[-empyre-] Introducing Lee Tusman and Messlife

Lee T leetusman at gmail.com
Thu Dec 10 18:13:37 AEDT 2020

Hi Dan, Thanks for these questions about the generative output of Messlife.

Messlife was originally built in a first incarnation in 2017. It was
envisioned as an interactive online DIY collectively-built artspace as well
as capable of serving as an actual artwork itself. What I mean by this
second point is that the top-down view of the world is itself a
continuously generative (and re-generative) visual artwork. Over time, this
part became increasingly compelling to me. For some of the same reasons I
am drawn to collaborations with other people, the generated view (examples
of which are included in the Accumulations.online exhibited images of
Messlife <http://accumulations.online/messlife.html>) creates a churning
and for me endlessly compelling artwork. While generative art has the risk
of being "about" the systems that generate the image, the most compelling
work (for me) goes beyond its structure and system to produce something
that can sustain my interest and attention. This is not to say Messlife's
output is not capable of producing boredom, repetition, or systemic output,
just that this particular generative work has hit my intention: producing
unending, almost ambient, generative visual artwork, combining a system as
well as input from past participants who have uploaded their own images
into the space. I can point to past favorites of generative works by Brian
Eno (Music For Airports), Ian Cheng (Emissaries), and a thriving online
community of generative artists and those working in code sketching. I
believe I've created a different approach to all of these.

Where many practitioners of generative art start with primitive shapes
(rects, ellipses) and colors, I am using fed in images. This probably
speaks to my own past in zine-making, remixing, and interest in ephemera
collected from the streets. I am treating my generative work along a
continuum with Rauschenberg-ian combines for example. In the 4 minute
excerpt video the incorporated and churned images run the gamut of stock
photos of office environments, memes, Duchamp's Nude Descending the Stairs
(in low resolution), a Keith Haring sketch, Clinton playing sax, quilts,
black trash bags, an excerpt of output from the BASIC program
10print....and that's only what I'm able to identify.

I'm now telling myself I should consider creating a continuously running
Twitch stream version, though perhaps the limited timeframe helps with the
framing. Any thoughts?
Incidentally, the music in the video is also generative, though I edited
the sound and images together for this excerpt.

On Sat, Dec 5, 2020 at 4:39 PM Daniel Lichtman <danielp73 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Thanks for introducing this project, Lee!
> This project is a few years old, and I know from speaking with you
> directly that you’re interested in the generative output from this project
> now, as much as the infrastructure for collaboration that you developed for
> it before.
> Can you tell us about this output? What determines the dynamic
> compositions of these collages? — I assume collages are composed of input
> from contributors to the online space.
> I know that Generative art and DIY spaces are both important aspects of
> your work. Can you tell us a little about the relation between these two
> modes of practice — one of which seemingly distances itself from the ‘hand
> of the artist’, the other of which is born out of the hands of many.
> Messlife project link: http://accumulations.online/messlife.html
> Accumulations.online exhibition link:
> http://accumulations.online/exhibition.html
> On Wed, Nov 25, 2020 at 8:01 AM Lee T <leetusman at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Dear Empyre List,
>> Messlife <http://accumulations.online/messlife.html> is a generative
>> virtual DIY collective artspace and community. It manifests through online
>> and in-person art exhibitions, popping up within galleries, alternative
>> spaces and classrooms even as its true form is situated within cyberspace.
>> Messlife is both a virtual space as well as an experimental art tool. It
>> consists of an open sandbox platform, taking the metaphor of a DIY artist
>> warehouse. The environment supports a simultaneous community of no more
>> than a few dozen participants who primarily build collaged sculptures and
>> digital readymades, skate, or explore its nooks and crannies.
>> Useful materials for construction are imported and added or found onsite.
>> Any 2d image can be uploaded into the space, immediately becoming a 3d
>> asset or artwork used for building in an additive constructive manner, used
>> as material for sculpture or to alter one's own body or the shifting floor.
>> The horizontal nature of the tool means that fine art, memes, personal
>> images, drawings, textures, stock photos and screenshots all become
>> readymade materials. These uploaded materials are shared by the community.
>> Any participant can use anyone else's images, or move, resize, or shift
>> anything
>> In addition to the warehouse artspace is a skatepark, dumpsters for
>> storing and discarding old materials, a performance area, art shack,
>> shipping containers, shopping carts.
>> Like IRL artist communities, the shared dumpsters take on an outsize role
>> here. The virtual dumpster is a generative space for both discarding past
>> images or objects and finding new ones, and new works can be constructed
>> using this detritus.
>> In addition to the traditional First Person 3d game view, Messlife
>> includes a top down world view, both intended as a generative visual
>> artwork of its own as well as a result of the collected images and
>> manipulations of the participants.
>> Messlife opens for temporary events. In this body of documentation
>> <http://accumulations.online/messlife.html>, images and video captured
>> from the space can themselves be considered a constructed artistic output.
>> Lee
>> On Tue, Nov 24, 2020 at 9:50 PM Daniel Lichtman <danielp73 at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>> Dear Empyre Community,
>>> I wanted to introduce the next artist for this month, Lee Tusman, who
>>> will present the generative visual output of the Messlife virtual space.
>>> Lee will send an email introducing this project in more detail shortly.
>>> Lee is a New York-based new media artist and educator interested in the
>>> application of the radical ethos of collectives and DIY culture to the
>>> creation of, aesthetics, and open-source distribution methods of digital
>>> culture. He works in code, collage, sound, and text. His artistic output
>>> includes installations, interactive media, video art, experimental games,
>>> sound art, websites, bots, and micro-power radio stations. His work has
>>> been shown at museums, galleries, artist-run spaces, and virtual
>>> environments. He studied at Brandeis University and received his MFA at
>>> UCLA in Design Media Arts. He is Assistant Professor of New Media and
>>> Computer Science at Purchase College.
>>> Lee is an organizer with Babycastles, a NYC-based collective fostering
>>> and amplifying diverse voices in videogame culture as well as a
>>> collaborator with artist-run community Flux Factory. He co-founded
>>> Processing Community Day NYC. He is a past organizer at Hidden City
>>> Philadelphia, Little Berlin and KCHUNG Radio.
>>> You can reach Lee and follow his work on Twitter at 2sman2sman,
>>> Instagram at leetusman and Github at lee2sman.
>>> Looking forward to sharing and discussing the project!
>>> Also looking forward to introducing Angeliki Diakrousi and Cristina
>>> Cochior's project, Temporary Riparian Zone, later this week.
>>> Dan
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> empyre forum
>>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
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