Hot-air balloon made from recycled plastic bags


Argentine artist Tomás Saracen's installation, Becoming Aerosolar, is a gigantic hot-air balloon made from recycled plastic bags. Read the rest

Skinner-box rats trained to predict currency market movements

Viennese artist Michael Marcovici's Rat Traders uses reward, punishment and selective breeding to create a strain of lab-rat that can predict the movement of international currency markets. Read the rest

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Tom Waits: "A Day in Vienna", Austrian TV documentary

A Day in Vienna is a 1978 (or maybe 1979) 30-minute TV documentary shot for Austrian TV during the tour for his (magnificent) album Blue Valentine. In addition to spectacular concert footage, the video also features Waits slow-dancing with a "Thai prostitute" at a bar in Vienna called the Moulin Rouge. Read the rest

Stop motion meat-puppets

Wolfgang Matzl (creator of 2011's Inception-as-Victorian woodcut video) writes, "This time I made something a little bit different - a stop motion animation with puppets made out of meat."

(Thanks Wolfgang!) Read the rest

Lego robot that strips DRM off Kindle books

Peter Purgathofer, an associate professor at Vienna University of Technology, built a Lego Mindstorms robot that presses "next page" on his Kindle repeatedly while it faces his laptop's webcam. The cam snaps a picture of each screen and saves it to a folder that is automatically processed through an online optical character recognition program. The result is an automated means of redigitizing DRM-crippled ebooks in a clear digital format. It's clunky compared to simply removing the DRM using common software, but unlike those DRM-circumvention tools, this setup does not violate the law. Read the rest

Monochrom: 20 years' worth of Viennese art-weirdness

Johannes from the Austrian art weirdos Monochrom sez, "As we are currently celebrating 20 years of monochrom, we were confronted with the problem of how to (re)present our history. We didn't simply want to show archive material -- so we decided to pick 23 projects, anecdotes and stories out our endless bulk of material and recreated them as dioramas and machines. "23 WORKS" is video series presenting and explaining these installations. I (personally) really like:"

#20 - How we almost killed the staff of the US Embassy with a "waterboarding"-drinking machine at Roboexotica 2007.

#19 - A Japanese shadow theater machine telling the story of sex machine Fuckzilla's appearance at Arse Elektronika

#11 - The crochet-puppet story of making blood sausage out of our own blood.

#13 - Installation about our gay pride music hit "Could It Be?" about 2 homosexual subroutines.

#8 - A Semi-Analog Hurdy Gurdy Karaoke Machine telling the gruesome story of a Brazilian eco-fascist

monochrom: Die waren früher auch mal besser (Thanks, Johannes!) Read the rest

Mutant political science fiction movie Sierra Zulu seeks kickstarting

Johannes from Vienna's Monochrom sez, "Sierra Zulu is a dark political sci-fi comedy about the grotesque world we live in. Let's call it the bastard offspring of Catch-22 and Buckaroo Banzai, reborn with the soul of Harun Farocki. It's a feature film for activists and pessimists, historians and makers, diplomats and mercenaries, hot tub lovers and peasants, cell biologists and beer punks. And it has a bloody CREATURE! The movie is doing great and we already have LOIs from great folks like Robert Picardo, Jello Biafra and Amber Benson, but one of the important movie grants here in Austria got declinded. So we have to get the rest of the money the usual way: by begging and ass-kissing our way through the private industry. And as we want to avoid that as much as possible, we created a Kickstarter campaign for July."

Sierra Zulu (Thanks, Johannes!) Read the rest

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House built upside-down in Austria becomes tourist attraction

REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichle

People sit in front of a house built upside-down by Polish architects Irek Glowacki and Marek Rozhanski, in the western Austrian village of Terfens May 5, 2012. The project is meant to serve as a new tourist attraction in the area, and is now open for public viewing. Read the rest

Earthmoving: a prequel to indie sf feature Sierra Zulu

Johannes sez, "Cory was so kind to post my TEDxVienna talk on monochrom's feature film project SIERRA ZULU. I wanted to give you guys an update. Today we released a short film: EARTHMOVING. It's the prequel to SIERRA ZULU. We thought that's a good way to expand on the backstory and give the folks something to see while we are still working on getting the feature film financed and (hopefully) done. We have a bunch of great actors (e.g. Jeff Ricketts, who was part of Firefly or Star Trek: Enterprise) and our crew at Golden Girls Filmproduktion (Vienna) was absolutely wonderful."

Earthmoving: A Sierra Zulu Prequel (Thanks, Johannes!) Read the rest

TedXVienna talk on the problems of storytelling in the digital age

Johannes sez, "monochrom's Johannes Grenzfurthner gave a short presentation about traditional narrative cinema, the problems of storytelling in the digital age -- and monochrom's feature film project 'Sierra Zulu.'"

Sierra Zulu at TEDxVienna: Video online (Thanks, Johannes!) Read the rest

EU vs Facebook: Facebook's dossiers on Europeans breach EU privacy laws

An Austrian student has kicked off a movement that pits EU privacy rules against Facebook's data collection practices. Max Schrems requested a copy of the data Facebook had collected on him (which Facebook is required to provide under EU law) and found himself with more than 1,000 pages of data that demonstrated several clear breaches of EU privacy laws. Kim Cameron has a good writeup on the ensuing complaints that Schrems filed:

Max is a 24 year old law student from Vienna with a flair for the interview and plenty of smarts about both technology and legal issues. In Europe there is a requirement that entities with data about individuals make it available to them if they request it. That’s how Max ended up with a personalized CD from Facebook that he printed out on a stack of paper more than a thousand pages thick (see image below). Analysing it, he came to the conclusion that Facebook is engineered to break many of the requirements of European data protection. He argues that the record Facebook provided him finds them to be in flagrante delicto.

The logical next step was a series of 22 lucid and well-reasoned complaints that he submitted to the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (Facebook states that European users have a relationship with the Irish Facebook subsidiary). This was followed by another perfectly executed move: setting up a web site called Europe versus Facebook that does everything right in terms using web technology to mount a campaign against a commercial enterprise that depends on its public relations to succeed.

Read the rest

StagConf: Vienna conference on stories and games

StagConf is a European conference on stories and games, to be held in Vienna's adorably insane Natural History Museum (the world's maddest, overflowingest taxidermy displays, including a broke-necked giraffe with Frankenstein stitches, an infamous alcoholic chimp, and many other critters etoufees). It's a one-day affair, on Sept 27: "You will meet game designers and writers who have worked on games in every imaginable form: from adventures to MMOs, from AAA console to the web, from social games to pen and paper RPGs." (Thanks, Alice!) Read the rest

Strange tunnels of Austro-Germany

German and Austrian archaeologists are taking notice of an extensive network of tunnels that riddle central Europe. These tunnels -- thought to date from the 10th to 13th century -- have fanciful names like "goblin hole" and their exact historical function is somewhat mysterious. A group of female healers, noting the exit looks "like a vagina," re-enacted their births using Austrian "Schlupf" tunnels. Others attribute them to the druids, or Christian rituals, or believe they were used to hide from bandits in the lawless "medieval clearing period."
The tour begins in the taproom and proceeds down a stone stairway into the cider cellar, where there is a trap door that opens into a gaping hole. "We don't let people with heart conditions do the tour," Wösner says in his thick Austrian accent. He keeps a large sling on hand for emergencies, so that if anyone faints he can pull them out of the narrow tunnel.

The vaults could not have served a practical purpose, as dwellings or to store food, for example, if only because the tunnels are so inconveniently narrow in places. Besides, some fill up with water in the winter. Also, the lack of evidence of feces indicates that they were not used to house livestock.

There is not a single written record of the construction of an Erdstall dating from the medieval period. "The tunnels were completely hushed up," says Ahlborn.

Archeologists have also been surprised to find that the tunnels are almost completely empty and appear to be swept clean, as if they were abodes for the spirits.

Read the rest