LINK.DUMP #012 - More DOOM than you can shake a stick at, cyberhorrors, another fountain of font inspiration and the wikipedia of contemporary art.

well that one blew by pretty fast. Haven't had that much time for updates to this site, but I'll try and keep to my monthly wrap-ups, not that it matters one way or another.

Soooo... i guess i'll start with whats kept me so busy. this year I've volunteered to take on managing LSR's social media presence, which in hindsight, is a lot more than i thought it would be. there's just so many platforms, and on top of that there's the website.

On the bright side, I've been given the keys to their youtube channel, which means Im back to making videos baby! so far ive made two, both of which come in under ten minutes and are pretty similar to what the sex robot show was, pairing up some visuals to the audio i have to work with. In this case im pulling the audio from the presentations given at last year's conference. I tell ya, this material is like... taking a very interesting subject, and then making it super boring by placing it in this stiff academic format, and then i have to go back in and rescue the interesting bits and bring it all back to life. in defense of the researchers, its not their job to make the presentations exciting, and imo, people within the field of sex robot research (like futures studies), kind of struggle with wanting to be taken seriously, so they go the extra mile to weave in a lot of empirical analysis, methodology, etc, whereas authors in other fields like the humanities will do the opposite and try to inject humour or natural speech in their shit and try to stand out.

that reminds me, the other day i wanted to look up whether or not trigger warnings are actually effective and i came across this paper titled "Trigger Warning: Empirical Evidence Ahead". that's FUNNY right? get it? they made the title a trigger warning? what a lol. i swear im not being sarcastic it really made me chuckle. though, after becoming more immersed in the world of academic conferences im rapidly realising im probably the only person to not use the "Heres a heavily butchered pun: the subject of my paper" format of titling.

Video link:

Video link:

>ANYWAY here are the videos ive whipped together so far ↑ ↑, and i got another one on robotic deities in the works. Im also managing LSR's twitter account, where you can find the latest in sex tech news that i find interesting, like the palpable trauma left in the wake of Replika banning their bots from engaging in erotic role play. that shit got real. not only was r/replika filled with posts by users genuinely mourning the loss of what they considered to be their partners (however artificial), there was a pinned post at the top linking to suicide prevention resources. People really felt like they had lost someone close to them, someone they looked forward to talking to each day. Apparently when the changes went into effect, a lot of people found that interacting with their replika was like talking to someone who had undergone a lobotomy, having lost all of their spark (and proclivity to initiate cybersex). thats right people were really out here cybering like it was 1996 and using asterisks around shit like *this*

le yikes
(the bots are the one on the left btw)

but enough about smutbots back to me. im going to be heading to taiwan mid-march and im HELLA looking forward to it, daydreaming off and on mostly about what im going to eat when i get there. I have loose plans to paint and maybe do some livestreams to show my friends on instagram what its like so go follow me there i guess if you wanna see what 711 is like when its done right. its really weird not knowing how many or if any people read this, but i kind of like it that way. according to my neocities stats ive tipped past 60k visitors on this site and it cant all be me checking if my updates look right, so thats cool and thank you if you're here and have read this far. i've put a lot into this site over the past year and it is a joy to do so.

what else, what else? oh, so i kind of made an online store, which was my goal at the end of last month. its just a redbubble account with a few designs i uploaded. i think print-on-demand is going to be my first venture into ecommerce and once i get the hang of that i'll make another store for things i make... if i ever, you know, find the time to make stuff to actually sell, that is. I guess thats all for this month, i do have a ton of fun links i came across ill put in a link dump since i havent done one of those for ages and my favorite ebook site z-lib has risen from the dead (see my last post Library Update), so ill be adding more free books to the library in due time.

Featured song of the month:
Jenn Carter x TaTa - Just A Lil Bit
did i download every song jenn carter is featured in? possibly. i love women that rap like men and i have a soft spot for girls that tell everyone to go suck their dick. what can i say? a little misogyny will always make for a good rap song and lets face it, violence is fuNn. enjoy it.

So ive gone ahead and added a new shelf to >THE LIBRARY<, if you heven't visited, theres a bunch of free books and pretty neat documents, like ODB's FBI file, or a recipe guide to making psychedelics at home. The new shelf has Crack up at the Race Riots by Harmony Korine, and one of my all time favorites, Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller. I have a lazer printer so I like to print off books and bind them myself, which is why I post them as pdf files rather than epub, in case anyone wants to do the same and need to sort their signatures.

Ive also included a book that I havent read yet, that I stumbled upon by accident while researching something else, titled The Retro Futurism of Cuteness. Its a collection of well and truly bizarre essays baking in a lot of academic flim flam to the concept of cuteness, that is summarized by the publisher as follows:

Is it possible to conceive of a Hello Kitty Middle Ages or a Tickle Me Elmo Renaissance? The Oxford English Dictionary dates the first reference to “cute” in the sense of “attractive, pretty, charming” to 1834. More recently, Sianne Ngai has offered a critical overview of the cuteness of the twentieth-century avant-garde within the context of consumer culture. But if cuteness can get under the skin, what kinds of surfaces does it best infiltrate, particularly in the framework of historical forms, events, and objects that traditionally have been read as emergences around “big” aesthetics of formal symmetries, high affects, and resemblances?

and if that makes you think "whut?", check out some of these essay titles from the book:

    "All the Pretty Ponies": Bronies, Desire and Cuteness
    Embracing the Gremlin: Judas Iscariot and the (Anti-)Cuteness of Despair
    What's Cute Got To Do With It?: Early Modern Proto-Cuteness in King Lear
    Cute, Charming, Dangerous: Child Avatars in Second Life

and my personal favorite,

    Katie Sokoler, Your Construction Paper Tears Can't Hide Your Yayoi Kusama-Neurotic Underbelly

What does that even mean?! Like I said, I haven't read this one, but it was too weird for me to keep to myself. Thankfully, its not just the work of one author's pretentiousness, with different authors contributing different chapters. I can't tell if this is the product of a fun exercise or a bunch of grad students taking themselves seriously. I dont know. You be the judge, Im sure there's bound to be a good one in the bunch.

Lastly, some sad news for the library, my favorite site for downloading books, z-lib, was seized by the FBI, so my ability to get everything and anything I want will be mostly limited to non-fiction until a new phoenix of piracy rises from the ashes.

January recap
I think im going to try and start a new habit of recapping each month- last year I tried writing down what i did each day in a daily planner, rather than using it for scheduling things since, lets face it, despite being perpetually occupied, my actual responsibilities and deadlines are few and far between. Sometimes I would forget and fall asleep, but would play catch up the following day, and I actually managed to stick with it all year. So I have good faith Ill be able to do this here.

The month started with the end of my sweet sunflower sofia's visit to san diego. She's been living in paris to attend fashion school, and this was her first break from her first year of college. shes really become an elegant goose and still, thankfully, one of my best friends. Sofia is my cousin and has been my pal since I taught her how to speak english when she first came to the US in the third grade. I was always a little worried she would turn into a brooding teenager and decide she hates me the way all american children grow up to spontaneously hate the people who care about them most. Luckily that time never came, though she still broods. The good byes were especially tough on her since she's going back to a solo apartment on a continent devoid of any family, but we exchanged them and sent her off to the airport. and then picked her right back up an hour later because her flight was cancelled. the next day was a wash rinse repeat cycle and she finally made it through TSA in a triple XXXL Carhart jacket she bought at the chula vista marshalls to weather the Parisian winter.

The day after that, i interred my body and barely held on to my soul, and finally started walking a few days later. Pressing fast forward i finished two books that i actually enjoyed, cut, bleached and dyed my hair, purchased paint and a programmable keypad i have yet to program, celebrated Chinese New Year and went to marshalls a grip of times. I live up the hill from one, and it happens to be Chola's favorite shopping center to hunt for motorcycles to bark at. I was asked to edit a special issue of the World Futures Review dedicated to art and poetry, which i am looking forward to, and this year I will be in charge of social media for the Love and Sex with Robots conference, which will be meeting in Montreal. Oh yeah, i also had that nice write up for Best Video Essays of 2022 picks from the British Film Institute, which just sounds prestigious as all heck. I drew a little, I wrote a bit.

In terms of being social, the only thing worth mentioning was seeing Nichole after a thousand years, at a lunch date gratefully arranged by Taylor. She has a baby now she calls Egg (based off his initials) and is in the 99th percentile of baby size. Nichole is 6'1", or 5'13" as she sometimes framed it, so this comes as no surprise. She is still as charming as ever, a word i repeatedly used throughout the meal. Am i the only one who does this? Whenever i run in to people i havent seen for awhile, I find myself using one word over and over, like a kid who just learned what accolades means and is trying to sneak it into conversation. then when i notice it theres this temporary split where im hearing myself as the word falls out of my mouth and i cant think of another one to replace it.

At the beginning of the month I had a ton of endeavors I wanted to pursue, a new youtube channel, an online store (dropshipping and otherwise), learning oil painting, start a kind of marketing service using AI. Ive scrapped the last two, and added a few more. im always having ideas for youtube videos but i absolutely hate recording myself, so i should probably let that one go too, as its a huge vacuum of time with very little payoff. Granted, my last venture into videomaking landed me a job and some other nice perks. A few hours ago I set up an online poll on instagram asking whether i should make a youtube channel or online store, and while the former is winning, the people i actually respect the opinions of are pushing for the latter. so i think ill make that my project this month and say it out loud here to see how it goes.

Featured song of the month:
Bronco - A Qué Le Tiramos

THIS PAIR OF OKLAHOMA MILK JUGGS DOES NOT EXIST is the This Anime Does Not Exist of tits, and while it was the future I was promised, it makes me a little bit sad.

Last year, I made a video about crude and debatably successful attempts at creating artificially-generated porn. At the time, GPT2 and DALLE were hardly being talked about in media, though GPT3 was getting some buzz with some racially ambiguous avatars. A few months later, DALLE2 was unleashed and your instagram became saturated with AI generated content. Today, everyone is talking about ChatGPT, and for the most part, understand how to use it. Generative technology like stable diffusion has begun delivering exactly what is asked of it, as evidenced by the endless spring of cum laced faces on Pornpen.

Deep Dream

But the thing is, i LIKED the fumbling half-baked blobs caught between rendered flesh and nightmare. When Google Deep Dream first emerged, the weird lizardiness of it all was delightfully psychedelic but also confusing, a superfluous and logically unnecessary component of identifying and generating pictures. That peak under the hood was kind of a surprise to everyone, including the developers, which is how it came to be released in the first place. And i remember feeling that it was there, in this realm of unintended hallucinatory intricacy, that the potential for AI to cultivate something special resided. A space that is dwindling with each iteration of open ai's refinement and releases.

Dont get me wrong, there are people making RAD shit with AI. But now the things I find most compelling about the newer generation of images are the believability of nonexistent textures people can achieve. which is fine. its cool. sometimes fun. but its lost a lot of the magic. and while im on the subject i might as well give my two cents on the whole AI generated art debate. Ive seen people argue, mostly against, AI generated art in many different forums, dicord servers, reddit threads, and video essays and these arguments are usually pushing one of two points:

Artist Credit: Le Moon

#1 it isnt art.

this is straight up bullshit. and the only people making this argument are usually artists themselves. to say it isnt art because it lacks some kind of requisite effort is on par with some 1800s uproar claiming photography isnt art in comparison to painting. I think, if you are truly fulfilled by your own art you wont give a shit about how other people make the images that they find meaning in. And a lot of AI art accounts are just that. Oftentimes these are images that couldnt have been derived any other way, or not without a gargantuan amount of hours/knowledge to digitally render some effects. You can see the different interations and passes as they fine tune and train their specific style to get the results they want, and moreover, you can see the enthusiasm to share what once wasnt there and now is. Generative images have a way of yielding unintended details that surprise both the artist and the audience, and i like it.

Artist Credit: Douggy

#2 its unethical and stealing

this has to do with the data sets the art is trained on, that they were taken from the intellectual property of other artists or other copyright holders without permisssion. I get this, and i have a harder time parsing it to know where I stand exactly. Working through it I would argue inspiration is the same thing, processing everything you have ever seen and it coming out in a certain way based on the parameters that you are most attracted to.

Putting that aside, there is another point to be made that has to do with companies like Lensa profiting off of content produced from data sets that were harvested from artists that did not give permission to use their art for such purposes, and that's fucking lame. people should be compensated. For me, when its a company turning a profit off the backs of others hard work, i take offense. When its an artist being shit on for having it too easy i dont.

Kim Jung Gi

nested within this second point is the idea that someone can make art in the style of someone else and pass it off as their own (which i havent seen ANYONE do, the vast majority of ai artists are producing their own style sets). However, in regards to this point, I believe I saw a post from the estate of the recently passed kim jung gi, claiming his artwork was being used without his permission to generate images in his specific style, a style that was celebrated just as much for his masterful and effortless execution as it was the final product, and this is the one that gets me. i havent really negotiated what it think about it, or what my opinion is there, or what it should be (since i often have opinions that i know should be better or different).

One idea i have seen to address this is from the book Who Owns the Future by Jared Larnier. I think it was written back in 2017 before all this AI art business came about, but talk of automation putting people out of work was very much a concern. In the book, Larnier proposes a system where everyone's digitized creations would have a marker embedded, be it a jpg or an mp3 that would indicate the original author, and then anyone who subsequently used or remixed their content would have to send the original author a microtransaction. and this was meant not so much for credit where credit was due, but as a way for people to continue to generate value and income in the face of mass unemployment. If you think about this in the context of memes, the first person to make a meme format that catches on would be able to make a tidy sum off of it. Like the first person to make the meme with drake pointing yes and no thank you might pay a few cents for using those frames to the director of the music video, and then everyone who used that meme format might pay a fraction of a penny to the guy who made the meme and even as it evolves theres still little bits of money zip-zanging around. I guess when theinternet was first created, links and images were supposed to work this way, where the original source would have been embedded in every image. i think its really cool and if implemented could have so many interesting uses beyond what we're talking about today.

Artist Credit: Douggy

in conclusion if someone else making art with ease makes you mad, you're being a baby. other arguments against generative art need further consideration. and lastly, to my initial point, the window of what made AI art uncomfortable and unpredictable feels like it is closing. some of it is still there in deformed faces and unintelligible text but overall, its becoming ever more precise and giving us exactly what we ask for, and in a way thats kind of sad. if anyone out there developing AI tools, i would love to talk about if there is a way to nurture that chaotic element and pull out more of that weirdness we didnt know was lurking in the digital cytoplasm. thats the stuff that really intersests me and im glad i was around to see it, and i hope it doesnt go away.

( Click to Enlarge )

So honored (and quite frankly, shocked) to have my video project The Sex Robot Show featured in the British Film Institute's Best Video Essays of 2022. It's way down towards the bottom, and just one project amongst many, but it is in good company and I actually was already familiar with the BFI's annual list, having scoured through previous years nominees for content to watch, way before I ever made a youtube channel. So seeing my name on it is a total mindblower.