follow us in feedly
Destroy millions of dollars’ worth of Ai Weiwei vases in new video game
05.22.2014
06:22 am

Topics:
Art
Games
Science/Tech

Tags:
Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei
 
Many of you reading this will recall the incident of last February in which a gentleman named Maximo Caminero destroyed a very valuable vase by the internationally famous Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei at the Perez Art Museum Miami.

Ai Weiwei and dropped vases were linked well before Caminero committed his act of artistic vandalism, which might in fact be regarded as a form of hommage—indeed, Caminero has said as much. For, nearly two decades earlier, Ai Weiwei did much the same thing in order to elicit a reaction. In his 1995 photographic triptych Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, Ai Weiwei does precisely what the title indicates, getting butterfingers with a 2000-year-old relic. These three massive pictures were hanging just a few feet away from Caminero in the Perez Art Museum Miami, so his claim to be perpetrating hommage seems highly credible.
 
Ai Weiwei
 
You might even say that “Ai Weiwei and dropping valuable vases” constitutes one of the most exciting new artistic genres of our era. According to Chin-Chin Yap, in 2012 “Swiss artist Manuel Salvisberg created a photographic triptych called Fragments of History, which depicts Uli Sigg in an almost identical stance to Ai’s in Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn. Here, Sigg drops the famed Coca-Cola Urn [a work by Ai Weiwei] that has long been one of the central pieces of his collection.”
 
Manuel Salvisberg
 
If I’m understanding this game correctly (and if we follow the logic of a certain conceptual-art exchange purportedly performed by Macaulay Culkin and Ryan Gosling last week), the next step in the sequence would be for Ai Weiwei to destroy an invaluable urn created by Manuel Salvisberg, or possibly by Maximo Caminero.

Be that as it may, a video game designer called Grayson Earle has broken this closed loop by creating an online video game called “Ai Wei Whoops!” in which the player repeatedly drops 2D images of Ai Weiwei vases on the ground, which then go smash. After that the tally of “approximate property damage” increases by some number in the neighborhood of a million dollars (it isn’t always the same number).

Here’s the Caminero video, for those who’d like to see the mayhem all over again:
 

 
via Hyperallergic

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
follow us in feedly
There is a wall of reactive mechanical phalluses because… art
05.21.2014
07:25 am

Topics:
Art
Science/Tech

Tags:
3D printing


 
While the recent death of H. R. Giger left a mechanical phallic hole in all our hearts, we can carry on in the knowledge that artists like Peiqi Su are here to fill it (heyoooooo). Su’s 3D printed kinetic sculpture, The Penis Wall, is her graduate thesis for the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. It’s also a wall of of 81 uniformly 3D printed, motorized dicks. It has visual sensors that can respond to passers-by, or it can be programmed to react to real-time data like the stock market (How’s that for some metaphorical masculinity?). Su’s attraction to the penis as a subject is both intellectual and aesthetic, but she doesn’t deny there’s some humor to her work. Her personal statement:

Why Penis

When talking about the penis with friends, I found there are a thousand “understandings” in a thousand people’s “mind.” Scary, power, ego, evil, elegant, loose-control, funny, crazy… I’m astonished to find so many contradictory feelings about the penis; as well as diverse topics around it such as feminist, man-power, freedom, politics, Wall Street and more. I hope to provide a chance for people to discuss penises and things related by creating an interactive installation.

For myself, I’m also interested in the behavior of penis. It’s soft and hard, up and down, small and large, smooth and rough. It may be the most attractive and intuitive interface.

Below is a short footage of The Penis Wall interacting with with some giggling participants, but there are a lot more videos, plus info on The Penis Wall’s construction, on Su’s Vimeo channel. Check it out, for art’s sake.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
follow us in feedly
China’s plans for a floating city are breathtakingly futuristic, cool, possibly unworkable?
05.20.2014
08:11 am

Topics:
Science/Tech

Tags:
China

AT Design
 
We’ve all seen some of the silly projections from earlier decades for future lifestyles that never panned out, most prominently the space age home of the Jetsons and similar inventions from the postwar era. We know how hard it is to envision with any accuracy genuinely transformative ways of living, and yet the yearning to be authentically impressed by visions of the future powerfully remains, a yearning most concisely captured by the name of the Scottish band We Were Promised Jetpacks.

These images here, of a floating city that may actually happen in the relatively near future, gives me that Jetson-y tingle like few things I’ve seen in a very long time. Whether these plans ever get realized or not, these images are just cool as fuck. I sure hope these self-contained cities come to pass in my lifetime.

The China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) has commissioned AT Design Office to design a floating island with an area of four square miles. The cities make use of technologies that CCCC is already using to build a 31-mile bridge to connect the cities of Hong Kong, Macau, and Zhuhai.

AT Design Office’s proposal involves a series of prefabricated hexagonal modules that “tesselate” to create the infrastructure needed for a city on water, including a transportation network of yachts and submarines and a floating hotel and entertainment complex. Apparently AT Design is waiting for “its newest blueprint” to get “approved,” which sounds like the project may be impressively far along, but who knows, it could just be hype. Here’s a useful summary by the My Modern Met blog:
 

The Floating City will have an above ground layer and an underwater layer. There are two designated areas for greenery and gardens, plus a network of walkways and tunnels that will allow people to traverse the city. AT Design Office is opting for electric cars to reduce pollution and they have ports for submarines to dock. They also have a series of canals and waterways that will allow boats to operate as a means of transportation. The city will have a farm, a hatchery, and a waste disposal center in order to be entirely self-sufficient. AT Design Office has plans for a hotel and an entertainment hub that will appeal to residents and visitors alike. The city’s link to the outside world will be an enormous cruise dock that will facilitate travel and tourism. If this plan becomes a reality, then floating cities may very well be the wave of the future.

 
The next two images demonstrate the modularity of the city’s sections as well as the multiple systems that the deceptively simple components would encompass:
 
AT Design
 
AT Design
 
Part of the rationale for the city is green thinking; the city is conceived as “a possible eco-friendly city expansion alternative to continuing on land. With the amount of pollution, deforestation, and other detrimental environmental impacts that are a part of our current city development system, the Floating City was created as an attempt to minimize our carbon footprint for a sustainable future.”

Looking at the images, it’s difficult to imagine too many people actually choosing to live in this city; the pictures of the people living in the idyllic underwater environment particularly smack of a world that just can never be, but again: who knows? Is there any way this thing could survive a hurricane? Are sheep ever actually going to live on something like this? 
 
AT Design
 
AT Design
 
AT Design
 
AT Design
 
AT Design
 
AT Design
 
AT Design
 
AT Design
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Viagra induces fractal growth in mushrooms
05.14.2014
08:09 am

Topics:
Drugs
Environment
Science/Tech

Tags:
mushrooms
Viagra

boletus.jpg
Photo of Boletus edulis by Jean-Pol GRANDMONT
 
The Boletaceae family of mushrooms “display a phallus-like morphology formed by a stalk a cap,” or a shaft and a bell-end to you and me. When these mushrooms were given the pharmacological compound “Sildenafil,” used for the treatment of male erectile dysfunction as Viagra, scientific researcher Gabriele Losa discovered that the synthetic drug increased fractal growth.

Boletus edulis, a Basidiomycete of the Boletaceae family, can be found gathered around beechwood trees (Fagus) in Ticino, an Italian district in the southern part of Switzerland. In his studies, Losa noted some similarities in the “phallus-like morphology” of the mushrooms may be influenced by “various environmental agents, including growth factors and complex molecules such as polyphenols and other antioxidants.”

Some analogies had also been noted between “Sildenafil” (Viagra) and the “chemical structure of natural polyphenols, flavonoids and many other cyclic compounds as rosamarinic acid abundant in macro-fungi, which exhibited an antioxidant free-radical scavenging activity.” Such changes prompted an investigation into the possible growth effects on Boletus type mushrooms by Sildenafil. In other words, researchers gave a selection of mushrooms Viagra, and some others a placebo, to see if the drug would affect their growth.

The results showed the mushrooms given Sildenafil had “a significant growth increase as expressed by numerical desnity [#B/m2], which ranged from 0.15 at time zero to 0.5 at day 14 of treatment, whilst it remained stable around 0.2 without significant changes in the control domain.”

Knowing the role of sildenafil on certain parts of the male human body, one can easily hypothesize an analogous effect on other, rather different biological targets such as Boletus mushrooms. According to such a hypothesis, in these mushrooms, a strengthened lymph drawing and water afflux suitable to permeate the roughage tissue, thus favoring both firmness of stalk and smoothness of cap. If so, then the effect induced in mushrooms might mimic the polymorphous effect observed in human males.

But how to explain the observed diverging behavior? On the one hand, the numerical density [#B/m2] increased by 35%, proving a significant growth of Boletus after fourteen days of treatment. On the other hand, the height dimensions of specimens treated with Sildenafil were found smaller than those of control area, with data interval ranging between 6.5-8.1 cm and 7.4-9.6 cm respectively.

Hence in this experimental system the growth rate was inversely related to Boletus height. The fractal dimension values recorded on the cap and stalk border outlines of Boletus mushrooms deserved a critical comparison with data recovered in the living realm; in the former fractal dimension values ranged between 1.10 and 1.23 rather close to fractal dimension values recorded on contour profiles of most biological structures and cell tissues, notably liver cells, healthy lymphoid and white blood cells, leukemic circulating cells, oocytes, immature astrocytes and neuronal cells, all characterized by a similar degree of irregularity (Losa & Nonnenmacher 1996). Unfortunately, fractal dimension data on mushrooms have never been calculated (or at least have not been reported in the scientific literature).

To sum up: The numerical density (#B/m2) of the mushroom was increasing with time, i.e. from 0.15/m2 up to 0.5/ m2 at day 14 of treatment, while the fractal density reduced from 1.23 to 1.11. Thus, there was a significant reduction of border profile complexity and irregularity in Boletus mushrooms that were treated with Sildenifil, a drug that provokes penile erections in human males.

And the conclusion?

Our investigation highlighted the main fractal principle which rests on the unlimited iteration of a unit fragment as a chief generator, either determined or unknown, until completion of the whole structure. The same principle serves to explain the fractality of growth mechanisms, the irregularity of morphological structures and the complex dynamics of living processes which occur at different spatial and temporal scales in connection with the principle of the recursive genome function (Pellionisz 2008), all the phenomena implicated in growth and maintenance of the fascinating and mysterious kingdom of mushrooms.

Fascinating indeed, and you can read the complete paper here, and below, this is what mushrooms on Viagra look like. None too appetizing…
 
viagramushrooms.jpg
 
H/T Nerdcore, via Improbable Research
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Danish gov’t creates perfect Minecraft Denmark; hooligans promptly blow it up, plant American flags
05.09.2014
09:37 am

Topics:
Amusing
Games
Science/Tech

Tags:
Denmark
Minecraft

Mincraft Denmark
 
I love everything about this story. I love what the Danish government did, in creating a perfect 1:1 Minecraft simulation of the entire country of Denmark, and I love what the users did, which is, by sheer inventiveness and determination, circumvent the Danish government’s well thought out measures to prevent people from messing with it. Well, maybe I don’t love the jingoistic instinct of the American gamer… Well, what are you gonna do?

About a week ago the Danish government made the meticulous simulacrum available to users. You can download sections of the Denmark map here. The simulation involved the use of “trillions” of Minecraft bricks, and although there have been similar real-life Minecraft simulations before, from all appearances this is one of the most ambitious and detailed areas of this sort yet achieved.

The Danish Geodata Agency, the creators of the simulation, intelligently disabled the use of dynamite so that users could enjoy the pixelated Scandinavian land unmolested. But the innate human need to fuck shit up prevailed. You see, the Danish Geodata Agency had neglected to disable the “minecart with dynamite” item. Oops. Users figured this out, blew up parts of a number of Danish towns, and put American flags over the main train station of Copenhagen (pictured above). In this reddit thread about the incident (in Danish), a Swedish user wrote in, “As a Swede, I’m happy to see this…..” (As usual, the Swedes and the Danes always get along under all circumstances…..)

Initially, the Danish government announced that it would reboot the map with add new restrictions to prevent the possibility of virtual vandalism. However, further investigation revealed that “only MINOR areas” of the map were destroyed, so they would leave the simulation intact. The simulation has been quite popular, having been downloaded 200,000 times already, so all in all it’s PR coup for the pleasant European nation that gave the world LEGO and Lars von Trier.

Here’s a little tour of the Minecraft Denmark (pre-vandalism) so you can see what it’s like.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Fun with phrenology: Does your Roman nose have you grasping for the almighty dollar?
05.09.2014
08:03 am

Topics:
Amusing
Science/Tech

Tags:
phrenology


 
If you can get around the fact that it’s an insidious racist pseudoscience, phrenology is actually kind of a hoot. These illustrations from the 1902 book Vaught’s Practical Character Reader assure you that you can ascertain a person’s character and temperament from the shape of their head and facial features. Since physiognomy certainly has ethnic tendencies, the danger there is pretty outright (see the money-grubbing man with the big nose above?), but it’s the head-shape thing that really kills me. You’re going to try and discern a personality from a lumpy skull? Really? Like doesn’t a flat head just mean that someone was left on their back a lot in the crib? What if someone got dropped or hit in the head with a golf ball?

Nevertheless, Vaught was confident in his work.

From the preface:

The purpose of this book is to acquaint all with the elements of human nature and enable them to read these elements in all men, women and children in all countries. At least fifty thousand careful examinations have been made to prove the truthfulness of the nature and location of these elements. More than a million observations have been made to confirm the examinations. Therefore, it is given the world to be depended upon. Taken in its entirety it is absolutely reliable. Its facts can be completely demonstrated by all who will take the unprejudiced pains to do so. It is ready for use. It is practical. Use it.

A million observations, you say? Mr. Vaught, I’m beginning to question the scientific validity of your methodology!
 

 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
follow us in feedly
1967 struggles to describe the household of the 21st century
04.29.2014
08:01 am

Topics:
Science/Tech
Television

Tags:
the future
Walter Cronkite


 
In 1967 CBS produced a half-hour program on the household of the 21st century that, from our vantage point, cannot fail to be fascinating. The passage of time inevitably makes fools of sages; it also confers on the people of the present tense a wholly unearned feeling of cocksure confidence, all because “we” know things that “they” cannot possibly know. So it’s important not to let that arrogance get the better of us.

Having said that, they didn’t do such a great job in predicting what we’d be doing in 2001, much less 2014. But they did nail a couple things almost exactly.
 
Cronkite
 
The show is obsessed with the activities of the nuclear family and so very worried about growing trends of urbanization. According to the program, by the year 2001, fully 90% of the world’s people will be living in urban environments. In the United States at least, the year 1967 was approximately the start of a massive wave of suburbanization—a nit-picker might claim that such people are living in urban systems, but either way modular systems of construction such as Israeli–Canadian architect Moshe Safdie’s Habitat 67, which debuted at the Montreal Expo in 1967, are not relevant to the average suburbanite. Meanwhile, Greek urban planner Constantinos Doxiadis suggests the miniaturized micro-environments of Japanese culture as a model for the West. The average suburban tract housing gets somewhat trashed, but to my perception that is still the main model for non-urban American life, whereas in cities, the good old apartment building still reigns supreme.

It’s once we get into the regular suburban home that things get more interesting. All of us have just lived through a remarkable technological revolution that was really impossible to foresee in 1967—its main artifacts are the personal computer, the smartphone, and the Internet generally. Host Walter Cronkite’s future home is stubbornly analog, as it must be, but he and his team still get a few major things right. Most intriguingly, Cronkite takes us through a futuristic den, where the “man” will do much of his office work: “Now this is where a man might spend most of his time in the home of the 21st century. This equipment here will allow him to carry on normal business activities without ever going to an office away from home. ... In the 21st century it may be that no home will be complete without a computerized communications console.” (That’s what the man does; the woman has to be content with a very dreary-looking printout of a recipe. Her liberation would require revolutions that were less technological in nature.)
 
Cronkite
 
This is of course, uncannily correct—many people (including myself) have forsaken office life and accomplish most of their work tasks at home. Whether or not most of those people work for companies is another question (I don’t).

Their office has three bulky screens and a paucity of keyboards, as well as a massive telex-style device that functions a bit like a ticker tape, furnishing a display of news articles that can be printed out. What the producers of the show couldn’t see is that most of the devices would get smaller, and that most of the devices would collapse into a single device connected to the world at large. Still, even if it’s a little rough around the edges, they definitely crept up to probably the single most transformative changes of the last 50 years, our ability to accomplish tasks using devices with TV screens.

Another thing they totally nail is the advent of the microwave oven, whose ubiquity would more or less become a reality in the 1980s—largely as they describe it. However, their sense of the kitchen of the future is a little bit too pointlessly automated; for example, they seem to think that we’d be likely (with the press of a button) to have our plateware generated for each meal, after which it would be cleaned and the plastic remolded for the next repast. The idea of pushing a button and summoning brand-new dishes was a little too powerful for them, apparently. 
 

Cronkite and the living room console, with which he has called up a rousing football game on the TV.
 
Cronkite sensibly spends a little time with a British robotics expert, but while robots are an indisputably important feature of modern life, their presence in the average household starts and ends, more or less, with the Roomba. Those changes may yet happen, but at the same time our resistance to the household being taken over by an army of automatons may be stronger than they realized in 1967.

Their living room features a TV set that is roughly the size of a garage door—hey, science, when are we getting that, huh? The living room’s main feature is a console about the size of an average canoe where we can control the music volume, the lighting, and so forth. Again, it was difficult for them to see that we might not want so much real estate and complexity dedicated to such a simple array of tasks. In the case of that woman and her recipe, the real win for the person charged with cooking meals in 2014 isn’t the ability to print out a recipe, it’s the wealth of crowd-sourced information at our disposal. If I want a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich, within seconds I can access thousands of variations on the recipe, many of them validated in a crucible of upvotes and downvotes with helpful user comments

In the end, they did an OK job, while woefully underestimating the varying uses that different family members might have for the new technology. Beyond that, their preference for larger automated systems over smaller, modular systems seems off the mark. (Maybe they should have let the Habitat 67 guy modularize the in-house technology.) And beyond that, the pervasive role of the corporations who would sell us these great devices is also hardly mentioned. Maybe that was just assumed?
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
follow us in feedly
100 ridiculous new emojis
04.29.2014
07:07 am

Topics:
Amusing
Science/Tech

Tags:
emoji
emojis

emoji
 
I might be becoming a fuddy-duddy, but 6 times out of 10 when I encounter something involving emojis, my reaction is, more or less, “Buh?” I get why we need cute, expressive emoticons; I don’t understand what half of emojis mean, or why it’s amusing to see a retelling of Breaking Bad in emojis that redefines the concept of “hit or miss.”

So that’s why I was so particularly tickled to see writer, comedian, and Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater regular Avery Monsen’s new Vine, in which he presents “100 new emojis.” From where I sit, these preposterous invented emojis are the satirical kick in the pants emojis have been waiting for all along. Enjoy!
 
emoji
 
emoji
 
emoji
 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Clackity clack: Typewriter art throughout the 20th century
04.24.2014
01:33 pm

Topics:
Art
Science/Tech

Tags:
typewriters
typewriter art

Typewriter art
Italic Ode, Dom Sylvester Houédard (U.K., 1971)
 
In 2014, ASCII art has been a familiar form of pictorial art for at least two decades, whereas typewriters are hardly ever used un-ironically, they have become the vintage terrrain of hipster collectors. But it was not always so. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, at least to judge from Alan Riddell’s fascinating 1975 collection Typewriter Art (available for free download at monoskop.org). In this well-organized and respectful volume, you find out that artists have been tinkering with typewriters in a serious way at least as far back as the 1920s (at least that’s where Riddell starts his narrative). We’ve all seen dada experiments with typography; it was a Bauhaus domain of playful experimentation as well.

Riddell includes a terrific 1878 quotation from Mark Twain, describing his recent acquisition of a “new-fangled writing machine” that had been perfected by Christopher Latham Sholes and put on the market in 1874: “It will print faster than I can write. One may lean back in his chair and work it. It piles an awful stack of words on one page. It don’t muss things or scatter ink blots around. Of course it saves paper.” How many of you out there are “leaning back” while piling “awful stacks” of pixelated words on your screen? Actually, I am doing that right now (leaning back, I mean).

Riddell’s book includes selections from the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Japan, India, Turkey, and many others. The artworks span the 1920s to the 1970s, but in truth an awful lot of them are concentrated in the 1968-1972 period—it appears to have been something of a vogue, sharing at least a little DNA with, say, the Fluxus movement.

I’ll say this: ASCII art this ain’t. (The book does include some portraits of Churchill and Gandhi and a few other personages that are quite similar to ASCII art.) I prefer this stuff, the fact of it having been created by an inky mechanical contraption gives it more charm.

 
Typewriter art
Typestract, Dom Sylvester Houédard (U.K., 1972)
 
Typewriter art
Homage to John Cage, Bengt Emil Johnson (Sweden, 1962)
 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Boom: Watch where 26 asteroids hit Earth
04.24.2014
07:41 am

Topics:
Science/Tech

Tags:
asteroids

boom1111.jpg
 
If ever you have wondered how often Earth is hit by an asteroid powerful enough to be measured like a nuclear blast, well, here’s your answer.

Most of the time, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Detection Network monitors covert nuclear weapons testing, but when not focused on keeping an eye on superpowers or rogue states firing a sneaky nuclear weapon, CTBT also detects asteroids crashing into Earth.

Since 2000, CTBT has detected 26 asteroids entering Earth’s atmosphere and exploding with the equivalent of one kilotonne of TNT. The largest asteroid strike between 2000 and today was the meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk in February 2013.

This video compilation shows all 26 strikes between 2000-2014 and it has been released by the B612 Foundation as a call to action on asteroid monitoring. B612 is a private foundation dedicated to the protection of Earth from possible asteroid strike, and the foundation is currently building the first privately funded space telescope to keep a watch out for asteroids. Data published last year estimated that objects up to 33-feet in width or larger that could potentially hit Earth are between three and ten-times more common than previously thought.
 

 
Via New Scientist

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Page 2 of 53  < 1 2 3 4 >  Last ›