Anne Kelly (00:11):
Welcome to art in the raw conversations with creative people today, I’m excited to introduce you to Stephen Guerin. Stephen is a computer scientist that likes to employ creative methods within his work. If this is our first time meeting on your host and Kelly, now you might be wondering who I am in a nutshell, I’m someone that has been in love with art my entire life. I’ve now been working in the professional gallery world for about 15 years now. And about halfway through 2020, I started art in the raw as a way to keep people connected and inspired. And if you’d like to know a little bit more, take a look at the description below, but in the meantime, I’m excited to introduce you to Steven, welcome Steven Remotely. So you’re in Santa Fe as well. Looks like you’re on your patio.
Stephen Guerin (01:17):
That’s right in the backyard, looking, looking for some clouds.
Anne Kelly (01:22):
So, yeah, Steven and I met based upon our mutual love of, of winter sports and got to talking about a variety of other topics and, and you do a lot of different things, but I’ve heard you described as a computer scientists, but, but overall, the reason I wanted to talk today is it seems that you typically bring a very creative approach to your investigations recently. What have you been focused on,
Stephen Guerin (01:55):
On a work in the wildfire world 2009, we made a product here in Santa Fe that made it easier for firefighters to be trained using physical sand tables for a hundred years. They would train on sand tables with matchbox cars and yarn and cotton to represent the smoke. Just like, I guess, kids playing in the sand table or the military. And around 2009, we augmented that with projection. And then we would watch the projector with cameras to make a feedback system where we would make the surface interactive. That was, uh, so that then we could present all the mapping or the geographic information system, the GIS to show elevation and vegetation or pupils, and then to simulate the wildfire and the traffic evacuations, and basically the response to the fire as well. Uh, I got to know the community over the last 11 years, mostly in the west, but also Canada and Spain and over in Australia.
Stephen Guerin (02:56):
So a lot of the wildfires are, and recently, or at least in the last five years, looking at how communities can coordinate during an incident. And especially when a lot of the Intel starts with the citizens on their phone cameras and on social media. And ultimately it needs to get back out to the citizens. So in the beginning, we were very focused on the crews and the professionals themselves in the last five years is how do we coordinate all the cameras that are streaming in? And it could be from five to hundreds of thousands of images. And how can we make a scene out of that in real time and measure where the fire is and track where it is. Um, so that’s, that’s really been our focus for the last five years and really trying to understand how, you know, the lens and the geometry of cameras and how we can, um, lock those in, because secure GPS with machine vision, uh, common points, you can reduce that uncertainty.
Anne Kelly (03:57):
In addition to the SIM table, being used in a very practical application, you have also shown it at currents art fair. You are saving lives with this invention, but then it’s also, it also has this art application.
Stephen Guerin (04:14):
Yeah, Santa Fe is a special place and send it down to Northern New Mexico in general. I think there’s a lot of interest and researchers looking at projective art and currencies, one of the international projective art shows or interactive and new media college of Santa Fe was here. They would have the vision art festival to have people exploring new ways of making interactive light. So the SIM table at the end of the day is an interactive light. And we more generally call that any surface computing. So, you know, technology hopefully will kind of disappear into the woodwork literally as the projectors become where our light bulbs are. And then as you have more and more cameras in the room or outside that interaction could make all surfaces interactive. So there’s a lot that affords for artists or different kinds of collaboration, especially when it’s interactive. That projection mapping is a space, but as soon as you can make that dynamic and interactive interface in general will change in computing that right now we’re very screen mediated or in things like augmented reality. If I want to hold up my phone and label that mountain peak or, uh, what’s going on, it’s screen mediated. But what if that digital information comes out into the room or into the rail yard and overlays the pixels onto the surfaces, that’s a very strong interest of ours and opening up a platform for people to offer that.
Anne Kelly (05:45):
And on a basic level, the table, it is sand just for those who haven’t experienced. It, it is sand and you are projecting onto it, but it doesn’t have to be sand. And I’d read a little bit about any surface,
Stephen Guerin (06:02):
Literally means any surface in the room. And the sand table is an example of that. And there’s nothing digital or electronic on the table. It literally is a box of Sandra or a table with sand on it. All of the electronics is above it. So it’s three parks, a computer, a projector, and a camera. You know, those three working together, you know, the computer and the camera could be a phone, right, hooked up to a projector it’s already happening, where Android is being built into projector. So the computer and the projector come together as a, as a piece, right? So if you have those three and having ultimately many projectors, many cameras and many computers, how do you get those to work together in a very distributed or decentralized way to make an interactive space? So that gets into projector, blending, projector, warping, but you know, the cameras can help do that process automatically. So the room becomes a seamless space. So instead of programming windows, like we tend to do on a computer or a phone program, a surface like a table surface or a chair surface. And there may be one, one projector, maybe hitting multiple surfaces at the same time, or multiple projectors may be covering the same surface. So you want to abstract that out for the artist or the software designer. So they just care about the surfaces. They don’t have to worry about dealing with that.
Anne Kelly (07:26):
So I’m curious in, in the years that you’ve found the table at currents, have you had the opportunity to hang out around the table and watch people interact
Stephen Guerin (07:38):
And other venues, you know, in schools or useless for training firefighters, but since 2012, we’ve really seen a lot more use of educating the public. So the firefighters going out to a neighborhood meeting and letting them pull up their neighborhood, bring in the elevation for their neighborhood and letting the neighbors sculpt the sand together, the terrain, and get a real, tangible feeling for their terrain, which, you know, affects fire behavior. Fire wants to go uphill and downwind, but also water and flooding, you know, dealing with watersheds and dam breaks. So that’s what we get to observe more in that context, watching community members and a lot times kids interacting with it
Anne Kelly (08:23):
And science used to be a little more connected. And so being able to introduce this technology that has the visual application and to kind of share it with the general public in an art forum is just really valuable.
Stephen Guerin (08:39):
First of all, Santa Fe is a special place. I was attracted here initially for the science around Santa Fe Institute. And then I guess the, you know, the natural beauty, you know, the culture obviously grows on you and the mix of communities. And so the science, tech and art communities, I think there’s strong vein, uh, in Santa Fe, very deep in, in all three and also in the spiritual traditions as well. Right? So if you combine all four and it’s very natural to cross boundaries here, many people have a foot in many of those communities. And, you know, you’ve mentioned science and art being different, you know, in New Mexico, we’re blessed with a lot of generative artists and that’s kind of captures the idea of people taking algorithms and iterating them and, and, and looking at the patterns that form and looking for the aesthetic, not worrying about is this modeling, you know, fluid dynamics, although as you model fluid dynamics, you get at those same kinds of patterns and it’s, we, we respond to those and how practicals emerge and how turbulence and eddies form. So I think it’s a, it’s an exciting time where science and art tech and even the spiritual understanding are having a dance right now. And it’s a very exciting, and I think Santa Fe is one of those places in the world. That’s really pushing the envelope.
Anne Kelly (09:59):
Is that what inspired you to move here? You spent some time in China and you went to school in Arizona, where are you from originally
Stephen Guerin (10:11):
Anne Kelly (10:13):
Santa Fe just caught your attention. And you just decided that that was the place that had all these things going on,
Stephen Guerin (10:19):
Going to undergrad in economics and Asian studies. I got interested in feedback systems and economic systems in the eighties. Now I grew up with computing, you know, as a child of the, I graduated 86 high school showed the sixth grade, you know, the cherish shady was taken there in the seventies. My father, uh, had one of those. So learning to program early on, you know, by the time I was in college, I was simulating, but didn’t really know what that was called when I was looking at systems and really enjoyed, you know, looking at feedback systems when I went over to China, uh, and from 94 to 97, you know, the web was breaking out in 93, 94 prior to that in 1990, doing a lot with, uh, graphics. And prepress, how do you put together a magazine scan images, do the color separations, right? So a lot of color theory, and I really enjoyed that.
Stephen Guerin (11:18):
And I think we have a shared interest in the old days of the, the Irish printers in the early nineties and, and just the whole, whole side of graphics and color. And when the web came out, I really also appreciated the real time nature when you’re publishing. And instead of waiting for a match print, you got something wrong that whole two or three days cycle, right kids today, they don’t, you know, we just had green or orange screens, right. When I was in China from 94 to 97, looking at how information and the web and the internet was breaking into China. And we were helping Chinese ministries and embassies and multinationals and individuals get online. But also you’re kind of expecting a radical change in government. You know, this is just pre you know, a couple of years after Tiananmen and, you know, looking at how information propagated through China, the students, when they were demonstrating in the 89 kind of repurposed, one of mouse slogans seek truth through facts, FAA, CTS, but they changed it to fax fax.
Stephen Guerin (12:22):
So they were organizing by sending Intel around via fax machines. So I was kind of expecting a major freedom of information to break through the authoritarian top-down structures of the Chinese government called the great firewall of China was a term that I, I just started using it and the press picked it up. I got interested in how systems self-organize, you know, whether it’s how an economy works, or how ads find food or flocking. And from a distance, seeing a lot of the research coming out of Santa Fe, there was a lot of, there were a lot of popular books and articles that were making it over to me. And from Beijing, I knew that that’s where, uh, you know, I knew something special was going on, you know, in, in the same way that Prague had a certain period of time, right? We talked about that or Berlin or Florence or in China and the 12th century hung Jo and the philosophers, the great philosophies came out in these bustling kind of noisy cities. And, and again, I think Santa Fe has that potential to be a place of kind of new kinds of thinking. And that’s what attracted me wrong way to answer it. That’s what, why Santa Fe,
Anne Kelly (13:31):
I’m curious when you were in middle school, high school, kind of that age, was there a profession that you had in mind?
Stephen Guerin (13:39):
I didn’t have a professional in mind is run at 22. I started with, uh, you know, with my father, an apple bar value added reseller when the Macintosh and prepress, as I mentioned, the graphic side really appealed to me. And I wasn’t necessarily are artistic in the traditional sense in middle school or high school technical, but not engineer. So I did like, you know, what can you do with technology creatively would probably be an easier way to sum it up, but not, not so far down in the weeds. Like I didn’t take computer science in college or, you know, it was more liberal arts, but, but graphics has always appealed to me, interactive graphics stuff. That’s static while it’s, well, it’s interesting. I always liked the interactive and you know, the whole space of human computer interaction. So how do you, how to computers interact and ultimately, how can computers kind of get out of the way and have humans, human interaction, really like solutions that are elegant and adaptive themselves. And they’re not like brute force a lot of computing to make it happen. You know, what’s the minimal computing you need to, to do what you want. And I think the best algorithms at the end of the day, work that way, uh, even in, in, in art, um, you know, this has very simple rules, but from that we get very complex behavior, which is part of what complexity is about as well, complexity at the immersion rebel, but usually below that are very, very simple rules of interaction.
Anne Kelly (15:07):
If you were say back in your early twenties, looking at yourself today, when would you be surprised what you’re up to?
Stephen Guerin (15:15):
Yeah, certainly when there’ve been, um, like I wasn’t interested at all or drawn to wildfire, but, but that’s the case where, you know, we’re only PA we’re in charge of half of what we’re we become, you know, the, the other half is the environment we’re in, right. And w where we’re needed, I guess I am. So I would be very surprised. I was spending, you know, now 12 years in wildfire,
Anne Kelly (15:40):
A solution, and you were responding to that, but you mentioned your liberal arts focus. When did the scientific explorations enter the picture?
Stephen Guerin (15:53):
It was a young Catholic school boy alter boy getting, why are we here? And a religious sensibility from that space. Uh, those kinds of questions have always stayed with me. The early metaphor is that you teach a six year old, you know, God, the father in the, as, as a, as a bearded man in the clouds of the Trinity, Kay took me so far, but you know, the truths were there. Well, where does organization comes from? Where does structure come from? You know, whether it’s in an economy or in the early nineties, I got very interested in artificial life. Can we make living systems in the computer or in the lab? So wet versus wet a life. Uh, but, but I, I was always, you know, I was attracted to the digital and, and again, a lot of the research coming out of Santa Fe and the questions of what is life, and these were philosophical questions, as well as science, you know, there’s scientific, but you’re getting into physics, metaphysics and philosophy, the questions of what is the living system.
Stephen Guerin (16:58):
You know, we keep pushing the boundary out, you know, we’re getting more sophisticated answers. It’s always going to be a question. And, you know, what is, what is, what is life, what is distributed intelligence, which is also get as you, as you start to think about collective intelligence or how, for instance, like the cells of your body are part of a larger system that has more collective intelligence, that that cell could not comprehend, but it’s certainly a part of you. You’re starting to get back to a spiritual questions, you know, are we part of a larger body that has greater intelligence and has greater power than an individual cell or a person? And to me, it’s obviously yes, but people are transitioning as a, as a society. You know, Darwin has taken us so far, but I think it’s, it really has a hyper focused on the individual. And some of my colleagues again, and SFI are starting to define life as not a property of the individual, but a property of the whole system. And that’s a very profound change of thinking that, that we’re one, again, one half of the, of the process. There’s always the other half of the dual.
Anne Kelly (18:07):
We do a lot of work with the Santa Fe Institute. They do a lot of amazing things. And one of the things I’ve missed this last year is the, the interplanetary festival, everything from concerts to projections, to different talks and beyond, and
Stephen Guerin (18:25):
Over the last 15 years, I’ve been a faculty and the complex systems summer school, which is basically graduate students. It’s an awesome four week program. And just like graduate school. It’s, it’s more about the other students that you get to interact with from around the world. And they’re all very interested in interdisciplinary thinking. And so you mentioned the interplanetary. I think that really spearheaded by, uh, the vision David Krakauer, the current president, a lot of this idea of, you know, what’s it take to become an interplanetary species and to be, to be that, you know, how do you get that first planet in order? Right. Uh, so it’s not just about, you know, let’s go to Mars, but how do we, how do we make sure the, the systems of the earth support that kind of exploration? Right? So I, so I think that interplanetary festival, so it’s an opportunity to think bigger. I do appreciate all the different, you know, authors and artists all coming together to make that event.
Anne Kelly (19:25):
So I work around the corner from y’all. I was going for a walk the other day, and I kept seeing all of these stickers on, on poles around yellow that said, birds, aren’t real.com. There’s actually this website that claims a CIA killed all the birds in the seventies and replace them with drones to display on us. Curious if you’ve ever stumbled on this before. I just found it last week,
Stephen Guerin (19:52):
Ask me to be getting, if there’s anything I don’t want to talk about, uh, I’m not able to talk about that. I’m choosing no, I will say what we are working on now is how do you have community intelligence without becoming a surveillance society, all these cameras, how can we collectively render the smoke in the air, but still keep our backyard private from the same image? And there’s a cute term called suveillance instead of surveillance, Wikipedia that S O U S the French from below the service from above and the ethos of Santa Fe too, is bottom up, bottom up collective intelligence. So whether if there are drones in the sky, I think we need to come back them with our, our bottom-up surveillance systems to track those drones. And, and then, uh, you know, the other cute tournaments under site versus oversight. So how did the citizens collectively figure out what’s going on?
Stephen Guerin (20:49):
Look at COVID. We had the Intel on our phones about position to know where the epidemic and the contagion was happening, but we weren’t able to coordinate that information. China did a good job of coordinating it, but they did it from a top down government approach. You know, if you’re using any kind of digital currency in China from we pay or pay from Alibaba or Tencent, you know, those are state run enterprises for the most part. I mean, they’re, they’re definitely free market, but 10% are government employees as well. So they have that Intel on you, as well as, you know, all of the facial recognition of the street cameras, but of us, of course, we don’t want that kind of world with the government has that much surveillance. Most of our data’s up with the corporate, right? With, uh, Google or Verizon or apple, they know our location, but they don’t have the incentive to help us coordinate during COVID, you know, you’ve found some efforts, but certainly didn’t use our position data that they have. So we need the new forms of intelligence that is not top-down.
Anne Kelly (21:52):
And that was something you were looking at a little bit in terms of tracking wildfires. I’d heard you talk about, if everybody say in an area that there was a wildfire could use their cellphone to contribute, to solving the problem, essentially, which, which is, I mean, it makes a lot of sense. We all have these devices, how to, you know, how do we collectively come together to, Without birds spying on us,
Stephen Guerin (22:24):
Maybe one day, if we can learn to talk to the real bird, we can, uh, coordinate with them as well. They can give us some of their, their thoughts of what they’re seeing, perhaps late fifties or sixties. Yeah. There was also in China problems with, uh, the birds eating the crops. So, you know, in Beijing, they would kill all the birds and clap, uh, pans together until they fell out of the sky because often, uh, because they had no place to land, but then you had all kinds of mosquitoes and flies and other kinds of pests that came about. So if you think too narrowly or linearly on, uh, let’s solve this problem, and then let’s, uh, you know, you get different kinds of knock-on consequences. Like let’s like reduce carbon. I mean, of course you want to reduce that, but there’s, it’s not just that there’s a much bigger, you know, coupled systems to deal with as well. Let’s say, say in climate
Anne Kelly (23:13):
Probably noticed, but there was this giant murmuration of, of Ravens kind of near the ski area, parking lot this winter. And I don’t remember them being there in past years, but it inspired me to look into it. And apparently Ravens tend to stick together in large groups during the winter, but not in the summer, but I think they must’ve had a big nesting place needed the ski area, parking lot this winter. Cause I don’t remember seeing them in that way in past,
Stephen Guerin (23:45):
No, I’ve definitely saw him this year. And then I called murders like crows, uh,
Anne Kelly (23:49):
They’re called, um, an, an unkindness, but there was a lot of them enough, enough to take notice for me to look it up. And I’m like, why, why are all of these Ravens flying in circles around the parking lot?
Stephen Guerin (24:05):
Well, this would be another example of, um, the every day observation versus wildfire, right? So if we show we’re very interested in training people to observe. So bird watching, you know, many people are into tracking airplanes, you know, all these, you know, there’s, what’s called the long tail of communities, all these little specialty interests, that one image can be of interest to many communities, right. I might be watching the fire, but someone else is watching, you know, they’re tracking the space X startling satellites, like what you saw, uh, this weekend. Other people might be tracking mediators coming into the atmosphere. And if they have multiple shots, they can get the 3d track. So I guess from the thing is we have enough cameras to track where the Ravens are over the years, you know, there’s other crowdsource tools like project bud burst. When, when are the different flowers coming in to season or when are the birds migrating, you know, that kind of stuff.
Stephen Guerin (25:04):
So I think it’s a time of observation. And also just generally in technology, we tend to name like web 1.0, web two dot oh two dot I was when we got more social networks and user generated content web three now is starting to talk about the spatial web. Not only are we doing a lot better mapping on the web, but we’re capturing realities. Yeah. The augmented reality kind of applications, but even the spatial augmented reality, like we do, it’s like, how is the world going to be part of the, you know, the will be captured and interactive. So I think this is an exciting era of observing the world and the more you observe and time-lapse like, you saw us doing during the fire, just that Pacheco canyon burned. So it can inspire a, again, a sixth grader saying, oh, I’ve seen that same kind of pattern at a different timescale, but it’s the same interaction.
Stephen Guerin (25:59):
So if I can program an Eddy and a river in fluid dynamics, well, I can do a tornado or a hurricane or, or how, um, and find food with these two fields. Oh, that’s the same way that a lightning strike comes down from the top and the bottom of the sky and makes a low resistance plasma channel, which is a lightning strike. And there’d be another one is tracking lightning. Where’s there, you know, right now we do it, you know, Metro magnetic sensors, which is like two, but, but doing it visually as well as, uh, at, at, at the different wavelengths that lightning is currently attracts, you know, if two people shoot it at that moment, you know exactly where it is, same thing with a meteor coming in through the atmosphere. So it’s a great time for observation and we have the tools you pick what’s that that’s surprises me. If you asked me in the eighties, will we have the level of computation in our pockets with all of the capabilities beyond computing, you know, that level of screen and interaction, GPS camera, that incredible camera capability in, you know, with that kind of portability and battery, that’s pretty remarkable.
Anne Kelly (27:06):
So that, that does make me wonder if we didn’t have the level of computing that we do today. What, what you think you would be up to there’s, there’s always kind of this analog versus digital conversation that comes up, I’ve realized in all mediums. So say all of a sudden that just maybe existed and didn’t exist tomorrow. Like where, where would that take you?
Stephen Guerin (27:34):
So this analog, digital, and also continuous and discreet are very interested and it’s always a hybrid in high school and college. I also really enjoyed photography and got into infrared photography. And it was that process of, uh, the dark room. And, ah, man, I messed that one up and got to go reprint it, but I really enjoy photography. I, so that’s a very analog and very tangible, you know, the sand table itself is very tangible and analog, right. Uh, and, and not just often the pure digital, and again, we’re trying to merge the digital with the, the analog, you know, it took us 30 years to capture the world digitally and bring it into the computer. And I think it’s the next 20 years of bringing the digital out into our world. We had a nice collaboration in like 2011 with a sculptor in town, Paul block, you may know him marble sculptor.
Stephen Guerin (28:27):
And the theme of his piece was the transition of classical music to jazz. And he represented the classical as very tenuous curved forms. And then jazz at the top of the piece was very angular and they had a compression piece in the middle. And what we did was project on that, we projection mapped it so that when people could wave their hand and play different beats and he thought, you know, the percussion was the transition from the classical to the jazz as well. The difference, uh, tempo and rhythm hopping between the two or also when we look at spatial versus temporal, you can go, you can look at an image, a photograph, an image in this normal spatial domain, or you can pop it over to the frequency domain, which is an interesting, that’s like how JPEG compression works and, or is related to that.
Stephen Guerin (29:17):
So, so moving between these continuous and discreet or analog and digital is very exciting. So if I didn’t have to answer directly the question, if I didn’t have as much computer, I would, I would be expressing myself somewhere and just more analog, I guess, or, or just like I had mentioned, what’s the least amount of computing you need to, um, to express yourself. So back, even in 2 92 or 93, you know, we were, we were doing multimedia on floppies, right? Like the dismantlers that AOL would send out, we would do those animations. And to get that all down into 200 or 400 K with full sound and graphics, you know, some people do it down with just two K you know, but that’s always, it’s a nice experiment. How far can you compress down what you’re doing and not waste right now, we have so much computing, so much bandwidth.
Stephen Guerin (30:10):
We always want more, but it’s many times the constraint drives the creative, right? Yeah. And for us, uh, you know, our company, you know, it’s, we’re developers. So actually, and we had some, you know, some remote workers that would come in, you know, from Albuquerque twice or three times a week, but COVID really forced our company to adopt a remote first workflow so that everything more on slack, more on zoom, which then makes us adapt or rethink as we’re reopening, what’s the office for. Right. And, you know, we’re in the past, a lot of it was here’s someone’s workstation area where we’re moving away from that. And definitely this, when you’re coming into the office, this should be a much more collaborative use because we can get our own work done at home. And we’re, we’re, we’re actually more productive, I think this year, first of all, cause I was also traveling 200 fights a year, you know, with customers. And then you lose that sync with the team, right. If you’re waiting for a whiteboard meeting, going to Sweden for a, a weekend meetings, right. It’s just, or, or DC for a three hour meeting, that was just insane. Right.
Stephen Guerin (31:25):
I think it’s this generation of, I would just say the generalization, the 50 to 60 year old managers that would kind of almost demand it. In-person meeting now. It’s like, okay, you, you better justify why someone’s getting on a flight if we can’t do this over zoom. Right. But now when you do go out, how do you redesign spaces? Because you’re competing with what you could do at home, it’s better for a much more expressive and rich interactions. And once you can do online, red fish, red fish has kind of the R and D some table is a product company that we spun out. Our next product is real timer. So if you think of Google earth, but real time with, you know, right now Google earth imagery could be a year old, but this is all bottom up, crowdsourced imagery and models. So that if a living earth Redfish, yeah, it’s been in my company since 1990 and every five years, it kind of changes. As you know, prepress multimedia the early nineties, China in the mid nineties, agent-based modeling for maybe 10 years as consultancy here in Santa Fe. But really the SIM table is tail wagging. The dog Redfish, mostly got consumed by supporting wildfire, but, but any surface and real-time earth are much more general than wildfire, which in the analog and the digital it’s real there, you’ve got a very analog fire, got analog people trying to evacuate. And how do you use digital information to coordinate?
Anne Kelly (32:58):
So I am, I’m curious about the name of the business.
Stephen Guerin (33:02):
Tim Tebow is very specific right about the product that simulation table and Redfish is very general. In the early nineties, we had kind of my, with my father kind of, uh, engineering name of, uh, it was S quad like S to the fourth power, strategic systems, software solutions. I think it was when we were restructuring. We wanted to come up with something in this more general, we settled on Redfish and you know, a little bit one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish from Dr. Seuss, the red and the fish are very fortunate symbols in China. I was going over to China to do Chinese English dictionaries in with multimedia back when CD ROMs were, uh, a thing. It was a little China inspired.
Anne Kelly (33:45):
So when you started the company, like, like, what is that story? There had to offend some, maybe some struggles, maybe some questioning
Stephen Guerin (33:55):
Family yet and mortgages. So that was a very low risk thing. And I knew I was pretty unemployable, so I was always kind of, um, independent contractor. So, so that was actually a relatively low risk thing. You know, the challenge is actually focusing. It was a very, um, there’s all many, many different kinds of things you can do, especially in graphics. And, you know, I’m always exploring. And how do you now behind, behind what we’re doing monetize or put together some kind of business structure to, to capitalize on it, you know, in many ways the SIM table is that, but we’re also pushing onto this real timer. So it’s important to put together processes and people that can, that can really grow what you’ve already explored. You know, there’s a lot of work in, you know, I would say it’s a 20 to one you explore and get an idea of it’s 20 times the effort to get that into a product and listen, you know, listen to with customers and get the, um, you know, get it actually useful to them, like compared to a concept. But I, I would say I’ve never been, uh, I think it’s always better to have five customers or clients than one employer, you know? And I think that that has a lot of risks too. And, and stress like you don’t have as much control now. It’s definitely feast and famine, you know, as anyone that’s done small business,
Anne Kelly (35:22):
We have no regrets about starting your own business.
Stephen Guerin (35:26):
No, I mean, but I did move here for a job, but it was with a bios group, which was started up by my mentor, a short Kaufman, who’s studying his origin of life and was one of the founders, the Santa Fe Institute, or they’re the early days. And so that was a commercial venture consulting on complexity to fortune one hundreds and government. So there was two years there where I worked for that group and that’s probably the only time I’ve had employment, but that was an exciting time. But then I did miss a little bit of, um, being able to Zig and zag a little bit, you know, in a company you can do bigger projects, but as a consultancy, we were still pieced up into teams. So it wasn’t like there was one big thing we were making no regret. And I, I think, I don’t think I could last very long in a company as an employee.
Anne Kelly (36:16):
And maybe there’s a little more flexibility in terms of skiing.
Stephen Guerin (36:21):
Yeah. One 30 or one o’clock, you know, there’s a time to do gradient descent research as we call it at the office,
Anne Kelly (36:29):
Right. Or maybe you need to film controlled burns.
Stephen Guerin (36:33):
That’s right. On the south burn north burn, we call it also fuels inspection to, uh, go into the Glades and see how the vegetation’s
Anne Kelly (36:43):
All, all very important data. So in terms of art and technology, are there any artists you think other people should know about
Stephen Guerin (36:53):
At Tarbell? I was always like his work from his algorithmic iterations and he was speaking to flash in the early two thousands, and now isn’t a processing, so there’s this whole generative art world. And I do like on the tech side too, just people that put together very strong visualization tool sets, but are also artistic as they do it. The author of three JS goes by Mr. Dube, but also Mike, uh, Bob stock, you know, making a tool set called B3, but a very strong artists there. A lot of the cartographers when you get into cartography, there’s a, you know, the aesthetic of, of mapping is not just not, not just the technical, you know, when companies like stamen, uh, doing that work, that Joe Dean is one of the earlier explorers and dome projection and lighting. I always love, you know, what he’s playing with. Uh, and then just, we talk about analog. So someone like a James Turrell, you know, just what, what is he doing purely with analog and, and the passing of the day. So that’s very, very impressive to me or just something to follow. In fact, my ski pass has James Trell beard with my face, from Photoshop
Anne Kelly (38:01):
Movies. You’ve watched recently. I feel like that’s been a bigger part of everyone’s life in this past year.
Stephen Guerin (38:07):
Oh, certainly. Yeah. You know, with my son, I really appreciate what, like the star wars clone wars and the Mandalorian did from a visual, right. Uh, uh, just the visual style of cone wars that angular soft pass Steli, uh, animation really like that, you know, and, and this is also exciting when you get to meet the people later, mine VI was an animation that back in and then pre SIGGRAPH, which is the technical meat science meets art of graphics, the special interest group graphics of the ACM, the association of computing machinery. Back then there was a animation family and Stella break the ice, which was basically the early use of flocking models to meet Craig Reynolds later at artificial life conference, but also clay on a [inaudible] and you know, that whole triplet with a time-lapse cities and the modern urban dynamics, but then to finally meet Jeffrey roadshow and, um, Alton Walpole was off Santa Fe.
Stephen Guerin (39:07):
Right. And, you know, they later made Baraka there’s something about the time-lapse that really picked me off, you know, it was like 18, 17 changing time. And that’s, I think when we make simulations too, it’s like playing with time. You see different patterns as you, as your scrub time and the rate of time. And that’s why, you know, just encouraging people now with our hyperlapse is so easy to use, put down four times, you know, powers of 2 30, 2 times as good for clouds or 40 96 has been for a day. It’s an exciting time that that’s sitting in our pocket where you imagine what it took back to them, for them, for, to do a time lap where we, we could just shoot these on our GoPros, on our phones and messing with the time-lapse. That’s very exciting. And again, but it’s also exciting just to meet the people behind that.
Stephen Guerin (39:59):
I guess the beauty of technology and art that’s in the technical world and even science too. It’s like, especially in computing, all the names that you learn about are still alive, right? And even one of our programmers who is an early Macintosh team, you know, in 84. So all of these, these people are around and still, still working too. In fact, we have a person in town, Roger Fry, who worked at, uh, the early BBN, the birth of the internet, but he has the distinction of being, and he’s still employed, uh, the long, the oldest continuous employed programmers. So Roger fights a little shout out to him, he’s in town. So there’s a lot of, um, giant shoulders to stand on as well. So, as I mentioned to Kaufman, you know, scientists and origin of life, I would read him from Beijing. And, but now to have a 20 year mentoring relationship and working with him, that’s, it’s a very exciting, so it’s very, you know, find a mentor and be a mentor.
Anne Kelly (40:55):
And that’s a fascinating thing about the internet. It has not been around our entire lives. Maybe, maybe for some people listening, it has, but it has not been around my entire life or your entire life, but it kind of feels that way. Right? So that is fascinating that, that, that people that are that involved in the origin of it are, are just, they’re hanging around in Santa Fe. That that’s a cool thing.
Stephen Guerin (41:25):
People say, there are certain kinds of thinking that can happen here. That can’t happen on the coast, whether in the bay area or up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And I think it attracts a certain kind of retiring academic, retiring, a scientist artists. And so you have this opportunity that they’re fear. So the more that you can get like a 17 year old connecting to these people and working with them, that that’s an exciting opportunity if there’s, uh, mechanisms for doing that. And there’s mentorship programs like, you know, Magento souls, uh, had really good mentoring. We need, we need more of that in spaces where people can share ideas like that.
Anne Kelly (41:59):
Santa Fe, you’ve lived in Santa Fe for a minute. And one of the things that Santa Fe is also famous for is Chile. So I am curious, do you have a favorite or are you a Christmas guy
Stephen Guerin (42:13):
With a green? When I got here, then I really appreciated the reds. I had a red period, you know, breakfast burritos were also very important to me in relation to this, you know, Horseman’s Haven obviously, or else probably adore Christmas. I, I no longer do. That’s just a, to pick a lane. And that was like, I didn’t want to make a choice. I don’t think there’s anything emergent in Christmas. Sometimes flavors create an emergence.
Anne Kelly (42:37):
So we both love Santa Fe. But another thing I’ve been curious about recently is just other places you’ve traveled that you would want to return to.
Stephen Guerin (42:46):
Yeah. I was very fortunate to last summer prior to COVID the summer before do a business trip, inner Mongolia, and then Beijing Shanghai, Hong Jo, and, um, Schengen and hung Jo, as I mentioned before the 12th century, but now that’s also the headquarters Ali Baba at Westlake, kind of the second chair towns in China are very appealing to me right now. Also we have a strong relationship with Venice and Italy. We’ve sent three employees over there exchange, and we work with an academic entrepreneur Abiaka Correra and then it’s project center. So that is really special. And then also in Leone, Spain, Spain is of interest. I just enjoy traveling. I do miss that stimulation for sure. And I do like working when you travel, you’re working with the people, there were nurses just touristing right. And, you know, just go to the museums and things, which is great, but I was enjoy doing projects in different countries. And I think you really get a sense of the dynamic and, and you get brought into a community when you’re doing that to encourage others, to, to work around the world. It’s easier than ever,
Anne Kelly (43:50):
Maybe not as easy time travel. If you have a time travel ticket and you could go anywhere past or present, do you know where that would be
Stephen Guerin (44:00):
On a future 50 years seems reasonable that I could still recognize a lot of the technology, but be amazed in the same way that 1980, you know, we’re looking at 40 years now, you know, and to see a phone, you know, going forward 2016, it’d be nice to see what, what, what things would be going on
Anne Kelly (44:20):
Two years ago. I would not have predicted now at all. So when we 60, who knows,
Stephen Guerin (44:26):
And your, your world with photography and photo eye, and now you’ve tracked a similar trajectory with analog to digital and photography, right? What do you think photography is going to go in the next, uh, 10 to 50 years?
Anne Kelly (44:41):
This is a good question. I mean, there’s the obvious it used to be all analog and now it’s primarily digital, but then there’s also been a major pushback because it’s so digital people are returning to the, the earliest processes possible, which includes people, making photographs that don’t even include cameras, which is so disconnected from what people believe to be photography now, because we all have cell phone camera combinations and, and, and kind of like science, like you were talking about, there’s also a lot of hybrid where maybe you take the best parts of analog and the best parts of digital and you put them together. But the other thing that’s happened recently is there’s this whole and NFTs, and those have actually been around for about 10 years, but it was actually that Christie’s auction recently where that people piece sold for 60, some thousand where people just started going crazy and people started,
Stephen Guerin (45:47):
Anne Kelly (45:47):
Yeah, sorry. Yeah. Million brand. It, people started minting, weird things like tweets. And so I’m curious to see where it, where that’s going to go. Photographs are typically addition and addition sizes keep getting smaller and smaller. And I’ve been joking for years, but eventually we were going to move to negative additions where we wouldn’t print them at all. And that’s kind of what these NFTs are kind of looking at where they’re not printed. I mean, it’s, uh, the JPEG and you can see it online, but, but one particular person owns it. Someone who actually loves the physical object, I’m a little conflicted on that level, but, but it’s fascinating.
Stephen Guerin (46:33):
Camera Obscura set up at the complex. You know, when you, when it’s just a pinhole, it takes a long time for the eyes to adjust, but we had a pretty decent lens in there. And I just remember her holding up a piece of white poster board and creating an image from the lens at different scales and zooms. There was something stirred in me that was different of seeing a analog, continuous image growing up single Rosetta or a pixel. But just to see the beauty of light eye as an image, we’re doing a little bit with NFTs, a system called the a Seki. And it’s a way different than the cloud is up. Uh, kind of more, much more grounded if you think of the metaphor of an SAQ, but rounded water system that has a social governance system around it. We want the same thing for data. But one of the things that NFT affords is that connection downstream so that if someone did purchase this, there could be a continuing relationship with the artist. Or you can put contracts compared to a, an artist puts something out and you have distributors. There’s very little tangible connection. I think there’s this ability to build up these networks through the pieces and the Providence that can go with that. So I think that’s an exciting opportunity that the piece becomes the bridge or the, or the connector of okay,
Anne Kelly (47:56):
But there is a certain particular amazing uses for this. The royalty kind of like you’re talking about if you, if you sell something repeatedly that the original creator gets credit every time, something that’s never really existed or has been harder to track when it comes to art and music historic,
Stephen Guerin (48:17):
You mentioned historical too. So, and time travel is one of the things we do is we’re able to, if we can find a couple of points of reference in an image solve for the camera lens and position, right? So the whole reef photography, uh, community, but taking all the photographs historically and being able to put those into a space, right, that’s, it’s very navigable and attachable go other meta information attachable to it. So that might be, uh, a place of intersection between us and the New Mexico state archives. There’s a concept of a light field, which is at this point, here’s all the rays that come in to that point. At the end of the day, a total collection of photographs is a, is a sparse light field. You know, w what is that as a collection, that’s an interesting artistic, technical place to explore without necessarily going commercial in the beginning, right? Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings, and trying to reconstruct the location, you know, that kind of, you know, relationship as well. I think this can open up some, some things that weren’t possible before. I don’t know what it is.
Anne Kelly (49:24):
Well, thanks so much, Steven really, really appreciate it. And let’s, let’s stay in touch. Well, thank you. And, and have a good night. Talk to you soon. Thank you for watching art in the raw. If you’ve enjoyed this conversation, please do me a solid and like comment and subscribe, have a good night.
Speaker 3 (50:01):
Stephen Guerin (50:13):
And then this is now with cameras. Being able to overlay digital information of like where people are or crews, but also drawing on the image to say, we need a bulldozer to go up this line.
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