lou suSi @ MassArt

2011 MFA Design graduate from DMI

January 23, 2013
by lou suSi

shadows on the wall

i think a lot about spectrums — i focused on the spectrum of creative expression for parts and portions of my design thesis work, not all of the research making it into the final book ( of course ) — i also, at times, return to thinking about the spectrum that moves from data to wisdom — my estimation lists that spectrum, and i’m not exactly sure how to categorize it ( is it a spectrum of learning acquisition? maybe the spectrum to eventual spiritual wisdom? i’m not sure ), but it seems to move from raw data to information to story to knowledge ( which i consider to be the accumulation of information ) to wisdom ( which i think of as the destruction of knowledge to reach through and beyond to something more meaningful than mere knowledge ) — and now, most recently, i’ve been thinking about and actively researching another spectrum, this spectrum of human experience, is that what i should call it? maybe its the spectrum of intelligence, specifically maybe artificial intelligence, right?

today i thought, ‘there’s definitely a reason why its called ‘artificial intelligence’ and not just ‘intelligence,’ right?’

this new spectrum, and it might be a little forced or fabricated at this point — forgive me, i’m still trying to figure it out — this spectrum moves from robots to puppets, or maybe even the other way ’round, not sure

it might have to do, also, with the concept of animation and emotional attachmentanthropomorphism or personification, maybe — but i think, once again, i am purposefully mixing materialism with emotional dynamics, moving from the inanimate as a puppetpuppets need a human operator to move and voice a personality / persona / character in live, real-time performance scenarios — to the animate as a robotrobots are programmed to simulate certain sequences of movement via algorithm, code, conditionals and variables, robots are pre-coded, pre-destined to do everything they do, including any simulation of emotion or surprise, any sense of real humanness — there are also more utilitarian and entertainment-based devicery such as our smartphones, tablets, laptops and numerous omnipresent, ubiquitous electronic accoutrements and extensions of our solely human capabilities, and these inventions seem to live somewhere between the world of puppets and robots, we also seem to believe these non-living things actually have human traits and feelings ( for instance, when a laptop displays a spinner icon to indicate the system is slow, its actually not working efficiently enough, not behaving or performing up to modernday speedy standards of ultra convenience, we say that the laptop is ‘thinking’ — we all, however, know this is complete and utter nonsense — the laptop is in NO WAY ‘thinking’ in any human sense of the notion of ‘thinking’its processing, and its processing slowly at that ) — and then there are people, and we also seem to live in some betweenSpace or periphery amongst these machines and toys we constantly introduce into the technohumanic post-natural ecosystem, this wonderful posthuman uncanny valley we constantly cultivate like a gardenful of overgrown wires and wireless technologies

is this really a luscious garden though, marvelously extending human capabilities around thinking, memory, calculation and analysis? or did we create something a little lower in the uncanny valley than we could have ever imagined? is there a little cave at the base of the valley, a warm, glowing chasm, perhaps? a passage that goes deeper and deeper, beyond the uncanny valley — ( deeper is a funny notion, sounding both more intellectually rich but also somehow closer to the core of the Earth itself, maybe closer still to Hell )

people are natural meaning-making machines — i believe we’re not machines at all, but we do have this natural ability to try and make sense of it all, we fill in the gaps, we humanize almost every problem we can’t seem to fathom a possible alternate explanation for — we extend our internal emotionality, through live action puppetry or through programmatic simulation of real, human character and philosophic reason — we magically ( and mutuallypossess these things of interaction we invent and use on a daily basis, and they possess us back — so what’s the real heirarchy / taxonomy / array of items to consider in this spectrum of intelligence?

January 22, 2013
by lou suSi


An interesting quote I just wanted to share from Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk, ‘Schools kill creativity’

There’s something curious about professors in my experience — not all of them, but typically — they live in their heads. They live up there, and slightly to one side. They’re disembodied, you know, in a kind of literal way. They look upon their body as a form of transport for their heads, don’t they? (Laughter) It’s a way of getting their head to meetings.

Check out the rest of the talk on TED

January 8, 2013
by lou suSi

from puppets to robots, revisited

time flies — our good friend and colleague Laura Bernhardt at DMI { and, yes, SIM, too } proposed an interesting analog to digital research paper in that very first year of study at Dynamic Media Institute — she called it, ‘from Puppets to Robots,’ but i don’t think she really gave herself the chance to dig in and do the research to explore this fascinating topic { Laura’s native language is German and i think she found the language component of researching in books written in English here in the states to be rather intimidating, and i don’t blame her }

interestingly enough — as inspired by the very phraseology of my first post here on the MassArt Blogs from yesterday, the phrase uncanny valley sticks in the skull a bit today — since my thesis, confounded: future fetish design performance for human advocacy, focused on humor, laughter and the area in-between, i feel there’s value in continuing my research, my thinking, my experimentation and design in this area of cyberSurrealism

in some ways my research still remains partially undone — it brings up more questions for me than answers and conclusions { which i hope is a good sign, perhaps the mark of value and timelessness in a certain kind of thesis } — a big part of my thesis involved defining and discovering my identity as an artist and designer and at times i inspired extremely helpful feedback from the audience out at our DMI Reviews — on one such occasion, a visiting faculty member followed up my presentation with an observation, a comparison really, saying that in a way i was providing an interesting commentary on our technological culture, he likened me to an Andy Rooney of new media design in a very complimentary way, although i hope i wasn’t coming off as whiny — so, if i am in some ways a design commentator, looking at and critiquing our society and the changes we encounter on an ever quickening basis due to our ‘progress,’ i don’t know, it made a lot of sense, this designation, but it also didn’t seem to fully suit me

but, seriously, folksBlack Humor leaks along with us as we go, as i ask you to look at the world as we see it today in 2013 { or fill in the year } through the critical eyes of a satirical, designer and performance artist — humor allows me to gently poke and prod the elephant on the table without then succumbing to the wrath of the beast itself and its crowded room of evangelists, fans and followers — and, let’s face it, as much as my relationship to technology as expressed through my research involves a ‘love / hate’ dynamic, its not a pure hatred, nor a pure love of the mediums in which we swim that i encourage and emote — i’m just asking for some sense of mirth in our self-reflections, in our much-needed after-analysis of the situations we’re auto-creating along the journey — and i’m also asking for some sense of realism as we inspect the vast systems we’ve created and live with on a daily basis — they’re not ‘all good’ in the hood, if you know what i mean? although the majority of people seem to almost unconditionally love their iPhones and automobiles, their laptops and office chairs

so, my latest spin — the next suit i get to try on as my persona du jour for size, at least for a little while, feels like it should be something more along the lines of:

lou suSi
your tourguide through the uncanny valley

this, to me, just makes a lot of sense at this point, right? i mean, think of those double decker bus tours of London and whatnot, and those dudes need to inform but also entertain — they point and give you a little story about this place or that person, and along the way we all seem to learn something and we realize what we might want to go back to during our visit there before we need to come home and put back on the happy mask of global neoserf capitalist consumer bliss and numbness

and so, maybe this stolen topic { thank you Laura :] }, this ‘from puppets to robots,’ seems like an interesting new spectrum to explore — taking a magnifying glass to these toy-like objects we control to play and tell stories and then examine the magic and personality we put into them via voice and dance and narration — and then looking just as closely at artificial intelligence, robotics { both sociable and not }, our devices originally made to serve us and make our quality of life soar while freeing up our valuable time for other, more leisurely pursuits — and then putting people, real genuine wetware flesh and blood, into the spectrum to see in what ways we play and serve depending on the systems, the strings, the self-invented forces we’ve constructed to make us dance, i think, yes, this is an interesting area for further research and thought and contemplation

from puppets to robots, revisited

January 7, 2013
by lou suSi

recent reading for cyberSurrealists

all over the place, as usual, when it comes to reading and research — childsplay: the art of allan kaprow and STELARC: the monograph are both extremely generous gifts from a while back from David Tamés, and i’m finally, finally, finally getting around to reading them — David claimed a while back that my research and work in cyberSurreal investigation at Dynamic Media Institute might actually have less to do with the Surrealist Internationale and all the activities and philosophies begun by André Breton and much more to do with Allan Kaprow’s Happenings, blurring art and life through loosely orchestrated lifelike art events — and now, after this much-delayed, continued research, i think i have to admit my co-conspirator in provocative cyberSurreal curatorial mayhem at MassArt indeed picked up on the vibe i seemed to admit way back when in 2010 { or so } — really exhilarating to think about this new set of reading to re-contextualize my thinking and intent

Andy Clark’s Mindware — the perfect holiday gift from my wife, Carol — steeps me, as of late, back in the realm of the truly cyberSurreal — artificial intelligence, robotics, the transposition of how we think as human beings into a more mechanistic and invented ‘other’ for us to play with — very fascinating terrain for me to tapdance upon indeed — and bits and pieces of my self-gifted Lost at Sea: the Jon Ronson Mysteries also reinforce my perspectives on our travels through the uncanny valley, this strange technohumanic ecosystem we’ve been dealing with for a while now — his chapter ‘Does Everyone Have a Solar’ delves into this perplexing relationship we all have with our technologies through the extremely exaggerated position of inventors and caretakers of Zeno and Bina48 — no spoiler alerts here just yet, but let’s just say the conversations and interactions come off as anything but fluid, natural or human in any way

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