REVIEW: Code and Language in DataSpaceTime’s “Thresholds”

Review: Code and Language in DataSpaceTime’s “Thresholds”
written by Conor O’Brien, The Living Gallery

Video of a crosswalk as it is offset by video of a taxi

Video of a crosswalk as it is offset by video of a taxi

Microscope Gallery co-founder Elle Burchill said of the people who’ve seen the gallery’s current exhibition, “Thresholds” by DataSpaceTime duo Ray Sweeten and Lisa Gwilliam, those who seemed to respond most enthusiastically to the work were the poets who read at the gallery’s recent poetry event.

Distorted text of code

Distorted text of code

Poetry uses language in a particular way. It is about association more than point-making. A word does not only signify: it has a sound, a shape, and a web of connotations and image-inducing capabilities aside from whatever its standardized definition may be. Language, of course, is not limited to words. Language informs how we think and, by extension, what we think.  If we only “read” a certain way then we will only think a certain way, and will only think certain things. Poets often play with language in order to elucidate language’s relationship with thought, and how people’s ways of thinking can be manipulated by language.

View of the space

View of the space

DataSpaceTime’s installation consists of four screens that operate on four different browsers which send information to each other, and respond accordingly, using “web-chat technology.”

The two center screens

The two center screens

Two of the screens are separated into grids that play a series of image gifs. At times the gifs work together to form a larger, coherent moving image (aerial view of a street, the top of an escalator, panning view of a graffitied wall at night), at other times the gifs off-set the larger image into abstraction. These screens sometimes resemble a digital tapestry, the motion of the gifs often suggest weaving.

The smaller screen, detail of two gifs

The smaller screen, detail of two gifs

The two other screens, a smaller one to the left of the center screens on the same wall and another screen on the opposite wall, show a visual decomposition of the information being sent to the center screens. The smaller screen breaks down the image gifs being fed to the center screens. The other screen is similar in size and grid-structure to the two center screens, but instead of images of urban scenery, this screen displays a page of distorted text under the image of a magnifying glass. The press release reveals this text to be the code the artists wrote to run the piece.

Fourth screen: Image of magnifying glass offset by image of text

Fourth screen: Image of magnifying glass offset by image of text

The code is not hidden; it is aestheticized and incorporated into the piece. This can be framed in a poetry context, as a poetic use of this language. The language of computer programming is both ubiquitous and invisible in the internet age, and only a relative minority of people can “read” it or understand its rules. The piece reveals how text informs image informs text: the language of computer code influences the images as they appear on screen, manipulating and distorting them, while the text of the code itself also becomes an image that is manipulated.

At the Listening Party, sketch #2

At the Listening Party, sketch #2

DataSpaceTime’s Ray Sweeten performed during the Microscope Gallery’s “Listening Party.” During the event he premiered what he described as two unfinished “sketches,” using the same technology as the “Thresholds” to allow the browsers send and respond not only to gifs, but also different sounds, creating audio compositions that correspond to the visual ones.

Ray Sweetey, ½ of DataSpaceTime

Ray Sweetey, ½ of DataSpaceTime

Before beginning the second sketch, Sweetey opened up a computer file in order to put finishing touches on the program’s code, explaining to the audience that he needed to “pull back the curtain for a second.” The effect is that of making the audience aware of the language behind the experience of the piece. It is a comment on language, a breaking down of text, image, and sound, and the relationship of language to experience. There is a sense that our experience, the sounds we hear and images we see, can be manipulated not only by the languages we can “read,” but perhaps even more so by those we can not, such as the language of computer code. Our everyday experience is similarly manipulated by the ways we can or cannot “read” it. DataSpaceTime is interested not only in creating the experience, but allowing the mechanics that inform the experience to be unveiled and incorporated into it.

“Pulling back the curtain”

“Pulling back the curtain”

For more information about this show visit the gallery’s page
or check out their Facebook Event. The show runs through December 1st.

TONIGHT: “Flame Tempered” A Solo Show by Phoenix Lindsey-Hall

Flame Tempered
Friday, November 22, 2013
6:00pm to 10:00pm
at The Living Gallery

The Living Gallery is proud to announce, “Flame Tempered,” the first New York solo exhibition of mixed media artist Phoenix Lindsey-Hall. With graceful chaos, Lindsey-Hall uses ceramic to transform everyday objects that were used as weapons in specific gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender hate crimes.

The cornerstone of this show is her large-scale ceramic installation, which is derived from a hate crime that happened just blocks from The Living Gallery in 2008. “Flame Tempered” is an organic cyclone of over 70 ceramic baseball bats suspended in a mid air tumble. Illuminated with a single bare bulb casting long shadows through out the space, the work is an explosion of drama, perception and emotion. Peggy McGlone, art critic for The Star Ledger in Newark, NJ, recently described the piece as “at once beautiful and intimidating.”

This exhibition is made possible through support from Slideluck, where Lindsey-Hall recently received Crowd Favorite at Slideluck Bushwick II, The Living Gallery and Brooklyn Brewery.

RSVP on the Facebook Event!

TONIGHT: Drink and Draw!

at The Living Gallery

from 7:00pm to 9:00pm


Every Wednesday we have a Drink & Draw event!

We provide drawing materials: pencils, charcoal and paper
(Feel free to bring your own supplies if you like!)

We provide a model and drinks, and sometimes we have live music, or poetry as well!

If you would like to perform or model email us @

Drink and Draw 2013

RSVP on the Facebook Event!

PS: Don’t forget about Jennie Penny’s Drawing 101, happening from 4:00pm to 6:00pm today, too!

TODAY: Join us for Drawing 101

Drawing 101

Learn the use of line weight, value, contrast, composition, perspective, recognition of positive
and negative space, building shapes, learning the human figure, composing still lifes and more!

Open to all levels — from absolute beginners to seasoned artists who may want a refresher!

Donation based (Suggested donation $15)

We have some basic materials, but feel free to bring your own.

Help us keep the creative mind alive and join us for a lesson in the arts with this drawing class!

Hope to see you all there!

Instructed by Jennie Penny
email: or

Drawing 101

RSVP on the Facebook Event!

TONIGHT: Yoga & Meditation

Join us Tuesday nights at Brooklyn’s sacred space for independent artistic expression.


TONIGHT at 7:30pm at The Living Gallery

This yoga class is open to all levels, there is no experience required. With calming breathing practices, and a dynamic vinyasa flow the sequence ranges from moderate to intermediate. All classes end with a short meditation practice.

By Donations

RSVP on the Facebook Event!

AROUND TOWN (TONIGHT): “Transitions v.1 (Like an Indefinite State)” Opening

Upcoming at Associated:
Transitions v.1 (Like an Indefinite State)

Running: November 16, 2013 through December 1, 2013
Opening: Saturday November 16, 2013 from 7:00pm to 10:00pm
Hours: Saturdays & Sundays from 1:00pm to 6:00pm and By Appointment
Contact: (Email for confirmation.)
Location and Further Contact:


“Associated is pleased to announce the first of a series of group shows evoking the theme of transition. Please join us on Saturday, November 16 from 7-10pm as we celebrate the opening of Transitions v.1 (Like an Indefinite State), featuring works by Michael Alongi, Diane DiMassa, Peter Hoffmeister, Shinto Imai, Robert Nava, Elizabeth Riley, Cecilia Salama, and Mika Yokobori.

From the start of life, we begin to die; Transition between parent and child, or one force to another (Shinto Imai), a blue tarp as a metaphorical dividing line between self and other (Elizabeth Riley). By spending time with them and taking pictures, I feel that I’ve been able to participate in something meaningful – a relationship with each – which is something that can’t be overlooked (Michael Alongi). I could not see the image on this, and carefully washed the mud off, to have a portrait emerge… (Diane DiMassa). I choose to use biomorphic images as a metaphor for social hierarchy, as well as human cells, body parts, or organs as for an individual or a collective functionality within an organism or culture (Mika Yokobori). The fluidity of borders which change according to government policy and conflict, but which can also provide a people with sovereignty (Peter Hoffmeister) is a narrative of the integration of the body and an individual’s psychological states with the city (Elizabeth Riley). In the process of streaming ideas and imagination onto canvas or paper, I become an observer and a single component of my own social environment (Mika Yokobori). The words transcend into the mind, hopefully to a somewhat familiar place of an emotional loopty loop that can occur during a tear-jerking argument (Robert Nava). It definitely begs for an archeological explanation, as it is a sort of enigmatic object that feels like something you can’t quite identify (Peter Hoffmeister)… A mold that has tiny nodules which create a sort of binary-code onto the iridescent latex when it dries (Cecilia Salama). Finally, the text piece, I feel, is left for the mind to handle, in the flow of a circular conversation (Robert Nava).”


AROUND TOWN (TONIGHT): Auxiliary Projects – MTAA Performances – Opening Reception

Auxiliary Projects

Location: 2 St. Nicholas Avenue, Space 25, Bushwick, Brooklyn
Gallery Hours: Saturday and Sunday from 1:00pm to 6:00pm and By Appointment


Nov 15, 2013

Auxiliary Projects reopens on November 15, 2013, with an exhibition of objects and collaborative performances by MTAA. There will be an opening reception on November 15th, from 7-10pm, and the exhibition will continue through January 5, 2014.  The gallery is open Saturdays and Sundays from 1-6pm, and by appointment.

MTAA, known for new media conceptualism for over 15 years, presents an intervention into and radical redecoration of Auxiliary Projects. MTAA overlays a fictional identity onto the space, aesthetically and metaphorically reimagining the gallery as a camouflaged quasi-military outpost in an isolated environment. Echoing a cold war aesthetic even as the repercussions of Edward Snowdon cascade, MTAA imagines the elements of isolation, observation, and ice as the defining elements of this bleak, inhospitable place, inhabited by the few and visited by the brave.

Isolation: What materials of culture would we need to survive alone?  MTAA provides the answer of a few carefully chosen books, movies, and CDs, precisely stacked in duplicate on shelves as though not to be touched. Among them: One Hundred Years of Solitude, Jerry Thomas Bartenders Guide, a deck of cards, the movie Rear Window.

Observation: Camouflaged, those inside the gallery persist as if in a hunting blind, quietly poised for visitors to make their innocent approach, filmed, seen. At MTAA’s instruction, collaborators will record the smallest activities in the environment, surveilling the bleak view from the gallery’s barred windows, noting changes in the weather or the activity of pedestrians. The work of the record-keepers will be presented as a collaborative drawing; relics of performances will be presented in camouflaged boxes.

Ice: Winter is just beginning but the darkness comes early to Bushwick, the wind growing fierce between the low industrial buildings, under an often grey sky. Ice appears in drinks to a warmer welcome. We will consult the Bartender’s Guide. MTAA will foster conviviality within and from a stark environment.”

Performance schedule:
Saturday, Nov 24, 4pm- Live Dramatic Reading (Disconnection of HAL 9000’s Higher Functions)

A live reading from Kubrick’s 1968 film “2001:A Space Odyssey”
Saturday, Dec 7, 4pm- Music for lOl (Live)- with Aviram Cohen

MTAA and Cohen perform a live remix of field recordings from the IOI opening

Saturday, Dec 14, 4pm- A Very Very Cold Martini

MTAA and Elaine Tin Nyo will make and serve you a very very cold Vesper Martini

Saturday, January 4, 4pm- Group Assembled Klondike Solitaire

MTAA will play a hand of Klondike solitaire as a group performance

Collaborators for the exhibition include Charles Orr, Colleen Rae Smiley, Raphaele Shirley.