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art « Plebian Design: Blog

Archive for the ‘art’ Category

From the Archives: Absolut Quartet Making-of Footage

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

i stumbled on this a couple days ago and thought it would be nice to share. Jeff and Dan working on quartet. These are some clips from 2007.10.26 to 2007.11.21. Click the times in the video description on youtube if you want to skip ahead. It’s about 8 minutes long with a several distinct sections.

the ego satisfaction of comment spam

Monday, August 1st, 2011

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kickstarting with jeff and dan, moore kits and farmlapse

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

We have heard about this crowdsourced fundraising thing and we’re trying it out. Check these two projects out (within the next 20-40 days):

Get a Moore Pattern Kit from Jeff (or make it your self from supplied engineering drawings):
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/xercyn/moore-pattern-a-kinetic-optical-illusion-sculpture

Help Dan make a timelapse farm movie (and get some doodle art):
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1464315496/1113721417

Absolut Quartet in Berlin

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

How to ship a giant marimba robot

yo!

Jeff and Dan just had some fantastic time in Berlin and now Quartet is set up until September 5, 2010. Corner of Unter Den Linden and Freidrichstrasse, right near the Brandenburger Tor. It’s free and there is a ton of great work including Arthur Ganson, and many others we are big fans off. Check it out if you are in the area.

This is more info about the exhibit and a pdf with full details of artist and installations (in German).
http://www.volkswagenag.com/vwag/afb/content/de/veranstaltungen/tomorrow.html

Thanks to Jochen, Phil and Josi from ARS Electronica for helping us with lots of packing, unpacking, and heavy lifting during the installation.

Some assembly timelapse…

saturday
sunday
monday
tuesday

flickr photo set of some of the maintenance items…

One Minute Per Day instructions, b1

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

This is what happened on my laptop screen on Mar 1, 2010:

One Minute Per Day, March 1, 2010

Want to make daily movies like this from your screen? Then you came to the right place!!!

This set of instructions refers to the boranj release of the ONE MINUTE PER DAY (OMPD) project.

OMPD refers to the idea of spending one minute per day reflecting on how you spent your time during the day. Here, we’re specifically talking about how you spent your time using your computer. Maybe you’ve considered using various tracking software that will give you such stats as 5 hours on Firefox, 3 hours on Email, 2 hours on OpenOffice, etc. We tried some of those programs and while they are nice, the way the data is presented didn’t seem to help us make changes to our behavior so we ended up making this software. This hasn’t necessarily changed our behavior either but it’s more fun(TM).

INSTRUCTIONS:
(more…)

What Moves You?

Monday, February 15th, 2010

I have been informally taking note of what things make my body react and what things don’t. It is often an eclectic collection of things that a particular body reacts to. Some, like startling noises, are obvious, along with their expected reactions. Still, the range of reactions we have to these surprising stimuli is as varied as the range of reactions we have to a standup comedian. Some things make some people jump. Some don’t. Other things are hardly obvious, like songs that make some people cry and others snore.
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Why would you want to make your work easier to copy?

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Maybe you don’t. But possibly you want to bring more voices into the game? How do you help people more easily reproduce your work? How do you lower barriers to entry? If you have to put walls up around your work, does that mean you are doing something wrong?

Below are a couple videos that talk about the new landscape of peer production, easy person to person communication, and distributed rather than hierarchical organization. They tell a lot of the story of why we are spending time lately on developing kits.

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Thoughts on the Evolution of Dance for Me and My Species

Friday, June 12th, 2009

My relationship with dancing has gone through a series of deaths and rebirths. Always on the move. Now that I think about it, my earliest memory of dance is watching my brother dancing around to a Peter, Paul, and Mary record at a relative’s apartment. We were probably five years old. And I remember the sound of her sing-song-proper voice telling my mom, “What a wonderful dancer Michael was.” He was half joking around, but he was definitely feeling it. (more…)

Future Commerce Hypotheses

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

You can set up shop anywhere you want.

You can set up shop anywhere you want.

Everything is changing they say. So what is next? If we wanted to make some guesses about the future of commerce, what would they be? Or what would we hope might arise? There would be 2 sides to the questions, 1] what we hope(value judgments) and 2] what we think might be forced by the changes in connectivity(practical observations).
These will try to focus on the practical observations.
(more…)

The word God

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Main Entry: God
Pronunciation: \ˈgäd also ˈgȯd\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English; akin to Old High German got god
Date: before 12th century

1 capitalized : the supreme or ultimate reality: as a: the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe bChristian Science : the incorporeal divine Principle ruling over all as eternal Spirit : infinite Mind 2: a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship ; specifically : one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality3: a person or thing of supreme value 4: a powerful ruler

This NPR “This I Believe” entry is one of the first things I posted to my facebook page, an essay from Penn Gillette on being an atheist. I really enjoy this piece a lot, it struck me.
I posted it and several other atheist writings to my facebook page and got some interesting discussions with religious friends. It was the first time I really felt like facebook delivered something valuable to me. A truly different opinion than I was used to getting from people in cambridge or nyc…

But lately I would say I do believe in God. It’s not a statement I would have imagined myself making but it’s true, I do believe in a supreme or ultimate reality. A being or a principle seem to be the same thing to me in this area.

(more…)

Kinesthetic Sculpture

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

I like standing in subway trains. One day in March, as I was subway surfing, I allowed myself to observe my body as it reacted to the train’s unpredictable, yet periodic movements. Next time you are on a subway train, I encourage you to try this experiment; really let your body do its thing and watch from the inside. In my mind, the relationship was suddenly reversed and I realized that the subway was putting movement into my body. This led me to ask the question: Can we create machines that put choreographed movements directly into the body? Machines that move you and move with you.
(more…)

What are your metrics for success? Or how do you get everyone to join a band?

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

What are you metrics for success?
Is it money? Or prizes? Or accolades? Or how hot your significant other is? Or is it personal satisfaction?
How do you know if you have got something real? How can you know if you are headed in the direction of GM, AIG, lehman brothers, the bush administration, etc?

As of this post, this video has >700,000 views. (more…)

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.

Doodling or something like it

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

recursion

recursion

I have recently adopted doodling as my morning and evening meditation, something away from my computer. That said, I’m still typing this blog post at 2 AM. Computers and connectivity have their issues for sure. How do we balance focus this global connectivity with our local and physical environments?

I like exercise in the morning but this is Boston and the weather is still a barrier to entry for me. Looking forward to warmth. Speaking of which, I will someday put together a post about warmth.

some other doodles here.

Church is Our Classroom

Friday, April 17th, 2009

If we ever want to turn our classrooms into churches, we must first make church our classroom. Before you vehemently counter that our classrooms should not be turned into anything like a church, allow me to explain. We are at a point in history not only where the scientific method can shed light on the origins of religion, its adaptive value in our species’ evolution, the efficacy of its rituals, its neurological bases, and so on, but where religious fruits can grow in scientific soil.

Religion is often called upon by scientists to adjust its theology to new scientific discoveries. This bending process happens at a snail’s pace, so slow that most of the time it doesn’t even look like it’s happening. It is time for science to step into the classroom of religion; not just to empirically take note of its place in cultural life, its modes of teaching and dissemination, its leveraging of emotion, and it’s long journey from evolutionary origins to culture, but to apply the knowledge gleaned to itself.

The pursuit of turning science and evolution into a new religion is easy to misconstrue. Jerry Coyne writes, “Scientists fear that if evolution became anything like a religion, it would be abandonment of its main tool for understanding nature: the resolution of empirical claims with empirical data.” There are strategies, however, for attaching emotion to scientific empiricism and for making it special by leveraging our innate aesthetic response, without compromising its core principles.

Efforts are underway. The science museum. The integration of art into the classroom. Sesame Street. 321 Contact. Seed Magazine. Carl Sagan. Discovery Channel. Time Warp. PBS. Unweaving the Rainbow. (Stay tuned for links.)

It is not the monotheistic conception of God that we must find in evolution and science, but the spiritual realities that our hominid ancestors discovered. Perhaps it is better phrased as finding spiritual realities in science or imbuing science with a mystic glow. Einstein felt it. Carl Sagan felt it. Francis Bacon, too. E.O Wilson sees it.

In ethological terms we realize that science is a baby, born only 500 years ago. On top of that, it is one of the most unintuitive modes of thought. The first stirrings of religion can be seen as long as 100,000+ years ago. It was in this early period that the myth was born as an effective compressor of emotional information.

The new myths must tell the awe-inspiring stories of science. The new hymns must breathe the true depth of our history into our bones. Religious rituals incorporated artistic activities into a highly effective positive feedback loop. The new rituals can use art in the same way to create emotional involvement in science; not to incorporate emotional involvement into the scientific method, but to link emotion -  to quote E.O. Wilson, the modication of neural activity that animates and focuses mental activity - with the mental activities of science.

In our personal efforts to understand religion, we recently embarked on a church tour. Each Sunday, we will visit a different church in the Boston / Cambridge area. Part anthropologist / part student, we enter with open minds, observe, and participate in holy rituals. It is a vital piece of our conversation with religion, art, and science.

Can science assuage the existential anxieties that religion has so adeptly adapted to deal with? If it is to ever come close, science and evolution must be made to inspire the deep sense of mystery and wonder that the world’s religions have articulated for thousands of years. The way to find these spiritual realities in science is the same way religion found them, through art and ritual.