Monster Stickers (2010)

My search for deep engagement in interactive art makes me suspicious of the gallery and the computer screen. For most people, time in the gallery is so absurdly short (a minute or two with each exhibit) that it’s impossible for engagement to happen. Similarly, the computer is an enclosed world, seen through a small screen at specific times.

One solution I contemplated is to turn a computer work into a system to produce real-world stuff. So that the experience on the computer is continued into objects that you can take away into the rest of your life.

With Monster Stickers I tried to find an easy way of doing this, using a common ink-jet printer. Here the program creates pictures of monsters, but instead of showing them on the screen, generates a PDF file of images formatted to fit a standard size of address labels. You can print the monster stickers and then put them on objects in your world.

When doing this I was also very intrigued by the whole “designer toy” phenomenon. And doodlers like Jon Burgerman. At least, I find some aspects of the designer toys beautiful. At the same time, I’m put off by the elitism inherent in the high-prices and limited editions of some works (even if this is typical of other parts of the commercial art world). Monster Stickers were an attempt at engaging this world. It’s great failing is that the creatures themselves are a bit slapdash. Just random geometric constructions rather than something with greater attention to craft and personality.

The questions I am trying to address :

1) How can computer art get outside the computer screen?

2) Bearing in mind 1), how can we make computer art that’s “democratic” or accessible to many people. Not just something that a) requires a lot of expensive equipment and sponsorship, b) can only be experienced fleetingly in a brief gallery visit?

3) How can we use computer technology to make something fundamentally interactive? Ie. even though you can’t actually do anything with this program except run it (so far) there’s no point just looking at the output. It’s only fun if you choose a run you like, print it out to make stickers, and then stick them on things. The stickers aren’t the work. The activity of making and using them is.

Monster Stickers is a Processing sketch. You can get the source-code on GitHub.