Add this purple pizza to your list of reasons to attend Eyebeam’s Annual exhibition of emerging new media artists tonight. It was created on paintyourpizza.com, an extension of Eyebeam artist Jonas Lund’s thepaintshop.biz. You can paint and order your own at tonight’s opening, and a local pizza shop will replicate it for you in toppings. In doing so, you carry on Eyebeam’s long tradition of pizza-based computer art work, dating all the way back to Cory Arcangel’s “Pizza Party.”
Pizza-doodling, though, is a bit of an anomaly at the Eyebeam Annual, amongst many projects with more reverent social implications. Brian House, for example, collected a year of data from an app he made to track his own location. He suspected that, when each location was translated to a musical chord, the patterns of his movements would create a harmonious melody. They did. This could be in part because House translated a handful of destinations in the same key, but still, there’s an incredibly distinct electropop melody with rhythms and staccato which immediately made me think of urban time-lapse photography.
Carrie Mae Rose (disclaimer: Art Fag City roommate and friend) is in the process of designing clothing that mimics what Rudolf Steiner termed the “etheric body”: basically, the restorative life force that maintains growth and restoration, like the subtle electrical currents which run under the human skin. She hopes the clothing will act therapeutically in cases where one longs for nature or human contact— space travel, extreme urban environments, cases of abuse or neglect, baby incubators. Blog offices.
And Ramsey Nasser wrote a programming language in Arabic, an idea he came to through teaching programming to non-English speakers. For a variety of reasons, he reminded me, everyone can use software, but only an elite few are able to write the programs, in part because both the grammar and the vocabulary are based on English; even a statement like “x = 1”, for instance, assumes that the compiler is reading from left to right. Nasser compared the state of programming to literacy in the Medieval era.
Even as someone who’s passionate about code, Nasser reports that the work was grueling; since Arabic letters look differently based on the adjacent letters, the language doesn’t translate into a discrete code like the Latin alphabet does. And that’s how computers work, because programming was conceived of in the Latin alphabet. “Computers are mirrors of how we think,” he told me; the idea itself changed the way he sees his work. Writing the code, he said, “was the closest I’ve come to a religious experience."