News & Stuff

These posts are short blog articles written about me, my friends, and my interests.
You can also try the frequent posts over here in my custom microblogging experiment.



Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Saturday, November 7, 2009 at 11:06 PM in the News & Stuff section
boy in the rain



Google can make you. And break you. This Internet Art application from late 2004 which I entitled Photo Noise, was written in PHP and was built upon the Google SOAP Search API service which they nuked last September. The browser portion of Photo Noise still works so you can crawl a static collection of photos, but the server-side module which is supposed to run every 5 minutes and locate fresh ones needs to be redone. I could replace it with the new Google AJAX Search API service, or switch to Yahoo API, Bing, etc. Anyone want to help? Not brain surgery to redo it, just haven't gotten a round tuit and still not sold on which search service to go with. I'd rather not rebuild this thing every few years but perhaps impossible to avoid.

My application works like this... [programming jargon alert but will simplify the best I can] There are 2 layers - the server and the client. The server piece runs every 5 minutes, doing the Google-API web search (they never supported image search). The search terms contain default photograph filenames which I randomly generate...

Sony - DSC00253.JPG
Canon - IMG_0110.JPG
Casio - CIMG0039.JPG
Konica - PICT0340.JPG
Fuji - DSCF0632.JPG
Nikon - DSCN0100.JPG

...and so forth. The searches target various result depth levels for variation purposes (page 3, page 10, etc). An attempt is made to pull one image out of the page, sometimes even following a thumbnail link. Its candidacy is verified, and then the image URL address (not the actual image) is added onto the end of a long file containing about 5000 such URLs. This queue file is managed FIFO style (first in, first out) so its always in flux and never grows too large. There is also some file-locking code here and other 'just in case' stuff.

The client piece runs when the Photo Noise page loads in the browser. It reads the image URL file, at a position determined by a browser cookie which stores the last image shown. The loaded image url is not <img> linked in the browser, because many of the found photos have hot-link protection, so I wrote a PHP hack that streams in the image bytes and flushes that to the page. Once the image is finally shown, you can't see it again (unless you manipulate the cookie). You can't go back or refresh, doing so just grabs the next one in the queue. Nor is meta data provided about the photo. The photo is merely shown framed on a blank page/wall with a small menu at top-left. A 20-second 'auto' refresh mode was provided there so you didn't need to do it manually.

Some of these design decisions were meant to minimize the dark side of appropriation. People's photographs were indeed being pilfered and shown without credit, not to mention bandwidth being stolen from the owners. However each visitor could only see a photo once, spreading the piracy thin. No image files were actually stored on my server, just their addresses. And if you do the math, each URL address stays in the queue for only about a week. Of course the Photo Noise page would load faster if the images were cached locally, but eventually decided that I enjoyed the various load speeds, since they relate to server location (universities, high schools, third world countries, corporations, etc.) and often thus to subject matter.

Photo Noise was probably a horrible title. The little writeup I gave it, rambling about encapsulation and passivity, was also a bit eccentric. I try to make work that can be viewed from many perspectives, and I purposely document my pieces here with only 1 or 2 possible reads. It has been standard practice for web artists to present their pieces with only title, materials, and dimensions (often just the title). I am typically more descriptive and playful, which is something I've done on the web since 1998, publishing thousands of photos with accompanying text to places like ebay and miniarcade. To me these documentation choices are significant, and often I choose with subtlety so as to invite but not hinder discovery. Anyhow one writeup the piece got at neural.it was awesomely entitled "Photo Noise, the Amateurial Digital Pictures Narrative" which probably nails it.

The above image was an early screen capture. I recently posted an archive of 500 screen shots. Over the years I also saved a handful of them and made a Favorites album. Photo Noise has been almost continually up and running since 2004, serving hundreds of thousands of photographs to visitors. Many kind friends have claimed to enjoy it. It was blogged about a few times. Rhizome.org and RunMe.org absorbed it into their archives. Long ago it was shown in gallery shows (here and here) and was given a first place award by Adam J. Lerner (current director of the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art). For the gallery exhibitions I wrote an additional piece of C# software to act as a Photo Noise 'agent', monitoring network outages or page loading errors, re-spawning browser instances as needed.

I have derived much enjoyment from it, as creator and voyeur both. This is one of the only artworks I made that depends upon external services at run-time in order to be viewed, probably because I'm an inventor type who loathes maintenance duty :)

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Monday, November 2, 2009 at 12:51 AM in the News & Stuff section
cameo theater miami south beach


... for being the craziest goddamn place in America. I lived there all summer, had a nice time. I left. That place is $%!#@!!! The rest of South Florida seemed pretty whack too. I grew up here, it was different then. During the 80's I went to a slew of metal and punk shows at this here Cameo Theater, and I thank somebodys for that. But those days are over, I'll spare you the teary reminiscence. So whereto next?

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Friday, October 23, 2009 at 2:12 PM in the News & Stuff section

For nearly a year between 2008 and 2009 I had an art studio in Denver where I made and exhibited things. It was nice to have, but came at a cost that I could no longer afford. I'm currently back to a virtual studio, which comes with far fewer attached strings. For those who didn't get to visit me while I was there, this is a photo walk-through made out a short video I recently found. Imagine walking in and scanning around the space from left to right.






Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 1:09 PM in the News & Stuff section
twirl.gif

Get Viaatant!


Did Summer end already? Daaaaang I guess it is time to post some new news here. Having recently completed a zombification of one of my old bands using all manner of incisive documentation maneuverings, I performed another. Shortly after that band broke up, in 1996 with nothing better to do I tried my hand at making a world wide website. Ladies, Gentlemen, and Armadillos, I give you VIAAT.NET! It was live on the Internet for about 4 years and received a respectable amount of visits, with some even submitting themselves graciously to the "Viaat-Net! Info-Base", but it was chiefly obscure and unpalatable. Once completed I truly had no idea what it was, nor what to do with it (other than to tease search engines to suck its blood). But it was fun, and I got laid at least 7 times because of it.

This restoration project was not easy. The Viaatants tried to keep it secret but in the end I, Steve Or Steven Read, succeeded in the vicious hive-mind information retrieval objectives. In late 2008 I began to search for the source code and image files. It all started with a hearty disappointment that the Viaat-net master 3.5" floppy disk was corrupt and unusable. Then I tried firing up various aged IDE hard disks that have been slowly decomposing in storage boxes, to no avail. Eventually I thought of trying out the Wayback Machine using the http://mindspring.com/~steveread address as I had remembered it, and was initially quite elated to find most of the HTML code and 20% of the images. After which I decided to reconstruct the entire site by redoing all the missing images from memory. So I had nearly completed the lengthy task of recreating the lost images (for instance these: 1 2 3) when I discovered a forgotten variant of the url http://steveread.home.mindspring.com found on one of the previously retrieved pages. Searching the Wayback Machine again for THAT address resulted in a payload of 100% of the HTML and 95% of the images! Here and now I am finally able to republish and serve adequate justice to my very first webby pages and graphics.


keywords:  Conspiracy Government Sex  Christian Nudity  Erotic Sports  Conservative Psychedelic Deviant Free Products  Money Pictures Pornography  Science Fiction Breast Philosophy Hobbies  Religion Politics Cult Limbaugh  Bob Dobbs New Age Drugs Health  Illuminati Bulldada UFO Activism  12th Planet  Abductee  Absolute Zero  Acupuncture  Addiction  Admiral Byrd  Admiral Forestall  Africa  After Time  Aging  AIDS  Akashic Records  Alexander  Alien  Alternative 3  American Indian  Annunaki  Antartica  Antichrist  Apollo 13  Arab  Armageddon  Archetypes  Area 51  Ashtar  Assassination  Asteroids  Asteroid Belt  Astronauts  Astronomy  Atlantis  Atmosphere  Auras  Auroras  Auto-Immune Diseases  Aviaty  Awakening  Barbara Marciniak  Belgium  Bermuda  Bermuda Triangle  Betty Andreasson  Betty Hill  Big Bang  Bigfoot  Bill Cooper  Billy Meir  Binary Suns  Biorhythms  Black Hole  Body Language  Bon  Brain  Brain Waves  Bramley  Brazil  Budd Hopkins  Cancer  Capitalism  Career  Carnivors  Cataclysm  Cayce  Celestine Prophecy  Chakras  Channel  Chi  China  Chupacabras  CIA  Cloning  Close Encounter  Coapies  Coma  Comet  Commander X  Communion  Computer  Confederation  Contactee  Continental Drift  Coral Obelisk  Cosmic Voyage  Council of Nine  Council of Worlds  Cover-up  Creativity  Crime  Crop Circles  Crop Failure  Crystals  CSETI  Cult  Dark Matter  Death Sentence  Deja Vu  Democracy  Democritis  Density  Devil  Dino  Dinosaur  Dimension  Disinformation  DNA  Dogon  Dolphins  DOMA  Dragons  Dreams  Dr. John Mack  Dulce  Earthquake  Early Man  Easter Island  EBE  Ebola Virus  Einstein  El Dorado  Element 115  Elizabeth Clare Prophet  Elves  End Time  Enlightenment  Ephemerides  Etheric Grid  Evolution  Exorcism  Fairy  Faith Healer  Fate  FBI  Fear  Fire in the Sky  Fish Farm  Galaxy  Ganesh  Gangs  Genetic Engineering  Ghandi  Ghosts  Government  Gravity  Greys  Gulf Breeze  Gypsy  HAARP  Hale- Bopp  Harvest  Health  Helicopter  Hindu  Hippocratic Oath  Hitler  Homosexuality  Horoscope  Humor  Hybrids  Hydroponics  Hypnosis  ID4  Implant  Incarnation  India  Indonesia  Interstellar Travel  Intuition  IQ  John F. Jennedy  Jonah  Karma  Kecksburg  Landing Sites  Language  Levitation  Lightning  Lightworker  Loch Ness Monster  Love  LSD  Lyra  Lysa Royal  Ma-Di  Magnetic Field  Marilyn Monroe  Marriage  Mars  Martin Luther King  Mass Landing  Mayan  Mathematics  Mayan Calendar  Meditation  Mediteranean  Men In Black  Meteors  Methane  Mexico City  Millennium  MJ12  Money  Montauk  Moon  Mourning  Mu  Multiple Personality Disorder  Music  Mutilations  NASA  Nazis  New Age  Near Death Experience  New Word Order  Nirvana  Nordic  Nostradamus  Nuclear  Numerology  Oahspe  Ocean  Oil  Oklahoma City  Oort Cloud  Orbit  Orion  Omnipotent Krlll  Out-Of-Body  Pain  PCB  Philadelphia Experiment  Photon Belt  Planet X  Pine Gap  Pleiadean  Pole Shift  Politics  Pollution  Poltergeist  Polynesia  Possession  Power Outage  Pranayama  Praying Mantis  Pregnancy  Premonitions  Prime Directive  Prison  Prophecy  Psychic  Psychosis  Pyramid  Quarantine  Races of Man  Red Book  Red Sea  Reincarnation  Reptilian  Right to Know  Rituals  Robots  Roswell  Rotation  Rules of Engagement  Sadism  Satanic Ritual  Satellite  Scapegoat  Science Fiction  Secret Government  Seth  Shaman  Shasta  Sighting  Sirian  Sitchin  Skywell  Society  Sociopath  Sodom and Gomorra  South America  Space Ship  Space/Time  Sphinx  Spirit Guide  Spontaneous Human Combustion  Star Child  Stargate  Star Trek  Star Wars  Statistics  Stonehenge  St. Germain  Subatomic Particles  Subconscious  Subterranean  Suns  Super Conductors  Tarot Cards  Technology  Telepathy  Telsa  Theosophists  Tides  Time Travel  Tower of Babel  Transformation  Trojan War  Tunguska  UFO  Unified Field Theory  United Nations  Universe  Urantia  Vampire  Vectors  Vedas  Velikovsky  Venus  Victim  Violence  Visigoths  Voodoo  Vortex  Walk-in  Washington Monument  Wealth  Weather  Werewolf  White Brotherhood  White Buffalo  Whitley Strieber  World War III  X-Files  Yeti  Yin-Yang  Yugas  Zeta Reticulan  Zoo

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Sunday, August 16, 2009 at 8:08 PM in the News & Stuff section

While taking a much needed summer art break I donned my best fishing hat and went out with amigo viejo Todd Space on a party boat named Gulfstream in Key Largo near where I live. Captain Chan and first mate Fluffy. My goal was to catch a "Goliath Grouper"... that being one of at least 50 pounds. I did eventually hook a couple with the second one feeling to be easily around that size, but sharks ate both on the way up. The shark that chomped on my backbreaking Goliath ran with it in its mouth for hundreds of yards and nearly spooled me out of line, with the drag-hammered reel getting so friction-hot that I could not touch it, even after several frantic splashings of cool sea water. We were also "sandballing" for Yellowtail Snapper and caught a bunch of those plus Bonita, Queen Triggerfish, etc. One drawback of this sandball-chum method is that it attracts sharks. The groupers were hooked just off the bottom, 120 feet down, in heavy currents, with large bloody chunks of Bonita fillets. I live for this shit. Bet you didn't know that I have a bachelor degree in Marine Biology with an emphasis on fish behavior, morphology, and evolution. Studied with Dr. Hernkind and Dr. Wainwright. But probably could not describe to you the functional behaviors of our bellies when the Yellowtails hit bottom. Photos here by Todd, who studied Marine Biology at Florida State University with me.





Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Tuesday, July 21, 2009 at 6:53 PM in the News & Stuff section



Showed a new video called Behind the Green Calves of Bill Bixby Part II this month in Los Angeles at Show Cave Night Gallery. This screening was the 4th installment of their video series and was entitled "Quartz Qube". I also participated in their 2nd video show called "Future Heat". The Show Cave rocks. They cultivate top-notch new work, and I like their voice/approach to video and media, which differs greatly from the more serious and restrictive tone often found on the East coast. The West vs East divide in American art/music/writing is an old idea, does it still exist today within media art? I have seen hints that it does, but such broad stroke distinctions are likely melting away these days. Having spent about half my career in the East, the second half in the West, I feel happily lost in the middle somewhere.

This type of piece is what I am calling "desktop sci-fi" as it uses the desktop computing world as a real and fictional interweaving of it as both medium and subject. I have been slowly developing some kind of "screen mythology" since 2005 starting with these pieces, this one, and then this one. This latest video is thus a "Screen Destiny" involving the classic Incredible Hulk television character who is perhaps altering his destiny within a framework of futuristic alien reconstructions of human culture and media. Lou Ferrigno is trapped in screens, being used like a toy, and he doesn't like it. The first chapter of this epic saga goes all the way back to about 1992 in a Steamin' Cup O' Joe song.

Many thanks go to Show Cave, as well as Mr. Kittinfish Mountain for the wonderful sounds and music! (the hills are alive with you)

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Thursday, July 2, 2009 at 9:50 PM in the News & Stuff section


Lately feeling transitional, having just relocated cross-country from Denver to Miami in the wild and wacky summer of '09. So I took some time to dig into closets, into boxes, into the past. I was once a rather aspiring rock drummer, maybe I still am. (have discovered that drummers are crazy by the way, handle with care) In 1990 I was 18 years old, a college freshmen at FSU in Tallahassee Florida, and hungry for a 'real' band, having spent 10 or so years prior studying music theory, bass, keyboards, drum-kit techniques, and live performance. Was lucky enough to have found some very talented, eccentric, like-minded peeps and we formed the band Steamin' Cup o' Joe which is slang for coffee. We didn't really drink coffee though, not many kids did then in the hot south... this was well before starbucks culture, not many cafes existed and the ones that did were filled with piss coffee, old farts, and truckers, but at least coffee was only 50 cents.

In 1990 we were somehow *arguably* successful at fusing punk, metal, indie, prog, funk, and jam together into a psychedelic amalgamation. Not many rock bands were doing that then, the hip scene was mostly heavy-fuzz-indie-dada-grunge. Indie had just broke big, metal/punk was still alive but a bit smelling funny. Math rock was fresh with Voivod and Agitpop. Jam bands were just forming like Phish and Widespread Panic, heavy psychedelic bands like TOOL didn't exist yet. Exciting times for the youths, as always, and we had big appetites... gen-xers who grew up with cable TV, VCRs, video games, magazines, computers. Popular bands that inspired us were those that freely mixed styles with intensity... Frank Zappa, Butthole Surfers, Melvins, Primus, Ween, Bad Brains, Fugazi.

We came, we saw, we kicked ass. We got a cool logo, gigs, a record deal, press, and a modest but wonderful fan base. Not too bad for suuthin' college kid nobodys with few monies trying to create a new style of music. At the time I remember that the entrenched indie scene didn't like us that much, the hardcore punks weren't fully sold either. (very little has changed here actually) We were these intellectual hippie punks, so we created our own world and got people dancing, moshing, partying. We DID get lots of help and support from friends, artists, J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, and musicians. We wrote original music and produced cool flyers. The scene was hot with great bands. We had fun. We smashed and burned shit. We got into trouble. People went crazy. Lots of stories. (Marshall Ledbetter we miss you and have not forgotten)

Oh, and the music we made. I am certainly not the best person to pick it apart and discuss. But I am very proud of this music. In particular our first release, a 3 song 7-inch recorded in 1990... Jizzday Blooz (title ripped from a porno mag) Vomit Song and the psychedelic saga Freye. Also the song Breakin' Wind was a personal and fan favorite. I am also attached to a few songs from the middle period like Cannabis Vulture, Goddess, or Behind the Green Calves o' Bill Bixby (dedicated to Ledbetter). Later, with some gained confidence we dove into relentless punk tunes like Showing Obsession, Raphleezia or Dickeye, along the way still writing phunkier tracks like Love Gift and Commixio. At this point the jam-band fans were scratching at the head, the punks salivating at the mouth, the indies perhaps finally warming up to it. Everyone was gettin' along and havin' fun. And if you think you've got us pinned down then take a gander at Daze o' the Weak.

Today the members of Steamin' Cup o' Joe feel that the music has withstood the hard test of time. It still sounds fresh. We didn't have much business savvy we just rocked out. There was limited funding and few venues, but we had a vision, we did what we did, which is the best we could have. We did eventually move to Atlanta (the big city!) and played more gigs, tried to build it, but in 1995 we broke up... you've heard the story a zillion times. And so it goes, then the Internet came, the world changed almost overnight. The band's documents and music had already been reluctantly sealed into a box, into a closet. In the early-mid 1990's there were ZERO rock bands that sounded like us. In 2009?... Nope. Oh just when *will* the neurotic jam metal scene finally take off? :)

Other fine bands from the late-80's early-90's Tallahassee scene... hoping that soon all these bands will have a page of some kind.
Singing Spoons, Ultraboy, Kenny Howes, Darth Vader's Church, Spirex, Cream Abdul Babar, Zombie Birdhouse, Gruel, The Giving Heads, Magic Juan, Insect Fear, Zen Lemmings, Pink Trim, Beef, I Guard The Sheep, Emma, Johari Window, Buzzfish, The Plug Uglies!

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Monday, June 15, 2009 at 10:05 AM in the News & Stuff section


Found an old discussion thread on Google Groups that I had posted in 2005 when I was fishing for info on CRT computer monitors for phosphor screen burns. And even another one from a couple days later. I ended up trying at first an Apple Monitor II because someone on craigslist gave me a bunch of free vintage Apple hardware which had been pulled from a science laboratory at Colorado University in Boulder. My first screen burn piece made from this donated hardware was published a year later in a 2006 "Vague Terrain" journal article called "Digital Minimalism" which has since disappeared from the Internet. I did eventually try an IBM 5151 screen burn as suggested by "RickE" in the discussion thread, and he was spot-on correct as this model has a BEAUTIFUL powerful electron beam that burns quickly. Considering that now a similar piece of screen burn art made a few years after mine is sitting on display in a large art museum in Manhattan and that the authenticity of my own endeavors have been openly questioned and ridiculed by the art establishment, I am delighted to find these date-stamped lumps o' data. Documentation via authoritative public archives such as Google Groups or Wikipedia is a free, easy method for those artists/inventors who might not have lawyers or industry heavyweights at their side.

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Saturday, May 9, 2009 at 10:45 AM in the News & Stuff section


Steve Or Steven Read has relocated to Miami Beach! Holy crap stop the presses! Whoa man its true, after 10 good years in Colorado I have moved back to my dear native Florida. During the process many Coloradans were asking me "Why?" and "What are you going to do there?" or even "Why not NYC?" which are tough yet nonsensical questions. Needless to say I loved Colorado, both landscape and people, the art/music scene was excellent and 'per capita' is easily one of the most vibrant in the US. I don't think you can find a community with a more open, experimentalist mindset anywhere else. Perhaps its the altitude. I'll be in debt for life to certain people there (you know who you are) who reached out to me and acted lovingly. Well at any rate here are some belated updates on things I did in Colorado before leaving on the mighty cross-country trek...






Finished a year long studio residency grant at Redline Denver, an incredible facility with incredible artists! (no comment on the management though...) This studio was a fantastic thing for me to have had, am grateful for it, and will truly miss fellow resident artists.





Before leaving Redline was involved with a big event there put on by Illiterate Magazine and showed a recent 8-bit video projection of animated hummingbirds. Its a small but large software driven animation using painfully obvious generative algorithms, with nods to web GIFs and vintage PC software demos. Seems like people dug it. Actually not as low-tech as it appears because my software pushes the limits of the DIY hardware tools used by maximizing the available size, speed, resolution, and color depth. And folks this is post-pre-DVD video art! (fuck spinning discs)





My Super Monkey Kong LED video game got blogged at a whole bunch of places including Engadget, Joystiq, OhGizmo, Offworld, Rubbishcorp, and GameSetWatch. Thanks bloggers! So glad that people have been playing it (or at least watching the video) and find it funny that some gamers are underwhelmed by such low-tech graphics. But people who know that I made one of the early electronic/videogame/gadget websites on the Internet (miniarcade.com) which took an essentialist bent, should not find this project surprising.





Participated in the Rhizome 50,000 Dollar Webpage fundraiser, not only to support this media arts nexus but also because I've always been a sucker for the Million Dollar Homepage! I stumbled upon that one at the beginning when it only had a few pixel ads, thought seriously about buying some but didn't. Then a few months later I discovered to my surprise that it had sold out and I was kicking myself. So I couldn't resist the Rhizome take on it and made this anti-puzzling icon by copying these weird retina-seizing buttony color 'blocks' from the original homepage that I've always liked. Let's not forget that the kid who made a million off this probably got the idea from early Internet artists (see the Communimage for instance) so its only fitting that they borrow it back. Looks like Rhizome sold about half still resulting in some decent funds and a cool socio-temporal-portrait of sorts, you can see mine out there in open frontier space in the middle-left region. [Update: decided to make a browser icon out of it]





Showed my LEO (light emitting oven) piece in the large Colorado Art Open 2009 show at the Foothills Art Center curated by Michael Chavez and the Denver Art Museum's Christoph Heinrich. Was pleasantly surprised when many people commented that based on photographs they had expected the light oven to be full size, when in actuality it is about 1 foot tall and stood on a standard white gallery pedestal. I suppose this one has become a favorite of mine... a simple, pattern looped, conveniently sized, easily operable, recycled art gadget toy existing as both object and space... sensory & consumptive, confused but happy to be lost in old and new technology.





Also played a wonderful gig at the Bluebird Theater opening for Stereo Total doing my patented finger drumset thing with the band B.Sous. Chris on horns from Devotchka also joined us! (see photo) Leslie and the Lys also on the bill and they were truly something. Thanks goes out to Brandi, Johnny, Saigon will miss y'all! Stereo Total of course rocked. (and there really were more than 2 people in the audience too)


OK so now I'm fairly settled in Miami Beach it is time to make new, and document old. And I'm surrounded by bright tropical modernist COLOR! (among other things)