Archive for the ‘uncategorized’ Category

Church is our Classroom: Part III Faith Lutheran Church

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

April 19, 2009
Faith Lutheran Church, Cambridge, MA

After Easter Sunday we were looking for a smaller, more intimate, but still very feelgood/positive environment [I've heard a lot about some stern services and really am working my way into that]. The point here is that they’ve all got different methods of creating a viable meme, so how do we look into the details and figure out what they’ve got right? How do we design something based on these inherent attractions people have to certain rational or emotional responses? They have already studied this for 5,000 years, with the advantage of only the most basic scientific method [trial and error] and have come up with some very useful rules of thumb, however implicit.

Science has the potential to lift our spirits as well; as Carl Sagan said:

“In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed”? Instead they say, “No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.” A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.”

Mirror Neurons Part I: Watching is Moving

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

A mirror neuron is a neuron which fires when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another animal, especially of like species. They have been observed in primates and most probably exist in humans. I’ve known about mirror neurons for some time now, but have only recently been hit over the head with the scientific, artistic, and personal significance of their discovery.

They form a deeply beautiful network of silent movement among living creatures. They presence implies that, even in stillness, we move with the living world around us. They make us living seismographs on which the moving animal world perpetually and silently plays itself out. We move with those around us, not merely seeing others doing, but essentially doing with them. We move in synchronicity, dancing our own internal interpretation of a common dance.

The processes of evolution has tangled and cross-wired our sensory systems; mirror neurons are yet another piece of evidence pointing toward our inherent metaphorical nature. Watching another move means moving with another. Sight as movement.

A set of very distinct human feelings likely arise from this automatic neural transcription. Gallese, a co-discoverer of mirror neurons, has proposed a theory of embodied simulation, wherein mirror neurons form the bases for empathetic experience. We know what it feels like to be someone else in a deeper sense than we could have ever imagined. Every day, we are constantly putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes; in fact we putting ourselves in their entire bodies.

(I can’t help thinking about every time I’ve ever cringed watching a groin shot on America’s Funniest Home Videos.)

Despite the lack of evidence, I am intrigued with Ramachandran’s speculation that mirror neurons were responsible for the great leap in technological sophistication that occurred around 40 thousand years ago. He proposes that they could have allowed accidental cultural mutations to spread quickly through the population by facilitating imitation learning. He speaks of mirror neurons allowing us to read and understand another’s intentions, thus developing a sophisticated theory of other minds.

Rizzolati, a co-discoverer of mirror neurons, talks about them enabling humans to mime—and possibly understand—the lip and tongue movements of others, which could provide a means for language to evolve. There is a linguistic theory that posits the evolution of language from isomorphisms where, for example, the sounds created by upward placement of the tongue correspond to words with upward connotations. I could imagine mirror neurons being responsible for the initial mappings of such movements from the world onto the musculature of our mouths.

The operation of mirror neurons in our experience presents an entirely new kind of understanding of interpersonal relationships, one to which the entire body—not just the mind— is an integral part. Theories of consciousness that forgo mind/body dualities begin to make much more sense to me in light of mirror neurons. The body becomes a vital stage in our interpersonal experience.

The concept of mirror neurons provides a real physiological basis for the metaphor of resonance between individuals. As early as the 1933, dance critic John Martin proposed a theory of muscular sympathy or metakinesis in which audience members played the movements of the dancers out in their musculature. It turns out that this phenomenon is probably real.

Perhaps one day mirror neurons will receive sensory status; a sixth sense of movement perception among living creatures.

Why is science important

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

A blog post from the Time Warp blog, about why science is important in our culture. Is it important? Why? How do we best communicate that importance?

art process evolution

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Two quick links of great artists and their descriptions of the musical process.

Leonard Bernstein:

Glenn Gould:

It’s interesting to see how much process plays into both of these elements, as well as metaphor, connecting to some of Dissanayake’s work on the process of artmaking and the metaphorical mind.

The Open Source Birthday

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Recently we at Plebian Design have been thinking about the creation of an Open Source Birthday Song. (The current birthday song is copyrighted) We’d like a community to consistently form better and better open-source versions of the birthday song.. every once in a while a more catchy version would catch along and that’s what you’d sing at the birthday parties. So, trends would happen. The song could be similar content but in a constant state of evolution. Would you like to participate? Let us know on the project page.

I just turned 31. My goals for this year:

  • Focus in the present as much as possible. Remember it is the motion around the sun that is important, not how many times you’ve gone around.
  • Focus on others’ perception as little as possible, while keeping in mind that their perceptions and my ‘masks’ can create possible connections where previously there were none.
  • Practice as much radical honesty as possible, in both business/art and friendship.
  • Share/collaborate as much as possible. Get everything out there, all the time. Put ideas out - information is free.

I recently wrote a short birthday poem for a friend Wes’s birthday. It is below, describes a rough draft of what I feel is important about the birthday process.

Originally for Wes Skiles:

The fundamental unit of time is not the second, but the day.
Every measure of human time is based on when we have light, and when it is dark.
Every rhythm in our lives is determined by the fundamental rhythm of the rotation of the Earth, and our daily view of the Sun.
There was a time in our history when we knew ‘day,’ but not ‘year.’
Every 365.25 days, we appear at a reference point in space.
It helps us keep perspective on gaining wider feedback loops,
of seeing our thoughts on multiple levels,
and how it is the process, not the result, to value.

How better to celebrate our lives
than to celebrate the journey around the source of our lives - marked periodically?

Thinking the unthinkable, information is free.

Monday, March 16th, 2009

A great new post from Clay Shirky on Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable.

Those in the newspaper industry don’t know what to do with the free information distribution miracle that is the internet. It breaks the previous business models.

It makes increasingly less sense even to talk about a publishing industry, because the core problem publishing solves — the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public — has stopped being a problem.

and the inability for us to predict what is next…

In craigslist’s gradual shift from ‘interesting if minor’ to ‘essential and transformative’, there is one possible answer to the question “If the old model is broken, what will work in its place?” The answer is: Nothing will work, but everything might. Now is the time for experiments, lots and lots of experiments, each of which will seem as minor at launch as craigslist did, as Wikipedia did, as octavo volumes did.

Of course, this is not just newspapers, this is the music industry, this is book publishing, this is magazines and publishing of any sort. But it does not stop at publishing. This affects everything from government to churches to cars to cameras to pharmaceuticals to art. It will just hit some later than others. If it hasn’t hit the industry you work in, don’t worry, it will.

Information is free. The true cost of sharing a story, photo, mp3, video, or abstract chunk of data is essentially zero. Companies that make their money off of hoarding and distribution are going to be history soon enough. And one way or another this will force every industry to rethink the general concept of “intellectual property” or “information ownership”. There are so many new tools and so many ways for information to get out there. We love to share. And we aren’t going to stop anytime soon. From leaked emails to napster to the pirate bay, someone younger and more clever than you will liberate the information. Sharing is the present and most certainly the future.

What is next? Well, there is no telling for sure but we can certainly try to celebrate and document those who are sharing right now. How are they making money? How are they adding value? Is it sustainable growth? How do we share more information?

Can we all stop building fences around our information? How do those of us who are more comfortable with this transition help others around us? How do we tell this story better to the general public? Can we ease the big companies out of this or will they come crashing down clinging to their old models?

Is radical honesty the best policy?

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Radical Honesty.Brad Blanton practices ‘radical honesty’ - not only completely honest about everything, but forthright. He claims that all sources of anxiety come from our inabilities in culture to remain completely honest with each other. At first, a somewhat reasonable initial proposition; upon some further reflection, this seems impossible to accomplish; and upon even further reflection, this seems almost spiritual in nature. More info on Brad Blanton here.

Does radical honesty enable us to completely focus on process instead of product? Maybe it is not the specific content of our interactions that matters as much as the continual process of growth and sharing [true intimacy] between people. And, that only by being completely open with each other, can we find true authenticity in our relationships. Also, being continually hurt and hurting others with full honesty allows us all to grow as individuals, and develop a much deeper sense of empathy. However, it is worth the pain caused in the process? I am slowly being convinced it may be so.

Is radical honesty the best policy?

things that animals do. extended remix.

Monday, March 9th, 2009

they dream

they make tools

they plan for the future
chimp created weapons hurl zoo vistors

they take drugs

they build cities

what is left to only humans?

Robert Krulwich on Storytelling

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Robert Krulwich knows what he’s talking about. One of the best commencement addresses I’ve ever heard, from NPR’s Radiolab.

I just signed as a speaker with Jodi Solomon, to start lecturing to students, adults, children, etc.. and I’ve been trying to settle on what ideas are most important to share, and how best to share them. This corresponds extremely well with everything I’ve been thinking about - how to spread the love of science and how evolution adds to the beauty that we see in all things. Telling stories that show deeper beauties through science and through the process of evolution, in many contexts. Studying the most potent means of transfer of knowledge is an important field, one we as scientists can be more conscious of and try to improve. We deal with our ideas in a very closed mindset.

Very inspiring. “Take a chance. find the words… share the beauty… tell them a story.”

Collision 14 opening night, weightloss demonstration.

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Eric and Dan discuss weightloss at the opening and gallery guests demonstrate the piece. It’s nice to see how it takes a bit for the two volunteers to get the piece to work. We wanted to search for the correct degree of difficulty that provided a challenge to visitors but wasn’t so hard that they would give up before getting it. We would hope that most people get it, but it’s important for it to include some exploration and false starts.

Videos of other pieces before and after.

Collision 14 At Axiom Gallery

Monday, February 9th, 2009

We’re pleased to be a part of the latest Collision show. #14!

We’ll be showing a prototype of our latest piece “Weightloss” or “Weightless”. The name is still pending. Here are the details of the show.->

Opening Reception: Friday February 13th, 2009 6-9 pm

persistence of vision | point of view
COLLISIONcollective is back at the Axiom Center for New and Experimental Media for its fourteenth group show called COLLISION14:pov.  In thirteen new works, the artists dissect the dual meanings of POV: Persistence of Vision and Point of View. They explore the ways humans envision time by embracing the stability in repetition and the motion in stasis. As you observe the show make sure to take a moment to orient your own head to discover miniature objects, objects overhead and your own face from a perspective far too often reserved for others.
/// COLLISION14:pov
/// Rob Gonsalves, Georgina Lewis, Dave Gordon, Joseph Farbrook,
Chris Fitch, Eric Gunther, Giles Hall, Ian Ingram, Bob Kephart,
Jeff Lieberman, Bradley N. Litwin, Dan Paluska, Rudi Punzo,
Mary Sherman, Mark J. Stock and Andy Zimmermann
/// February 13-March 14, 2009
Opening Reception: Friday February 13, 2009 @ 6pm.
Gallery Hours: Wednesdays, Thursdays 6-9 pm and Saturdays 2-5 pm
alternative visiting hours can be arranged by appointment
/// AXIOM Center for New and Experimental Media - 141 Green Street
located in the Green Street T Station on the Orange Line
/// For more information, please call 484-557-6934 or visit
/// All artists and members involved are available for interviews and questions.

Upgrade! Jan 27, 09. 7pm. MassArt

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

We’re giving a talk at MassArt tonight.

7:00 pm @ Studio for Interrelated Media
North 181 - entrance on Evans Way [map]
Massachusetts College of Art and Design
621 Huntington Avenue, Boston
Follow the signs posted on the outside of the Tower Building (black glass)
[Green Line "E"]

Hello world!

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

This is your first post. We can always edit things later, because we are all administors of the truth.