can it scale to the universe → introduction

can it scale to the universe → introduction

On translations, from big to small, from analog to digital, and vice versa. This worksession focuses on mediation, translation and communication.  Meeting computer tools and formats implies to know the extent, the weight and scale of these otherwise virtual entities. At the translation between analog gesture and digital format the notion of scale becomes pertinent. Going  from digital to analog, we are used to seeing a discrete logic of blobs as produced by the print head of the inkjet printer. But 1980s technology of plotting tables shows that a printer can also be commanded in a much more gestural and continuous style. From a small scale to a large scale and from large to small, what tools can we use for this translation? What is lost in the scaling? Can we measure the approximation, the distance between instructions and graphical interpretation? 

Clone the repo here
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translation, language, scale, milieu, plan, mediation, conversion, micro/macro, compensation, perspective, perception, rulers, optic, distortion, error, aberration, etc.


This is about the question of scale in the context of the digital, and how scaling triggers artifacts. How does reformulating a system into a transformation device, invites for intermediate systems ? Can it scale to the universe? It depends on how you define the universe
In a mathematical universe, taking transformation matrices, the scaling happens on the a and d parameters

This is a description of the universe with x-axis and y-axis. But this is Flatland and we are not geometric figures. Our universe is much richer. You can include much more ingredients in the universe.

The big picture is already visible in the banal, usual and not necessarily spectacular objects. To illustrate this, we could talk about an experiment we did with OSP when we were in Vietnam. We did a reprint of the Libre Graphics Magazine, as it is has an open license, but because the only available technology in print shops was inkjet printing we could only print 2 copies of it.

Another example is the Balsamine theater logo and the font we modified at the occasion. The lowercase b features a mise en abîme of the former logo pieces, but the technological limitations made impossible to go further than one level.

The human body is the reference point. Our body is the center to sense/measure reality. Foot of the measure of the king.

Measuring units: inch, feet, point 
cf. French units of measurement the pied du roi (the king’s foot), plus da Vinci, Romain du Roi.

The typographic point is the primary unit of measurement of printing and typography.
Its value ranged from single to double over time.
Busy French construction site for Lady Liberty 1883.

One foot is not a measure. Two feet, you go beyond your body.
Group as a group.

Scaling is a key aspect of the human condition.

Situations involving scale can only give us a  better understanding of a  situation or the function of an object.  Scientists  blow up DNA structures to tactile dimensions, engravers reduce drawings  to the size of stamps and coins, architects and product designers make  small mock-ups to get a better understantding of the spacial features.  Scaling becomes a tool to help them place their ideas within space and  time, and the relative size of things is a key aspect of the human  condition, something we often pay little attention to but are always  intuitively aware of. I am particularly interested in the mechanics of scale as part of the technical process of design.
— Dries Wiewauters, Affine transformations, 2010, Arnhem 

Playing scale changes in the body
change of environment


performative aspects
relation to the body
relational guidelines
the body in relation with different scales
when its too high or too small, it gets out of our reality field apprehension 

body optic perspectives
Jan Vredeman de Vries, Perspective (Leiden, 1604-5)

Walking is the way, Esther Ferrer
MesuRAGEs by Orlan

cf. OSP Valence experiences with Turtle fonts

From the moment the scale overflows our capacity to apprehend what is at stake, we feel the urge to invent intermediary systems.
(Could have been the) Last CPU blueprint


links to the urban scale - carto - GPS - space - (la matière noire qui fait tenir les trucs ensemble) Qgis


shift between space of origin to space of 
Conversion is costly. What is lost? What is emphasiz
ex: Fonzie reading machine

Google earth 3D abberation
Dymaxion Map: Buckminster Fuller’s attempt to limit disto

Grid and raster;a=blob_plain;f=iceberg/24_vj02.jpg;h=f4d06cf918e4a6112872c017d458f2b90626140b;hb=HEAD

images - pixel - grid 
image upscaling/downscaling (GMIC)
jpg compression 
robot portraits surveillance cameras (cf. the TV show CSI)

Untitled (Total), 2000, Tom Friedman
(nine identical cereal boxes, cut up into small squares reassembled in a single larger version)


+ his Pantograph Specimen

Infinite Line, Niko Princen

To collect

Catalogue of limits

Catalogue of intermediate systems

Collection of mesure instruments or convertisseur

Texts, books

For both art and life depend wholly on the laws of optics, on  perspective and illusion; both, to be blunt, depend on the necessity of error.

— Nietzsche, “A Critical Backward Glance”, The Birth of Tragedy

The last historical act of writing may well have been the moment when, in the early seventies, Intel engineers laid out some dozen square meters of blueprint paper (64 square meters, in the case of the later 8086) in order to design the hardware architecture of their first integrated microprocessor. This manual layout of two thousand transistors and their interconnections was then miniaturized to the size of an actual chip, and, by electro-optical machines, written into silicon layers. Finally, this 4004 microprocessor found its place in the new desk calculators of Intels Japanese customer and our postmodern writing scene began. For the hardware complexity of such microprocessors simply discards manual design techniques; in order to lay out the next computer generation, the engineers, instead of filling out uncountable meters of blueprint paper, have recourse to Computer Aided Design, that is, to the geometrical or autorouting powers of the actual generation.

— Kittler, an IBM processor blueprint big as a stadium,

Xerox and infinity, Jean Baudrillard
Type Spaces, Peter Burnhill, Hyphen Press 2003-09, 2003 
On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection, Susan Stewart, Duke University Press

osp wood pantographer

— plotters
— Turtle g
— G’MIC http://gm
— Literal Draw : vector-based drawing applicat

— GPS devices
— LLVM, http:
— GRASS http://mirrors.zerg
— Shaply

OSP scaling samples 

List of simple exercices

Lenfant et les graphes: how space is used to visualize abstract math concepts
Lewis Caroll, The Game of Logic

Pierre de Rosette

Money is one conversion system, optical devices, mathematics.

Graph of the Linux 2.4 Kernel
graph of haskell packages dependencies

What we say

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