some drawing strategies

At some point during the semester, it started to seem strange to me that digital art curation didn’t also mean a trail of audio / visual / moving-image process documents. I used GIFs and video as shorthand on the blog, trying to illustrate or punctuate a point here and there, but didn’t synthesize anything through visual production.

Backing slowly away from Plan A — a “lessons learned” post composed entirely of Hamilton GIFs and lyrics — I’m instead taking some space here to speculate: What are some alternative ways to represent the products and processes involved in digital art curation? Here’s a look at some of the drawings I made while grappling with @mothgenerator.

1_Authenticity-access grid
With thanks and apologies to Dragan Espenschied.

Authenticity-Access Grid for preserving @mothgenerator. Inspired by <a href="http://blog.geocities.institute/archives/3214">Geocities</a>
Authenticity-Access Grid for preserving @mothgenerator. Inspired by Geocities

I used this diagram as a working tool while writing my statement of significance for Moth Generator. It was a useful way to start looking ahead to the kinds of experiences and characteristics different stakeholder groups might value and expect. Because the grid was designed to express authenticity and access from the users’ (not creators’) perspective(s), mapping my project to it was a natural fit for an overall shift towards a more user-centered preservation strategy. It’s also a sneaky example of how techniques for visualization can shape the content, purpose, and management of information. So, nice work, Dragan — your nefarious grid convinced me!

2_Distributions of significance

Plotting the concept-to-AIP transformation.
Plotting the concept-to-AIP transformation.

As a way to trace the evolution of this project from conceptual (identifying significance) to somewhat-less conceptual (declaring preservation intent, assembling a dummy AIP), I mocked up this rainbow circle mapping Moth Generator’s components, stakeholders, and significant characteristics to the contents of the eventual AIP. It’s interesting to see how conceptual elements converge around certain parts of the AIP, but I wouldn’t drawn any conclusions from that about priorities or complexity. It’s not as though more connecting lines means more value (maybe mo’ problems). I mocked this up without much of an agenda beyond, “Let’s draw some lines and see what happens,” and am at least pleased with how it represents the project’s trajectory.

3_Tool-lifecycle grid

Digital curation tools and the digital art curation lifecycle.
Digital curation tools and the digital art curation lifecycle.

This grid diagrams the range of tools considered, tested, and ultimately used to capture, describe, and package material into an AIP. I tried to represent the overlapping functions of many of these tools, where they address the digital art curation lifecycle, and the degree of success I had with each. In choosing shades and ordering the vertical axis, I tried to avoid designating things as “failures” or “bad tools,” since success or failure in digital curation is often a matter of mismatch (right tool / wrong purpose, or vice versa) rather than of quality. One early idea for the vertical axis was to sort tools on a spectrum from ideal to contingency to NO, but in the end I chose to list them by earliest point of intersection with the lifecycle. Interestingly, making this diagram called my attention to how actually useful DataAccessioner (one of the “contingency” tools) really was.

There is so much digital preservation software out there — check COPTR or the POWRR tool grid if you doubt it. With this little drawing, I mostly want to convey the value of diversifying and experimenting. The grid has been a useful way for me to track what I’ve done and what to try next. Rhetorically, it says, “Keep trying!”

UPDATE (5/5/16): Images now give the actual course number. Sleep-deprived regrets.

bot-y of work: a statement of significance

Moth Generator (@mothgenerator) is an interactive, multi-faceted, collaborative digital artwork by Katie Rose Pipkin and Loren Schmidt. The following statements illustrate its complexity and set the stage for an eventual preservation plan for this work:

Moth Generator is:

  • A Javascript drawing program that creates images of imaginary moths by translating text into numbers
  • A Twitter feed where moths are regularly published and @replies are used as moth-generating text
  • A collection of computer-generated moth images and names, including looping animations created from generated moths and reused for other purposes
  • An element of a complex virtual world project
  • A collaboration between a game designer and an artist whose work deals in large part with code and bots
  • A relatively well-known example of a Twitter bot
2 moths by @mothgenerator
“middle lacuna moth ortricidia ietivorella” via @mothgenerator

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