Tag: Dream Vortex

Dazzling FireBall: Space Junk, UFO or AI Swarm distribution coverup


While we were in residence at Scientific Delirium Madness a large fireball was seen in the sky over Palo Alto. Actually it was seen from San Francisco down to Los Angeles at the same time and it made it to Nevada and Utah before breaking up. The standard news took a few days to debate what the slow, glowing, giant comet-mass was. Delta Aquarid Perseid Meteor Shower ice ball? Flaming commercial airliner death ball? Off track or off map space junk?

Two days afterwards, Jonathan McDowell, astronomer of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics tweeted, “Observation reports from Utah indicate the second stage from the first Chang Zheng 7 rocket, launched Jun 25, reentered at 0440 UTC.” So, officially we have an identified flying object, synopsis… Chinese space junk. It was 36 feet long, 10 cubic meters, about the size of a school bus. Yes it was a big mofo. It scared lots of folx into thinking it was armageddon, a missile attack or an alien invasion. Capt. Nick Mercurio from Joint Functional Component Command for Space at Vandenburg Air Force Base, said “Given the size of the rocket body, some pieces of it may have survived re-entry but it’s unlikely it posed any threat to people.”

I can tell you that there was some curious followings along the trajectory of our CZ-7 Rocket booster flame out. The skies had f-19s scrambling the first day and copters with surface to air missiles the second day. They seemed to be tracking the path of the Chinese space manufacturing drizzle. Perhaps looking for covert pico-cricket robot swarms, Zika glossolaia attenuators, silicon eating 味噌 tauco 豆醬 fungal strains or rapid prototyping AI bunker camoCNC Router malevolent machine superintelligence (see http://leonardo.info/blogs/djerassi-field-notes-asa-calow/ ).

Be aware that being from Woodstock NY allows for conspiracy theory to be wide and far fetched. When presented with a school bus sized surprise space junk sky show, it is not the worst independent maneuver to free associate worst case scenarios… international subversions, government cover-ups, even wildhair, keef brained kook theory. In my humble opinion 60% of X-files style panic nutball theory turns out to be closer to the actual than baseline liar-liar mass media CNNFOX whitewash.

Track yourself as space junk:




I remember that the word testament and testicles have etymological origins in common. Early swearing on the Torah was not always possible before the printing press. Often it was told that men would take an oath on each other’s thighs or even under each other’s thighs. Due to the fact that the oath was a testimony, shy scholars had substituted balls or testicles with the words: ‘thigh’, stones or underthighs. The image is of men holding each other’s cojones cupped in each other’s hands during an oath, this is testimony. Giving each other testimony on the bollocks makes much more sense than a thigh in terms of relations between honesty and fear of pain. It also shows that the word is made of flesh as the germline genetic material (sperm and spermatagonia, ovum and oogonia) doubles as a holy book as well as a total trust fall for sure. It is certainly time to update the translation, re-enter these traditions into the halls of justice to include bodies of difference to lay oath hands on.

Considering Ruth and other female judges in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic Trinity of monotheistic cult(ures), we must ask how contestable (con-testicular) oaths are conducted in lieu of a book between: women and women, women and men as well as the detailed gender, identity, sex and sexualtity gradations and off the locus points of the day. The pen and the penis (and the pasta penne) need a gendered reinscribing, as well as protest (pro-testicular) neologisms beyond detestible (de-testicularity) testes, can be converted to gender neutral (neutered) or pluralized hybrid language of identity biodiversity. The tablets are not ‘stones’ these days. Penises are not the only thighs in the thicket. WE need a new embodiment of trust, lineage, language and law crossover that includes more than thinly veiled phallic worship. Lets get some yoni in that lingam langue, what Maya Spasova calls, “The Venus in every penis.” A good measure would be starting from the sum total of a dynamic equilibrium orificial economy and reverse engineering to a menu of options in the anatomy of testimonials.

All that being said, I killed Keith the centipede. I swear an oath on Gaia’s ovum… it was no fun. Keith was lit. May heesh live on in the brains and sinews of those heesh has touched.

Dream Vortex: It’s All The Real World


As Dawn and I were making the Djerassi version of our interactive, 3-D installation Dream Vortex, I also turned Barn Studio B into an installation about the creative process: It’s All The Real World. My dirty-work coveralls hung next to the door…

It's All The Real World, SW corner

The green tape anchoring the drawings refers to a grid feature of a CAVE (Computerized Automated Visualization Environment), the digital environment for which the Dream Vortex was originally envisioned.

…the door covered with “find me” messages to Dawn, notes to keep our collaboration flowing.


In the rafters high above the door was a drawing of a sleeper, dreams dripping from her hair.


 North of the door were objects showing how a dream becomes a Dream Vortex drawing: a scroll with dream stories collected from researchers at the Complexity Sciences Center and KeckCAVES at UC Davis, drawing boards, source photos, preliminary sketches, and a mop modeling for a dream drawing.

04_Tromble_Real_World 04.5_Tromble_Real_World

Dream drawings filled the walls on the other side of the door.


These drawings were flanked by panels with excerpts from key passages of Dream Vortex code. The code is part of the pulse of the dreams through different forms — they start as images in a mind’s eye, turn into texts (stories), turn back into images (drawings) and then texts (code) again, becoming mind pictures once again as you look at the Dream Vortex.

Code written by Jordan Van Aalsburg to create the vortex

Code written by Jordan Van Aalsburg to create the vortex

The installation’s centerpiece was an easel with a drawing in progress, standing on a ball-and-arrow diagram. On the little table by the easel were drawing materials and pages from the scientific paper for which the diagram was originally created. The paper talks about the way channels change the information that flows through them. Physicist and fellow resident Jim Crutchfield worked on it during our time at Djerassi; he understands the diagram as beautifully specific physics and mathematics.  I understood it as a metaphor for what we were experiencing in the residency: DRAP channeling our creative energies together and thereby changing the way they flow.


Turning to the fourth wall, you see a silk print of a dream in which a physicist lectures to daisies, more drawings and raw materials…


And, completing the circle, a mangled toy lion considers the dream scroll. Perhaps he dreams of himself as a strong young lion, as in the yellow drawing on the wall opposite. Or perhaps he knows that his scars give him soul, and that in the dream world he is both young and old. Maybe he even knows that body, mind, and code — it’s all the real world.

It's All The Real World













The Djerassi Dream Vortex


The Dream Vortex, a collaboration between myself and Meredith Tromble, reached a new level during our residency at Djerassi. It is finally artistically interesting, with two scenes and several interaction opportunities in full 3D.


In Scene 1, fleeting images of dreams spiral up out of the floor in a vortex. The dreamer glimpses ideas, but they are just beyond grasp, an experience much like when we are floating at the edge of the dream world trying to make sense of vague memories. Colorful sprites provide extra light and trigger soft sounds that complement a background soundtrack of noise – often David Dunn’s bark beetles.


Special emblems representing specific dreams occasionally float upward in the center of the vortex: a shoe, glasses, a sphere, the letter C… When the dreamer chooses one of these emblems, it starts to slowly float downward toward the floor as the vortex continues upward.  A specific dream image emerges on the floor in place of the vortex and absorbs the emblem.


As Scene 2 emerges, ghosts of other dreams appear around the focus dream. These dreams can be arranged and overlapped by the dreamer to create visual patterns. Suddenly, a ghost dream disappears. A new dream fades slowly in. There is an illusion of control, but only enough to make associations, not enough to create a story.


After some time, the focus dream fades away and fleeting images and sprites begin to emerge from the floor in a spiral. The ghost dreams persist for a while, but disappear one at a time until the vortex dominates the return to Scene 1.  The dreamer can only get back to Scene 2 by choosing another emblem, when one finally appears.


Meredith and I showed the Dream Vortex at the open house, and it had a great reception.  It took a month of hard work to restructure the Vroom – Python program we started with, add interaction, and create Scene 2.  That was my focus, and my programming skills developed substantially, skills I’ll use for my scientific work comparing representations of microbial structures in rocks and growing in Antarctic lakes.


Meredith created substantial content for the vortex with new drawings, manipulation of digital images to make the fleeting images and dream drawings compatible with the visual requirements of the digital context, and insights into how to shape the visuals.  She met a specific goal of my giving her a dream from the night before and completing an image before the end of the day (the red capoeira-traveling salesman dream above).


In addition to working with me on the digital Dream Vortex, Meredith completed an entire installation based on the same content in her studio for open house.  We showed them at the same time so people could experience the physical and virtual implementations one after the other.


I contributed a bit to Meredith’s installation, too, in the form of a sculpture, Farm Dreams.  One Sunday, when I was tired of working on the computer, I made a physical dream vortex from barbed wire.  Co-resident Budi Prakosa built a solar-powered LED light system for enhanced night viewing, when dreams are the best.  Farm Dreams is now mounted on a fence post along the road into Djerassi.

Many thanks go to all the Djerassi residents and staff.  In particular, Jim Crutchfield was instrumental in helping me with the programming as well as providing important insights into the Dream Vortex visuals.  Ari Frankel suggested the sound, and Jim created the Python module that I integrated into the vortex.  Feedback from many others helped us in more subtle ways, with small changes in visuals or interactions.  And thanks to all of those that spent some time with the Dream Vortex at Open House.  Watching your reactions, listening to your questions, and learning from you will feed directly into the many Dream Vortex implementations yet to come.

Dream Vortex, Djerassi Draft One


Meredith Tromble and I have been working on the Dream Vortex for a bit over three years – or I should say we started the project three years ago.  We’ve made some progress but approaching the vision for the project has been variously limited by too little time and limited software capabilities.

A network of plants in my yard to demonstrate to Meredith how the program Mycelia could be used to show dream networks

A network of plants in my yard to demonstrate to Meredith how the program Mycelia could be used to show dream networks

Meredith's drawing incorporated into a network that can be manipulated and explored - but doesn't move well on its own.

Meredith’s drawings incorporated into a network that can be manipulated and explored – but doesn’t move well on its own.

Jordan VanAalsburg worked with Meredith to create better visuals and dynamics using Vroom.

Jordan VanAalsburg worked with Meredith to create better visuals and dynamics using Vroom.

A good programming platform and dedicated time have merged with our joint residency at Djerassi, and the results were immediate: We have a vortex of images from dreams that evokes the anticipation, reticence, confusion, and mystery of entering the dream world.

Video: Dream Vortex Djerassi Draft 1

Our next step is to invite (and technically allow) an explorer to interact with those dreams, to experience the feelings and associations triggered by the network of vortex dreams.