A staging server is a software term used to denote an environment where you can test software or websites or other computer services before they are ready for "production" — i.e., ready for the world. This notion was very comforting in my time at the School for Poetic Computation both because we are explicitly interested in the computational here but also that everything I've worked on here is something that I don't feel is ready for the world. How can it be, after less than 12 weeks in this program and less time than that attempting to make things that are truly poetic? Especially when this is my first time attempting the poetic?
This piece is necessarily conceptual and perhaps a little recursive. By reading this statement, or be reading the texts, it means you are participating in the piece (which can get lazy, and I likely won't ever do something quite this direct again). But when you enter the piece, it contains artifacts, installations, historical fragments and other documents. It's a performance within a performance of how to develop a practice. I think.
Staging Server's primary artifacts are a collection of short texts:
- Happiness, Prudence, Defeat : A collection of statements about the the work I have tried to do here. These are presented more seriously in the way the "art world" seems to want to treat things, though none of them have achieved enough form yet to be treated seriously by me, let alone the world. I say this not to cheat, but because Lauren wouldn't give me an entire room to test my stuff properly ;)
- A DOT RUN: notes dot app: Most of my writing takes the form of little notes to myself in my Notes app on the subway. These are the beginnings of conversations I want to have, and why I want to be making art, I suppose. To be able to have these conversations, forever — what a lovely way to spend a large part of your life.
- PRACTICE/PROGRESS/PROGRESS/PRACTICE : I've tempted to be more open in very practical and emotionally honest ways about what all of this has cost me. I've discussed things like relationships, education, mental health, finances and more — all things I've had to navigate while answering the question of what a practice is. I was not able to display this due to lack of time and hope that this does not remain unfinished. We'll see!
Staging Server's secondary artifacts are works-in-progress of pieces:
- The script for Manifesto Boi , a performance piece consisting of text generated from a corpus of 50+ significant manifestos written by white men throughout history. The piece is meant to explore and question the position of privilege inherent in the ability to write a manifesto in the first place, and question who tends to write manifestos as a result. The code for the generated text is written in Python using the Markovify and SpaCy libraries.
- Two large photographs displayed next to each other from Every L Stop (First Car, Last Car) . These photographs are image averages of every L stop taken from the same position and from two different perspectives of someone who is 6'2" and someone who is 5'2". This piece explores the importance and often unquestioned experience of the world from people of different body shapes and sizes. This work is printed photographs built using iPhone camera and openFrameworks.
- Three large strips of canvas with a computer projection and a laptop with a giant medieval eye image on it from Apportionment (Dear Vera) . On each canvas are multiple lines and the same medieval eye from the laptop. When a viewer looks at the computer, the lines shift and move jaggedly and the eyes on the canvas resolve into individual and unique words. The piece assigns these words fatalistically and explores themes of judgement from both oneself, other people and machines — people are assigned a value and then it is fixed forever. This work uses on canvas, webcam, openFrameworks/C++ and Python.
These texts examine my time here at SFPC in very different ways but were all prompted by the things I've worked on at my time here — my attempts to make the computational poetic, and sometimes the other way around.
These works are described later in this brief booklet, but encompass installation, performance, generative text, printed photography, and more. It's amusing that SFPC both disdains the commercial aspects of tech but still uses their language — especially when it comes to iteration and making things. The pieces I have made here are, I think, not just sketches or studies on a subjects, but something a bit more. They are at the moment where they need to be seen by others with everything basically working technically. Many of them are not working yet and some of them were modified in the middle of the installation. But, they are in the state where they need to be seen by others I trust to understand how to make them work.
The audience for Staging Server are those that I've encountered at SFPC. As a work for the broader public, it is likely uninteresting, but it's a performance for those I've met here and that have impacted my life so greatly — teachers, educators, mentors, students and others. I hope it elicits something from them in the way that my time at SFPC has elicited something from me.