Posts for July 2011

Skeuomorphic Sounds: Digital Camera Shutter Clicks and Car Door Clunks

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BBC looks at ways audio engineers have retained classic sounds of objects. The shutter noise on a digital camera is entirely uneccessary. An ENV hydrogen-powered motorbike is silent, but an artificial roar warns "road users it is approaching." These "manufacturers of cars, phones and cameras are merely responding to their own archaic ideas of how things should sound."

About ten years ago, car doors no longer made the classic openning sound due new safety standards in car manufacturing that made parts of the car lighter and doors heavier. Instead of a clunk, car doors openned with a tinny sound. To make the car sound "more expensive ... dampeners were introduced into the door cavity to muffle the tinny effect and engineers altered the locking mechanism to make just the right sort of click."

 

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A Two-Minute Visual History of the Spacewalk (Video)

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The Atlantic's Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg created this visual history of the spacewalk using archival footage from NASA and the Internet Archive.

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Weekend Clicking

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"Most sci-fi pic you will see today" - @bilder (Accompanying article:In South Korea, all textbooks will be e-books by 2015) via @bruces 

  • This morning I was reading an article about Bjork’s upcoming Biophilia project and it starts by saying that her whole career “has been a quest for the ultimate fusion of the organic and the electronic.” I relate to Bjork on this, and the juxtapositions in Antlers Wifi can be seen as part of a similar quest/search. - Rick Silva interviewed in Beautiful Decay
  • How The Internet Transformed The American Rave Scene In the early-to-mid-1990s, it was driven not by stars but a sudden collective sense that, as the Milwaukee rave zine Massive put it in every issue above the masthead, "The underground is massive." (via Kottke)
  • Lost languages as teen cyphertools (Futurismic) We’ve talked about social steganography before; for teenagers and other folk restricted to communicating in public and/or monitored virtual spaces, a shared coded language becomes a necessity for the communication of ideas which you don’t want the watchers (be they parents, governments or whatever else) to be able to parse..... [Now kids are] reviving nigh-extinct local languages as a way of carving out their own cultural spaces. Example: southern Chilean hip hop videos posted on YouTube in Huilliche, a language on the brink of extinction.
  • "We once believed we were auteurs but we weren't. We had no idea, really. Film is over. It's sad nobody is really exploring it. But what to do? And anyway, with mobile phones and everything, everyone is now an auteur." - Jean-Luc Godard (The Guardian) See all of Film Socialisme compressed to a two minute clip and released by the  filmmaker on Youtube.
  • People aren’t sure about what an image or object is anymore. They ...
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    An Illustrated History of Afrofuturism

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    Adrienne Crew is writing a series on Afrofuturism for HiLobrow, with special consideration of Pedro Bell's cover designs. From her third post on alien iconography:

     

    Parliament was also one of the first creators to introduce into mainstream pop culture the narrative that aliens jump-started Egyptian, and by extension African, civilization. Many had been captivated by Erich von Däniken’s 1968 book, Chariot of the Gods, but P-Funk took the idea further and pushed a more Afrocentric agenda than Däniken.

    Aliens and alienation are key features of Afrofuturism. [Pedro] Bell’s aliens were not alienated from their place in the world. Funk offered the promise of feeling at peace with the universe; a condition that often eludes African Americans.

    Her second post considers "transportation—especially ships—as both a danger, and a vehicle for escape from danger."

     

    [Bell's] Dali-esque cover for Standing on the Verge of Getting On features an actual chariot, manned by a Greek hero ready to fight space aliens. There’s even a detailed rendering of a Space Needle on the cover of Tales of Kidd Funkedelic.

     

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    404 Page Found

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    404 pages have been a staple since the web’s early beginnings. Custom designed 404 pages range from meme remixes to a parody of the classic “blue screen of death”. The history of the 404 page even has it’s own fictional myth linking it to a story of young scientists at CERN unsuccessfully routing data in a room numbered 404. The real meaning of the numbers, however, is simply an indication of a client to server file location communication error.

    psyklone.com 404 page

    huml.org 404 page

    Earlier this month, the artist Steve Lambert created his own 404 error page titled, The Most Awkward 404 Not Found Page on The Internet. Wrapping up at approximately 6 minutes and 20 seconds, Lambert passes through multiple phases of dead-end questions, small talk, and suggestions that point to the basics of web browsing and encourage you to move on and navigate to more “cool stuff”. Taken as a performance nested into a default error page, Lambert's limited set up reveals what might be a minimalist artist's studio. With cheeky self-aware lines Lambert reminds us that he is "an artist" and that he's not "pretentious". This kind of minimal set up and ironic self-reference combined with instructions to the viewer is reminiscent of Vito Acconci's 1973 video, Theme Song. Although unlike Acconci, Lambert takes a neutral position inviting visitors to hang out or head to another page. Just as a 404 error page, in its most basic form, serves as a home for the absence of content and misguided navigations, Lambert's video is reminiscent of time both before and after a performance where everyone involved is waiting for something else to happen.

     

    Still from Steve Lambert's video The Most Awkward 404 Not Found Page on The ...

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    Review: WALLPAPERS by Sara Ludy and Nicolas Sassoon

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    Nicolas Sassoon and Sara Ludy have a deep collective interest in pixelated virtual architecture and are both members of the online art collective Computers Club. Sassoon has an extensive collection of architectural animated gifs on his own site and considers them representatives of an ideal, only achievable in virtual space. Ludy, with a background in interior design, creates videos of catalog-like architecture melting together in saw-toothed fades. Their latest collaboration, WALLPAPERS, reframes their interest in physical space. Up for only one day at 319 Scholes and curated by Lindsay Howard and Katie Miller, Sassoon and Ludy’s installation transforms the location into immersive wall-sized animated gifs.

    Their attention to detail and layout of the space coalesced to create a mesmerizing field. Spanning two large walls of the front room, Sassoon’s snowfield drifted upwards surrounded by darkness revealing different patterns of movement at varying distances. This added contrast to Ludy’s well cropped hybrid violet animation that rendered a mixing slow motion waterfall of abstracted texture landing somewhere between moss, leaves, and stone. Pausing for a moment, the landscape revealed itself. Ludy’s image projected onto the doorway connecting to the second room synced perfectly with the existing perpendicular lines of the architecture. Snow was falling up as the viewers walked into a temple entrance cast out of a forgotten 8-bit videogame nightscape.

    The technical setup was acutely tuned to the relationship between the images, viewers, and projectors.  Two laptops cropped out of the floor resembling viewing stations for the scene. This intentional placement informed the tremendous scale shift between screen and wall. Viewers walking through the space playfully interrupted projectors beaming their images from floor level below the laptops. Staring closely at an image on one of the laptops made it possible to see the pixelations. Walking close to the wall, however, revealed a serendipitous match between the pixilated screen of the projectors resolution limits and the pixels of the animated gifs themselves. WALLPAPERS effectively wraps the viewers into architecture.

     

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    See Yourself Sensing: Redefining Human Perception

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    Madeline Schawrtzman examines technology's affects on human perception in her new book See Yourself Sensing: Redifining Human Perception, published by Black Dog Publishing. Schwartzman gathered her materials from the last 50 years of contemporary art and design capturing examples of work that exhibit a broad range of materials and techniques:

    Hyungkoo Lee, from The Objectuals series, 2007 via we-make-money-not-art.com

    Krzysztof Wodiczko, Dis-Armor, 1999-2000 via we-make-money-not-art.com

    George Yu, Blow-up, 2004 via we-make-money-not-art.com

    Ann Hamilton, Untitled (Body Object series) #5-bushhead, 1984/1993 via we-make-money-not-art.com

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    Drone Ethnography

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    Trevor Paglan, The Other Night Sky

    Suppose you wanted to build your own drone—well, hold on a minute—why do you want to build your own drone?

    What do you mean, “why?” The answer is, you'd go to Dronepedia  first, and then to DIY Drones , where you'd find out where to get started with a simple kit or pre-made drone.

    But suppose you just wanted to find out some of the latest info on the US government's top secret drone projects. Don't even ask me why, it should be obvious. You'd want to do like artist Trevor Paglen , and travel to remote testing locations to snap photographs of strange shapes taking off from military bases, along with the planespotters. Either that, or travel to  Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, and now Somalia  with a good pair of binoculars.

    And then if you want a little bit a speculation about drones, you pick up the paranoid defense blogging of Danger Room  or the design-fiction of sousveillance and cyborg specialists like Tim Maly . And then you—

    Okay. I thought it was clear, but if you want me to spell it out for you, I will. You are obsessed with drones. We all are. We live in a drone culture, just as we once lived in a car culture. The Northrop-Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk is your '55 Chevorlet. You just might not know it yet.

    I have thirty-five browser tabs open, and each contains a fragment of the drone-mythos. Each is a glimpse at a situation, a bird’s eye view of the terrain. So many channels, showing me the same thing: near-infinite data collection. With the help of Google, I’m drone-spotting—I'm turning a new critical perspective that I'm calling Drone Ethnography, back on itself.

    All of us that use the internet are already practicing Drone Ethnography. Look at the features of drone technology: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Surveillance, Sousveillance. Networks of collected information, over land and in the sky. Now consider the “consumer” side of tech: mapping programs, location-aware pocket tech, public-sourced media databases, and the apps and algorithms by which we navigate these tools. We already study the world the way a drone sees it: from above, with a dozen unblinking eyes, recording everything with the cold indecision of algorithmic commands honed over time, affecting nothing—except, perhaps, a single, momentary touch, the momentary awareness and synchronicity of a piece of information discovered at precisely the right time. An arc connecting two points like the kiss from an air-to-surface missile. Our technological capacity for watching, recording, collecting, and archiving has never been wider, and has never been more automated. The way we look at the world—our basic ethnographic approach—is mimicking the technology of the drone. 

    Epistemological change in inevitable, but there is more going on here than a revolution in research tools. There is a feeling I can only describe as the presence of “The Swarm”, a fundamental aesthetic of the drone-mythos. It's an unexpected mythological evolution that has come about along with the technological evolution. There's nothing groundbreaking about myths accompanying new technology. But this mythos is different. The industrial revolution didn't see a burgeoning number of DIY textile mills. This is more along the lines of the birth of the automobile—a seemingly simple invention that not only revolutionized its particular task, but also changed society.

     

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    An Interview with Semiconductor (Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt)

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    Semiconductor (Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhard) are artist explorers of the natural world, they build installations and moving image with animation and sound drawn from their encounters with prestigious scientific institution such as NASA’s Space Science Laboratories and the Smithsonian Archive as well as journeys to alien places like the Galapagos Islands and Ecuadorian volcanoes.

     


    Two new works drawn from their other worldly travels, Worlds in the Making and Inferno Observatory are now showing at FACT in Liverpool, UK, Peter Merrington talked to the artists about their work.


     

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    Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Science Fiction TV Film World on a Wire

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    Released shortly before Ali: Fear Eats Soul Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 1973 sci-fi tv movie World on a Wire is newly restored and playing around the country:

    A dystopic science-fiction epic, World on a Wire is German wunderkind Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s gloriously cracked, boundlessly inventive take on future paranoia. With dashes of Kubrick, Vonnegut, and Dick, but a flavor entirely his own, Fassbinder tells the noir-spiked tale of reluctant action hero Fred Stiller (Klaus Lowitsch), a cybernetics engineer who uncovers a massive corporate and governmental conspiracy. At risk? Our entire (virtual) reality as we know it. This long unseen three-and-a-half-hour labyrinth is a satiric and surreal look at the weird world of tomorrow from one of cinema’s kinkiest geniuses.

     

     


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