The Viridian Design Movement

From: Bruce Sterling []

Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2003 9:37 PM

Subject: Viridian Note 00366: "Embrace the Decay" Contest

Key concepts
Viridian design contests, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art,, media decay, Jared Tarbell

Attention Conservation Notice:
It's yet another in a series of Viridian contests.

(((I have turned in the manuscript of my new novel. This allows me to return to Viridian interests. And lo they exist in plenty. I might point out for that the sky here in Austin has been steel-gray for a week due to Mexican fires, while the rest of America had its most active week of tornadoes on record.)))


(((But never mind mere planetary destruction. I've got other fish to fry. Specifically, a new Bruce Sterling web artwork commissioned for the digital gallery of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.)))


(((That's right: Angelenos are paying me to create some I couldn't refuse them this, because it looks so great on my resume'. The theme of this forthcoming work == which will likely be titled "Embrace the Decay" in some kind of nifty sub-Damien Hirst riff == is media decay. Specifically, "Embrace the Decay" is an interactive meditation on the dire relationship between typewriters and the Internet.

(((You see, I am of the very last generation of authors to work professionally on typewriters. I get to be artsy and nostalgic about this. Typewriters are suffering techno-obliteration now. Viewers accessing this Sterling artwork, "Embrace the Decay," will be typing on a virtual typewriter which decays as they use it. The "typewriter's" "paper" will decay, too. Eventually this digital artwork itself will no doubt vanish from human ken, because hey, we are talking Internet art here. (Okay, it might conceivably be saved, but only if Jon Ippolito is reading this.))))


(((This contest is not strictly a "Viridian" contest, because except for that Viridian design principle "Embrace Decay," there's nothing very Viridian about it. My feeling is that we Viridians have suffered enough for a while, so it's high time for us to have some fun here. Besides, this is real art! In a museum! Wow!

(((My techno-art guru and collaborator, Mr. Jared Tarbell of, has invented a nifty Flash device for us that will animate some decay. We will be using Jared's template for this contest.)))


You will need "the Flash development environment" to work on this. If you have never heard of this, well, try anyway.

(((Please note that this contest is by no means the same as the consequent LA MOCA artwork. I won't go into the contractual obligations that compel this separation, but it's real different, okay? This contest even has a contest judge all its own, and it's not me. No! Instead, the Viridian contest judge is Lola Brine. Ms. Brine, a sharp-eyed young Austin woman of extensive net interests, has such exquisite good taste in that she is Jared Tarbell's girlfriend. All of Lola's decisions will be final!)))

(((Note that this means that the winner of this Viridian contest may not even be in the LA MOCA artwork. We did it like that ON PURPOSE. If I decide that your Flash decay algorithm (or whatever the hell it is) is of some use, you will be hearing from me entirely separately from this Viridian contest. In fact, you and I may get to know one another rather well, by the time the artwork hits the web, which will be in September 2003.)))

(((There is a whole lot of stuff in this art project of mine that needs extensive figuring-out. Like, for instance, I need an engineer who can hack Lego engines and get them to a spray a fine mist of nitric acid in response to web prompts. Can you do that kind of thing? I so, speak up. I don't want any "Nitric Acid Contests" here, because the casualty rate is too high, but if you grok this stuff, you and I need to talk.)))

(((And, while I'm at it, I also need an aelopile. Like, a cute little desktop one. Has anybody seen an aelopile? Anybody want to build one?

(((Okay, let's get to the crux here. The Viridian CONTEST PRIZE! Yay! Since this contest involves graphic efforts to "rot" a virtual "sheet of paper," you'll be getting a lot of real-world use out of this prize: a ROYAL MD100 Media Destroyer!)))


(((Your Royal "Media Destroyer" is a fully-functional, high-security paper shredder. But it doesn't just shred mere archaic paper! Oh no! The "Media Destroyer" also handily obliterates CDs, DVDs, and floppy disks! Win this contest, and the Royal Media Destroyer will be shipped direct to your home or office, anywhere on this planet not under SARS quarantine! Good luck!)))

This contest expires June 15, 2003.

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