Wednesday, December 16, 2015

2015 Part 2: Stuff I Never Told You About Boxes

This is a story of what I've done and what I've as yet only imagined. Of how I never imagined I would do what I ended up doing.

It is also about how meaning and story elevate a thing into an experience.

When is it Real? Boxes I Have Not Made (Yet)

I've been collecting handmade boxes since about 1967, when I bought one at a craft fair. My dad picked up on this and gave me some nice ones over the years.

Around 1992, things were changing for me and that gave me a sense of freedom and possibility. I drew some boxes I wanted to make. I had the high idea of crafting them of silver.

In the fall of 2014, things that were set in place in 1992 seemed to come to completion. I was very happy about leaving software design and development permanently after working 30 years in the field. I was becoming an artist full time.

One of the unhappy aspects of making software is how fast everything changes. The world it operates in changes so quickly that products become completely unusable in just a few years. Very little of what I had made in those three decades could be run on current devices. The businesses I had worked for had transformed, the consumer products I had worked on had their day in the market.

There were a few interactive projects I had developed on my own. I wanted to continue to share and expand them. What would be the point of rewriting them in some new environment, where they would soon become unusable?

I began to imagine bringing these projects out of the virtual and into the physical world.

I have a lot of opinions about how both electricity and digital information are not sustainable. But, I am not going to argue them here. Those opinions inspired me to start working on certain kinds of project designs with real-world, non-electrical, interactivity.

One of these projects has to do with poetry generation -- not natural language generation, but specific poems with thousands of possibilities.

Others have to do with discovery, divination, unlocking, and, of course, stories.

Some are boxes, others are performances, like "The Color Game" performed a few years ago with a group of visual artists.  The most recent of these performance-based pieces is a work-in-progress, a theatrical piece with disjuncted storytelling.

I started to design the inner workings of the poetry generation box in February, 2015. By March, this project was interrupted by another, very compelling project: Sanchez Art Center 50/50 Show.

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