[-empyre-] Introducing Lee Tusman and Messlife

Daniel Lichtman danielp73 at gmail.com
Wed Dec 16 09:54:16 AEDT 2020

Thanks, Lee, for this reflection on the generative output of Messlife.

I vote for a continuous feed on Twitch! Maybe somehow pointing to or
indicating how participants in Messlife contributed visual content.

On Thu, Dec 10, 2020 at 2:13 AM Lee T <leetusman at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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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