Friday, December 1, 2000

The art of Palm computing


By Steve Niles

Since hearing about the announcement made on October 1, 2000 that an artist by the name of Tom Kemp had produced what is being touted as "the first serious contemporary artwork produced entirely on the handheld Palm computer," I've developed an interest in Palm device artistry. You can sort of get a look at Kemp's "painting," called Analysis, at An excerpt from it is pictured in Figure A.


Here's just a portion of Tom Kemp's Analysis. (click for larger image)

However, I'm not terribly impressed. To me, this four-foot by seventeen-foot arrangement of a thousand TealPaint screen-captures resembles a bad intestinal problem. If that's art, I don't want any.

What I do like is the wonderfully inventive artistry on display at, December's PalmPower Site of the Month. You can find it at, and the site's home page is pictured in Figure B.


The home page features a self-portrait of the artist. (click for larger image)

The work of an "Internet technologist" named Sabrina, showcases daily, hand-drawn renderings of her meals. Using an application called Diddle (at installed on her Palm IIIxe, she draws a picture of what she had to eat during the course of the day. Along with each picture she includes a brief account of the meal. You can see an example in Figure C.


A bagel, mparrettati, and a cookie were the order of the day on November 27. (click for larger image)

Why does she do this? Don't ask. She really doesn't know. The closest thing you'll find to an explanation on her Web site is that she had a URL and needed something to put there. For me, though, the charm lies in its utter purposelessness. It's the sound of one hand clapping and all that. Browsing through her archive of food drawings, which dates back to May 28, 2000, I find myself slipping into a quiet state of meditation. The relaxed and friendly drawings combine with the simple prose-refreshing in its lack of irony or cynicism-to carry me to a state of inner peace.

Consider this example of her work from August 22, 2000:

so i got to make it to the quarry today.
the quarry is where forum keynotes are at.
they give you free breakfast.
i saw molly there,
we both grabbed breakfast burritos.
it would have tasted okay, if it wasn't so cold.
we both ended up throwing it away and eating pastries instead.

Now that, my friends, is poetry.

You'd do well to pay a visit to, but don't just go for the enlightenment. It's also a great example of a fun and creative use for a Palm computer.