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Funky glasses give you psychedelic visual effects without LSD
10:00 am



Supplying more fun than can reasonably be expected at the optician’s, these intriguing lenses created by Hungarian designer Bence Agoston for a 3D printer enable psychedelic visual experiences while requiring the insertion of round optical lenses into the waiting slots—the effects include “a landscape modified by combinations of colors and patterns.” Anyone who remembers Dr. Timothy Leary might hear in those words connection to good ol’ lysergic acid diethylamide, which, even in this age of rampant drug legalization, is still a Schedule I controlled substance.

The glasses came about through a class project in which each student was assigned another student for whom they were tasked with designing some personal object. Agoston and his classmate quickly found a connection in music, so he looked to design an item that would enhance the experience of listening to music. Said Agoston,

The person for whom I was designing, whose name I pulled from a hat, first had to get to know each other to see if we could find a common point. I interviewed my “client” and luckily he really likes music and he always listens to music while he is traveling. That became the point for our connection because I also love music, but I just listen to it, really a first stage kind of activity. When embarking on this project my goal was to take it to a second stage and give the user a way to experience music by both listening to it and altering their visual experience of it.

The frames are 3D-printed in ABS plastic and can accept up to three of the set of six patterned lenses. The lenses can be rotated in relationship to each other to provide a virtually endless array of psychedelic viewing experiences, which work especially well when looking out of the window of a moving vehicle. The glasses also partially obscure vision, so it’s quite clear that the glasses should in all instances be worn by passengers, not drivers.

Amusingly, Agoston based his selection of colors to use in his lenses on colors most often found on album covers featuring indie psychedelic music, but he may come up with different series of colors for other kinds of music.

via 3Dprint

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Space brides of 1966!
11:05 am


outer space

When I first saw this video, I was sure that it was shot in London—in 1966 that’s where the crazy fashion energy was, after all. But no, it wasn’t London at all, it was actually New York. I reckon that Matthew Weiner now wants to re-do Season 5 of Mad Men in its entirety just to find a way to work in these incredible bridal fashions. After all, that’s about when Don marries Megan, right? Such a wasted opportunity!!

A terrific find from Kelly Faircloth at Jezebel. The AP Archive headline for this clip is “Futuristic and outlandish fashions for brides from 1966,” but you really can’t beat Jezebel’s triumphant invocation of “SPACE BRIDES”!

These designs came from Edythe Vincent at Alfred Angelo—Vincent was actually Angelo’s wife, appropriately enough. I’m not 100% sure but I believe that the promotional text for this presentation ran,

Bridal gown for weddings in outer space! Styled by for Alfred Angelo’s “Bridal Fashions in the Year 2000” collection. Mod mini skirt of open air knit crochet stitch and vinyl plastic, with boots to match. The sky diver’s helmet lends an authentic feeling of jet propulsion for the forward look of the 21st century

Faircloth recommends scoring this wholly soundless bit of fashion footage (more than 8 minutes long!) with David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Nailed it…...

via Pictorial

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Walls that spray piss back on public urinators have arrived in the USA
01:57 pm


San Francisco

In March DM reported on activists in Germany who, seeking to discourage drunken revelers from urinating in public, had applied special liquid-repelling paint to certain walls which would have the effect of redirecting the stream back towards, say, the malefactor’s own pant legs.

Today the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that the city of San Francisco is using the identical technique. Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru commented, “We are piloting it to see if we can discourage people from peeing at many of our hot spots. ... Nobody wants to smell urine. We are trying different things to try to make San Francisco smell nice and look beautiful.”

[Nuru] demonstrated a painted wall’s effectiveness at the 16th Street Bart Plaza Thursday. A sign reading, “Hold it! This wall is not a public restroom. Please respect San Francisco and seek relief in an appropriate place,” hung above it. It doesn’t explicitly state that the wall will fire back, so some surprises are in store.

“Watch your shoes over there, brother,” Nuru said, spraying water from a plastic bottle against the pee-proof wall. The liquid splashed right back, soaking the bottom of his pants. “The team that did the testing, they were excited because the liquid bounces back more than we thought it would. Anything we can do to deter people is a good thing.”

The experiment in Hamburg’s St. Pauli neighborhood captured the attention of San Francisco officials. “Based on Hamburg, we know this pilot program is going to work,” Nuru said. “It will reduce the number of people using the walls. I really think it will deter them.”

The paint was applied in “nine urine-repellent walls in the Tenderloin, the Mission and South of Market,” with more to come. We can’t tell you where in San Francisco you are safe from the splattery technique, so we advise taking your binge drinking habits to Oakland for the time being.

Here’s a video from San Francisco Public Works demonstrating the paint:

via SFist

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Finally, a robot to replace the Whitney Houston-sized hole in our hearts
11:47 am


Whitney Houston

Multi-talented musician, designer, and hacker Martin Backes from Germany has designed a robot to croon a pop ballad like a superstar from the ‘90s. As Backes writes,

“What do machines sing of?” is a fully automated machine, which endlessly sings number-one ballads from the 1990s. As the computer program performs these emotionally loaded songs, it attempts to apply the appropriate human sentiments. This behavior of the device seems to reflect a desire, on the part of the machine, to become sophisticated enough to have its very own personality.

In comments, Backes explained that the sounds were generated by digital signal processing, or DSP: “the sound is generated by the real time synthesis language called SuperCollider, same for the Visuals, so you have to write code. There`s almost no Audio FX or something like this, its basically a sine wave, the most artificial sound.” You can find out more about the device on Backes’ website.

The results are strangely impressive; even if the enunciation of the words isn’t always ideal, at least in the case of Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You,” the computer does a good job of matching her vocal range and expression.

Unfortunately, the robot’s repertoire consists of only five songs:

Whitney Houston, “I Will Always Love You”
R. Kelly, “I Believe I Can Fly”
Toni Braxton, “Un-Break My Heart”
Bryan Adams, “Everything I Do, I Do It For You”
Celine Dion, “My Heart Will Go On”

Below, you can watch a demonstration video for “What do machines sing of?”:

via Das Kraftfuttermischwerk

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
What happens when you run pornography through Google DeepDream? Sheer bad trip terror!
07:24 am



Last week, Google released its psychedelic DeepDream program to mass public fascination and acclaim. Using computer systems called “neural networks” that are modeled on the human brain, researchers created code that allows the primordial artificial intelligence of these cybernetic networks to transform photographs into psychedelic dreamscapes. Here’s how the image recognition and alteration works:

We train an artificial neural network by showing it millions of training examples and gradually adjusting the network parameters until it gives the classifications we want. The network typically consists of 10-30 stacked layers of artificial neurons. Each image is fed into the input layer, which then talks to the next layer, until eventually the “output” layer is reached. The network’s “answer” comes from this final output layer.

Ok, I don’t understand any of that, but the point is, there is now open-source software you can use to turn your photos into surreal android dreams. Naturally, people immediately fed this exotic algorithm porn, and while the results are not sexy, they are pretty captivating.

Technically all the naughty bits in these examples are obscured by horrifying animal heads and delirium-inducing swirls and whatnot, but I’m not going so far as to say this fever dream is “safe for work.” Psychedelic nightmare porn is still porn. I think.

My favorite is the one below—can you spot the pygmy hippo? (No, I mean a literal pygmy hippo, you perv.)


More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Future Shock’: Orson Welles narrates gloriously schlocky documentary on techno-pessimism, 1972
11:59 am


Alvin Toffler

I was aware of Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock when I was growing up partly because my dad was sort of in the futurology business himself; he was an analyst at the Hudson Institute under Herman Kahn from the mid-1970s through the late 1980s, which specialized in the project of using trends to generate scenarios about the future—where a certain kind of counterintuitive reasoning usefully pushed back against the excesses of the alarmist left, as represented by Toffler and The Limits to Growth by the Club of Rome. (Kahn was a brilliant man who is mostly forgotten today, but was prominent enough that he was partly the basis for the character of Dr. Strangelove and was also mordantly represented, after a fashion, by the Walter Matthau character “Professor Groeteschele” in the 1964 movie Fail Safe.)

Anyway, around our household Toffler was sometimes mentioned as a crass popularizer of a particularly doomy form of techno-futurism that sought to cash in on qualms over technology in the society at large. This marvelous 1972 documentary about Toffler’s book was directed by Alex Grasshoff and features the voice and image of Orson Welles to a remarkable extent. Insofar as the movie accurately represents the book (Toffler co-wrote the doc, so I have no reason to imagine it doesn’t), it shows the content to be pretty half-baked at best. One feels for poor Orson having to read this stuff, but it’s better than frozen peas, I suppose.

Alvin Toffler. Photo: Roman Tokarczyk
Future Shock is about “a sickness ... that comes from too much change in too short a time.” We’re suffering terrible stresses because we have begun to live in “the pre-cooked, pre-packaged, plastic-wrapped, instant society.” Now surely there is something to this—technology in our lives does move awfully fast, and it’s natural to worry about the problems of disposability and transience. But the documentary has a habit of dressing up good news as bad news, mainly in order to scare inattentive dupes, as in the following:

A chemistry professor recently stated that he couldn’t pass today’s examinations because at least two-thirds of the questions require knowledge that didn’t even exist when he graduated from Oxford in the early thirties.

Oh no!! You’re saying we’ve learned so much about the chemical makeup of life (and also, developed ways to improve life) that ... it’s harder to absorb the information—how terrible!!!! A little later, quite similarly, you can hear Welles’ voice warn us of the dangers of the “disposability of …  people” as follows: “Thousands of people are alive today only because they carry inside them electronic devices, plastic parts, transplanted organs.” (So wait: this point about extending people’s lives via technology is a “bad” thing because of ... the “disposability of people”? Huh?)

There’s no trend that can’t be dressed up as a terribly important problem that you should be very worried about. At one point the documentary discusses “the mobile society ... the rate of change reflecting the fact that where we live means less and less as we breed a new race of nomads.” This segues, hilariously, to an idealized montage of young people hitchhiking, which is one notable midcentury activity that is all but extinct today. So ... yeah, not so much.

One of the best and most amusing sequences comes around 17 minutes in, in the discussion of “modular bodies.” There is a marvelous bit depicting our taken-for-granted ability to change our skin color at will—the montage features the lobby of an office building in which a number of the people have blue, gold, or unnaturally pasty white skin.

Oh, if you want to see Toffler himself he pops up around the 38th minute.

I shouldn’t neglect to mention the gloriously schlocky production values of the movie, lots of weirdo sci-fi music and some cheesy video effects that are by now dated. As documentaries go, let’s just say it’s got some Logan’s Run in its DNA.

After the jump, a remarkable “educational companion” published to promote the movie…..

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Someone etched ‘Macarena’ into a tortilla shell and played it like a record
11:13 am



If you need any other reason today to marvel at the universe we all inhabit, witness someone actually etching a round tortilla with a laser cutter and playing (extremely noise-buried) music. This most certainly expands the horizons of Record Store Day to include your taquerias and Mexican grocery stores, but you have to be somewhat of an artisan to pull it off. The Instructables site recommends uncooked flour shells over corn, less lumpy in texture than cooked flour and uncooked/cooked corn. Canasta brand is one of the more findable makes, and the 9” diameter allows for a lengthier tune (I supposed a smaller tortilla can be used for a Minor Threat or Minutemen song).

One big difference though is the playback between 45 RPM and 78 RPM; as you can tell by this etching of “Macarena,” the melody is barely audible through the gunk, though one can definitely make out the chorus when played at 45 RPM.

More clips, including the laser-etching process, after the jump…

Posted by Brian Turner | Leave a comment
Do not take a selfie next to an oncoming train: Russia’s goofy ‘Safe Selfie’ campaign
08:59 am

Current Events


(Click on the image for a better view.)
According to the Izvestia newspaper, the Russian government has recently launched a campaign to persuade people not to take selfies in dangerous situations. The government was induced to take action after a series of incidents in which young people were seriously injured or even killed in the process of taking pictures of themselves.

The slogan of the campaign runs, “Even a million ‘likes’ on social media are not worth your life and well-being.”

I really wish I understood Russian, so that I could read the captions in the chart.

It’s difficult not to think of the Darwin Awards, which were and are bestowed on people who obliged humanity by removing themselves from the gene pool, by dying from what can only be called “stupidity.” Actually, a recent submission to the Darwin Awards recounts an incident from Kenya involving death-by-selfie; the opening line reads, “An attempt by two men to take photographs while touching an elephant’s trunk and tusks turned tragic when the beast suddenly turned against them and trampled them to death.”

It’s difficult to say how much a sign will help a person who is willing to entertain the idea of taking a selfie next to an oncoming train—and yet, who knows, maybe they will make a difference.

(Click on the image for a better view.)



More from Russia’s “Safe Selfie” campaign after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Feeding ‘Fear and Loathing’ to Google’s Deep Dream software

Google’s “Deep Dream” artificial intelligence system works (more or less) by subjecting (I guess that’s the right word) an image to a layer of artificial neurons which will build upon certain aspects of said image (like a surface or pattern or edges or color) to turn it into something that it previously wasn’t.

So people are uploading their faces or their dog’s face or… whatever and watching them morph into something… unexpected. It’s fun. Think of it as a kind of a surrealism generator. Or an acid trip you can take during your lunch break.

But what happens when you present Google’s “inceptionism” algorithm with an actual acid trip, or at least the cinematic depiction of an acid trip? Using what’s probably the very best representation of an acid trip ever committed to celluloid, a user on Github fed this dream monster a taste of Terry Gilliam’s 1998 adaptation of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson’s gonzo classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Here are the nightmarish results… Heavy meta!

Via Gizmodo

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Video game update scrambles race and penis length for avatars with hilarious results (NSFW)
12:59 pm


penis length

Rust is a survival video game for PC/Mac/Linux in which players have to do their best to cobble together the most rudimentary kind of life after an extreme bug-out bag scenario. Quoting the promotional text for the game, “The only aim here is to survive. To do this you will need to overcome struggles such as hunger, thirst and cold. Build a fire. Build a shelter. Kill animals for meat. Protect yourself from other players. Create alliances with other players and together form a town. Whatever it takes to survive.”

In initial versions of the game, every character was white, but in March the game developers introduced a broader racial palette in an update—the tricky thing being that race is randomly assigned to avatars based on a randomized agorithm based on the player’s Steam ID—and can never be changed again. On a blog post, lead developer on the game Garry Newman explained, “Everyone now has a pseudo unique skin tone and face. Just like in real life, you are who you are – you can’t change your skin colour or your face. It’s actually tied to your steamid.”

It’s a risky strategy when you consider that if a white supremacist broheim ends up having to play the game with a black guy as his on-screen surrogate, he might well just stop playing altogether. Of course, the gamble is that people’s desire to enjoy the game trumps their seldom-examined racial biases.

As Kotaku commented, “Multiplayer survival game Rust ... randomly generates players’ physical characteristics for them, imitating the screaming chaos of biology rather than letting players choose. It then ties that selection to players’ Steam ID (as opposed to a single session or server) so they can’t game the system. You work with what you’ve got. Earlier this year, the development team added skin tone to the mix, prompting some controversy and even in-game racism.”

Now this week Rust developers have added a fascinating new quirk—randomized penis length. Just as with skin color, penis length is a randomly generated outcome based on the Steam ID. On reddit an mp4 file was posted demonstrating some of the variance in physical build, both for the avatars’ full bodies and for their penises. It’s one of the funnier things I’ve seen lately—here’s a taste:

Forcing players to deal with their god-given (new) race or penis size is the kind of immersive mindfuck only video games can deliver. It may have been noticed that all of the avatars mentioned so far in Rust are male. The developers recently let it be known that they are “investigating a female model.” To their credit they are pushing for the opposite side of the female body type spectrum as Tomb Raider: “We really don’t want to make the female model unrealistic in the sense of her being aesthetically idealised. In the same way that our male models aren’t perfect specimens of the male body, neither should the female be. No huge boobs nor four-inch waists here.”

Indeed, in our all-too-familiar world in which women are objectified by default, it’s refreshing to see women’s bodies depicted in a realistic way—and to see men get the exact same kind of treatment.

Here’s a depiction of the Rust female bodies in development:

via Kill Screen

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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