Archive for the ‘Jim Andrews’ Category

New online issue of CIAC’s magazine

The CIAC is the Centre for International Contemporary Art in Montréal. They publish on the net a long-running magazine, now edited by Paule Makrous, that features web art, interviews, reviews, and other work. The most recent issue (38) features poetry by some of the victims of Ravensbrück, a Nazi concentration camp for women. And an interview with Gregory Chatonsky. And an interview with me by Paule. And other work.

Sound Resolution

Now what I’m going to tell you you already know back in some primitive part of your brain. Digital sound doesn’t sound as good as many analog recordings. Here’s why.

Digital sound is typically 44,100 samples per second. That sounds like a freakin lot of samples per second but it’s too low and that’s the problem. Really high quality sampling of sound takes place at 2,822,400 samples per second. This is known as SACD (Super Audio CD) developed by Sony and Philips. That’s 64 times greater than 44,100 samples per second. Currently, the best digital audio recordings have a sample rate twice as high as SACD. Or 128 times the typical 44,100 sample rate.

The problem is that CDs don’t hold enough information to be able to support SACD. You’d only get a couple of minutes or less of such audio on a CD. That is probably the historic rationale for commercial audio being typically 44,100 samples per second: the file sizes are not too big.

When I listen to typical digital audio, what I notice, if I crank it up–and I like to crank up music, typically–is that there’s no presence to the recordings. Some vinyl albums I had, when played on decent stereos–the stereos didn’t have to be top of the line, but they had to be OK–sounded pretty much ‘live’. They had presence. But digital audio, it can’t break through from the other side, as it were.

Read the rest of this entry »

NHL Brain Trinket

What I’m going to tell you—I warn you—is of no consequence whatever. And it won’t even be of interest to you unless you’re an NHL hockey fan. And, worse, it’s going to test your algebra skills. The only thing I can say in favour of saying it at all is that you just won’t ever read anything else about hockey like what I’m going to tell you right now. It just doesn’t happen. This is the unicorn of hockey writing. Right here, right now.

It’s so messed up to be telling you this at all that I have to give you something to get you to read it. What I’m going to give you is like something you’d get out of a bubble-gum machine. But maybe the best such thing you’d get. Cuz it’s an idea. It’s from the bubble gum machine of the mind. I figured it out myself. I haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere else. I’m going to give you a little brain trinket. It’s a formula. The formula tells you how many points a perfectly average NHL team should have after they’ve played N games. That’s it. That’s all this is about. The only use it has is to be able to tell if a team is above or below average. Think of this as a peculiarly Canadian gift. It’s a way to think a little bit more clearly about something that is barely worth thinking about at all. But, you know, in Canada, we think about hockey. It’s more pleasant than thinking about the mess we’re in.

Read the rest of this entry »

Issue on digital poetry from Journal of Electronic Publishing

Aaron McCollough is guest-editing an issue of The Journal of Electronic Publishing on digital poetry. Below is the email he sent to the Poetics list requesting submissions for that issue.

From: Aaron McCollough
To: Poetics List
Sent: Tuesday, September 21, 2010 7:56 AM
Subject: CFP: Journal of Electronic Publishing (Digital Poetics/Poetries)

I’m writing today in my capacity as guest editor for The Journal of Electronic Publishing, which has been a pioneer in responding critically to digital technologies’ impact on “publishing” as both a notion and a semiotic distribution system since 1995 (before there was even a google to google-sculpt with!).

Read the rest of this entry »

Canadian Psycho

Colonel Russell Williams

During the third week of October, 2010, the Canadian media covered the case of Russell Williams like no other news story. Williams, prior to his February 7, 2010 confession of murders, rapes, and scores of panty burglaries, was a colonel and decorated pilot in command of the Canadian military air base in Trenton, Ontario, the country’s largest and busiest military airbase. The case of this sado sexual serial killer with transvestic fetishism on the side is unusual in the annals of crime for three reasons: he was a very successful man, even a prominent authority figure; and he started his crime spree relatively late in life, breaking bad at the age of 44. But perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this otherwise dark, twisted and sad tale is his confession: the confident, powerful colonel goes into the interview with the investigator on a Sunday afternoon voluntarily, not in the least suspecting that he will be talked into confessing his depravities four hours later. The police work to catch Williams and get a confession out of him is a hard-boiled egg of Canadian heroism, really.

Not one person has indicated even the slightest suspicion of “the colonel” prior to his arrest. Not his wife, not his best friend, none of his colleagues or people of lower military rank who served him—no one. He was, by all accounts, simply an exemplary officer. Impeccable. Admirable. Diligent. Fair-minded. Active in community matters. A good liaison between the surrounding community and the air-base. His best friend, who has known him since the early eighties when they were undergraduates in University together, paints a picture of a long-time close friend with nothing more dangerous than the prankster in him. He was even an animal-lover and was observed checking his lawn for frogs before mowing it to ensure he slew no frogs.

Read the rest of this entry »

Gregory Chatonsky’s Generative Narratives

Gregory Chatonsky is a French/Canadian artist who has created a significant body of net art. Here are a couple of pieces of his I found that still work and are compelling:

The Revolution Took Place in New York (2002)

The Revolution Took Place in New York is a fictional story generated in real time from an internet source. A text generator gives shape to an infinite novel bearing close resemblance to the work “Projet pour une révolution à New York” written by Robbe-Grillet in 1970: Ben Saïd walks on the streets of the American metropolis and plots something. Some words are associated to video fragments, others to sounds gleaned on the network and others are automatically translated into images using Google. The structured association of these heterogeneous elements generates a narrative flow simultaneous with the network flow.”

Each time I’ve opened this piece, it’s been different. What surprised and charmed me most about this piece was how the narrative made sense, often, and kept me interested in where it was going. That is very unusual indeed in generative works. I’m referring to the text itself. But, also, the way the text goes with the images was also, often, quite interesting.

. Read the rest of this entry »

New Media Writing Prize Shortlist

The shortlist for the Poole New Media Writing Prize includes Christine Wilks (who is on netartery), Katharine Norman (whom I invited to be on netartery), Alan Bigelow (whom I should invite to be on netartery), and myself. That’s because one of the judges is Andy Campbell, who is on netartery!

Seriously, though, it’s nice to see this competition up and happening. Competitions in art are highly problematical, of course, but one thing they are good at is getting some attention to the work itself. So thanks, Andy, and everyone involved in it.

Text Generators

Beach boy poetry engine

Edde Addad put together an interesting post concerning poetical text generators on The post describes and links to quite a few online resources including ePoGeeS by Addad. Additionally, it describes and links to historical systems such as Christopher Stratchey’s Love Letter generator from the early 50’s. Stratchey and Turing were students together, and Turing wrote the manual of the Manchester computer that Stratchey used to create what some see as the Ur program of digital poetry.

Chris Funkhouser didn’t include Stratchey’s work in Funkhouser’s book on the history of digital poetry, though. Probably because Stratchey doesn’t call his work poetry. Funkhouser’s study starts with the work of Theo Lutz (1959). In any case, David Link seems to be covering Stratchey’s work adequately.

Addad is a doctoral student in Computer Science who did undergrad work in Creative Writing.

Amy Winehouse links

I’ve been listening to Amy Winehouse’s blue-eyed soul music (though hers are brown) recently, watching interviews and reading articles about her. I thought I’d post the best of those links. Of course, there’s quite a bit of twitter about her drug problems, but I wasn’t interested in that as much as the music.

She’s an extraordinary singer and songwriter. She’s such a Londoner but she’s also so deeply influenced by USAmerican jazz and soul. She’s extremely expressive in her singing. Expressive without emphasizing volume or power/strength of voice; the power and strength of her singing is mainly in expression, not so much in vocal athleticism. Though there can be a fine line between being expressive and simply being ornately mannered. Sometimes jazz can just have ‘too many notes’.

The profundity of the UK/USA musical bond is nowhere so evident as in Winehouse.

In prominent ways, her work is retro, but she is not simply a nostalgia act. She characterizes her music (I think she means her first album named Frank) as a combination of jazz and hip hop. Back in Black, her second album, is strongly 60’s soul and R&B and also has several ska tunes on it. Also, the producers she works with are artists in their own right. They’re not doing nostalgia. And Winehouse’s lyrics are far saucier than the jazz from the fifties and sixties; as Holly Combe points out in one of the linked articles, “she actually comes across as a tough-minded, libidinous woman wanting a tough-minded, libidinous man”.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sign After the X

David Clarke has created a new work of net art called Sign After the X in collaboration with Marina Roy and Graham Meisner. Sign After the X is structurally similar to some of Clark’s earlier works such as A is for Apple and 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein. The form of these works is one that Clark has been developing for some time now; A is for Apple, the first of them, was published in 2002.

The nodes or chapters/sections of these hypermedia works are done in Flash. They’re multimedia approaches to a subject. We hear a voice reading a text about Freud or Lacan or Wittgenstein or X (etc) while Clark’s animated visuals improvise with/on the text–in the sense that the visuals illustrate or explicate/explore/expand/riff/noodle on the text’s meaning. Sign After the X is organized into five categories: Mind, Body, Land, Language, and Law. Each of these contains anywhere from four to thirty nodes/Flash works.

The putative subject of Sign After the X is “the letter X and it’s multiple meanings in our culture“. And, yes, I can see it in some of the material presented. But it seems there’s more going on than that.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sufferrosa an “interactive movie”

Sufferrosa is an “interactive movie” by Dawid Marcinkowski. Here’s a video about it. It’s quite extensive, as these things go. And it looks like some money was spent in the production of it.

Auntie Georgie

It’s only been over the last few years that, suddenly,  just about all the folks in my family as old as my parents have all passed away. My mother and her four siblings have all died. On my father’s side, only his older brother is still alive; his three sisters are dead.

My mom was the executor of her older sister Georgie’s estate. And Georgie never had any kids. So mom ended up with a lot of photos and things from Georgie. Scrapbooks of at least a thousand obituaries; diaries; old cheques; divorce papers; marriage certificates; things like that.

I inherited the house from my parents, and have been going through 40 years of stuff. Mom found it hard to throw stuff out. I have to throw a lot of it out. But I was very fond of Georgie, and have tried, over the last few months, to put together something in her memory. I’m not sure how interesting it will be to people who didn’t know Georgie, but she was quite remarkable, really, in several ways. takes you to 170 pictures of Georgie arranged from birth to near the time of her death. takes you to something I wrote about Georgie.

I also wrote the software that displays the photos.

Got a Grant from the Canada Council

I recently got a senior grant from the Canada Council’s ‘Spoken Word and Storytelling’ program to do a specific project described at

Basically, the idea of the project is to scream my fool head off while playing Jig-Sound and dbCinema as instruments.

You’ve seen musicians play an instrument while they sing. Well, this is similar. Only I’ll be telling a story between (or perhaps during) screaming bouts. And the instruments I’ll be playing are Jig-Sound, which is sonic, and dbCinema, which is visual.

The first job is to fix dbCinema. It’s um temporarily out of order. Google changed some image search stuff, so dbCinema’s google image search stuff isn’t working. Am about half way done that fix.

Should be quite the shriek fest., a computer graphic novel for the web

Various forms of art lend themselves to adaptation and subsequent mutation via their practice on the web. The graphic novel is obviously an excellent candidate. A computer screen is great for presenting the sorts of images we see in graphic novels. Often the images are developed, at least in part, with programs such as Illustrator and Photoshop.  And, via animation, interactivity, other programming, and audio, there’s great room for interesting mutation.

Whereas some other art forms aren’t going to change much via being practiced to the net. They will be less significant as net art as simply distributed on the net, rather than adapted to the net in more artistically significant ways. They won’t mutate and grow much via their incarnation on the net, whereas art forms such as the ‘graphic novel’ for the computer screen and the net will eventually often be dramatically different from print or film versions of the graphic novel. As different as the horse and carriage from the “horseless carriage,” which is what cars were first called. is an interesting graphic novel for the web in its visuals, its occasional animations, and the way it unfolds via clicking on stuff. This site won the webby for net art in 2010. Experiencing it visually and interactively and even sonically is more rewarding than the text itself, I find; the text is somewhat generic or non-descript in voice and character; I find it hard to meditate on the text. And the typeface is often way too small, you gotta want it like 20. But the visuals, and the way they look and move and are arranged on the screen, are very successful. The story seems a bit druggy whacked out but maybe not if I read it more carefully, not sure. Druggy just doesn’t do it anymore.

The granddaddy of this interactive, online approach to comics, as far as I know, is Argon Zark. You can see that is similar to Argon Zark as a computer graphic novel–but also that has taken it further.

My little cyber shrine

Dick Andrews

It’s been ten years since my dad passed away in 2000. I’ve been meaning to put some pictures of him on the net, for myself and for family and family friends, primarily. I just finished doing that. And writing something about dad. The photos are at and the writing is at .

I also just put a couple of family videos up at . My dad’s sister Lucy Milne passed away last June at the age of 98. But, before she did, I bought a video camera and videoed a couple of conversations I had with her and her daughter, Isabelle, over family photos. And then I learned a bit of Adobe Premier to make these two videos, which combine the conversations with the family photos. Wish I’d done this with my parents when they were alive. Each of the two videos is about an hour long. And they use about 200 family photos.

In 2008 I also put some photos of my mom up at . She passed away in 2008. Oddly enough, these were mentioned in Le Monde.

I didn’t approach any of these things as art, really. But there is no shortage of love in them.

Online Russian mag of sound poetry & audio art

To me, this is quite juicy: an online Russian magazine of sound poetry and audio art called ARTronic Poetry. Edited by Evgenij V. Kharitonov. This is like exotic blue cheese.

If you are new to sound poetry, I suggest you try to sing along. Seriously. The meaning of some sound poetry is not simply in how it sounds, but in how it feels to vocalize it.

I was particularly taken with Alexandr V. Bubnov’s 1-2-3 Sonnets. There’s a mixture of languages and just pure sound in this, plus allusion to written form, that is very rich. But, mostly, the sound is terrific.

Issue 1 of ARTronic features work by Heike Fiedler, Anna Kharitonova, Sergej Birjukov, Alexandr V. Bubnov, Evgenij V. Kharitonova, Amanda Stewart, Tim Gaze, Maksim Borodin, and Alexandr Oyko. is related to this publication. I’m not sure if this is by Evgenij V. Kharitonov also.

I know of only one other online journal of sound poetry: from Atlanta.

On Pulsate by Andre Michelle

From 'Pulsate' by Andre Michelle

I find Andre Michelle’s (Flash)  interactive audio piece called Pulsate quite interesting. I won’t describe it (very much) because it’s online and you can check it out for yourself. Writing about works you can check out online is different from writing about works you can’t check out so easily yourself. Overly descriptive writing about such pieces avoids the harder and more interesting task of saying something about the piece that isn’t obvious.

This paragraph contains  all the description that’s required. Click to create a circle. Press the space bar to start from scratch. A circle  grows in size until it kisses another expanding circle; a note is played; then the two circles both begin to shrink in size. They shrink until they disappear; then they grow again.

Pulsate is a generative work. That is, the audio is generated by the program depending on what you, the user/player, do. And it’s quite interestingly compositional, really. The compositional paradigm is dynamically visual and geometric. Very simple. But intriguingly puddle cosmic and charming. Looking at puddles in the rain is a kind of quotidian cosmic contemplation. Expanding circles intersecting. Ripples of what is and what seems and distortions of the image accordingly. Pulsate nods in the direction of rainy puddle lovers and geometers.

Read the rest of this entry »

Script: a new publication

S C R I P T is a new online publication edited by David Goldsmith and Quimby Melton. There are interesting articles on the work of Ted Warnell, my favourite ‘code poet’, and Nico Vassilakis, a Seattle friend and visual poet. And there’s what promises to be an interesting section coming up in the next issue on the Voynich manuscript.

BP Horizon oil spill volume

How much oil is spilling into the Gulf of Mexico from the Horizon oil spill? Wikipedia tells us that although no really accurate testing has been permitted by BP, estimates range from 500,000 to 4,200,000 US gallons per day.

How big is that? If we were to fit 4,200,000 gallons in a cube, the cube would be 53 ft in length, width, and height.

53 ft is about the length of my property. My house is on a lot that’s about 53 ft by 53 ft.

So, to imagine the volume of the spill, imagine a typical house lot, only 53 feet high, also. That’s about 6 stories high.

One such ‘house of oil’ every day is spilling into the Gulf.

The spill started April 22, 2010. It is now June 3. That’s about 40 days. That’s 40 six-story houses of oil, so far. And many more to come, we gather, because they apparently have no idea how to stop the spill.

40 six-story houses of oil is already an oceanic suburb of death and ecological annihilation.

The Exxon Valdez spill of 1989 was 10,800,000 US gallons. It takes the Horizon disaster about 2.5 days to spill that amount. The Horizon spill is already about 16 times larger than the Exxon Valdez spill.

An average-sized swimming pool holds about 100,000 gallons. The BP Horizon spill would fill about 42 swimming pools per day. We’ve had 40 days of it, so far. That’s 1,680 full swimming pools.

Reduced to the state of a child

I recall reading writing by the poet P.K. Page about her time in Brazil, as the wife of a Canadian ambassador. She didn’t understand Portuguese. She said she felt reduced to the state of a child, not knowing what is being said or how to express basically anything verbal. It was a time, for her, of being profoundly helpless but also rather inspired in English, poetically, and in story. Words meant something to her, not being able to communicate very well in Portuguese-speaking Brazil. She valued what she could say (in English) about the fascinating beauty of Brazil.

My head, in trying to learn ActionScript, is not immersed, in the same way, with Portuguese as Page was. I am immersed in ActionScript but it is not in the daily and outside world so much as in the world of my read and written discourse as a writer of software.

But certainly there has been a great deal of frustration and feelings of helplessness. I have four books, all the online and offline documentation of Flash Builder and Flash, the FlashCoders list, the video tutorials, and all the online third-party documentation to understand the Flash development platform. And my native brain.

I am very slow in being able to read and write what I need to read and write. So slow that it seems I’m barely getting anything done. Frustrating. The progress is daily, also, however.  But so slow and crawling, compared to how quickly I  work in Director, that it feels like I am crawling around a huge room and have very limited mobility in my crawling. WWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Learning new languages, be they computer languages or whatever, is an educational experience it’s hard to savor, at certain points. One feels too helpless, hopeless, ignorant, challenged, overwhelmed, and so on.

I have to keep telling myself that this stage will pass, and I will pass into a new literacy and ability to create new types of work I haven’t been able to. The carrot is the possib of being able to explore, after a while, the creation of types of art machines I haven’t yet been able to.