I worked for years in tech-support phone banks and as an interface designer for large companies. I closely watched the techno-utopian ideals of the early internet give way to the software-as-hostile-architecture fortifications of the racist police state we currently inhabit. I waited until I was an adult to attempt college, because when I was young, standardized testing was my first glimpse of software that could harm me.
I’ve been learning to build my own software as a place to hide things- in the tradition of videogame Easter eggs. I would like to call what I am building harmless software, but at best, I can only aspire not to harm myself with it. It’s helped me to create places and information architecture, to memorialize things, to forget things until they are needed again, and to communicate with people who are willing to spare their attention. This “less-harmful software” is the place where my experiences performing, animating, curating games, and having helped create terrible software come together.
Animation is a part of my practice and as an animator I’m influenced by artists like Peter Burr, Tony Domenico, Paloma Dawkins and James Paterson, in addition to foundational traditional and experimental animators like Al Jarnow and John Whitney Sr. My perspectives on software/web art are influenced by artists Everest Pipkin, Loren Schmidt, and Jodi.org. I’m inspired by hardware hackers/designers Rachel Weil and Andy Reitano when it comes to my ideas about situated games, especially their game installations Tender Mystic Hotline (Weil), Super Russian Roulette and Vec9 (Reitano). I helped plan and host events that included Tender Mystic Hotline and Super Russian Roulette, and watched how the devices, software, and settings attracted participants, creating emergent social actions. These were total artworks with stories told through their design, but the social actions that they instigate are what interest me. The idea of indirectly participating in a group action is one of my major motivations as a creator.
I’ve come to think about software interactions (even ones with only one human participant) as social actions - that is that they are so situated that I think of users as collaborators, and I want opportunities to create the devices and physical environments in which the software I make is used. I’m reminded that what customer support, UI design, game design and acting all have in common is what sociolinguist Alan Bell called Audience Design– It is necessary for us to change the style of how we communicate or perform based on an imagined recipient and a resulting power dynamic. Games and software are a way for me to create a process of granting trust and speaking to a person that I cannot actually meet, in a world that I do not necessarily trust.
This site is a constantly growing and evolving digital garden where I practice these ideas- it’s the public part of a working space rather than just a portfolio.