Ambient layers from the past and future are presented to you by Kittinfish Mountain. I personally think it's here now because maybe the world was gonna end this year or perhaps because Walt Disney was theorized by Buckminster Fuller's pet chimp to be the inventor of the modern dog. This album reminds me of the last time I plugged my plastic cotton gin website into my iGenital app and the sparks flew right into the face of space future one. Well I'm not really a music critic so put down your gosh darned Cuisinart ________ Humanoid and enjoy the last days of terra earth firma by listening to this great work of music called Progress in Retrograde. I think my favorite is the final epic track Omnimover Deluxe.
Isn't that a lovely image? I found it at a site that I dare not link to as I have plenty enough spam traffic from that country.
This week I finished another Drupal upgrade. Drupal 7! If you don't know what Drupal is, well it's basically the content engine that runs my website here. Totally a very excellent tool and absolutely free. Drupal is similar to Wordpress which you may have heard of. Drupal is very powerful, but using this power has its costs. One of them is maintenance. Uugggggh yuck. This upgrade was nail biting tedious work that resulted in my website looking and functioning nearly the same. This was my 3rd "major version" upgrade since this website project started in 2005.
Let's have a quick look at how much time these upgrades took:
- Drupal version 4 to 5 = 10 hours of work (link to that news post)
- Drupal version 5 to 6 = 40 hours of work (and that news post)
- Drupal version 6 to 7 = 200 hours of work (you're reading this news post)
Isn't that looking exponential? Yikes a Drupal 8 upgrade in a couple years could be 1000 hours. Out of the millions and millions of Drupal sites out there, likely very few have upgraded from version 4 to 5 to 6 to 7. (not possible to skip a number!) That's because it's becoming to be a pain in the ass. Not that I'm really complaining. This is what I do. I am Steven Read Dot Com. But because I have laid some good eggs into this Drupal basket, I think about this stuff and like to watch out for bad apples. The archiving of data and technological creations is obviously a very complex subject. And when you are knee deep in the shit of thousands of broken data structures, trying to keep the blue train a rollin', it feels serious man! So fragile.
When planning the upgrade and seeking advice, some asked why upgrade to Drupal 7 at all? Honestly, there weren't *that* many new features that I needed. Maybe it just buys me time. As here comes Web 4.0 and Drupal 8, Drupal 9, 10, 15, 23. Yay new versions! Or maybe Drupal peaks soon and then I'll have to migrate everything to the "next big thing". Its dizzying. When will I even have time to make new art content? Technology is the master, I am the slave. Haven't I preached about avoiding this relationship? What Thee Fuck. Maybe the idea to give all your data to other companies so they can manage it for you isn't just a silly fashion. But then I would have really bad startup and/or corporate logos surrounding my work. And maybe they would go out of business and sell my data. Maybe they would change the visual interface into something very sucky. But maybe they would even let me download all my data eventually. Maybe not. It certainly doesn't sound like I would be in control of my own work. Someone else's short-term goals would always trump my long-term ones. So instead... I maintain, therefore I am.
So why was the Drupal 6->7 upgrade such a mess? Many reasons.
The first 50 hours went into reverse engineering a module which died with Drupal 6, the Category Module. This wasn't just any old module. Back in Drupal 4 and 5, this was *the* module that many folks built their sites around. You "simply" created these nice hierarchical categories and then it would generate all the other drupaley stuff like nodes, taxonomies, views, menus, breadcrumbs, etc. Seemed like Drupal paradise...
...with such nice sunsets, but then you wake up with a throbbing hangover and you have to reverse engineer your entire website if you want to live to see the light of Drupal 7. After that was complete I realized the theme (basically a system of code hooks and templates) I was using also died with Drupal 6. In 2005 I originally chose an empty, skeletal theme called "foundation" which I liked for its Drupal default-ness. I ran with that aesthetic, and still do today - it's the apple of my eye. But visual simplicity doesn't mean programmatic simplicity. I had to upgrade the theme manually, which has all kinds of hooks and function calls to the Drupal API. And of course wouldn't you know, Drupal 7 has a completely revamped API with very little that is backwards compatible. Grrrrrrrr.
Yes the 'new and improved' Drupal 7 core API has thousands upon thousands of changes. Take a look here and here and scroll down the page very quickly because it's fun like that. And if you assume those documents cover all the changes, you'd be wrong. Call me a dystopian, call me crazy, but at least tell me why thousands of awesome brilliant volunteer coders would create such a nightmarish scenario? Can't we at least have a wrapper to support old interfaces for a transitory period? Drupal is a headless monster. Of course I am very thankful for having this hungry monster at home for dinner every night, but whoa. Yeah. I've been in this business a long time. Definitely not chill. But somehow I worked my way down to the bottom of the barrel here as I upgraded my custom module code, some contributed modules that I had hooked and hacked, views (generated queries), administration settings, all kinds of stuff. Some code was upgraded automagically (coder module), but that didn't peel away much. At one point during the upgrade when my site was finally running in Drupal 7, every single page type on my site had errrors and broken chunks strewn about. I have over 1000 pages here now, many containing custom programming, it's alot to test.
It was epic. Well, no not really. I'm just being dramatic. It was applesauce. Just 200 hours not including planning and preparation. I have spent more hours than that on just one painting (this yellow one for instance). But this was maintenance duty, not paint on a blank canvas. It wasn't much creative fun. Or was it? Could long-term software maintenance be "art"? Perhaps it is the key to something new. And anything worthwhile is hard work, so I'll stop rambling about my software right around now and get back to Durpal contents craetion. Maybe next time I can obtain some funding and hire someone else to help in the code kitchen. Perhaps I can also get them to help peel back for you some of this damaged metaphor usage.
Been meaning to post about the California artist Jesse Wiedel who paints like a madman. Awesome-ness! My brother and I each own a painting of his (the two shown above from 2007). He has shown in many galleries across the US of A. No, his work actually IS the US of A. Lots of beautiful west coast color/light, frantic dreamlike states of wonder and fright, mythologies mashed up, falling on their ass, cultural wastelands shown for half price. My favorite pieces of his are small, quick, flexible, fairly ill, impossibly conceived. The one I purchased (from Show Cave in LA) was from a series about Kris Kristofferson songs. Jesus was a Capricorn, the first painting, is a very famous song of his. Let me give it a try: Kris and presumably Rita Coolidge have been spending lots of time in shitty hotel rooms out west and things are starting to go wrong... Kris has miraculously transformed into the capricorn-jesus-goat-fish but the wine-milk suckled from god Zeus is instead mother's milk painfully provided through the sins of the sexual-devil-monster-mary Rita who is walking on water. Let us now take nourishment from this scene. Formally I love the spatial composition, feeling loosely over-composed, with a beautiful palette and varietal paint handling, what is not to like here? The other painting we got is from a series involving trailer parks, urban decay, bored/crazed meth heads. What is going here? Perhaps the residents are merely practicing martial arts. We don't know. Maybe we don't want to know.
Earlier this week I submitted a short audio poem about the recently deceased painter Cy Twombly. The Dead Hare Radio Hour was seeking input via voice-mail for their latest show about mister Twombly. I greatly enjoyed the show which included thoughts, poems, and interviews including one with John Waters, and was more than delighted when I heard host Chris Albert remix my hastily scribbled poem. As it turned out the show's voice-mail number was connected to "Google Voice" which then tried to transcribe it. As I repeated only the words "Cy Cy Cy Cy Cy" over some jazz music, Google claims my poem was the following:
All right all right by 5% write back.
Side by side
If you would like to hear these poems then HERE is the original recording and then HERE is the version that Chris made and HERE is the entire episode #17 on Cy Twombly. This may or may not have been all that relevant to the Cy Twombly conversation but what the hell. Thanks Cy and Chris and gVoice, and be sure and check out The Dead Hare Radio Hour for more broadcasts/podcasts!
For the past 3 years my home page has been dominated by a gigantic flattened spinning beach ball of death. An animated, anti-aliasing nightmare of pure pulsating color. It was kept there in the spirit of old website splash screens popular in the 90's, which were IMO functionally useless but fun and welcoming. Since tossing up the beach ball in 2008, I have seen more people doing spinning beach ball art and color gradient gimmicks than I would care to admit. I'm losing my edge. I'm losing my edge to the kids from France and London. Well today I am happy (and a bit sad actually) to report to you that it has been archived here and replaced by a new home page design. I'm goin' all pro, yo. Well, besides the fancy thumbnail hover at the top, for now it's mostly a summary aggregation of my main content types: projects, points, and posts. But that is NOT to suggest it was easy to assemble.
Believe it or not when you search google for "artist homepage" I am the 6th hit. The image above is not a joke. Bob Dylan has still got me beat, god bless him, but indeed not fucking Coldplay! (everybody knows they're just boring plagiarists) Gonna need to keep at it but I'm satisfied with where I am today with Steve Or Steven Read Dot Com. I've been working on this website "autodidocumentation" project for 7 years now. I have performed all the design and coding of this site myself, and it's even filled with thousands of chunks of my very own content, wow. Not sure where this is going but hopefully somewhere. These days Mister Steve Or Steven Read isn't much besides an artist homepage. Get out the violin. I am broke. I have few connections and am a reject of every industry and scene in America. Oh shit I am even turning 40 soon. I have no studio/working space and no shows lined up. So I just create web content. Therefore I am. A content artist. Welcome to my new home page!
[UPDATE] 2 weeks later, the redesign of my homepage has caused me to disappear entirely from the google search results for "artist homepage". The promise of new technology. It promises nothing and delivers even less.
[UPDATE AGAIN] 1 week later and now I am the number 3 hit for "artist homepage"! I got above Stevie Wonder and Bob Dylan, but now I am confused. This isn't the first time I have obsessed over some silly search terms. In 2007 it was hash browns eggs bacon peas lettuce milk sprouts okra that I was hungry for. I probably need serious medical attention.
Found a couple photography projects with similarity (and vast difference) to one of my own projects entitled eBayTV so check 'em all out! Sublime, Sublime. Two of these three collected dots were found already connected over at Michael Day's Tumblr.
Laura Splan has a project called Mirror, Mirror from 2010 where she collected photos from eBay which contained mirrors for sale. Her website has a gallery of them, while selected photos have been printed into a book currently on exhibit and for sale through the SFMOMA Shadows$hop project.
Penelope Umbrico's project For Sale/TVs From Craigslist (2009) collects the photography of sellers who were caught using their flash on a blank TV screen. Her rigorous process continues as she exhibits prints while posting them for sale on Craigslist, taking into account the television's original locality and price.
Added a few software generated videos that I made in 2006 to my modest vimeo library. 10 videos in total were made in this series and technically speaking they are supposed to be shown on a television inside of a microwave. As depicted on the TV in the Microwave project page it was shown in a gallery in Denver once but didn't sell and is currently missing in action.
Each video was made using a slowly-rotating, generative, custom software algorithm that I wrote by hand with C#.NET code. The somewhat lazy algorithm randomly chooses and places a bunch of squirmy, hand-drawn lines. Images were output in succession of their creation, with the final composition being shown briefly and then 'cooked' into colored static. You can be sure that the generative software art 'scene' in the mid-2000's had no place in their code-materialistic world for this trashy style of con-ceptual generative art. So my generative art practice got even trashier.
In case you forgot, I made a website somewhat recently and I think its called iGenital.com. The above image is one that I like from a page there called "Plastic Homeopath Cream". I think the website is finished. It is not really that big, but perhaps big enough. And it is a terrible website. IGENITAL DOT COM is perhaps a spoof of a spoof of a possible future sex toy gadget. You could call it CMS art. The approach is something of a hybrid of this website I made back in 1996 and this blog I made in 2007-2008. I hope you either love or hate the iGenital information and I thank you Mr. or Mrs. Future Customer for buying into this bullshit.
Jonas Damon has some beautiful tech-minimal designs in particular I love (and purchased one of) his Numbers LED alarm clock. The CRT iPad Enclosure almost makes me want to buy an iPad just for displaying some super slick static.
Yury of Banana Design Labs has placed a miniature fireplace inside a miniature TV. And it costs less than $20. Tell me why you would NOT want to add this to your gadget/art collection?!
Paul of SOFTOFT TECHECH has sired Sir Sampleton ... "A musical instrument app for your iPhone that's simple enough for children, but with enough features to also be useful to musicians and producers." And it costs less than $3. Tell me why you would NOT want to add this to your IPHONEONE?!
Michale Molero built a tabletop mini-arcade machine out of a Meggy Jr. System. Found this here at Evil's Lab. Totally inspired! And flattered that he demoed his "Meggycade Jr" unit with my Super Monkey Kong game.
Added a new video to my projects catalogue. Its a collaboration between myself and Tandy Stevens. I was invited by a curator to make a video for an upcoming show. I had worked with the curator in the past, but our relationship was built solely upon online identities (we've never met in real life). The show was entitled "Lazy Identity - new videos that discuss what can obscure, preserve and even annihilate an identity". We decided to have the submission itself obey the show's parameters.
The video was created with as much procrastination as possible and submitted as late as possible (within reasonable limits). The video was created and submitted as a collaboration with an uninvited, unknown, unlicensed pediatrician mime clown artist named Tandy Stevens. I used as much persuasive communication as possible during my submission's late period to get it included in the show, including boorishness about the collaborator. In the end "I Got My Period" was not included in the "Lazy Identity" show for undisclosed reasons. The relationship with the curator is currently out of focus, and I am declaring our video to be "unofficially included" or at least "officially not included" in the show.
In the mid 2000's I did a fair amount of 'online persona performance' like this within the 'net arts' slash 'media arts' community, and most of it is currently undocumented. The result of which being that I confused/annoyed most of the gatekeepers who then labeled me 'arrogant art amateur' or something and kept my work behind those pearly gates of steel. Can't say I blame them. Trust Trust Trust, and that's a two way street. Maybe sometimes I don't believe in the gates being kept. I'm that punk who can't help but want to jump or spray paint them. I lust for amateur art arrogance! Folks this is one of the reasons you've never heard of me and why we have STEVENREAD.COM the "one domain art movement" as it stands today. Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.