I’ve been slowly working on a new app. I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around what it will be but I am starting to try to incorporate content from a novel that I started writing back in 2010 and have worked on on and off since then. I think something that early apps were missing was a longer story with real, complex characters. But it’s tricky to add so much text into a game or interactive context.
Anyway, one of the tools I’ve created while building the app is a squiggly drawing thing using JS and HTML5 Canvas. It’s a pretty simple drawing script that just animates the points of the drawing a little bit, in the style of Dr. Katz or early Home Movies episodes. The drawing interface won’t be part of the app, but a way for me to make and save drawings. You can play with it here, and if you like a drawing, press space bar and it will print out the point on the website, copy and paste it into an email and send it to me at obroberts at gmail.
I wrote something for htmlgiant about the Russian fiction site Udaff.com:
It’s mostly about profanity.
In an earlier draft of the piece I wrote (there were many drafts before it was finally published because it took me a long time to find someone to translate a couple of the stories into Russian) I talked a bit about how the work on Udaff.com reminded me a bit of two of my favorite Russian writers, Daniil Kharms and Alexander Vvedensky. Kharms and Vvedensky write in a way that is purposely ungrammatical and often absurd or childish. Their work was part of a Russian absurdist group called OBERIU that was squashed by the Soviet state. Both died early deaths and were censored and imprisoned during their lifetime. I ultimately cut these observations from the essay because it was pointed out to me that comparing the ungrammatical writing of a website I had read mostly using Google Translate and translated works of two poets writing in Russian in the 1920 and 30s was a bit precarious. But I imagine anyone reading the two would notice some of the similarities I’m talking about, the interesting part being that Kharms and Vvedensky were actual dissidents who transformed language and had to write allegorically about the world they lived in. The writers of Udaff.com talk about themselves as counter culture but actually reflect mainstream values, as I write about in the essay, and were writing anonymously on an internet platform infamous for its lack of censorship. They’re both sort of self consciously offensive, Kharms and Vvedensky using it in a humorous and allegorical manner, while Udaff.com writers are just being gross for the sake of spectacle. There’s another parallel in the fact that Kharms and Vvedensky weren’t able to publish their literary efforts and so most of what we have now has been discovered in their notebooks, but their poetry was more often read out loud than published in print. The Udaff.com platform has a similar oral quality to it, although the stories exist permanently on the web, they’re written without being edited (probably) and are consumed in an ephemeral way, the way we read facebook updates or tweets.
There’s more to think about there, but mainly, if you like this Udaff.com stuff at all, you should definitely read some Kharms and Vvedensky, which is like actual good writing.
Made a new little zine based on the cellular automata algorithm used to generate the maze in maze3d. It’s a poem about trying to fall asleep. You can see the digital version here. Eventually the grid will settle into a maze like series of lines but as long as the letters are flashing around you can read the whole poem.
I made a little zine last week, adapting the program I wrote for Ann and my “Fingers” piece to do single character substitutions instead of double. The text ends up being pretty funny, and I illustrated it with some simple cat drawings. Not really sure what I think about it but it was fun.
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