Both Festival Films Are Now onLine

Do me the favor, please, of going Full Screen

Jok Church from The Queer Oral History Project on Vimeo.

Working in television since the 70s, Jok has witnessed decades of history on-air and on the ground.


other stuff, too.

Starting with a recent, remarkable discovery... Hearing the HIV Genome

read both columns for free download


For the last 7 years, I've worked to find beauty in the HIV Genome, I mean somewhere in there. Its code is about 24-million characters — big data — and, as an artist, it could become a tool to explore beauty. Of some kind. At least I'd give it a shot, or two. Or, 23.

I converted that huge data file into a huge MIDI file (Musical Instrument Digital Interface). I did it by writing code said things like: "The first time you see this letter do this. The second time said "do the first thing you did, then do this new thing to it."

And on and on until I could make it loop. And I saved it as .midi file right out of textEdit. How many times I tried, and specific memories and stuff like that, I've forgotten.

The first time I opened it in a program reading MIDI files, it chewed on the file for all night long and I was so pleased with the result, I posted it on iTunes.

I lacked the patience necessary and the file was stark, atonal, but with a distinct presence.


see Jok's Ted Talk
download HIV's music here

Next, I allowed the computer-chewing to continue for days, and while what emerged was similar to the first, it now has new harmonies, new rhythms, new pitches, new back channel music, and, yes, it is still unusual, but much more interesting.

I've worked to remove the old music from iTunes and also decided to just give it away.

A one click download — simple — click the Apple above. I've named it "Hearing HIV".

Once you unZip it, add it to your iTunes library. Enjoy. Clicking the icon represents your agreement to terms and conditions ;) — of which there are none.

If you do something with it; use it as ingredient in something else, I'd appreciate knowing what that might be. My email address is below.

It will be evocative no matter what. And what it evokes in and from you I have no way of knowing.

But I hope you enjoy the trip.

Jok Church

Brief animation of the music is below.




Whatever Were You Thinking?

A few friends have asked me about the decisions and inspirations involved in my turning the HIV Genome into a .midi file and aiming it an orchestra. These two photos are a part of it, and relationships with friends are other parts.

In olden times, I could afford to attend TED Conferences and saw this guy from a place like Denmark present this sculpture — made of CORTEN steel, about 9 feet tall — big enough to walk into — that was built by converting one-year's worth of spam/junk-e-mail into a file and aiming it at AutoDesk to come up with building plans. It blew me away! I loved it and was inspired.

The other work is a mural in a federal office building that records the population growth and decline for every county that has existed in the United States. Since it shows time, it's also an animated video, something I got into, as well.

It was the beginning of something new — abstract art created from data. Big data — and seeing what could emerge — so big you couldn't even see what it also had going on.

Two friends came into the my thinking. One is J.D. Slater, who is part owner of the porn company Raging Stallion Studios, and he began making music for the soundtracks of their productions. He showed me what he was doing with his computer in his home, doing with sound samples, and I liked it and — immodestly — assumed I could use a computer to make music, too.

I used my computer as a tool. It was what I used to draw comic strips when I couldn't do such if I drew them with an ink pen. I could not draw a straight line, but — on my Mac — I could draw crocked one and then adjust it. I thought I might be able to do likewise with music.

But, alas, I lacked the gift of musical ability — like J.D. has — and not having that gift, I spent years trying until I dragged myself away from that dream and tried other things, like sculpture — with no satisfaction arriving.

Kokoe Johnson is the other friend and introduced me to a kind of key that put it all together. Kokoe works with big data and introduced me to the term "data mining." (He also introduced me to TED


What's Going On?

census sculpture

Conferences, which led to my TED Talk.) Kokoe looks at massive chunks of information and uses a lens of his creation and with his creative nudging sees totally unexpected stuff emerge.

As the HIV Genome was published in 2004, I realized Kokoe's view of mining data meant I could "mine" my big data — the HIV genome.

us Census mural

And I hoped it would lead to a particular — and perhaps, peculiar — kind of beauty.

I think of beauty and truth as needing our helping hand — from time to time — to see them flourish. Further, I think of the hideous, life-sucking, malaise of HIV as a ripe candidate for data mining, just to see what could possibly emerge.

What emerged was neither "truth" nor "beauty." But rather a voice, a presence, a personality. And I'm personally amazed by what it's saying and how it speaks.

TIP: After this music file downloads, find it in your downloads folder. Unzip,it with a double click, then fire up iTunes and use FILE > ADD TO LIBRARY and then look for the downloaded/unzipped file. Give it a good paying-attentiion, listening to, it in a contemplative space and all.

But will be evocative, that's for sure. I can't know what it will evoke from and with you

But I hope you enjoy the trip.

Jok Church





Both of film-festival films are now onLine. They're showing in film festivals around the world, so I thought you might like a look-see click here.



..................cartoon of Jok

Business Card





Not only does it, indeed, get better; it can be fabulous, if you let it.