Archive for the 'pedagogy' Category



Recently I have been working with Gautam Agarwal, a neuroscientist at UC Berkeley, on a piece for the Mind Matters show next Spring at UCSF. His work is focused on understanding the relationship between spatial awareness and neural activity. He has been teaching me about his research and I have been developing data visualization tools in Processing to view and navigate through the massive data sets he is using:


OpenGL in Processing has allowed us to visualize hundred of thousands of data points, animate them, rotate them in three dimensions, and change parameters in real time. In the visualization below, color represents spatial positioning and the height of the curves represent neural activity, showing clear connections between the two variables:


We don’t yet have a vision of what this all becomes for the show, but we are developing a large cache of materials to work with.

Last Spring, avatar internet artist LaTurbo Avedon visited my Internet Tools class at SFAI. It was certainly the most unorthodox guest speaker I’ve had visit a class. Check out her intro video and then check out her projects, both of which are great.



I’m going to start up Hacking for Artists again with weekly workshops on Wednesday nights at my studio in Oakland. They are focused on artists who want to learn how to incorporate electronics and/or computer programming into their practices. They are not formal classes, but open time to work on projects in adjacency to and in collaboration with other artists who are figuring things out. And I am around the whole time to help you out, provide you with resources, and point you in the right direction. I have started to build an electronics lab and have all the basic tools (soldering iron, breadboards, etc) you will need along with a lot of components (arduino, raspberry pi, resistors, caps, lights, sensors, etc, etc) to play with.

I think they work best if you have a project and/or idea in mind and come to the workshop with questions. Then I can put together little demos, show you tutorials online and in books, and help you figure things out. I’m also open to feedback, so please let me know what you would like to see.

If you are interested in programming, I will give you a couple pre-workshop assignments to get started, then we’ll go from there.

So if you would like to participate, let me know. Since I’ll have to limit the number of people who show up, please RSVP to: nicklally *[AT]* gmail *[dot]* com

So here are some initial dates to think about:

September 18
September 25
October 2
October 9
October 16
…the future TBA

Let me know if you’ll be joining us!



The students in my Internet Tools & Concepts class created a great exhibit that exists both online and off. Check out the online version, which includes an interactive 3-D gallery, links to online work, project descriptions, and documentation of the IRL show.

Hacking for Artists is starting up this June. Here’s the invite:

I am organizing a series of free workshops for artists who want to learn how to use computer programming and electronics in their practices. The first session will begin this June and will focus on electronics. I will be setting up an electronics lab in my studio and there will be lots of things to play with. Maybe you want to build an oscillator, create a solar-powered motor, power a computer with your bicycle, hack a receipt printer, measure air quality with an arduino, control something with your brain waves, bend some circuits, or get help bringing a project to fruition.

The workshops will start at 7pm and go until we’re not having fun anymore. They will be on June 5th, June 12th, and June 19th at [please email me for the location]

Please RSVP if you plan on coming. You should come to the workshop with an idea of something you would like to work towards and I’ll help you make it happen by providing you with resources, ideas, and some instruction. If you already have an idea, feel free to send it my way so I can order some of the things you will need. Experience with electronics or programming is NOT required or expected!

If you are interested in a more formal introduction to computer programming, check back in the fall when I will be teaching programming as part of this series.

Support for Hacking for Artists is provided by Southern Exposure’s Alternative Exposure Grant Program

And I have a few upcoming shows:

sound installation @ zero station, portland, ME in July:

heart show @ martina }{ johnston, berkeley, CA in September:

mind matters @ ucsf, san francisco, CA in March:


I am excited to announce that I just received an Alternative Exposure Grant for a future iteration of Hacking for Artists! Hacking sessions will begin next spring and consist of weekly workshops for Bay Area artists who want to incorporate computer programming and electronics into their practices. Details will be announced soon.

I recently hacked together a program that produces slit-scans of users’ desktops. Custom software slowly scans across the screen, taking about four minutes to complete, creating still images which illustrate both the spatial arrangement of software windows and the temporal flows of users’ activities. I have been distributing it without telling people what it does and asking them to send me the results. They produce fascinating maps of how people use their computers as their private activity is laid bare. Here are a few low resolution examples (all reproduced here with consent from users):

Katie, artist, Minneapolis

Matt; curator, writer, artist; Oakland

Rachel, artist, New York

Mark, programmer, Oakland

And head over to the photo blog for some snapshots from October.



I recently helped my friend Ann in Santa Cruz set up her new website. We used Stacey, a lightweight php CMS that doesn’t use a database, just text files, which is sweet. Ann is a super talented printmaker, illustrator, fabric artist, bike mechanic, and finder of stuff. Check out her new website of full of rad things:

This summer I’m teaching an intensive five week course on computer hacking at UC Santa Cruz. Sign up while there’s still room because it’s going to be a blast:


Traces of my lecture today on Software Studies (which could be titled “Why I think It’s Really Important and Exciting That You’ve Spent the Last Three Months Learning How to Program”)