The Failure of Space

January 13, 2008


Objects pay a central role in language which have become the black hole of the imagination.

Object absorb methods of interactivity, they hold the relationship between verb and noun.

Objects retain activity because of a latent belief that to be human is to engage with existence as a container.


It’s the belief that ourselves, as communicators occupy a particular space. In consideration, what is it that we think we own through ‘being’ ? Whether it’s My Space or My Face, there is a problem in wanting personal identification being incorruptible because property defines a relationship between the ‘individual’ and an ‘activity’ and thus, “I think therefore I am” reduces language to a proposition that negates space, rendering it it as a void not as energy.

Ownership, as currency, renders the individual as a shibboleth, not as a conduit. Ownership values you, not the otherway around.

Acting is a way to shift the individual from person to persona; the surface as text enables a metamorphosis to occur but yet legibility restricts affordances of the performance. By designing a character, you are stripping away values that you do not want to transfer.

Narratives, on the whole, are object centric. Stories, on the whole, are character or location centric, even if the role of the tale is morale of antidote. This is how we deal with space; we erase relationships between objects in order to expose relationships between objects that we deem valuable. The legibility of the value enhanced objects are defined using logic, itself a system based upon declaration.

And it’s this declaration that needs to be replaced with recursive activities. To recall a story is simply a validation of the initial story’s object values. The Chinese Whisper recursive activity opens the affordance for personal valuations, in turn, creating a new value chain debased from an individual’s possession model.

Use Values are the currency that currency values, commercial restrictions on transference increase friction and erodes affordances. Use value devalues Image Values. Knowledge transfer is part of the process, but unless you can reuse the knowledge in anyway you wish, the currency of knowledge degrades.

Now, exploitation of knowledge requires attribution, itself is a shibboleth token that is derived from an individual (corporate entity or individual). Attribution, being the lowest level of rights (as expressed through the Creative Commons licence scheme), is still a barrier for reuse. It maintains the network of information transference, but retains a channel for first object values to influence the acceptance of the shibboleth model.

How can transference be utilised without incarceration of influences when transference is a space based activity?

Network constructs exist within time, not space. Transference exists within space not time.

Is a knowledge object a particle or a wave?

Therefore we have a problem identifying value when networks and manufacturing argue the ownership of the concept of initial value. Language has no root for originality – it’s primary role is transference through duplication and distortion. Meaning’s needs are erosion and decay.

‘Constructing a sentance’ is to destroy other values from perception.

‘Manufacturing’, as a concept, can not contain ‘Networks’ and vice versa. What permits the entanglement is Communication.

(Note the sweet irony of the licence at the end of this video.)

If the Uncertainity Principle is correct, all values are approximations, and therefore there is nothing that can be awarded a value; at best objects have properties that fluctuate with values – a range of values.

(Above: “Portraits of My Father’s Imagination” by Jennifer Cohen.)

A construct of value ranges are the ingredients; the intersection of the range of values can equate to a value. When constructed in this way, the approximation delivers precision that can be tracked but never predicted. Choosing which intersection of values (ingredients) is a decision method based upon prior knowledge, in essense, you make myths through reuse of retained values.

If this is so, an individuals choice is a myth; being able to predict within a value range deludes any sense of freedom – an this is the fear of freedom.

(Above: Victor Burgin Office at Night, 1986 (one of seven sections))

Robert Morris had said that he wanted his sculptures to be no more or less important than any other of the ‘terms’ in the room in which they were situated. But I had asked him the question: if his sculpture was to be considered no more worthy of attention than the doors, the floor, the windows, and so on… then why not dispense with the art object altogether? Judd had said that a form that was neither geometric nor organic would be a great discovery. It seemed to me that such a form did not exist in the material world but could only be found in the mental realm. By the time I left Yale I was trying to find a way of dispensing with the material object, a way of leaving the room empty.

The above quote is taken from Victor Burgin’s presentation titled ‘The Separateness of Things’, which you can read here.

The Failure of Space is it’s existence as physical. The attempts of establishing neutrality within a language construct is something Wikipedia has gone to great lengths to achieve. It is the greatest phenomenon – above the sheer scale of the production – and is reflected in the concept of Net Neutrality.

Pure Construction, as favoured by the early conceptualist and minimalists (such as Robert Morris) claims a use of space beyond the appreciation of freedoms.

Above: Robert Rauschenberg
Erased de Kooning Drawing (1953)

Rauschenberg’s moves in white are part of the grand gesture that his early work strove for and often achieved. His colleague John Cage recognised this when he wrote: “The white paintings were airports for the lights, shadows and particles.” Rauschenberg was able to make nothing the subject of a painting in a way that Cage would, after him, make nothing the subject of a piece of music. Then everything could enter in. “Having made the empty canvases (a canvas is never empty), Rauschenberg became the giver of gifts. “The timing of these acts was crucial; it was a different response to the Second World War and the atom bomb. Unlike the existentialism of Giacometti, which depicted man alone in the universe, Rauschenberg’s emptiness has a positive tonality, and although he in part rejected the serious themes of his Abstract Expressionist predecessors, his White Paintings have nothing of the humour of the Surrealists.

Weiner’s schema tackles the production and distribution of art through the direct conflict between object and language, and remains today the keystone to artists decoding the construct of space.

1. The artist may construct the piece
2.The piece may be fabricated
3. The piece need not be built.
Each being equal and consistent with the intent of the artist, the decision as to condition rests with the receiver upon the the occasion of the receivership.

Lawrence Weiner – As Long As It Lasts, 1994
Carving in Renaissance Society wall

Between language and object, the range of values assimilate situations of debate. A debate as a construct finds itself smothered by language unless you can keep the space from collapsing through definition.

Above: Haim Steinbach – supremely black, 1985

Steinbach, a contemporary of Koons, produces a shelving modality to enable presentations of value ranges. The exhibit is itself an execution of the question behind design, production and distribution of the ‘object’. The work is complete with installation instructions and is shipped from exhibition to exhibition. Position within the space is the arbitrary decision of the curator. The artist’s role is to negate the closure of space through neutral syntax – a language that the viewer can neither state as true or false, a language that negates and confirms the value range, a language that is neither useful or useless. Here, aesthetics deliver the failure of space. It is not the connectivity between objects but the juxtaposition of values within values recursively that denote a space that become accessible only through negating a language construct.

Within such an infinate duration of causality, space collapses. Time becomes a multi-dimensional construct connected through a range of values that assert their relationship through the viewer. The viewers act of possession in this state is of value to no one else as navigation of recursive space alludes to no meaning, no value, no use. Alone with a infinite array of value ranges, the viewer controls the matter of space through an erosion of time. The fear of freedom becomes the liberation of value. Space fails us when it fails to negate time – it leaves us a mere container instead of a part of it’s whole.

With time and space existing as linguistic containers, the role of the viewer is to collapse the meaning of either states, thus transferring a network of values from one to another. This sifting enables a non linguistic ontology freeing the affordances of both containers. The tools for such activities reside in the intersect of value ranges, and it would seem that emotive approaches that avoid the individuals verb-noun exchange are extremely effective in producing affective recursive communications.

If communication is to effectively design the prototypes of manufacturing and protocols of networks, then we may find that the Theory of Everything alluding to the simplistic notion that language is preventive, non enabling and that objects and their methods assert symmetrical values – an ordered beauty that prevents the human release of reasoning into lone navigation.

Perception, the foundation to navigation, is a surface reliant ontology. We can only ever see surface – all meaning is generated based upon the viewers value ranges.

Non-orientable objects, such as the Klein bottle (above) and the Mobius strip exist within their own surface, that is, they are one continuous surface. The Klein bottle model exists in the 3rd dimension, whereas the Mobius strip is in within the 2nd dimension. Being singular, the Klein bottle’s affordance is that is you pour into the bottle, the bottle will instantly pour out from the same point.

The significance of the singular surface, non-orientable object, is that space can be defined, modelled and handled as matter, not as a representation of matter. The recently, fought over, affirmation Poincaré conjecture, allows us to believe that surface is a finite space, and thus utterly orientable. The domain of space can be cut using the Ricci Flow with Surgery method and with finite time, it is possible to show that space remains a singularity, if if the Ricci Flow has to be applied to singularities that form from the cutting.

In essence, the limitations of space-time confer that existence within language is restricted to the modeling of matter. Language can not explain anything OUTSIDE the surface of matter, thus we can not use language to explore dimensions that are devoid of space-time, but the existence of an exterior of space-time can be confirmed through seeing the limitations of activity-place.

Being devoid of space-time, creation should be able to construct fiction that becomes true, as the assertion can be percevied after the fact due to surface being the mailable construct unaffected by space-time; in space-time, fiction comes after prior knowledge because space-time controls the object.

As digital communications aspires towards production at the point of consumption (Transmedia, UGC, bitstreaming and crowdsourcing), we are slowly adopting an existence without space-time yet trying to apply space-time modalities of fiction.

You may ask why you would want to know the film before you watch it, or listen to a gag if you knew the punchline – this would be misunderstanding the role of non-oriented objects within a non-space, non-time existence.

The role of communications within the surface plane of non-space-time is to experience your own construct not one constructed for you. We may have a Death of an Author paradox here, if we are already have removed the author of the text and replaced it with the reader. The point is, authorship should come after the collective experience of existence, not a singular denotation of space-time. What should be of interest within this plane is the ability to formalise reality upon the construct of the imagination, collectively and individually.

The networks that people build today, may these be technological or social, are becoming the surface plane of a reality construct that create fictions which in turn create opinions within the minds of the participants. Fears of assimilation and identity are fluid, that is, epidemic in the communities that produce the network. I believe this is the transitional phase between space-time and a singularity that restates the relationship between communication and manufacturing. Ideas, concepts and thoughts will materialise through a network effect, but the consequences will be that little choice will be maintained over what is made. Manufacturing will become enslaved to the Network; Communication will be caught in between the two.

Freedom will still remain the illusion between a physicality and the organisation of that reality, unless language escapes the object ontology. Scripts, routines and procedures maintain a use value that people define as methods; again, a value construct between noun and verb needs to be dissolved for the benefits of experience to liberate us from expectations.

I’ve never had a great experience that I could measure.

Great experiences are without comparison. Great experiences don’t represent anything. They are Stateless.

Stateless means that you can connect everything to the experience, but it doesn’t mean it’s a Social Object. I think Social Objects, as a Class, are filled with Social Methods. Social Methods are people’s activities, like a Tweet.

Social Objects, therefore, are constructed from Algorithmic patterns; measurable though the use of Pattern Languages. Social Objects have a temporal value and therefore be disposable. I think that’s one of their key values.

The difference between Stateless Objects and Social Objects is that Stateless Objects can and will be reused, they have no shelf life as they have no inclining nor declining values scales.

Stateless is Useful, because it’s persistent without being obtrusive. It records no information, it exists as a connector to other objects. Being Stateless is being Universal. Being Social is being Cultural.

Invest in the non-valued instead of the temporal-valued system objects and you’ll feel the measurement like you feel your arm: A connected presence is not a readable object. A disconnected experience causes concern because the absence requires a substitute.

Virtualness, or simulations, bridge the perceived loss of expectations. Networks, by nature of their construct, compensate when damaged; this can result in malformed calculations, rectifiable through optimisation, which requires a ‘reading’ to identify conjuncture. Once loss has been mentality established, we use mesaurement to return to a sensation that distracts from absence.

If you need to calculate, as first why something is missing, because the realisation has not yet been understood through experience. Absence can too be the goal, if there is experience that does not make completion; again calculation defines the distance between insight and acquisition – the value can sometimes equate presence instead of loss. It’s matter of sensation instead of comprehension.

Experience is a relationship with faith and ultimately trust. Disillusion only comes when ‘value approximation’ is realised; you can calculate loss through compensation but you cant value a relationship based upon trust.

You can only experience ‘it’; the reverse is only perception, legible or not. ‘It’ remains Stateless.

Art is code. So when Nick compiled a list of his top 10 programmers, mainly based around game deveopment, he raised the issue about why great coders are aspiring.

For me, a good coder is like an artists who aspires towards a career in art. The paycheck for ‘production’ becomes their foundation. They shift cliched objects around a virtual space, solving problems based on to them – may they be client change requests, a project managers fuckwit shortcut to deliver or another lazy attempt to entertain the user.

For me, Ward Cunningham, is possible one of the most valuable coding minds we have seen. Ward infamously invented the Wiki model back in 1995 through a need to be self organised but (being lazy) without wishing to do the heavy lifting himself – instead he ‘saw’ the ability of a community to do they organising – aka Crowdsourcing.

This pulls him in-line with Paul Graham, author of Hackers and Painters.

Ward, like Paul, are artists who play with Language. Like, my hero, Lawrence Weiner. Here we are at the opening of his first Retrospective: As Far as the Eye Can See at the Whitney in November this year.

Lawrence’s ‘art’ defined the opening of conceptual art. Alongside Daniel Buren, they helped creativity manifest itself as the play within language; a play that sought to overcome the burden of meaning – eroding time into an object, usable to dissolve language’s grasp of context.

Here’s a nice statement from Lawrence, that I swiped from, here.

When we speak of time, especially since so much art since, I can almost say, since Mondrian, is involved with the passage of time – not the reflection of time, but the passage of time, reflections of times or nostalgia at present. And that’s all we have in our lives. Time is relative to expectations, and it’s based upon the real-time needs to fulfill those expectations. We have no other means of judging the value of time. Essentially, to be really vulgar, it can’t be about lifetime, it can’t be about lifespan. It’s the same problem that all artists have. We all make movies, and yet, a movie is the great imposition on another human being, because it asks them to give up their real time. Your real time is making a movie. I don’t know if their real time is watching a movie, because it’s an imposition of time.

Necessity may have been the mother of invention for many, but the harsh reality is that it is idle meddling that attempts to make a problem out of nothing which leads to invention, understanding and ultimately language regression.

This meddling leaves seeds of curiosity for us all to pick over, accidental hybrid, trade and profit from. Stuff is built not by design, but by constructing problems that arrest us.

Haacke is for me, is the artist that has taken the operations of ‘conceptual art’ and successfully hacked the MarComms businesses, politically and aesthetically. His installation at Der Bevoelkerung stands testament to this. (If someone knows an English transaltion to this project online – please let me know.)

This is why I think the consensus of architecture is flawed. Design-to-build removes the participation of creation that is essential to the constructs future affordances. Imperial casts of iconic skyline buildings shadow the genius of ‘squatting‘.

The best programmers, like artists, seek to unlearn. That’s how they build inventions. Innovation is something we can live without, it has no use value. Only the doing of thinking constructs. The Thinking of Doing collapses the use value.

Why I’m still in awe of Ward Cunningham, well, he’s still playing. Last year, the Graffiti Research Lab drop kicked in the LED Throwie. Ward has hacked this concept with the Talkie Throwie. By programming the LED with Morse Messages, the Throwies now talk. In turn, the race is on to build video recognition applications that LISTEN to the messages.

Forget HD TV, forget AI, forget meaning. Let objects ‘talk, listen and build.’ They ‘mean’ nothing to each other, yet inspire us to react, redo and rediscover. Language is a stepping stone, not a destination. Have a look at “Les Deux Plateaux” by Buren, for example.

Working for a design company, my comments about using design to find the problem are usually met with a sharp in take of breath, at best. Designers, on the whole, have a fixation with makig stuff look and act great, nah, brilliant-fantastic-charming-clear.

BUT, we live in a world where design has to be used to enclose the audience, to help them find a space to occupy, NOT try to satisfy them with aesthetics du jour.

Apple, a design company that uses technology well, is possibly the biggest culprit in closing down progression in the use of aesthetics. Sure the products have charm, I picked up an iTouch recently – it’s a genius product, but it doesn’t need the Appleness for it do it’s job. If anything Aqua and Web2.0 screen furniture are failed languages, they’ve prevented a evolution where Useful (User) Experiences should have diversified and spawned languages; instead we are left with cliches. Interface design should not suffer the same inadequacies of architecture that induce the Stenna chairlift need.

Ben and Karsten are the smart practioners of design. Ben’s Hackable Aesthetics for Interesting2007 are about reuse values within existing cultures as a platform for innovation.

Whilst Karsten is playing between software (Processing) and hardware (Arduino). As a designer, the tool set is never essential, it’s the consideration is expanded when your tools have a broad affordance.

But for both to operate like this, the Ingredients of Data, have to be understood. Artists have always understood their material, from marble (Michangelo) to language (Weiner); today, in the realm of Being Digital, understanding how data is constructed has to be the basis to any designer/artist/creative.

It may seem dull, but understanding how a carrot grows is essential to a farmer. Understanding how Photoshop works is not necessary to use it, but to get the best from the system-as-application, knowing more about the under lying code is more important than understanding complementary colours. That’s why Rob’s Minara is such a smart way to think about the relationship between design and software.

But non of this is of any value unless you wrap in the role of the user/audience/participator. The viewer has a role in a designers work – they are the interpreter – regardless of what ‘message’ you are trying to send. The User centricity of User Experience, covered in length by Armano, has resulted in some pretty lame executions – any web2.0 application that claims to do one thing well, has sucked in 37signals ‘Getting Real’ manifesto. The reality is that no one wants a singular experience, like Photoshop or Illustrator. The ‘I Want to Be Alone’ singualrity of the creative is way past being useful – like Twitter, designers must have Peer Appreciation. By this I mean that conversation between likeminded, non-likeminded and the resulting audience must be in the pre-production, production and the execution.

As soon as designers can get out of the Ivory Tower and get with the participation that has made their technology based tools possible, then we might just get an industry that is more interested in find the real problems for creativity- and I think it’s based in Error Handling.

Ward Cunningham’s thinking evolved Pattern Language.

A pattern language is a structured method of describing good design practices within a field of expertise. It is characterized by

  1. Noticing and naming the common problems in a field of interest,
  2. Describing the key characteristics of effective solutions for meeting some stated goal,
  3. Helping the designer move from problem to problem in a logical way, and
  4. Allowing for many different paths through the design process.

Think about his Throwie Talkies, think about the mentality of design that encourages Stateless Communications, and then remember the Gorilla Advert. Think how utility can become fun – fun as in learning – education through creation.

None of these modal approaches to design were borne out of necessity – they were evolutions from seeds of boredom. Programmers, like artists, like some designers, hate the thought and practice of spending their time producing the mundane. If they don’t mind – you should question the people on your team – and juniors who do the ‘grunt’ work should consider getting the hell out of there.

Laziness is the vision of the apathetic creative upon the inventions that are being played out by the beleaguered designer.

Architecting, designing, creating, erm, even planning, needs to be used to find problems, not solve them. In return the final product will be as interesting to the audience as it was to you.

I think I’m trying to nudge over Johnny’s Branded Utility concept, as Russell notes, It’s just Utility, and that’s agreeable a bit dull. Schutz and Webb are having a good play around with this too. But for me, as soon as the object-as-utility is defined by it’s use, it’s polydimensionality collapses and so does it’s longevity. Equally, the age old question ofwhat is ‘Brand Experience’, which for me is a simulation of a Brand, and really needs to step up to accountable transactions to be allowed to have the word Brand anywhere near any notion of Experience.

And it’s a bit too easy to point at Twitter and state it’s the way forward. It does have a superb mentality towards poly-dimensionality, but what makes it so? Evan and Biz knew, after Blogger, that the audiences interests were the operating system, and the technology just has to do the heavy lifting between them. It’s the Solow rule of ecconomics. What needs to be examined is the process of design for problem excalvation that’s benificial to the participants.

So, I want to recap on what I think the ‘user pathway’ translates to as a design, production and delivery process.

Previously, I explained that I see a user experience in 4 stages:-

1. Inspiration: Attract the User
2. Aspiration: Get the user to ask what they want
3. Insight: Deliever the request
4. Acquisition: Participate in a trade for the request

Mapping on some of the ideas above, I think the process for the ‘producers’ looks like this:-

1. Inspiration : Peer Appreciation
2. Aspiration: Hackable Aesthetics
3. Insight: Ingredients of Data
4. Acquistion: Useful Experiences

I’m still thinking this through; it’s being written on the wiki, so when I have a better idea about all this, I’ll update in another post.

If I can get this right, I think it’s the key to defining a model for Accountable Transactions for Engagement.

Definitely the most significant reappraisal of image creation value has arrived. Shai Avidan and Ariel Shamir have published this paper describing a process to ‘retarget’ images for viewing contexts. But, by doing this, they’ve uncovered something about the properties of an image that has never been seen: Seams of Meaningless.

By filtering the image to see energy maps, the software ‘optimises’ the ‘content’ to remove or expand apon intent. This approach was conceived as a way to avoid the scale/crop approach to remove unnecessary information in an image.

Watch the above Youtube video for full details and application examples.

If this ever gets released, our perception of images will never be the same again. For a start, the shared experience of an image vanishes outside perfectly mapped geo-temporal contexts. Further, our semantic relationship to information exponentially expands – every image becomes a catalyst of singularities – a far cry from any notion that an image ‘can be read’.

This Seam Carving brings not a new dimension to image making, but a distinction of re-co-ordinating information – Polyphonic Targeting. Compositions will be considered inspiring for manipulation not a destination for knowledge transfer. Editing will be acute to use. Publishing will be Rejection because the release of information will be accepted as a juncture of simulacra not simulation. Meaning becomes Indifference.

And it’ll play havoc with Photosynth. Mwahaah!

We should consider how this innovation could be received commercial. Betting that patients are being written; what we have here is an approach – a grammar in information design. The principles are in the open – these cant be guarded of with IP laws. Absurd as this sounds, the future looks more Open and Meaningless than ever before.

More details about ‘Seam Carving for Content-Aware Image Resizing’ here:

“The Stanford Center for Professional Development (SCPD) is posting “Computer Musings,” lectures given by renowned Professor Donald E. Knuth, Stanford University’s Professor Emeritus of the Art of Computer Programming. SCPD is digitizing about one hundred tapes of Knuth’s musings, lectures and selected classes and posting them here. They are available to the public free of charge.” [more]

This is a truly amazing resource of lectures by the renowned computer scientist, while acknowledging his contributions to the field, Knuth comments only that “some people seem to be interested in what I have to say.”

Knuth is famed for his contributions to Literate Programming – code that is readable by humans not just machines. As code and content get closer together with the rise of community video websites, his work is amazing relevant today.
The Aha! sessions are worth a watch to see the man in ‘action’.

His homepage is here.

Fan T-shirts are available here.

Fano Plane

April 17, 2006

I stumbled across the curious Fano Plane last year after working with Cellular Automa to find business models & processes for media generation. I'll post the result of the investigation sometime later when I recall where I stored the notes (Heh, I still remember the sound of the tumbleweed when I presented them, thus the loose filing system!)

Here's a few links:-


From Wolfram's Site

And as known as The Eightfold Cube

And.. Klein's Quartic Curve (ooh, the animations..!)

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