DIVA 300 – Final Report

December 8, 2009

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Here are the details on the two internships this semester for my DIVA 300 class – the first being the Motion Capture Studio at Emily Carr University and the second being CODElab, a look into surveillance during the Olympics taking place here in Vancouver in 2010. Click final_report_john_deveaux for a PDF download.
– FlashAddict

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Did you have a transformative experience over the internship? How you may have changed since starting the internship?
MoCap – “John has grasped the principles of motion capture quite well. He has already exhibited thoughts of how to use the technology in areas outside the norm.” The paradigm shift for me in working with Rick in the school’s motion capture lab was seeing the ways in which the technology can be applied to multiple products, company and individual requirements. From biofeedback, to ergonomics, the applications for MoCap are endless.
CODElab – I and the CODELab artists mutually admitting errors were made and working to rebuild our collective relationship together.

How you may use the skills that you’ve learned in the future?
MoCap – I am presently building my own company to provide ongoing project management consultation with some key friends of mine; Paul Cordick who was a Producer/Project Manager at both Mainframe Entertainment and Electronic Arts along with Kirk Hutton, who just completed his MBA. Both of them will be assisting me in developing our business plan, scope/vision of the company and identify key clients and competition – having my own company will allow me the freedom to create and develop the projects that I truly want to work on.
CODElab – Learning how to setup and edit a Wiki page will greatly help me in the near future as one of my company’s first clients requires a wiki page to be setup and content input and maintained.

Do you have goals for continuing with the internship? Was there an on-going relationship that was developed or a network of contacts that will benefit your practice?
MoCap – Not directly with Rick in the MoCap lab, but he asked that I keep him in the loop as to the progress that the company makes moving forward.
CODElab – I will be doing some additional research for the CODELab artists later on this week for the project Wiki page and will be meeting with Simon later on in order to finalize what he needs me to look up. On a long term basis, I am not sure if I will be working with them down the road, but if our paths cross in the future, I would be open to talking with them to see if there are areas in which we can join forces.

Comment on the working relationship with the organization, working in a collaborative environment, the organization’s flexibility and communication about the projects.
MoCap – Not really applicable here as Rick and I were 1 on 1 all of the time and did not have a major project that needed to be worked on or completed by the end of the internship. That being said, I had a very good working relationship with him and would definitely work with him again in the future.
CODElab – There were a few bumps along the road in my internship with CODELab but at the end of the day, we were able to move forward based on mutual respect for one another and a common interest in putting forward a kick-ass art piece.

How your expectations of the internship changed over time? (what you ended up actually doing vs. what was initially proposed.)
MoCap – The complexities of the software itself are so immense that constant trouble shooting and tech support was required. In those instances where Rick was madly working away to try and solve the problem, rather than pester him with questions, in some instances it was better to just stand back, shut up and let him work the problem.
CODElab – Do to some miscommunications, the only concrete item that I have produced so far for CODELab was the Wiki page that I briefly showed during the mid-term assessment: http://codelab.blprnt.com/wiki/index.php/Information_on_the_Olympic_Games

Mention the tasks and accomplishments that occurred after the midterm presentation
MoCap – Working with Rick this week to ascertain whether data could be captured without the black rubber mats being laid out in the studio. By moving the mats off of the floor and dialing up the threshold of the cameras, we were able to prove that while possible, the square footage of area that is seen by the cameras is greatly diminished which would result in limiting the movement of the actors within the space.
Since the infrared cameras are very light sensitive, a potential project coming down the pipeline was looking to see if they could do mocap without the mats, as they are cumbersome to move and stack and also emit a fairly potent smell each time they are moved. The studio needs to be aired out as a result which means more time is lost
CODElab – still to be determined…


DIVA 300 – Critical Review

November 25, 2009

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Here are the details from one of the performances that I saw over this past weekend’s Interactive Futures conference here at Emily Carr. Click critical_review_john_deveaux for a PDF download.
– FlashAddict

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t2:Echo – by Henry Daniel

Due to the fact that my schedule was quite full this past weekend along with the fact that I get quite severe motion sickness from watching 3D movies, ride films and IMAX movies, I was not able to see most of the presentations that were shown at this year’s Interactive Futures conference at Emily Carr. That being said, the one performance that I was able to see in at least some form was t2:Echo by Henry Daniel.

While I was not able to see the entire performance, due to the fact that the concourse gallery walls that were blocking my seeing most of the actual dancers’ performances. On top of this, I was also helping direct the audience members to their respective locations, facilitating their viewpoints and actively going to get benches for more vertically challenged people to stand on.

By positioning the dancers in two separate yet interlinked locations, the director was able to create a bridge between the performances. This was further articulated by the video coding and processing for telepresence technology that was used to create the concurrent ghosting effect that was seen on the wall of the ECUAD concourse gallery and the main display screen in the IDS Motion Capture studio.

The ghosting effect that was projected onto the concourse gallery wall showed the dual performances and interlaid them onto one another and provided a somewhat random video playback quality as each dancer took centre stage in front of the crowd. They also entered the stage from multiple entry points and once their rotation in each location was complete, they then ran either to or from the concourse gallery and IDS MoCap studio in order to continue their respective performances there.

I have never seen a live dance performance like this before and it was quite the sight to see, as the dancers themselves were able to glide through the space with the greatest of ease and truly encompass it. From what I could see, it was a beautiful and creative bridging of technology and human performance into a multi-faceted co-locative art piece and would enjoy seeing more performances by Henry Daniel and his accompanying dance troupe.


Internship Mid-Term Report

October 28, 2009

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Here are the details on the two internships that I am working on this semester for my DIVA 300 class – the first being the Motion Capture Studio at Emily Carr University and the second being CODElab, a look into surveillance during the Olympics taking place here in Vancouver in 2010. Click mid_term_report_john_deveaux for a PDF download.
– FlashAddict

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IDS Motion Capture Studio Internship
http://crossfitmocap.wordpress.com/
– blog setup to provide project info to participants and show progress
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=177700972600&ref=mf
– Facebook user group setup as well with video links on group wall

LEARNING OUTCOMES
– Rick’s philosophy on learning is to be fluid and allow for creative freedom
– he did not want me helping with mundane tasks such as answering email
– seeing as how he has no set schedule, he wanted to have as much fun in the process
– on his own, he would calibrate the cameras by running back and forth = boring
– having me working with him, gives him a greater chance to explore new outcomes
– “If I have to do one more damn US Marine with a machine gun walk cycle again…”
– CrossFit coaches and athletes were brought together with artists for group meeting
– much easier to learn by bringing in and suiting up actors to have them perform
– ability to work with the performers and fine tune walk cycles or isolated movements
– unfortunately, we had a major software glitch which nixed our live MoCap filming

– Rick pulled up some pre-recorded footage to show multiple data captures instead
CFmeeting2a
CFmeeting3a
CFmeeting4a
CFmeeting5a
CFmeeting6a

CrossFit – Motion Capture – group meeting 1

CrossFit – Motion Capture – group meeting 2

CrossFit – Motion Capture – group meeting 3

CrossFit – Motion Capture – group meeting 4

CrossFit – Motion Capture – group meeting 5

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CODElab Internship
UPDATE
http://codelab.blprnt.com/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
– Wiki page setup as a collective of project information and outcomes
http://codelab.blprnt.com/wiki/index.php/Information_on_the_Olympic_Games#Olympics:_
Secured_.E2.80.94_Past_and_Present

– researched previous and future Olympic cities’ security and surveillance activities
LEARNING OUTCOMES
– overall project is still open-ended as far as final outcomes
– I foresee my continued responsibilities as becomming a researcher
– our first task was to get a video camera and go around Granville Island and record
– criteria asked for unique and creative locations in order to record people and events
– possible location of setting up a “Ministry of Mis-Information” at Granville Island info board
surveillance1a
surveillance2a
surveillance3a


DIVA 300 – Internship Scope of Work Report

September 29, 2009

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Here are the details on the two internships that I will be working on this semester for my DIVA 300 class – the first being the Motion Capture Studio at Emily Carr University and the second being CODElab, a look into surveillance during the Olympics taking place here in Vancouver in 2010. Click John DeVeaux – Scope of Work Report for a PDF download.
– FlashAddict

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IDS Motion Capture Studio Internship

OVERVIEW
– Motion Capture Studio located here at the ECUAD Intersections Digital Studio
– Rick Overington is the studio tech who runs the operation
– major motion picture and local computer games companies use the studio space
– 20 Infared Passive Optical System to cover most of the floor space in the studio
– Motion Buider is the software application and is also good for pre-visualization
– full body suits which have 30-50 sensors sewn in are used to capture the data
– the system is unable to capture both bodies and facial features at the same time
– computers, cameras and the studio space need to be calibrated for each shot

– wand wave / L-Frame / Floor Calibration are the steps used to calibrate

Mocap

INTERNSHIP OUTCOMES
I want to incorporate CrossFit athletes and coaches into the Motion Capture Studio to serve both as a diagnostic tool to help provide real-time live data to athletes and coaches on their body dynamics as they do individual exercises, but to also merge this data into an artistic format as well.

I would like to work with some of the animation students at Emily Carr and create 3D character avatars which could then be animated with the motion capture data recorded from the original athletes to either match their actual likenesses or go really crazy and make the avatars look completely different (ie: men becoming women, humanoid looking animals, aliens…you name it).

I ran my idea by Rick on Monday and he said it would be great to work together on a collaborative project so that I could have an actual self-directed portfolio piece at the end of my internship, rather than just work on other peoples/companies’ projects. In addition, the owner and coaches at CrossFit are also very interested in what the Motion Capture Studio could provide to help enable their athletes propel themselves even further.

http://www.crossfit.ca
– CrossFit Vancouver homepage

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=crossfit+vancouver&search_type=&aq=f
– YouTube page listing of the CrossFit Vancouver workout videos

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CODElab Internship

OVERVIEW
CODElab will be a large-scale participatory new media artwork that will coincide with the Olympic and Para-Olympic Games from February 5th to 22nd, 2010 and be part of the larger CODELive event going on throughout the Vancouver area. Live capture nodes will be installed throughout Granville Island where visitors will be able to interact with artist and student facilitators via custom-designed balloon cams, umbrella cams, shoe cams and the like will record, transmit and present video with nontraditional perspectives and cutting-edge visuality.

CODElab

WHAT THIS ALL MEANS
– evolving process – the project guidelines will be set by the group
– roving, moving capture nodes for CODELab between the observer and the observed
– bodystorming vs. brainstorming – quickly create a conceptual idea and take it into the public sphere and test it out to see if it will actually work
– who will be our audience – project workers, ECUAD, Granville Island, Vancouver residents, 2010 Olympic visitors, the interwebz…
– orange and white colour scheme was decided upon for CODELab
– orange is significant of colour coded terrorist alert / being on alarm (CODE ORANGE)
– orange is the rabbit hole to engage the audience and bring them in further once they more and more CODELab orange coloured objects

PROJECT DELIVERABLES
http://delicious.com/search?p=codelab+ecu&chk=&context=main|&fr=del_icio_us&lc=
– setup a delicious site to bookmark important corresponding information
– a project Wiki site is being developed as a base for final outcomes and data captures

INTERNSHIP OUTCOMES
I had the opportunity to see the artists’ previous project, GLOCAL, at the Surrey Art Gallery last year and was absolutely blown away at what they had achieved. I hope to get hands-on experience and knowledge on building an immense data capture project and to further visualize it with Processing so that I can create and expand my own projects to their full potential.

http://www.glocal.ca/


DIVA 300 – Officially back to Skool!

September 9, 2009

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Here are my notes from the first day of classes at Emily Carr this fall semester – I am Officially back to Skool!!!
– FlashAddict

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DIVA future course offering orientation next wednesday at 3:20 – room to be announced

electrodiva.wordpress.com (DIVA 300 class blog – send Julie link to mine)

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Interactive Futures – started in Victoria at Open Space Gallery – now run by my teacher Julie Andreyev here at ECUAD

http://www.interactivefutures.ca/

– thematic is stereo in a broad sense
– 3 day conference made up of daytime presentations by artists, designers and researchers working within three thematics
– also a number of exhibitions taking place throughout the conference as well
– internship involves managing and learning how to stream the event to the public
– e-presence = remote live stream capabilities used for this conference in conjunction with IDS
– intern would work with Maria and Greg via Interactive Futures and IDS

Responsibilities for Internship:
– videographer archivist + broadcaster
– still photographer
– administration assistant (document, printing assistant, registration)
– curatorial assistant (help install/curate the exhibitions)

Significant keynote speakers:
– George Legrady (utilizes data from satellites)
– Paula Levine – mapped Jerusalem/Palestine wall onto San Francisco
– Munro Ferguson

Wednesday, November 18th, whole class would work at the conference and help set it up in lieu of class time.

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Glisten Hive – by Julie Andreyev

www.animallover.ca

– looks at animal consciousness – do they share human emotions
– part of the CODE (Cultural Olympiad Digital Edition) and shown here at ECUAD during the Olympics

Additional Components to the project:
– Aria – HD audio/video installation filmed in Banff National Park
– Wait – interactive video installation (activated space that reads visitors interaction with the space and plays a video reaction of the dogs to their interaction)
– Rockstar – work in progress – short HD video with the dog’s head out the car window while driving
– Bikeride – bike mounted camera filming the dogs running with the backdrop of the city changing behind the constant of the dogs

Intern Responsibilities:
– design and build the physical structure used for the project (arching, sculpted pieces to show the displayed data)
– Max MSP to be used to collate and display the data
– create a blog and populate it with information and testing the data within Max MSP for the installation

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Jonathan Aitken, artist/designer in residence at ECUAD researching a project involving animated typography and dance/theatre

http://www.jonathanaitken.ca/

Typographic Play

– text rain – camille utterback and romy achituv installation

– dumb type – memorandum

Flavia

Theatre Gargantua – interactive play with type

Liquid Journey – open source code to create visualized poetry

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Kika Thorne, Programming Coordinator/Curator of VIVO Media Arts Centre

http://www.videoinstudios.com

www.signalandnoise.ca

– looking for interns to help reinvent the VIVO website (new content management infrastructure)
– archival, project management, content management opportunities
– Ryan Trekartin and Willy Lemaitre – upcoming artists coming to VIVO and part of the internship

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Alex Beim, Creative Director of Tanglible Interaction

www.tangibleinteraction.com

– Zygot ineractive balls – inflatable balls with electronics inside that change colour whenever they are pushed
– Sensation White rave party in Amsterdam
– Graffiti Wall – done in the mocap studio here at ECUAD
– created graphics for the Olympic Oval (logo, letterhead and interactive displays/projections)
– Light Beat – interactive ball that flashes to match your heart beat
– Sun-Rype interactive Kiosk – people were made out of fruit – reproduce pixels of people with fruit
– empty bottles with L.E.D.s inside – Baccardi

Current Projects for internship:
1. Lighting Device (LED) that responds to sound

2. Tangible Interaction QB (cube) – system of lights that respond to interactions

What they are looking for:
Graphic Side – help with graphic identity of the company (logo, identity, branding) – create a new experimental identity for the company

Industrial Side – research new materials and techniques to work with for projects

Explore the Space – they are in residence at Lumen Gallery at Tinseltown – they are looking for graphics to be placed there – so not really an opportunity to utilize space there 😦

http://www.lumengallery.org

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Maria Lantin, Director of Intersections Digital Studios on the latest stereographic technologies.

http://www.ecuad.ca/research/ids

Opportunities:
– 3d printer – work with Simon and learn how to utilize them – Figure Prints for THELORAS!!!

http://www.figureprints.com/

– WHIP studios is for wearables/textiles and electronics

– working in MOCAP studio / FID technology to track people as they enter the space

– stereoscopic projection system (full HD)

– Breath IO – virtual video sculpture of lungs

– E-Presence System – allows you to capture live presentations and web casting

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M.Simon Levin and Jer Thorp, head researchers/artists of CODELab an experimental project that looks at surveillance during the 2010 Olympics.

– project commissioned by VANOC and presented during the 2010 Olympics
– social engagement project = art that is designed to be presented in a public space as opposed to a gallery

Project Specifics:
– network of nodes positioned around Granville Island with cameras attached to them (Capture Nodes)
– each node has a mini CPU, GPS, camera and XBee Radio (allows them to talk to the other nodes and relay data to the main CPU capture node located at ECU)
– allows investigation of Neural Networks / Vision / Surveillance
– they developed the GLOCAL project that was shown at the Surrey Art Gallery last year

Opportunities:
– Directed Studies
– Informal participation
– Contribution to research

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Malcolm Levy, Lead Curator / Producer: CODE on the Ground, an exhibition of new media to be held during the 2010 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games

www.vancouver2010.com/en/culture-and-education/cultural-festival-and-events/code-/-/57316/mrhe7c/index.html

CODE Live – interactive, visual art performances (at night light works as well)

Connect Create and Collaborate
– create an interactive and inspiring experience for a broad international Games time audience
– showcase innovative and interactive installations and performances from Canada and select international artists
– theme of bridging between people and technology
– 3 Venues (ECUAD, Great Northern Way, Woodward’s / W2 in the downtown eastside)

Internship Opportunities:
– exhibition design intern (comm design)
– video documentation
– docents (ambassadors to art pieces)
– artistic management internships
– web editing and photo based online design work
– video editing for web
– technical install assistants
– print design interns

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Henry Tsang and Glen Lowry, researchers on Maraya, a large-scale new media experience that links Dubai with False Creek.

http://www.interactivefutures.ca/tsang.htm

Maraya – arabic for Reflection / Mirror

– telephone pole will have a CPU and video camera (robust, keep it dry)
– tv screen under a grate will showcase the view from the opposite city’s telephone pole portal

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Cheyanne Turions, Programs Manager/Curator of Cineworks Independent Filmmakers Society

http://www.cineworks.ca/

Internship Opportunities:
– helping Meet the Filmakers salon presentation
– Production Registry – needs to be put on the website every year
– Series of programs dealing with World AIDS Day – research around media art dealing with AIDS – help implement that programming

Film Festival going from October 1-16
World AIDS Day is December 1st

Thought on Film – monthly meeting of film theorists and enthusiasts

SWARM – Thursday is concentrated around Main Street – Friday night around Gastown


The Personal Journeys blog is now active

March 10, 2009

Hello again everyone,

I wanted to take this opportunity to invite everyone to check out the Personal Journeys Blog that was publicly unveiled and launched earlier today for my Digital Interactive Arts class at Emily Carr. Everyone was very interested in reading about the stories that people submitted to the art project and would like to extend my deepest thanks to everyone who submitted their stories.

This is not the end of the project however, and I will be working with several faculty at school in pushing the project further over the summer. For those of you who wanted to participate, but haven’t had a chance to write up your stories, don’t fret because you still have the chance to send them in and I will put them up on the blog as they arrive.

Furthermore, two other avenues for the project that I would like to explore are to setup a venue at the Athlete’s Village for 2010 Winter Olympics, which I had previously mentioned; but the most important one to my heart is to contact the BC Cancer Foundation and see if they would like to work together in recording and documenting the Journeys of Cancer patients currently going through radiation treatment and chemotherapy as well as the stories from their families.

I will be contacting them tomorrow to look into the feasibility of this project as well as starting to piece together a video which recounts the details of My Personal Journey, which I wrote about January 28th, 1994, the day my mother died from ovarian cancer at the BC Cancer Clinic in Vancouver. I will keep you guys posted on how both of those progress.

So without further ado, here is the link to the blog:

http://personaljourneys.wordpress.com/

Read through the Journeys, click on the links to view the maps and also look at the Visual Journeys section of the blog to see other outcomes that I developed as well.

Sincerely,

John DeVeaux


The new pornographers

February 20, 2009

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I’ve been hearing more and more about this in the news over the past few weeks and it simply doesn’t make any sense…charging teens with child pornography when they it is they who are photographing themselves?!?
– FlashAddict

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What’s more disturbing — that teens are texting each other naked pictures of themselves, or that it could get them branded as sex offenders for life?

By Tracy Clark-Flory

Life

Salon

Feb. 20, 2009 | The photographs show three naked underage girls posing lasciviously for the camera. The perps who took the pictures were busted in Greensburg, Pa., and charged with manufacturing, disseminating and possessing child pornography — and so were their subjects. That’s because they are one and the same.

It all started when the girls, ages 14 and 15, decided to take nudie cellphone snapshots of themselves. Then, maybe feeling dizzy from the rush of wielding their feminine wiles, the trio text-messaged the photos to some friends at Greensburg-Salem High School. When one of the students’ cellphones was confiscated at school, the photos were discovered. Police opened an investigation and, in addition to the girls’ being indicted as kiddie pornographers, three boys who received the pictures were slammed with charges of child porn possession. All but one ultimately accepted lesser misdemeanor charges.

“Sexting,” where kids trade X-rated pictures via text message, has made headlines recently after a rash of cases in which child pornography charges have been brought not against dangerous pedophiles but hormonally haywire teenagers — potentially leaving them branded  sex offenders for life. Just last week, there came news that a middle-school boy in Falmouth, Mass., might face child porn charges for sending a naughty photo of his 13-year-old girlfriend to five buddies, who are also being investigated. There’s been plenty of outrage to go around: Some parents are angry to see teens criminalized for simply being sexual, while others find the raunchy shots pornographic, another blinking neon sign of moral decay in a “Girls Gone Wild” era. In both cases, it amounts to a tug of war between teenagers’ entitled sense of sexual autonomy and society’s desire to protect them.

It’s rather stunning that in the same age of the Pussycat Dolls, Disney starlets’ sexy photo scandals, Slut-o-ween costumes for kids and preteen push-up bras and thongs, teenagers are being charged with child porn possession for having photographs of their own naked bodies. That noise you hear? It’s the grating sound of cultural dissonance.

According to these recent interpretations of the law, a curious teenage girl who embarks on an “Our Bodies, Ourselves” journey of vaginal self-discovery, and simply replaces a hand mirror with a digital camera, is a kiddie pornographer. The same goes for the boy who memorializes his raging boner or the post-pubescent girl who takes test shots of herself practicing the porn star poses she has studied online. Theoretically, this is true regardless of whether they share the pictures with anyone, and if they do share them, they could be additionally charged with peddling child porn.

There are plenty of examples of the moral and legal gray areas created as technology broadens our behaviors: cyber-cheating, MySpace bullying, online gossip, upskirting, employers’ Web snooping. When it comes to “sexting,” though, the potentially damaging implications — for child pornography law, free speech and kids’ sexuality — are abundant. And it’s not going away any time soon. A recent online poll found that 20 percent of teens have shared nude or semi-nude photos or videos of themselves, the majority with a boyfriend or girlfriend. (Sure, voluntary polls tend to be self-selecting, but the results seem obvious, maybe even understated.) Teens will, as they always have, experiment with their sexuality. But at a time when free hardcore porn is ubiquitous, technology is cheap and the Internet is a comfortable channel for expression and experimentation, is it really any surprise that this is a generation of amateur pornographers?

It certainly isn’t to 20-somethings like myself who came of age during the Internet’s youth. By the time I was 14, I had seen my share of online porn and late-night HBO and made frequent use of the phrase “U wanna cyber?” in early AOL chat rooms. In high school in Berkeley, Calif., at least two student sex tapes were rumored to be making the rounds. I didn’t have a cellphone camera or a webcam, thank god — though I did have a Polaroid camera, which, to be sure, my longtime boyfriend and I toyed around with.

This is all part of how kids initiate themselves into our sexual culture long before they actually have sex. At one time, that meant a boy would flip through his father’s stash of Playboys and a girl would try on her mother’s ample bra. For me, it meant privately mimicking the stripper moves I had seen on TV and having online chats with people who occasionally turned out to be aging pervs. It was the best way I knew to try on, test out and confirm my femininity without actually having sex. (And that’s having been raised by hippie parents who compared the spiritual magic of sex to “two star systems colliding in outer space.”)

That sexual rite of passage remains, but today’s teens have an entirely different notion of privacy than past generations. They grew up in the exhibitionistic Web culture of LiveJournal, YouTube and MySpace. They’ve seen girls on TV playfully jiggling their breasts for plastic beads, “Real World” cast members boldly screwing in front of cameras, Britney flashing her bald lady parts. These days, why would a girl be concerned about her silly topless snapshot circulating around school?

That’s certainly the case with 16-year-old Melissa, a student at a high school near Greensburg-Salem, who has never worried about any of the X-rated pictures she’s shared, because she cropped her face out of the photos, so “no one could identify me unless like [they] lifted up my shirt to figure it out haha,” she wrote in a message sent on the blog platform Xanga. On her profile page, a rap song with the lyrics “I jus’ wanna act like a porno flick actor” plays. It also exhibits a self-portrait she took with a cellphone camera of her reflection in a floor-length mirror; the sassy expression on her face matches the page’s background: a sexy hot pink and lime green leopard print.

Joey, an 18-year-old who graduated from a San Francisco high school last year, has gotten X-rated snapshots from girls on his phone, through e-mail and on his MySpace page since he was 15. Some were longtime girlfriends that he swapped photos with and others were girls he’d just casually met; some pictures were suggestive, others were explicit. (“How graphic do you want me to get?” he asks, cautiously. “I’ve had girls send me photos of them fingering themselves.”)

“Older adults have a short memory. There were things we did — people flashed each other and played spin the bottle,” says Elizabeth Schroeder, director of Answer, Rutgers University’s program dedicated to promoting sexuality education. “This is this generation’s way of doing that.” Heather Corinna, the 38-year-old founder of Scarleteen, a Web site that provides sex-positive education for young adults, agrees: “Before we had this media, we had video cameras, before that film cameras, before that the written word, and all throughout, public or semi-public sex, ways of proclaiming to peers that one is sexually active or available to become so,” she says.

But, clearly, there is a big difference between testifying on the wall of the boy’s bathroom about the toe-curling blow jobs the school’s head cheerleader gives and sending your buddies photographic proof. These digital offerings bring the potential for humiliation and blackmail if the photos or video get into the wrong hands — and, let’s face it, they often do. Acting as your girlfriend’s personal porno star is one thing; ending up a pedophile’s favorite child pinup is quite another.

There’s good reason to be concerned about teens being self-pornographers. But many, especially legal experts, are disturbed by the fact that a healthy horn-dog of a teenager could be grouped in the same criminal category as a clinically ill pedophile. “These cases are picturing these teenagers as both predators and victims of themselves,” says Amy Adler, a law professor at New York University who has studied child porn laws. “Child porn law was founded on a very different vision of what the major threat was.”

That major threat, of course, is supposed to be adults who produce and peddle child smut. Reed Lee, a Chicago attorney and board member of the Free Speech Coalition, says: “A law to protect victims shouldn’t send those very victims to jail.”

Typically, kiddie porn is seen as exponentially harmful because it’s more than the original sexual abuse: It allows for a reliving of the trauma every time another pervert gets ahold of the material. But “if the initial photograph was not taken as part of a traumatic episode and was, like it or not, part of a more normal teenage experience, the abuse rationale becomes harder to see,” Adler argues. Still, plenty of child pornography cases have been prosecuted where the original photo is awfully benign — for example, a family picture taken at a nudist camp that is discovered by a pedophile and then cropped to reveal only the naked kid.

But it’s tough to impress those kinds of nuances on kids, says Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Jeffrey Douglas. He once spoke to a high school class and tried to explain that, even though everyone seems to be “sexting,” it “can literally destroy your life.” The response? A boy rolled his eyes while making a grand jack-off gesture. “It’s just the bullshit that adults tell them when they come to talk to them,” he said. “It’s tragically funny.”

Douglas points out that the bungled law reveals fascinating cultural conflicts about childhood and teen sexuality. “I think the problem originates from the pathological fear that our culture, particularly the legal part of the culture, takes toward juvenile sexuality.” He has defended numerous child porn cases and says prosecutors will treat the exchange of trial evidence like “an undercover heroin deal.” Douglas says, “The fear is so enormous that it’s like you’re dealing with something radioactive. They don’t consider the context or the meaning.”

The context here is that teens are undertaking the sexploration that our porned culture at once dictates and forbids — in the same way that girls are taught that there is desirable validation in their sexuality and then are shamed for actually being sexual. Rutgers’ Elizabeth Schroeder says an example of this contradiction is that sex educators like herself have to fight an uphill battle just to get into schools, while all it takes is a click of a button and a kid can catch an episode of “G-String Divas.” She once asked a group of 12-year-old boys what they thought it meant to be a girl and the first response was: “Girls are here to give lap dances to boys.”

http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2009/02/20/sexting_teens/