Hi Crowd! So the test worked. Thank you to everyone who replied, sorry I didn't respond back to your responses but I figured it was more like "Does this work?" "Yes" and didn't need to spill into "Lovely, thanks so much, how was your day, did you have enough to eat, you look peckish, have you been sleeping ok, you look tired..." so I just left it at that. I'll probably send one more note out to Tiny Letter just to cover that side of it and make sure there's no stragglers there who aren't seeing this, but I think this will be great. I know you don't see it on your side, but from my end the writing & publishing side of this is significantly smoother.
Today we are packing to head off to Japan for the rest of the year. It'll be the first time the family has been there since we moved mid-2020. The excitement is very high. We've got our lists of things, food and people to do, eat and visit and various combinations of the all of the above. Our Suica cards are charged and we're dreaming of natto. If nothing else, I expect to come back with a lot of new photos.
Speaking of photos, I'm releasing my last NFT collection of 2022, it's called "A Christmas Carol" and it's all about ghosts. As you probably know back in August I started playing around with AI, initially with my "Crow Variations" collection where I fed my Tokyo Crow photo into DALL-E and asked it to reimagine it. Here is the original photo if case you are unfamiliar:
I loved what I got back. Some of it was abstracted but still interestingly literal, it was recognizing some things and spitting them back at me in different ways. It was exciting to see which visual elements remained and which were discarded or changed or morphed into something else.
In a few of them, the AI turned my Crow into a something else. A ghost? An apparition? Something haunting for sure, vibrating. My photo has movement but this was something else, it scared me but in a wonderful way.
Like any other self respecting gen x nerd who grew up lonely around the birth of personal computing I have a soft spot for stories suggesting these machines and code might have some kind of sentience.
I've always enjoyed these "ghost in the machine" themes, and these "ghosts" appearing in the imagery the AI and I were collaborating on was something I couldn't ignore. At the same time, I started seeing friends and contemporaries in the art world panicking about AI. They were (are) straight up horrified by the technology. Where I saw potential and excitement they saw oppression and terror. And so the "ghost" here took on another meaning, not just emergent consciousness but also something actually terrifying. This gave me an idea. As you know from my Dead Queens series I'd already started trying to coax these nightmares out of the AI, to see just how scary I could make it. I loved the results and I was glad to see others enjoy them as well.
In fact I loved it so much I almost released a follow up collection right away of Dead Kings, but then I thought that was kind of beating a dead horse, and I should try to push the concept a bit further rather than just doing the same thing but a little differently.
So I kept working on the idea, and as the year end holidays approached I thought about Dickens' classic story of a man being haunted not just by ghosts but also by his own actions, and where that might lead him. I like the duality of these scary stories mixed with the cheerfulness and celebrations around this time of year. My Kraimpus piece was part of this exploration, but didn't fit in the larger concept which is why I decided to release it as a stand along open edition. (Available until the end of the year if you want one.) The larger body of work, I'm calling simply A Christmas Carol. It's an obvious reference, filled with layers to unpack. If you want to just go see it all, it's live now on Foundation. I hope it scares the crap out of you. But I'm not done talking about it yet.
I wanted to see old photographs of ghosts walking among us. I wanted these ideas of hauntings to be brought to life in front of me.
I wanted to see relics documenting classrooms full of scary kids (I went to private religious school as a kid, so this hits in lots of ways for me.)
But I also wanted to play with tangible reality. What if the ghosts were real, and had been captured. What would those records have looked like and how would we, the flesh and blood, come to terms with that?
I love these trading card / mug shot pieces, they make up the bulk of the collection because I just couldn't stop riffing on them. They are terrifying in every way I hoped they would be. I also tasked ChatGPT to help me co-write the titles of the works.
If you explore the collection I hope you'll get what I was going for. Places, schools, stories and other Christmas ghouls abound. But I also thought I could do more with the concept. So while they are for sale, I'm not putting a price on these works. In the spirit of giving and community and sharing and also anxiety, awkwardness and uncertainty that is everywhere this time of the year - this is what I'm going to do: If you've ever bought any of my work - Make me an offer, and I'll accept it. My photography, my ai stuff, my pfp fun, anything I've every put up for sale. 1/1s or editions. This does not include free drops - has to be something I sold and you decided to buy, but I don't care about price. I'm not going to specify a min/max. I have to know who you are obviously, or see that your wallet has my stuff, and I reserve the right to ignore anon offers. First come first serve-ish, I'm not watching this closely so if when I look there are 2 offers I'll accept the higher. Offer runs from now until Dec 25.
I know that was an excessive amount of self promo which I rarely ever do but I'm trying to figure out the balance and or difference between my blog this newsletter and twitter or whatever else, if there even is one. One interesting thing about Paragraph is that while I can write a newsletter like this and just send it out, I can also chose to put it up on IPFS so it's a bit longer lasting which isn't really interesting for ephemeral stream of consciousness stuff but gets very interesting for longer form and more thought out pieces. But something like this, what I've written today, previously would have been a blog post (and maybe it still should be) that I'd just link for you but it feels easier/better to actually send it too you. The permanence thing is something I'm thinking about with the recent announcement that GoDaddy is sunsetting Media Temple. I've been hosting my stuff with MT since the late 90's and I have dozens of one off silly sites and experiments that are hosted there. They aren't useful for anything other than archives at this point, but I liked knowing they were online. With MT I paid $20 a month and that covered everything, with the switch to GoDaddy I'd be charged per item, and suddenly this becomes thousands of dollars and not worth maintaining. So I'm just recognizing that these things are going to disappear. We used to think anything online would be there forever, but it's just not true. So in this context, suddenly the idea of distributed filesystems and blockchains get interesting for things you actually give a shit about.
Speaking about disappearing, one time many years ago I ran into my good friend Chuck from Florida. Due to stupid music business drama, I hadn't talked to him in many years. Not intentionally, we just kind of lost touch. When I ran into him it was wonderful and just like old times, so good to see a friend. I asked where he'd been the last few years and he said "living in LA" and I was like "wat" because of course at that time I was in LA too. Turns out he'd been living about a 10 minute walk from my house for the last 3 years, but was moving a month from then to several hours away. It was this combo of so happy to see a friend but also bummed about the time we'd missed not knowing each other were within arms reach for years. I tell that story because it happened again. Many years ago in the early web 2.0 days I'd try to swing through NYC 2-3 times a year to see friends and catch up on what a few people who I always thought were interesting were up to, one of those people was Yancey and I'd often visit and or work out of the Kickstarter office for a few hours. We'd talked a few years back when he wrote his book, but hadn't kept in as regular touch since I moved to Japan. As you know from reading my rantings here I've been in Vancouver for the last 2+ years and it's largely been boring and lonely and uninspiring. Lovely mountains though. And snowboarding is fun. Anyway, the other day I got a ping from from Yancey saying "um, I heard you're in Vancouver" because it turns out he was too. He'd been here the whole time I had, living just 20 minutes away, but was moving far away in a couple of weeks. And doing web3 stuff. Unbelievable. Anyway, we jumped at the chance to catch up and I heard about his new thing Metalabel which I think is super cool and I just wanted to tell you that because I have a million ideas swirling now myself but they will have to wait until the new year.
A few interesting bits before I run - NASA has been studying naps, and I've been studying Rocky Aoki. When it comes to bike lanes, separators are crucial. Twitter continues to be a disaster. Lab grown brain cells are playing pong.
OK, my flight to Japan is 12 hours away and I haven't started packing yet. See you on the other side.