Blackbox

It’s the result of the “Threads” exercises. It regards the wonder or astonishment of DALL-E users by writing and having an image in exchange.
Far from AI, “Blackbox” aims to foster an intuitive intelligence by drawing and following your own ideas or beliefs.

Blackbox was published by Taper #9: Nine Lives, Fall 2022.
Taper is an online literary magazine for small computational pieces, published by Bad Quarto.


Image: Preview of Blackbox


Other versions of the exploration:

Some other workshop Manifest (Drafts)

Originally, the objective of the workshop was the production of the common good. Since medieval times, the workshop has been a place for learning and teaching craftworks. For example, xylographic printing workshops, typographic cutting and foundry workshops, typesetter and illuminated manuscripts, among others. The creation of a single object, such as a book, united various workshops in an organized manner. The function of the workshop is thus threefold: linking social life, producing goods, and distributing knowledge.

During the second half of the XX century, the workshop acquired a new understanding that differed from the original purpose. it became a space for alternative education that was open to pedagogical exploration and experimentation. For instance, ‘The blueprint for counter education’  (Stein & Miller, 1970)  serves as a portable learning environment for a new process-based model of education. This bookwork is proposed as a self contained workshop facilitated by a book and composed by a series of visual posters. Imagine: a workshop facilitated by no human. Today, there are workshops about poetry, design, yoga and dancing, workshops to develop psycho-emotional skills, and even workshops to manage workshops.

Some other workshops are about computation, herbalism and dreams and/or secret depictions. Or even, there are workshops that work as a playground to play, exchange common goods, or meet new people. While some workshops take place as a physical experience, some others might happen ‘online’ in the networked and programmable media. There are workshops that last one hour, some last a day, and others last generations, practised and shared among families of artisans. The format of the workshop is as flexible as the content that is played. 

Under the context of the fourth industrial revolution, the idea of the common and “the social” are questioned by the constant privatization of cultural goods and natural resources. What do we mean when we use the pronoun ‘we’? Who are the actors coming together within a workshop? How do we socialize and empathize with our environments? Who are the owners of production of the common goods? Which are the borders of the workshop as format?

“Some other workshops manifesto” thus observes innovative ways to produce and distribute knowledge. Also, it looks for  different ways to assemble the social within the workshop format.

So then, the workshops aim at knowledge dissemination and production, practical problem solving and the development of (the) common good(s). This manifest proposes parameters to visualize the workshops in this historical context and to understand it as a creative practice;  such as writing, painting or performing.

1. Time, space and purpose

  • The workshop is limited by the time and space. 
  • The workshop’s objectives don’t limit the workshop itself, but they do draw the workshop horizon. 
  • All workshops always have purposes, even when they refuse to have them. 
  • The workshop is an agreement between participants.

2.Participants

  • The workshop facilitator is another participant with administrative credentials during the workshop. 
  • The workshop facilitator is an old-fashioned way to call somebody who accompanies during a learning-working process, he, she, they, or it (if the facilitator is a non-human actor) is a partner. 
  • A workshop is a tension between participants in space-time. 
  • The participants of the workshop are actors. so they do act or, even better, they make others act. 
  • Some of those actors are visually manifested; some others sound like the wind. and some others are a set of instructions. 
  • The workshop participants are not necessarily humans. For example, there are biological actors in a parmigiano-reggiano cheese workshop, such as the bacteria that ferments the cheese for months. or computational actors, such as the algorithms behind the user experience in a video conference room. both of them are non-human actors.  
  • All the actors’ actions leave traces of their presence. 
  • Some actors are presented during the whole workshop, some others last an eye glance. When an actor is not performing, does it become an artifact? 
  •  The social is an emergent system where the actors interact. Some of those interactions are meant to be, some others are spontaneous and meaningless.

3. Interaction

  • Each interaction can be designed or inducted with a specific purpose. 
  • Other interactions can not be controlled. They do belong to spontaneous events, like errors. Those interactions belong to the unpredictability field. 
  • The nature of each system is entropy. 

4. Dynamics

A set of workshop interactions with a purpose are the workshop dynamics. They draw the structures and they hold the workshop intentions. For example, some workshops repeat the discourse as propaganda. They produce deliverables, such as one tonne of cheese. Other workshops, hold participants within an umbrella, they create room for participant interactions, hypotheses and experimentation

5. Iteration

Workshop iterations modify each of its elements, such as the time, space, objectives, interactions, and participants. Therefore, a workshop never dies, it mutates or it is forgotten.

— Workshoping— 

The workshop is a constant creative practice. Each workshop session is different, as any other day. 

A workshop is not isolated from its environment. 

The best workshops are independent organisms of anybody. They can continue even if the founder or any participant is not alive. 

Mapas Oniricos in Blend & Bleed

STORIES BEHIND

In Ghent (2018), Mapas Oniricos [Oniric Maps, MO] introduced “Espectrito” within the workshop performance.  There were two ideas behind it, first I wanted to disappear in front of my colleagues at KASK. Back in those days, I was taking a storytelling postgraduate course as a student and docent. Besides that I was announced as workshop facilitator since the start of the course, a lot of my colleagues didn’t know about it. So I have the feeling that erasing myself from the role of being a ‘classmate’ would improve the workshop presentation, especially during the first minutes. Also, back in those days I was living  a personal-creative-turbulence period… when a childhood friend, Micho,  appeared in town from Mexico city. And he brought a present for me,  the mexican wrestler mask of  “Espectrito”.

Espectrito is not the most popular wrestler mask, others like El Santo, Atlantis, Mistico are more famous and easy to recognize. Yet it is one of the most mysterious masks in the history of Lucha libre; Espectrito’s story is linked to the origin of broadcasting lucha libre in the mexican tv back in the 50s . And because of the aesthetic of the mask and the ‘ritual’ that the original wrestler used to perform.  (He used to arrive inside a coffin to the fight field) The mask became a controversy for the mexican catholic society from the time. Since those days, Espectro‘s saga ─ which includes a lot of wrestlers with similar names and masks, such as Espectricto, Espectro de ultratumba, Mono verde among others─  is full of bad reputation and even a wishcraft.

Antonio (Toño) Hernández Arriaga was the first Espectro. His debut was in Monterrey, 1951 and besides his great success next years. During an encounter he suffered an unfortunate accident that ended with his career.

Today, I know more about the story behind this Mexican icon, but back in those days, I merely knew this mask was coming from my old first friend who loved evil and mysterious forces since his childhood.  And maybe that was enough to use it during this presentation in Belgium. 

Anyway, my friend gave me a tool to disappear/appear in front of my colleagues and a toy for self exploration. Also, one of the objectives of MO workshop deals with the remediation of written language in images, sounds and interactions; So in a way this gave me the chance to play and  incorporate a performance that encourages participants to experiment with language beyond a cases of words. 

The origin of the name Espectro was inspired by this comic book from the 50s in Mexico . Apparently the name was suggested by Roberto “el güero” Rangel

BLENDING REALITIES

This was the picture we used for invitation of the workshop .

For the purpose of this workshop edition in the Blend and Bleed symposium,  my goal was to remark that the mask is a tool for the workshop and not the other way around.  The mask is not a character; it is not a childish story, not even an icon; it is not about the performance. The mask is a tool, It has a function that aims to blend the pedagogical and performative experience of the workshop.  So I decided to continue this (self) exploration and take out an Espectro mask and vanish it into myself.  

These are some sketches and tests about my makeup and expressions. I was looking something simple that remark the expressions of my own face

Something I have discovered during the tests, is that each time I was playing a mask, my own voice and character was changing. it was like meeting a another VIni

MO looks to merge what is happening, the real moment with visual, sound and performance elements that sum to the statement of what is developed within the workshop. I would say a symbolic experience that goes beyond words.

It echoes Augusto de Boal’s idea of Invisible theatre of  blending reality in some spontaneous event.  Participants of the workshop don’t really know exactly what, how and when an event will happen. There is not such an exact script. It only exists a plan to develop during the workshop, notes.

Plan of the day

I feel enthusiastic about the potential of the online version of the workshop, surely this will continue evolving and changing. Some ideas that came to my mind are related to the UI and the modification of the workshop format it self. As MO is not attached to Twine or any particular technology, I wonder about how the content shapes the experience of the workshop.

In contrast with the physical experience of the workshop; the online version of MO, optimizes the time and facilitates unique features from the medium, such as more control on sound and images and programmatic or networked features that impact the total performance of the workshop.

My home studio for MO.

Nevertheless,  the personal physical interactions and casual events are nul. For the workshop development  those small  interactions and casual events are essential for the personal growth of each participant.  For example, personal conversations about dreams are lost . I don’t mean we don’t talk about our dreams in some way, the workshop has an organized way to talk about them . I am talking about casual chats and events that happened within the time that we are just around. Those events might happen more often as we provide time for “blank spaces” within the workshop. Maybe working with some asynchronous times during a a workshop that last more time , it would be ideal to provoke those conversations. Psychical interactions are unique; yet I wonder about the power of the physique.

There are more questions and concerns to be answered  such as  How to balance the performance and the pedagogical content? So far I have been using the mask a lot, but  What about using  some other visual,sound  and interactive elements?  How time and more sessions would affect the experience?


RESULT OF THE DAY

You can check the dream exploration we did that day here .

My apologize I did not keep a precise track about the dreams ownership for each twine stories, my mistake. The next twine stories, only mention the last author, an interpreter of others dream. You can find more information in the original document.

Thanks to everybody who join the workshop.

All my gratitude to my Carina Erdman for this fantastic initiative and for the invitation. Gracias

Test_270519_916pm.B_

Dream exploration that use virtual reality (VR) as an agent for storytelling. Interactive experience that aims to rise the question How virtual are our dreams?  Test_270519_916pm.B_ is based in a personal dream where I was constantly awaking . And  it is inspired by The infinite dream of Pau yu by Tsao Hsue-King in “Dreams of the Red chamber”

This exploration is part of “Mapa Oniricos” (Oneiric maps), a community workshop that use UX low-fi prototype techniques and digital literacy practices in order to explore dreams.

 

Code words

Hace medio mes tuve el honor y el placer de asistir a Code words en The School of Poetics Computation en la ciudad de Nueva York ( de Julio 29 al 3 de Ago) . El taller es organizado y curado por Nick Montfort en colaboración administrativa de Taeyoon Choi.

El taller fue desarrollado por personas muy talentosas como la poeta Stephanie Strickland,  Milton Lafauer, Lillian Yvonne Bertram y Everest Pipkin.  Cada uno de ellos con muy distintas habílidades y formas de aproximarse al texto y al código programático. Ademas Todd Anderson de Baby Castles, quien fue el encargado junto con Nick de dar soporte al personalizado en las dudas que surgian u otras labores de organización.

Afortunadamente fuí privilegiado con media beca por parte de la institución, pues el curso es de alta demanda a nivel global.  Muchos estudiantes de distintos lugares del mundo llegaron al humedo verano neoyorkino. La beca incluye un trabajo de voluntariado. En mi caso fue el registro gráfico del taller. Otra beca fue otorgada @Liza St James, escritora de ficciones y muchas historias.

Los alumnos fueron de distintas nacionalidades y con muy distintos perfiles: peruanos, argentinos, rusos, holandeses, israilitas y de ambas costas de los Estado Unidos. No todo mundo sabia hacer código programático, muchos era principiantes, intermedios y otros absolutamente profecionales del computo. Definitivamente un grupo muy híbrido.

Pueden seguir el registro que se hizo del dia a dia en https://medium.com/@sfpc .(Inglés). Ahí encontraran material gráfico así como el diario del taller.

De las lineas que mas me interesaron del taller fue colocar al código en el campo historico y cultural; donde el código programático lejos de ser una artefacto extraño del high technology group pertenece a prácticas humanas que llevan más de 50 años. Nick retoma diverso ejemplos de manera muy precisa de su libro Exploratory programming (2017)  que ademas  es un libro de introduccion a programación para humanistas. Obviamente la presencia en clase cambia todo entendimiento.

Ademas,  fue un placer sentarse a escribir código por el puro gusto de entender y aprender otra manera de escribir y leer. Como, también me es placentero continuar dibujando con un lápiz y no tomar de fotografía  ¿Cómo para que imitar la Realidad? El día de hoy despues de todas las revoluciones de la imagen del siglo xx , esta elección ni siquiera es pensada por muchos, sino una elección . La imagen fue liberada de la pretenciosa idea de pintar una realidad exácta.

La cuestión es ontológica, ¿Qué será del texto en 20 años?¿ Qué es el texto? ¿Qué es leer y escribir?  Si bien, nunca se hablo en el taller de estas cuestiones de manera explicita. El sentarse frente a la consola con un monitor en negro,  escribiendo caracteres en fórmulas mas cercanas al algebra. Y creando mis propias funciones, arrays , loops , y demás objetos programáticos. Imagino, planeo y redistribuyo un texto en una oración . Fatal error. Hay que volverlo a escribir y ejecutar.  Le doy enter solo hay preguntas desplegadas en el monitor y nuevos ordenes de textos previamente seleccionados -secretos- .  Comparo el trajo de Nick, Milton con el de Zach Lieberman u otros coders  y el output es completamente distinto. Mientras uno trabaja con cuerpos de texto, el otro desplega  imagenes abstractas. Puede ser el mismo el mismo lenguaje programatico, pero el output cambia  Entonces ¿Que demonios  es el texto?  sino el orden consecutivo de símbolos en tiempo y espacio.

Algunas de las técnicas presentadas en el taller van desde ejersicio de división silábica, la permutación,  hasta la apropiación de bancos de datos de la internet para la redistribusión de ellos en un conjunto de oraciónes.

En fin , seguro queda mucho que hablar, pensar y aprender.

De mi parte solo puedo dar las gracias a Nick y cada unos de los profesores y alumnos por la fantástica experiencia; asi como por aumentar mi conocimiento en python.

 

 

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Nick Montfort reading  The Truelist 

 

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A book project 

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Sthephanie Strickland and Ian Hatcher

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Augusto Corvalan and Leandra 

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Milton in action

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Kavi Duvvori and Garen Torikian

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Liza 🙂  

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Tina Lee 

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Shawna X Huang

 

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Comodor

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Lillian-Yvonne Bertram.

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Esen desde Perú

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Szenia Zadvornykh

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Todd Anderson

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Elana Sasson and Everest 

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Everest Pipkin with her random way of meeting strangers