Computational Arts

Session 11: Crystal Wifi, John Dee and Vittsjö

Previous to the session in Goldsmiths I checked in with Jules via Skype as she’s currently out of the country. She’s currently pushing on her dissertation before moving onto Hammer.js and OSC integration. I emphasised that it’s critical to get all technical connectivity issues out of the way as soon as possible. We found the following links which she’s agreed to take a look at before our next session in two weeks.

Unfortunately, Diane was unable to attend, so Jayson and I got down to discussing his homework from the previous session:

  1. Re-approach Theo about computational relevancy
  2. Continue with crystal growing around the computer case
  3. Get kit list worked out for show and consider the layout
  4. Ask the technician team about the availability of vitrines and plinths to display objects within
  5. Do some investigations about how light is cast through his crystals
  6. Continue to work on text based Game of Life simulation and how it can be incorporated into his show
  7. Look at museum displays for ideas on how to label his project and individual pieces

Jayson emailed Theo about the computational relevancy of his work – he got confirmation that he’s taking a good approach overall – he’s planning on having at least one screen at the exhibition display the experimentation he’s been doing around Game of Life style simulations. He’s very interested in the idea of petrified or crystallised data.

Jayson is planning on crystallising a Wifi router for the show, and we had a discussion about how he could have a customised splash screen that would display when people connect to it. I referenced the Star Wars ASCII Telnet project, but we realised that it would be technically too challenging to expect people to Telnet in a gallery context. We went on to discuss the possibility of doing a JS injection on every web page browsed through the Crystal Wifi, a legal man in the middle attack. It looks like Jayson will have to set up a proxy server, running locally.

The attempt to grow a crystals around a large computer case was a failure – he’d need a far larger container to grow in – with gallons of boiling liquid safely contained. He did have an interesting failure with an attempted crystallisation of an old mobile phone:

Jayson visited the Science Museum archive to view John Dee’s crystal amulet – something that took months of arrangement. He’s going to return next week in order to view some accompanying documents. He feels he could do a whole project on John Dee alone!

Quoting from the British Museum website:

John Dee (1527-1609) was an English mathematician and astrologer interested in divination using crystals and mirrors. This purple crystal was used for curing disease and predicting the future by looking for symbols or the ‘ghosts’ of people in the stone. Dee claimed that this crystal was given to him by the angel Uriel in November 1582, and that Uriel had instructed Dee and his assistant Edward Kelley (1555-1597/8) on how to make the Philosopher’s Stone – one of the goals of alchemy. The crystal was entrusted to Dee’s son, Arthur (1597-1651) who passed it on to Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654) as a reward for curing his liver complaints. Culpeper was a physician and alchemist who used the crystal to try and cure illness, until 1651, when he believed a demonic ghost burst out from it.

Jayson has viewed the available display equipment (vitrines and plinths) from the Goldsmiths stores and has decided to attempt to customise a series of Vittsjö stands to make his own custom display for the graduating show. He did consider aluminium extrusions and 3D printed connections, but decided that he liked the look of the Ikea designs, especially with their glass inserts.

Reference for the installation look Jayson is aiming for.

In terms of content, he’s planning on displaying the following things:

  1. Four crystal objects: ethernet cable, bluetooth headset, router and hard drive.
  2. A map of the world with timeline of crystallisation narrative – he’s currently working out if these should be printed or displayed on a screen for maximum edit-ability up to show time.
  3. The game of life crystallisation visualisation
  4. I suggested a crystal mirror or display of his crystal mask in some way – something selfie-able. I referenced the seaside mask cut out displays that are endemic to English resorts. He is going to research something realtime, possibly using machine learning. I said that something full length – even only analogue would be great.
A previous installation of Jayson’s work.

He’s been trying different coloured lighting through his crystals – it turns out that white light is the only one that works – a specific colour tends to produce poor results. We discussed the possibility of making a crystallised disco ball – something that could effect the whole space. I set the following homework:

  1. Get one Ikea object and attempt assembly
  2. Keep going on final kit list – especially around screens and printed output
  3. Experiment with splash screens and proxy injection on crystal wifi
  4. Continue working on timeline and map content
  5. Consider audio – what does crystallisation sound like?
  6. Think about selfies – how do you put visitors in a crystal world? How do they become Crystal Punks?