Friday the 13 : i.thou [ final cut ] online release

Aloha! It’s Friday the 13th! Just 13 weeks remain in 2017. I’m releasing my vaguely illegal, dangerous, feminist film online today.

Welcome to the house of illusion. Our images of each other can make prisons. Open a side door into the collective unconscious. Nothing is as it seems, is it. . .

i.thou - still

i.thou, final cut (still) – 2008-2013

I built i.thou [ final cut ] over a five year period, wrapping it up in December of 2013. David Finkelstein reviewed this work at FilmThreat before that site disappeared. He describes the work by writing ““i.thou” doesn’t exactly tell a story, but it distills the atmosphere of dozens of stories drawn from films, generally stories where a woman is trapped in the (male dominated) institution of a mental hospital, a lab, or a prison, where she struggles equally against her captors and her own, internalized sense of being “sick” or “wrong.” ”

As you watch the coda consider the stories nested into the entire work – each female character re-presented here [ Beatrix/The Bride, Nikita, Dorothy (audio only), Ripley, Kieslowski’s Julie from Blue & more ] were created by male directors who proceeded to “put them through it”, for our entertainment. Ripley destroys the nursery in which she was made [ Alien: Resurrection ] – –

I have been told that the work is “too much” – too long / the wrong length to screen in festivals. The repurposed content too big of a risk for copyright liability [ even as Richard Prince & Girl Talk take that strategy all the way to the bank ]. Too experimental [ we figured out datamoshing in the ‘oughts – this is new media, right? new forms! ]

The work presents a ‘dead girl’ in a shot extended from her original 45 seconds of screen time to several minutes. Remember, the dead girl is not a character, but the memory of her become the character. Media makes memory for us these days. This work fits somewhere in both the preceding statements.

Wear headphones for best viewing experience!

viewing notes :
– the work has three movements and a coda; visual and loops are used/considered symphonically as classical music would, in motifs
– there are ‘pauses’ in the film where the screen goes completely black, between movements
– the opening of the third movement includes complete silence
– all melting, artefacting, ‘failed video’ looks are intentional

I would love to hear your thoughts about i.thou [ final cut ]. Rose McGowan and many other women were sacrificed on the altar of this form, filmed entertainment. That is a part of this, too.

Thanks for being here. All of this madness is a part of all of us. With this art we visit it for a few minutes, and then put it down.


[ OSX ] [ LINUX debian / raspbian ] install wordnet for processing + RiTa

“Wordnet is definitely not written for use by humans.” – a helpful friend

I work with language as a poet. I write “poems for paper” as well as “poems for spoken-word performance”. In both, often, fragments of narrative appear as images.

In video, I’m exploring what I call the ‘variable narrative’, iterating tiny moments of story.



untitled video still [ the gravedigger’s meditation, 2014 : hybrid literary project ] spiral text composite layer created in Processing

Playing with ‘text as mark’ in Processing is pretty fun & relatively simple. Text added as strings can be expressed glyphs of this or that font. Strings of text can take particular shapes or be used as brushstrokes. In the image above, the entire text of Gogol’s short story The Overcoat becomes a shifting textured layer composited into an animated short film. The spiral text composite layer was made using math and one loooooong string of text.

~ RiTa : extends Processing’s use of language by referencing text’s meaning ~

RiTa, a Java-based coding toolkit that can be added to Processing, allows artists to work with meaning / words by role in language / rather than just text as mark.

example one : Automatype by Daniel C. Howe

example two : Spin State by Michael Coppola

~ installing RiTA inside Processing ~

With Processing open, go to the menubar: Sketch > Import Library > Add library

The library installer will open. Scroll down to RiTa.

  • If it is pickable, pick it & install!
  • If it is greyed out [ as it was for me ] one must instead go to and download the dependancy, unzip it, and stick the folder in the library directory your installation of Processing uses. If you have not customized your setup,the directory order [ on Mac ] : ~/Documents/Processing/libraries. Stick the folder that happens when you unzip the download into the /libraries folder. Relaunch Processing and you’ll find it. RiTa’s examples will also show up in the examples, under contributed libraries.

The RiTa reference guides the coder through toolset’s functionality & what it can do to explore art-related ideas on the meaning/language tip.

~ Word Net : high level text analysis with ‘parts of speech’ tagging and dictionary definitions ~

To further dig into meaning, to access markov language part-of-speech tagging, the necessary dependancy? wordnet“its primary use is in automatic text analysis and artificial intelligence applications.” ~ wikipedia

RiTa’s toolkit allows me to plug in wordnet analysis & execution functionality into Processing sketches. To do that, I needed a local installation. I tried to use the documentation provided by Princeton to create a local wordnet installation, and fell down several successive rabbitholes, each of which ended on ‘nope’.

Wordnet can be used with many coding languages – PERL, Python, SQL, and PHP etc etc.

Processing and Python use different operational approaches to installing dependancies. It was a head-turner to shift to the Python-like approach – using [ on Mac ] terminal, with sudo pip commands.

There’s this other thing one can add to Mac which provides “one terminal command installation power for many many dependancies”. It’s a  kit called Homebrew, built with the Ruby programming language.

~ an aside on art and technology, transparency of process, and meaning ~

Have your eyes glazed over yet? The mind-numbing list of tasks above this moment in the blog post is not, in itself, an interesting thing. I know that ‘the rest of the art world’ doesn’t know how the ‘studio inside of the computer’ works. I’ve been directly treated with contempt over the digital creative process by painters, in the past*.

I’d love it if my attempts at process transparency help encourage the conversation about meaning, to discover the metaphorical power of what artists can and are doing with computers, and relate to them . . . More directly, I think it would be awesome if more ppl were using these tools in their own work. So lets get back to that to-do list.

~ to install Wordnet locally, install Homebrew. To install Homebrew, install Xcode. ~

Homebrew can install a WHOLE BUNCH of stuff for me, besides wordnet, when attempting to sudo pip3 install various dependancies for Python and something doesn’t internally link. Fantastic! OK, time to install Homebrew.

Aaand I need to install a 4.5 gb thingy from Apple called Xcode wha-  ?

OK so most of the coding things discussed in this post are script-related single-tasking things. XCode is the Mac-based development environment for building OSX software & iOS apps. Its filled with tools, testing environments, and more.

One must install xcode in order to ‘unlock’ the bash commands [ for terminal ] that one needs to install Homebrew. Randomly, you will also now have a C compiler on your Mac. You can delete it once you’re done getting the bash commands you need.

Go over to the coolest guide on the planet, and follow their step-by-step instructions to install first xcode and then homebrew. Then come back here to finish up and see how cool wordnet really can be.

~ use a terminal command to tell homebrew to install wordnet ~

Open terminal. Next to the dollarsign prompt type

brew install wordnet 

Terminal may prompt you to add several other things.

When it finishes, don’t close terminal just yet. Jot down the directory location of your wordnet installation. You’ll use it in the next step.

Go back to Processing.

File > Examples. In the pop-up : RiTa > ReplaceableWriting.

Updating the sketch to include the local directory url for wordnet. Press play.

BLAM. Now you can see what it does.

Here’s to less maddening ‘getting going’ on ideas you’re interested in . . .

~ footnotes ~

*“Oh you just push a button – ” and a some other disparaging remarks

On a Windows machine? Try Scoop instead of Homebrew; here’s a list of terminal-like command line editors for Windows systems. Processing installs for PC, and the RiTa installation workflow should hold there as well. I have no idea if Wordnet can be installed on Windows in this way, but its a starting point.

If you’re on Linux you’ve got the work ethic to figure it out yourself 💗 and that Linux installation is on a raspberry pi, all you have to do is open terminal and type this:

$ sudo apt-get install wordnet

answer a few questions and you’re set.

??? !!!

The Raspbian install of Linux is a child iteration of Debian; it includes a compiler and you don’t need to “unlock” other OS features in order to get it to work. . .

women coders: hidden in the secretarial class – –

psst. one for late Sunday night studio practice realizations: I realized where women’s skill at coding has been hiding in our cultural history. Women are the secretaries, the support roles for male bosses. Traditionally they wrote in secretarial shorthand [ it was a requirement of their training in the 50’s ].

The gendered use of shorthand isn’t mentioned in this wikipedia article. Huffpo explains that “administrative assistants” are gendered 96% female, same as it was in 1950.

This kind of work remains undervalued in our culture. A friend of mine currently struggles with the intense workload and silence of administrative assistant work at the department level of a major university.

At one point in the late ‘oughts [ REDACTED CORPORATION ] fired the secretaries that supported its middle management in a cost-saving move. They gave the middle management men new laptops.  Some of those men ended up as my computer students. I will never forget listening to one or the other of these men mourn the loss of the woman who followed him around, writing down everything he said, in a code he couldn’t read.

untitled antonio roberts video

Antonio Roberts made this. I think it describes the emotional mirroring overload of micro reactions I have skimming the internet when sh*t really hits the fan and so many people are scrambling && colliding && making sense of && pointing at *why this happened* and *what must be done*

reznor on his preferred instrument [ moog ]

trent reznor talks about the moog synthesize, how it is the instrument for creating his music. later he mentions fighting the temptation for quantized perfection while making ‘hesitation marks’ & his sense of overwhelm when first making soundtracks – –

bonus: soundtrack by the haxan cloak.

church of glitch

Viz. Menkman : the artefact created/discovered by accidents of digital processes, or intentionally accidented digital processes – how can these machines create? Computers are only supposed to do as exactly as they are told.

Glitch points to the error, the flaws woven into material reality. Artefact as scar tissue. Computing is built on the user’s illusion, the information perceived on the screen. How it works – for most users, the digital platform is completely foreign.  In Kabbalah material reality is located in ‘the depth of evil’ in part because of the nesting boxes of illusion presented by personal story, point of view, and the layers of imperfection, brokenness, etc. that humans are confronted with in this world. The tension between the imagined perfect and the flawed ‘real’.

Glitch art operates in this space.

In glitch one finds the revelation of the imperfection of the digital, an ongoing criticism / pointing to / celebration of the underlying flaws of the platform.

How each artist harnesses the dilemmas of the medium becomes the interesting thing.


Of course people like to mimic the sexxxy-broken aesthetic. With enough determination and a cracked copy of Photoshop one can create the echoes, colorselected copy pasted pixels, the “look”. Recently there was a fistfight in an online glitch community on this point. Its only when a photoshop artist argued that “image manipulation in photoshop is the same as image manipulation in audacity” that I called the discussion dumb as a bag of hair* and found my church of glitch.

All artistic media needs boundaries of ‘what it is not’. While “painting” as a class can contain objects of ‘watercolor’ and ‘oil’, a watercolor painting is not an oil painting. “Digital art” as a class can contain objects like ‘glitched photography’ and ‘photoshop painting mimicing a glitched aesthetic’. A glitched photo is not a photoshop painting.

A glitched photo points to/critiques/exposes the flaws of the medium that supports the perceivable image. A photoshop painting unquestioningly uses the platform of digital media to create a perceivable image.


The thread has been since deleted, perhaps because the argument can go on endlessly. People take it personally, and all those feels get in the way of considering the truth in the media object.

We can only see the object of the image file through the mediating screen & other equipment of the computer. Its all sort of unreal, and becomes tweedledum and tweedledee arguing over their rattle in the forest. *Hence the ‘dumb as a bag of hair’ comment.

I said this sort of thing to the art school bros who claimed they were ‘glazing with oil paints’ when they weren’t, at my undergrad. Same with incalmo hot glass work – there’s a technical baseline, one that’s much harder to meet than opening a .jpg in word pad. Those who claimed the were making incalmo (but weren’t) were informed as such . . . but glass art and oil painting both have the history of tradition and the authority of that established tradition to make the claim. Still, the determined continued to claim they were right, telling themselves they were participating in that history.

All I got’s Rosa Menkman**.  I’m glad I’ve chosen to read some of her theory, explore the ideas around the activity. It lends additional meaning and context to what I’m doing, helps me draw that line around glitch and explain to curators why glitch as a process is important to the meaning in the work I’m making.

I don’t know why its important for people to jump on a bandwagon, when are not doing the thing. Is it that important to belong to the group? To say you are doing the thing, when you are? I suppose all the digital is a mimic, but the 50-50 split of ‘this isn’t glitch, it mimics it’ in that community was interesting to me.

The ticket to participation in this activity is computer ownership, determination, and enough ego strength to post shit online for other ppl to see.  I gotta take Alice’s tip and leave T.& T. to their rattle, my own working definition of the media I’m making and screening tucked under my arm.


** This isn’t really true, I’ve also got Jon Satrom & Jon Cates & Nik Briz and all the stuff happening with the dirty new media people here in Chicago. I read/see their stuff & think about it too. In the context of that online community, cited Menkman only, so that’s where this blog post went. I am imperfect in my church making.


Jessica Fenlon received her MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s interdisciplinary studio arts program in 2002. She learned the analog precursers to what she does now at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned her BFA.

She has worked on independant documentary projects; provided video backdrops for performance artists, musicians, poets, and bands; hosted open screenings; curated video installations and mini-shows. She’s supported theatrical teams as digital media installation and projection manager. She has cut and re-cut work to fit the needs of the space, the performers, the others in the project. She has staffed and documented projects. See the complete list of her exhibited, performed, and collaborated work here.

While working for Apple, Inc., she was trained in California to teach Apple software and hardware to customers and co-workers. Certified in Final Cut Pro and Motion, she beta-tested the Apple Certified Professional’s Motion 5 Certification Exam. As a software technician and troubleshooter, she’s familiar with many, many sofwares; look at linkedin or contact her for more detail.

reel contents : video :

enter to exit tracks 01, 03, 09 : we are all doors opening : InService opening, reframing, & lower thirds : string theory opening : poem : at the end titlecard : spoiled heat opening : gun in everyone clip : pattern recognition opening : plan lost in dream trailer : flip the script text animation : glitchbumper [2011] : i.thou before & after mosh splitscreen text sample : ripley before & after mosh splitscreen video sample

audio :

enter to exit tracks 01, 03, 09 : i.thou soundtrack : pattern recognition audio / collaboration with d.j. earwig

[ evidence ] y’all ready for .gifs // 2.1.2014

y'all ready for .gifs

y’all ready for .gifs

THREADS storefront installation

THREADS storefront installation


gif : but i can still remember those lips

gif : but i can still remember those lips

milwaukee avenue in logan square, 2.1.2014

milwaukee avenue in logan square, 2.1.2014

Exhibition of .gifs as storefront projection // Milwaukee Avenue, Logan Square, Chicago // storefront show of .gif art curated by Catalina Acosta-Carrizosa, Kyle Riley, and Brett Swinney for AnySquared // part of the 2d floor rear 24hours of art in Chicago // featuring work by Skip Hursh, Eric Fleischauer, Mathew Lucas, Scorpion Dagger, Laurene Boglio, Jessica Fenlon, and more . . .

I collected .gifs by other artists in the show at my tumblr.

andy baio explains what’s actually happening with digital appropriation, remix culture, & creativity

Andy Baio’s amazing talk about appropriation and digital remix culture. Well-researched, he tells so much truth about creativity and creative process, the problem of copyright and the myth of the solo genius-artist.

Portland/CreativeMornings – Andy Baio from CreativeMornings/Portland on Vimeo.

quote : bill viola

The digital era will overwhelm us, as it happened with the industrial revolution. And I am not talking about technological changes, such as the internet, Twitter or in art. The changes will hit all of life: from politics to science, from medicine to culture. Will change our way of life. The role of artists will be even more relevant. Our vision will communicate knowledge and compassion.

lemonade tastes good.

Settling in to edit audio tonight, I realized I couldn’t find the project files. A few months ago I had [prematurely] retired this project. Did I archive the content to free up local hard drive space?

Futzing with the firewire cable and the next hard drive I thought, even if I start from scratch, I’m making in the way I want to make. And if I start from scratch, something interesting or new can evolve, right? Yeah.

Back when I was knitting to pay my bills, about once a week we [meaning the store staff] would necessarily teach a new knitter how to rip out their project. Maybe it was knitting up sized to fit a baby elephant, maybe irregular newbie stitches were making a sieve instead of a fabric.

The discussion went something like ~ “Yes, we’re taking out what wasn’t working.” The new knitter’s face would fall as they watched hours and hours of struggle pulled row by row from a ‘wrong’ fabric to a ball of yarn. “Yeah, you spent hours knitting that. Now you get to knit it again!”  Some version of puzzlement would replace the disappointment-face watching the knitting come undone. “I’m doing this because I enjoy it, right? So knitting it twice means more knitting, which I enjoy, on the same volume of yarn. Twice the enjoyment.”

(I found the project files on the third hard drive.)