Art inspired by online dating

I started this piece many months ago when someone sent me a really annoying message on OK Cupid, but I couldn’t put my finger on what was so frustrating about it.  It said: “no way u r single”.  So I ended up making this painting using  images from old encyclopedias and acrylics:

no way u r single - 1no way u r single - 2no way u r single - 3

Since this is the first artwork I’ve actually COMPLETED in a really long time, I went hog-wild and submitted it for Art All Night, which happens this Saturday in Pittsburgh. Yay for un-curated, free, and massive art displays! Can’t wait to see everything else that’ll be there. Oh, and I did title this piece “no way u r single”, it only seemed proper as an homage.


Birds of prey

Years ago I got this lovely book at the Ann Arbor Public Library book sale.  It has 192 full color plates illustrated by Roger Tory Peterson.


I’ve since used many of the bird illustrations in collages or as models for paintings or designing paper cuttings.  The latest project turned out especially great — somehow even though there’s terrible lighting in my apartment, I managed to get the color mixing exactly right to blend the printed images into the painted edges of this small wooden tray:

IMAG1506 (2)

For this little tray (which was a random Goodwill purchase years ago), I cut out part of the plate from the book, painted a background with some minimal shading, and then fixed the lovely vultures onto the tray’s surface using glue and paint.  I then hand-painted the missing or cropped parts of the image to extend them over the edges of the tray, improvising a bit and making the already dynamic imagery feel like its flowing out of the rectangular frame.

IMAG1505 (2)

I can’t recommend this type of painting enough if you’re feeling stuck in a rut or don’t know what you want to create. Let some other artist help you out of your image block by using their forms as your canvas. It will probably help you relax and just enjoy working with paint and color, along with helping you learn to see new aspects of an image you already appreciated.  Worth it, even if you don’t end up creating something wholly original.

A ridiculous movie review from past me

This blog post I wrote in 2007 has come up so often in conversation lately that I just trolled through the Wayback Machine (aka the best service to humanity that exists on the internet) so I could resurrect it.

3 08 2007

I just finished watching The Core, which I enjoyed for its cheap thrills, unlikely but believable scenarios, and passable acting.  Though this movie is one of many based on some projected Earth-destruction situation – that can only be averted by tremendous self-sacrifice and a motley crew of scientific experts, pilots, hackers, and military strategists – it actually pulls this off as well as it possibly could, completely fulfilling what I deem to be the core requirements of the action-armageddon genre:

1. Rockin’ the Method: the problem must be solved by science, so the audience can be amazed by the inventiveness of the less brawny characters whose genius saves the day (maybe even multiple times.)  One of several examples of this fromThe Core is when “one guy who doesn’t die” character realizes that although their ship has no power to get home, they could continue deeper into the core in order to harness the power that their ubermetalsomething ship will gain from the increase in heat.  This movie is actually one of the better when it comes to tickling the wannabe scientist within us.  Yes, all of us.  Better than say…Deep Impact.  Though I haven’t seen it in awhile so I can’t be sure.  I learned things about fluid mechanics and geophysics!  (not to say they are scientifically accurate things.  see “Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics“.)

2.  Brutal Self-Sacrifice: there comes a point in any good armageddon action movie when characters have to give up their lives for the cause.  sometimes they draw straws, sometimes there’s empassioned arguing about who could be the most useful for the rest of the mission, but often it’s the guy who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.   Will he cut the tether and allow the doors to close so the rest of the team can make it to safety? Or will he insist that they try to rescue him, further endangering themselves and the mission?!  In The Core there are several types of self-sacrifice – the valiant on-purpose kind, the “oops the door is shutting” kind, and the “holy shit if we don’t jettison that thing now we’ll all die! frankie get out!!” kind.  One of the self-sacrifices involves the kind-hearted, unappreciated inventor of the superdrillship braving 9,000 degree metal to get to a manual override that will allow the remaining heroes to work their plan C for saving the world.  I appreciated the little touches, like the bursting of the helmet lamp and the gooey melting suit shoes.  Brutal.  (comparison: Bruce Willis must stay behind to detonate the nuke in Armageddon)

3. “Baby baby, hold together.”  Obviously none of these movies would be exciting if things went as planned.  And even if you manage to overcome the environmental obstacles, you’re left with the increasingly dire problem of wear and tear on your ship.  Usually the final problem to overcome is that of the blown power circuit, the broken propulsion system, or the breached helm that will keep you from making it home alive.  It doesn’t matter that you saved the world if you can’t get back to see it.  This is another area where scientific genius enters in, unlike in Dante’s Peak, where the solution to the problem of the melting metal boat in the acidified lake is to jump out and give it a shove. I guess that qualifies more as idiotic self-sacrifice.  Another significant trope that could fall under this category is the ubiquitous communications failure, forcing the heroes to prove that they’ve got what it takes to fly solo.  The lack of mission control usually leads to some flaring tempers, too.

4. Monumental destruction. What really needs to be said about this?  It’s the main fodder for all the trailers, because seeing the Parthenon exploded by lightning (?) is exciting even if you know it’s computerized to the max. The Core’s destruction sequences are really cheesy compared to Deep Impact and its megatsunami.  I haven’t seen Day After Tomorrow, or I would comment on it.  Microwaves getting through a hole in the Earth’s protective (and waning) electromagnetic shield and destroying the Golden Gate bridge? yawn.  A static lightning cloud storm thing roaring up the streets of Rome? yawn. (though the electrified espresso machine and the unsuspecting barrista was a nice sterotypical touch).  Pigeons going crazy and flying through windows and busting heads in London? hellll yes.

5. The Bad Guy. He seems like he’s there to save the world like the rest of the crew, but does he have an ulterior motive?  What’s with those clandestine communications to the head of the military?  What does he know that we don’t know!?  Eventually this guy either gets killed by a natural event – and we’re happy – get’s killed by a testosterone-ridden co-crewmember – and we’re happy – or he turns out to be a moral human after all, and chooses to do the right thing.  Either way his suspicious behavior creates some good tension as you wait for the moment when he’ll eff everything up by choosing self-preservation over self-sacrifice.

I also have to say that the hacker kid in The Core is a great character, and the Hot Pockets were yet another nice touch.

Hello, Seattle

My partner and I have just moved to Seattle because of this…and because I (or we) have been itching to experience life in a new place.  I lived in Pittsburgh longer than I’d ever lived anywhere in my life, and I love it so.  BUT I’ve also wanted to move back to the Pacific Northwest ever since my family moved from Washington to Michigan when I was in 8th grade.  Mission accomplished!

I’m hoping to bring back this blog now that I am (hopefully temporarily) unemployed.  This is a chance to learn and write about the types of taxonomy and content topics that I’ll never have time for when I’m working!  Some of the topics I want to cover and send into the ether of the internet are:

  • multi-lingual taxonomies and ontologies: how do you create a global taxonomy when different cultures have different ways of conceptually grouping entities together?  are there certain levels of categorization that are global and thus more feasible to accurately translate and retain a good user experience?  and related to that…
  • user research: what tools are out there to help taxonomists understand the levels of granularity that might be appropriate for users of our taxonomies?  how do we build navigation or browse structures that are based on real user behavior and good data…not just what we think seems appropriate as taxonomists or interface designers?  are there certain types of users that interact with taxonomies differently than others?  are our taxonomies really benefiting users in the ways we think they are?
  • auto-categorization / classification: how are the taxonomies that are needed for auto-categorization or machine classification different than those needed for user-facing browse interfaces?  how can we reconcile the messy, subjective world of human-created content and ambiguous searching with the specificity and clarity needed for computers to accurately identify what some piece of content is and present that content to the right person at the right time?

Along those lines, here are some things I’ve been reading lately that might be of interest if you found the above topics intriguing:

Dickinson, Brew & Meurers. (2012). Language and Computers.

Computers and language – Linguistic Society of America

Jim Sweeney: “Successfully Managing Multilingual Taxonomies

Espinoza, M., Montiel-Ponsoda, E., & Gómez-Pérez, A. (2009). “Ontology Localization” in K-CAP’09, September 1–4, 2009, Redondo Beach, California, USA.

— see also: Jorge Mauricio Espinoza Mejía. (2014) Ontology Localization. Universidad de Zaragoza.

Big in Japan

The internet is a crazy thing.  Once, before, an online travel guide company found a picture I had taken of the Seattle Public Library and asked to use it in their guide for the city.  Now, somehow a production company in Tokyo found one of my papercuttings and asked to use it in a segment of the TV show Tokyo Eye about cool cafes.  So, there will be glimpses of my art broadcast online and to Japan on July 24 and September 10!  From what I’ve been told about the segment, I wish we had cafes this awesome in the US (that’s a teaser to make you curious).  Here’s the info:

Tokyo Eye  #299: Cool Cafés

Overseas broadcast

NHK World TV

Wednesday, 7/24 9:30~9:58(Japan)

To determine where the show will be broadcast in various regions, enter the information on this page.    

For program times in other time zones enter the date and time zone on this page.

 ■ Live net streaming

Wednesday, 7/24 9:30~9:58(Japan)

For program times in other time zones enter the date and time zone on this page.

Ontologies and Object-Oriented Programming

I’ve been reading a lot about ontologies today, and many of the definitions and descriptions of ontologies make it seem like the classes, relations, and instances they involve are akin to the classes, relations, and instances in object-oriented programming.  However, then I encountered the following, which is a helpful distinction in thinking about all of this:

Ontology development is different from designing classes and relations in object-oriented programming. Object-oriented programming centers primarily around methods on classes—a programmer makes design decisions based on the operational properties of a class, whereas an ontology designer makes these decisions based on the structural properties of a class. As a result, a class structure and relations among classes in an ontology are different from the structure for a similar domain in an object-oriented program. (source)