Douglas Edric Stanley


I just activated a new menu item on the abstractmachine website. It’s called the randomizer and it gives you a quick snapshot of whatever’s here. Since there is over 10 years of material floating around, some of it really obscure (and even more archival documents on their way), I needed some way — if only for myself — of occasionally landing on that material, as statistically it just dissapears once it’s past a certain date. Also people kept acting suprised when they learned about some installation or prototype I built back in 1999 or whenever.

The randomizer sits right next to the currently inactive linearizer, this latter designed to take the disparate information from the various locations of the site and linearize them recursively into a thesis. So next to a somewhat sophisticated aggregator, I liked the idea of adding an unsophisticated, but easily understandable aggregator.

I’ve noticed that I basically have two types of readers: people who drill through nearly everything, including the thesis notes which aren’t even complete yet (be patient), and those that peruse the blog from time to time and occasionally wander off into the more theoretical territory that this site was designed to cover (that’s a big « theoretically », considering that I’m still not finished). Added to that the three or four other blogs that aggregate only parts of this blog, but I have no idea what those readers are doing, so I’ll just forget about them for the sake of argument. For my own website at least, I figured it would be interesting to have an intermediary menu that would connect the two main types of activity, or at least give a soft landing into the more heady stuff.

abstractmachine.net randomizer

As it turns out, I liked the idea so much, that we added a similar feature on the Aix-en-Provence School of Art website Emanuel Lamotte, Josué Rauscher, and I have been tweaking over the last year or so. It’s called the Salade du jour and gives a humorous but somewhat inaccurate snapshot of our school’s activities. Humorous because nudes are mixed in with screenshots from my Processing courses and what appears to be the occasional picture of a boyfriend or girlfriend. Innaccurate because unfortunately it’s mostly the first-year students that have been feeding it images. But whatever the case, stuff that I had no idea was there suddenly becomes visible and interresting, simply because I wasn’t looking for it. Reminding me, for those that have been hanging around for a few years, of the sadly forgotten uroulette (random for your pleasure): one of the original wonders that gave us an idea of what the web was all about. Yes, before we had Google, we used to explain the web by showing people randomly selected pages: « look, a picture of someone’s coffee percolator », « oh, someone’s diary », « hmmm…, a scientific formula », etc.