Andrew Monks

I try to help non-technical people engage meaningfully and productively with computers. I enjoy writing both code and prose.

I’m also the proprietor of Belgian Man Records. I draw from 8 years of experience building an active community around Belgian Man.

I was born in Ithaca, NY, raised around Concord, MA, and educated at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Boston, MA • Chicago, IL

Andrew Monks

Belgian Man Records



Belgian Man Records

Experimental Record Label 2007– present

Belgian Man Records is a record label I started in 2007.

In the beginning, I made a commitment to personally handle as many aspects as possible, and as a result I᾿m proud that my own hand has touched almost every release, be it through audio mastering, cover design, or full-on recording and production, and that I᾿ve personally done all the label᾿s promotion, web development, and management.

Running the operation, I᾿ve had the opportunity to design album covers, t-shirts, and posters, plan large events, record and produce albums, and work with dozens of creative people whom I᾿d never have met were it not for Belgian Man.

You can find my own releases and a collection of my cover designs on my page at Belgian Man.


github CYOA Game Engine 2015

Sidevalve is a game engine for choose-your-own-adventure games I’m currently working on with Fenn Macon. It’s designed to let you focus on content, not code: click fork, add your locations and text to a single file, and your game is online!

github Social Surveillance 2015

There are eyes everywhere. We increasingly live in a panopticon. is a pervasive game about surveillance technology. It’s meant to make the players more aware of the instruments of state and corporate surveillance operating all around them.

The game takes place in real life: both on the streets and over social media. Like the many eyes around us, it never ends. Once you start playing, you’ll be looking over your shoulder forever.

github Monetize Now! 2015

There’s an enormous market for data about you—your location, your purchasing habits, your interests. Many of the websites and services you use, the stores you visit, and the devices you carry are constantly scrambling to collect this data and sell it to the highest bidder.

But nobody has more access to valuable data about you than you do.

With Sellf, you can create a data product far more valuable than what anyone else could collect. Companies like Facebook and Google put millions of dollars into correlating datasets together, but you can sell all of your data as a single package. Google and Facebook can’t compete.


github Simple Genetic Algorithms 2015

jinni is a rubygem that makes it easy to work with genetic algorithms.

With a few lines of code, you can make your existing classes and objects genetic and start crossing and mutating them.



github Client-Side Collaboration 2015

vjjs is a currently-in-development collaboration platform for client-side creative code. It will make it possible to use the browser for livecoding or vjing, and use GitHub as a backend so you can easily share your code or find modules to use.

baton and fftjs are components that make vjjs possible.


github Generative Drawing 2015

Gravity is an online machine-drawing tool that uses a simulation of newtonian gravity in JavaScript.

It has a variety of options which are explored in the readme.


github Real-Time Audio Analysis in Javascript 2015

fft.js is a Javascript library for working with the AnalyserNode API.

You can use it to make web-stuff that syncs with audio input.


github Use hardware MIDI devices in the browser 2015

baton.js is a javascript library for working with hardware MIDI devices in the browser, using the new-ish WebMidiAPI.

The possibilities are endless!

Use a hardware MIDI controller or software MIDI sources like Ableton Live or Max/MSP!

Send MIDI notes from the browser to an external synth!

Make a MIDI chat room with WebRTC and send notes to your friends without server-side code!


github Computer-Assisted Cubist Self-Portraiture 2014

CutCam is a tool for computer-assisted gestural drawing.

It uses a LeapMotion controller in conjunction with your laptop’s webcam.

By physically moving your hands through the air, you draw what the camera sees at that moment. If you draw while holding still for a while, then move your face and continue you’re able to capture yourself from many perspectives.

You could also get ambitious and point the camera at stuff other than your face to create multiple exposures of anything you can dream of.

If you don’t have a LeapMotion controller, try MouseCam


github Easily make a record label website 2014

Wafelijzer is web software you can use to make a beautiful and easy-to-run website for your record label or collective. It was built to power Belgian Man

You can get it up and running in 5 minutes or less, and add artists, albums, news, videos, or even sell merch using the simple online interface.

Wafelijzer looks fantastic out-of-the-box, but it’s also totally customizable. Theme it up to your heart’s content.

Wafelijzer’s development is guided by 3 principles:

  1. Keep it easy: You don’t need any technical, web development, or coding experience to use Wafelijzer. A label shouldn’t need a ‘Web Dude,’ artists can add easily add their own content.

  2. Make it free: Wafelijzer is designed to run on a free Heroku server.

  3. Stay lazy: You already use services like bandcamp, soundcloud, vimeo, and youtube. Wafelijzer automatically pulls your content from these services so you don’t have to type the same shit over and over.


github never deal with cross origin access errors again 2014

Bouncer is a simple and fast proxy server desgined to help get around cross-origin-access problems when writing client-side javascript.

Simply add to the beginning of the file you want proxied. eg

Where At?

github Collaborative Mapping 2014

Where At? is a simple tool for annotating, sharing, and collaborating on maps.

My apartment is a bit hard to find: I᾿m in the rear of my building, and you have to enter from an alley rather than from the main street. Normal Google Maps directions to my address end up at the wrong place, but there᾿s no way within Google Maps to draw your own route and send it to someone. With Where At?, you can.

It's Cloudy?

github Falsey Data Visualization 2014

It᾿s Cloudy? is a weather visualization I made to experiment with the idea of ‘truthiness’ in data. If you put something in a graph, it looks sciencey, even truthy. People tend to believe graphs: computers don᾿t lie!

This is a frequently-exploited aspect of human nature, if you want to convince people something᾿s true, make a chart. But what about the converse? If you take real data and display it in a non-sciencey way, does it still seem true?

It᾿s Cloudy? seeks to explore that question. It᾿s a visualization of the real-time cloud cover data at the user᾿s location, but presented through a casual 8-bit gaming aesthetic.

The cloudiness of a user᾿s current location determines the cloudiness of the webpage. On a cloudless day, the page will be solid blue. In 50% cloud cover, half of the squares will be filled with clouds.


github such term extraction. wow. 2014

doger.js is a “doge” meme generator. It generates scalable, css-based graphics. Given a block of text or a website url, it uses term extraction to pull out important keywords. Then, it uses the linguistic conventions of the popular “doge” meme to generate phrases based on those keywords.

doger.js is implemented as a javascript library. It᾿s intended to run in the browser, which makes it very portable.

Divvy Data Visualization

github Good Lookin' Bike Theft 2014

I made these visualizations in 2014 from data released for the Divvy Data Challenge. By exploring and annotating the data, I was able to uncover information about the theft and damage of bicycles in the Divvy bikeshare system.

I started out by throwing the data into Postgres. Then, I fired up Ruby and started exploratorially looping through my tables, adding annotations as I went. I made the final graphs using a combination of heatmap.js and d3.

CTA Ridership Visualizations

github Seeing Traffic 2014

I made these CTA Data Visualizations in 2014 from data put out by the city of Chicago. They graph the CTA᾿s ridership over time.

  1. The circle is way less readable than the timeline of all the data
  2. The trains have been getting more popular lately
  3. People take the train a loton the forth of July, unless it᾿s raining.

Oldskoola Bookmarklet

github Exploring the oldernet 2014

With physical documents, we have an ingrained cultural language of visual artifacts that show ‘oldness’: weathering, print techniques, type of paper, style. But in the internet era of constantly-updating content, what does ‘old’ look like? <blink> tags?


Drag that link ^^ to your bookmarks bar, then click on it on any website.

Oldskoola.js is a bookmarklet // javascript library that seeks to explore that question by applying the visual language of old documents to the internet. It turns the background into old parchment, switches up the fonts, and converts images to sepiatone.


Wireless midi bridge++, RaspberryPi-style 2014

The xxxboxxx is a midi controller, a wireless MIDI bridge, an audio-to-midi converter, and a crappy DSP effects rack, built in Pd on a RaspberryPi.

It outputs OSC-formatted control/note messages over either ethernet or wifi. You can also plug in up to eight additional USB midi devices and they᾿ll start sending data over wifi too. You can also plug in an audio source (I᾿m a Theremin fan, personally) and it᾿ll convert the audio to midi notes and send them out too.


RaspberryPi Security 2014

NetCam is a RaspberryPi-based streaming security camera. A classic case of scratching my own itch, I made it because the intercom/buzzer system at my apartment was really inconsistent.

Mounted inside my front door, the camera automatically connects to my wifi network and serves up a live feed of whatever᾿s going on outside. If someone buzzes into the building, the other tenants or I can simply visit the camera᾿s website for a live video stream.

Line Describing The Body

github Light art + live mapping toolkit 2013

Line Describing The Body is an homage to Anthony McCall᾿s classic piece, Line Describing A Cone, in which a simple white circle is projected into a smoky room created a physically-tangible conical beam of light extruding out from the projector.

I wanted to recreate the wonder, joy, and delight that McCall᾿s audience experiences when they play in his light cone, but for a modern-day interaction-hungry audience. Rather than simply projecting a circle, the piece uses a Kinect 3d sensor to project the outline of the viewer back onto them in real time. Because of the fog, this projects a tangible form into the space; extruded from the tiny projector lens out to the outline of the viewer᾿s moving body.

It᾿s impossible to capture on film, but in a sufficiently-foggy room, the piece puts the viewer in a sort of personal light tunnel. Viewers love the feeling of manipulating their smoke tunnel, shaping and deforming it through gesture and shadow. The way the tunnel diminishes towards the brightness of the projector᾿s lens evokes to many viewers something one might see in death.

To accomplish this, I made a simple, extensible c++ app to read incoming data from the Kinect, calibrate the kinect-space with the projector-space, and output (via Syphon) either an outline, for the fog piece, or a solid blob that can be used to mask realtime video onto a moving target.

The Oblique Strategies API brings modern web standards and open data practices to Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt᾿s classic Oblique Strategies.

First published in 1975, the Oblique Strategies are a collection of brief aphorisms meant to stimulate creativity. Such as “Give way to your worst impulse,” “Question the heroic approach,” and “Work at a different speed.”

By making these strategies accessible in a machine-readable form, the Oblique Strategies JSON API makes it possible for programmers to readily include these Oblique Strategies in their work.

More subtly, it addresses a conversation about machine creativity, which I first addressed with the Lyrics Generator. How might a computer᾿s creativity resemble human creativity? What happens when a computer gets writers block? Would a computer consult the Oblique Strategies?

Yung Future

github Net.Art exploration 2013– 

Yung Future is an online gallery of experimental single-serving net.arts. The pieces explore themes including growth, polarity, decay, and digitality. I continuously keep the gallery updated with new work.

1-3 are interactive: move using the mouse buttons, the arrow keys, or WASD. Navigate with the mouse. 1 was >> bitCrushed + chopped + remix’d by the illustrious Nick Briz.


Hands-free gaming 2013

Love is an augmented reality hands-free game. Some bunnies are projected into a highly detailed miniature 3d landscape mounted on the wall. The goal is to pick up the bunnies and carry them to the liquor store. Below the landscape hangs a painting of a bunny loving a 40oz bottle of Miller High Life. When the bunnies are at the liquor store, the heart in the painting lights up with joy.

Molly Conn made the sculpture, Jason Abrams made the painting, and I made the interactivity. I used a LeapMotion 3d controller to sense the geometry of the player᾿s hands, the Unity3d game engine to control and render the world, and MadMapper to map it into the physical world.

Lyrics Generator

github Generative creativity 2013

Ever wish your favorite artist would write a song just for you? Your dream can come true with the Lyrics Generator!

It generates new lyrics based on the actual lyrics of any given artist. If it hasn᾿t come across the artist before, it scrapes LyricsWiki for source material.

I made it in May 2013 as a Lil᾿ B song generator. Because B speaks in non-sequitur and frequently doesn᾿t incorporate rhymes into his lyrics, it seemed like a good opportunity for generative text.


3d music video 2013

mmhm is a music video I made for Sam Von Horn (AKA Modus) in April, 2013 to celebrate his first release with Belgian Man.</p>

The video is a demo I made using a 3d VJing system I᾿m building using Unity 3d, Quartz Composer, and a hardware interface.


github Hardware interface abstractions for Max/MSP 2012– 2013

Maxkit is a collection of Max/MSP patches to help Max users more easily interface with hardware including Nintendo Wiimotes, Korg Nanokontrols, and Arduinos. The patches are available freely from GitHub.


Fishy music video 2013

can-f is a music video I made for Charlie Abbott (AKA RYV) in February, 2013 to coincide with the release of the Bedroom Classics Vol. 1 compilation on Belgian Man Records.</p>

I created the video using CoGe and Unity3d, using audio-synced timeline information piped in over OSC.

An Abridged History Of Color

Installation of color through time 2012

An Abridged History Of Color Through Time is an as-yet-uninstalled installation I created in 2012.

I wrote a script to analyze the colors used in painting from the year 1000 through 1999, using data it collected from ARTstor.

This image is a visualization of this data as a timeline divided into ten columns by century, each showing the most common paint colors of that century sorted by hue.

For the installation, I wrote a program in Processing to create live video from this data, shrinking the thousand years of painting into the installations duration. This video is projected onto a pool of water.

By integrating with Max/MSP, gamelan sounds are played when the video passes each century, decade, year, month, and week. This creates a rhythmic texture that denotes and responds to the passage of time.


github Online memory experiment 2012

Homer is a website that models the human brain’s own system for memory storage.

Every time your brain calls back a memory, it's really remembering the last time you remembered it. Therefore, the more times you think about a memory, the faster it degrades and changes.

Homer is an experiment that remembers things in the same way the brain does.

Homer can remember things, but after every time you look at something it's remembering for you, you have to rewrite it again from memory.

It's like how back in the day, stories were memorized and passed along orally rather than written down. Each person who heard it remembered it their own way, and thus they changed slightly over time. Hence the name, Homer. After the Greek guy.

Choom Gang

github Online propaganda 2011 is an informational website that describes Barack Obama’s relationship with marijuana, and his Hawaiian pot-smoking group, the Choom Gang.

I made it in late 2011, in preparation for the presidential election.

The Gentleman's Standard

github Satirical print magazine 2009– 2010

The Gentleman’s Standard De l’Académie is a print magazine I co-founded with Andrew Zarins, Dante Pilkington, and Alex Milona. The concept was to include a variety of essays, discussing current events, politics, memoir, and fiction, all written from the hypothetical perspective of extremely conservative (by modern standards) aristocratic 19th century gentlemen.

Through this lens, we were able to exercise our creative writing skills and satirize modern political conservatives in a light-hearted humorous way.

In addition to writing editorial pieces for the magazine, my primary function was to serve as art director and graphic designer. I was responsible for layout, typesetting, and the website.

Permanent Fatal Errors

The theatre of text 2009– 2010

Permanent Fatal Errors was an experimental theatre production, created and performed by the Permanent Fatal Errors Company, of which I was one of twelve members. The work was conceived and directed by David R. Gammons.

The piece was developed over an 8-month period, and used speech, movement, audio recordings, and performance to explore written communication through the ages. Source text was drawn from a variety of sources, including letters, twitter, and instant messages.

I created two segments based on the death of John Cheever. In the first, I played John, sitting at a typewriter and reading excerpts letters written in the months prior to his death.

For the second segment, I was a tearful Ben Cheever, John’s Son. I opened and read a final letter from John, as an audio recording of an imagined final letter from John played on the theatre’s soundsystem. I created this letter using exclusively text from Cheever’s novel Falconer. I distorted and edited the audio to illustrate Ben’s process of grief.

Jesus Christ Super Star Wars

Mashup opera 2009

Jesus Christ Super Star Wars, Concord Academy’s first (and only, to date) completely student-created opera. JCSSW, written and directed by Andrew J. Murray. It took the plot of George Lucas’s Star Wars series, and set it to the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar.

Murray and I worked together on the piece. He managed the actors on stage, while I handled the technical aspects, assembling and leading a team of student designers to execute costumes, sound, lights, set design, and most memorably, the wall of TV sets behind the staged action.

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