We do a lot of “liking” on social media. We like pictures of people, vacations, meals, places, quotations, experiences, and art. My friend, the artist Almond Zigmund and I decided that “liking” should take a little more effort, so when we “like” a work of art now, we regram it on our joint Instagram account (@ExtendedCaptions) with a caption that includes the artist, title, date, medium, dimensions, and collection, along with a longer explanation of what we know about the work (associated movements, biographical information, the artist’s contemporaries, current exhibitions, and so forth). In this way, we are attempting to counteract the fast consumption of images with a slower, more delicate savor.

In his 2013 book, Thinking Fast and Slow, author and psychologist Daniel Kahneman describes dual cognitive processes at work in the human mind as System 1 and System 2; the former is an intuitive, automatic process of judgement (think gut reaction, mental shortcuts, and liking), the latter an analytical, rules-based slow process (think Math problems, SAT questions, and writing longer captions). These two systems work in concert to arrive at answers. @ExtendedCaptions is an effort to be accountable for what we like by spending a little extra time to process an image. Follow us?

@extendedcaptions on Instagram

This is a repost of a blog entry I wrote for the NEA on May 3, 2012

NA/SA Booksprint at CMU's STUDIO for Creative Inquiry

For four months in the fall of 2010, I worked at a cozy desk in the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) as a curatorial research fellow, hosted jointly by the Miller Gallery and the STUDIO. On a daily basis, students, faculty, and visiting artists would stop by my front-row seat at this frenetic concourse of technoscience dispatches.

The initial focus of my research was artists working in scientific or technological environments during the last five decades. The mid 1960s marked an explosion of interest in cross-disciplinary projects—the paring of artists with engineers, or the placement of artists in scientific or industrial environments—as exemplified by Nine Evenings: Theater and EngineeringArt & Technology at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Artist Placement Group, all initiated in the mid 1960s.

As I met with more visiting artists, faculty, and students at CMU, I began to uncover a new narrative—a tactile shift in discourse and practice between that moment and this one. While artists two generations ago were dependent on access to technicians, labs, computer time, or manufacturers to realize works of scientific or technological complexity, those I was presently meeting had far greater agency to conduct this kind of work themselves. Even ambitious endeavors such as independent biological experiments, materials research, and micromanufacturing can be conducted by today’s working artist—and not at a naive or removed distance.

Take for instance, the hallmark group Experiments in Art and Technology, founded in 1967 by artists Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman with Bell Labs engineers Billy Klüver and Fred Waldhauer to “match make” artists with engineers with whom they could realize projects of an ambitious technological nature. Projects that took these pioneers collectively months to accomplish—creating responsive environments or radio-controlled robotic devices—might now be done by an autonomous artist in a matter of days with a microprocessor and access to open source communities like openFrameworks. Likewise, the present-day proliferation of home-based and shared laboratories such as Genspace, a community biolab in Brooklyn, and hacker spaces like NYC Resistor  make it possible to bring once industrial or scientific endeavors into the domestic realm.

Contemporary artists working in scientific domains are heirs to the throne of the 1960s interdisciplinary milestones, and have much in common with the prevailing spirit of the 1960s avant-garde: the desire to incorporate everyday materials and include untrained and non-professionals in the creative process, and the refusal to participate in mainstream culture of mass production and consumption. It follows logic then that the practice has mostly moved outside rarified institutions and industries (the relationships were too complex and tied to capitalism and product-oriented economics), and into the hands of individuals and collectives (facilitated by networked communication which gave agency to maker culture, the open source movement, peer-to-peer sharing, crowdsourcing, etc.). From there, the types of activities exploded and yielded a variety of subtypes of Artists/Scientists/Technologists.

And unlike the rare polymath of the Renaissance, contemporary artists who operate across disciplines employ the expertise of the network: the network, not the individual, is encyclopedic. The Internet has provided unprecedented access to shared knowledge assets, materials, fabrication processes, microfunding, and audiences. Networked communication and open source culture have contributed to this shift from artists aiding science to doing science, and will ultimately impact the way scientific knowledge is acquired, utilized, and disseminated.

When I proposed my thesis to STUDIO Director Golan Levin he suggested I form a network of my own to test this out and told me about a newly developed technique for collaborative authoring called a “book sprint.” After reading up on the first book sprint, Collaborative Futures, which took place at transmediale in 2010, and speaking with one of the participants, Michael Mandiberg, I began whittling down a list of people I’d like to spend a week writing with—my dream team.

I ultimately had the good fortune to form a week-long hive mind with writers Claire Evans (musician, artist, and science blogger), Régine Debatty (we-make-money-not-art blogger on hybrid and technological art), and Pablo Garcia (architect and art history buff), and architecture-trained designers Luke Bulman and Jessica Young of Thumb. Each person brought a different strength to the table: Claire was a fast and competent writer who could digest and popularize scientific information; Régine had encyclopedic knowledge of more artists working in this domain than anyone on Earth; and Pablo could contextualize it all within a long view of art history. It was dumb luck that Luke and Jessica had seen a mention of the forthcoming “sprint” and offered up their services to design the book during the sprint (in essence, to “design sprint”). This final item was essential as it turns out to completing the book. Thumb’s ability to immediately synthesize our ideas into visual form fueled our writing and helped us organize a wildly divergent mass of materials.

All the while, Miller Gallery Director Astria Suparak, and STUDIO staff Marge Myers, Jonathan Minard, and Amisha Gadani, along with some dozen work-study students, provided us near around-the-clock feedback and companionship on our “research outings.”

We started the week with a graph and taxonomy that I presented, breaking down the various methodologies as I saw them at work in today’s art/science/technology projects. Each of these areas (more or less) became the subject of a chapter in the book. We used the simplest solution possible for collaborative writing: Google Docs, and for images we went directly to the artists or Wikimedia Commons and stored them using Dropbox. At the close of each day Jessica and Luke showed us “design rushes” of the content taking shape.

We tackled Maker Culture, Hacking, Artistic Research, Citizen Science, and Computational Art, wrote about more than 60 artists, and created a gigantic timeline that includes everything from the establishment of Radio Shack to Creative Commons and Kickstarter. We did this in seven days, with little sleep and lots of instant feedback from faculty and students at CMU, as well as artists who generously skyped into the conversation at a moment’s notice. The product of the sprint, New Art/Science Affinities is now out in the world and available as a free download or you can purchase a hard copy.

Our collective writing experiment mirrored the tactics used by many artists working across disciplines today, largely fueled by the Internet and access to once rarified information. We observed that artists are no longer operating on the periphery of research but conducting research themselves. And when artists become scientists, the lines of inquiry pursued become quite expansive.

- See more at:

Click to view 221 of 4,469 photos taken in 2013

Here’s what I’m “rolling out” this summer with the Parrish Art Museum.

The “Parrish Road Show” is an innovative exhibition and program series created to generate transformative convergences between artists, visitors and diverse members of Long Island’s East End community. The series will feature four artists’ projects and related programs that will be sited in atypical public spaces from the open landscape, to businesses and public parks. The Museum is commissioning new works by regional artists (temporary projects, site-specific sculpture, public works, or performances) that will activate spaces not normally associated with art exhibition, and consequently encourage unexpected encounters with art.

The “Parrish Road Show” is designed to broaden the traditional understanding of the function of an art museum, opening up a new dialogue to deeply connect creativity to everyday life. 

We have the "slow food" movement, why not the "slow thinking" movement?

I finished reading “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman and rushed it back to the John Jermaine Library for the next person waiting in line to read this NY Times Top Book of 2011. (If you don’t want to read it, just check out this amazing illustration by Eva-Lotte Lamm and you’ll get the gist.) Kahneman, a psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in Economics, has spent his career studying the psychology of judgement making. He describes dual cognitive processes at work in the human mind as System 1 and System 2; the former is an intuitive, automatic process of judgement (think gut reaction and mental shortcuts), the latter an analytical, rules-based slow process (think Math problems and SAT questions). These two systems work in concert to arrive at answers. I have sometimes mistakenly assumed (operative word here) that System 1 is a good place to reside most of the time – making decisions based on instinct and flow – but this book has radically changed my position. My take is that reliance on the kind of involuntary cognition that comes with System 1, while good for primitive man deciding which kind of large cat is going to eat him, has lead us to the present polarization of politics, and the media’s ease of manipulating information with little accountability. The media has a heyday with System 1 at the expense of the planet. As a population, we tend to be lazy when it comes to fact-checking and reasoning, despite the abundance of sources for such purposes. Overuse of System 1 thinking makes people susceptible to any news item that confirms one’s belief system and assumptions (we are especially vulnerable to the dominance of System 1 on hot button subjects like global warming, terrorism, patriotism) regardless of the facts. This is why I’m so attracted to science today, the field which holds a monopoly on System 2 thinking and “truth,” provided research isn’t funded entirely by private industry. There’s a compelling article that touches on this subject, “The State of the Scientist” by Steven Shapin in SEED.

“The increasing alignment of science with commercial institutions carries a risk: the loss in the public mind of the idea of an independent scientific voice — not truth speaking to power but power shaping what counts as truth.”

Japanese competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi will go to heaven

My Italian grandmother used to say, “On the road to heaven, you’ll have to eat all the food you’ve wasted.” As a child, I imagined choking down every curdled glass of milk and maggot ridden fish filet like a contestant in some Japanese game show. The image was extremely effective, and for the most part I cleaned my plate.

On this Cyber Monday, another image popped into my mind: What if everything I bought from this day forward was with me FOREVER? What if every unfinished meal, children’s toy, ink cartridge, sofa, TV, handbag, appliance, CD, cell phone, computer and so on, I’ve ever owned was with me for life? Would I be inclined to buy more things if there was no way to dispose of what I already had? Since my Grandmother’s generation, Americans have doubled the amount of waste we produce daily–  now 4.43 pounds per person each day. That means, my actual weight (120 lbs.) plus all the garbage I’ve disposed of (67,103 lbs.) is hovering around 67,223 pounds. I’m Cyber Monday obese.

I started uploading old videos to Vimeo today. Some are home movies shot in Houston, Texas– many in my former home/church/cinema (Aurora Picture Show)– and others are documentation of projects I’ve worked on over the last five years. When I began cataloging these items, I realized I have a surprising number of videos of carnivals, circuses, and amusement parks. I hope you, and the cloud, enjoy these unedited video snapshots.

Before I left Pittsburgh in December 2010, I started this list of people I met who contributed to the “scenius” there. Some of these folks were just passing through the academic universe of CMU, others are full-time residents.

Jennifer Baron
Artist, writer and musician Jennifer Baron is Pop Filter arts and culture editor for Pop City Media, and author of a column on historic signs for Western Pennsylvania History Magazine, a publication of the Senator John Heinz History Center. Baron runs Fresh Popcorn Productions, a locally made line of craft products, and is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade, Pittsburgh’s first and largest independent craft fair, which received the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council’s “People’s Choice Award” in 2007 and 2009. She is co-editor of the award-winning book, “Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania” (Carnegie Mellon Press, 2009). Baron also was a founding member of the Brooklyn band, the Ladybug Transistor (Merge Records), and has played in Saturnine and the New Alcindors. In 2009 she started the Pittsburgh-based girl band, the Garment District.

Kim Beck
Kim Beck is an artist and educator. She grew up in Colorado and currently lives and works in Pittsburgh and New York. She has exhibited widely including at the Walker Art Center, the Carnegie Museum of Art, Smack Mellon, Socrates Sculpture Park, and Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center. A recent fellow at the MacDowell Colony, she has participated in other residencies at Yaddo, the Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Program, the International Studio & Curatorial Program, Cité Internationale des Arts, Vermont Studio Center, and VCCA. She has received awards from ARS Electronica, Pollock-Krasner, Thomas J. Watson and Heinz Foundations and her artist’s book, A Field Guide to Weeds, was published through the Printed Matter Emerging Artist Publishing Program and is in its second edition. She is currently developing a project for the High Line in New York City for Fall, 2010. She received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and BA from Brandeis University.

Bob Bingham
Bob Bingham makes art that incorporates systems of growth, live plants and natural materials with mechanical and electronic devices. Through this combination of systems he addresses issues pertaining to a sustainable future where technology and nature exist in a symbiotic relationship.

Lowry Burgess
Lowry Burgess is an internationally renowned conceptual and environmental artist and educator. He has been an educator for over forty five years and is a Professor at Carnegie Mellon University where he is a Distinguished Fellow in the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry. As the former Dean of the College of Fine Arts he has founded and administered numerous departments and projects at the institutional level. Burgess served as coordinator of the Graduate Program at Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

Alisa Dix
Alisa is the founder of Third Termite Press, an independent, extraordinary letterpress studio. Dix is married to Greg Pierce, film collector, filmmaker, and Assistant Curator of Film & Video of the Warhol Museum.

Amisha Gadani
Amisha Gadani is an artist interested in naturally occurring forms and systems; from sinuous curves to swarming patterns and super organisms. Her work, often drawing from curious creatures and their behaviors, attempts to instill in her viewers a portion of the wonder and awe she finds in these subjects. From her underwater video of seductively descending monsters to her flock of motorized slivers of fabric her fascination with each subject beckons viewers to share in her hand-picked wonders of the world. She is currently working on a series of “animal homunculus” drawings to visually compare differences in sensory and motor adaptations in the animal kingdom, and a fourth animal defense inspired costume to partner her blowfish, porcupine and skink dresses, this time inspired by ink-squirting cephalopods. Amisha lives in Pittsburgh where she has been working for an interdisciplinary arts research lab within Carnegie Mellon University called The STUDIO for Creative Inquiry. Previously she worked at the hands-on Exploratorium Museum of science, art, and human perception in San Francisco as an educator, exhibit support fabricator, and assistant on various projects toward the development of their “Geometry Playground” exhibition.

Pablo Garcia
Pablo R. Garcia is the founder and principal of POiNT, a collaborative and multidisciplinary research studio based in Pittsburgh. POiNT is dedicated to experiments in the spatial arts–architecture, design, and the visual and performing arts, in a variety of scales from the portable to the urban. In addition to POiNT, Pablo is the Lucian and Rita Caste Chair in Architecture and Assistant Professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to joining Carnegie Mellon, Pablo was the 2007-2008 Muschenheim Fellow at the University of Michigan College of Architecture + Urban Planning. From 2004-2007 he worked as an architect and designer for Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Pablo has taught at Parsons The New School for Design and Princeton University. He holds architecture degrees from Cornell and Princeton Universities.

Lauren Goshinski
Lauren is a multi-talented artist, DJ, event producer, and co-founder of VIAPGH, a festival of music, art and technology.

HackPittsburgh is a non-profit, community-based workshop that allows members to come together and share skills & tools to pursue creative projects. Their membership is open to everyone but typically comprises inventors, engineers, scientists, programmers, hobbyists, artists, roboteers, families, entrepreneurs, and arts and crafts enthusiasts. Their focus is on collaboration, education, and community outreach. They are a benevolent group and do not promote or condone illegal activities. The term “hacking” is used in a benign sense, in the context of deconstructing and understanding objects and systems and re-purposing existing materials for new and innovative uses.

Riley Harmon
Riley Harmon is an artist currently pursuing an interdisciplinary MFA at Carnegie Mellon University. As an artist, he is particularly interested in the blurring of physical and virtual experiences, philosophical concepts of authenticity, and détournement.  He has exhibited work and performed throughout Europe and the United States. At the STUDIO, Riley constructed and manages our website and provides server, technical, and software support as needed. Riley comes from from the University of Oklahoma where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Media Arts with Distinction.

Justin Hopper
Is a writer, artist, music critic, and journalist, and the creator of Public Record and Old Weird Albion, among many other projects.

Incite! is a journal of experimental media & radical aesthetics, edited by Brett Kashmere, filmmaker and educator.

Ian Ingram
Artist, roboticist, animator and Lamettrian Geppettoist.

Brett Kashmere
Brett is a Canadian-born, Pittsburgh-based filmmaker, curator, and writer. Combining traditional research methods with materialist aesthetics and hybrid interfaces, Kashmere’s experimental documentaries explore the intersection of history and (counter-) memory, geographies of identity,and the politics of represenation. Supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the National Film Board of Canada, the Saskatchewan Art Board, and the Saskatchewan Filmpool Cooperative, his films and videos have screened internationally at the London Film Festival, Made in Video: International Video Art Festival in Copenhagen, Anthology Film Archives in New York, the Kassel Documentary Festival in Germany, Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center in Buffalo, the British Film Institute, and The Images Festival in Toronto.

Heather Knight
Heather is currently conducting her doctoral research at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute and running Marilyn Monrobot Labs in NYC, which creates socially intelligent robot performances and sensor-based electronic art.

Golan Levin
Golan Levin develops artifacts and events which explore supple new modes of reactive expression. His work focuses on the design of systems for the creation, manipulation and performance of simultaneous image and sound, as part of a more general inquiry into the formal language of interactivity, and of nonverbal communications protocols in cybernetic systems. Through performances, digital artifacts, and virtual environments, often created with a variety of collaborators, Levin applies creative twists to digital technologies that highlight our relationship with machines, make visible our ways of interacting with each other, and explore the intersection of abstract communication and interactivity. Levin has exhibited widely in Europe, America and Asia.

Patricia Maurides
Patricia is a visual artist and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art at Carnegie Mellon University whose professional training is multidisciplinary and includes graduate studies in both molecular biology and visual arts. She often works collaboratively on projects that intersect the biological sciences and the visual arts. Integrating her interests in molecular genetics and psychology, Maurides probes issues of identity and origins in her art practice. She frequently uses her body as subject, screen, or conduit for memory play. Maurides teaches “Art and Biology”, a studio laboratory artmaking course that explores interactions between art and biology.

Marek Michalowski
Marek Michalowski is a co-founder of BeatBots, a group of roboticists who design interactive characters and machines for entertainment, research, therapy, art and toys. Their popular robot Keepon was built to engage in nonverbal interaction with children, particularly those with autism. Michalowski holds a Ph.D. in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University and B.A. and M.S. degrees in Computer Science and Psychology from Yale University. He has held visiting researcher positions at institutions in Japan (ATR, NICT), Korea (KAIST), and France (CNRS); he is collaborating with a group of robotic artists on the New Artist project; and he has recently worked with Syyn Labs to design Rube Goldberg machines.

Jill Miller
Jill Miller received a BA from UC Berkeley in English Literature in 1999 and an MFA in Art from UCLA in 2004. At UCLA she worked with Paul McCarthy, John Baldessari, and Mary Kelly. Her work has been exhibited internationally; recent exhibitions include Collectors at 2nd Floor Projects in San Francisco and Playback at Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in France. Miller has received grants and awards from Arts Council England and D’Arcy Hayman Foundation, among others. Her work has been collected around the world, including a recent acquisition by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. She currently teaches at the San Francisco Art Institute and the California College of Arts.

Jonathan Minard
Jonathan is an artist and filmmaker who investigates human experience in extreme environments and the evolutionary dynamic between nature and culture. Recent documentaries have featured communities of extremophiles; the nomads of Mongolia, deep sea oceanographers, scientists searching for extraterrestrial civilizations and artists working in outer space. Communities of interest include the nomads of Mongolia, deep sea oceanographers and astrobiologists, the SETI program and the emerging culture of humans in outer space. At the STUDIO, Jonathan is specifically involved with the Moon Arts Project where he records certain events and meetings and directs and edits all associated documentaries. Jonathan has a joint degree in Fine Art and Anthropology from Carnegie Mellon and previously worked at his alma mater’s College of Fine Arts as an advisor to prospective joint degree students.

Marge Myers
Margaret Myers is the Associate Director of the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry. She has over 25 years of experience in managing programs for artists and has a track record of success in creating environments for creativity and in assisting artists in finding funds for their work. She was previously the Executive Director of Pittsburgh Filmmakers and a grants program director in Media Arts and Theatre at the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. She has been a grant panelist for numerous agencies and an Adjunct Professor for the Arts Management Program. She served as principal investigator for several projects including the Creativity in Collective Project funded by the NEA and for the Pittsburgh Creativity Project.

Eric Paulos
Eric Paulos is the Director of the Living Environments Lab and an Assistant Professor in theHuman-Computer Interaction Institute with courtesy faculty appointments in the Robotics Institute within the School of Computer Science and in the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University. Previously Eric was Senior Research Scientist at Intel Research in Berkeley, California where he founded the Urban Atmospheres research group – challenged to employ innovative methods to explore urban life and the future fabric of emerging technologies across public urban landscapes. His areas of expertise span a deep body of research territory in urban computing, sustainability, green design, environmental awareness, social telepresence, robotics, physical computing, interaction design, persuasive technologies, and intimate media. Eric is a leading figure in the field of urban computing, coining the term in 2004, and a regular contributor, editorial board member, and reviewer for numerous professional journals and conferences. Eric received his PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from UC Berkeley where he helped launch a new robotic industry by developing some of the first internet tele-operated robots including Space Browsing helium filled blimps and Personal Roving Presence devices (PRoPs).

Richard Pell
Richard Pell is a founding member of the highly acclaimed art and engineering collective, the Institute for Applied Autonomy. His work with IAAincludes several robotic, web and biologically based projects that call into question the imperatives that drive technological development. IAA projects such as the robotic GraffitiWriter, iSee and TXTmob have been exhibited in art, activist and engineering contexts such as the ZKM in Karlsruhe, Mass MoCA, CAC in Cincinnati, Australian Center for the Moving Image, Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Hackers On Planet Earth and the International Conference On Robotics And Automation. IAA projects have been chosen for an Award of Distinction and two Honorable Mentions at the Prix-Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria and were selected for RES Magazine’s 10 Best New Artists of 2005. His narrative and documentary videos explore the individual’s relationship to authority. His most recent video documentary entitled, Don’t Call Me Crazy On The 4th Of July, won the Best Michigan Director Award at the Ann Arbor Film Festival in 2005, took 1st prize at the Iowa International Documentary Film Festival has screened in numerous festivals internationally. In 2007 he was awarded a prestigious Rockefeller New Media Fellowship for the establishment of a new museum entitled The Center for PostNatural History.

Greg Pierce
Assistant Film and Video Curator at Warhol Museum, film collector extraordinaire with a specific interest in home movies and camera originals.

Melissa Ragona
Ragona teaches a range of courses in the College of Fine Arts at CMU including MFA Academic Seminar, sophomore required surveys in both Modern and Contemporary Visual Culture, as well as various intermediate and upper level seminars in art history, film, sound, aesthetics, and critical theory. Ragona’s critical and creative work focuses on sound design, film theory and new media practice and reception. By forging approaches from the disciplines of film studies, art history, and new media technologies, her work has sought to present a more complex aesthetic, theoretical, and historical foundation for the analysis of contemporary time-based arts. Her current book project, Readymade Sound: Andy Warhol’s Recording Aesthetics examines Warhol’s tape recording projects from the mid-sixties until the late 70s in light of audio experiments in modern art as well as contemporary practices of pattern matching and information visualization.

Rossum’s is a working group for robotic artists and engineers. The group is devoted to creating and showing new art work which combines the digital and mechanical in embodied forms. The Rossum’s group meets semi-regularly to discuss practical and conceptual issues in our work. We also often invite external speakers to present at our meetings in a relaxed seminar format. Most of the group is concentrated in Pittsburgh, but the wider Rossum’s network includes members in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Indiana.

Jon Rubin
Jon Rubin is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work explores the social dynamics of public places and the idiosyncrasies of individual and group behavior. His projects include starting a radio station in an abandoned steel town that only plays the sound of an extinct bird, developing a hypnotized human robot army, running an autonomous nomadic art school, and operating a working restaurant that produces a live talk show with its customers. He has exhibited at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico; The Rooseum, Sweden; Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Germany; Nemo Film Festival, Paris; as well as in backyards, living rooms, and street corners.

Burr Settles
1. computer scientist specializing in machine learning and its applications in language, biology, and social computing.  2. singer-songwriterand musician, proficient at several instruments and known to perform live on occasion [see also delicious pastries].  3. freelance graphic designer, web developer, and mixing/mastering engineer for audio-type stuff.  4. founder of the annual february album writing month challenge [see].  5. traveler, lover of languages, wordplay addict, and armadillo enthusiast.

Natalie Settles
Natalie is an artist who engages the often-parallel concerns of art and science. For over a decade her work has lead to collaborative projects with researchers in biochemistry, botany, physiology, and zoology. In 2007 she lived and worked in Cambridge, UK independently researching Victorian design and topics in biology for her work in the Natural Motif series of drawings on paper and wall. Settles is a 2008 Wisconsin Arts Board Fellow. She is currently based in Pittsburgh, PA where she teaches in the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University and is the artist in residence at the Tonsor Lab for Plant Evolutionary Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh.

Susie Silver
Suzie Silver is an artist working primarily in video and performance. Her works have screened at the New Museum and Whitney Museum in New York; the Worldwide Video Festival in The Hague; Documenta IX Video Festival, Kassel; the London Film Festival; The Moscow Film Festival, gay and lesbian film and video festivals in Austin, Chicago, Hong Kong, Houston, Los Angeles, Melbourne, New York, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Stockholm, and Tel Aviv; and dozens of other venues worldwide.

Eric Singer
Eric Singer is a Brooklyn-based musician, artist, engineer and programmer with 20 years of arts and multimedia programming, engineering and performance experience. He holds a BS in Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon; a Diploma in Music Synthesis (Magna Cum Laude) from Berklee College of Music; and an MS in Computer Science from New York University. He has performed and lectured throughout the world with electronic musical instruments, as well as touring and recording with many bands on tenor, alto, and baritone saxes. He is a founding member of the Brooklyn-based arts collaborative The Madagascar Institute, and he has contributed to many of the group’s spectacular projects in addition to reaching the semi-finals with the MI-originating team “The Brooklyn Benders” on The Learning Channel’s ‘Junkyard Wars’ television show. He is also the founder of LEMUR (League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots), a group of artists and technologists creating robotic musical instruments. In addition to directing LEMUR, he currently works as an independent Arts Engineer and Consultant.

Axel Straschnoy
Straschnoy is a visual artist born in Buenos Aires in 1978. He lives and works in Helsinki.

Astria Suparak
Astria Suparak, a curator known for her efforts to highlight emerging and international artists, was appointed director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Miller Gallery, effective March 1, 2008. Suparak’s cutting-edge exhibitions often employ a variety of media, from painting and photography, to craft and electronic arts.

Jer Thorp
Jer Thorp is an artist and educator from Vancouver, Canada, currently living in New York. A former geneticist, his digital art practice explores the many-folded boundaries between science and art. Recently, his work has been featured by The New York Times, The Guardian, BusinessWeek and the CBC.

Mary Tremonte
Mary Tremonte is an artist, educator, activist and DJ. She is a member of Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative. Mary is a Youth Programs Coordinator at the Andy Warhol Museum and volunteers at Artists Image Resource and the Braddock Neighborhood Silkscreen Studio. She is consumed with printmaking, totally teens, collaboration, communication and the politics of social space, especially the dance-party.

Douglas Vakoch
Douglas Vakoch is the Director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute, as well as the only social scientist employed by a SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) organization. Dr. Vakoch researches ways that different civilizations might create messages that could be transmitted across interstellar space, allowing communication between humans and extraterrestrials even without face-to-face contact. He is particularly interested in how we might compose messages that would begin to express what it’s like to be human.

Dawn Weleski
Dawn is a multi-disciplinary artist and co-founder with Jon Rubin of Conflict Kitchen.

Dan Wilcox
Dan is an artist, programmer, and performer also known as Robot Cowboy.

Garth Zeglin
Garth is a roboticist, artist, and co-founder of Rossums. He is a researcher at the Robotics Institute, and specializes in “minimalist mechanisms, compliant manipulation, and legged locomotion.”

Via Boing Boing

Earlier this year, I simultaneously read Jaron Lanier’s You Are Not A Gadget and Steven B. Johnson’s Everything Bad Is Good for You, and found it, as you can imagine, confounding. Lanier argues that digital technology is reductive of human intelligence and stunts innovation (because of short-sighted design which results in technological “lock-in” and subsequent “sedimentation,” described as “when digital representations of ideas become causal forces in the evolution of those ideas.” Meanwhile “blue skies” Johnson argues that our engagement with technology (e.g., video games) raises IQ scores and develops cognitive abilities that can’t be learned from books. I find myself firmly rooted in both camps, despite their contradictory arguments. My work as an artist and curator takes full advantage of the speed and efficiency provided by the internet’s “hive mind,” but I am also acutely aware of the limitations and lightweight quality of research and communication that takes place exclusively online. This topic has been poured over in books like The Shallows by Nicholas G. Carr and a tsunami of newspaper and magazine stories about how the internet is making us stupiddistractedfragmentedsmartermore productive, and friendlier. Read the rest of this post on my Glasstire blog, We Have The Technology.

Just a few paces away from me at Carnegie Mellon University, the massive computer affectionately nicknamed “NELL” (Never Ending Learning Language) is learning English by surfing the web 24 hours per day. I personally am unlearning English by doing so, but that’s another story (ba dump bump). NELL has been continuously learning linguistic semantics through trial and error since January 2010, and was developed by a team of CMU researchers with support from DARPA, Google and Yahoo (via a research supercomputing cluster).

NELL reads the Web 24 hours a day, seven days a week, learning language like a human would — cumulatively, over a long period of time. It parses text on the Internet for ontological categories, like “plants,” “music” and “sports teams,” then uses contextual clues to sort out what things belong in which categories, like “Nirvana is a grunge band” and “Peyton Manning plays for the Indianapolis Colts.” And, perhaps most Skynet-horror-inducing, “anger is an emotion.” – Claire Evans, A Computer that Learns the Hard Way, io9

I recently signed up for NELL’s twitter feed to be among the 1700+ followers who are helping NELL categorize terms accurately. NELL’s peppy twitter bio reads, “I am a machine reading research project at Carnegie Mellon, periodically tweeting facts I read. Please follow me, and reply with corrections so I can improve!” When I clicked “follow,” I was NOT expecting the daily comic relief that the childlike NELL provides. Every few hours I get a tweet from NELL, such as:

I think “Longnose Sucker” is an #Animal

I think “tsuyu sauce” is a #Condiment

I think “Battle of Invernahavon” is a #MilitaryConflict“ and

I think “www.epilepsy” is a #Machine-learningConference.”

But I had to pause to ROFLGASM when on November 3 NELL tweeted:

“I think Sarah Palin is a #male.”

Read more about NELL in the NYTimes article, Aiming to Learn as We Do, a Machine Teaches Itself by Steve Lohr, or visit the official NELL project site.

The author's own conversation with a computer at Exploratorium

Hal 9000 on view at Carnegie Science Center