2D Art Over Time

Courtesy the raspberrypi.org site

A personal question that I ruminate on quite often (and is probably the reason for this site) is what is the future of art? I’m specifically talking about the fine art part – painting and drawing.

Currently, I don’t have a comfortable answer. There’s probably going to be some sort of evolution involved. I’ve seen such an evolution happen in the design world. I’m not sure it’s fully complete yet but what the results look like so far isn’t as exciting as I’d like it to be.

With that ominous and probably depressing intro, I’d like to present something that gives me quite a bit of hope. Tom Whitwell has used an e-paper display to show a movie over a period of a month. While that’s cool all by itself, I think the technique could be a really interesting platform for fine art projects.

Art could now exist in a changing state – a sort of evolution. Or maybe life-cycle. It becomes even more intriguing when you think of the possibilities in just those two descriptions. I think a commentator on the page (that also explains how to do it) called it ‘living art’ – that’s also an interesting way to think of its potential, as if it continues to play forever.

Once again from Raspberrypi.org

The important part to consider is the speed at which the image changes. Or lack of speed. It’s certainly not a movie. It’s not 12-30fps. by any means. The slow changes in image means each key frame is considered much more than in any sort of video. I’d figure that the artist could also utilize frame rate as a tool.

That means an artist can spend the time on each frame as one would with a conventional 2D art piece. That’s the aspect that gives me a bit of hope and a potential answer to my previously mentioned ruminations.

The Art of the Tactility of Sound – Steve Parker

Two things I struggle with is how music will continue to be its own experience to the listener, especially as technology keeps developing new ways of interactivity as well as a similar struggle with determining the same about art. Times when I really work to consider these things, I arrive at the thought that both fine art, as conventionally known, and music, as conventionally consumed, feel like they are hopelessly ‘flat’ in today’s world. This seems especially so in the face of what’s being done with video game technology, AR and so on. 

Installations like Steve Parker’s Ghost Box I think does a great job of breaking up that ‘flatness’ of presentation of both mediums. The music looks to become something tactile and engaging in its human-scale topography that can be explored. A lot of how this works is talked about in a recent exhibition he had at the CUE Art Foundation – which I’m also going to follow and maybe visit in the near future.

Over the number of installations Steve has put together, he looks to have created experiences that can be seemingly different at every exposure. To me, that’s something special and exciting – especially when thinking about the relevance of the two artforms going forward.

Code as Poetry, Poetry as Code?

Code Poetry Slam, sponsored by Stanford University’s Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Language

An article written as a conversation, Code and Poetry, a conversation lays the foundation for opening the door to allowing the thinking that both concerns are perhaps the same thing. I’d really like it to take the thought process a bit further and explore the ‘art’ of code or the programmatic rule sets that poetry pursuits find themselves operating within to intertwine the two further but it’s nice nonetheless to set the mind to accept the concept that code perhaps is a form of poetry as form in itself beyond what it achieves on execution.

Would code eventually be written for artistic qualities rather than functional in the future? Will there be a programming language developed that is functional but has the constructs of a villanelle or other ‘conventional’ poetic form?  Or some sort of combination of both? Interesting to think about…

Internet ‘Artifacts’

While not inherently ‘digital art’ or ‘experimental experiences’ this article talking about ‘Internet Artifacts’ by Richard Cooke has a peculiar connection to the Meme post a while back. The article itself tends to rove a bit. But the landscape it traverses is enough of a thought provoking look at modern influence through digital means that it begs to be shared.

I could almost see that any one of these ‘artifact’ aspects the author touches on could be the basis for an artistic exploration or social commentary experience all by itself. Even the more concrete example of an artifact developing into something of a societal wave from such an innocuous birth at the beginning of the article temps the construction of more pointed fabrications, in my thinking.

The intriguing connection to some of the other subjects on Of Peculiar Utility is how a lot of these examples seemed to have come into being through seemingly a random fashion – which is really quite similar to the basis of a lot of the artworks in the orbit of the manifesto of this site.

The article is certainly worth a read, if only you’re a fan of William Gibson’s later work. Enjoy!


The Oddball Drum Machine


UI design is something that has, at certain points in time, an amazing amount of innovation. When any new software technology starts out, that’s when we see the most inventive come forward. Eventually, though the more interesting eventually gets beaten out of the market and we’re left with what amounts to VB widgets designed for confusing the human mind and hand instead. But sometimes, something new shows up further down in a technology’s maturity.

Such is the case with Oddball. There’s a real interesting dynamic being brought to music creation – a way to engage with software-based music making that proves to be something that could at least open up how we all think about creating music.  It’s also a nice way to break out of standard music software paradigms, which is good because if we all don’t watch out, we could end up making what’s easiest with the UI instead of what should be made.

For instance, with the bouncing aspect there’s an opportunity to create second and third degree actions after the initial. Sort of like having a sequential kick but now that second kick is nearly infinitely adjustable on the fly. I’m intrigued about how programmable the ball is in terms of what happens at each bounce and how assignable they would be. So yeah, I’m going to get one.

The product looks to have closed it’s Kickstarter already with flying colors and now has an Indiegogo set up with a pledge to ship in March of 2019. Create Digital Music has a better write up of the tech than I do, so I suggest for more heading there first.

The Power of Memes

Verge has a really nifty article about the social effects of memes and how they have the opportunity to impact the way society opperates – both good and bad. It’s a very interesting long-read article, including such quote gems as:

” …they are incredibly efficient at guiding viewers toward socially acceptable group behavior and away from actions that aren’t. Memes can keep people in check, allowing them to correct behaviors framed as unsavory or distasteful, because the core feature of viral content is its ability to tap into common, relatable emotions or experiences.”

I’m putting this up here because I think we all at some point wish our work to have the capability to have some sort of social impact. It’s interesting that it doesn’t have to take the shape of an installation piece, it could be just a bit of well-designed Photoshop kludge collage work.

The Age-old Art Question in the Machine Learning Era

Recently, through a bit of an obfuscated path, I happened across a group called Obvious who are working on using machine learning to create artwork. While I’ve (and I’m sure most here) heard of ML being used to categorize and quantify art, it’s interesting to see if ML can actually create on its own – or if it can only elaborately remix prior work.


Looking to find more about the group, I eventually stumbled up on this Medium article where it discusses the use of ML and whether it constitutes ‘art’ at all.

Curiously, I recall the same sorts of arguments being constructed around generative efforts ten or so years ago. Both arguments orbit around the degree of the human artist’s ‘hand’ in creating the work and at what level of involvement is necessary before the work becomes art. A tricky question to say the least. While purely generative pursuits had to fight against the notion that one was picking through iterations of randomness to find a usable gem, I’m thinking ML is probably going to fight the notion that it’s an elaborate remix platform – where people search through variants to find a usable gem.

For me, I’d like to see how the machine learning system creates the work and at what level is it combining prior work or creating new techniques. There is a link to a GitHub repository so I guess I have my opportunity to look under the hood.


The Peculiar Utility Manifesto

At any one point in time there’s a globe of really amazing artists, designers, musicians, architects (and other roles for whom I don’t even have the right name for) creating amazing things at the intersection of art and technology, but it’s amazingly difficult – at least for me – to find these projects and people.

I also know that at the very least, cross-pollination is the elixir that creates the conditions for a lot of these people and projects to develop truly awe-inspiring things. For all my travels, I haven’t been really successful at finding a site that brings all these disparate seekers together. I am aiming to make OfPeculiarUtility.com that site.

Therefore the goal of this site will be to draw attention to cutting edge, creative projects, people, material and technology, as well as to dive into some of the surrounding esoteria and background. The site will hopefully create connections and maybe advance some thinking in the process. More specifically, I’d like the site to explore the specialized software, programming languages and tangible technologies implemented or in development and how people are using them to create art, design or other sorts of composition that are beyond what’s commonly thought possible – even explore some of the historical projects, people and ideas that what we do now is built on.

Conversely, the site will not talk about things like minimalist interior design, the history of common typefaces, Basel Art Fair “contemporary” art, design mantras, the 10 best WordPress plugins or explore handmade craftsmanship as a pursuit in itself. There’s plenty of sites out there for each of them, one more site isn’t as necessary.

And most importantly, I’d like this to be for the artists and maybe someday also by the artists. Further, I hope the posts might become a sort of place where ideas can be further considered and expanded, so comments on.

This probably won’t be easy and currently I’m just one person. So, fellow traveler, experimenter, and/or innovator, if you see something that fits with the tenants above, please send it to me and I’ll do my best to share.  After all, it was the artists, while not always inventing technology, who were the trailblazers in showing the world what new developments could do – and that still holds but now we should be doing a better job of knitting a global community to share and advance.