Transcendent Man

Check out the trailer for this documentary about Ray Kurzweil. Directed by Barry Ptolemy, it premiered last week at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Absurdables

See this work, by Carolina Vallejo entitled “Absurdables”. Obviously, I resonate with this, through the connection to my own work (using Instructables with certain projects).

Taken from literary works Absurdables play homage to writers by appropriating their work, augmenting it with pictures and comments. We create every Absurdable following the rules to create successful instructables, inserting ourselves in the community and making a parody of it.

This piece stand out for me: Instructions for the Recently Deceased.

WHAT IF

http://sciencegallery.com/whatif

This exhibition from 2009 represents a merger of two really wonderful things: The curatorial strategy of Dunne and Raby (focusing on critical design and the speculative) and the Science Gallery in Dublin (a museum space representing specifically work that deals in contemporary scientific issues).

Synthetic Biology

Enjoyed this lecture about emerging trends in synthetic biology, biological hacking and citizen scientists.

Andrew Hessel “The Internet of Living Things”

Also, see this book:
http://www.amazon.com/Biology-Technology-Promise-Business-Engineering/dp/0674035445/ref=pd_sim_b_2

And see DIY Bio, which is meeting group for DIY biology hacking projects, etc. Maybe there’s a chapter in your city!
http://diybio.org/

Psychohistory

Psychohistory is a fictional science in the Asimov “Foundations” trilogy/universe.

Psychohistorians use certain algorithms and equations to accurately predict the actions of a large collective group of people / society.

A machine called the The Prime Radiant stores and processes the phychohistorical equations. The Psychohistorians use the information to shape the direction of social change.

On September 25, 1987, Asimov gave an interview to Terry Gross on her National Public Radio program, Fresh Air. In it, Gross asked him about psychohistory:

Gross: “What did you have in mind when you coined the term and the concept?”

Asimov: “[My editor] wanted an open-ended series so it lasts forever, perhaps. And so I started doing that. In order to keep the story going from story to story, I was essentially writing future history, and I had to make it sufficiently different from modern history to give it that science fictional touch. And so I assumed that the time would come when there would be a science in which things could be predicted on a probabilistic or statistical basis.”

Gross: “Do you think that would be good if there really was such a science?”

Asimov: “Well, I can’t help but think it would be good, except that in my stories, I always have opposing views. In other words, people argue all possible… all possible… ways of looking at psychohistory and deciding whether it is good or bad. So you can’t really tell. I happen to feel sort of on the optimistic side. I think if we can somehow get across some of the problems that face us now, humanity has a glorious future, and that if we could use the tenets of psychohistory to guide ourselves we might avoid a great many troubles. But on the other hand, it might create troubles. It’s impossible to tell in advance.”

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychohistory_(fictional)

The Future of Food

From the Institute for the Future.

We use the term “Foodscapes” to talk about the layers of global flows of people, technologies, ideas, money, and ethics that will play a role in shaping the future of food. The map is organized into four zones of change, which act as compass points forming the overall shape of the future of foodscapes.

The World In 2020

Sponsored by Ericcson, here’s an interesting collection of video interviews with scientists, futurists and businesspeople. Each one takes on a different topic and discusses things that can, will, might, must change in the next decade. Some are better than others… but all pretty interesting.

Transborder Immigrant Tool / b.a.n.g. lab

If you’re not familiar with the goings on at b.a.n.g. lab at UCSD, then you should definitely read up on it and become privy to their current situation/crisis. I thought it would be prudent to blog about this now, in light of the outrageous new immigration law in Arizona, and all the conversation and attention around the topic.

Part of the story, and links to other stories here: http://bang.calit2.net/xborderblog/?p=173
b.a.n.g. lab website: http://bang.calit2.net/
Transborder Immigrant Tool main blog:  http://bang.calit2.net/xborderblog/

b.a.n.g. lab (bits, atoms, neurons, genes) and EDT (Electronic Disturbance Theater) are a really innovative group of digital media artist and activists working in the realm of digital civil disobedience, “disturbance” and intervention, border politics and transience. They are an affiliate of UCSD’s department of art, where director Ricardo Dominguez is a professor.

On the project:

The technologies of Spatial Data Systems and GPS (Global Positioning System) have enabled an entirely new relationship with the landscape that takes form in applications for simulation, surveillance, resource allocation, management of cooperative networks and pre-movement pattern modeling (such as the Virtual Hiker Algorithm) an algorithm that maps out a potential or suggested trail for real a hiker/or hikers to follow. The Transborder Immigrant Tool would add a new layer of agency to this emerging virtual geography that would allow segments of global society that are usually outside of this emerging grid of hyper-geo-mapping-power to gain quick and simple access with to GPS system. The Transborder Immigrant Tool would not only offer access to this emerging total map economy – but, would add an intelligent agent algorithm that would parse out the best routes and trails on that day and hour for immigrants to cross this vertiginous landscape as safely as possible.

In short, it’s a tool that enables people who are committed to crossing the US/Mexico border, a means by which to do so safely, and avoid needlessly dying or being killed. It reminds me a lot of the discourse around controversial programs like the Needle Exchange.

I won’t go into too much detail, since the story’s been chronicled better by the artists themselves on their blog, etc. Basically UCSD is “investigating” Ricardo Dominguez and the group, doing things like threatening to revoke his tenure, plus the group is receiving numerous threats of violence. I just want to bring some attention to the project because I feel like it’s a really great example of critical design in action. These sorts of artistic action and disturbances are prudent and necessary, and in keeping with the rich tradition of calls for change associated with civil disobedience. Not to mention, it’s really refreshing to see impassioned work that comes from research and actually has a tangible effect on the environment. Check it out.

Also here’s an interview with Ricardo Dominguez in Vice: http://www.viceland.com/int/v16n11/htdocs/follow-the-gps-225.php

“Border Control” by Fritz Haeg

I like this piece in Frieze magazine by Fritz Haeg, concerning borders and territories in the contemporary art market. Haeg has a refreshing critical view on the role of boundaries and titles in art…

Would it be helpful or liberating to live in a world where we could make what we want to see and do what we want to feel, only later deciding or understanding what it is, or how it should be classified? Ideas and impulses would be the motivation, and only later would the discipline be revealed. […] Children naturally operate this way, but it’s the opposite of how most formal education works.

Also enjoyed this quote:

If I am interested in gardening, I don’t want to make work about gardens, I become a gardener, and go out into the city and make a garden. If I am interested in dance, I don’t want to make work about dancing, I enter into the dance community, and make dances in the streets.

Bruce Sterling on “Atemporality”