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Zach Gage – N00128038

Final Writing Portfolio Fall 2009 – Abstract

As a society we are going through a major transition time right now. That transition is between
living our entire lives in a physical space to living major portions of our lives in a virtual one.
Because have spent hundreds of thousands of years defining and redefining the cultural and
behavioral norms of how to behave and exist in the physical world, many of these fundamental
behaviors are so ingrained that they have become difficult to study. On the other hand, we have
spent barely two decades defining how to exist in a virtual space. This makes our transition into
an exciting time to examine the human condition. This is because we are able to investigate the
defining of these new virtual norms as they happen. Through investigating the formation of
virtual existence, we are able to re-investigate how our own understanding of how our physical
existence formed.

My approach to this investigation involves finding friction areas between how we behave in the
physical space and how we operate in the digital/virtual space, and then building discrete
philosophical critical design works to comment upon the areas of friction.

Creating these works now serves as a way to add philosophical discussion to our transition
process, potentially improving what become. our norm behaviors in the virtual space. It also
functions as a way to reflect upon the values we have created in the physical world, and why we
created them.

To this end I have created two works. The first, Lose/Lose, is a video game commenting on the
disparity between the value of our digital information and the care we take to protect it, as well as
the immaturity by which we treat software. The second, Temporary.cc, is a website that
comments on the indefinite persistence of data online, our reliance on this model, and our belief
that this is the best model.
Zach Gage – N00128038
Final Writing Portfolio Fall 2009 – Elevator Pitch

You know how people misinterpret each other through Instant Messaging all the time, yet we still
are using it to replace normal conversation, even about serious topics? Have you thought about
why you hang on to old floppy disks with work you did a long time ago on them, even though
you no longer have the hardware read them? Why is it that even though we have begun to save
our cherished memories to our computers, but we don’t protect them as well as our other
cherished property? Our transition to existing in a virtual space has been exciting and frantic, and
as such has lead to many strange behaviors. My thesis comments on these behaviors through
creating critical design pieces in the virtual space.
Zach Gage – N00128038
Final Writing Portfolio Fall 2009 – Concept Brief

As a society we are going through a major transition time right now. That transition is between
living our entire lives in a physical space to living major portions of our lives in a virtual one.
Because have spent hundreds of thousands of years defining and redefining the cultural and
behavioral norms of how to behave and exist in the physical world, many of these fundamental
behaviors are so ingrained that they have become difficult to study. On the other hand, we have
spent barely two decades defining how to exist in a virtual space. This makes our transition into
an exciting time to examine the human condition. This is because we are able to investigate the
defining of these new virtual norms as they happen. Through investigating the formation of
virtual existence, we are able to re-investigate how our own understanding of how our physical
existence formed.

My approach to this investigation is through creating broad philosophical critical design works. It
is best explained through a visual metaphor.

Imagine two gears.

The first gear is the set of rules governing the physical world. The teeth on this gear are our
behaviors and cultural norms, as have been evolving for hundreds of thousands of years.

The second gear is the set of rules governing the virtual world. The teeth on this gear are the
small amount of behaviors and norms that we have transitioned from physical space, as well as
the few that have evolved over our short tenure in the virtual space.

These gears fit together, but they don't fit together well. Many times, behaviors brought across
from physical space fit differently in virtual space. Other times, the behaviors from the physical
are arbitrary in the virtual, not necessarily the best way to do things, only being used because they
are familiar, and make us feel more comfortable in our new space.

My approach consists of finding these friction points between the two gears. The places where
things don't fit right, or don't necessarily make sense, and constructing critical design works that
exist entirely in the virtual realm to address those areas of friction. Although I don't address thin
slices of the friction, specific areas of interest can be derived from the individual projects I'm
creating. In this way, I'm building critical design pieces to serve as virtually embodied
commentary on our transition.

This is an important time to be creating these types of works, as it is likely that 50 years from
now, we will have completed our transition into the virtual, and all of these friction points will
have been smoothed over with solutions.

Creating these works now, serves as a way to add philosophical discussion to our transition
process, potentially improving what become. our norm behaviors in the virtual space. It also
functions as a way to reflect upon the values we have created in the physical world, and why we
created them.

To this end I have created two works.


The first, Lose/Lose, is a video game
with real life consequences. Each alien
in the game is created based on a
random file on the player’s computer. If
the player kills the alien, the file it is
based on is deleted. If the players ship is
destroyed, the application itself is
deleted.

Although touching aliens will cause the


player to lose the game, and killing
aliens awards points, the aliens will
never actually fire at the player. This
calls into question the player's mission,
which is never explicitly stated, only
hinted at through classic game
mechanics. Is the player supposed to be
an aggressor? Or merely an observer,
traversing through a dangerous land?
Why do we assume that because we are given a weapon an awarded for using it, that doing so is
right?

By way of exploring what it means to kill in a video game, Lose/Lose broaches bigger questions.
As technology grows, our understanding of it diminishes, yet, at the same time, it becomes
increasingly important in our lives. At what point does our virtual data become as important to us
as physical possessions? If we have reached that point already, what real objects do we value less
than our data? What implications does trusting something so important to something we
understand so poorly have? Beyond these questions, Lose/Lose implicitly questions its own
cultural status as a piece of dangerous software. Despite the fact that it behaves in the explicitly
opposite way of a virus, often deleting itself, and informing users of everything that it might do, it
could still be considered to be a virus simply because it is dangerous.

The second project that I have created, Temporary.cc, is a website that comments on the
indefinite persistence of data online, our reliance on this model, and our belief that this is the best
model.
Virtual data isn't subject to decay like traditional media. Despite this, we can still lose personal
data to disk failure, viruses, or accidental deletion. Unlike personal data however, data on the
internet has a seemingly infinite shelf-life. Between search-engine caching, cloud-hosting, re-
blogging, plagiarizing, and the way-back machine, the net collects and eternally stores vast
amounts of information.

Temporary.cc eschews this paradigm. For each unique visitor it receives, Temporary.cc deletes
part of itself. These deletions change the way browsers understand the website's code and create a
unique (de)generative piece after each new user. Because each unique visit produces a new
composition through self-destruction, Temporary.cc can never be truly indexed, as any
subsequent act of viewing could irreparably modify it.

Eventually, like tangible media, Temporary.cc will fall apart entirely, becoming a blank white
website. Its existence will be remembered only by those who saw or heard about it.

Ideally these pieces will be able to be appreciated or at least understood by anyone. The open-
endedness of them is intentional and strives to create an environment where the user/viewer will
feel invited to inject their opinions about the piece. Hopefully this will create discussion and
thought about the pieces, accomplishing my goals as they relate to critical design.
Zach Gage – N00128038
Final Writing Portfolio Fall 2009 – Impetus Brief

I would like to create a number of virtual critical design pieces that comment upon the
inconsistencies in how we behave in the virtual/digital space of computers vs. how we behave in
the physical world.

These objects will be important for others in a number of ways. Primarily, because the works
offer commentary on the virtual space, others will become engaged in discussing and thinking
about them. Any philosophical thought or discussion of behavior or self is a positive benefit.
Secondly, they will allow us to reflect on our behavior and existence in the physical world.
Thirdly, this work will extend a base formed by earlier net and software artists by which future
sociologists and art historians will be able to investigate the formation of behaviors in the virtual
digital space.

This concept is not only grown out of prior work and experience, but literally builds upon and
consists of much prior work. It is as much a finding of a definition for what I believe my role has
been as an artist as it is extending it. As the last defined generation to have lived part of my life
before the internet existed, I was therefore the first to go through formative years wrestling not
only with growing up but also with defining cultural norms for behavior in a new virtual arena.
This space that once only realm of only the “geeks” or “nerds” which had a natural affinity to the
space, but suddenly the open public realm of everyone. This area of exploration is extremely
close to me. Many previous projects of mine like Best Day Ever, Self-Portrait Bot, and Audio
Mosaic directly relate to this thesis. In fact, you could even consider zachisbored.com, the now
defunct high-school blog aggregate website that I hosted for fellow students to be a pre-cursor to
this exploration into the virtual/digital-personal.

I feel that I didn’t so much chose this as my thesis as much as it has been the unknown focus of
my artistic endeavors for several years now, and in defining it, could not have done a thesis about
anything else.

It is difficult to create goals and design questions for this thesis as it isn’t a design thesis, and I’m
not promoting a specific argument. Although I have an argument, my thesis doesn’t seek to
answer problems addressed by the argument, rather, the argument serves as a justification for the
meaningfulness of the thesis. If I had to define a goal it would be to create commentary in such a
way that that it could be easily understood and related to be common Internet users. A second
goal would be that because of its ease of understanding, and its aspect of commentary, that
Internet users would be engaged in discussion or thought on each of my pieces.

Goal-like as these goals are, they don’t present themselves in a way that they can be easily
addressed in a design way. Fortunately, my process tends to create works that are easily
understood or related to because they exist within the medium that they comment upon, or
because they use humor as a way to disarm the viewer/user before making their point. As for
hoping that viewer/users discuss or think about the commentary that my works offer, that is
something that’s up to them. Fortunately, the Internet tends to lend itself to discussion, and
hopefully this is enough to drive some of the projects.

As my thesis is simply a definition and continuation of my on-going process I have not changed
my thesis concept in meaningful ways that have affected my direction of work.

I’m excited about the path that I’m on, and relieved to have defined what I’m doing in a
meaningful way that will allow me to get back to what I enjoy: making stuff.
Zach Gage – N00128038
Final Writing Portfolio Fall 2009 – Domains and Precedents Brief

The domains that my project exists in are: Interaction Design, Critical Design, and Ethics.

The central domain is Critical Design, since is the field in which the projects are situated (they
are critical design objects).

They bump into interaction design by virtue of existing in a virtual/digital space. Since nearly all
virtual/digital objects could be defined as interactive, and since I am creating them, I am
designing the interaction. Additionally in many cases, as interaction is the crux of the
digital/virtual world, I am using the interactive aspect of the piece to further the critical design
component of the work.

The projects deal with Ethics because they are addressing the cultural behavioral norms that we
are developing in our digital virtual space, and many cultural behavioral norms relate directly
with ethics. For example, one aspect of Lose/Lose is that it draws attention to the disconnect
between how much we value our data and how little effort we spend to protect it. This is an
ethically dangerous situation to create critical design art in because to comment upon it in this
way I needed to endanger the data. This brought up another contradictory area in wondering
about the ethicality of creating dangerous software, and if dangerous objects exist necessarily in
the physical space, why do we assert that they don’t have the right to exist in an ethically
acceptable way in the digital/virtual space.

Because I am creating works that exist in the digital/virtual space, because my works are meant to
address the standard Internet user, and because I have somehow amassed a number of strangers
who follow my twitter, my peer group through which I will test my projects will be the Internet.
Key thinkers in my domains that I have interacted with include artists Zach Lieberman and Amit
Pitaru, as well as game designers Brenda Brathwaite and Rod Humble.

This semester I attended Indiecade in L.A. where I heard from many wonderful interaction
designers, game designers, and artists, and learned about art games as a way to further understand
my Lose/Lose critical design piece.
Because my concept is broad, I’ve included a number of different precedents from various
domains. I will relate each precedent or precedent set to a specific critical design work that I’ve
completed this semester or to my overall concept.

Interaction design related:

These three precedents relate to the first project - Lose/Lose - that I completed this semester.
Primarily they served as a way for me to further understand Lose/Lose as well as a way to more
clearly express its efficacy as a critical design piece.

The Marriage – Rod Humble

QuickTimeª and a
decompressor
are needed to see this picture.

This is a game about games as art. It’s summed up best in Rod’s explanatory text:
“The challenge as I saw it was to have the primary medium of expression something unique to
games. So it couldn’t be a story for example, because stories can be told by other mediums. It
couldn’t be a poem or sounds because they also have other counterparts. In other words I didn’t
want to limit games to being a hybrid art form.” What Rod settled upon was that the art part of
games comes in the way the player interacts with the rule-set.

This is one of the three pillars of art games (art games that are cited often, for it is a small and
new medium). It provides a basis of comparison and understanding for art games. For Lose/Lose,
this philosophy is especially important because it provides a way to semantically deconstruct how
Lose/Lose does what it does.

Primarily, Lose/Lose provides two separate contexts that are at odds with each other. This is what
fuels the ambiguity. The first context is that of space-invaders, in which the aliens are aggressors
and need to be killed for points. This context is set up by the graphics and interaction. The second
context is described by the rules, which are ‘if you kill something, you will be punished in a
meaningful way outside the scope of the game. Don’t kill anything.’ This context is, when
viewed through Rod’s perspective, the art aspect of the game.

This leads you to the third part of Lose/Lose which is the most hidden, and that is the choice to
play. As games can be viewed as a collection of meaningful choices, we often overlook the
choice to play a game, since that is one made out of the scope of the game. Since Lose/Lose
presents two rule-sets that are at odds with each other and no way to really win, it brings the
choice of weather or not to play to the forefront. In real life, the choice of weather or not to
engage in any activity is one of the most important choices we can make.

Train by Brenda Brathwaite

QuickTimeª and a
decompressor
are needed to see this picture.

Train is a great example of rules based art. It is a board game whose rules are presented in poetry-
like format. For example, the first rule is “The Player least likely to admit something goes first.”
They are all interpretation-based rules.

The structure of the game is that you must get all of your yellow tokens to the end of the train
tracks. Once you get there, you find out that the place you’re going is to a concentration camp,
and that the little yellow tokens represent Jews. Finding out this fact changes the players play-
style fundamentally. As the rules are filled with holes, there actually are ways to free the Jews.
It’s hard to explain just how well the game is constructed to make people understand this event
from a different perspective, but one thing Brenda told me that I thought was really interesting
was how people change the way they handle the tokens once they know what they are. At first,
players try to jam as many as possible into each train car, and once they know they represent
people they treat them better.

Of course, this is a decidedly different technique than Lose/Lose takes. While Train as well as
The Marriage teaches people their rules through experience, Lose/Lose presents the rules
outright, but in a way that requires discussion to understand. In this way, Lose/Lose builds in a
similarly ambiguous way to Train, It just doesn’t require the act of playing to do that.

Painstation by Volker Morawe and Tilman Reiff

QuickTimeª and a
decompressor
are needed to see this picture.

Painstation is a phenomenally interesting work that I’ve loved for many years. It served as an
inspiration for Lose/Lose as well as a way to understand some of the feedback that I received.
Painstation is a re-imagining of the classic game Pong. In fact, it’s is exactly like Pong, except
that when you lose a point you are electrically shocked. There is no score-limit, but the longer
you play, the more intense the shocks become. What’s particularly interesting about this project is
that many of the users had to be forcibly removed from the game before they received permanent
injuries. There were many burns and bloodied hands.

The reaction to Painstation conjures an image of humankind that we aren’t necessarily


comfortable with, yet, is undeniable. It provides a way to look at our fascination with dangerous
or self-damaging situations, and in this way, is a strong reference point for beginning to
investigate why so many people have played Lose/Lose.

In a more explicit way, Lose/Lose was inspired by Painstation’s literal punishment for losing.
Virtual games tend to stay in the virtual realm, and allow us to simulate events entirely for
enjoyment with no consequences. Painstation changes that. It always seemed a little like cheating
however to make game tangible by building a physical object. This was part of the inspiration to
make game consequences tangible, and yet still virtual, which is what I did with Lose/Lose.

Digital/Virtual world related precedents:


Internet Hunting by John Underwood

QuickTimeª and a
decompressor
are needed to see this picture.

Internet Hunting was a brief phenomenon in the mid 2000’s before it was declared illegal by most
(30) states. It consisted of having a rifle attached to a web-cam that could be remote controlled by
a user over the Internet for a fee. For an additional fee, the meat and taxidermy of the animal that
the user shot and killed could be crafted and shipped to them. It was eventually banned in many
states through the unlikely joint effort of the ASPCA and NRA.

This is one of the first times that connecting the virtual/digital space to the physical space has
ended up in courts for a reason unrelated to money (so aside from instances relating to piracy),
and for that reason alone has always served as a huge precedent to me in this area of
investigation. Officially it was banned because of the belief that Internet speeds and control were
not sufficient to be sure that a clean killing shot was achievable. This however is an argument
filled with holes. Internet speeds routinely drive video-games where hundreds of thousands of
players from all over the world compete in virtual shooting matches, and speeds are more than
sufficient to finely control where a gun is pointing and shooting. The control argument is also a
weak one, as many major surgeries are conducted through human controlled robotic tools. This is
all without even mentioning that we now conduct war through the Internet with predator drones.

It’s clear from these examples that the real reason Internet Hunting was banned is that it simply
felt un-ethical, and therefore indefensible. The NRA didn’t like it because they need to keep their
cause as supportable as possible, and the ASPCA banned it because they are against any hunting.
This un-ethical feeling is a huge area of friction between the physical and digital/virtual space,
and in this instance resulted in the manufacture of laws to let us ignore it.

Dust by the UK Museum of Ordure

QuickTimeª and a
decompressor
are needed to see this picture.

Dust is an old net-art piece that is extremely similar to Temporary.cc, but existing with an
entirely different goal, and crafted in a wildly different internet. Dust seeks to question the
meaning of data as object in terms of order. It takes a photograph and then by switching random
pixels upon the visit of a user, asks the question what the difference is between the two images,
considering their contents is the same. “On one level, the resultant image
with pixels moving incrementally out of order is the same as the first
image where the pixels are in the correct order. The data is consistent,
the pixels merely rearranged.”

It also asks when something ceases to be material in relation to data: “Dust can be similarly seen
to operate in an ambiguous relation to
materiality - it is hardly there, but always there (once swept away only
to reappear in an endless auto-generative process)”

This is in contrast to the goals that Temporary.cc attempts despite using the same mechanism.
Where Dust always exists, in an expanding state of chaos, Temporary.cc actually dismantles
itself, eventually no longer existing. This difference is key. Dust explores the difference between
something and nothing from the investigation of how order contributes to materiality, whereas
Temporary.cc investigates the value of the indefinite persistence of data online, our reliance on
this model, and our belief that this is the best model.

Where Dust asks its questions of a medium, Temporary.cc asks its questions of a culture.

Delete by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger

Delete is about the loss of forgetting, and how that can


create issues in our future. Broadly, it is about one area of
QuickTimeª and a friction in how our culture is transitioning into the
decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
digital/virtual space of the Internet. I find this book to be
incredibly interesting on two fronts. The first is that
Mayer-Schonberger proposes that having data that lasts
forever is not the optimal form for data because forgetting
is so ingrained and useful in our culture. This is
interesting because he is taking an briefly-established
norm and asserting that there is a better way to do it. The
second is his assumption that because we have used forgetting for so many years in our physical
space culture, that it is the optimal solution. Why not assert the changes we need to make to our
physical space culture to bring it up to standard with a potentially superior aspect of virtual space
culture?

As delete is about ups and downs of the loss (or removal) of data, these considerations relate to
the discussion and considerations taken in both Lose/Lose and Temporary.cc.

Critical design related:


Accessories for Lonely Men by Noam Toran
“Accessories for Lonely Men is a
collection of eight fictional products
designed to alleviate loneliness after the
departure or loss of a woman. The
objects propose that most forms of
human intimacy are crude enough in
their physicality that they can be
replicated with electronic objects, and
QuickTimeª and a
decompressor
are meant to question what we think we
are needed to see this picture.
miss in a relationship; the individual or
the generic traces they leave behind.”

This project taught me that critical


design could exist, and in that respect
must be recorded as a precedent
regardless of it’s particular relevance to
any one piece in my thesis.
Zach Gage – N00128038
Final Writing Portfolio Fall 2009 – Experiment Brief – Lose/Lose

Lose/Lose was the first piece I created during this semester for my thesis. It is a video game with
real life consequences. It was released to the internet as a video, a statement, and a game to
download. Each alien in the game is created based on a random file on the players computer. If
the player kills the alien, the file it is based on is deleted. If the players ship is destroyed, the
application itself is deleted.

Although touching aliens will cause the player to lose the game, and killing aliens awards points,
the aliens will never actually fire at the player. This calls into question the player’s mission,
which is never explicitly stated, only hinted at through classic game mechanics. Is the player
supposed to be an aggressor? Or merely an observer, traversing through a dangerous land?

Why do we assume that because we are given a weapon an awarded for using it, that doing so is
right?

By way of exploring what it means to kill in a video-game, Lose/Lose broaches bigger questions.
As technology grows, our understanding of it diminishes, yet, at the same time, it becomes
increasingly important in our lives. At what point does our virtual data become as important to us
as physical possessions? If we have reached that point already, what real objects do we value less
than our data? What implications does trusting something so important to something we
understand so poorly have?

As a whole, Lose/Lose was wildly successful. Despite having released it only on my website and
experimentalgameplay.com (to lackluster response), it managed to hit blogs, get on wired, and be
exhibited in Electro Fringe Online. Over 284,000 people watched the video, and another 68,000
watched a youtube video that Symantic created about it. There were thousands of forum posts
about the project. Many of them were negative comments from people and gamers who were
outraged about the piece, but as we live in a society where we don’t specifically recognize our
data as significant I view these angry comments as a frightened reaction that justifies my belief
that we are beginning to value our data in meaningful ways. This is a significant base to have
created. Other responses to the project were wildly positive, both from gamers as well as from
luminaries in the art game field. People like Rod Humble and Brenda Brathwaite, as well as
prolific indie game bloggers like Derek Yu and Brandon Boyer.

I also responded to a number of interviews. These interviews and responses gave me an expanded
picture of what Lose/Lose addresses. One topic was about killing in video games.
This is obviously a really controversial topic. Personally, I’m not against killing in video games.
I’m a pretty hardcore gamer myself, I’m excited about potentially media-inciting games Modern
Warfare 2 or Grand Theft Auto, I’m not a wild anti-videogame-violence person.
That said, I do think it’s worth questioning what this medium can convey. Lose/Lose does this by
taking the standpoint that killing in video games could have consequences in real life, and it
supports this statement by having consequences. Now that we have a situation where killing (or
more abstractly, aggression) has real consequences, we’re freed to discuss it as such.
There are a lot of things in real life that affect us far more positively or negatively than media that
we don’t regulate like we’re attempting to regulate the video game industry. I think it’s time we
stop discussing weather or not video games and other media could be affecting us, and start
addressing it means to be affected by something like this, and how we can use this affect to
strengthen the medium. Video games are here to stay, but culturally we’re only beginning to
understand what that means.

Another topic is about the growing disparity between how we value virtual things (some of us
view them as important as real property, and others view them as worthless) and how this can
damage our ability to effectively relate to each-other online:
For decades science fiction authors and futurists have written books talking about a convergence
of man and machine that will some day happen. In many ways, with most of our financial
transactions, work and social interactions taking place in the virtual world, this convergence has
already happened. The virtual has become the real. Unfortunately, on the internet we all value the
virtual differently, and this creates problems. Griefers in video games, 4chan’s Anonymous or the
Lori Drew Myspace suicide situation are classic examples of the gap that exists between us and
the debate over the value of virtual data.

Lose/Lose is out there to try and engage us in this conversation. What does it mean that we value
property differently? How can we interact with each-other successfully in an environment where
my hard drive is my artistic livelihood, but yours might only contain links to youtube? Or in
which some have their primary social interactions, and others only use a place to unwind and de-
stress. This isn’t a situation that can be solved with rules or laws, but one that we have to grow
into sociologically, and yet, it’s growing ever faster than we’re understanding what that means.
How do we catch up?

The fact that people even played Lose/Lose illustrates this disparity in a huge way. While some
people are furious, others are happy to explore the idea and happier still to lose their own files to
the concept. Yet all of these people share the same space online. As that space becomes more and
more real, the need to address this disparity will only increase.

A third topic it addresses is how the abstraction layer that technology and the Internet create from
the people we interact with. This is the same mechanic that Lose/Lose employs. You are the
entire time aware of what you’re doing, but you are abstracted from it by the video game layer.
This mirrors a lot of these aggressive situations on the Internet.

Fourth, Lose/Lose subtly attempts to mirror real life complex emotional situations as a way to
make us feel more connected to the types of real experiences that technology can (and does in
other more subtle ways) create for us. The only real way to win Lose/Lose is not to play, only to
ponder it. Yet we feel concerned about it’s existence, worry that people will play, and in the end,
many people do play. Situations like war, cheating, or drugs, are all Lose/Lose as well, and yet
people do them anyway.

Lastly, Lose/Lose addresses the maturity by which we treat the digital/virtual world. Anti-Virus
companies like Intego, and Symantec stepped forward and labeled it as a Virus or a Trojan. I
view Lose/Lose as ‘Dangerous Software’. Unfortunately we don’t have that term, and I think the
lack of that term is demonstrative of the lack of maturity with which we treat the software
medium.

I’m ok with antivirus companies labeling it as Malware because I recognize that they are in the
business of over-reacting so as to protect their users from absolutely everything. I disagree that it
could be considered malware though because it was not designed to be malicious, and that’s the
primary aspect of malware.

Calling it a Trojan is just absurd seeing as the primary aspect of Trojans is that they’re secretive,
and Lose/Lose tells you exactly what it’s doing.

Lose/Lose isn’t a virus. In fact, it is actively not a virus. It doesn’t have any of the characteristics
of one besides being dangerous. Firstly, it doesn’t spread itself, and in fact it does the opposite,
attempting to delete itself after running once. Secondly, It’s not secretive, telling the user exactly
what it will do. And thirdly, it doesn’t even delete your files on its own. It abstractly requires the
user to delete each file individually. This debate over weather or not it is malware still rages on in
any discussion about the piece. Interestingly, the people who seemed to appreciate Lose/Lose the
most outside of the art game community were those in the anti-virus software industry. Despite
having to label it as malware, they enjoyed the concept philosophically.

Almost 700 people have actually tried Lose/Lose with the top score of 5,023 files.
Zach Gage – N00128038
Final Writing Portfolio Fall 2009 – Experiment Brief – Temporary.cc

Temporary.cc was my second attempt to foster discussion of these areas of friction. It was
released as a website, a video, and a statement.

Virtual data isn't subject to decay like traditional media. Despite this, we can still lose personal
data to disk failure, viruses, or accidental deletion. Unlike personal data however, data on the
internet has a seemingly infinite shelf-life. Between search-engine caching, cloud-hosting, re-
blogging, plagiarizing, and the way-back machine, the net collects and eternally stores vast
amounts of information.

Temporary.cc eschews this paradigm. For each unique visitor it receives, Temporary.cc deletes
part of itself. These deletions change the way browsers understand the website's code and create a
unique (de)generative piece after each new user. Because each unique visit produces a new
composition through self-destruction, Temporary.cc can never be truly indexed, as any
subsequent act of viewing could irreparably modify it.

Eventually, like tangible media, Temporary.cc will fall apart entirely, becoming a blank white
website. Its existence will be remembered only by those who saw or heard about it.

The hope of Temporary.cc was two-fold. First I wanted to see if the critical response to a second
and less edgy piece could match the response to Lose/Lose and I also wanted to assert that our
notions of what data is are not necessarily what data has to be. Our belief that eternal existence on
the internet isn’t necessarily the best way to treat data, although, it could be. Treating data as
ephemeral can add some positive aspects of physical space objects to digital/virtual ones.

The critical response to Temporary.cc was strong,. It was featured on Rhizome, has been linked
to by many twitter posters, and has been visited by over 29,000 unique visitors. Sadly though
there was not as much discussion of this piece. I suspect that is because partially because it was a
much softer poetic piece, and also because it addressed less areas of friction.
Those that did discuss it seemed to talk about how it addressed museums as institutions (I suspect
this came from my investigation of frictional area of archivability existing as a thing to strive for
on the Internet), and it’s similarity to performance / process art.. I think this is an exciting topic to
compare it to, as performance / process art is a celebration of the authenticity of a work by the
authenticity of it’s process, and so this lends validity to the idea that data and experiences in a
digital/virtual space are authentic.

There were some negative aspects to this iteration. I was sad to discover a strange bug that has
changed some characters into multiple characters when deleting them for no good reason, and has
quadrupled the amount of visitors it will take to eliminate the website, but I believe that to be a
natural process of working in this medium, I am okay with it and do not believe it calls for a
reintroduction of the piece (were that even possible).
Zach Gage – N00128038
Final Writing Portfolio Fall 2009 – Reflection on presentations

Indiecade:
Participants at this conference seemed to be really interested in Lose/Lose. It was exciting
because I know very little formally about game design, but it provided a doorway to meet many
awesome people. Talking to all of these people gave me a much larger understanding of the art-
games movement, and helped me find ways to explore the implications of Lose/Lose further.

Midterm Critique:
This was a helpful critique as it essentially addressed that if I wanted to rest on my laurels I
would have to do an awful lot of academic research and present a clear argument. Even if I was to
do this, it seemed like everyone would universally be sad and wonder why I didn’t do more, and
that I should expect to receive a similar response to any future work. I don’t know if I agree with
that, but it seems like a similar response is at least possible, though unlikely

Cynthia made a good point in saying that I should have designed and not had typos in my artist
statement for Lose/Lose and that was one of the first critiques on work and not presentation that I
have received at Parsons, and felt like that was very valuable.

Mobile Art && Code


There was a major blowup with Lose/Lose and Symantec during my time at this conference. That
was stressful, although not conference-related. It did have it on my mind at the conference
though, and I was able to talk to a newscaster who attended the conference about the game.
Talking with him helped me further define some of the many areas that Lose/Lose relates to.

Also at this conference I heard a talk by Jonah-Bruker-Cohen on projects relating the internet and
the physical space, and these directly inspired me to create Temporary.cc

Final Critique:
This critique seemed to focus more on my actual presentation, which I was sad about, but maybe
is an indicator that everything else was sound. Cynthia seemed to have a peeve with me
presenting the physical space gear as uniform and the virtual one as irregular, and while I see
what she’s saying, I also believe that these two would be different for everyone, so maybe this is
a little picky. It seems like it’s a good metaphor but perhaps it’s better imagined than displayed.
Cynthia also seemed upset that I had presented a project that had been done before in
Temporary.cc but I am quite sure that this exact project has not been done before. Although
similar things have been done, and I am not one to wish to re-do projects that have been done
extremely similarly before, I believe Temporary.cc has enough different things going for it that it
could be considered a work on it’s own. Additionally, there appears to be something interesting
even if it has been done before, in how people are gravitating towards it now. I think this
represents a fundamental shift in how much of society exists online that nearly anyone could
instantly understand a conceptual piece like this.

It seemed to be an issue that my presentation was largely about data when I was talking about
wanting to explore other things. This is because I was largely concerned with data this semester
and made the mistake of not including past works in the field that I was thinking about when I
crafted the presentation. Unfortunate. On the positive end of things, it seemed that there were no
holes in my argument, which is exciting as I specifically built it so that I would be able to stop
putting out arguments and just make things. This is a major success for me.

Dave’s Critique:

I found Dave’s critique to be incredibly upsetting, wildly inaccurate, and somewhat inappropriate.
I’m going to leave it at that.

Zach Gage – N00128038


Final Writing Portfolio Fall 2009 – Revised Artist Statement
Zach Gage is a designer, programmer, and conceptual artist from New York City.

Inspiring thought and discussion by broaching serious topics with humor, his work explores the
increasingly blurring line between the physical and the digital. Gage is currently attending
Parsons the New School for Design, and working on his M.F.A.

Zach Gage – N00128038


Final Writing Portfolio Fall 2009 – Works Cited
Brin, Sarah. "Rhizome | Temporary.cc (2009) - Zach Gage." Internet Magic. 16
NOV 2009. Web. 16 Dec 2009.
<http://dinosaurparty.tumblr.com/post/246366357/rhizome-temporary-cc-2009-
zach-gage-ive>.

Humble, Rod. "The Marriage." Rods Ga mes. Web. 16 Dec 2009.


<http://www.rodvik.com/rodgames/marriage.html>.

Deam, Jordan. "TGC 2009: How a Board Game Can Make You Cry." The
Escapist. 30 APR 2009. The Escapist Magazine, Web. 16 Dec 2009.
<http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/conferences/tgc_2009/6021-
TGC-2009-How-a-Board-Game-Can-Make-You-Cry>.

Funk, John. "Lose/Lose - The Game That Deletes Your Files." The Escapist. 22
SEP 2009. The Escapist Magazine, Web. 16 Dec 2009.
<http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/94917-Lose-Lose-The-Game-
That-Deletes-Your-Files>.

Mills, Elinor. "Mac Game: Art project or malware?." CNET News. 4 NOV 2009.
CNET, Web. 16 Dec 2009. <http://news.cnet.com/8301-27080_3-10391185-
245.html>.

Mills, Elinor. "The computer game that destroys your files." Ga me-Life. 22 SEP
2009. Wired.co.uk, Web. 16 Dec 2009.
<http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2009-09/22/the-computer-game-that-
destroys-your-files.aspx>.

Yu, Derek. "lose/lose." TIGSource. 23 SEP 2009. TIGSource, Web. 16 Dec


2009. <http://tigsource.com/articles/2009/09/23/lose-lose>.

Morawe, Volker, and Tilman Reiff. "The Artwork Formally Known as


PainStation." The Artwork Formally Known as PainStation. Web. 16 Dec 2009.
<http://www.painstation.de/>.
Marlowe, Chris. "How Internet Hunting Works." howstuffworks. Discovery,
Web. 16 Dec 2009. <http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/outdoor-
activities/hunting/alternative-methods/internet-hunting.htm>.

"Dust." Ordure.org. Web. 16 Dec 2009.


<http://dump.ordure.org/www.ordure.org/291/dust.html>.

Toran, Noam. "Accessories for Lonely Men." Noam Toran. 2009. Web. 16 Dec
2009. <http://noamtoran.com/NT2009/projects/accessories-for-lonely-men>.

Mayer-Schönberger, Viktor. Delete - The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital


Age. 1st Ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009. Print.

Sicart, Miguel. The Ethics of Comptuer Ga mes. 1st Ed. Cambridge, MA: The
MIT Press, 2009. Print.