6. The Critical Engineer expands 'machine' to describe interrelationships encompassing devices, bodies, agents, forces and networks.

The Critical Engineering Manifesto, from the The Critical Engineering Working Group. Written by Julian Oliver, Gordan Savičić, Danja Vasiliev.

Measuring Water Flow

Came across this project while researching different approaching to monitoring water. I like the clean, sleek method they employ — right out of the sink, over the air, and into a visualization. Also I like the open-source aspect of it — that they listed their materials and detailed their process. I’m intrigued by the flow sensor they reference. Buying one now, to play with.

Putting a human face to water conservation

I’ve been doing some research lately about the politics of water. Being a resident of Los Angeles and a fan of LA-specific dystopian scenarios (had a blast watching “Battle: LA”), I’ve been considering a new piece about the future of water. More specifically, I’ve been looking at ways to put a human face to the issue, and suggest (but not be totally didactic about) how terrified I am about the impending resource wars of the near future…

Anyway, I was looking up DIY techniques for desalinating ocean water, and I came across this wonderful short film. It put a big smile on my face. “Mi abuela María” directed by David Valero for the Spanish eco-short-films festival La Luciernaga fundida.

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.


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.



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:

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

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