The Bubble

“Watch the Bubble” pushes alt-scholarship through mixed memoir and manifesto. I offer a personal statement that becomes a teaching philosophy merged with a history of the field of computers and writing. As with my earlier projects, some of my composing was driven by intellectual property concerns. I wanted to incorporate a soundtrack and make the piece public but did not want to reproduce the GarageBand approach from my previous project. I thought I might use a live recording presented in a YouTube video. My initial sense of how this might work was vague. In fact, I thought I would first play around with capturing sound this way by recording snippets from YouTube videos just to get a feel for the moves and issues involved. The plan was to screen record something from later.

There is no overstating the role of experimentation and serendipity here. The musical choice, from my perspective, is characterized strongly by emergence. Pandora was playing on my iPad, and I liked what was coming out of the speaker, so I checked the name of the band (Explosions in the Sky).


Then I turned on my screen recorder on my desktop. I was on my iMac and did not have Windows running, so I just started the Snapz recorder to get any kind of capturing device in place. I did a search for “Explosions in the Sky.” I clicked on a random video and then began playing with the computer screen. The project starts with a Pandora selection and a Google search. Music genomes and page rank assist in selecting a soundtrack for the composition. My song selection and (to some extent) my actions on the screen emerged in response to the algorithims. Pandora performed its act on me. And I responded, sending what emerged to Google, now performing both for me and on me.

example5 Of course, the emergence in that moment is linked with other moments and itself becomes performative. There was an image file on the desktop with some gears and other logo elements left over from a journal project. I began performing edits to the image while the video played. I quickly flubbed things, then restarted the screen recorder. I started playing with browser windows to bring in elements from my history with computers and writing. I felt like there was a convergence between the song and the materials I was arranging on screen. My process was to rough out a flow of screens over which I could eventually develop narration to make specific points. Before going on, I created a preliminary outline of the pieces I wanted to cover in the performance.

Takes 11-13For the first three rough recorded performances, things were very organic—not much storyboarding or scripting, just playing around with the screen and ideas. Videos from this stage of the project reveal the development process as a blend of emergence as I pull from prior sketches and earlier projects and performance while improvising directions and acting out the movements on the screen.

(Video Transcript for Takes 11-13)