Algorithm, Analog Computing, Art, Automata, Bacteria, Biological Computation, Biology, Cybernetics, Deep Learning

Beyond design: cybernetics, biological computers and hylozoism (Pickering 2008)

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Architecture, Art, gas, PDF, Photography

Gas Tanks (Bernd and Hilla Becher)

“Typological, repetitive, at times oddly humorous,  photographs of industrial structures are, in their cumulative effect, profoundly moving. The Bechers’ serenely cool, disarmingly objective, and notoriously obsessive images of water towers, gas tanks, grain elevators, blast furnaces, and mineheads have been taken over several decades, under overcast skies, with a view camera that captures each detail and tonality of wood, concrete, brick and steel.
In this work, the Bechers’ present four principally different forms of gas holders or gas tanks in 140 photographs taken during the years 1963-1992 in Great Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, and the United States. The subjects are photographed under overcast skies that eliminate expressive variations in lighting; the Bechers make no attempt to analyze or explain them. Captions contain only the barest of information: time and place. On the subject of gas holders, the Bechers limit their remarks to a minimal functional description, leaving the aesthetic dimension of their subject to the photographs themselves: much of the fascination of these photographs lies in the fact that these unadorned metallic structures, presumably built with little concern for their visual impact, are almost invariably striking in appearance.”

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Art, Biology, Cybernetics, ecology, History, music theory, systems theory

communication +1, 3(1): Afterlives of Systems (2014) (pdf)

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“Under the impression of today’s global crisis and the rise of ecological thinking, confronted with smart, ubiquitous technosystems and the impression of interconnectedness, there appears a new urge to excavate the remnants of the past. The articles of this issue suggest that in order to understand present technologies, we need to account the systems thinking that fostered their emergence, and that we cannot gain insight into the afterlives of systems without exploring their technologies.

The nine contributions ask how these debates and affective states survive and live on in today’s discussions of media ecologies, environmentalism, object-oriented philosophies, computer simulations, performative art, and communication technologies. In this sense, they take the renaissance of systems thinking in the late 20th and early 21st Century as an effect of various system crisis and explore new media technologies as stabilizing ‘cures’ against the dystopian future scenarios that emerged after World War II. The articles of this issue suggest that in order to understand present technologies, we need to account the systems thinking that fostered their emergence, and that we cannot gain insight into the afterlives of systems without exploring their technologies.”

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Art, Biology, Biometrics, Brain, Education, Mind, Psychology, Science, Society

Secrets of the Creative Brain

“Part of what comes with seeing connections no one else sees is that not all of these connections actually exist. “Everybody has crazy things they want to try,” that same subject told me. “Part of creativity is picking the little bubbles that come up to your conscious mind, and picking which one to let grow and which one to give access to more of your mind, and then have that translate into action.””

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Anthropology, Art, Biological Computation, Biology, Biometrics, Brain, Deep Learning, Music, Neural Networks, Psychology, Science, Social intelligence, Society, Sound

The Neuroscience of Improvisation

Charles Limb has been investigating rap. “It’s what kids are doing spontaneously when growing up… and improvisation is a strong theme. It incorporates language and rhythmic music very equally.” Limb has been scanning the brains of rappers the same way he looked at jazz musicians: comparing fMRIs when they recited memorized passages to when they “freestyled,” or improvised in rhyme. Although the study is still in progress, preliminary data suggest “major changes in brain activity when you go from memorized rap to freestyle.” Can studies of improvisation unlock more general secrets of creativity? Limb hopes to do similar investigations of artists as they draw or paint. The moderator ended with an inevitable question about art and science: “It is worth the effort to measure and quantify something abstract and artistic… to demystify what we enjoy the mystery of?” Limb saw nothing “threatening or reductionist” in the work of neuroscientists. “Humans are hardwired to seek art, and there are very few things that engage the brain on the level that music does. To understand the neural basis of creativity teaches us something fundamental about who we are, why we’re here.” Improvisation “shows us what the mind can do,” Marcus added. “The ability of human beings to improvise tells us a lot about the ultimate scope of our capabilities.”

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Architecture, Art, Biology, Biometrics, Brain, Capitalism, Economy, Education, History, Mathematics, Medicine, Nature, philosophy, Psychology, Science, Society

Kantian Legacy in Nineteenth Century Science

“The book examines Kant’s influence on five strands of nineteenth-century scientific thought: Naturphilosophie and the effect of German Romanticism (especially Goethe) on biology; Fries’s philosophy of science; Helmholtz’s rejection of Naturphilosophie and Romanticism; neo-Kantianism and its return to “methodological” concerns in natural science and academic philosophy; and Poincaré and his reflections on scientific epistemology. The essays give a nuanced picture of Kant’s legacy to nineteenth-century thinkers and of the rich interaction between philosophical ideas and discoveries in the natural and mathematical sciences during this period. They point to the ways that the scientific developments of the nineteenth century link Kant’s thought to the science of the twentieth century.”

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Algorithm, Architecture, Art, Automata, Biological Computation, Chaos, Code, Cybernetics, Drawing machine, History, Interface, Kinetic, Light, Logic, Maker, Man/Machine, Mathematics, Neural Networks, PDF, Social intelligence, Society, Tactical Media

Cybernetic Serendipity the Computer and the Arts – (1968)

Exhibition catalogue. Edited by Jasia Reichardt (Studio International Special Issue, London. 1968)

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Anthropology, Art, Capitalism, Code, Commons, Economy, Ethics, History, Interface, Media, Memory, PDF, philosophy, Social intelligence, Society, Tactical Media

Kittler Friedrich : Gramophone Film Typewriter

“Part technological history of the emergent new media in the late nineteenth century, part theoretical discussion of the responses to these media—including texts by Rilke, Kafka, and Heidegger, as well as elaborations by Edison, Bell, Turing, and other innovators—Gramophone, Film, Typewriter analyzes this momentous shift using insights from the work of Foucault, Lacan, and McLuhan. Fusing discourse analysis, structuralist psychoanalysis, and media theory, the author adds a vital historical dimension to the current debates over the relationship between electronic literacy and poststructuralism, and the extent to which we are constituted by our technologies. The book ties the establishment of new discursive practices to the introduction of new media technologies, and it shows how both determine the ways in which psychoanalysis conceives of the psychic apparatus in terms of information machines.”

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Anthropology, Art, Capitalism, Chaos, Commons, Economy, Education, Ethics, Media, PDF, Recycling, Society, Tactical Media

Materiality of Information Technology and Electronic Waste

‘The digital realm is an avant-garde to the extent that it is driven by perpetual innovation and perpetual destruction. The built-in obsolescence of digital culture, the endless trashing of last year’s model, the spendthrift throwing away of batteries and mobile phones and monitors and mice . . . and all the heavy metals, all the toxins, sent off to some god-forsaken Chinese recycling village . . . that is the digital avant- garde’ (Cubitt, non-dated)

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Algorithm, Art, Brain, Man/Machine, Music, phenomenology, Sound

Andrew Lucia : Rhythm to Pitch

“To the human, the transformation of rhythm to pitch occurs at a particular perceptual threshold of roughly 16 to 20 Hz. For example, a sonic rhythm sped up above roughly 20 pulses per second will blur perceptually from a rhythm to a pitch. For our studies, we specifically examine these gaps between each new bit of information received by an observer. These gaps can exist spatially as the interval between each bit, or temporally as the duration between each bit. Our investigations presented here visually demonstrate formal aspects of underlying frequency space and structure inspired by the examination of two particular works of the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen; Kontakte and Elektronische Musik Studie II.”

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Architecture, Art, Automata, Chaos, Drawing machine, Kinetic, Maker, Man/Machine, Sound

Jean Tinguely Art Machines, 1959.

“His best-known work, a self-destroying sculpture titled Homage to New York (1960), only partially self-destructed at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, although his later work, Study for an End of the World No. 2 (1962), detonated successfully in front of an audience gathered in the desert outside Las Vegas.”

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Architecture, Art, Biology, Brain, Education, Music, PDF, Psychology, Science

Art and Visual Perception : Rudolf Arnheim.

“…this work has established itself as a classic. It casts the visual process in psychological terms and describes the creative way one’s eye organizes visual material according to specific psychological premises. In 1974 this book was revised and expanded, and since then it has continued to burnish Rudolf Arnheim’s reputation as a groundbreaking theoretician in the fields of art and psychology.”

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Architecture, Art, Astrology, Automata, Economy, Light, Society, Sound

Nicolas Schöffer and Luminodynamism

“Echoing El Lissistsky’s ‘prouns’ defined as the midway point between architecture and painting, Schöffer would extend the scale of his sculptures to monumental proportions. His 52m high Cybernetic Tower in Liège, created in 1961, senses its immediate environment using microphones, hygrometers and anemometers (wind measurement). The information collected from these sensors is used orchestrate the movement of mirrors and lights on the towers, and also to generate environmental sounds to be played back to the city. Viewed at night time the mirrors act more as colour switches giving an overall impression of network interactions and connections inferred via pulsing colours. With nodes of interconnected light existing in a lattice perhaps Schöffer was attempting to mimic the invisible communication infrastructures that were developed during the 50′s and 60′s and who’s influence had grown to create the science of Cybernetics.”

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Art, Automata, Education, Mathematics, Nature, philosophy

The Binary Symmetry of MC Hess

My interest in this subject extends from daily experiences with geometry and typography over a 35-year career of visual design. The terminology is personal and was created as needed. In late 1986, while sketching on a quadrille pad, I generated this little drawing and asked myself a seemingly simple question: How many different 5×5 images will nature allow? After filling pages of quadrille pad I realized that imagination alone wasn’t up to the task (not an easy thing for an artist to accept). I next made a 20-foot-wide wallchart and kept searching for a method to generate quantities of these symbols. Over several years I worked on the 5×5 problem in my spare time. It soon became my favorite intellectual diversion. I thought of it as some kind of hyper-digital I Ching. I thought of it as my Glass Bead Game.

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Algorithm, Art, Astrology, Automata, Biology, Chaos, DIY, Maker, Man/Machine, Mathematics, Nature

Owen Schuh

“Owen Schuh uses mathematical procedures, sometimes with the aid of a calculator as well as bespoke drawing machines, to generate emergent drawings which evoke computational and natural system visualisations. One of the key aspects of Owen’s work is the use of simple formulae, iteratively, to direct the growth of complex structures – local calculations give rise to autonomous and unexpected global configurations.”

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Algorithm, Art, Astrology, Automata, DIY, Drawing machine, History, Interface, Maker, Man/Machine, Mathematics, Music, Science, Society, Sound

Lord Kelvin’s Harmonic Synthesizer

“Originally designed as a tide predictor in 1873, the system can combine numerous component waves—in some devices, up to 64 separate components—into a single curve. It is based on the earlier pin-and-slot device, which produces simple harmonic motion with the turn of a crank.”

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Art, Automata, Biology, Biometrics, Film, History, Interface, Man/Machine, Music, Nature, Neural Networks, PDF, Robots, Science, Society, Sound, Tactical Media

Sholpo, Russian sound Art Histories and Generation Z

“Graphical (Drawn) Sound is a technology of synthesizing sound from light that was developed in Soviet Russia in 1929 as a consequence of the newly invented sound-on-film technology, which made possible access to the sound as a trace in a form that could be studied and manipulated. It also opened up the way for a systematic analysis of these traces such that they could be used to produce any sound at will. The laboratories that were soon created became the first-ever prototypes of the future centres for computer music. While most inventors of electronic musical instruments were developing tools for performers, the majority of methods and instruments based on Graphical Sound techniques were created for composers. Similar to modern computer music techniques, the composer could produce the final synthesized soundtrack without need for any performers or intermediates. At exactly the same time similar efforts were being undertaken in Germany by Rudolf Pfenninger in Munich and, somewhat later, by Oscar Fischinger in Berlin. Among the researchers working with Graphical Sound after World War II were the famous filmmaker Norman McLaren (Canada) and the composer and inventor Daphne Oram (UK)”

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Algorithm, Art, Automata, Biometrics, Brain, History, Interface, Man/Machine, Mathematics, Music, Neural Networks, PDF, Robots, Science, Society, Sound

When Machines Play Chopin

“However, as the eighteenth-century androids show, machines and or­ ganic nature, including human cognition, were not always polar opposites. Philipp Sarasin writes in his book on machines and the body that the machine and the organic were interchangeable in pre-Romantic thought (75). In another study on machines in human history, Herbert Heckman explains that the relationship between the body and the machine starts with the stone-age necessity to build tools as extensions of the body in order to survive (11). The nineteenth-century desire to separate the mechanical from the organic was a reaction to Enlightenment philosophy and an attempt to break away from this thinking in favour of an emphasis of expression and spirit over form.”

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Algorithm, Animals, Art, Biology, Biometrics, Brain, Education, Man/Machine, Mathematics, Medicine, Nature, Neural Networks, philosophy, Science

Neuro inspired computational elements (Dyson Lecture)

“Alfred Smee (1818-1877) is known for publishing a series of books on a field he called electro-biology, the relation of electricity to the vital functions of the human body. He argued that instinct and reason could be deduced from electro-biology. For Smee, an idea consists of a collection of electrically stimulated nerve fibers. Using the technology of the 19th century, Smee conceived mechanical machines for presenting his ideas. Smee’s Relational Machine (so called because it represented the relationship between the various properties, comprising an idea), was intended to represent one thought, idea, or mental image at a time.”

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Algorithm, Art, Bio hacking, DIY, DNA, Farming, Mathematics, Nature, Neural Networks, Robots, Science

Agricultural Printing/Altered Landscapes

“The project uses the idea of “Agricultural Printing” to explore the possibilities of digital fabrication carried over into farming. The experiment applies algorithms to partition and to create an environmentally beneficial structure into a standard biomass/energy production field. These additional areas establish, or improve, the connectivity for fauna and flora between habitats. This increased diversity also eases typical problems of monocultures e.g. less vermin → reduced usage of pesticides.”

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Algorithm, Art, Biometrics, Brain, Chaos, Interface, Man/Machine, Mathematics, Music, Neural Networks, Robots, Science, Sound

Post-Human Musics

“Might they not, too, be interested in music? After all, they will have unfettered access to the cultural products of the human world, and they will share DNA—the same hardware, languages, and algorithms—with electronic music. They will have networked relationships with devices and systems capable of generating sound. Freed from the limitations of the fallible human body, they will certainly be capable of playing expertly, although it’s more plausible they won’t need to play at all. It used to take a laser, a magnet, or a needle to reproduce sound. Now all it takes is code.”

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Art, Astrology, Mathematics, Music, PDF, phenomenology, philosophy, Science, Society, Sound

Music and Science in the Age of Galileo (1992)

“…features twelve essays by leading specialists in the fields of musicology, history of science, astronomy, philosophy, and instrument building that explore the relations between music and the scientific culture of Galileo’s time. The essays take a broad historical approach towards understanding such topics as the role of music in Galileo’s experiments and in the scientific revolution, the musical formation of scientists, Galileo’s impact on the art and music of his time, the scientific knowledge of instrument builders, and the scientific experiments and cultural context of Galileo’s father, Vincenzo Galilei.”

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Algorithm, Art, Brain, Interface, Maker, Man/Machine, Music, Nature, Neural Networks, phenomenology, Science, Sound

Ralf Baecker is my hero.

“Ralf Baecker is an artist with a background in computer science, who works with and about technologie. He builds speculative machines and installations that investigate the digital and its cultural origin, with a focus on the encounter of thought and the (physical) world. He considers computers and cybernetic machines as epistemological hardware rather than tools.”

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Art, Bio hacking, Biology, Brain, Education, Interface, Maker, Man/Machine, Medicine, Music, phenomenology, philosophy, Robots, Science, Society, Sound, Tactical Media

PSYCHOGRAM

“You are not your brain. You have a brain, yes. But you are a living being that is connected to an environment; you are embodied, and dynamically interacting with the world. We can’t explain consciousness in terms of the brain alone because consciousness doesn’t happen in the brain alone.” Alva Noe. (Great links on this page)

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Art, Capitalism, Commons, PDF, philosophy, Tactical Media

Red Art: New Utopias in Data Capitalism

“Prompted by the economic crisis, New Media Art appears to increasingly employ the tools provided by new technologies in order to penetrate all aspects of global social living and assert the need for socioeconomic change. New Media artworks and art projects have gradually formed a common practice whose objectives allude to utopian theories of social organization lying closer to certain visions of communism, direct democracy and anarchism, rather than to the realities of neoliberal capitalism within which new media are produced and predominantly operate.”

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