The Man Behind The Curtain: About Michael Kupietz

The Man Behind The Curtain: About Michael Kupietz

Well, a year of this site, my baby, my pride and joy, ranking on page four of Google search results for my own name has convinced me it’s time to do a little search engine optimization, so here’s some brief biographical information to tip off the brilliant algorithms out there as to who this site just might be about.

I’m Michael Kupietz.

I’m an avid musician, artist, and by day a FileMaker Pro consultant and web developer. I’m an east coast expatriate who somehow, incomprehensibly, has been based for half my life now in San Francisco.

I grew up on Long Island, and attended Very Big State U upstate for two years, where I studied computer science and was a teaching assistant in the electronic music studio, before transferring to Tiny Little Liberal Arts College in the beautiful Hudson Valley, where my heart still resides, where I just barely completed a degree in physics with a concentration in acoustics.

I’ve been programming computers since I was a kid, and also grew up an artistic dilettante: writing, taking painting lessons, always looking for some sort of self-expression, until at about the age of 15 I started learning music and never looked back. I primarily play guitar but nowadays can be heard noodling around with varying degrees of skill on my saxophone, big ol’ ancient Wurlitzer electric organ, clarinet, trumpet, accordion, 24-string lyre, everything from a tiny like garkleit to huge tenor recorder, or even occasionally absent-mindedly beating a djembe or twanging away on a little Vietnamese Đàn môi, in addition to a an increasing number of late nights in recent years hunched over my laptop making weird electronic sounds. I love singing as well but typically choose to spare my neighbors that ordeal.

My interests and hobbies are varied but almost always fall somewhere within the triangle of technology, art, and science. I’ve always been an avid, if not particularly talented, photographer as well.

My taproots on the west coast came about from spending a lot of my ’20s after college on the road. I wound up a long term resident and then employee at the Green Tortoise hostels in Seattle and San Francisco, finally ending up being the entire IT staff of the Green Tortoise Adventure Travel company in SF for a lot of years. From there, my involvement in user groups led to a burgeoning career in IT consulting.

A brief involvement in SF’s counterculture scene fed a lot of interesting adventures for a while. I was involved in efforts to resuscitate the SF Cacophony Society, used to go to Burning Man religiously, and have had some fun experiences with urban exploration. I was webmaster for the Billboard Liberation Front for a few years. I was actually the subject of segment a British documentary once, an episode about “culture jammers” or pranksters, I forget which, of a quickly-cancelled E4 show called “Generation E”, which I would kill to find a video copy of… this film crew had turned up at an event we did and somehow glommed onto me as some sort of organizer figure (I wasn’t, but I was happy to play the part for TV.) I was a citizen journalist for the Occupy movement for a short while as well, and Global Revolution TV nationally carried my from-the-inside streaming broadcast from Occupy SF’s takeover of the Cathedral Hill Hotel—another bit of video history which is, to my knowledge, unfortunately lost forever. Like a lot of things I’ve encountered in SF, these were all things I got heavily involved with, got some great photos or video, but on a personal level had some glaring and uncomfortable differences with a lot of the people I met through them and split pretty quickly. This is why I call myself an “east coast expatriate”. California is a foreign country to me, always will be.

Later on, as my consulting took off and I began to find myself with a little disposable income, I took an interest in finance—not out of wanting to get rich, but out of an interest in the programming challenges of, first, trying to automate a cryptocurrency trading bot, and then trying to automate options trading strategies on the conventional market. (Not that I’d mind if I got rich off them.) I wrote a few crypto tools & utilities that were found useful by a vanishingly small number of people, before I gave up on that casino. I still have an active interest in the complexities of options trading, and still work on refining my trading indicators and algorithms, although I no longer have the funds to actually do it in practice. To this day, I have yet to turn an overall profit as a trader. (Although I am rather proud to once had one of my algorithms tell me to open a huge bear credit spread on TSLA, at the top, shortly before it dropped about 40%.)

More recently, as the much-hyped AI “revolution” took off, I took an interesting in the new generative AI text-to-image tools. I know there’s a lot of controversy about them, to my mind, mostly because of people not understanding them at all. I feel they’re useful creative tools, like any other, and also like any other, require skill and experience to use well. I think some of the galleries on this site will support that argument. From my teaching assistant days in electronic music, to exploring the possibilities of web art, now to AI generative art, I’ve always been interested in the use of technology as a creative tool, and I suppose a lot of what you’ll see here on “Kupietz Arts + Code” reflects there. Not exclusively, though—there’s also some good, old-fashioned, ordinary written down stuff (I always hesitate to call it “writing”) and even a pencil drawing.

Since the pandemic, I’ve been a homebody. I had spent a year or so right before that as a digital nomad, visiting friends and family up and down the east coast, and happened to be back in SF for what was supposed to be a short visit home when the pandemic hit. I used the time for a lot of personal projects, including starting this site and a lot of the things you see on it. I also finally learned how to solve a Rubik’s Cube, and among my many, many unfinished projects is a book about, not just how to solve it, but about how to understand how the solutions to it work.

Around that time I had some temporary health setbacks—a particularly bad case of long covid that I’m still struggling with the tail end of a year and a half later, plus at the same time a devastating but thankfully short infectious disease I picked up from grabbing a bite to eat in Las Vegas McCarran airport—exacerbated by the fact that around that time, my last big client breached our contract and disappeared, and as of this writing I’ve have been out of work for almost 15 months, giving me a lot to stress about and lose sleep over, and these most recent few months my creative work has mostly been on hold until I can get myself into a situation where I can think straight again instead of spending all day every day freaking out.

Fortunately I can code practically in my sleep, so working on the technical side of this website still gives me a welcome distraction from all that, and I continue to improve it in that way until I’m back in a headspace where the other creative juices are flowing too.

I guess that brings us up-to-date. Enjoy!

Mike Kupietz
July 2024