Virtual reality workshop at K-Arts.

One of the cooler things I was involved in during my studies at Tokyo University of the Arts was the two-week virtual reality workshop in Seoul I was invited in, last February—the “VR Cubic Workshop.” Students from three universities corresponding to three countries (Korea National University of Arts, Communication University of China, and ours) studied the technology and created content for the HTC Vive using Unity. Teams were split according to university, and given the task of creating a VR space inspired by a historical figure representative of their country. In our case, we chose Sen no Rikyu, a master of the tea ceremony that cemented most of its traditions during the 16th century. We based our space on one of his designs, the Taian, a two-tatami-small tea room that embodies the rustic simplicity of wabi-cha. While the video above shows a demonstration of our project, The tea room, I also edited a video (below) with the closing presentation for the workshop, which was held in Seoul with all of the students and professors. In it you can see demonstrations of the whole three projects. […]


先日の投稿で英語で紹介したプロジェクトを今回日本語で紹介したいと思います。「ことばから考えてみると」とは、2年間をかけて東京藝術大学映像研究科メディア映像専攻で学習した…証?である、その修了制作です。このブログなら英語だけで紹介して済んだはずですが、特に日本語で書いた作品解説は日本語のまま載せる意味がないため、載せませんでした。翻訳するのが厳しいがブログには載せたいと思って、解説をきっかけに今回特別に日本語で投稿してみました! […]

Come to think of language.

Even though I’ve been making a lot of stuff and been involved in many projects during my stay in Japan, I’ve failed to keep this blog updated, so I’ll try to slowly and retroactively add everything. I’ll start with the latest: my graduation project.

I spent the last two years in the New Media program at the Tokyo University of the Arts (named the university thus as it may be, I actually lived and studied in Yokohama, where the Film and New Media school is located.) The second year is when most of one’s energy goes into the graduation project. I’m not going to get into details here, but it was a rough year for our generation, and I’m glad it’s over. I had a first start with my Nendo project, of the design of a programming language inspired by art and design thinking, but the last six months or so had me switch over to what I call in English the Come to think of language project, which I guess you could call a linguistic experiment. I’m of course not a linguist, but I am very interested in the field and inspired by some of its thinkers. The linguistic relativity principle, or so-called Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, was one idea that drew me to the original programming language design, and that inspired the project that I ultimately completed. This is a very simple but powerful idea: the observation that language is deeply linked with thought, and that different languages would foster different ways of thinking. This has been highly debated in the linguistics field (Chomsky’s followers are very much against this idea, for, I dare say, mostly historical reasons,) but rather than attempt proving or refuting it, I assumed its truth and let it influence me. […]

A constructed language.

For my Master’s dissertation project in the New Media program at the Tokyo University of the Arts, I quickly devised a small constructed language, something that would be a tool for me to explore language itself in abstraction. Before I undertook the subject of human communication languages, I had been researching programming language design, and in that process came across a paradigm that was new to me, called concatenative. This paradigm is mathematically very elegant, structurally very simple, and in superficial appearance very similar to human written languages. I thought I could use it as a basis for a simple human language, and so I took the main ideas of it and applied them to my design.

My language is not really a language in most traditional senses, if you compare it to existing languages. It does not comprise a lexicon, nor does it have any inherent writing system, or phonetic system. It consists of just a set of rules, and they can be applied in many ways in any pertinent medium (written, oral, electric, etc.,) and is purposely unspecific about other things. It is, if you will, a framework for communication, or a protocol, more than a language as they’re most often thought about.


A ‘metaclass’.

Kanji metaclass posterEspañol

I was invited by the center I formerly studied Japanese at (Ceija, here in Santiago) to give a short workshop. It was an open invitation, as I could suggest what the theme for it would be. I decided long ago that I’m no good as a teacher, so I almost rejected the request, but finally decided to propose a non-traditional program in which I would not be a teacher but just someone who’s been studying longer (a senpai, as a Japanese person would put it,) and turn the classroom into a more level place for discussion and discovery. The themes to discuss would be the Japanese kanji writing system, and self-study. I called it kanji metaclass, loosely using the ‘meta’ prefix the same way it’s used in the word ‘metadata’: that is, to suggest recursiveness, learning about learning.

Although I haven’t found the teacher in me, I do think about education a great deal. I’ve been teaching myself lots of things since I can remember. I am largely frustrated by the way in which education has been institutionalized. And I work developing ludo-educational software.

I strongly believe in intrinsic motivation as key to learning. Extrinsic motivation would be grades, rewards and punishments; that is, how most schools nowadays work. Intrinsic motivation would be doing something because it is its own reward, or because it leads naturally to our reward. Put another way, I think that mainstream education teaches us to hate study and learning, by making those the hurdles we need to hop over to get to the carrot they put in front of us instead (or to get away from the whip behind.) But, of course, there’s no better stimulus to learning than just wanting to know.

So this class I’m about to finish offering this week reflects my views on education at large, and experimental as the format is (for someone inexperienced like me,) it’s been, from my point of view, a great success. My main priority was to make everyone curious, invested, and in charge of their own learning. I got everyone enjoyably (even excitedly) discussing varied subtopics, once they got comfortable enough with me and one another (that is, by the second session.) The flow of each session is almost entirely freeform, it leading wherever the discussion takes us. I prepared beforehand a long document full of little packets of (largely personal, even anecdotal) information, though, which I use as a resource to plant new ideas and questions. It still remains to see how this influence impacts their learning, but first I just felt the need to impact their mentality.

So that is one of the things I’ve been up to. And to end this post, here’s a little bullet-point manifesto I wrote for myself, to keep me focused on my goals for this workshop:

  1. The classroom is a place for active discussion, exploration, and exchange of knowledge and ideas by and for all.
  2. Our themes are Japanese kanji, self-study, and the intersection of the two.
  3. When leaving the classroom, study has just begun.
  4. A student questions, asks, errs, researches, teaches themselves, shares their knowledge.
  5. The teacher is but a guide.
  6. If one must teach, teach that which is elementary and general.
  7. Better than teaching is suggesting.
  8. Better than suggesting is asking.
  9. Better than asking is listening.
  10. Anything can be debated.


Aphasia poetica.

Acabo de terminar un asuntillo.

Prueba Aphasia poetica (web)

Esto comenzó como un trabajo en conjunto con Ilan Libedinsky el 2010. Era algo imposible de construir bien: requería mapear palabras con una palabra alternativa, manualmente y una por una. Pero el idioma es claramente demasiado vasto para hacer esto una tarea alcanzable por dos individuos, así que nunca se cumplió. Tres años y medio más tarde, lo llevé a cierre. Esto no pasa de ser un punto medio: usando un bastante nutrido diccionario de sustantivos, diferenciados por género, el intercambio es generado automáticamente, sin el mapeo manual.


What happens when you combine sports and words? That’s right, the unholy portmanteau of this post’s title. Conceived as a last minute entry into the TIGSource Sports competition, Spwords is a player-versus-computer match that puts your (English) vocabulary, spelling, and typing speed to the test.

Play Spwords (web)

Maybe you didn’t understand the commentator’s quick explanation of the rules. That’s fine, that’s what this paragraph is for. You and computer take turns typing words during rounds, and each round has an assigned letter. Each word played must start with the round’s letter. Also, a word must contain the last played word’s last letter for it to count. In addition to all this, you have a time limit, and words may never be repeated. Win three rounds to win the match. Have a go!

This game was possible thanks to Keith Vertanen’s word lists.


Over at Glorious Trainwrecks, a spambot started an event, and thus we had to comply and make stuff. I didn’t really make a game; it’s a silly visualization of Noyb’s readings of (other) spambot postings.

Read Spoems (web)

The audio may or may not sync with the text for you, depending on your configuration. Try reloading if it doesn’t, and if it still won’t, then I think you’re out of luck.

A shoutout to Kirk Israel for his useful lowLag.js.


increpare (Stephen Lavelle) just released an entry for the CODEAR Single Boss Game competition that is currently running, called Infidelidad (Infidelity). Since the competition is held by the ADVA (Video Game Developers Association of Argentina), I offered him to translate it into Spanish, and so I did. The dialogue is brief but quite comical, and I had lots of fun doing the translation. The game itself is short, but sweet. Put a smile on my face.

increpare (Stephen Lavelle) acaba de lanzar su entrada para la competencia CODEAR Single Boss Game: un juego de nombre Infidelidad. Ya que el evento está organizado por la Asociación de Desarrolladores de Videojuegos Argentina (ADVA), le ofrecí traducir el guión, y eso fue lo que hice al final. El diálogo es breve pero cómico, y me entretuve bastante realizando la traducción. El juego es corto, pero me hizo reir.