reBlog

Current Reblogger: Chloë Bass

Chloë Bass is an artist, curator and community organizer based in Brooklyn. She is the co-lead organizer for Arts in Bushwick (artsinbushwick.org), which produces the ever-sprawling Bushwick Open Studios, BETA Spaces, and performance festival SITE Fest, which she founded. Recent artistic work has been seen at SCOPE Art Fair, CultureFix, the Bushwick Starr Theater, Figment, and The Last Supper Art Festival, as well as in and around the public spaces of New York City. She has guest lectured at Parsons, the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, and Brooklyn College. Other moments have found her co-cheffing Umami: People + Food, a 90 person private supper club; growing plants with Boswyck Farms (boswyckfarms.org); and curating with architecture gallery SUPERFRONT (superfront.org). Chloë holds a BA in Theater Studies from Yale University, and an MFA in Performance and Interactive Media Arts (PIMA) from Brooklyn College.

http://chloebass.wordpress.com


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interesting dystopianism

This is a fictional presentation of a flash mob that has gone awry by Tom Scott.  Worth watching.

The value in this video is its insights into the dynamics (the negative outcomes depicted are merely used to add punch to the presentation) of flash mobs.  Think in terms of how this process can be adapted for disruption (open source warfare) or for constructive ends (EaaS or Resilient Community). It's another root toolkit item.

 
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Speakers for the home theater can get frighteningly expensive. The first time I saw speakers that sold for tens of thousands of dollars I figured there couldn’t be that much work put into the things. One of those crazy expensive sets of speakers was the Bowers & Wilkins Nautilus, which served as the inspiration for Alfonso de Rojas to build his own a few years back.

Inspired by Rojas’ original tribute, another DIY geek – Lluis Pujol – has taken it upon him to build his own speakers that look like those crazy expensive offerings, and dubbed them Odyssey 2. The speakers have a design that looks like a shell; I could see this in Sponge Bob’s home theater for sure. Each of the speakers took about 400 hours to complete.

The skeleton for the large portion of the shell was made from lots of wood and steel circles and the works was lined with polyester fiber to prevent expansion of the wood in the future. It looks like the cabinet was then wrapped in fiberglass and painted red. The base is concrete with 0.3mm lead pellets inside to prevent vibration. The top sections of the case were made from wood turned on a lathe.

It took Pujol over 400 hours to build these, but that’s still gotta be way less than the $60,000+ that a pair of Nautilus speakers would set you back.

[via Hack N Mod]

 
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Hatte hier schon mal über das “The Superhero Project” von Abner Preis gebloggt – morgen beginnt die Ausstellung im neuen HLP Space in Brüssel: “The Superhero Project was inspired by recent legislations to ban the use of Burqas based on a vague notion of an ‘ideal society,’ in which such clothing is not appropriate. Preis seeks to alter the mindset of people as they begin to feel and dress like heroes. He maintains that wearing a mask puts people in the condition to address issues about civil liberties and democracy, and encourages people to ask how important the idea of an ideal society is when like Superheroes, it is a product of our imagination. This week in Brussels on October 22 in the context of Parcours Modo 2010, an itinerant fashion event in Brussels the HLP space will be opening with an exhibition dedicated to the Superhero Project, which will host a public performances and tours around the Parcours where visitors can dress up as superheroes.” (*) Via: Mail, thx!

 
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Pope Benedict XVI was confronted during his visit to Spain by a homosexual ‘kissing flashmob‘ on Sunday. (video)

Kissing gays were captured by ElPais.com , the Associated Press and this picture was taken and distributed by Reuters photographer Gustau Nacarino. About 200 people protested against Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Barcelona, Spain, by jeering and staging a gay “kiss-in.” (a report by CBC News)

Organisers used Facebook to form the event in front of Barcelona’s cathedral Sagrada Familia. Some 1,500 people have pledged, to take part in a kiss-in event. Invitations have been sent out via the social networking site to 12,000 more.

No placards, no flags, no shouting and no slogans. Only kissing allowed,” the Facebook page reads.

“When Benedict XVI passes in front of us we will kiss, man-to-man and woman-to-woman,” Marylene Carole, one of the organisers, told the Spanish news agency EFE.

The group’s page on Facebook has been removed multiple times by the site’s administrators for violation of the rights and responsibilities policy. In a letter to Queer Kissing FlashMob, Facebook pointed out that “prohibited conduct” according to the policy includes “creating or loading pornographic content that is pornographic, is sexually charged, or contains nudity,” “annoying other people with explicit words with sexual content” and “sending friendship requests or inbox messages that were not requested to people that one does not know.”

“You will not be able to continue using Facebook,” the company added. “This decision is definitive and cannot be appealed.”

However, after international media outlets contacted Facebook about the matter, the company backed away from its decision, claiming it was an “error.” The organization was permitted to reestablish its Facebook page, which now has thousands of participants.

promotional video and poster.

source: Guardian.co.uk and LifeSiteNews.com

 
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Fun stuff.

‘What types of superstitious appeals will be best adapted to the various audiences to be propagandised?… A study of local supserstitions as relected in popular folk lore might be profitable in providing answers to these questions.’

When they weren’t designing rocket ships or calculating how long it would take to cook the world with nuclear warheads, the RAND Corporation kept themselves busy working out how best to scare the hell out of ‘peasants, old people and… ignorant workers’, particularly in the Soviet Union. That anyway, was the aim of this fascinating 1950 paper, The Exploitation of Superstitions for Purposes of Psychological Warfare (PDF here).

‘It seems likely that superststitions flourish in an atmosphere of tension and insecurity’, writes its author, Jean Hungerford, and her timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The paper was published for the US Air Force on 14 April 1950, just as Cold War tensions were first reaching levels of serious discomfort. In the previoust six months, the Soviets had detonated their first atom bomb, China and the USSR had signed a pact of allegiance and Los Alamos physicist Klaus Fuchs had confessed to passing atom bomb secrets to the Soviets. While, curiously, no mention of it is made in Hungerford’s paper, America’s enthusiasm for flying saucers was also ratcheting up to dizzy new heights, one sighting at a time.

The previous December had seen Donald Keyhoe’s electrifying ‘Flying Saucers are Real’ article appear in True Magazine,  just as the USAF, doing its best to keep the lid on a boiling pot of saucer stew, had published its own internal Project Grudge report, which recommended seriously downplaying flying saucer reports and keeping military sightings out of the public domain. The critical point, the Air Force realised, was to halt the spread of exactly the kinds of superstition and fear-mongering that Hungerford was writing about before things got out of hand.

Although Hungerford doesn’t mention flying saucers directly, her discussion of the use, or abuse, of superstitions in psychological warfare (or Pyschological Operations, PSYOPS, now MISO), is critical to understanding the role that PSYOPS played in the development of the UFO mythology, and recognising the phenomenon’s potential operational value to the military and intelligence agencies.

The paper discusses PSYOPS missions that successfully exploited local superstitions; for example in the 1920s on Afghanistan’s Northwest Frontier, the British planted loudspeakers in planes warning tribal peoples that God was angry with them for breaking the peace with India, while in World War II the Germans projected imagery (though it doesn’t say what) onto ‘drifting clouds’. Hungerford goes into some detail on the use of chain letters to clog up enemy communications networks (does this sound like the SERPO spam attack?), and the use of bogus fortune-tellers and false astrological data to dampen morale amongst both civilians and their leaders, a technique used extensively by both Allied and Axis powers during WWII.

Hungerford also references the activities of Captain Neville Maskelyne, the wartime illusionist most famous for his inflatable tanks and making the port of Alexandria ‘invisible’ to German bombers. In his 1949 book Magic Top Secret, Maskelyne gleefully describes other devilish antics that he and his team got up to:

“Our men…were able to use illusions of an amusing nature in the Italian mountains, especially when operating in small groups as advance patrols scouting out the way for our general moves forward. In one area, in particular, they used a device which was little more than a gigantic scarecrow, about twelve feet high, and able to stagger forward under its own power and emit frightful flashes and bangs. This thing scared several Italian Sicilian villages appearing in the dawn thumping its deafening way down their streets with great electric blue sparks jumping from it; and the inhabitants, who were mostly illiterate peasants, simply took to their heels for the next village, swearing that the Devil was marching ahead of the invading English. Like all tales spread among uneducated folk (and helped, no doubt, by our agents), this story assumed almost unimaginable proportions.”

Researcher Nick Redfern, who first drew my attention to the RAND paper, wonders whether Maskelyne’s scarecrow was an ancestor of the 1952 Flatwoods Monster. I would also suggest that famed cold warrior Air Force Colonel Edward Lansdale, a former advertising executive turned intelligence operative, read the RAND paper before being deployed in the Philippines to quash the Communist uprising there in the early 1950s. As well as broadcasting the ‘Voice of God’ from a plane (as the British had done in Afghanistan), his team exploited local superstitions about a vampire-like demon called the Aswang, a ploy that successfully drove the Commie guerrillas from their jungle stronghold.

Hungerford advises PSYOPS operatives to research the superstitions prevalent amongst their intended targets to learn how best to scare the crap out of them:

What superstitions are peculiar to Eastern Europeans, to Russians, to the various nationalities of the Soviet Union. What superstitions are prevalent amongst peasants, among combat troops or airmen, among civilians? What evidence is there that given members of the enemy elite are addicted to certain types of superstitions? What evidence is there that some types of superstitions lose their credibility after enjoying a brief vogue?

While the paper makes no explicit mention of flying saucers, it’s hard not to draw parallels to the craze that the USAF optimistically thought it had put a cap on. The saucer problem would soon flare up again in spectacular style, reaching its first climax with the July 1952 Washington DC ‘overflights’ that, I suggest, appear to have been a staged operation. Could Hungerford’s paper have played a role in changing the USAF’s mind about how best to deal with those unstoppable flying saucers?

Air Force attitudes towards UFOs changed dramatically between 1949′s Grudge report – which advised a strict lock down on media and internal military reports – and the famous LIFE magazine article of April 1952, in which the Air Force told America’s most popular magazine that UFOs could not ‘be explained by present science as natural phenomena — but solely as artificial devices, created and operated by a high intelligence.’

By the time that the CIA got involved with the UFO problem in 1952, they focused almost exclusively on the psychological warfare implications of the phenomenon. Surprisingly, given that UFOs were by now a top level concern for both the CIA and the Air Force, the CIA’s own 1953 summary makes no mention of Hungerford’s paper. Had her RAND report just not been read by the right people, or was it one of the secrets that the canny Air Force was keeping from the Agency for reasons of their own?

Whether the Air Force and the CIA were aware of it at the time or not, flying saucers proved to be the answer to two of Hungerford’s key concerns: they provided a superstitious framework that could be deployed to potent effect anywhere in the world and one that, 60 years later shows no signs of losing its credibility, despite the occasional dip in its profile. From a PSYOPS tactician’s perspective then UFOs were a gift from the gods as great as the fabled purse of Fortunatus – a gift that has never stopped giving.

However, before we crack open the PSYOPS champagne (or MISO soup?) we should remember that UFOs come bundled with their own unique set of problems. As I show in Mirage Men, the potential for ‘blowback’ from what we might call ‘lore operations’ gets stronger the more deeply and successfully the seeds of superstition are planted. And UFOs are in deep. Hungerford is fully aware of the issue:

It should be pointed out that democratic as well as totalitarian elites may be susceptible to superstition. Various American generals and admirals are noted for their stock of superstitious notions…

and ends her paper on a prescient note of caution:

What may be the boomerang effects of attempts to exploit popular folklore?

As the media is once again deluged with reports of UFO encounters from US military whistleblowers and intelligence insiders, some of them no doubt sincere, we would do well to consider this last question rather carefully.


 
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Can't wait to send everything I see to Google for interpretation!

The long awaited Goggle Goggles image recognition application has finally arrived for iPhone users.

I know, I know… Goggles is a visual search application. But some day this is what AR will become. Every object will be known and identified in seconds and will provide associated real-time context.

If you are not sure what Google Goggles is, or why it is exciting, Goggles is an image recognition application that enables Android and iPhone owners to take pictures of objects such as:

  • Landmarks
  • Wine labels
  • Logos
  • Books
  • Text (translation)
  • Contact info

By taking a picture of any of these classes of objects, the image is recognised and submitted to the Google search engine. If you take a picture of a landmark the landmark is identified and named without you having to type anything into a search engine. Useful if, you don’t want to type, or if you don’t know what the object is to begin with.

To test the functionality, I loaded the browser on my laptop and searched for Tower Bridge. I took a picture and retrieved a Google search page full of related results correctly identifying the picture as Tower Bridge.  Similarly to test the Art recognition functionality I searched for Mona Lisa which was also correctly identified.

The translation appears to work well. It would be interesting to try it out on something complex like a menu, but the text I tried came out fine.

Olá eu gostaria de

um pouco de queijo no

brinde, por favor

I tested the contact info by taking a picture of my business card. The data is scanned and you are given the option to add the contact to your contacts list. At the same time you are also given a Google search page with related results. In my case all the links looked relevant containing the Augmented Planet home page as well as my LinkedIn profile. The OCR require a few attempts in getting it to recognise my card but I expect that was down to poor lighting.

Wine label recognition worked as well, again you are at the mercy of the OCR and lighting so it may take a few attempts but complex images such as books and DVDs worked fine taking you to the relevant places where you can buy the product..

Interestingly, I took a picture of my cat and as expected it didn’t find a match. However it does attempt to be helpful by showing similar images which in my case included a few cats and a couple of dogs.

Google Goggles in action

www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezc108DTaug

Having the Google application on your mobile phone is pretty much essential anyway, the voice search facility is also pretty interesting, but having the Goggles functionality built in makes it even better..

Get it here

Related posts:

  1. Google Goggles What This Means For Augmented Reality
  2. Google Enter The Augmented Reality World
  3. GetFugu Logo Recognition For Android And iPhone
 
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Love the old horror look of these home made masks.

ha2

Haunted Air is a beautiful new book of photographs from SA pal Ossian Brown, compiled from his own collection of American Hallowe’en snaps taken (not by Mr Brown) between 1875 and 1955.

By this time the festival, imported into the United States during previous decades by predominantly Irish Catholic immigrants, had insinuated itself firmly into the ritual year and was celebrated, as these pictures show, by both rich and poor in towns, cities and rural communities all over the country.

The images in Haunted Air reveal some of the earliest expressions of fear and play captured on film; some are as sharp as if they were taken yesterday; most, however, are atmospherically warped and misted by time. Here are clowns, skeletons, goblins, scarecrows, pumpkins, ghosts, devils, angels, myriad strange hybrid beasts and even what looks like an anachronistic extraterrestrial.

Some of these images will make you smile; others, either through the costumes themselves, their settings or due to an accidental, intangible something in the composition or the image itself, provoke a delicious, involuntary chill, evoking an uncanniness sadly missing from today’s mechanically-reproduced festivities.

Perhaps the key difference to emerge from the Hallowe’en depicted here and Hallowe’en now is that, while there are similarities in the themes and masks on display, most of these costumes were made by the children who wore them, or by their families. Similarly the figures they depict were, with a few exceptions – is that a demonic Donald Duck lurking in there? – more likely to be drawn from the imagination, if admittedly a shared folk imagination, than from today’s library of copyrighted film, television, or comic strip ghouls.

HA1

Haunted Air’s ghost boys and girls are also revenants of a time when the horrors parading through your neighbourhood still maintained a dim spectral hold on reality, living on in the memories and superstitions of their parents and grandparents. Perhaps it’s not overly romantic to suggest that those who lurched, pranced and spooked at Hallowe’en were, as they mocked, also paying their respects to the denizens of an unseen, demon-haunted world that is all but lost to us.

Sumptuously produced, with a foreword by David Lynch and text by Geoff Cox, Haunted Air is available now from Jonathan Cape.

John Coulthart also points out that there was a piece on Ossian and Haunted Air at, of all places, the Financial Times web site.

 
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It’s a little short notice, but if anyone fancies taking part in a fascinating parapsychological art experiment this weekend, look no further:

VIGIL

Royal Academy Schools, 1-2 October 2010

Researching a series of unexplained incidents at this historic building, artist Blue Firth uncovered a first-hand account of apparent poltergeist activity in the artists’ studios.

While patrolling the 18th century corridors one night in 2008, Red Collar guard Nathan Phillips experienced something that prevented him from finishing his shift: “When I got back to where the skeletons are kept, the doors all slammed shut — like boom, boom, boom one after another. I tried to make out what it could be and checked all the doors again. I got to the same point in the same sequence and the bangs happened all over again. I didn’t finish my patrol that night.”

To make sense of what happened to Nathan, Blue has collaborated with parapsychologist Dr David Luke and writer Mark Pilkington. As preparatory research they undertook investigative training sessions with the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP).

Bringing together their knowledge and experience of the paranormal and arts fields, the trio have devised an event that merges Blue’s art practice with David and Mark’s expertise in making sense of the unexplained. The end result is a unique participatory experiment in which the audience are both observers and the observed, the haunters and the haunted.

Participants will be asked to complete psychological and physiological assessments before and after entering the site of the haunting, which will be monitored for any unusual occurrences. The vigil will take place under carefully controlled conditions and in total darkness.

Combining authentic investigative procedures with subtle performative aspects, Vigil examines and subverts the roles of audience expectation, spectatorship and belief.

Spaces for both nights are extremely limited so we advise reserving your position soon.

Visit the Royal Academy web site to buy tickets.

 
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Fascinating & fun approach to ideation

Last Saturday, Julian and I gave a quick and punchy workshop called Using Failures in Design Fictions at the SDN 2010 in Basel, Switzerland.



What’s better than a broken iPhone screen in a workshop about accidents and failures?

Here’s the workshop abstract we proposed to the conference committee:

The notion of ‘Design Fiction’ is an original approach to design research that speculates about the near future not only with storytelling but also through active making and prototyping. As such, design fictions are meant to shift the interest from technology-centered products to rich and people-focused design. There are of course various ways to create design fictions. One of them we would like to explore in this workshop consists in relying on failures.

We hypothesize that failures and accidents can be a starting point for creating rich and meaningful speculative projects. Think for instance about creating props or prototypes and exhibiting failures within it to make them more compelling. Or showing something as it will work with the failures — so anticipating them somehow rather than ignoring the possibility. What will not work right? What problems will be caused? What does it mean?

Based on short and participative activities, the workshop will address the following issues:

  • Can we include the exploration of failures in the design process? How to turn failures and people’s reaction to failures into prototyping tools?
  • How can design fiction become part of a process for exploring speculative near futures in the interests of design innovation? What is the role of failures in creating these design fictions?“

The 2-hours workshop started with an introduction about the wide range of failures, accidents, malfunctions and problems that are related to designed objects. We basically relied on the presentation made in Torino for that matter. The point of this intro was also to set the objectives: build a failure literacy (taxonomies, categories…), discuss their role in design using design fictions, fictional storytelling to discover new possibilities/unknown unknowns. We then splitted the participants into 6 groups for 3 short activities.

Activity 1: Listing of observed/existing failures

Given that the participants had a very diverse background (industrial design, fashion design, service design, media/interaction design), the point of this was to cast a wide net and observe what people define as failure. No need to write down the whole list here but here are some examples that reveal the range of possibilities:

  • Wrong hair color, not the one that was expected
  • Help-desk calls in which you end up being re-reroute from one person to another (and getting back to the first person you called)
  • Nice but noisy conference bags
  • Toilet configuration (doors, sensors, buttons, soap dispensers, hand-dryers…) in which you have to constantly re-learn everything.
  • Super loud and difficult to configure fire alarms that people disable
  • Electronic keys
  • Garlic press which are impossible to clean
  • On-line platforms to book flights for which you bought two tickets under the same name while it’s “not possible” from the company’s perspective (but it was technically feasible).
  • Cheap lighter that burn your nose
  • GPS systems in the woods
  • Error messages that say “Please refer to the manual” but there is not manual
  • Hotel WLAN not distributed anymore because hotel had to pay too many fines for illegal downloads

Activity 2: Description of anticipated failures (design fictions)

In the second activity, we asked people to craft two stories about potential failures/problems caused by designed objects in the future. By projecting people into the near future, we wanted to grasp some insights about how failures can be envisioned under different conditions. Here again, some examples that came out:

  • Identity and facial surgery change, potentially leading to discrepancies in face/fingerprint-recognition,
  • Wireless data leaking everywhere except “cold spots” for certain kind of people (very rich, very poor),
  • Problems with space travelling
  • Need to “subscribe” to a service as a new person because of some database problem
  • People who live prior to the Cloud Computing era who have no electronic footprint (VISA, digital identity) and have troubles moving from one country to another,
  • 3D printers accidents: way too many objects in people’s home, the size of the printed objects has be badly tuned and it’s way too big, monster printed after a kid connected a 3D printer to his dreams, …
  • Textiles which suppress bad smells also lead to removal of pheromones and it affects sexual desire (no more laundry but no baby either)…
  • Shared electrical infrastructure in which people can download/upload energy but no one ever agreed on the terms and conditions… which lead to a collapse of this infrastructure
  • Clothes and wearable computing can be hacked so you must now fly naked (and your luggage take a different flight)

It was interesting to notice that the “observed failures” (activity 1) were about a large range of designed objects (without necessarily Information Technologies). In this second case, ICT were always involved in the anticipated failures. It is as if we had trouble projecting other possibilities.

Activity 3: Towards failure taxonomies/categories

The last activity consisted in building a taxonomy of failures based on existing and anticipated ones (what the group came up with in Assignment 1 and 2): kinds of, categories. Some categories and parameters that emerged were the following:

  1. Short sightedness/not seeing the big pictures
  2. Failures and problems that we only realize ex-post/unexpected side-effects
  3. Excluding design
  4. Bad optimization
  5. Unnoticed failures
  6. Miniaturization that doesn’t serve its purpose
  7. Cultural failures: what can be a success in one country/culture can be a failure in another
  8. Delayed failures (feedback is to slow)
  9. When machines do not understand user’s intentions/technology versus human perception/bad assumptions about people (”Life has more loops than the system is able to understand”)
  10. Individual/Group failure (system that does not respond to individuals, only to the group)
  11. System-based failures versus failures caused by humans/context
  12. Natural failures: leaves falling from trees considered as a problem… although it’s definitely the standard course of action for trees)
  13. Good failures: Failure need interpretation, perhaps there’s no failure… alternative uses, misuses
  14. Inspiring failures
  15. Harmless failures

Why do I blog this? This is of course a super quick write-up but we wanted to have these ideas written so that could build-up on them in other workshops. Also, what the groups worked on is close to the literature about accidents and problems in Human-Computer Interaction (I’m thinking about Norman’s work) but it went beyond the existing lists. In addition, what was interesting, especially in the last assignment was that the list of categories reveal some important norms and criteria of success that designer have in mind.

Thanks to all the participants!

 
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Huge thanks to Taeyoon Choi who took over reblog over the last month, his contributions and documentation of Eyebeam's participation at 01SJ Biennial in San Jose where enlightening and always fascinating. We hope he'll join us again sometime soon for another round of great reblogging.

Now I'm turning it over to one of our X-Lab artists, David Jimison. David will be scouring the web for  fascinating links to work related to his interests in social phenomena and technology.

 
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