Working notes from the Scandinavian Institute for Computational Vandalism

A certain indeterminacy of color, neither cerise nor taupe nor burnt umber, nor gray either

Fragments from Eric Schwitzgebel’s Why did we think we dreamed in black and white?

Prior to the rise of scientific psychology, scholars interested in dreaming generally stated or assumed that dreams have color. For example, Aristotle specifically includes colors among the remnants that sense-impressions may leave in the sense-organs and which thus appear to us in sleep (459a23–462a31, in Gallop, 1996). Epicurus describes the impressions we have in dreams as having color and shape (15A, in Long & Sedley, 1987). Descartes in his Second Meditation (Descartes, 1984; originally published 1641) describes a bit of wax as seeming to change color and wants to grant that such an appearance could come to him in sleep […]
Early scientific psychologists working at the end of the nineteenth century still implicitly treated dreams as colored. For example, by my count, 50% of the long dream reports (that is, reports over 15 lines of text) in Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams explicitly mention colors other than black, white and gray (Freud, 1931; originally published 1900). Presumably, that percentage would be even higher had Freud been inclined to ask whether there was color in dreams in which it was not spontaneously reported, […] and Titchener (1900) mentions ‘flashes of color’ as a primary cause of dreams. The shift appears to occur in the early twentieth century, in some cases among the very same researchers who previously assumed that dreams were colored: by 1900, a research assistant of Calkins reports that although 81% of a sample of her dreams involved visual experiences, fewer than half involved color sensations (Calkins and Andrews, 1900); and Titchener (1912) grants that some people see only shades of gray in their dreams. Bentley (1915) reports four times as many grays as colors in his sample of dreams. Twenty years later, Husband (1935) finds 40% of respondents to deny having color in their dreams.
What might explain the rise of the opinion that dreaming is predominantly a black and white phenomenon? It will likely have occurred to the reader that the first half of the twentieth century was the pinnacle of black and white media. Black and white photography was first made public in the 1830s, and became increasingly popular through the early twentieth century. […]
It is surely not chance that this flourishing of black and white media coincided with the flourishing of the opinion that dreams are a black and white phenomenon. The question is what to make of this fact.



A self learning genetic algorithm finding its way through the maze of Super Mario’s games. Exhibiting a behavior similar to Shannon’s mouse in the previous post.

Claude Shannon demonstrates machine learning

There is no home like place

“Airbnb is a global hotel filled with the same recurring items. Bed, chair, potted plant, all catered to our cosmopolitan sensibilities. We end up in a place that’s completely interchangeable; a room is a room is a room.

An algorithm finds these recurring items and replaces them with the same items from other listings. By clicking them, you can jump between rooms and explore the global hotel. There are many homelike places.

Outcome of a week-long web scraping workshop led by Jonathan Puckey at Non-Linear Narrative, a masters programme at the Royal Academy of Art The Hague.”



Thanks to Sam Mercer for the tip

From gun to nerve

In Of frogs and men: the origins of psychophysiological time experiments, 1850–1865, Henning Schmidgen retraces the history of Helmholtz’s experiments on the propagation of stimuli within nerves. The first apparatus designed by Helmholtz repurposes a mechanism of the physicist Claude Pouillet in the field of ballistic, to measure the velocity of a bullet at different points of its trajectory.

Don’t write down father

Eleanor Rosch and Carolyn B. Mervis, Family Resemblances: Studies in the Internal Structure of Categories, 1975.

Situationist Pinball

This device allows for the automatic generation of a Gaussian curve (position of the balls at the bottom. The artistic problems of the dérive occur at the same level as the relatively unpredictable path of each ball.

Illustration and caption from Asger Jorn, “The Situationists and Automation”, Internationale Situationniste #1 (June 1958).

SICV in Barcelona

Tras poner en marcha mi Instituto Escandinavo de Vandalismo Comparado, muchos se preguntan por qué le puse un nombre tan peculiar, sin llegar a tener del todo claro si tomárselo en serio o no.

“Giving the Finger (Back) to the Digital: The Art and Politics of Archival Practice”. Presentation at the MACBA symposium La condició de contorn. Sobre l’arxiu i els seus límits (17.02.2018).  

Mere storage appears somewhat dysfunctional

“As we know, everyone is now talking about the virtual, i.e., computerized museum, and that must be the reason why a media historian has been invited to Barcelona.” Friedrich Kittler on the museum of art and digital archiving. (more…)

Face synch

Duchenne was based at the Salpêtrière hospital in Paris, where he researched muscular electrophysiology—the perceived electrical dysfunction underlying neurological conditions, ranging from strokes and epilepsy through to the more questionable areas of hysteria and insanity. […] The afflictions of the inmates of the Salpêtrière made them perfect candidates for Duchenne’s research and documentation: muscular paralysis and facial anaesthetics made them extremely malleable. The  flow of sustained electrical currents allowed Duchenne to overcome the limits of photography’s then long shutter speeds to have his sitters ‘hold’ a pose for an extended period. (more…)