Carl Lostritto
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Slow Plotting for The Draftery
The Draftery is amid the production of their next edition of Figures, which is titled "That then Disappear in the Building of It." The editors are curating a corresponding exhibit at Sasaki Associates gallery in Watertown, Massachusetts. Designed for the exhibit with co-author Peeraya Suphasidh, this project consists of two pen plotters operating in parallel. Both apparatuses mine twitter for tweets from a few hours leading up to their performance, which itself lasts for many hours. Over the course of one second, thousands of tweets are posted, so out of necessity these apparatuses filter the tweets into a set of tweets that contain one word from two pairs of words: beautiful/ugly or interesting/boring. In each algorithm, these words affect the drawn lines differently. If the tweet appears to relate to the exhibit–referencing @theDraftery or exhibit themes and authors–it is given special treatment.

Drawings will be produced these evenings based on the tweets from that afternoon:
Thursday 7/4, 12:00pm-2:00pm EST (GMT-4)
Thursday 7/11, 12:00pm-2:00pm EST
Thursday 7/18, 12:00pm-2:00pm EST drawn during exhibit opening
Thursday 7/25, 12:00pm-2:00pm EST drawn at exhibit at 4pm onwards
Thursday 8/1, 12:00pm-2:00pm EST drawn at exhibit at 4pm onwards
Thursday 8/8, 12:00pm-2:00pm EST drawn at exhibit at 4pm onwards
Thursday 8/15, 12:00pm-2:00pm EST drawn at exhibit at 4pm onwards
Thursday 8/22, 12:00pm-2:00pm EST drawn at exhibit at 4pm onwards
Thursday 8/29, 12:00pm-2:00pm EST drawn at exhibit at 4pm onwards

Anyone can affect these drawings by writing a tweets with the words beautiful, ugly, boring or interesting during the above mentioned durations. If you want your influence to be more than a drop in the bucket, be sure to mention @theDraftery or #figure03.

The first algorithm uses a mini HP plotter (model 7475a released to market in 1983) controlled with the Python programming language (with the help of the Chiplotle HPGL library and the python wrapper around the twitter api, python-twitter). Each line corresponds to one tweet. Tweets with the word "beautiful" rotate the line a minuscule amount clockwise compared to the previous line. "Ugly" rotates the line the opposite way. "Interesting" makes the line longer and "ugly" makes the line shorter.

On the day the above test drawing was made–June 12, 2013–Amanda Bynes referred to Miley Cyrus as an "ugly ass bitch" on twitter, and although the apparatus ignores retweets (there were hundreds), above average levels of aesthetic conversation ensued–including a reactionary rebound of the term "beautiful."

Special tweets leave a heavier mark. These heavier marks are the only lines that remain visible as such. Ink from other lines bleeds to the extend that vertical swaths, rather than single line, can be read.

Each line segment gradually changes

The above is an early test of this apparatus with a larger plotter on larger paper.

photo of the apparatus running at the exhibit (photo credit: @theDraftery)
[KGVID width="600" height="600"]http://lostritto.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/bae70572efe411e2983d22000a9f199e_101.mp4[/KGVID] video by @theDraftery

This apparatus makes use of a slightly larger flatbed Roland plotter (DXY-1150). Each line is drawn from the center of outwards, and corresponds to information from around 100 tweets. "Beautiful" and "ugly" words found in tweets push a current point on the line upwards or downwards. The lines are drawn very slowly to create a smooth curve. The quality of the line varies significantly due to cycles of buildup of dry ink at the pen tip, and the gradual physical deterioration of the connection between pen and plotter hand over the course of the drawing.

Most tweets affect the curve–causing it to deviate from a straight line–only slightly, but tweets from people associated with the exhibit, or those referencing the exhibit, affect the curve more significantly. And because each curve is influenced also by the previous curves, large changed radiate through the drawing.

Each curve after being influenced by tweets

[KGVID width="600" height="600"]http://lostritto.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/190960f0efe511e2b23022000a1f9ad5_101.mp4[/KGVID]
video by @theDraftery
the plotters in their nook during the Draftery's exhibit opening at Sasaki Gallery
The first three weeks of drawings complete

Want to own one of these drawings?

Print copies of a drawing pair is included in the "limited edition" of the Draftery's Figure03 and original versions will be given to the first 20 contributors of $250 as part of the "special edition." Print copies of Figure03 are available for only $35. All contributions are made to The Draftery via Kickstarter