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
The lamp that spies on you and tweets your conversation
04.24.2014
07:11 am

Topics:
Science/Tech
Stupid or Evil?

Tags:
Conversnitch

gubecived.jpg
 
Are we now so blasé with our privacy that we think it cool to have a lamp that eavesdrops on our conversations and Tweets random bon mots to the public? This is the question artists Brian House and Kyle McDonald claim they are asking with their listening device Conversnitch, which covertly records conversations and then posts extracts online.

Conversnitch uses a Raspberry Pi mini computer, a microphone, an LED, and a plastic flower pot to spy on us. The bugging device can fit into any standard bulb socket, and transmit any conversation taking place nearby directly to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing service, where they are transcribed and interesting snippets extracted, which are then posted onto the Conversnitch Twitter feed.

Here’s how House & McDonald describe their product:

Conversnitch is a small device that automatically tweets overheard conversations, bridging the gap between (presumed) private physical space and public space online.

Information moves between spaces that might be physical or virtual, free or proprietary, illegal or playful, spoken or transcribed.

Yep, we all know our governments can and do listen into our private conversations, store our email and keep tabs on us, and House & McDonald probably think they are doing something quite radical to make us examine all of this invasion of privacy. Personally, I think these guys have created a gimmick to draw attention to themselves, and three cheers for that. But more troublingly, they are probably just making it slightly more acceptable for our privacy to be invaded whether by governments, businesses, Google, Facebook or even your local neighborhood hipster, and that’s not edgy. Conversnitch is not making governments more accountable or businesses more ethical, it’s making the public more vulnerable, and ultimately more oppressed.
 

 
Via Slate

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
follow us in feedly
‘New’ Warhol works discovered on old Amiga floppy disks
04.24.2014
07:00 am

Topics:
Art
Science/Tech

Tags:
Andy Warhol

Andy2
 
Last year we posted about Andy Warhol’s interest in the Amiga computing platform, including his participation in an Amiga product launch event in 1985, at which a pixelated image ostensibly created by Warhol of Debbie Harry was shown. At the event Warhol, in a desultory manner, executed the fill function a few times; it’s unclear to what extent that work qualifies as a Warhol original—and yet, lots of Warhol artworks were executed by underlings, so really what’s the diff? In that post we also presented a remarkable cover story/interview on Warhol that appeared in Amiga World magazine early the next year.

Yesterday the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University issued a press release with the title “Previously Unknown Warhol Works Discovered on Floppy Disks from 1985” and the subtitle “Collaborative Team Rescues Early Digital Art through ‘Forensic Retrocomputing.’” The substance of the press release is that “a multi-institutional team of new-media artists, computer experts, and museum professionals have discovered a dozen previously unknown experiments by Andy Warhol ... on aging floppy disks from 1985.” The discovery was in part a result of efforts by “post-conceptual” artist Cory Arcangel:
 

The impetus for the investigation came when Arcangel, a self-described “Warhol fanatic and lifelong computer nerd,” learned about Warhol’s Amiga experiments from the YouTube video of the 1985 Commodore Amiga product launch [the product launch referenced above]. Acting on a hunch, and with the support of CMOA curator Tina Kukielski, Arcangel approached the AWM in December 2011 regarding the possibility of restoring the Amiga hardware in the museum’s possession, and cataloging any files on its associated diskettes.

-snip-

It was not known in advance whether any of Warhol’s imagery existed on the floppy disks—nearly all of which were system and application diskettes onto which, the team later discovered, Warhol had saved his own data. Reviewing the disks’ directory listings, the team’s initial excitement on seeing promising filenames like “campbells.pic” and “marilyn1.pic” quickly turned to dismay, when it emerged that the files were stored in a completely unknown file format, unrecognized by any utility. Soon afterwards, however, the Club’s forensics experts had reverse-engineered the unfamiliar format, unveiling 28 never-before-seen digital images that were judged to be in Warhol’s style by the AWM’s experts. At least eleven of these images featured Warhol’s signature.

The images depict some of Warhol’s best-known subjects—Campbell’s® soup cans, Botticelli’s Venus, and self-portraiture, for example—articulated through uniquely digital processes such as pattern flood fills, palletized color, and copy-paste collage. “What’s amazing is that by looking at these images, we can see how quickly Warhol seemed to intuit the essence of what it meant to express oneself, in what then was a brand-new medium: the digital,” says Arcangel.

 
On Saturday, May 10, at Carnegie Library Lecture Hall in Pittsburgh, a short film called “Trapped: Andy Warhol’s Amiga Experiments” documenting the team’s efforts will be shown.

The press release did not divulge information as to when the other 9 or 25 (depending on what figure you go by) digital artworks will be made public. At the top of this page is one of the images released to the public, called Andy2; the other two, Campbell’s and Venus, are below, as well as a picture of Warhol’s Amiga setup.

I’m not an art historian or art critic, but I will say this. I like Campbell’s the best of the three. It engages the most signature work of Warhol’s career, and it’s nice to look at. To call Venus a fully fledged work of art may be a stretch….. it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility that Venus was hardly much more than a trial effort to see if he could master the cut and paste function. I’m not saying it was that, I’m saying it could be that. Given the minimal manipulations involved and the cheeky (and let’s not forget, not terribly Warholian) subject matter, to argue for its status as a mature Warhol work might well be to indulge in some kind of aesthetic-categorization hair-splitting…. It’s not like art critics have ever, ever argued that a ridiculous or trifling work of art merited major world-historical status…... Maybe not, maybe I’m being narrow: I’ll leave it for others to decide.
 
Campbell's
 
Venus
 
Amiga equipment
 
Here’s a video of Warhol and Debbie Harry at that Amiga product launch in July 1985:
 

 
via Internet Magic

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Man overboard: Experience the terror of drowning at sea
04.23.2014
11:04 am

Topics:
Science/Tech

Tags:
Sortie en Mer

aestatsol11.jpg
 
If you have ever wondered what it’s like to fall overboard at sea and watch your crew mates glide off in the boat towards the horizon, then you may be interested in the interactive site Sortie en Mer, which highlights the importance of wearing a life-jacket when out on the water.

I have experienced being cast overboard both in open water and on a river. Thankfully, I was wearing a life-jacket on each occasion, as without it I could not have survived.

However, I must admit, I did find being capsized in a river far more fun than falling overboard at sea—this even after I was once carried by the river’s current through white water rapids and deposited approximately two miles downstream. I was lucky, but still, I thought of the experience as being on a fluid, unrestrained rollercoaster.

Falling overboard at sea was no fun. The water was freezing cold and all I could see was the sky, the low horizon and the waves that kept hitting me in the face. I concentrated on my breathing, in between mouthfuls of water, and tried to figure out where the boat had gone. Again, I was lucky, it was turning around and I was soon back on board.

Sortie en Mer offers a first person, point-of-view experience in which you venture out on a boat with friends, onto seemingly beautiful calm seas, before being knocked overboard. Then the terror begins as you try to keep yourself afloat by scrolling upwards, before the cold, exhaustion and the unrelenting pull of the current eventually takes you under. It’s an effective interactive experience designed by agency CLM BBDO for yachtwear manufacturer Guy Cotten which reinforces the importance of always wearing a life-jacket when out on water.

Now experience it for yourself from the safety of your seat.
 

 
Via The Daily Dot

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Artists’ brains are ‘structurally different’ new study claims
04.17.2014
09:11 am

Topics:
Art
Science/Tech

Tags:
brain
artists

000niarb.jpg
 
A study has revealed that artists’ brains are ‘structurally different’ from the rest of us. The small study, published in the journal NeuroImage, detailed the results of brain scans taken from 21 art students and 23 non-artists. The scans used a voxel-based morphometry to reveal that artists have more neural matter in the parts of their brain relating to visual imagery and fine motor control.

Lead author of the study, Rebecca Chamberlain from KU Leuven, Belgium, told BBC News that she was interested in finding out how artists saw the world differently.

“The people who are better at drawing really seem to have more developed structures in regions of the brain that control for fine motor performance and what we call procedural memory,” she explained.

The brain scans were accompanied by different drawing tasks, which revealed those who performed best at the tests had more grey and white matter in the motor areas of the brain. Grey matter is mainly composed of nerve cells, while white matter is responsible for communication between the grey matter regions. However, it is not clear what the increase in neural matter means, other than artists have enhanced processing in these areas due the functions involved in drawing and painting, Dr Chamberlain added:

“It falls into line with evidence that focus of expertise really does change the brain. The brain is incredibly flexible in response to training and there are huge individual differences that we are only beginning to tap into.”

One of the study’s other authors, Chris McManus from University College London, said it was difficult to know what aspect of artistic talent is innate and how much is learnt:

“We would need to do further studies where we look at teenagers and see how they develop in their drawing as they grow older - but I think [this study] has given us a handle on how we could begin to look at this.”

One scientist, not involved with the study, Ellen Winner of Boston College told BBC News that the study “put to rest the facile claims that artists use ‘the right side of their brain’ given that increased grey and white matter were found in the art group in both left and right structures of the brain”.

“Only a prospective study could get at the question of innate structural brain differences that predispose people to become visual artists, and this kind of study has not been done as it would be very difficult and very expensive to carry out.”

 
Via BBC News

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
follow us in feedly
The researchers who discovered that bee stings on the penis are painful—by testing on themselves

Schmidt pain index
 
It’s remarkable the things people will go through in the name of science. In the case of Justin O. Schmidt, the man who developed the “Schmidt pain index,” our gratitude is even more difficult to measure. Schmidt, who published his landmark paper “Hemolytic Activities of Stinging Insect Venoms” in 1983, wanted to know which insect stings are the most painful, and in order to do so, he subjected himself to the pricks of countless creepy crawlies—including on his prick.

Reading his descriptions of the varying severity of insect stings, which are rated on a scale from 0 to 4, is quite a bit like reading the most ghastly wine reviews ever. Check it out:
 

1.0 Sweat bee: Light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.
1.2 Fire ant: Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet & reaching for the light switch.
1.8 Bullhorn acacia ant: A rare, piercing, elevated sort of pain. Someone has fired a staple into your cheek.
2.0 Bald-faced hornet: Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.
2.0 Yellowjacket: Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine WC Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.
2.x Honey bee and European hornet.
3.0 Red harvester ant: Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.
3.0 Paper wasp: Caustic & burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of Hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.
4.0 Pepsis wasp: Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath (if you get stung by one you might as well lie down and scream).
4.0+ Bullet ant: Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch nail in your heel.

 
The pepsis wasp, which clocks in at a brain-shattering 4.0 above, is also called the tarantula hawk, for reasons you can best imagine. Here’s a picture of one: if you see it, run quickly in the opposite direction:
 
Pepsis wasp
 
The story of Schmidt is slightly more mundane than the initial impression. As The Straight Dope put it in 2012, “Having spent half an hour on the phone with entomologist Justin O. Schmidt of the Southwestern Biological Institute in Tucson, Arizona, I can confidently report he didn’t volunteer to be stung by every goddamn awful thing in existence. It just sorta happened.” As an entomologist who spends a great deal of time in the field in lush places like Costa Rica, it’s something that happens all too infrequently, whether he wants it to or not. According to Schmidt, the precise valuations listed above are not the product of exacting scientific inquiry and do not appear in his formal papers; rather, they were “wheedled out of him by an editor at Outside magazine, who was trying to goose up a story for that publication in 1996.” (Yeah, yeah, yeah. For fuck’s sake, that just sounds like good editing to me.)

The Straight Dope continues: “One also mustn’t take seriously the wine-review-style descriptions accompanying the sting ratings. For example, the sting of a southern paper wasp is said to be “caustic and burning, with a distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.” Such remarks lack empirical basis, Schmidt cheerfully concedes, although if there’s anyone equipped to expound on the fine points of pain, a guy who’s been stung by 150 different species in his lifetime is probably it.”

Still, while we’re at it, it might surprise you to learn that the penis is not the part of the body most sensitive to pain, according to the researches of a man named Michael L. Smith. In his paper “Honey Bee Sting Pain Index by Body Location,” published this year in PeerJ, it’s up there but not in the top slot.
 

The Schmidt Sting Pain Index rates the painfulness of 78 Hymenoptera species, using the honey bee as a reference point. However, the question of how sting painfulness varies depending on body location remains unanswered. This study rated the painfulness of honey bee stings over 25 body locations in one subject (the author). Pain was rated on a 1–10 scale, relative to an internal standard, the forearm. In the single subject, pain ratings were consistent over three repetitions. Sting location was a significant predictor of the pain rating in a linear model. ... The three least painful locations were the skull, middle toe tip, and upper arm (all scoring a 2.3). The three most painful locations were the nostril, upper lip, and penis shaft (9.0, 8.7, and 7.3, respectively). This study provides an index of how the painfulness of a honey bee sting varies depending on body location.

 
Fellas, if you’re out in the jungle and you find yourself confronting a swarm of pepsis wasps, put on a hockey mask and expose your penis (or possibly your skull—that’s probably a better idea).
 
Here’s the pioneering Dr. Schmidt discussing instinct stings and pain management:
 

 
via Lost at E Minor

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Glow-in-the-dark roads: Great idea or a bad trip?
04.14.2014
10:40 am

Topics:
Science/Tech

Tags:
Daan Roosegaarde

0101wolginehtkradholl.jpg
 
The first glow-in-the-dark highway was unveiled today in Holland. The 1600-feet stretch of road has been coated with a “photo-luminising” powder that uses sunlight to power-up during daytime and then releases a greenish glow at nighttime. One day’s sunlight can supply up to eight hours of glow.

This kind of glow-in-the-dark highway is being touted as the future for all roads and it is claimed it will eventually do away with the need for street lamps.

The idea was developed by interactive artist Daan Roosegaarde and Dutch civil engineering group Heijmans, and today the technology was being tried out before being officially launched later this month. The first"glowing lines” are being tested on a stretch of highway on the N329 in Oss, just over 60 miles south of Amsterdam. In an interview, last year, with the BBC Mr. Roosegaarde said:

“The government is shutting down streetlights at night to save money, energy is becoming much more important than we could have imagined 50 years ago. This road is about safety and envisaging a more self-sustainable and more interactive world.”

Originally there had been plans to include weather symbols, which were to be made from a temperature sensitive paint, but at present, this technology has not been included in the initial test run in Oss. The present test will also take into account possible damage caused by skid marks, and the issues caused during winter months when there are fewer hours of daylight. However, if the pilot scheme proves successful, it is believed this new glow-in-the-dark technology will be rolled out nationally across Holland.

Certainly it will make taking a trip in Holland… trippier.

Below, the original promo for glow-in-the-dark highways by Daan Roosegaarde and Heijmans.
 

 
Via BBC News

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
follow us in feedly
‘Cry Baby: The Pedal That Rocks The World’


 
The wah-wah guitar effect pedal makes a “cry baby” sound by filtering the electronic frequencies up and down controlled by the players foot. The first one was put on the market in 1967 by Warwick Electronics Inc./Thomas Organ Company, the somewhat accidental creation of Brad Plunkett, a junior electronics engineer at the company. Plunkett’s prototype used a volume pedal from a Vox Continental Organ and a transistorized mid-range booster, but his original goal had only been to switch from a finicky tube to a much cheaper, easier to use piece of solid state circuitry. (Chet Atkins had designed a somewhat similar device in the late 1950s, which you can hear on his “Hot Toddy” and “Slinkey” singles)

Almost immediately the Cry Baby wah-wah pedal was adopted by the most famous guitar slingers in rock. One of the first was Eric Clapton, who used the effect to great effect in “Tales of Brave Ulysses.” Frank Zappa was a huge fan of the effect and is said to have introduced Jimi Hendrix to the Cry Baby who used it on “Burning of the Midnight Lamp” and quite a bit after that. One of the most famous uses of the wah-wah pedal’s “wacka-wacka” effect is heard on Isaac Hayes’ “Theme from Shaft.”

In Joey Tosi and Max Baloian’s documentary Cry Baby: The Pedal That Rocks The World, the filmmakers explore the influence of the wah-wah pedal on popular music, talking to inventor Brad Plunkett, longtime Rolling Stone contributor Ben Fong-Torres, Eddie Van Halen, Slash, Buddy Guy, Art Thompson, Hendrix engineer Eddie Kramer, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, Dweezil Zappa and Jim Dunlop, a man whose name is synonymous with the production of musical effects devices.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Attention Doctor Who fans: Watch ‘The Delian Mode’ terrific short documentary on Delia Derbyshire
04.09.2014
08:58 am

Topics:
Feminism
Music
Science/Tech

Tags:
Doctor Who
Delia Derbyshire


 
Canadian director Kara Blake‘s award-winning short documentary The Delian Mode is an audio-visual love letter to pioneering electronic composer Delia Derbyshire, best known for her spooky rendering of Ron Grainer’s Doctor Who theme music for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in 1963. (Legend has it that when Grainer heard what she’d done—creating each quavering, alien-sounding note by speeding up or slowing down analog tape recordings of a single plucked string, then cutting and splicing it—with rulers, razor and cellophane tape—before embellishing the results with the sound of waveform oscillators and white noise, he asked “Did I write that?” She answered “Most of it.”). It’s an impressive piece of filmmaking, dreamlike, lyrical and especially pleasing to the eye—and ear—for a documentary. Blake wouldn’t have had a lot to work with (I’ve only ever seen one short film clip of Derbyshire) but does a wonderful job of presenting a well-rounded account of Delia Derbyshire’s work and of her influence on electronic dance music.

You simply cannot watch this marvelous film without concluding that Delia Derbyshire was a creative and technical genius, producing complex music that seemed to come directly from another dimension, yet was wholly constructed via analog means (such as a tape loop that ran all the way down a hallway or slowing down the sound of banging on a metal lampshade.)

The Delian Mode is inspiring, it’s a bit sad (depression and alcoholism plagued Derbyshire’s life) but it’s a story that needed to be told and told with respect. That she was a self-created woman working in what was then largely a man’s space makes her achievements seem all the more remarkable and and especially cool. (At one point we hear audio of Derbyshire describing herself as being a “post-feminist” before the concept of feminism even existed, although there were other women veterans of the BBC Radiophonic Laboratory, notably Daphne Oram, creator of “Oramics,” which controlled sound with celluloid plates, and Maddalena Fagandini.)

Blake interviews Derbyshire’s colleagues at the BBC Radio Workshop, Adrian Utley of Portishead, Ann Shenton of Add N to (X) and Sonic Boom aka Peter Kember of Spacemen 3, Spectrum and E.A.R., who brought Derbyshire into his own work towards the end of her life on the E.A.R. albums Vibrations (2000) and Continuum (2001).

After Derbyshire’s death, 267 reel-to-reel tapes and a box of a thousand pages of music and notes were found in her attic. Her life and work will be celebrated this Saturday April 12th on Delia Derbyshire Day at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester.
 

 
More Delia Derbyshire after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Page 3 of 54  < 1 2 3 4 5 >  Last ›