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 Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 10:05 PM in the News & Stuff section

jtwine on twitter

Jurgen (jtwine) has perhaps the most relevant posts on twitter.
And his page is beautiful.
Other artists there post stuff to #twitterart?
The little twitter bird logo scares the fuck out of me so I can't say much on that.
However I will say that Jurgen Trautwein makes lots of goodness.
Much of it is on the web here and here for starters.
The drawings! And photography. Music.
He handles black better than most.
Not that he can't handle white.
Or color.
He lives in San Francisco.

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 12:55 AM in the News & Stuff section

Millie Niss @ Spork World

I am sorry to report that a couple weeks ago Millie Niss, a superb, 36 year old electronic artist and (often Oulipian) poet from the Buffalo NY area, departed from this earth. However her Spork World lives on. I never met or talked with her, and to be honest was only vaguely familiar with her work until recently. Just wanted to shout out to the NET that I feel she left us with some really great stuff! For instance the Regex Haiku Generator is some of the most wonderfully succinct programmatic poetry I've seen. As with many of her online works, an Adobe Flash application is employed with a rare sense of outrageous straightforwardness. Functionally inviting yet often confounding in effect...


As one can discover, many of her creations are not as playful as these. Some are rather intense, dynamic, unrelenting. Speaking for myself only, I feel her oeuvre is like a breath of fresh air in certain spheres of the media arts where swift, pack-minded fashion and technical cleverness/materiality have often reigned. Millie went beyond.

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 1:36 PM in the News & Stuff section

Have continued to invest time this year to upload older projects and still have many to add, coming soon are biology experiments and paintings. For some reason I've found the process to be almost as enjoyable as making new. But the joys of documentation and cleanup are waning... planning lots of new work for 2010. Here are some of those old newbies:

This series from late 2005 was cheap, fun, and slightly mischievous. I was taking a dark room photography course at the time, and after obediently completing a few quasi-predictable pinhole and 35mm projects, I got bored with dark rooms and so for the final assignment I started hitting eBay for weird toy digital cameras like the Casio WQV-1 wrist watch camera. With the deadline approaching, I decided the photos taken with it were only 'OK' so I reduced the already minimalist b/w photos to 1 shade each and had them printed up through the Online Walgreens Photo Center as described on the project page. Upon displaying these beautiful photographic prints, carefully pinned to the wall in horizontal fashion, the curmudgeonly teacher threatened to fail me out of class, with the additional stern bonus warning "you will never make it in the gallery world". Well today I kindly retort with a *fart*.


Here was a Microsoft Windows software product that I singlehandedly designed, developed, marketed, sold, and supported in 1998-1999. The eccentrically named (but 8.3 compliant) ... Auc-Win!. I'd say it was a pretty good application with very few bugs and which sold reasonably well. It was designed to manage online auction transactions with features such as transaction staging, order/invoice printing, financial exporting, html ad generation, and such. At the time the auction platforms at eBay and Yahoo offered none of this functionality. When I started there were only a few 3rd-party competitors with similar products in the $20-$40 range, and so I undercut them all at $10. The most expensive (and cheesy) of these competitors was Blackstone Software who was later acquired by eBay. After a few upgrade releases of Auc-Win, I ended it for a variety of reasons, one of which being customer dissatisfaction of the visual designs. I had given the interfaces a colorful, legacy computer look because I was tired of that drab gray Window/GUI paradigm. It so happened that the market didn't appreciate my creativity, and I refused to listen to such whining. (this was before application skinning) Please note that today I'm an artist, not a software entrepreneur.


Scoured my hard drive and found a handful of digital experiments from 2005-2006. Was attempting to use creative and powerful software tools like Illustrator, Photoshop, Maya, Painter in an expressively lo-tech manner - thereby causing actual content (otherwise) to disappear.

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Friday, November 27, 2009 at 5:29 PM in the News & Stuff section

Today I am celebrating the bleakest Black Friday of my generation with the release of a signed, limited edition, art multiple... the Microwave Computer aka Microcomputer! Only 12 being produced and each comes installed with a custom, one-of-a-kind software program. Even if you had waited in line all morning today for first dibs at the Wal-Mart, Best Buy or Circuit City, you couldn't have gotten your hands around one of these babies, but now you *can* purchase one directly from me. Ships to any country in the world. Buy now save later! Happy Holidays.

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Sunday, November 22, 2009 at 10:45 PM in the News & Stuff section


Recently came across the website/portfolio of James W. Morris and was reminded of how much I love the art made by hardcore software engineers. I had almost forgotten, since much of the digital art I've been seeing out there lately falls into other categories. With coders who make art (or artists who go code-deep) there is often just something sublime about the wrestling with form, wandering variations, unexpected palettes, naming/documentation logic... all sorts of decision or procedural eccentricities to savor, and James is an adventurous example. For starters his unique website is built upon a CMS tool that he himself programmed from scratch. In his code section he has many colorful CSS/tag based works (a medium I have a fondness towards) such as the CSSNAKETRIX shown above. Music, paintings, video games, download-able tools... there is much to explore. This is good shit, please enjoy.

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Sunday, November 22, 2009 at 1:51 AM in the News & Stuff section

I have re-enabled the RSS feeds here. I had not been thinking of this as a blog, rather just a page with periodic news/updates. Spam-bots galore used to nail my site in quest of RSS formats, so I turned them off. Now am attempting to post with a little more regularity, and have added another blog-like section here. (also RSS enabled) Some friends have complained about the 'out of sight out of mind' situation and demanded for me to get my shit straight. OK I caved in... consider yourself fed!

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 10:25 PM in the News & Stuff section

Spent a few intense days doing an upgrade of my site which is built with the badass Drupal engine. Just went from major version 5 to 6, started a few years back with 4. (my original 2004 site was hand-coded html) A fairly smooth upgrade, but had to re-tool some modules, themes, views, data, etc. Not adding any new features just yet, but everything here was painstakingly made to be the same. While my site appears to be featherweight, it actually runs on the most powerful CMS engine out there. When I first started using it, I stripped all the bells and whistles away and added new features begrudgingly. Software engineer wisdom or ignorance, you decide. Either way, convoluted engines such as Drupal come with a maintenance cost because if you don't jog down the upgrade path you'll be left in the dust with an unsupported mess on your hands. I feel that losing a week of time every year is worth it because the free software that thousands of Drupal contributors have coded up, is frankly stunning. And fun to play with! Thanks Drupalizers, you rock.

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Sunday, November 15, 2009 at 6:53 PM in the News & Stuff section
Everybody knows somebody who loves a Honda

Amusing.... I feel so corporate now. Except that my design stylez preceded theirs by over a year. My palette was purposely limited to the 16 official HTML color names (as once ruminated here) so perhaps the similarities stem from that specification. I'll call mine a playful lucidity of information presentation, meant to balance diverse, eccentric content. I'll call theirs overpriced.

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 9:59 PM in the News & Stuff section

god save the king

I really really like the ODOYGIANT. Not much I wanna say here about the Dodi Giant with so much Gope but not Obey, so I provide you link only, explore the situation yourself. Link. Link. His facebook fan club just hit 4000, are you one of them? Does remind me of another great viral project (done primarily offline) by Justin Simoni...

the next big thing

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 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. and 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 :)