psworld – Julian Oliver


psworld 2010/11, Julian Oliver, Software and hardware

psworld is work of ‘philosoftware’. It began as a modification of the utility, ‘ps’, found on all UNIX and UNIX-like operating systems. ps is used by people and programs to quickly sort and print a table of processes that are running on a computer. psworld maps these processes onto visual features in the world, creating a perceptual dependence between a computer and the world around it. As the computer’s visible surroundings change, the instability of the operating system increases.

An example: a computer running psworld is in a park watching a bird in a tree. If the process ‘Firefox’ is attached to the bird’s head and the bird suddenly flies away, Firefox will be terminated on the computer. Similarly, a breakfast scene may include many processes attached to various edibles on the table. As breakfast is eaten, dependent processes on the computer will be terminated.

Please see the artist’s site for the full description of this project.


Julian Oliver CV and bio

Julian Oliver is a New Zealand artist based in Berlin. He has been active in the critical intersection of art and technology since 1998. His projects and the occassional paper have been presented at many museums, international electronic-art events and conferences, including the Tate Modern, Transmediale, Ars Electronica and the Japan Media Arts Festival. His work has received several awards, ranging from technical excellence to artistic invention and interaction design.

Julian has given numerous workshops and master classes in software art, augmented reality, creative hacking, data forensics, object-oriented programming for artists, virtual architecture, artistic game-development, information visualisation, UNIX/Linux and open source development practices worldwide. He is a long-time advocate of the use of free software in artistic production, distribution and education.


Recent Awards

2011                   Excellence Prize (Art category), Japan Media Art Festival

2010                  Award of Distinction (Hybrid Arts category), Prix Ars Electronica

Third Prize, Fundacion Telefonica, VIDA 13.0 Art and Artifical Life awards.

First Prize, Jeux Vidéo et Attractions, Laval Virtual.

2008                  Technical Innovation award, Indiecade

The New Zealand Open Source Award

Honorary Mention (Interactive Arts category), Prix Ars Electronica

Jury Reccommended Work (Entertainment Division), Japan Media Arts Festival

2004                  Honorary Mention, Transmediale


Recent exhibitions, talks, workshops

2010                  Improved Reality lecture, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.

psworld at ‘moddr_*’, iMAL, Brussels (curated by moddr_).

ioq3aPaint at ‘Virtual Rebellion’, KOP, Breda, Netherlands.

The Artvertiser, Beeldfestival (augmented street exhibition and talk), Rotterdam

Improved Reality lecture, Migrating Art Academies conference, C.H.B, Berlin.

The Artvertiser, Media Facades Festival Europe 2010 (workshop and augmented

street exhibition), Brussels

The Artvertiser, ‘Stadt am Rande’, Goethe Institut, Beijing

levelHead at The Lighthouse, Brighton

levelHead at Space Invaders, Netherlands Institut voor Mediakunst, Amsterdam

M.I.G at Worm Space, MuseumsQuartier, Vienna

‘Improved Reality’ paper and presentation, TEDx, Rotterdam

‘The Great Augmented Goldrush’: a Reality-check for Artists’. Presentation, V2, Rotterdam

ioq3aPaint at 26th edition of ‘Art Amsterdam’, Amsterdam

Six Composite Acts, MMX Gallery, Berlin

The Artvertiser (at the Murcia stand), ARCO, Madrid

The New Arena Paintings (solo show), Hannah Maclure Centre, Dundee, Scotland

The Artvertiser at Transmediale 2010, Berlin

‘The Not So Brief History of Sound Based Games’, artist talk, A-MAZE Festival, Berlin

2009                  levelHead at Space Invaders, FACT, Liverpool, U.K

levelHead at Over The Game, Zemos98, Seville, Spain

The Atocha 24 Insertions, HAMBRE (group show) Madrid

levelHead at TWEAKFEST, Zurich, Switzerland

levelHead, Award and exhibition, LAVAL VIRTUAL, Laval, France.

levelHead at Art Rock festival, St Brieuc, France

The Artvertiser workshop, Cartagena, Spain

Composite City, Paper presentation, See Festival, Wiesbaden, Germany

levelHead at Mois Multi, Quebec City, Canada.

levelHead at the Japan Media Art Festival, National Art Center, Tokyo, Japan

levelHead at the Ars Electronica Center, Linz, Austria (opening exhibition ofnew center).


Information Comes from the Sun – Julian Priest


Information Comes from the Sun 2011, Julian Priest, Solar powered monitor, Video animation, Media player, Photovoltaic cells


Open System Closed 2011, Julian Priest, Assemblage (nine underwater camera cases, found objects)


“Information comes from The Sun” is a video artwork consisting of an animation of The Sun that was first shown at ISEA 2011 in Istanbul Turkey.

The animation is made from Solar Observatory data images of the sun that have been rendered in zero’s and ones using ascii art software and a custom font.

The animation shows a single solar rotation (28 days) photographed twice a day by the SOHO orbital instrument EIT304.

The animation may be connected to a one pixel camera that measures light levels and adjusts the resolution of the animation accordingly.

In the dark a single zero is shown – as light levels increase the number of characters increases until in the brightest light a full image of the sun is shown with every pixel a character.

Information comes from the sun represents the sun as an information source rather than an energy source – an information service provider.

What is it that we get from the Sun that we use up on Earth to power life?

Most people would say energy.

While The Earth is bathed in an enormous flow of energy from The Sun, it is not the energy that we use up on Earth. Energy from The Sun falls on Earth as visible light yet if we look at The Earth from space as an energy emitter, we see that it radiates energy as infrared light. In fact the incoming visible light energy and the infrared outgoing energy are more or less equal. If they were not in equilibrium The Earth would quickly explode. As a whole The Earth maintains an energy balance and therefore in cannot be the ENERGY from The Sun that we use up.

If we look at the incoming and outgoing energy streams we can however see that there is a frequency drop. This is related to a quantity called entropy which is a measure of disorder or energy disspipation. Entropy can also be thought of as the opposite of information. A system with higher entropy has less information. The information we are talking about here is not digital information 1’s and 0’s but possible physical states.

The entropy of the outgoing energy from the earth is greater – there is less information in the global output stream, than in the input.

This entropy gradient is what we use to structure life on earth – all the biology, culture and technology that we see on earth is a result of the process of converting the more ordered energy stream from the sun, into a more disordered output stream. We take a high information source, convert it into a low information source, and the difference stays with us on earth – as biosphere, civilisation, culture and technology.

If we think about it in this way it is clear that it really is information that comes from the sun – it is carried by a massive energy flow, but what the earth uses from the sun is the potential to order – to create structure or information.

In the field of non-linear thermodynamics it is shown that it is precisely the fact that life is efficient at degrading the entropic gradient that makes it possible to exist as a meta stable state at all.

When we reframe our understanding of the relationship between us and the sun as an informatic one rather than an energetic one there are some consequences. If we understand that the life process is not about energy, but about transforming energy in a
way that maximises information capture, we may choose to do things differently.

Currently we foreground access to energy resources politically with much emphasis placed on securing access to fossil fuels. This is a kind of quantative view of the world as resource. If however we focus on the informatic, we look not at how much energy we can capture, but how much structure we can produce for a given amount of low entropy energy or information.

Looked at this way a tree is worth more alive than dead, as an ecosystem rather than firewood. As a complex living structure of information it is vastly richer informationally than an information poor ash pile. With informational eyes we foreground efficiency over power.

With this artwork I’d like to begin to propose a different language for re-framing what are currently energetic issues as informatic ones. With this as a starting point we will have more luck in designing a sustainable infrastructure as we slowly but surely out of the fossil fuel era.

Julian Priest




Curatorial statement for Te Kore Rongo Hungaora – Second Nature


Curated by Ian Clothier with an advisory panel of Nina Czegledy, Tengaruru Wineera and Trudy Lane, a bridge between Maori and European cultures of Aotearoa New Zealand has been constructed. The project began with the selection of concepts shared across ideological borders. The topics were loosely connected and include cosmological context, all is energy, life emerged from water, anthropic principle and integrated systems. All the selected works address more than one of these thematic regions.

Discipline boundaries have also been breached, following a course charted at SCANZ 2011: Eco sapiens where artists, scientists, environmentalists, activists, educationalists, philosophers and tangata whenua came together to collectively re-imagine our narratives on nature. In this way the event sought to encourage cultural shifts in response to the environmental crisis facing earth and humanity.

Breaching boundaries of culture and discipline, generating cultural hybridity and interdisciplinarity has consequences. There are gains and losses in the approach, but what might be won is a way forward that is sustainable, affirmative and interconnected. One sense of the term ‘culture’ refers to customary practice or a way of thinking, while one sense of ‘discipline’ is method – in these senses of those words, the works here arise from a culture of sharing and a discipline of openness.


Curator – Ian Clothier CV and bio

Ian Clothier is Director of Intercreate Research Centre ( and Founder and Co-director of SCANZ residency, symposium and exhibition. As an artist his projects intersect art, technology, science and culture. Recent creative projects include the integrated systems The Park Speaks and Haiku robots; and the hybrid cultural Making History a project of his internet micronation The District of Leistavia. He has had thirteen solo shows and been selected for exhibition at institutions in twelve countries including three ISEA exhibitions: ISEA 2009 Belfast exhibition; Taranaki culture at Puke Ariki, New Zealand; ISEA 2008 Singapore symposium; net.NET at The JavaMuseum; for Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival in the USA (upstate New York); ISEA 2006 San Jose exhibition; Graphite at the University of Otago NZ; the First International Festival of Electronic Art in Rio de Janeiro; Fair Assembly at ZKM; New Forms Festival in Vancouver; ISEA 2004 Tallinn/Helsinki exhibition; ReJoyce in Dublin and Wild 2002 in the Tasmanian Museum. He was awarded a Converge Artist Fellowship at the University of Canterbury in 2005 for an augmented reality project. Written work has been published in respected journals, Leonardo, Convergence and Digital Creativity and he has delivered papers to conferences and symposia worldwide.

Curatorial experience includes being selection panel member for Solar Circuit Aotearoa New Zealand 2006; SCANZ 2009: Raranga Tangata; SCANZ 2011: Eco sapiens; Inter:place at Puke Ariki 2010; WITT-wide an exhibition covering work by staff of all departments of Taranaki’s polytechnic in 2009; Interactive City selection panel for ISEA 2006; Exhibitions, Policy and Education Officer, The Gallery Akaroa 1990 – 1992; Co-director of Summer Entertainment in Akaroa 1986; and Exhibition Officer 1984-86 at the Gallery Akaroa.

As well as curatorial panel membership he also produced and creatively directed the SCANZ events with Trudy Lane. Previously he had been Special Projects Manager at the University of Auckland Business School (managing world class teaching technology installations 1997-2002), and Survey Manager for Halcrow Fox Associates in the UK 1988-1990). In 2002 he was awarded and MA (Hons) from AUT, and has a Diploma of Art in Visual Arts from Monash University Gippsland Campus.

Research Publications

Clothier, I (2009). The Collaborative Landscape: some insights into current practice in the visual arts ITPQ refereed conference proceedings.

Clothier, I (2008). Leonardo, nonlinearity and integrated systems in Leonardo Volume 41 Number 1 pp. 49-55.

Clothier, I. & Lane, T. (2008). Solar Circuit Aotearoa New Zealand in S. Brennan & S. Ballard (Eds.) The Aotearoa Digital Arts Reader. Auckland: Clouds.

Clothier, I. & Lane, T. (2008). SCANZ. New Plymouth: Intercreate Press. ISBN 978-0-473-13388-7.

Clothier, I. (2007). Formen der Reprasentation: Hybride Kulturen, Nonlinearitat und creative Verfahren (Forms of Representation: Hybrid Culture, Nonlinearity and Creative Practice). In Kroncke, M; Mey, K & Spielmann, Y. (Eds.) Kultureller Umbau: Räume, Identitäten, Re/Präsentationen (Cultural Reconstruction: Spaces, Identities, Re/Presentations). Bielefeld: Transcript. ISBN 978-3-89942-556-7.

Clothier, I (2007). Created identities: hybrid cultures and the internet (revised with images) at

Clothier, I. (2007). New Plymouth: Intercreate Press. ISBN 978-0-473-11915-7.

Clothier, I. (2005). Created identities: hybrid cultures and the internet in Convergence Volume 11 Number 4 p 44-59; London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi:Sage Publications

Clothier, I. (2003). Hybrid cultures: what, where and how about us? Nga Waka, Aotearoa NZ Association of Art Educators Conference published in Nga Waka, ANZAAE refereed conference proceedings, Vol. One (1),2003

Clothier, I. (2001). From chaos and cosmology: a new space for the visual arts in Digital Creativity Volume 12 no. 1, p 31-44.