All dealt out with extreme care and precision. What a happy accident that the eventual subject was such a technologist. Maybe there is some resonance here with Bowie’s use of oblique strategies? Maybe Bowie’s references to McLuhan are eerily prescient, in that his personas have been supplanted in this exhibit by the medium, namely the exhibit itself?  Maybe this all belongs in a contemporary art museum after all, if we are prepared to accept an ossification of contemporary art, that it will already start listing toward its own past, and turn into the visual corollary of jazz.

For anyone interested in how multidisciplinary installations come together, this exhibit (and perhaps the film that’s already been made about it) should be worthwhile and indeed exemplary.  For anyone interested in the relatively narrow topic of the expansive history of David Bowie, this show will be a delight.  Those who hold out hope that modern art can continue to thrive and churn without huge influxes of cash, will come and gaze at this exhibition with horrific appreciation – like a rockabilly daddy-o witnessing Ziggy Stardust emerge from a limousine.

N^ The Game

N^ The Game

 

N^ The Game is an original board game in development, currently in the playtesting phase.  N^ comes out of some thoughts about game design, resources, and geography: N^ is a game where players compete for resources, but they do not dominate or take away one another’s territory.  Don’t worry – there is plenty of deviousness and strategy, and common resources are limited.  In my mind, this represents a close analog to our current geopolitical situation, where major powers are unlikely to risk all out war, but will formulate and reformulate devious plans to capture resources / deny competitors.  The direct cartographic inspiration is the situation at the north pole of our planet (hence the name).  This is a game for 2, 3, 4, or 6 players, and alliances will naturally form and break (heh heh).  This mechanics / play of the game also take some inspiration from cellular automata, particularly Conway’s Game of Life, and the idea of game pieces “surviving” based on certain population criteria.  (There are also certain similarities here with the venerable game of Go.)  As for the winning conditions, there are also ideas operating in this game about cooperation and resources.  The competition is strident, but everyone ends the game with the same pieces and territory as they started with.

N Logo

The single logo

Preparation of the game pieces

Preparation of the game pieces

 

Update 7/23/2015: Chicago Playtesting

JK_1

 

JK_2

A new board direction, and getting some rule tweaks down.  An interesting iteration.

Update 7/17/2014: Chicago Playtesting

Winning Position from July 17 Playtesting; second iteration

Winning Position from July 17 Playtesting; second iteration

Here’s the winning position from our July 17 playtesting session, working with a 5-player version and some great new rules iterations.  Coming along nicely now, working on the balancing out.

 

Update 3/24/2014: ProtoSpiel Milwaukee

Playtesting N^ at ProtoSpiel Milwaukee

Playtesting N^ at ProtoSpiel Milwaukee

Had a great time playtesting N^ The Game (among others) at ProtoSpiel Milwaukee this weekend.  We went through a couple of different rules iterations, and overall I was quite pleased with the way the game played out.  Thanks to Scott and Wooz especially for their insightful comments and gameplay, and we had a great time playing their games as well!

 

the Morphtet

The Morphtet is a piano trio based around the concepts of acoustic interaction and melding barrlehouse with polyrhythms.

themorphtet.com

MorphtetHonkyTonk228

The Opposition Party

The Opposition Party is a project I cofounded along with Jason Kaulas, Michael Weimann, and Bryan Resendiz, which has grown over the years to include 10 musicians.  The Opposition Party delivers vintage afrofunk sounds with energy and fidelity driven by 4 horns, multiple percussionists, and a tight, grooving rhythm section. Acclaimed vocalist Mark Ford leads the show.

oppositionpartymusic.com

www.facebook.com/the.opposition.party

Dancing At The Revolution

EP Theathre. Original music production / Sound design. Chicago, 2008.

For this highly stylized theatrical retelling of the life of rabble-rouser Emma Goldman, I wrote music that updated the period socialist-songbook style with some modern sounds and improvisational elements.  Here are the overture and the curtain music, two of my favorite pieces from the show.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Fluids – A Vector-Based Particle System

This project began as an exploration into programming for fluid dynamics.  That research acquainted me with the subject of vector fields and how they represent the behavior of fluids and gases.  This thread of investigation led me to the world of cellular automata, including Conway’s beautiful Game of Life.

While this project doesn’t approach the subletly or revelatory power of that fundamental experiment, it does include dozens of discrete particle objects, each following its own destiny through the vector field, becoming affected by what it travels through, by the other particles that it meets along the way, and leaving trails as it veers around.  There’s also a certain amount of intrinsic randomness built into the system, some of which can be adjusted by the performer in real time.

The system is also built to accept an incoming stereo audio signal and adjust the particles based upon the audio feed, which can be run in live through an input or make use of a computer’s built-in mic.

Although this project is a stand-alone app that is meant to run full-screen on a laptop hooked to a projector for a performance, I have a web version available here.  The web version is also able to take incoming audio, and the controls are listed at the right side of the page.  Have fun!