February 4, 2011

Beijing Sim City

Reprise: YACHT – Psychic City (Classixx Remix) (4:13) – 4.2MB mp3 @ 128kbps

Explore Beijing from the comfort of your living room with Baidu’s 3D maps:

I used to live in the future...

I used to live in the future...

I can only assume that Google is still reticulating splines for NYC…

The map ends a few short blocks from Rem Koolhaas' CCTV building...

The map ends a few short blocks from Rem Koolhaas' CCTV building...

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June 19, 2010

Itemized

“I’m the best thing to happen to typography since Johannes fucking Gutenberg.”

This should keep you busy while I take a couple days off:

Click through for more of Hans Van der Meer's amazing photos of European football pitches

Click through for more of Hans Van der Meer's amazing photos of European football pitches

Classic; see below

Thanks Zach; related article below

kapoor-hirst-close-danto

Bluechips & Theory:

  • Jonathan Jones on Anish Kapoor and Damien Hirst.
  • Chuck Close: Life. As with art, music, film, etc., I hate reading book reviews instead of the books themselves, but sometimes secondary sources suffice… at least until I can justify throwing down $25 for it
  • Danto, part two—I’m still ambivalent about his definition of art as “embodied meaning,” which I first encountered a few years ago, but this is a good place to start if you’re not familiar with his work (which I can’t say that I am).

Work-Of-Art-Season-1-Episode-101-07

  • In accord with the New York Times review, I found Bravo’s “Work of Art” surprisingly watchable, living up to its pseudo-Warholian premise more than the SJP branding and Bravo production tropes might suggest. (I was mostly curious because I met Trong, pictured above, a few days prior.) If nothing else, “Work of Art” affirms that artists’ egos are particularly suited for the magnifying glass of reality television.
  • Hyperallergic looks at the show inside and out. The former article wisely points out that the reality TV formula of themed ‘challenges’ all but precludes any possibility of artistic growth, as well as the insular—if idealized—working conditions. In other words, it’s hard to take the show for a window into the art world (not that “Top Chef” does any better) when television necessarily imposes a distance between life and work.
  • I’ve never watched “Project Runway,” but apparently WSJ does, drawing parallels between the two shows in their recap of the first episode.
  • GQ talks to Bill Powers (“Work of Art” judge & NYC gallerist)
  • Related: The current state of the Brooklyn Museum (where the winner of “Work of Art” will get a solo show).
  • Inverted: Googleheim?

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May 15, 2010

Items

“A low moan of agreement escaped Ellis’s mouth.” –Bret Easton Ellis

Once again, it’s too nice out to sit in front of a computer screen, so we’re going with assorted links today… A few interesting stories, including an article on the future of digital journalism. *UPDATED on 5/16 with even more recommended reading.

uniqlo-uniqlones-tadashi-yanai-via-nymag

bolano-haring

  • I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I’ve never read any Roberto Bolaño, but I’d never seen a picture of him before—is it just me, or does he look a lot like Keith Haring? (GQ)
  • Alastair Harper on “George Orwell, Patron Saint of Hacks” (Prospect)
  • Rebecca Newberger Goldstein’s “Theory, Literature, Hoax” after Borges. (NYT)
  • Claudia Roth Pierpont on Duke Ellington (New Yorker)
  • Nick Carr on the new New York license plate (below) (Huffpo)

new-nyc-license-plate-via-huffpo
Also worth reading, if you’re so inclined:

  • The current state of NBA point guards (GQ)
  • Kareem sounds off (ESPN)
  • The China Model (Economist)
  • How the Web Is Changing the Way We Eat (Salon)

rick-owens-via-slamxhype

  • Interview with Rick Owens (above) (Artinfo via Slam×Hype; images here)
  • Interview with Damien Hirst & Michael Joo (WWD via Slam×Hype; images here—the log piece reminds me of Ai Weiwei…)
  • Interview with Bret Easton Ellis (Vice)
  • Interview with Gorillaz (Wired)
  • Gus Van Sant catches up with Madonna (Interview)
  • Adam Kimmel raps with David Blaine (Interview)

how-our-brains-make-memories-Memory-microscopic-nerve-cells-smithsonian

  • Greg Miller on Karim’s Nader’s theory of mutable memory (Smithsonian)
  • Ryan Bradley on “Sex, Lies and Nature Documentaries” (GOOD)
  • Malcolm Gladwell on WWII espionage (New Yorker)
  • Gary Wolf on the Data-Driven Life (NYT)
  • Richard Lewontin on Jerry Fodor & Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini’s What Darwin Got Wrong. (The New York Review of Books)—I’d heard a lot of the arguments before until I came to this bit:

Individual organisms are surrounded by a moving layer of warm moist air. Even trees are surrounded by such a layer. It is produced by the metabolism of the individual tree, creating heat and water, and this production is a feature of all living creatures. In humans the layer is constantly moving upward over the body and off the top of the head. Thus, organisms do not live directly in the general atmosphere but in a shell produced by their own life activity. It is, for example, the explanation of wind-chill factor. The wind is not colder than the still air, but it blows away the metabolically produced layer around our bodies, exposing us to the real world out there.

Plus, a short, sweet video for good measure:

Stick Monster Lab for Nike Sportswear (High Snobiety via Notcot)

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April 21, 2010

Memetic Downfall

Constantin Films has just pulled the plug on the hundreds of Der Untergang parodies (aka the Hitler Meme) that have been circulating around the YouTubes for a couple years. TechCrunch has a nice summary of the takedown of the New York Times-reviewed meme.

As the Times notes, the most successful incarnations of the meme transcend National Socialist ideology to reveal bare psychology: Bruno Ganz channeling a visceral, abject rage, immeasurably amplified by the linguistically opaque German tongue. Similarly, the scene is a testament to brilliant pacing—the best videos realistically exploit the tension as well—and director Oliver Hirschbiegel writer/producer Bernd Eichinger are duly flattered by the meme (both are quoted in the TC article). Conversely, I’m curious as to why certain remixers opted to interpolate certain names and terms, such as “Mein fuhrer,” “Steiner,” etc., while others are more liberal in their subtitles.

A full postmodern/contextual analysis of the Hitler meme as a semiotic case study, including a look at the PC barrier, can be found here.

As for my own underdeveloped insight, I would propose that the Hitler meme is, in many ways, the inverse of Ramin Bahrani’s “Plastic Bag”, just as Marina Abramovic’s The Artist Is Present is the inverse of Chatroulette (a dissertation-worthy topic in itself). I have no further comment.

A couple of the videos are still live on Know Your Meme; the original is below:

Updated with a few more videos after the post: Read the rest of this entry »

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April 19, 2010

Infographic Overload

This ironic meta/PoMo infographic has been making rounds in the memesphere lately:

phil-gyford-infographic-infographic

It’s true for the most part, though the 3,274 seems a bit over the top.

In any case, here are a few of the better infographics I’ve seen lately:

soyouneedatypeface

Julian Hansen has created an extremely thorough visualization of typography for dummies.

Click the image for the full, unadulterated 1983×1402 version.

Inspiration Lab

---- --- -- - -- --- ----

Yesterday, before I discovered the video above, I came across a dollar bill with a red “Where’s George” stamp on it and I decided to enter it into the database (I’ve logged a couple in the past). It seems that I’ve since spent said dollar, as it is no longer in my wallet, but I managed to find it in my Firefox history. Apparently, it was in Greenpoint almost exactly a year ago; who knows what sort of wonderful adventures George #B2078 7046J has had in the mean time…

Follow the Money via Visual Complexity via PSFK

Almost (but-not-really-at-all) related: Redesigning the Dollar Bill; UPDATE: The new $100 bill.

---- --- -- - -- --- ----

apple-google-microsoft-gizmodo

Gizmodo’s guide to the current fronts where the Big Three are vying for tech/information world domination.
Read the rest of this entry »

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April 1, 2010

One a Day

http://www.itistheworldthatmadeyousmall.com/files/91.jpg

"apr 1: birdhouse with painted-on entrance (april fools day)"

I just discovered artist/designer/musician Brock Davis’s project to make “One piece of creative work made every day for 365 consecutive days.” The results are invariably visual and variously beautiful, thought-provoking, funny, and sometimes all three.

http://www.itistheworldthatmadeyousmall.com/files/60.jpg

"mar 1: bert and ernie making out while cookie monster watches"

There are far too many good ones to post here, so I recommend seeing it for yourself. Readers can expect some of these pictures to show up (without explicit permission) as obliquely-related visual aids for future posts, in the same spirit as freely-associated mp3s.

via Murketing

http://www.itistheworldthatmadeyousmall.com/files/106.jpg

I also recommend terrysdiary and yeahyeahyeahyeahyeah.com as other notable/inspiring digital/visual diaries. I’m sure there are others…

http://www.itistheworldthatmadeyousmall.com/files/133.jpg

Self explanatory...

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March 22, 2010

Google vs. China: Round II

googlecn

Earlier today, Google announced that it is shutting down Google.cn. (Uncensored) Chinese searches are currently being redirected to Google.com.hk as the Search/Ad Giant hopes to make good on its promise to not be evil by challenging the Chinese government’s policy of Internet censorship.

The Internet was seen as a catalyst for China being more integrated into the world. The fact that Google cannot exist in China clearly indicates that China’s path as a rising power is going in a direction different from what the world expected and what many Chinese were hoping for.

–Xiao Qiang, director of the China Internet project at UC Berkeley
Google Shuts China Site in Dispute over Censorship, The New York Times, 3/23/2010

It’s a bold move that has been applauded by many, including myself: the Great Firewall was perhaps my only plaint about my recent stay in Beijing.

However, there are some who sympathize with the PRC, painting Google as the symbol of Western imperialism in the Information Age. I agree that American criticism is inherently biased toward freedom of speech—a constitutionally inalienable right that may still seem foreign to many native Chinese (though perhaps not to the 400m+ Chinese Internet users)—but I’m impressed that Google is willing to sacrifice profit for principle nonetheless.

UPDATE: G vs C on NYT Room for Debate Blog, a fascinating look at China’s internet culture, WSJ on how Brin was forced out and an older essay on the Chinese scholars’ reliance on Google Scholar via Nature.

Filed under: China  · Tags: , , ,

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March 19, 2010

Hipsteria

or, What Hipster Means to Me

Hipster. Reject the label or embrace it, Sisyphus does not envy you though your path is clear: you like art (check), music (check), design (√), fashion (√), film (√), food (√) and biking around Brooklyn to jam with hipster friends or go to (i.e. be seen at) art happenings and step out for smokes (√√√√√). And you blog about it (√). There is no possibility that you have freely chosen to do these things: the hipster is a sheep, a cartoon, a robot, a target market—anything but a living, breathing human being. The hipster is Sartre’s waiter.*

[It would be too easy to populate this post with photos from LATFH, Vice, Cobrasnake, Last Night's Party, Lookbook.nu, etc. etc., so we're going with photos from Beijing's Ren Hang, via Neocha Edge. Are Chinese hipsters more or less authentic than their Western idols? Is Chinese anything more or less authentic than Western versions of the same? Meta-migraine...]

The New York Times recently ran a blurb on the (decline of the) hipster with a handful of decent and not-too-hateful comments. The piece cites Salon’s recent article on Hipsters+Food Stamps—which itself has elicited the usual anti-Trustafarian screeds and counterarguments in defense of food(ies), etc.—as the latest development in the ongoing culture war between “Young, Creative Urbanites” and regular people. Meanwhile, Adbusters is over it, which is probably for the best.

In any case, it’s worthy enough of an occasion to reflect on What Hipster Means to Me. (Ok so that’s probably an inappropriate, if pithy, exordium for what is intended to be a thoughtful, unironic and somewhat ambitious essay, but it was just too good to pass up.)

In other words, I’m not in denial about my hipster proclivities, so long as I might be granted the possibility of unironically self-identifying as a hipster. Similarly, Idolize Your Killers is (to borrow WordPress’s felicitous phrasing) “Just another hipster blog”—lest we forget that meta-commentary is the trademark of postmodernity and, by extension, hipsterdom and digital culture alike.

Yet “hipster” has been a pejorative term for nearly a decade now—a pigeonhole, a pariah, or worse: a Platonic “idea of Hipster.” This archetype finds infinite variations of empirical manifestations, though it is never fully realized; instead, an individual is reduced to his urban outfit, fixed-gear bike or love of Animal Collective, etc.

A brief overview on the case against hipsters: as the indie nation evolved alongside American Apparel*, so too did pent-up indignation at their smug, unleashed most memorably in Adbusters’ seminal July 2008 cover story “Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization.” Time Out is known to dabble in hipster-bashing; Paste did its part last year; Gawker and Gothamist hit the hipster hot button when they want to pander for pageviews. (I’m sure I’ve omitted many a rant; those are just the media that come to mind.) Conversely, the proto-hip tastemakers at Vice have somewhat validated the hipster with VBS’s ongoing alt-journalism efforts, which are now featured on the likes of CNN and Huffington Post.

Read the rest of this entry »

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March 16, 2010

Daylight Saving Time & Other Items

» Aesop Rock – Daylight (4:25) – 4.1MB m4a @ 128kbps

The Persistence of Trite Imagery

The Persistence of Trite Imagery

Since this Sunday marked Daylight Saving Time, I decided to put my philosophy degree to good use by pondering the psychology and metaphysics of this semi-annual ritual.

First of all, there is technically only one daylight to be saved: contrary to folk wisdom that might suggest otherwise, daylight is an indivisible entity. In a sense, daylight is like money—which is also grammatically singular but conceptually plural (insofar as one would hope to have more than one money)—such that daylight is quantifiable, at least in terms of daylight hours. In other words, official terminology denotes that summer is ‘Time to Save Daylight’—i.e., Time for Daylight-Saving—while the colloquial (if not altogether prevalent) shorthand “Daylight Savings” is a gerund, as per the nominal usage of “Savings” for that type of  bank account. (Even the Wikipedia URL for the Daylight Saving Time entry is Daylight_savings.)

The monetary metaphor is useful in illustrating how DST’s pithy essence “spring forward, fall back” belies the curious phenomenon that either occasion—the turning of the clocks in spring or in fall—can be described as gaining or losing an hour. Common parlance suggests that we have indeed acquired a full 60 minutes, yet this increment simultaneously seems to have slipped through a mysterious temporal rift in the wee hours of Sunday morning. It appears that we have both gained and lost an hour on Sunday, a discrepancy that reveals two divergent systems of belief concerning time and how it is measured: absolute vs. relative. The two views correspond to a scientific picture of an independent physical world and a pragmatic ‘lived’ experience of time, respectively.

The former system holds that time marches forward of its own accord and that to push a clock forward—from 2AM to 3AM, say—disturbs the clockwork of the universe to the effect that humans have erased an hour from their day. Here the bank analogy must be modified: on Sunday, we withdrew an hour on credit, which we will pay back in October; for the next six months, we owe one hour to the universe, or nature, or whatever. We have lost it in the interest of practicality—we need to borrow the hour for the better half of the year—though we plan on restoring balance in six months or so. For the absolutist, the hour is deferred.

Those who abide by the second perspective, on the other hand, see time as more malleable, where chronology is purely pragmatic: we gained an hour on Sunday because we now have an extra hour of sunlight—and, ostensibly, productivity—to the effect that the days themselves grow longer. By springing forward, we stake a claim to the greater daylight afforded by the rotation of the Earth, silently folding one hour into the shroud of slumber in order to extend each and every day in those six months. For the relativist, it’s possible to save daylight like money albeit not in the interest of yielding a long-term dividend: everyone cashes out the same predetermined amount at the end of each day.

Of course, both schools of thought understand that the actual demarcation of time to be incidental (i.e. pragmatic in a broad sense)—otherwise we wouldn’t have license to give and take (or take and give) hours as we please. Nevertheless, I wonder if there is any correlation between the saving(s) locution and the gain/loss dichotomy: are relativists more predisposed to regarding DST as a savings account, as opposed to absolutists who treat the extra time as a line of credit?

Does that even make sense? Rather, does it even matter?

Now for the real news:

  • Advertising 2.0: This Time, It’s Personal. FaceBook is now crowdsourcing targeted advertising like social AdSense (=AdBook?). (NYT, Future Perfect) Also, Product Placement: Geolocation is so hot right now (NYT)
  • Mattel Mentality x Mad Men = Barbie. WTF. (NYT)
  • Google Maps now has (spotty) bike directions: Gothamist blurbs, Streetsblog mentions, Wired crowdsources; Bike Snob NYC is more thorough, with an incisive riposte to the Post
  • Big ups to the Alma Mater in the Times. But seriously, the prospect of digitally tracking writers’ inspiration and composition process is quite fascinating.
  • Stanley Fish on Pragmatism’s Gift.
  • I’ve always been a stickler for free throws (i.e. I don’t understand why every player isn’t shooting 90+% from the line), so I was pleased to see that Wired has posted a guide on How to Nail a Free Throw.
  • Old news, but here’s a couple of interesting articles on sports video games and their source material; specifically, how video games are have become increasingly true to life for athletes: League of Gamers (ESPN); Gamechangers: How Videogames Trained a Generation of Athletes (Wired)
  • Speaking of video games, Virtusphere. Just watch the damn video.
  • G4 (correctly, I think) identifies Chatroulette’s ‘Merton.’ NYMag’s Vulture (correctly, I think) identifies Ben Folds as a “Fin de siècle singer-songwriter.” Just watch the damn video.
  • (Over)analysis of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” music video. (Vigilant Citizen)

Music news:

  • What Would They Know: Matthew Perpetua interviews Liars for Pitchfork.
  • Time to Get Away: LCD Soundsystem finishing up their last record. (Daily Swarm)
  • Wanna Be Startin’ Something: MJ posthumously lands a massive record deal. (WSJ, NYT)

Art news:

Bonus Trailer:

Ride, Rise, Roar trailer via Wired.

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March 2, 2010

Googlism

Some Google news.

Googletheonion

Filed under: Technology  · Tags: , ,

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