FOLLOW US ON: follow us in feedly
GET THE NEWSLETTER
CONTACT US
Tibetan Buddhist robots and Pauline Anna Strom’s space music star in ‘Ether Antenna,’ a DM premiere


 
Pauline Anna Strom is a San Francisco composer. Blind since infancy, Strom says she felt like “a loner and a heretic” growing up Catholic in the South. During the Seventies, she moved to San Francisco, where she heard Tangerine Dream, Eno and company on FM radio and was inspired to experiment with synthesizers and a TASCAM four-track. (DM is reliably informed that, despite all the other changes to the city, she still resides in SF with her long-lived iguana, Little Solstice.)

Strom’s music is not for the disco. At once soothing and disorienting, it’s her means of sailing in the timestream, conjuring up the frozen past and the (apparently) populous future. Her first release, 1982’s Trans-Millenia [sic] Consort, took its name from Strom’s time-traveling alter ego, according to the press materials for the new retrospective of her recording career (such is its futurity, it comes out tomorrow):

She believed that humanity was confined by its inability to access the people of the future, therefore suffering in a kind of group solipsism. Designing a world of music that rooted itself in all times but the present, Strom’s alter ego, the Trans-Millenia Consort, became a musical activist for triggering this state of heightened consciousness.

 

Pauline Anna Strom (photographer unknown, used with permission of Archie Patterson’s Eurock Archives)
 
Strom’s first LP has inspired a new film that also mixes the familiar unsettling and the unsettling familiar: Ether Antenna, set in Nepal. There are no human actors, only robots portraying incidents from the lives of Avalokiteśvara and Shakyamuni Buddha. A five-minute excerpt from Ether Antenna, set to music by Pauline Anna Strom, appears at the bottom of this post, and the director, Michael Candy, kindly agreed to answer a few questions by email.

It strikes me that the prayer wheel that appears at the beginning and end of Ether Antenna is a kind of robot, and that Tibetan prayer flags are automata, too. Why do we find machines in a 1,200-year-old religious tradition?

The idea of automata originates in the mythologies of many cultures around the world. It’s almost an obvious outcome of a technology-enabled civilization; as digital automation continues to penetrate our daily life, it’s easy to overlook the analogue counterparts and machines that have made modern living possible.

A few years prior to my residency, I traveled to Ladakh and spent a few weeks exploring the Indian Himalayas. One of the most striking things as a (foreign) engineer was to find ancient mechanical infrastructure still functioning and valid in society. It’s like, none of those complex folding walls, trap doors or snake pits Hollywood seems so fond of would ever function without a good amount of oil and snake food. But here, in this ancient mountain range, you can find and touch a several-hundred-year-old spinning drum embossed with text and with the flick of a finger have it praying for you; some even use water, wind or solar to complete their eternal journey clockwise.

Nowadays you can’t catch a taxi in Kathmandu without a plastic solar powered prayer wheel whirling away on the dash. For me, these are simple machines doing man’s spiritual bidding—to pray; ether machines keeping you connected to the cloud, from a time when people actually knew where the cloud was.

Continues after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Oliver Hall
|
11.09.2017
08:11 am
|
Totally creepy synthetic people and frightening faux human organs used to train surgeons
10.31.2017
08:30 am
Topics:
Tags:


A synthetic version of a human gallbladder made by SynDaver Labs.
 
According to the “About” tab on Florida-based SynDaver Labs‘s website, they take credit for creating the world’s most “sophisticated” synthetic human tissues and body parts. SnyDaver’s synthetic human cadavers even bleed and breathe just like you and me when they are being used by doctors and surgeons in training. In fact, SynDaver Labs claims to own and maintain the largest database of live tissue which they rely on to create their synthetic humans and body parts that act and react just like the real things.

SynDaver was originally formed by like minded academics of the University of Florida in 1993, and the first synthetic model they came up with was a trachea. The goal was to hopefully help reduce—and perhaps someday replace—the use of live animals in medical testing. Eleven years later SynDaver Labs was founded and since that time the company has been producing uncanny-looking body parts and fake humans. I feel obligated to warn you that if you are at all squeamish or don’t feel like seeing a life-like version of Slim Goodbody with his entirely too authentic-looking internal organs exposed, then perhaps the images that I’ve posted below might be a bit much for you. However, if you are a person with a morbid sense of curiosity, then the photos of SynDaver’s synthetic models and assorted internal organs will not disappoint you one bit. That said, everything that follows is pretty much NSFW, depending on where you work.
 

A synthetic kidney made by SnyDaver Labs.
 

Large intestine.
 

Small intestine.
 
More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Cherrybomb
|
10.31.2017
08:30 am
|
The original guide to identifying criminals from 1909
10.12.2017
09:46 am
Topics:
Tags:

013bertmeasur.jpg
 
About three years ago, defenders of civil liberties were understandably angsty over the news the F.B.I. had launched its Next Generation Identification system—a billion dollar operation intended to replace the old fingerprint system with “the world’s largest and most efficient electronic repository of biometric and criminal history information.” This meant investigators could identify perps from stored information like DNA, voice recognition, latent prints, personal history, and iris and face recognition technology culled from mugshots, surveillance camera footage, and even selfies taken from social media.

A lot of people were blaming the government, Big Brother, fascism, communism, and all the usual suspects for this monumental change to detective work and our privacy. But personally, I blame Alphonse Bertillon, coz he was the dude that started the whole thing off in the 19th-century.

Alphonse Bertillon (1853-1914) was a French detective. He believed everything had its place and that the world had an order. Bertillon had an unremarkable early career first as a soldier then as a lowly clerk with the Prefecture of Police in Paris. It was while working as a police copyist that Bertillon first recognized the random way in which cops investigated crimes. There was no proper system for identifying criminals and no code by which detectives could investigate crime scenes. Sure, there were crime scene photographs and artists sketches, but these were all rather ad hoc.

To solve these issues, Bertillon came up with the mugshot as a means of identifying criminals and codified a precise photographic process for documenting crime scenes in the 1880s—both of which are still in use today.

He also gave investigators a biometric system for identifying criminals. This involved measuring their height, the length of their arms and legs, the size of their heads, the shape of eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, and any other identifying characteristics like wrinkles, scars, birthmarks, etc. This system of breaking down criminals into identifiable component parts was known as Bertillonage. It included an early form of facial recognition, which gave cops a “cheat sheet” for getting their man.

Bertillon’s Tableau synoptic des traits physionomiques (Synoptic Table of Physiognomic Traits) helped the cops identify criminals and criminal types. It was rather like identikit pictures. It was used as a tool of capturing ne’er-do-wells right up to the turn of the last century when it was quickly superseded by fingerprints.
 
09bertfaces.jpg
 
01berteyes.jpg
 
See more of Bertillon’s ‘Synoptic Table of Physiognomic Traits,’ after the the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
10.12.2017
09:46 am
|
Vincent Price narrates a musical journey to the amazing year 2000
10.06.2017
09:14 am
Topics:
Tags:


Magazine ad for the 1962 World’s Fair
 
The June 23, 1962 issue of Billboard reported that Capitol would be distributing “the Seattle World’s Fair official album,” The World of Century Twenty First. I wonder if the designation of Alexander Laszlo’s “Musical Panorama” as the official LP of Expo 62 hurt the sales of the other World of Tomorrow releases, like Attilio Mineo conducting Man in Space with Sounds or Vincent Lopez’s Music out of Century 21. At least, did it annoy their managers? Did someone get a phone call?

Laszlo was a composer of TV and movie music whose credits included Night of the Blood Beast (1958) and Beast from Haunted Cave (1959). The record sounds like the future as imagined by a 1962 TV orchestra joined by a mad scientist on synthesizer and theremin; in fact, it’s the State Symphony of Hamburg (a/k/a the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra)  and some unnamed “electronic devices” Laszlo used to make what he called “Electrosonic Music.” 
 

 
Vincent Price narrates, reading the parts of both the wise tour conductor and his passenger, a bewildered 20th century sap who stands in for you, the listener. The Monorail hurtles into the future (Price doesn’t say exactly when, but the Popular Science feature about the exhibit was titled “What’ll It Be Like in 2000 A.D.?”), stopping at tomorrow’s modular, movable house, with its electroluminescent lighting, tax-preparing “computer robot,” and mysterious home electronics:

We still have broadcasting, but no sets anymore. Receivers? Yes, like this little matchbox in my hand. Speakers for our high-fidelity stereo broadcasting are just two tiny pellets sized like a pill. They may be placed in curtains or in draperies. The television screens are part of architecture and interior furnishings. See this painting? It converts into a television screen when you wish.

[...]

We are very, very proud of our phone system that is televised. Notice, first: every baby born in the century 21 receives a birthday gift of his own phone number. This is his for life. No similar number will exist for any earth-born individual. Whether you remain at home, where messages can come by TV phone, or traveling, receiving calls over your own radio wristphone, the call will always be transmitted on your private, individual number, by simply speaking the number into the phone.

Vincent-1 and Vincent-2 hop in the car for a demonstration of the new scientific system that controls the weather outdoors. The auto of the future has no need of a “gasoline motor” or wheels; its anti-gravity air jets are powered by atomic energy beamed from radio transmitters. As we learn on the track “Atom For Humanity,” all the cheap, abundant energy buzzing through the air is a product of nuclear fusion. Science has also discovered how to produce fresh water from the ocean, where we grow “unlimited tons of nourishing foods at low prices,” and rockets are flying all over the place:

Both time and space are telescoped into an awe-inspiring whole. Rocket travel to distant places on the earth and moon has become a daily business. Global mail service is done mainly by rockets. The countdown has become a part of daily life.

Oh, and war has been abolished, along with hate.

More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Oliver Hall
|
10.06.2017
09:14 am
|
Artist embroiderers the palm of his hand with images of people he loves
10.05.2017
08:58 am
Topics:
Tags:


An image of artist David Catá‘s grandmother stitched into the palm of his hand, 2013.
 
Spanish artist David Catá started out as a composer—but his interest in painting would soon overtake his musical aspirations. Later Catá would start experimenting with photography at the age of 22 in 2010. He would receive early accolades and awards for his work which has been displayed in galleries all over the world including New York and his home base of Spain.

Four years ago, Catá began photographing his ongoing series “A Flor De Piel” which chronicled the artist embroidering the palm of his hand with images of his family members, mentors, and even ex-girlfriends. According to Catá, every image his stitches into his flesh is someone that has helped him along his journey on planet Earth. Beautiful. Images of Catá‘s handiwork follow as well as a video of the artist in action with his needle and thread.
 

Carlos.
 

Bea, Catá‘s teacher and photography tutor, 2013.
 
More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Cherrybomb
|
10.05.2017
08:58 am
|
Artificial intelligence will soon achieve near-perfect gaydar
09.11.2017
09:00 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
We all have a friend who claims to have “perfect gaydar”—maybe in some instances we are that friend. At the risk of venturing into “special snowflake” territory, my own tendency in this area is to assume that a person’s sexuality is usually at least somewhat unknowable from surface appearances.

However, the artificial intelligence community is intent on proving me wrong! That confident friend who can claim to pick “the gays” out of any crowd…. might exist fairly soon, in the form of computer applications, which have recently seen startling success in identifying sexual preference based on a single photograph. And they are doing it without the benefit of a gif of the person doing that limp-wristed “tinker-bell” gesture that was universally acknowledged to signify “gay” in 1980s TV (watch any episode of Three’s Company).

Gay traits may mostly be a stereotype, but a Stanford University study into facial features has demonstrated that a computer could determine sexual orientation in men an astonishing 81 percent of the time and in women 74 percent of the time—on a sample size of a single image. When the program was given more than one image, the success rate increased to 91 percent and 84 percent, respectively. For some reason, it will be noticed, gay men are easier to “identify” than gay women. One theory states that perhaps (as is generally suspected) sexuality really is more “fluid” for women.

Note that for comparison, when people assessed the same images, they had a success rate of just 61 percent for men and 54 percent for women. Those numbers sort of establish that gaydar among people is an actual thing, right? 54 percent is close to a coin flip, though.

The AI was trained to assess bone structure and facial features, on the premise that gay men were more likely to have feminine features and gay women more likely to have a masculine appearance. The study looked at jawlines, hairlines, nose length, among other features. According to The Guardian, “The data also identified certain trends, including that gay men had narrower jaws, longer noses and larger foreheads than straight men, and that gay women had larger jaws and smaller foreheads compared to straight women.”

As amusing as the concept of gaydar AI is, the prospect of its existence does suggest some fairly obvious potential problems, including the possibility that organizations premised on homophobia could use such technology to discriminate against LGBTI people. Since the program appeared to use physical characteristics to make its assessments (and not aspects that are a later choice by the user), it suggests that homosexuality may be more innate than it is a product of a person’s upbringing and environment.

It’ll be very interesting indeed to track the progress of this technology over time.
 
via Lost at E Minor
 

Posted by Martin Schneider
|
09.11.2017
09:00 am
|
Apparently Trypophobia (a fear of tiny clusters of holes) isn’t a phobia but an instinct
08.09.2017
11:06 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
This is interesting—as I always thought Trypophobia was a phobia—but according to Discover Magazine, Trypophobia is an innate response to stimuli and cannot be unlearned like most phobias can be.

Via Discover Magazine:

If this image gives you the willies, you may have what has been called trypophobia–the fear of clusters of small holes. It has been hypothesized that this fear stems from a resemblance of the holes to patterns on poisonous animals. Although thousands of people find images like this really disturbing, it’s not enough to make it a phobia, which is a learned response that can be unlearned. These scientists studied preschoolers to determine whether trypophobia is an instinctive human response that can never be unlearned. To do this, they showed the kids pictures of venomous animals with and without overlaid images of trypophobia-inducing holes. Because only the pictures with holes upset the kids, the researchers believe that the fear is innate, and not a learned association with poisonous animals. So there you have it: if that tree makes you feel horrible, there is nothing you can do about it.

Basically, there’s not a damned thing you can do about it if this image of the hand (above) affects you.

Via Pub Med:

“In the past 10 years, thousands of people have claimed to be affected by trypophobia, which is the fear of objects with small holes. Recent research suggests that people do not fear the holes; rather, images of clustered holes, which share basic visual characteristics with venomous organisms, lead to nonconscious fear. In the present study, both self-reported measures and the Preschool Single Category Implicit Association Test were adapted for use with preschoolers to investigate whether discomfort related to trypophobic stimuli was grounded in their visual features or based on a nonconsciously associated fear of venomous animals. The results indicated that trypophobic stimuli were associated with discomfort in children. This discomfort seemed to be related to the typical visual characteristics and pattern properties of trypophobic stimuli rather than to nonconscious associations with venomous animals. The association between trypophobic stimuli and venomous animals vanished when the typical visual characteristics of trypophobic features were removed from colored photos of venomous animals. Thus, the discomfort felt toward trypophobic images might be an instinctive response to their visual characteristics rather than the result of a learned but nonconscious association with venomous animals. Therefore, it is questionable whether it is justified to legitimize trypophobia.”

Now, to make matters worse, here are some images of tiny clusters of holes!


 

 
More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Tara McGinley
|
08.09.2017
11:06 am
|
Spectropia, the popular 19th-century method of conjuring demons and ghosts
08.08.2017
10:13 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
The world is ever divided into the superstitious and the enlightened, and while the enlightened have shown the clear trend of being on the rise, it doesn’t always seem so. Ghosts and horoscopes and good-luck charms abound, and poindexterish explanations of why they are all poppycock merely tend to make one an un-adored party pooper—even though this is certainly the correct view.

There’s a tendency to consign all of pre-modernity to the superstitious (one might say “religious”) camp, but that really isn’t the case. Mathematicians and scientists have existed for the entirety of recorded history, which must be the case since language and writing technologies are products of the experimental mindset. The Enlightenment was a turning point, as rationality was increasingly given a central place in the arrangement of social affairs, and even if irreligious skeptics were (and are) outnumbered, you could still always count on finding someone in the vicinity willing to scoff at the hocus-pocus of superstition.

In the 19th century, some scholars were able to use interest in the paranormal to undermine its premises entirely. One such person was J.H. Brown, who published a book in New York City under the title Spectropia; or, Surprising spectral illusions showing ghosts everywhere and of any colour in 1864. The book was popular enough to merit a print run in London in 1865 and a Dutch edition in 1866.

Here is the cover of the U.S. edition:
 

 
To produce his popular occult-adjacent book, Brown relied on the optical phenomenon of “cone fatigue,” whereby prolonged exposure to an image of a specific color produces an afterimage (with reversed colors) in the eye for a few seconds after the initial image is replaced with a white field. A common example is an inverted image of the U.S. flag, which produces a more or less color-accurate version in the eye afterward.
 

 
Brown didn’t use the flag—he used pictures of demons and angels and skeletons. In the book Brown stated that his goal was
 

the extinction of the superstitious belief that apparitions are actual spirits, by showing some of the many ways in which our senses may be deceived, and that, in fact, no so-called ghost has ever appeared, without its being referable either to mental or physiological deception, or, in those instances where several persons have seen a spectre at the same time, to natural objects

 
Here are Brown’s instructions on how to see the “spectres”:
 
To see the spectres, it is only necessary to look steadily at the dot, or asterisk, which is to be found on each of the plates, for about a quarter of a minute, or while counting about twenty, the plate being well illuminated by either artificial or day light. Then turning the eyes to the ceiling, the wall, the sky, or better still to a white sheet hung on the wall of a darkened room (not totally dark), and looking rather steadily at any one point, the spectre will soon begin to make its appearance, increasing in intensity, and then gradually vanishing, to reappear and again vanish ; it will continue to do so several times in succession, each reappearance being fainter than the one preceding. Winking the eyes, or passing a finger rapidly to and fro before them, will frequently hasten the appearance of the spectre, especially if the plate has been strongly illuminated.
 
Here’s an amusing item from the New York Daily Tribune of September 13, 1864, in which the publisher introduces to the public “the new ghost marvel” that can produce “without apparatus, machine, or expense” all manner of demons and ghosts “upon the wall, the doors, the curtains, or any white surface whatever!!”
 

 
I figure this was sort of the Magic Eye of its day. Below are some of the images from Spectropia, but you can see the whole book at Public Domain Review.
 

 
More spectral demons and skeletons after the jump…....
 

READ ON
Posted by Martin Schneider
|
08.08.2017
10:13 am
|
Mind-melting illustrations done in 1950 by a man tripping balls on LSD show his descent into madness
07.05.2017
09:32 am
Topics:
Tags:


An illustration done by an artist 20 minutes after taking 50 micrograms of LSD. According to notes taken by the attending physician, Dr. Oscar Janiger, the patient “chooses to start drawing with charcoal and was showing no effect from the drug.” Not yet anyway.
 
Experimental psychiatrist Oscar Janiger was one interesting cat. After relocating from New York to Los Angeles in the early 1950s, he established his private practice. Later, Janiger would end up teaching his somewhat unconventional beliefs at the University of California-Irvine. While all that sounds pretty typical when it comes to the life of an academic, Janiger was anything but your average college professor. You see, Oscar Janiger was a hugely influential early advocate of the use of hallucinogens, and his experiments and research precede those of LSD’s most famous enthusiast, Timothy Leary. Janiger allegedly hooked up actor Cary Grant and author and author Aldous Huxley with LSD and was noted to have dosed himself with the hallucinogenic drug at least thirteen times, though his drug trips were taken in the name of science as Janiger was very interested in trying to establish a direct correlation between use of the drug and how it might influence creativity. Which brings me to the point of this post—an experiment conducted by Janiger in which he administered LSD to an artist who was armed with a box of crayons.

The goal of Janiger’s experiment was to chart how well the artist could cling to reality during his “trip” and his ability to draw the same portrait of a man before, during, and after taking LSD. There are nine pictures in all, and each is pretty telling when it comes to the long, strange journey Janiger’s high-as-fuck guinea pig went on. I’ve posted the pictures below that chronicle the various results of each stage Janiger’s patient traveled through during which he was administered 50 micrograms of LSD twice. Which, if you’re not acquainted with acid, is a pretty standard dose, although, the illustrations and their accompanying captions seem to say otherwise.
 

This illustration was done at the 85-minute mark following the first dose, and twenty minutes after a second, 50 microgram dose. According to Janiger, his patient seemed “euphoric.” He stated to Janiger that he could see him “clearly, so clearly.” He also sputtered out the following statement: “This… you… it’s all… I’m having a little trouble controlling this pencil. It seems to want to keep going.”
 

At two hours and 30 minutes in Janiger’s patient appears very focused on the business of drawing. He then makes the following statement: “Outlines seem normal but very vivid - everything is changing color. My hand must follow the bold sweep of the lines. I feel as if my consciousness is situated in the part of my body that’s now active - my hand, my elbow… my tongue.”
 

Two hours and 32 minutes in Janiger notes that his patient seems “gripped by his pad of paper.” The artist notes he’s going to try to create another drawing saying that the “outlines of the model are normal, but now those of my drawing are not. The outline of my hand is going weird too. It’s not a very good drawing, is it? I give up - I’ll try again…”
 

Two hours and 35 minutes in Janiger says that his patient was able to produce another drawing saying that he would “Do a drawing in one flourish… without stopping… one line, no break!’ When he finished his illustration, Janiger’s patient started laughing then became startled by something on the floor. Sounds about right.
 

At the two hours and 45-minute mark, Janiger’s patient attempted to climb into an activity box and is generally agitated. He is slow to respond to suggestions such as if he would like to “draw more.” He has become mostly nonverbal but did manage to mumble the following: “I am… everything is… changed… they’re calling… your face… interwoven… who is…” He also appears to be attempting to hum a tune (according to Janiger it sounded like the 1938 hit “Thanks for the Memory”). He would then switch his medium from charcoal to tempera.
 
Much more after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Cherrybomb
|
07.05.2017
09:32 am
|
Forensic artist reconstructs horrifying ‘happy face’ using a skull-shaped bottle of vodka


A couple of images taken by forensic artist Nigel Cockerton during his ‘facial reconstruction’ of a bottle of Crystal Head Vodka. 
 
Nigel Cockerton is a Scottish forensic artist with a Master’s degree in Forensic and Medical Art, whose services have been previously utilized by the FBI. Cockerton decided to have a little fun with a bottle of Crystal Head Vodka—a high-end party liquid put out by actor Dan Aykroyd that comes in a skull-shaped bottle. But since Cockerton’s job is to recreate the faces of people who have passed into the great beyond, he decided to bring the skull “back to life.” So to speak, of course.

In about a week, Cockerton reconstructed a “face” based on the Crystal Head bottle glass skull, and the results were not quite what anyone expected. Of course, nobody expected a forensic artist to take on such a task either so there’s that. Using his impressive skills, Cockerton built up the “face” of the skull with muscles, skin, and cartilage made of clay then added some fake hair. When he was finished the skull wore a frozen, exuberantly happy face—which Cockerton speculated belonged to a woman of European descent between the ages of 21 to 30.

The original decision to package the vodka in a glass skull was based on the strange folklore associated with the discovery of various “crystal skulls” that were believed to have originated in ancient Mesoamerica tens of thousands of years ago. This theory was later proven to be false by both the British Museum and the Smithsonian Institution who both placed the creation of the skulls somewhere in the middle or late 1800s. The British Museum was also able to determine that the geographical point of origin for the skulls was likely Germany. Now that I’ve cleared that up, it’s time to see the crystal skull that Cockerton gave a “face” to. The images that follow might be slightly NSFW.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Cherrybomb
|
06.26.2017
10:52 am
|
Page 1 of 74  1 2 3 >  Last ›