Golan Levin: Everest Pipkin is a draw­ing and soft­ware artist from Central Texas who pro­duces inti­mate work with large data sets. Through the use of online archives, big data repos­i­to­ries, and oth­er resources for dig­i­tal infor­ma­tion, they aim to reclaim the cor­po­rate Internet as a space that can be gen­tle, eco­log­i­cal, and per­son­al. They hold a BFA from the University of Texas at Austin, an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University, and have shown inter­na­tion­al­ly at the Design Museum of London, the Texas Biennial, the 21st Triennial of Milan, the Photographer’s Gallery of London, the Center for Land Use Interpretation, and oth­er places. They for their OSSTA res­i­den­cy this semes­ter have been devel­op­ing a large list of tiny tools. It’s my plea­sure to wel­come you to Everest Pipkin.

Everest Pipkin: Hello. Thank you so much for hav­ing me. I am real­ly real­ly pleased to be here. Let me go ahead and share my screen, and give me that brief moment to switch over as always. Share; play; great. Let me pop out the chat so I can see if there are questions.

Yeah. I’m Everest. Thanks for hav­ing me. It’s a joy to be speak­ing to this com­mu­ni­ty in par­tic­u­lar, because again, Carnegie Mellon is a place I’ve spent a lot of time. Pittsburgh, very close to my heart. It’s nice to be here, even vir­tu­al­ly. In gen­er­al I work with data sets, big data,” but with the full knowl­edge that this is only ever the lives and expe­ri­ences of peo­ple bun­dled up and repack­aged through process­es angled for use­ful­ness or at the very least pos­ter­i­ty. My work both in off- and on-line spaces kind of looks at all that as sim­ply all that human life, the ways in which this immen­si­ty of access to so much human cre­ativ­i­ty through time is a gift. And, like so many gifts of abun­dance, one that has been com­mer­cial­ized in cor­po­rate cap­i­tal­is­tic struc­tures, or in research includ­ing towards sur­veil­lance and weapons research, and how this acts on all of us. But we’ll get to that in time. 

I like to start lec­tures with an old YouTube video. I switch them around, but it’s often this video from 2008 called tom wil­ley, bicy­cle man,” which is about 144p, fif­teen sec­onds long. I’ll just play it. 

There’s noth­ing par­tic­u­lar­ly spe­cial about this video, although I do like it. I like the com­pres­sion arti­facts from an old cell­phone cam­era and the low-bandwidth kind of era of YouTube. I like its brevi­ty. I like the qual­i­ty of kids just goof­ing off in a park. I like that it only has about a thou­sand views. Pretty sure half of them are me. 

To me it feels like this kind of ephemer­al and beau­ti­ful, crys­talline moment, of which there are sort of moments still cap­tured on YouTube of this era. And it’s still online, thir­teen years lat­er. But the world has real­ly shift­ed around it. The Internet does­n’t feel this way anymore. 

This video is part of a YouTube screen­ing series that my col­lab­o­ra­tor Zoë Sparks and I start­ed in 2011. This cura­to­r­i­al YouTube series called Snowfall DESTROYS Three Cars, which is named after a video that’s since been tak­en down was real­ly inter­est­ed in these kind of del­i­cate and inti­mate cor­ners of YouTube. We’d inde­pen­dent­ly devel­oped a habit of sav­ing com­pelling videos off while brows­ing. And after shar­ing some of our favorites with each oth­er, we thought that it might be inter­est­ing to arrange them with par­tic­u­lar care and screen them pub­licly in a room like a movie, to focus the atten­tion of a crowd. 

Although we screened this in sev­er­al iter­a­tions between 2011 and 2015, the series even­tu­al­ly end­ed, as the YouTube sort­ing algo­rithm made it hard­er and hard­er to find that kind of video that we were real­ly look­ing for. Those moments that were kind of cap­tured out of some­one’s life, shared will­ing­ly, impor­tant enough to end up in a public-facing repos­i­to­ry. But not you know, intend­ed to go viral, not intend­ed to be some­thing to laugh at but rather be some­thing to sort of sit along with. We called this project an attempt to find and assem­ble aggres­sive moments of peak human detri­tus scat­tered most lov­ing­ly. Which might be an apt descrip­tion for much of my work. 

I did­n’t study pro­gram­ming or com­put­er sci­ence. I did­n’t real­ly even know that artists were mak­ing art with code until I was almost done with my under­grad­u­ate degree in paint­ing. At the time, I was mak­ing these one-page painting-like web sites, which inci­den­tal­ly was right around the end of the net art nexus, which I did­n’t know was hap­pen­ing. I’m not gonna dwell on any of these. I made them a long time ago. They feel sim­ple and a lit­tle naïve now. But I want­ed to bring them up because of their method­ol­o­gy of con­struc­tion. Handmade most­ly in HTML and CSS, code writ­ten direct­ly in the text edi­tor. A mate­r­i­al under­stand­ing of the con­struc­tion of a web site” that felt much clos­er to my paint­ing prac­tice than the cura­to­r­i­al work with YouTube, despite their sur­face lev­el of shar­ing dig­i­tal space. 

This method­ol­o­gy of mak­ing of course is not a rare way to engage with the Internet. The Internet is very much based on that idea of View Source, read­ing through how some­thing was made, copy­ing bits over, edit­ing things, fig­ur­ing it out. It’s how I learned to make web sites in my teens, haunt­ing forums and home pages, and it was how the major­i­ty of the Internet was made then. Front-facing web sites that con­tained all of their infor­ma­tion at the fore, human-readable, hand­writ­ten. But it’s an increas­ing­ly rare par­a­digm of construction. 

Already in 2012 or 2013 when I was mak­ing these lit­tle domains this idea was nos­tal­gic. I host­ed sev­er­al of these on Neocities, a Geocities-like web site builder that was think­ing about this old Internet, that hand-built Internet, an Internet made most­ly by indi­vid­u­als already ten years ago. There’s lots of prob­lems with that, too. Particularly it’s dif­fi­cult to access, its cost, its vision of what a default user was. I’m not advo­cat­ing a return, or even real­ly a nostalgia. 

But as a touch­stone, over and over I think about mak­ing those web sites as a painter. Learning to make them like I learned to paint, which was going to look paint­ings. Seeing how some­body else had done it, and how then access­ing this type of sub­lay­er was as sim­ple as hit­ting Cmd‑U.

It’s some­thing that I’ve nev­er real­ly been able to shake. The feel­ing that one of the best parts of the Internet is how vis­i­ble that sub­strate is, how appar­ent the hand, how it’s only ever just skin deep. 

Around this time, I was also mak­ing Twitter bots. This is moth gen­er­a­tor, to the left, @tiny_star_field to the right. Both of these live on Twitter still. Although…they run on my lap­top so it does kind of depend on me remem­ber­ing to restart the cron jobs every once in a while. I’m pro­duc­ing inter­mit­tent works for the timeline. 

Again, I’m not going gonna dwell on these. They feel [sighs] very old to me, and naïve. But when I would talk about this work at the time, I would talk about it like this: devoid of space; images and code with­out context. 

But how it actu­al­ly looks is this. Entirely with­in the con­text of Twitter, pre­sent­ed with news, side­bars, sug­ges­tions that are all tai­lored to me. Alone. Alone of my pow­er and con­vic­tion to that space. One that hides all of the inter­nal log­ic of those pro­grams behind the server-side inter­face of a tweet towards cor­po­rate gain. 

When you begin to see your work as sit­u­at­ed with­in this spe­cif­ic cor­po­rate con­text, you of course start to look at what could be made or used out­side of it. Which is what led me into mak­ing work both with and for the pub­lic domain. This is a screen­shot of the Biodiversity Heritage Library, which is one of many many many resources online full of pub­lic domain images and texts. 

I used botan­i­cal illus­tra­tions from this col­lec­tion as the basis for my 2016 game The Worm Room, which is a first-person explo­ration game and dig­i­tal inter­ac­tive art­work kind of set in this series of end­less glass green­hous­es, each gen­er­at­ed as it’s walked into. You can sort of see all the lit­tle cutouts of the botan­i­cal illus­tra­tions, which form the basis of sort of the land­scape of the space. 

Working with mod­els like this and in game engines in gen­er­al, I became very focused on the labor and many lives of those pieces. Who made them. Where else they’d been used. How many alter­ations they’ve seen. How many con­cur­rent screens they’re on. How many times they’ve sort of been down­loaded and shift­ed just a lit­tle bit and reu­ploaded. How many human hands have been attached to these mate­r­i­al objects which have been dis­sem­i­nat­ed so wide­ly through Internet space. I began to col­lect and sit­u­ate these Creative Commons 3D mod­els in a series of screen­savers and gen­er­a­tive video works, think­ing about what they would be like giv­en agency. 

This isn’t of course dif­fer­ent than how these mod­els get used in gen­er­al. This is why I love assets for col­lage, and flat games, and games made in pre-existing tools, games made quick­ly out of the cura­tion of so much already-existent care and labor. The assem­bly of all that human life into a new thing. It is tru­ly one of the best things about being on the Internet. 

But I want­ed to make things that let them spend time with them­selves, if this makes sense. I’m inter­est­ed in screen­savers as per­for­mances for…an emp­ty room? Like, they’re very ambi­ent. They’re kind of works for the back of your head? But they’re live, they’re run­ning in real time. They are under­stand­ing time in a way video work does not. And when they’re made of these objects that have mate­r­i­al lives both inside and out­side of that space, it sud­den­ly takes on this oth­er lay­er for me.

It was from the screen­savers that I began to work on Ellinger, TX. This is a project that takes as a point of depar­ture the real-world Ellinger, which is a rur­al com­mu­ni­ty sit­u­at­ed on the inter­sec­tion of two major high­ways near where I grew up, very near where I’m liv­ing at the moment. Although once a farm­ing town, Ellinger now makes the major­i­ty of its income in the town’s two gas sta­tions. And like so many rur­al towns, it’s both depen­dent on and hol­lowed out by con­tem­po­rary sys­tems of eco­nom­ic traf­fic and opportunity. 

In my work, Ellinger has been cut off from these high­way routes as well as the rest of the world. The char­ac­ters that live inside of this town are in this micro land­scape sort of bor­dered in the same way that game spaces are sur­round­ed by invis­i­ble walls. But they’re giv­en time. The peo­ple” in this place are giv­en time to like live in this lit­tle micro uni­verse that plays itself…kind of…characters unable to leave but also unable to be car­ried away. 

I guess I made this work for a cou­ple of rea­sons. Partly because I was inter­est­ed in how the lived expe­ri­ence of mass-produced objects might give them weight. All the tex­tures in this game are all hand-drawn and applied to these cre­ative Commons mod­els. What might hap­pen when a place that sur­vived because of net­work cap­i­tal is cut off from that net­work, both the dig­i­tal net­work of cap­i­tal and the phys­i­cal net­work of high­ways. And what hap­pens when the tran­sit net­work that so often works to car­ry indi­vid­u­als from a place is also removed and how that inter­sects with kind of game-like visions of walled or bor­dered spaces. 

Right after this project, I did this long res­i­den­cy in Montello, Nevada, think­ing a lot about the pat­terns of peo­ple, of move­ment as its own kind of net­work. I men­tioned I think a lot or dream a lot about inti­mate Internets, Internets that push back against sort of like the bad land­lord prob­lem of cor­po­rate Internet spaces. 

This was my expe­ri­ence of send­ing email while on a res­i­den­cy here, where the clos­est cell recep­tion was a two-and-a-half hour walk up a moun­tain. Once a week I’d pack up my lap­top and cell­phone, do the hike, turn on my wifi hotspot, stick my phone up in a scrub juniper tree, and sit and return all the draft emails I’d down­loaded and writ­ten a response to last time. All on about one bar of 4G, depend­ing on the weath­er. And if I was real­ly lucky I might get a pod­cast, too. 

There was also, though, this hyper­local net­work in the house, in form of a flash dri­ve. So peo­ple left flow­ers and notes, which is by all accounts a sneak­er­net, right, an Internet that’s based on a phys­i­cal loca­tion you car­ry around with your feet. And these two Internets in rela­tion­ship to each oth­er, like this broad Internet that I had access to but only kind of like…a mail­box that I had to take a long hike to get to, that was very phys­i­cal­ly depen­dent on the way the clouds rolled in on that par­tic­u­lar day in the cou­ple of hours that it had tak­en for me to walk from the house to the hill. As well as Internet that sat in the house all the time but that did­n’t have access to the out­side world, that’s pop­u­la­tion was entire­ly depen­dent on peo­ple that had phys­i­cal­ly been in that space before me and had dragged diary entries and recipes and whole series of ani­me onto this flash dri­ve and left it in the house for next per­son. Sort of like a guest­book but you know, plus-plus-plus. And those two…like, alter­nat­ing Internets both were like my life­line while I was here. And have gone on to remind me of all the ways in which the Internet can be oth­er than often the Internet that I expe­ri­ence as it is now. 

There are lots of peo­ple who com­pute this way already, right. Who don’t have access to high-speed fiber optic cables, who have to go to an access point to get online, whose Internet most­ly is hard dri­ves pass­ing around. This is absolute­ly the lived real­i­ty of many. It’s not like I had a unique expe­ri­ence in the woods. But it was use­ful for me, I think, as I was think­ing about ways in which I could think about tech­nol­o­gy and tools and Internet spaces that were pro­duc­tive and under my con­trol and for a small community. 

This expe­ri­ence led into gift game which is an iframe poem about kind of files cir­cu­lat­ing in an Internet of hands, an Internet of gifts. It uses the tech­nol­o­gy of iframes to pop­u­late these lit­tle por­tals into oth­er spaces, into oth­er works, into moments inside of archives or onto blogs that sort of exist inside of this meta-poem, a look at maybe an alter­na­tive vision of the way hyper­links could’ve once worked for us. 

It also led into this project called default file­name tv, which…as I was work­ing on this I was think­ing a lot about the casu­al nature of files dragged onto a dri­ve. You know, so many of those files that were on that hard dri­ve at that res­i­den­cy were just named you know, DSC_179, right, because like why would you name a file that was­n’t going to be indexed by a search engine. 

So I made this YouTube aggre­ga­tor which serves only videos that were uploaded direct­ly from a cam­era with­out edits to the file name, so they all have titles like 1453​.mov. And those small moments kind of point back to an era of YouTube that was inti­mate and per­son­al and mun­dane. Like that video we watched at the very top of the lecture. 

I start­ed work­ing on this part­ly as a per­son­al tool to help find that ear­ly YouTube kind of video, those ones that no longer show up so read­i­ly in the search and rec­om­men­da­tion sys­tem and have buried my capac­i­ty to con­tin­ue that cura­to­r­i­al project with Zoë. I was orig­i­nal­ly plan­ning to use it to curate videos from rather than pro­duce a watch­ing stream, but even­tu­al­ly I found the expe­ri­ence of load­ing a video one after anoth­er to be pret­ty com­pelling in and of itself. And this is because all of these videos share this par­tic­u­lar qual­i­ty, which they are…special enough that they desire to be saved, right, off of the device, off of the thing that was in your pock­et. But are not nec­es­sar­i­ly made for…virality. They’re not made to be sur­faced at the top of an algorithmically-sorted rec­om­men­da­tion sys­tem that uses key­words and titles to index these things. 

Instead they’re these moments that are…yeah, very per­son­al and mun­dane and pow­er­ful, and remind me of an Internet that feels like one that we haven’t lost, but has been inten­tion­al­ly squashed because it’s hard to mar­ket on top of an Internet like this. 

There’s some­thing about…echoes, and mem­o­ry in all of that work, real­ly. Information made of data, which is always always just the actions and mak­ing of peo­ple, for bet­ter and for worse. Which does I think even­tu­al­ly lead you to think­ing about neur­al nets. Most peo­ple know what a neur­al net­work is at this point. But in case you don’t, it’s a type of machine learn­ing that mod­els itself kind of after the human brain, learns pat­terns and then repro­duces them. 

I made this asset pack in 2019. 824 neur­al network-generated iso­met­ric tiles. These are all gen­er­at­ed on tiles that were from the Creative Commons. They have gone back to live in the Creative Commons. If you’d like to use these for a game, you’re wel­come to. They’re on itch​.io. But they lean real­ly direct­ly into sort of the fuzzy aes­thet­ics of gen­er­a­tive neur­al net­works, although they have moved in leaps and bounds in only the two years since I fin­ished the project. But you know, they’re sort of intend­ed to let you build these like, cities and spires in these fad­ed land­scapes of kind of half-remembered conventions. 

But of course, nev­er emp­ty, always peo­pled. These are the con­trib­u­tors who made the tile­sets this was orig­i­nal­ly trained on. 

Sort of off this neur­al net­work work as well as default file­name tv, I pro­posed what would become Lacework in the sum­mer of 2019. In my pro­pos­al I described a cycle of videos cre­at­ed from MIT’s Moments in Time Dataset, each of them slowed down, inter­po­lat­ed, and upscaled immense­ly into imag­ined detail, one flow­ing into anoth­er like a river. 

This project… MIT, the Moments in Time Dataset is ded­i­cat­ed to build­ing a very large-scale dataset to help AI sys­tems rec­og­nize and under­stand actions and events in videos. In many ways Moments in Time is unre­mark­able. Like so many datasets with sim­i­lar goals, Moments in Time is intend­ed to train AI sys­tems to rec­og­nize actions. It con­tains one mil­lion three-second videos scraped from web sites like YouTube and Flikr, each tagged with a sin­gle verb like ask­ing,” rest­ing,” snow­ing,” or pray­ing.”

There’s a cou­ple things that are par­tic­u­lar about Moments in Time. It tries to break down those pos­si­ble actions into just 339 doing verbs.” It also does­n’t clar­i­fy about the sub­jects in its videos, for instance. It’s more inter­est­ed that some­thing’s fly­ing than whether that thing is a bee, a flower, a per­son, a satel­lite, a bird. It decen­ters human actions in favor of words that might apply to broad­er swaths of doing. But for the most part, it’s just a big dataset. 

So, at first I decid­ed I would obfus­cate some of these videos. You know, I would take them down to this tiny, you know, like 20 by 20 pix­el size and then upscale them over and over with a neur­al net­work, mak­ing these unfold­ing kind of slow videos full of all of these details. 

But as I began to dig into this dataset, as I began to sort of try to write a process that would run on the whole thing algo­rith­mi­cal­ly and cre­ate a sub­s­e­lec­tion of videos, I began to real­ize that there was no pos­si­ble way for me use this as it was. This whole project real­ly messed me up, because I watched the whole dataset. I just did­n’t know how else to do it. I want—I need­ed to under­stand it. 

Working with mate­r­i­al like this, one of the biggest things is cred­it. How do you accu­mu­late the infor­ma­tion of oth­ers at scale and still make it mate­ri­al­ly theirs? Not being made fun of, not being ele­vat­ed” but instead cared for. With my work with YouTube or with the Creative Commons tiles, I’m so care­ful always to go by the license that things were orig­i­nal­ly licensed by, the include the names of the cre­ators of the work. default file­name tv always includes a link back to that per­son­’s chan­nel. If they take that video down…you know, it all runs live, it nev­er is indexed. Nothing’s ever down­loaded. So, con­trol rests with­in the hands of the orig­i­nal creator. 

A dataset like Moments in time, which has got a mil­lion scraped videos from all sorts of sources, many of which gath­ered with­out consent…I don’t have that abil­i­ty. I can’t actu­al­ly find even where these things came from. They might not even be online any­more. And so I tried a lot of approach­es to kind of get around this in oth­er mate­r­i­al ways, but I end­ed up just watch­ing the whole thing. 

I had kind of expect­ed the act of watch­ing Moments in Time to be…calming or explorato­ry, like see­ing the world through a win­dow. But this archive isn’t enter­tain­ing or poet­ic or beau­ti­ful or joy­ful, even though it con­tains many videos that evoke those feel­ings. It’s an archive with a pur­pose, an archive of actions for an inhu­man eye. It says Here’s the world, here are the things that are done here, ter­ri­ble and great.” It feels very raw. 

I end­ed up com­ing to see all these pat­terns in cam­era qual­i­ty and shad­ows and the col­or of paint, the types of trees and move­ment and tex­ture. What would unfold into more and more detail. As well as like, the way in which videos were gath­ered from their key­words, the way in which they were chopped and sliced, the way in which like, these three-second moments were cut out of a much longer video that would’ve been nat­u­ral­ly uploaded by some­one who you know, may have end­ed an action at a minute. I began to won­der if this was how a sort­ing algo­rithm feels. 

I end­ed up hav­ing to make this hand-made selec­tion inter­face, because just going through the things in my file sys­tem was too slow. Mine is on the right. And on the left is the image in the Moments in Time whitepa­per which is the orig­i­nal selec­tion inter­face for these videos on Amazon Mechanical Turk. 

I am prob­a­bly the first per­son to watch all of Moments in Time, would be my guess. But even though I’m the first per­son to prob­a­bly watch all of it whole cloth, every part of the dataset has had human eyes on it before. And this is because after being gath­ered, and down­loaded, and cut, the videos of Moments in Time were auto­mat­i­cal­ly uploaded to Amazon Mechanical Turk for annotation. 

Mechanical Turk is a crowd­sourc­ing service—you’ve prob­a­bly heard of it—that con­nects requesters to work­ers who gen­er­al­ly per­form small computer-like tasks for pen­nies. It’s owned by Amazon. It takes its name from this fake chess-playing automa­ton that hid a real chess mas­ter inside of it, which is…pretty dire. And with­out look­ing at the whitepa­per, I had recre­at­ed the kind of exact inter­face that was orig­i­nal­ly used to select these videos.

This of course brought back to me that my dur­ing and after my under­grad I was pri­mar­i­ly employed through Mechanical Turk. This is me in 2013, a much younger ver­sion of myself, train­ing a facial recog­ni­tion data­base for rough­ly four dol­lars an hour. I did not real­ly under­stand what I was doing. I don’t think I real­ly under­stood the ways in which those types of struc­tures were imme­di­ate­ly bun­dled into harm­ful sur­veil­lance sys­tems. I was also doing lots of like, med­ical research and was like oh yeah, it’s like a psy­cho­log­i­cal study. But over time of course it’s become clear that what I was doing was train­ing the same facial recog­ni­tion sys­tems that have come back to police bod­ies like mine and more vul­ner­a­ble than mine. That even beyond my work, my body has been weaponized and recy­cled into a dataset that has come back to peo­ple I care about. 

Could I talk a lit­tle more about the watch­ing process of Moments in Time. It took about three months. About three months, twelve hours a day. And I… It was a tru­ly dehu­man­iz­ing expe­ri­ence. I like ful­ly back to nor­mal at this point, but I… I hope I nev­er do any­thing like that again. 

So both of those expe­ri­ences, that feel­ing of mak­ing Lacework and then of rec­og­niz­ing my own his­to­ry in sort of sim­i­lar datasets to the ones I was work­ing with went into Shell Song, a project at Open Data Institute, which is an inter­ac­tive audio nar­ra­tive game about cor­po­rate deep­fake tech­nolo­gies and the datasets that go into their con­struc­tion. It weaves togeth­er vocal train­ing mate­ri­als, and open source audio sam­ples, and spec­u­la­tive fic­tion into a branch­ing nar­ra­tive struc­ture that talks about like what voic­es are worth, who can own a human sound, how it feels to come face to face with the ghost of your body that may yet come to out­live you. And this is because you know, my own voice is also in those datasets, too, a voice that at the time it was record­ed I used a dif­fer­ent name, I used dif­fer­ent pro­nouns, and now returns back to like, mis­gen­der my trans body in dig­i­tal space. 

So where do you go from here? For me, I think there was only one path for­ward, and that was through tool­mak­ing and through orga­niz­ing. This is Image Scrubber a tool for anonymiz­ing pho­tographs tak­en at protests, both through remov­ing EXIF data and allow­ing var­i­ous ways to paint over iden­ti­fy­ing fea­tures of peo­ple at protests. 

This is The Big Artist Opportunities List, many many many excel­lent oppor­tu­ni­ties in spread­sheet for­mat, very easy to sort through; a kind of rude lit­tle about” sec­tion from me for each one. 

This is this Quickstart Unity 3D, only the essen­tial parts. 

This is the Anti-Capitalist Software License, a col­lab­o­ra­tive project with Ramsey Nasser, which it does exact­ly what it says. It’s not an open source license because it does restrict usage, but it says that it can only be used by indi­vid­u­als, a non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion, an edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tion, or essen­tial­ly a cooperative. 

This is the city game tile­set with with­er­ing sys­tems. It’s a hand-drawn kind of paper iso­met­ric asset pack, free to use in your projects. Please use it. 

screen­shot gar­den, a per­son­al diary kind of repli­cat­ing the inter­nal fold­er struc­ture as well as a how-to. And a lit­tle piece of code you can kind of copy and build your own in. 

And what I worked on for this res­i­den­cy, which was the Open source, exper­i­men­tal, and tiny tools roundup, some­thing that I’ve been work­ing on for a long time now but that I went through over the last cou­ple of months, tagged all now eight hun­dred-plus tools out for a vari­ety of fea­tures. You know, whether they’re free, exper­i­men­tal, tiny, a game engine, a fan­ta­sy con­sole. And built this kind of inter­face for sort of sort­ing through them, for mov­ing them them to find­ing tools that allow you to engage in non-corporate, non-walled-garden, joy­ful dig­i­tal creation. 

And in a nice cir­cle, this is also host­ed on Neocities, the site that I look back on and on which I have made my kind of first painting-like for­ays into net art. And it’s all hand-written in HTML, based on a tool that’s also on the list which is named Leafy, all run­ning on the front, read­able and usable for the sake of View Source, copy­ing, edit­ing, learn­ing a lit­tle bit about it, chang­ing things, and mak­ing your own pages and places on the Internet to live and thrive in that embody those principles. 

So all of this is a touch­stone for me going for­ward. [Learning to live?] with main­te­nance, not of the things I’ve made but of the things that oth­ers use. 

That’s it for me. Thanks. 

Golan Levin: Everest, thank you so much for that won­der­ful pre­sen­ta­tion. We are basi­cal­ly at time but I’d like to maybe ask one brief ques­tion before we move to our next speak­er. The ques­tion came from the chat here in the Zoom. How you would describe the rela­tion between your tra­di­tion­al artis­tic prac­tice, because you do a lot of draw­ings, and your com­pu­ta­tion­al practice. 

Pipkin: Yeah. That’s a com­mon ques­tion. In some ways they are sep­a­rate prac­tices. And some things are just bet­ter as a draw­ing or like, work bet­ter on a piece of paper than they would be in dig­i­tal space and vice ver­sa. But I also am often think­ing about paper as a stor­age medi­um, paper as a real­ly excel­lent piece of tech­nol­o­gy that endures, that does­n’t require con­sis­tent main­te­nance. I mean, you have to upkeep the piece paper, kind of, but not in the way that you have to like, keep a com­put­er pow­ered to func­tion, right. You draw on it and it’s there, and it has such a depth of infor­ma­tion stor­age, of hand, of capac­i­ty. It says so much about the per­son that drew that thing or wrote that thing on it. The pen they used, where that paper was made, the tree that it came from. 


Like all of that is held in you know, this thing. And it’s often a touch­stone, right, when I’m think­ing about tech­nolo­gies and tools. If they can be more like paper, if they can be as sim­ple and as use­ful as a piece of tech­nol­o­gy like that. So…yeah. You know…it’s always in the back of my brain.

Levin: Thank you very much, Everest Pipkin.