Nettrice Gaskins. “Afro-Lace,” 2019. Created using machine learning.

“In the case of craft, interpretations focus specifically on the way in which content takes form. With art, however, the relation of form and content varies constantly. Computing transforms this relation too: the same content (bits) may take many different forms quite easily, and it may do so after the fact. Of course there is considerable debate as to whether content must take material form…” [McCullough 1996]

In Abstracting Craft: The Practiced Digital Hand author Malcolm McCullough examined the emergence of computation as a medium, rather than just a set of tools, suggesting a growing correspondence between the digital realm…


Yung Jake’s Emoji Self-Portrait

It was easy to make something (online) and put it out in public. People want instant gratification.

In 2013, I covered Yung Jake in an Art21 series that looked at artists from around the globe who were inventing new uses for existing technologies, or fashioning new technologies to fit their interests. They were creating new aesthetic forms and new ways to articulate their identities. Fast forward to March 2021 when Beeple AKA Mike Winkelmann auctioned a piece of crypto art at Christie’s for US$69 million. Suddenly, it seemed like everyone was talking about crypto art. …


Nina Simone + Deep Dream

I grew up in a Southern Baptist church and, as a kid, I yearned to join the youth choir. I wanted to be in the processional on their special night. Each member, in turn, stepped forward, paused, and moved forward diagonally to a new position where they repeated the action in the opposite direction. The result was similar to weaving a textile. Choir members moved into their places behind the pulpit row-by-row, then moved together side-to-side, and this was all done on the beat (rhythm) played by live musicians.

*I didn’t have the knowledge at the time but now I…


Kuba women decorating woven cloth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, photographed in 1970. In the past, women were the main creators of the legendary Kuba textiles. Eliot Elisofon/Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African Art.

February 1 is the start of Black History Month, so I decided to post about heritage algorithms, a term coined by Professor Audrey Bennett (2016). Bennett notes that some cultural artifacts can re-circulate as a form of computational agency. For example, Congolese women who create Kuba textile designs incorporate spontaneity and improvisation in their work to achieve uniqueness and individuality, part of their African aesthetics (Rajagopalan et al.).


Gerald Donald

Right now I’m listening to a panel of Black women talk about the “power of story” and speculative fiction. The panel is one of several talks and events for Sundance Festival 2021. At the top of the festival last week I had, once again, followed Drexciya down a rabbit hole, through Gerald Donald who isn’t with Sundance but speaks to the spirit of the moment.

One has to be careful when bifurcating fact from fiction because the fiction is a projection of what may one day become fact. The only reason it is fiction is because certain technologies have not…


“Who Fears” by Nettrice Gaskins

According to Autodesk, artificial intelligence or AI refers to a broad field of science encompassing a range of subjects from computer science and psychology to philosophy and linguistics. It is primarily concerned with getting computers to do tasks that would normally require human intelligence. Today, there are many subsets of AI, including programs and tools that simulate the neurons in the human brain.


Created using Deep Dream Generator by Nettrice Gaskins.

I was living in Brooklyn, New York, in my first solo apartment when I purchased the “Brown Sugar” CD. There used to be a certain vibe in BK. I lived around the block from where The Notorious BIG grew up, off Fulton Avenue. You can see it in the music video for “Juicy.” On the radio, R&B had taken a turn… hip-hop/rap had taken over the airwaves but instead of ‘native tongues’ and ‘boom-bap’ we were bombarded with hyper-capitalism or “bling.” When D’Angelo entered the scene he brought it all together.

The 2019 film, Devil’s Pie begins with a…


Two type of data visualizations (my art is on the right)

This fall I’ve been working with Dramatic Results and teaching middle-school girls about data science and creativity. When introducing the topic, I use my art as an example of data visualization and predictive modeling. The former conveys or represents data sets (i.e., spreadsheets, tables) and the latter trains machine learning models and uses them to make predictions.


My Google Jamboard

I’ve been trying to come up with ways to explain to teachers taking my course that there is creativity and opportunity in failure. Many teachers have been tasked to “teach to tests,” which entails instruction that is devoid of passion and meaning as students are taught information from a stripped-down curriculum. I’ve encountered students who respond negatively to this method and at one time I was one of them.


Diedrick Brackens. “Untitled,” 2015

As I was reading the recent Interview article on Sanford Biggers with Diedrick Brackens, I kept thinking: I see the algorithms in these tapestries. For years I’ve written about the geometry in the quilts Sanford uses, how the quilt patterns demonstrate rotation, reflection, translation and dilation. I’ve taught students how to use these properties to remix existing patterns.

Nettrice Gaskins

Nettrice is a digital artist, academic, cultural critic and advocate of STEAM education.

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