Algorithm, Analog Computing, Brain, Code, Cybernetics, Download, History, Interface, Logic, Mathematics, Memory

From Memex to Hypertext: Vannevar Bush and the Mind’s Machine (1991)

“Vannevar Bush, the engineer who designed the world’s most powerful analog computer, envisioned the development of a new kind of computing machine he called Memex. For many computer and information scientists, Bush’s Memex has been the prototype for a machine to help people think. This volume, which the editors have divided into sections on the creation, extension, and legacy of the Memex, combines seven essays by Bush with eleven others by others that set his ideas within a variety of contexts. The essays by Bush range chronologically from the early “The Inscrutable Thirties” (1933), “Memorandum Regarding Memex” (1941), and “As We May Think” (1945), to “Memex II” (1959), “Science Pauses” (1967), “Memex Revisited” (1967), and a passage from “Of Inventions and Inventors” (1970). Bush’s essays are surrounded by four chapters that place his changing plans for the Memex within his career and within information technology before digital computing. The contributors include Larry Owens, Colin Burke, Douglas C. Engelbart, Theodor H. Nelson, Linda C. Smith, Norman Meyrowitz, Tim Oren, Gregory Crane, and Randall H. Trigg.”

Memex animation


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.”


AI, Algorithm, Automata, Biological Computation, Brain, Code, Cybernetics, Deep Learning, Logic, Man/Machine, Mathematics, Neural Networks, Science, Social intelligence

Neural Networks and Deep Learning

“Will we understand how such intelligent networks work? Perhaps the networks will be opaque to us, with weights and biases we don’t understand, because they’ve been learned automatically. In the early days of AI research people hoped that the effort to build an AI would also help us understand the principles behind intelligence and, maybe, the functioning of the human brain. But perhaps the outcome will be that we end up understanding neither the brain nor how artificial intelligence works!”



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)


AI, Algorithm, Biological Computation, Brain, Code, Cybernetics, History, Interface, Logic, Man/Machine, Mathematics, Neural Networks, PDF, Science, Social intelligence, Society

Computing Machinery and Intelligence : Turing, A.M. (1950).

The fact that Babbage’s Analytical Engine was to be entirely mechanical will help us to rid ourselves of a superstition. Importance is often attached to the fact that modern digital computers are electrical, and that the nervous system also is electrical. Since Babbage’s machine was not electrical, and since all digital computers are in a sense equivalent, we see that this use of electricity cannot be of theoretical importance. Of course electricity usually comes in where fast signalling is concerned, so that it is not surprising that we find it in both these connections. In the nervous system chemical phenomena are at least as important as electrical. In certain computers the storage system is mainly acoustic. The feature of using electricity is thus seen to be only a very superficial similarity. If we wish to find such similarities we should took rather for mathematical analogies of function.


Algorithm, Automata, Biological Computation, Brain, Code, Interface, Logic, Mathematics, Neural Networks, PDF, Science

Water Memory

“This paper demonstrates that the waves produced on the surface of water can be used as the medium for a “Liquid State Machine” that pre-processes inputs so allowing a simple perceptron to solve the XOR problem and undertake speech recognition. Interference between waves allows non-linear parallel computation upon simultaneous sensory inputs. Temporal patterns of stimulation are converted to spatial patterns of water waves upon which a linear discrimination can be made. Whereas Wolfgang Maass’ Liquid State Machine requires fine tuning of the spiking neural network parameters, water has inherent self-organising properties such as strong local interactions, time-dependent spread of activation to distant areas, inherent stability to a wide variety of inputs, and high complexity. Water achieves this “for free”, and does so without the time-consuming computation required by realistic neural models. An analogy is made between water molecules and neurons in a recurrent neural network.”

Algorithm, Architecture, Automata, Bio hacking, Brain, Cybernetics, DIY, Interface, Light, Maker, Man/Machine, Mathematics, Music, Neural Networks, Robots, Science, Society, Sound, Tactical Media

History of Computer Art : Cybernetic Sculptures

“In 1968 artists and musicians like Stephen Antonakos, Terry Riley, Charles Ross and Robert Whitman realised installations producing light and sound events for the exhibition “The Magic Theatre”. James Seawright constructed “Electronic Peristyle” 37: an uncommon work for an uncommon exhibition. He installed “power supplies” in a base under a sphere. The sphere was made of transparent plastic and contained 12 photocells. A “cylindrical metal box” with 12 “light beam projectors” was mounted underneath the “plastic sphere”. The electronics in this vertical structure with round segments “was either digital (the earliest family of Motorola RTL logic chips)” or it contained “conventional analog transistor circuits.” These electronics controlled the generation of sounds by “electronic synthesizer modules”. These modules were developed by Robert Moog. He integrated his analog equipment in Seawright´s installation.”


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.


Algorithm, Architecture, Astrology, Automata, Commons, Economy, Farming, Man/Machine, Mathematics, Society, Water

Crypto Water Computers from 1936

“In the front right corner, in a structure that resembles a large cupboard with a transparent front, stands a Rube Goldberg collection of tubes, tanks, valves, pumps and sluices. You could think of it as a hydraulic computer. Water flows through a series of clear pipes, mimicking the way that money flows through the economy. It lets you see (literally) what would happen if you lower tax rates or increase the money supply or whatever; just open a valve here or pull a lever there and the machine sloshes away, showing in real time how the water levels rise and fall in various tanks representing the growth in personal savings, tax revenue, and so on.”


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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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.”


Algorithm, Ethics, Interface, Man/Machine, Mathematics, Nature, Neural Networks, philosophy, Robots, Science, Society, Tactical Media

Robot Ethnography

“Rather, the point of anthropology is typically to locate a people who are typically strange and foreign to us, and then relate the way in which those people live, showing not only how they are different from us but also how they are the same. In doing so, we learn not only about others, but also ourselves. So in that framework, I tend to agree with the critics who say that only way to give a vitalistic account of a robot society is by projecting too many human qualities onto the non-human. What is then left is a non-vitalistic ethnography: an account of a culture devoid of life. Like with Latour and agency, once we show that life is not a necessary criterion for this thing called culture, then the fun really begins — and you can see why lots of people would oppose this.”

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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.”


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.”


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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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.”


Algorithm, Brain, Capitalism, Commons, Education, Interface, Man/Machine, Mathematics, Robots, Science, Society

“Jeeves, bring up my feed”

“It’s entirely possible that the influence of our virtual minders could reach far further. What if we tell our OS that we’ll only ever buy products that meet certain ethical standards; hit certain carbon emission targets or treat their employees in a certain way? Our computer may say no to brands for many different reasons. This may sound like science fiction, but actually we are close to combining concept areas such as big personal data management, the internet of things and operating systems that learn how to provide the perfect approach to life management, just for us. The ingredients are already there and companies that could potentially deliver a “Her” are already hard at work putting the building blocks of personal technology in place.”

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.”