TXTTONE is my final project for Live Web.  It’s a web browser and SMS-based collaborative musical instrument that is meant to be performed in a room full of people with laptops and cellphones.  I wanted to create an interactive and collaborative musical experienced based on the ubiquitous technologies that we normally have with us at all times.  I was also interested in the play between the synchronous and asynchronous and explore the phase effects that result from TXTTONE being played on multiple computers simultaneously.  TXTTONE is programmed in AJAX/PHP, with SMS support by TextMarks.   I did the sound design in Logic Pro; I was going for “wind chimes meets dial tone.”

Check it out here.

Live Web Midterm Part 3: Monkeys Watching Monkeys

Continued from Part 2: Monkeys Watching Monkeys

Monkey Think
Monkeys often evokes a strong emotional response among people. Monkeys as symbols are also charged with social and political meaning.  We often anthropomorphize monkeys and project our own human anxieties onto them. Monkeys drive us bananas. They are Curious George one minute and the next minute they are giving you Ebola or AIDS or ripping off your face. Horror lies just under the surface of cute. 

I worked this week with Kristin Loeb on Monkeys Watching Monkeys, a streaming web video installation that deals with the mediated gaze, reflections and narcissism as they relate to how people look at monkeys, and how we think monkeys look at people and how monkeys look at each other.




More monkeys / This is is really disturbing / WHOA!

Monkey Do
We started with the Conference.as code that Shawn gave us in class, but we came across some mysterious problems. For some reason the compiled SWFs only worked part of the time on Kristin’s computer and never actually worked on mine. (Does Snow Leopard hate Monkeys or what?) So we moved on to some off-the-shelf solutions, trying first iChat, then Skype, and finally USTREAM.tv to create a series of simian scenarios. The goal was to position webcams and screens in a way to create an “infinity effect” of primate viewing pleasure.

Documentation outtakes on Flickr

Finally, we created the be beginnings of the Monkey Show, a webpage featuring two USTREAM channels and a Twitter widget that displays the latest tweets with the work “monkey” in them. We hope to trick this page out with more live monkey media in the near future.


Monkey Learn
Bandwidth is an issue
There are mysterious bugs in the system
Even off-the-shelf solutions have their limitations
This installation would probably work better and be more aesthetically pleasing with just cameras and monitors (with the laptops hidden)
The installation would probably have worked better with analog video
Lighting and camera placement are tricky
If only our monkey talent were this well trained:

Live Web Midterm Part 2: monkey watching monkey watching monkey…

Continued from my previous post: Live Web Midterm Idea

This week I have continued to develop my idea for my Live Web midterm.  My project is called Monkey Watching Monkey Watching Monkey… It combines live streaming video with elements of Nam June Paik’s TV Buddha and The Infinite Cat Project. I want to play with the idea of the mediated gaze, reflections and narcissism.  I have also been reviewing some of the concepts we dealt with in my Animals and People class last spring.  I’ve previously said that I like looking at animals through webcams and in zoos.  But what do animals see when they look at us?  What do they see when they see themselves reflected in a mirror or on a video screen?  I want to create an infinite loop (or more like spiral) of live internet video of monkeys watching monkeys watching monkeys, ad infinitum.  It would be awesome to try this with real monkeys, but in the meantime, I’ll demonstrate proof of concept with virtual monkeys.  Starting off from the Infinite Cat idea, but with monkeys:


Lemur photo by Sandrine Vuillermoz, published in National Geographic.




Imagine the above scenario with live video, multiple computers, and streaming online.  What if I replaced the lemur photo with the last photo with me in it.  Would that create an infinite loop of monkeys looking at monkeys?

Live Web Week 3: Internet Radio

Live Web week 3:

Investigate existing internet radio stations and give an impression on your blog regarding their level of interactivity/audience engagement and so on.

The internet radio station I listen to most is NPR, which offers a combination of live streaming content, streamed content on demand, and downloadable MP3s of select programming. There is an NPR community page which serves up “community curated” content by displaying the most commented stories, most recommended stories, and most viewed stories. Users can give feedback about individual stories by commenting, recommending, and sharing the stories via social media platforms. Too bad there isn’t a kind of live feedback system where internet listeners can interact with shows in progress. I would be interesting to see some experiments where listeners could IM live with show hosts similar to call-in talk shows.

We learned how to set up a streaming server with Nicecast and how to embed streaming audio on a webpage (not currently prodcasting).

Live Web Week 1

Our first assignment in Live Web was to tell a story via a text based synchronous medium online. I was assigned to do it on IRC, which I had never used before. I told my story about an interesting experience I had in San Francisco over the summer.

I found a chat room with a name that looked innocent enough.  But then I noticed the not-so-innocent screen names of those in the room.


Despite all the people in the chat room.  Not much was going on, so I thought I would just start telling my story and see what would happen.  I am “odietamo”:


I didn’t get a response for 15 minutes, and when I did, it was a one-word racial slur.  I signed off soon after that.  Not the most exciting introduction to the world of IRC.  The chat room name seemed general enough, but I couldn’t really tell what the purpose of it was.  I don’t think my story was particularly suited to the medium.  I did not know anybody in the “audience,” and even in real life, it is the kind of story that I wouldn’t normally tell to strangers without a context.  In real life, I would modify how I told the story (if I were to tell it at all) based on the reactions of the people I was telling it to.  In this case, I got no meaningful feedback, so I was basically just broadcasting into the ether.