Working notes from the Scandinavian Institute for Computational Vandalism

Upside-down inversion goggles experiments

Living In A Reversed World documents an experiment by Erismann & Kohler during which the subjects were required to wear goggles transforming their perception, between six to 124 days. The film is narrated by James J. Gibson.
More on the experiment:

Every contact leaves a trace.

Both questioned document examination and computer forensics belong to a branch of forensic science known as “trace evidence,” which owes its existence to the work of the French investigator Edmond Locard. Locard’s famous Exchange Principle may be glossed as follows: “a cross-transfer of evidence takes place whenever a criminal comes into contact with a victim, an object, or a crime scene.” Locard, a professed admirer of Arthur Conan Doyle who worked out of a police laboratory in Lyons until his death in 1966, pioneered the study of hair, fibers, soil, glass, paint, and other small things forgotten, primarily through microscopic means. His life’s work is the cornerstone of the stark dictum underlying contemporary forensic science: “Every contact leaves a trace.” This is more, not less, true in the delicate reaches of computer systems. Much hacker and cracker lore is given over to the problem of covering one’s “footsteps” when operating on a system uninvited; conversely, computer security often involves uncovering traces of suspicious activity inadvertently left behind in logs and system records.
Marcos Novak asserts the following, for example: “Everything that is written and transmitted via electronic media is erasable and ephemeral unless stored or reinscribed (emphasis added).” My contention would be that the subordinating conjunction “unless” is called upon to do a great deal of unrealistic work. Practically speaking, most things that are written and transmitted via electronic media are stored and reinscribed. A simple e-mail message may leave a copy of itself on a half a dozen different servers and routers on the way to its destination, with the potential for further proliferation via mirrors and automated backup systems at each site. As storage costs continue to plummet, the trend will no doubt be to save more and more data so that the variety of ephemera routinely written to disk becomes ever more granular. Likewise, even the popular myth that RAM is always absolutely volatile, gone forever at the flip of a switch, proves false; there are at least experimental techniques for recovering data from RAM semiconductor memory. While it may be technically possible to create the conditions in which electronic writing can subsist without inscription and therefore vanish without a trace, those conditions are not the medium’s norm but the special case, artificially induced by an expert with the resources, skill, and motive to defeat an expert investigator.

Mechanisms, New Media and the Forensic Imagination, Matthew G. Kirschenbaum.

Deep addressability

[…] deep addressability would allow for the identification not only of things with mass but also of relations between things. Once again, each letter in the sentence you are reading right now could have an address, but your act of reading of each one of them, those immaterial relations between two things, it and you, could be addressed as well, and from this graph and set traces proliferate and become techniques of a new geography. One can address both a discrete thing and the abstract reverberating envelope of relations around it that could extend toward infinity. Put differently, deep addressability includes not only discrete entities but also multiple levels of abstraction, as well as the traces of those entities and in turn the abstractions we hold for those — not just addressable nouns but addressable verbs, events, and allegories. While it’s unlikely that I could exhaust 1028 addresses for familiar physical things over the course of my life span, I could easily exhaust that many relations of relations of relations of relations. I could spend all my addresses in an instant of we were to extend relationality all the way down into the abyss. The exhaustion of any full allocation of deep address exists therefore somewhere between never and instantaneously, and the measure of that vast middle ground is essential to the design brief of the Address layer of The Stack. Whereas the traditional Internet of Things situates a network of physical objects, the full Address layer would include all these but also concepts, events, procedures, and memes, addressable at a common level through a generic protocol. While there are real barriers to a global IPv6 implementation, some technological, others economic, and others political, we should assume that for The Stack, some platform for deep address will in time enumerate things and events at a similar or even more granular scale, giving way to disorienting associations between micro- and macrocosmos, linking, delinking, and blurring across natural scales.

The Stack, On Software and Sovereignty, Benjamin H. Bratton.

If all you have is duct tape, everything starts to look like a duct

From Perl, the first postmodern computer language, by the Practical Extraction and Reporting Language (Perl)‘s creator, Larry Wall.

“Or think about shell programming, and reductionism. How many times have we heard the mantra that a program should do one thing and do it well?

Well…Perl does one thing, and does it well. What it does well is to integrate all its features into one language. More importantly, it does this without making them all look like each other. Ducts shouldn’t look like girders, and girders shouldn’t look like ducts. Neither of those should look like water pipes, and it’s really important that water pipes not look like sewer pipes. Or smell like sewer pipes. Modernism says that we should make all these things look the same (and preferably invisible). Postmodernism says it’s okay for them to stick out, and to look different, because a duct ought to look like a duct, and a sewer pipe ought to look like a sewer pipe, and hammer ought to look like a hammer, and a telephone ought to look like either a telephone, or a Star Trek communicator. Things that are different should look different.

You’ve all heard the saying: If all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. That’s actually a Modernistic saying. The postmodern version is: If all you have is duct tape, everything starts to look like a duct. Right. When’s the last time you used duct tape on a duct? “

Comparative Ways of Seeing

In the frame of Ways of Machine Seeing, a series of experiments in collaboration wit Geoff Cox on the the four episodes of the BBC documentary series Ways of Seeing. In this probe, the same algorithm runs an object detection script using two different training sets. For more information and more experiments, read the wiki page.

Male-Young adult, Attention time: 484 out of 984, Smile: 0 / 1.8… Glasses: Yes

From Twitter, a “crashed” advertisement reveals the kinds of data being recorded.

Male-Young adult, Attention time: 484 out of 984, Smile: 0 / 1.8…Glasses: Yes

It’s interesting to note the kind of information being interpreted and recorded: gender, age, “attention”, degree of smiling, the presence of glasses; all transformations from (presumably) camera input compared against pre-trained classification models. How accurate might/could this data be? Into what models could/does this data then flow?

R-G-B. Peter Campus

If we are to avoid the problem of creating a visual system that will reduce the capacity of the eye, it is necessary to disassociate the video camera from the eye and make it an extension of the room.
Peter Campus Video as a Function of Reality, 1974

A Brief History of ‘Pixel’

Figure 1. The first appearance of picture element, in a news item in Wireless World and Radio Review, about a demonstration by Ives at Bell Labs of a 50-by-50-element television system.

A few RCA researchers, notably Albert Rose and Otto Schade, continued to use picture element to examine the theory of imaging, but with differing interpretations. Rose wrote in 1946, “A picture element is here taken to be an element of area of arbitrary size, not necessarily the smallest resolvable area.” Schade wrote in 1948, “The smallest detail…which can be resolved by an imaging process…will be defined as a ‘picture element’.” This dual meaning, between an arbitrary element and a resolution element, persists even today with pixel.

From A Brief History of ‘Pixel’, Richard F. Lyon

You were asked to draw an angel

You drew this and the neural network didn't recognize it.

Playing with Quickdraw