Michael Hansmeyer is an architect and programmer who explores the use of algorithms and computation to generate architectural form, and he has created these incredible cardboard sculptures using algorithms. As he explains on his website:
In recent years, algorithms in architecture have been able to transcend their role as frameworks of formalization and abstraction. This has been made possible in a large part by the integration of scripting languages into CAD programs. Algorithms’ output can now be directly visualized, and through digital fabrication methods this output can be built.
This opens up a new role for algorithms as a design tool. As such, they provide the benefits of depth and breadth. On the one hand, their computational power can address processes with a scale and complexity that precludes a manual approach. On the other hand, algorithms can generate endless permutations of a scheme. A slight tweaking of either the input or the process leads to an instant adaptation of output. When combined with an evaluative function, they can be used to recursively optimize output on both a functional and aesthetic level.
...Hansmeyer started with a computer model of a simple Greek column and ran it through a subdivision algorithm which repeatedly splits the surface, creating more detail with each iteration.
The result is a 3D model with between 8 and 16 million faces, but 3D printers can only handle half a million, so Hansmeyer needed an alternative solution to transform his creations from virtual to physical reality. He sliced the column into 2700 pieces and used a laser cutter to create each slice from 1mm-thick cardboard, then reconstructed the column by layering the slices together with a solid wooden core. The whole process only cost $1500 and took about 15 hours, with three laser cutters working in parallel.
Inspired by the book, Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier by Suelette Dreyfus, In the Realm of the Hackers focuses on two Melbourne teenage hackers known as Electron and Phoenix, who in 1989, hacked into some of the most secure computer networks in the world, including the US Naval Research Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (a government lab charged with the security of the US nuclear stockpile), and NASA.
In the late 1980s, Melbourne was the hub of the computer underground in Australia, if not the world. The hackers who formed the underground were not disgruntled computer professionals or gangs of organised criminals. They were disaffected teenagers who used their basic home computers to explore the embryonic Internet from inside their locked, suburban bedrooms. From this shadowy world emerged two elite hackers known as Electron and Phoenix, who formed part of an alliance called The Realm.
Together, Electron and Phoenix stole a restricted computer security list and used it to break into some of the world’s most classified and supposedly secure computer systems. So fast and widespread was the attack, people assumed it was an automated program, until Phoenix called The New York Times to brag. Soon the US Secret Service and the FBI were on their trail and, within months, the Australian Federal Police had raided their homes.
Using a combination of interviews and dramatic reconstructions, In the Realm of the Hackers charts Electron’s journey from his initial innocent explorations to his ultimate obsession. It vividly recreates the climate of the 1980s, before there was public access to the Internet.
In the Realm of the Hackers takes us headlong into the clandestine, risky but intoxicating world of the computer underground to uncover not only how the hackers did it but why.
In an interview 2003, the film’s writer and director, Kevin Anderson explained the background to his film:
I initially became aware of the story of the Melbourne computer underground after reading Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier by Melbourne-based author and journalist Suelette Dreyfus.
During my three-year involvement with the project, I had to immerse myself in the computer underground and acquaint myself with terms and concepts I was completely unfamiliar with. Suelette was to become my main conduit to various members of the underground, both past and present.
The story represented a number of “firsts”- the new crime called computer hacking, the first computer crime case to be prosecuted in Australia, the introduction of federal computer crime laws, the establishment of a computer crime unit within the Australian Federal Police, and the first time computer data had been recorded and used as evidence in Australia.
Forming the spine of the story was also the development of the Internet in Australia. Here was an opportunity to show the role that computer hackers played in this and ironically how they were responsible for the creation of the computer security industry, something that wasn’t needed in the early open days of the Internet.
An interesting footnote, Julian Assange helped research Suelette Dreyfus’ book Underground.
Zimoun is a simply wonderful Swiss installation artist that I’ve blogged about previously. Here is some of his quite recent work from shows in San Francisco and Quebec. Somehow the combination of the soft, yet industrial materials amassed in large numbers coupled with the live acoustics leads one to think of any combination of rain, the purring of cats or distant, menacing drummers.
In 1975, a year before NASA’s Viking 1 spacecraft orbited Mars, Orson Welles presented Who’s Out There?, a NASA produced documentary examining the “likely existence of non-Earthly life in the universe.”
Thirty-six years on, this is a fascinating piece of archive, and rather timely with the news that NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory is due to be launched in November in a bid to make the first precision landing on Mars in August 2012.
Starting with H G Wells novel, and his own infamous radio production of The War of the Worlds, Welles, together with Carl Sagan, George Wald, Richard Berendzen and Philip Morrison, explore what was then “the new view of extraterrestrial life now emerging from the results of probes to the planets,” and conclude that “other intelligent civilizations exist in the universe.”
Carl Sagan: The most optimistic estimates, in the view of many, about the number of civilizations that there might be in the galaxy is of the order of a million, which means that only one in a few hundred thousand stars has such civilizations.
George Wald: That would mean a billion such places just in our own galaxy that might contain life.
Philip Morrison: As I believe there’s a society of these groups, not just one, there’re probably very many. There’s only one, we have no hope of finding them; there’re probably thousands, maybe as many as a million. They probably already have had long history of this same experience, of finding new ones and bringing them into the network.
Carl Sagan: And I would imagine, an advanced civilization wanted to talk to us, they would say “Oh, look, those guys must be extremely backwards, go into some ancient museum and pull out one of those – what are they called – radio telescopes and beam it at them.”
In summation, Welles says:
In 1976 we’re going to be able to explore Mars for perhaps not so humble microorganisms. Before and after that, we’ll be searching the planets and the galaxies for clues to fill in the new patterns we’re discovering, the evolution of evolutions that has produced us and the possible millions of other civilizations….
...The difference between the spacecrafts of NASA and the lurid flying saucery of that old radio War of the Worlds is the difference between science and science fiction and, yes, between war and peace. It’s our own world which has turned out to be the interplanetary visitor; we’re the ones who are moving out there, not with death rays but with cameras, not to conquer but simply to learn. We are in fact behaving ourselves far better out there than we ever have back here at home on our own planet.
Bonus - Orson Welles directs The Mercury Theater’s radio production of The War of the Worlds
E=mcFAAABUloussss! Who knew Einstein had such wonderful gams?!
Einstein and David Rothman, 1939
There’s actually great back-story to Albert Einstein and those open-toed sandals. The man pictured with Einstein above is David Rothman, and he was the one responsible for selling Einstein the fancy footwear back in 1939. From Chuck Rothman’s “Albert Einstein’s Long Island Summer”:
In the summer of 1939, Albert Einstein spent his summer on Nassau Point, in Peconic, NY on eastern Long Island. My grandfather, David Rothman, was owner of Rothman’s Department Store in nearby Southold.
One June day, Einstein came into the store. Of course, my grandfather recognized him at once. He decided, though, to treat him just like any other customer.
“Are you looking for something in particular?” he asked
“Sundials,” Einstein said in his thick German accent.
Now, Rothman’s has always had a large variety of items—just about everything from housewares, to fishing tackle and bait, to hardware, to toys, to appliances. But no sundials. Not for sale, anyway. But…
“I do have one in my back yard,” my grandfather said.
He led Einstein—who seems a bit bewildered—to the back yard, to show him the sundial. “If you need one you can have this.”
Einstein took one look and began to laugh. He pointed to his feet. “No. Sundials.”
Gotta revolution if you want it. Click here and watch the future unfold in real time on your computer. The concept that we’re all in this together has never been truer or more immediate. Governments, Egypt’s and our own, are playing catch up. Information is power and it makes us all equal.
Six years after he graduated high school, and four years after the LSD experiences that he’s called “one of the two or three most important things I’ve done in my life,” and less than two years after he co-founded a company named after a fruit, the biological son of graduate students Abdulfattah Jandali and Joanne Simpson prepped nervously for his first TV interview.
Ya gotta figure most game-changers have found themselves “deathly ill and ready to throw up at any moment,” right?
A collaboration between one Cecil Stokes (1910-1956) and Bing Crosby (natch) sometime in the ‘40s, an Auroratone film was apparently meant to be used in the treatment of mental disorders. As one does. The colors and crystal patterns are indeed quite lovely and Der Bingle and his organ are dreamy (or something).