Digital Art

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An algorithmic poem/painting by Brian Kim Stefans
Music by Leo Ornstein
Played by Marc Andre Hamellin
Text derived from the New York Times

Download (recommended):

Mac | Windows

Depending on your OS, please click the application “Suicide on an Airplane 1919” to start. The piece should run for three and a half minutes.

This piece is best viewed on a monitor with a 16:10 aspect ratio. If your monitor does not have this aspect ratio, then it is not advised that you go to full screen mode. Adjust the viewing window accordingly to approximate this ratio.

Browser version:

I recommend the downloaded version only because I haven’t debugged this on a lot of different computers, and so have no idea how the different browser versions look.

Screen Captures:
Scriptor 2.JPG

Scriptor 2.JPG

Scriptor 2.JPG


One of my old pieces that collaged New York Times articles and the writings of Situationist Raoul Vaneigem has found its way into a journal called International Peacekeeping. The authors cite the article, authored by one “R. Vaneigem,” as describing “the views of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government on Iraqi possession of WMD’s.”

I can’t say that I’m proud of misleading a group of well-intentioned scholars about details of this most recent Iraq war, but then again, they should have read the article and noted its context on They didn’t, in fact, quote from the text, and so Vaneigem’s impact on future historians’ views of the war will be quite minimal.

You can see the citation in footnote 45 (on the second page).

View pages on Google Books.

Or you could look at my screencaps. Click to enlarge:

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I was throwing a party in my very unstable house in Philadelphia and wanted to strongly recommend, in fact command, my guests not to flush anything down the second-floor toilet that might clog it. So I created a simple “Uncle George Says…” poster in Photoshop that stated just that, but had so much fun doing it that I had to create more and hang them around the house.

In hindsight, the writing’s not all that good, but I think the concept of crafting an extended, largely paratactic George Carlin rant about things plummeting into the void, and that veers off into the political and surreal, is still interesting.    Send article as PDF   

More or less done with this first version of the Letter Builder. It doesn’t do much for a user on the web since you can’t actually save a file (for security reasons having to do with Java). I’m looking for a work-around.

If you open the program up and press “l” (lower-case L), the image above will be loaded, but in its animated form. I’ve also created a short instruction manual for the tool, in case you decide to take your letter builder seriously.

Pressing the 9 key will load an image of David Lynch. You can begin to trace his face by changing to TRACE mode (by pressing M). Changing the opacity of the image by using the number keys will make tracing easier. That’s a fun way to waste an afternoon.

The Lynch image is just a proof of concept. My hope is to be able to trace letterforms and other pictures, but I don’t have a proper loader designed yet.    Send article as PDF   

I’ve been developing this little software application in Processing for creating letterforms and doodles for future versions of the “Scriptor” (here and here) series of digital projections. In fact, I’m moving the whole project from Actionscript to Processing, if for no other reason than that Processing was invented by one of my peers at UCLA, Casey Reas, along with Ben Fry. Processing is also built on Java, which I’m guessing runs a little bit faster than Actionscript, but of this I can’t be sure. (more…)

And here are more screencaps than you’ll ever need… click to view in higher res.

Scriptor 2.JPG

Scriptor 2.JPG

Scriptor 2.JPG

Scriptor 2.JPG

Scriptor 2.JPG

Scriptor 2.JPG

Scriptor 2.JPG

Scriptor 2.JPG

Scriptor 2.JPG

Scriptor 2.JPG

Scriptor 2.JPG

Scriptor 2.JPG

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Sample footage of algorithmic poem/painting digital projection Scriptor, version 1, captured from the computer screen by CamStudio.

“The Scriptor series is meant to bring some of that free form doodling into the digital world. For the project, I created my own letterform creation program that, purposefully, lacks many of the elements of professional graphics programs such as Illustrator and Flash that encourage symmetry, cut-and-paste, and the mathematically precise placement of objects that we associate with digital design, not to mention much digital art. These letterforms and doodles are all by hand, and by eye — they are a version of penmanship for the screen, but one in which each line or stroke of the letterform can be animated algorithmically (something you can’t do with standard fonts). The words themselves are parsed from news articles interesting phrases are randomly picked out, given randomly generated sizes, placements and trajectories, as well as a crazy level (that’s the name of the variable in the program) that determines their legibility. This crazy level can grow or shrink — once the crazy level reaches a certain pitch, the letter explodes, but in some instances letters can be brought back from the brink of disaster to reach a stable state again.”

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Some time ago, when I posted a .pdf version of “Name: A Novel” on /ubu editions, I noted that there were exactly 4 Google hits for the author of the book, Toadex Hobogrammathon. Memory being what it is, I can’t remember what those links were, but I gave it another shot recently to see if I could dig up something about this mysterious personage. To date, I know of only the following which can be directly attributed to him/her, or at least to this pseudonym — there might be others out there. Two are weird blogs, one is the novel.

The primo blog to read by Toadex H. is Dagmar Chili Pitas. I’ve already linked to this blog from FSC, but haven’t as yet done any serious writing about it. The real title might just be “Dagmar Chili,” “Pitas” being simply the name of the service provider. But like Kleenex and Xerox, the name seems to have stuck.

What appears to be a test run up to Dagmar Chili Pitas is Doxo Wox. I found out about it on a blog that seemed to be following Toadex H. back in the day. I haven’t seen proof, other than a similarity of style, that this is by Toadex H., but the similarities are strong (or more particularly, with the early part of Name, the next link).

And then there is Name: A Novel, which I describe in some detail on the following page.

I can’t find the original page on which “Name” first appeared. I don’t remember who among us (mostly like one of the ubuweb folks) discovered it. But I do remember exchanging an email or two with Toadex about putting it up, all lost in one of several crashed or stolen hard drives.

In any case, I’m trying to, uh, research Toadex Hobogrammathon for some writing I hope to do on digital poetry and the whatnot. Below are the only links (not including links to the ubu page, of which there are several) that come up with “Toadex Hobogrammathon.” Appears that, at some time, he/she occasionally dropped a note on some blogs regarding some issue (Zukofsky one time) that needed addressing, though in typically off-beat fashion.

One poster writes that “Mr. Toadex is a friend” of his/hers, that person being listed only as “a” (with no email address). So I’m hardly hot on the trail. But if any of you out there (does anyone read this blog anymore? If not, I understand, it’s sucked for so long) know anything about Toadex, drop me a line.

(Hmmm… didn’t realize that apathy was housed at, maybe this is the break I needed.)

Bellona Times

It’s at this website that Toadex asks about Zukfosky:

thro yr Ardent urgency, have I can come to Z;
accidental Ctrl-b, close window, I wrote a something to Ray, … ;;;; What may I be writing an Rutgersial anthological comment on Zukofsky, do yo have any bookings to recomment,?? Or articles?? Are you attributed to him?
I mean, I’m drafted by class, to write by an anthology of Rutgers, what Z did and said, and so forth. I got a goddamn refridgerator the last guy had to assault me with some whirr less than buzzing, when one dranks enough to listen.

And before a four days ago, I didnaot know tha te emoeuseic of A24 is H via C, so enough of tracking up and through the left,

good days to you and thakn yuo of all the


Miette’s Bedtime Story Podcast
(It’s in this one that one of the commentors mentions that Mr. Toadex is a friend, in the same sentence as recommending Kenneth Goldsmith’s Fidget for a conceptual audio project.)

[Postscript: the word “Toadex” brings up several more hits that are relevant, but I don’t have the time right now to post them. Will soon.]    Send article as PDF   

Here’s the little poster I designed for the premiere of Themes Out of School at Stockton College (see below for links to the online version). Click to enlarge.

themes_poster.jpg    Send article as PDF   

I’m happy to announce that two Stockton efforts from the Spring 2008 semester are finally online. Check them out, and send to friends!

“Themes Out of School”

Themes Out of School (part 1 of 5) from Brian Stefans on Vimeo.

A 45-minute featurette made by the students of the Indie Films and Filmmakers class of Stockton College, Spring 2008.

Five short interlinked movies that follow the lives of students in the South Jersey area, ranging from “Clerks”-style slacker humor to deeper, quieter meditations on youth identity — and a lot of beyond and in-between!

Directors include Patrick Dawson, Kelly Cochran, Jakob Strunk, Sarah Hinkle and Brian Blazak. There is a cast of millions, notably Clarence Pugh, Maryellen Dierkes, Garrett Stites, Jackie Dunay, Meredith Malloy, Scott Staglias, Michael Clark, Brian Sullivan, Brittany Caserta, Brittany Tenpenny, Derek Forrest, Keri Tinagero, Anthony Mauriello, Pamela Staszczak, Geoff Kuinmir, Donald Blair and Sean Herman. Also starring Nathan Long as the Nutty Professor.

It’s on Youtube, but also on Vimeo, which has MUCH better video quality:



“The I-wing Nomad (A Musical)”

The I-wing Nomad is a collaborative musical that takes place in the G-wing cafeteria at Stockton College. It relates the story of Alex, a student who spent an entire semester living in the rafters of I-wing (based on a true story) and the dogged pursuit of two nosey Argo reporters to find out who he is (not based on a true story). A staged reading of the play occured May 2nd, 2008, in the G-wing cafeteria from 2 to 2:30 while it was still open.

The play is a sort of rondo, with four sets of actors playing four versions of the same characters, a form inspired by the plays of Maria Irene Fornes, Jeffrey Jones and David Ives. And there are songs — inspired by Willy Wonka, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Don Felder, and David Bowie!

Authors include Joshua Baechle, A J Colubiale, Cathleen Dower, Maureen Egan, William English, Rachael Finley, Kristy King, Christopher Kocher, Angela Kramer, Sarah Lyman, Timothy Merle, Molly Minehan, Marilyn Mitchell, Scott Oliver, Preston Porter, Jessica Schlueter, Zack Scott-Sedley, and Stephen Voloshin. Brian Kim Stefans and Rachael Finley did the final edits.

Any visual glitches are due to errors on the cheap video tape we used during filming.


You can read the play here:

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My latest little project has been creating an all around arts site for Richard Stockton College where I’m teaching. The site is called Richard Stockton Overdrive (a name inspired by Bachmann Turner Overdrive, of course). It’s for “official and unofficial” creativity, meaning that I want students to give me stuff from their classes but also their own private ventures, much of which seems much more interesting to me than class work.

It’s not “launched” yet — the content on the site is either bogus, stuff I ripped from the web, etc. I plugged it all in just for design’s sake. The image in the upper right will change with each issue — perhaps the entire color scheme will change — and the categories that I have are just the first group I could think of. They will also alternate depending on content.

But one rule will remain constant, which is that I just want one of each thing for each issue. This keeps the size down, so people know they can more or less get through an issue in less than an hour. Too many webzines overload their contents, and so what happens (in my mind) is that I peruse a few things and maybe bookmark it, but don’t visit it again until I get the announcement for the next issue.

There’s some trash aesthetic going on here — I wanted it to have some underground feel to it — but has some elegant touches, to make it professional-looking.


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Here’s a crazy little video I made with Sianne Ngai back in the salad days of the mid-90s. Special guest appearance (actually, she’s probably the star) by Chelsea Pennebaker.

I won’t tell you the story because it’s so complex that it would take up several pages of this blog, not to mention the technical details — camera, lighting, special effects — since it’s really chock full of them, and I don’t want to waste your time. Screenplay took about 6 months. Quite simply, it’s the best thing since Jean Vigo’s “L’ Atalante.”    Send article as PDF   

Life just isn’t fun without new posters to design. Here’s one for a project I’m starting at Stockton.

overdrive poster small.jpg    Send article as PDF   


I’ve just finished a major upgrade to McKenzie Wark’s personal site. It’s a site I designed several years ago when I was in my “cheap sites for artists” phase — Abigail Child, Tim Ellis, Jane House, the Segue Foundation and my sister, Lindsay, were all beneficiaries of this mode of my existence.

I’ve just added a slew of reviews in several languages, along with a bunch of other stuff such as images of books covers of Japanese, Greek, French and Italian translations of his work. It’s interesting to see where these various cultures go with the subject matter of Wark’s texts — designs negotiating the “underground” yet commercial aspects implicit in an academic book deriving partly from post-Situationist theory.

I’m not doing freelance anymore, too much other shite to do and I can’t bother to keep up with all the Web 2.0 upgrades. I’d be more prone to design someone’s blog these days than design a new website.

But I’ve always liked the solution I came up for Ken, which was to stick to a sort of aesthetic — keeping it in the Situationist agit-prop Unibomber’s-typewriter sphere of things, but touch it up with a little Flash and making it perfectly (easily) expandable when new material comes in, so any teen anarchist could make an update should she want to. Very Web 1.0.

Ken is the author of A Hacker Manifesto and Gamer Theory, both of which I highly recommend. I have my problems with both books — I’m not sure how much both fall into the category of postmodern entertainments rather than the sort of foundation radical theory that they allude to (if not aspire to be, though I’m not sure about that), but in terms of prose strategies — crisp (if not quite Debordian) rhetoric, the pacing of the text, the synthesis of observations grounded in new media phenomena and classic “crypto” Marxism — they are very lively and suggestive.

Marx and Rez — two great tastes that taste great together. (Uh, did that sound glib?)

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The trim size has changed on the book, and the publisher’s didn’t like the new cover I had designed (see below) which I confess is a bit strange. Anyway, so now we’re back with the old cover, but in a more horizontal shape.


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Working on the book cover of my forthcoming Roof Book, Kluge: A Meditation, and other works. Some stuff from my Brown days of yore (including a play and two short essays) and some older things that are offered as proof of my artistic decline (er, awakening).

“The Further Adventures of Oedipus Mess in the Countess’ Second’s Flat” is the long opening poem, symptomatic of oh about everything. Kind of in the “What Does It Matter?” mode, but more astract expressionistic — lots of page splatter.

The guy in the photograph is me. I didn’t talk some young man to strip to his blue underpants for my camera (but with no air conditioning in sweltering summer, when I thought air conditioning was bourgeois, it was not hard to convince myself to strip).

Photos taken in my Williamsburg days prior to moving to Providence when I was still very excited about taking photographs (alas, some of that is coming back).

kluge_front_cover_new_type copy.jpg    Send article as PDF   

I’ve been playing around with, a print-on-demand publisher, for the past several months, making little books, experimenting with cover designs, having them printed and sent to me, etc. Kind of testing the waters to see if I want to be a print publisher with Arras again, since I’ve been enjoying print design much more than web work lately.

It’s been fun if a bit solipsistic considering I’ve been using early and “uncollected” poems of mine. Yes, vanity indeed. But I’m done now, just “finalized” this collection which I guess is available for purchase at Lulu. I’ve tried to keep the shite out.

Don’t tell Charlotte Rampling–I know she’s on your Facebook account somewhere–that I’m using her face for the back cover. It’s a promotional still for the science fiction big budget B-bonanza starring Sean Connery and a number of British extras called “Zardoz,” which is probably a better name for an anti-anxiety medication than “Xanax” IMHO.

its_not_time_back_web.jpg  its_not_time_front_web.jpg    Send article as PDF   

I’ve always wanted to share a stage with Harmony Korine… anyway, check them out, or check them out from my blog, same thing.



Without much delay & with no apology, more from Brian Kim Stefans. This is ‘early’ work from 2004 & Barney quite clearly has an experimental stamp to it -Stefans describes it as at least in part an homage to Alvin Lucier’s great sound piece “I am Sitting in a Room”. Popahna in my view is something altogether more substantial – there’s so much of interest happening here, both performance wise & in directorial terms. OK, it walks the occasional fine line but in sum it’s haunting & utterly compelling. Stefans contrives to give it an immensely powerful narrative forward drive whilst still remaining nuanced, dreamlike & deeply odd. Feels like a feature film that has been shrunk to 11 minutes by a wicked fairy. Great stuff.

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Here are four designs I’ve come up with for a new book of mine. Just FYI, I don’t have much else to report except my move to Philadelphia, hopefully to be completed by late August. I’m going with the last one… click to enlarge.


kluge_front_cover_new_idea3merged_high_contrast copy.jpg

kluge_front_cover_new_idea3merged_high_contrast_solarized2 copy.jpg


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