Artistic scanner-photos taken on a coral-reef

Nathaniel Stern straps modified document scanners to his body and then walks around, producing beautiful, glitched out art-images. Now he's taken his scanners to the bottom of the ocean.

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Gradient fill tights


Coal

BZR's Gradient Tights ($30) are a striking variation on the patterned tights trend, with beautiful shading that is like a photoshop filter for your legs.

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Design as parameterization: brute-forcing the manufacturing/ design problem-space

Here's something exciting: Autodesk's new computer-aided design software lets the designer specify the parameters of a solid (its volume, dimensions, physical strength, even the tools to be used in its manufacture and the amount of waste permissible in the process) and the software iterates through millions of potential designs that fit. The designer's job becomes tweaking the parameters and choosing from among the brute-forced problem-space of her object, rather than designing it from scratch.

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A tough second in the markets


A whack of (presumed) fat-fingered orders caused a massive, one-second drop in stock-trading yesterday; the trades fell through the cracks in the anti-flash-crash stuff that's supposed to keep the high-frequency traders from destroying the planet.

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Cloud computers are computers you can only use with someone else's permission

As Adobe Creative Suite struggles with its license-server outage, stranding creative professionals around the world without a way of earning their living, a timely reminder: a cloud computer is a computer you're only allowed to use if the phone company and a DRM-peddling giant like Adobe gives you permission, and they can withdraw that permission at any time. Cory 48

What Google's self-driving car sees

Charlie Warzel: "THIS is what google's self driving car can see. So basically this thing is going to destroy us all." [via Matt Buchanan]

Glitched out blankets and tapestries


Phillip Stearns is an artist who commissions blankets and tapestries woven in the USA with glitch-art patterns he generates with broken digital cameras. They're for sale! $200+

Tapestries

Blankets

(via Kottke)

Glitched-out armoire


Spocko sez, "This piece of furniture looks like an alien made it after looking at a frozen frame on a VCR."

In his second year working with Fratelli Boffi, Ferruccio Laviani has created yet another fanciful world from the depths of his prolific imagination. A concept that goes beyond individual products, it combines the expertise of a company that specializes in full-feature and tailor-made projects with the creativity of a designer who can strike a balance between the past and the future, blending the harmony and magniloquence of the classical with the charm and allure of the contemporary.

Good Vibrations Storage Unit by Ferruccio Laviani (Thanks,Spocko!)

Pareidoloop

Phil McCarthy's Pareidoloop overlays randomly generated polygons on top of one another until facial recognition software recognizes a human face. Can't sleep, at SIGGRAPH! [via @Brandonn]

Pixelhead masks that make you look like a pixellated German Secretary of the Interior


Martin Backes is selling a limited edition of 333 "Pixelhead" anonymity masks, which allow you to replace your face with the pixellated likeness of German Secretary of the Interior Hans-Peter Friedrich. Masks are made to order and to measure, take 4-6 weeks for delivery, and cost €158 with shipping.

The full face mask Pixelhead acts as media camouflage, completely shielding the head to ensure that your face is not recognizable on photographs taken in public places without securing permission. A simple piece of fabric creates a little piece of anonymity for the Internet age. The material used is elastic fabric for beach fashion and sports gear with a fashionable Pixel-style print of German Secretary of the Interior Hans-Peter Friedrich. The mask has holes for your eyes and mouth, so you can see and breathe comfortably while wearing the mask, secure in the knowledge that your image won’t be showing up anywhere you don’t want it to.

Pixelhead Limited Edition (via Neatorama)

Bruce Sterling on Alan Turing, gender, AI, and art criticism

Bruce Sterling gave a speech at the North American Summer School in Logic, Language, and Information (NASSLLI) on the eve of the Alan Turing Centenary, and delivered a provocative, witty and important talk on the Turing Test, gender and machine intelligence, Turing's life and death, and art criticism.

If you study his biography, the emotional vacuum in the guy’s life was quite frightening. His parents are absent on another continent, he’s in boarding schools, in academia, in the intelligence services, in the closet of the mid-20th-century gay life. Although Turing was a bright, physically strong guy capable of tremendous hard work, he never got much credit for his efforts during his lifetime.

How strange was Alan Turing? Was Alan Turing a weird, scary guy? Let’s try a thought experiment, because I’m a science fiction writer and we’re into those counterfactual approaches.

So let’s just suppose that Alan Turing is just the same personally: he’s a mathematician, an early computer scientist, a metaphysician, a war hero — but he’s German. He’s not British. Instead of being the Bletchley Park code breaker, he’s the German code maker. He’s Alan Turingstein, and he realizes the Enigma Machine has a flaw. So, he imagines, designs and builds a digital communication code system for the Nazis. He defeats the British code breakers. In fact, he’s so brilliant that he breaks some of the British codes instead. Therefore, the second World War lasts until the Americans drop their nuclear bomb on Europe.

I think you’ll agree this counter-history is plausible, because so many of Turing’s science problems were German — the famous “ending problem” of computability was German. The Goedel incompleteness theorem was German, or at least Austrian. The world’s first functional Turing-complete computer, the Konrad Zuse Z3, was operational in May 1941 and was supported by the Nazi government.

So then imagine Alan Turingstein, mathematics genius, computer pioneer, and Nazi code expert. After the war, he messes around in the German electronics industry in some inconclusive way, and then he commits suicide in some obscure morals scandal. What would we think of Alan Turingstein today, on his centenary? I doubt we’d be celebrating him, and secretly telling ourselves that we’re just like him.

Turing Centenary Speech (New Aesthetic)Turing Centenary Speech (New Aesthetic)

(Image: Tsar Bomba mushroom cloud, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from andyz's photostream)

Bruce Sterling interviewed about the New Aesthetic

David Cox interviews Bruce Sterling about the significance, lifecycle and future of the New Aesthetic movement:

First to the issue of “is the New Aesthetic really new?” I’d say those images are “new’” pretty much by definition. Aesthetics obviously is very old. James Bridle doing a project called the “New Aesthetic Tumblr” is over, and receding into the past. But machine-generated imagery that is unlike previous forms of imagery is all over the place. So, yes it is new, for any reasonable definition of novelty.

As for whether James Bridle’s image collection had any analytical rigor, I’m inclined to think he had more analysis going on there than he liked to let on; but I rather think James prefers writing, journalism and publishing to the trying role of a public New Aesthetic visionary. When you have a breakout viral hit on the Net nowadays, the opportunity-cost can be pretty stiff.

On the issue as to what a New Aesthetic ought to do, what the “strategy” is, well, that’s unsettled, but I think that James’s year-long intervention there has raised the morale of tech-art people quite a lot. It’s legitimated their practice in their own eyes, and helped to free them from their traditional hangups on specific pieces of hardware. At least it’s possible to imagine a strategy now — instead of merely saying, I’m an artist, but I do digital electronics, you can re-frame your efforts as something like “a new aesthetic of processual vital beauty,” and you’re not so handcuffed to the soldering irons.

On the generational issue, there’s some anxiety among the aging that people under 30 actually think like Tumblrs nowadays — that they’re unmotivated and diffuse, or in the shallows, or mentally crippled by too many pixels — allegations along that line. Obviously they’re a troubled generation, but Tumblrs are not major problems to rank with a major Depression dominated by dogmatic gerontocrats. If we’re going to get generational, then we ought to start the discussion with the amazing mental stasis of Baby Boomers, people who used to be exceedingly reckless and inventive and haven’t had a single new idea since 2008.

PLAYFULNESS AND PROCESSUALITY – Interview with Bruce Sterling about the New Aesthetic

(Image: The drone, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from adactio's photostream)

New Aesthetic eruption


A New Aesthetic eruption I caught yesterday off Brick Lane in east London: this LCD adverscreen displaying rotating, chiding public safety messages beneath a CCTV camera, nestled among the graffiti-daubed old buildings above the cobbled and thronged street.

CCTV and LCD adverscreen with anti-booze PSA, a New Aesthetic Eruption, Brick Lane, Hackney, London, UK.jpg

Making New Aesthetic theory slightly more concrete

Bruce Sterling responds to Marius Watz's take on Sterling's manifesto about the "New Aesthetic" movement. Sterling is enthusiastic about Watz's views, and begins to move the discussion of "New Aesthetics" from total abstractions to slightly more concrete abstractions. If Sterling's earlier, dense missive left you somewhat mystified, this one might help you unpack things somewhat.

So let’s consider “bad tech-art.” What does it look like? Well, it is, commonly, some poorly-designed, haywire, deeply private, almost chaotic device and/or installation — accompanied by a long, vague exegesis about its huge significance. This artwork barely fun ctions, communicates badly to people, is opaque to interpretation, breaks down frequently, and is generally accompanied by a tortured justification direct from the artist himself.

That is the melancholy spectacle of an art-hacker isolated by his hardware. He has never been able to mentally place his artwork within a context of similar creative activity. He or she is a one-person artistic Long-Tail.

His artwork has failed to get social traction, because, although it’s plenty weird, this creative is poorly-socialized. He’s a pioneer, not a native. He’s a Robinson Crusoe in goatskins, and despite the fact that his IQ is high enough to boil lead, he’s easily classifiable as a weirdly ingenious derelict marooned on some tiny island.

That island that consist of his hard-won private expertise in, for instance, building drawing-machines out of British ex-military gunsights. This hacker-artist-crackpot-inventor is hung-up on the bit-twiddling hack minutiae — most of which he had to invent, all by himself, in a splendid isolation.

He had no ready way to learn, for instance, that he isn’t “new,” because Jean Tinguely did “kinetic art” and “metamechanics” in the mid-20th century. He didn’t Google Jean Tinguely. He didn’t drop by the Jean Tinguely Tumblr. Congenial Swiss fans of Jean Tinguely on the network did not get him up to speed. Not being a digital native, he was entirely busy with the Crusoe crescent wrench, and never developed such healthy modern habits. He lacked tech-art scenius. He never got critical mass.

Now, this bad tech-artist knows that his homemade device doesn’t work very well. In fact, he’ll make a fetish of that defect, leaving it snarled in frazzled wire so that it looks more Bohemian, somehow. However, since he lacks an aesthetic to give his efforts some rigor and context, he retreats into bad metaphysics. He’ll rename his installation as the “Cosmic Mental Synchronizer” — some far-fetched breach of taste along that line.

Generation Generator (New Aesthetic)

(Image source unknown; found on New Aesthetic Tumblr, which sources The Internet: by Greg Johnson)

Bruce Sterling's critique and love note to "the New Aesthetic"

Bruce Sterling's "An Essay on the New Aesthetic," is a dense, difficult, exciting critical look at the New Aesthetic, a kind of art movement centered in my neighbourhood in east London ("If you wanted a creative movement whose logo is a Predator supported by glossy, multicolored toy balloons, London would be its natural launchpad."). Sterling was set afire by a panel at SXSW this year, and hammered out this essay in response. It's part critique, part mash-note, and makes larger points about our relationship to machines and the aesthetics of their output ("an eruption of the digital into the physical").

Look at those images objectively. Scarcely one of the real things in there would have made any sense to anyone in 1982, or even in 1992. People of those times would not have known what they were seeing with those New Aesthetic images. It’s the news, and it’s the truth.

Next, the New Aesthetic is culturally agnostic. Most anybody with a net connection ought to be able to see the New Aesthetic transpiring in real time. It is British in origin (more specifically, it’s part and parcel of region of London seething with creative atelier “tech houses”). However, it exists wherever there is satellite surveillance, locative mapping, smartphone photos, wifi coverage and Photoshop.

The New Aesthetic is comprehensible. It’s easier to perceive than, for instance, the “surrealism” of a fur-covered teacup. Your Mom could get it. It’s funny. It’s pop. It’s transgressive and punk. Parts of it are cute.

It’s also deep. If you want to get into arcane matters such as interaction design, computational aesthetics, covert surveillance, military tech, there’s a lot of room for that activity in the New Aesthetic. The New Aesthetic carries a severe, involved air of Pynchonian erudition.

It’s contemporary. It’s temporal rather than atemporal. Atemporality is all about cerebral, postulated, time-refuting design-fictions. Atemporality is for Zenlike gray-eminence historian-futurist types. The New Aesthetic is very hands-on, immediate, grainy and evidence-based. Its core is a catalogue of visible glitches in the here-and-now, for the here and for the now.

It requires close attention. If you want to engage with the New Aesthetic, then you must become involved with some contemporary, fast-moving technical phenomena. The New Aesthetic is inherently modish because it is ferociously attached to modish, passing objects and services that have short shelf-lives. There is no steampunk New Aesthetic and no remote-future New Aesthetic. The New Aesthetic has no hyphen-post, hyphen-neo or hyphen-retro. They don’t go there, because that’s not what they want.

The New Aesthetic is constructive. Most New Aesthetic icons carry a subtext about getting excited and making something similar. The New Aesthetic doesn’t look, act, or feel postmodern. It’s not deconstructively analytical of a bourgeois order that’s been dead quite a while now. It’s built by and for working creatives.

An Essay on the New Aesthetic

(Image: Sander Veenhof)