Monthly Archive for July, 2009

Favify : Houston Expansion Pack

A Feverish Dream is going to be on hiatus next week, but here is a Favify update to tide you over. This time around we have three Houston-based entities, all conveniently found on Glasstire’s Links page.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Spacetaker Wax by the Fire
Spacetaker Wax by the Fire

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

Spacetaker and Wax by the Fire come to us from the "Artsites We Heart" section, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston finally qualified thanks to adding a favicon this summer. (There remain many more on this list that have yet brand themselves in 16 x 16 pixel form — hop to it!)

I like the favicon variety of this particular grouping. The MFAH went with the simple block "H" used in their logo brand, and it holds up very well at 16×16. Spacetaker, a non-profit that provides artists with resources and tools to help build their professional careers, also uses their logo as their favicon. The logo is fairly complex, so shrinking it down to 16×16 and then bringing it back up again essentially obliterates it. I find the resulting sculpture interesting and mysterious, even if it’s not recognizable. Finally, Wax by the Fire is an art blog by Rachel Hooper, the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Curatorial Fellow at the University of Houston’s Blaffer Gallery. (In case you’re wondering: yes they’re on the list; no they do not have a favicon.) Since her blog has no official logo, per se, Rachel has used a fragment of a painting by Houston artist Jonathan Leach as her favicon. (Yes, I’m sure she received the artist’s permission.)

This brings our favicon count to 17! So feel free to click away at the “Favify” button in the right-hand column to see the expanded Favify lineup.

AFD Eight : Ellsworth Kelly Hacked My Twitter

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Ellsworth Kelly Hacked My Twitter is a real-time chart of postings from people I follow on Twitter. I have manually reduced the individual avatars of those I follow to a single, representative color, and each block shown represents an individual tweet that has come through my Twitter feed. This method of reductive abstraction largely characterizes my pre-residency work, and 2007’s Barack’s Twitter even contains a "Following" grid in the right-hand column. What’s new here, however, is that the grid is being generated in real-time, with the top-left square representing the most recent post. The remaining squares are presented left-to-right, top-down in reverse chronological order. A viewer can actively change the composition of the grid by simply changing the size of the browser window. Rows and columns can be added or removed, causing the individual squares to shift and/or wrap, thus creating a new composition. While the actual content of the tweet is not shown, the author, time, and date of the post can be viewed by placing your cursor over any given square.

This piece was always conceptualized to be a color grid, but it wasn’t until I started Photoshopping mockups that I thought of Ellsworth Kelly and, specifically, his grid pieces (such as Colors for a Large Wall). The visual aesthetic is certainly similar, but the nature of how the two grids are arranged couldn’t be more different. Kelly’s color square pieces are arranged in an arbitrary sequence, whereas this piece is a direct chronological representation of my Twitter feed. While unpredictable, it is certainly not arbitrary. So, as a title, Ellsworth Kelly Hacked My Twitter only holds up on a visual level and not a conceptual one. I just think it’s more fun than, say, TwitterGrid, for instance.

Many, many thanks go out to Donovan Buck for providing the scripting that makes this piece possible. Donovan also acted as a brainstorming foil, and – most importantly – put up with a few bouts of designer indecision. Thank you, Donovan!

AFD Seven : Tweeting for an Upgrade

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Last week, in the midst of the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings, I paid a visit to the official website of the Supreme Court of the United States. I was shocked – SHOCKED! – at how out-of-date and, well, broken the site was. It’s a visual trainwreck, yes, but it’s also in need of some serious usability redesign. Or at the very least some common-sense maintenance. Barack Obama’s online campaign and subsequent relaunch have forged new ground in governmental web presence and accesibility, making the existing website of the most powerful court in the land that much harder to stomach. It’s an embarrassment. Truly laughable.

I’ve managed to make art from poorly-designed websites before, but abstracting the SCOTUS website would conceal all of its delicious flaws. So after kicking around ideas for a few days, I decided that this merits the first (and certainly only) performance piece for A Feverish Dream.

And so let me present @scuswebsite, the official (and snarky) Twitter feed of the website of the Supreme Court. Follow along for the next week as the website vents its frustrations at being so bad. It’s even making some handy visual examples of its own suckage, which will be made available exclusivly through its Twitter page. If you’re on Twitter, please consider following and spreading the good word. Maybe, one day, change will come for this underappreciated little website.

A Silly Little Interlude

One of the many great things about @cmonstah‘s blog,, is that it occasionally throws in something completely bizarre and unexpected. And one of the more recent delectable treasures is this. The song has – for better or worse – become a bit of a mantra around my house. I’m sure it will lose its appeal soon enough, but for now I’m still basking in its awesomeness.

So I now present its powerful story as told through favicon sculptures of its two primary players. Flash animation below and a handy JPEG after the jump.

Get Adobe Flash player

Continue reading ‘A Silly Little Interlude’

AFD Six : Online Derivative of a New Cliché

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My favorite piece of art that I’ve seen this summer is a wall installation by The Art Guys at their New Clichés exhibition at McClain Gallery. There was a semi-public (as public as blogs can be) point/counter-point earlier this Summer between the Houston Chronicle‘s Douglas Britt and The Art Guys’ Michael Galbreth regarding their recent behavior piece, The Art Guys Marry a Plant (held in conjunction with the CAMH’s No Zoning exhibition). While I missed the ceremony, I made a point to visit their Clichés exhibition the following week. The work was clever, funny, and beautifully executed, but this one wall piece grabbed hold of me and hasn’t let go. It had me at "Fuck ’em".

Comprised of wooden letters and motors, the words of a "new cliché" rose and fell on the wall, powered by contraptions slowly rotating as if they were vertical mobiles. The literal message was dismissive and defensive, but instead of being loud or aggressive, it was presented in a disarmingly playful fashion. I loved it. Had there been a chair, I would have sat down and just stared for God knows how long, mesmerized my the movement of the letters and taken back by the brilliant silliness of it all.

In the weeks since, that piece – and its "Eff ’em" sentiment – have stayed with me. (This has been helped by repeated listens of the Wild Light’s California on My Mind, which manages to properly "eff" today, San Francisco, and California, all in the song’s first 17 seconds. Please consider this the official soundtrack of Online Derivative of a New Cliché.)

Then, while perusing a list of the most popular websites in the United States this past weekend, inspiration finally struck. Using the logos of these companies, I could derive an online variation from The Art Guys’ piece. The message is still there and can be found within the animated blur of letters. Twenty-five of the top 45 sites are represented, selected largely for how they could assist in the piece’s completion. They are not in any particular order, but they do link to their respective sites. (You might stay away from "J" if you’re at work.) You could effectively use this as your home page, depending on the sites you frequent.

View Online Derivative of a New Cliché

AFD Five : Journal of the Collective Me

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After launching When Did THIS Happen a few weeks back, I saved a Twitter search for "when did this happen" to see the piece had any legs. (It did not.) But I became fascinated seeing how the phrase was being used and by whom. It gave me a glimpse into this really diverse international community, where preteens, parents, grandparents, college students, working professionals, etc., all have a voice. And these individual voices can be sarcastic, inspirational, desperate, threatening, and even hateful. This project looks to unify all of these disparate voices into one.

Journal of the Collective Me ( parses through the Twitterverse, presenting tweets containing the word "me" in real time. Other phrases and words have been filtered out to reduce spam and disguise the source. Content itself is not edited, so the incoming tweets range from happy to funny to sad to serious to obscene. Clicking on the current entry will produce the next, and so forth. Regarding aesthetic, Journal of the Collective Me was
inspired by the simple stylings of yet another Internet meme, Barack Obama is Your New Bicycle, which rose to fame during the election.

Very special thanks go to Donovan Buck, who bought into the concept and provided the wonderful scripting that makes it work.