Irma Boom: The Architecture of the Book on Vimeo
Distinguished book designer Irma Boom makes miniature versions of her books in an almost architectural manner. Watch her demonstrate and discuss these unique miniature books, which are among the world’s smallest.
“It’s all about scale, size, weight – and sometimes even smell.” Boom often creates small models – or “mini-versions” – of the books she makes in order to oversee the distribution of text and image in a foreseeable way. Furthermore, Boom finds that making a small book is more difficult than making a big book, and being fearless when it comes to rethinking the boundaries of what a book can be is essential to her: “Miniature books were made to show the craft.
books  textual_form  miniature 
4 hours ago
Harun Farocki: Counter Music
The city today is as rationalised and regulated as a production process. The images which today determine the day of the city are operative images, control images. Representations of traffic regulation, by car, train or metro, representations determining the height at which mobile phone network transmitters are fixed, and where the holes in the networks are. Images from thermo-cameras to discover heat loss from buildings. And digital models of the city, portrayed with fewer shapes of buildings or roofs than were used in the 19th century when planned industrial cities arose, amongst them the Lille agglomeration. Despite their boulevards, promenades, market places, arcades and churches, these cities are already machines for living and working. I too want to 'remake' the city films, but with different images. Limited time and means themselves demand concentration on just a few, archetypal chapters. Fragments, or preliminary studies.
operative_images  control  infrastructure  regulation  video  farocki  networks  machine_vision  urban_media  media_city 
5 hours ago
Video: Inside The Enormous Vault Where NYC's Oldest Records Are Stashed: Gothamist
On a recent Wednesday afternoon, the Commissioner of the Department of Records & Information Services led two reporters down a flight of stairs, through a glass door, and past a sign that warned "Restricted Area...Employees Only."
Behind a bored looking security guard and a beige door sat thousands of boxes that contain the archives from every mayoral administration through Giuliani's.
“Their collections have been inventoried to the folder level,” Commissioner Pauline Toole said. “It reflects a kind of traditional, historical view of what is history.”
archives  video  new_york 
5 hours ago
Material World
Everyday landscapes are also the focus of Aleix Plademunt’s series Virtual Space (a collaboration with Carlos Marqués and Borja Bagunyà). He photographs the physical infrastructures of digital technologies — cell phone towers, data centers, surveillance cameras, Google Street View cars — and reveals their messy interface with the material world. This is a sprawling exurbia, shot in a casual style. The infrastructures seem slightly off, as if they are struggling to fit in. Cell towers unconvincingly take the form of trees or boulders. Damaged Google cars have clearly suffered the indignity of real streets. Corporate tech campuses lie out of sight, behind dense walls of foliage, leaving only an unsatisfactory trace of their presence. Facebook’s “like” logo, a giant thumbs up, greets a vast, empty boulevard. Plademunt shows the impenetrability of systems designed to appear transparent. They intrude into our world but do not give us a window onto theirs.

Those messy interfaces make a sharp contrast with the hermetic data centers in Henrik Spohler’s 0/1 Dataflow, photographed in the early 2000s, as many people were getting online for the first time. Spohler’s precisely composed images match the stark perfection of the spaces they depict. A cold light evenly illuminates rows of white steel cabinets and brightly colored wires that disappear into dark holes. These are mute spaces, their repetitive perfection at odds with the endless, fluid variety that makes online experiences so compelling. Here, content and purpose cannot be deciphered from physical form. Spohler’s photos mark an important point on the post-industrial trajectory where the apparent increase in openness of experience is accompanied by an increase in the opacity of the systems that enable it.
infrastructure  making_visible_invisible  photography  cell_phones  data_centers  surveillance 
5 hours ago
Makerspace: Towards a New Civic Infrastructure
But despite huge attendance at the Maker Faire and a stream of upbeat articles in Make Magazine, the makerspace concept is experiencing growing pains. TechShop, a commercial chain, recently announced plans to seed 1,000 locations nationwide, even as it struggles to raise the funding to support such ambitions. And observers acknowledge, “it’s difficult to figure out how the individual craftspeople … will ever have decent pensions or other forms of security associated with more traditional employment.” A popular makerspace in Brooklyn, 3rd Ward, closed abruptly in 2013 after an ill-fated expansion into Philadelphia; no matter that some had already paid several thousand dollars for “unlimited lifetime memberships.” 2 And the movement is struggling with lack of diversity; according to Maker Media’s own surveys, the movement is overwhelmingly male, well-educated, and affluent. 3 With the maker economy projected to hit $8.41 billion by 2020, it is worth asking whether we are witnessing the birth of a durable movement or another trendy notion about civic innovation. 4....

Yet the potential for makerspaces is high. In America there are almost 120,000 libraries, 2,600 YMCAs, and 1,100 community colleges, most of which provide education and access to shared resources. 5 For makerspaces to become similarly ubiquitous and sustainable platforms, they need to offer the kind of institutional stability that will support meaningful community programming, educational opportunity, and grassroots economic growth. A glance at the history of makerspaces illustrates both the challenges and opportunities of building communities, and businesses, around the ethos of shared making....

San Francisco is currently the epicenter of innovation in the United States; it’s also a city with a history of maker movements. In March 1855, the Mechanics’ Institute of San Francisco was organized for “the diffusion of knowledge at the least expense to the seeker.” 6 Part of a global movement that began in Scotland in the early 19th century, Mechanics’ Institutes combined libraries, lecture halls, laboratories and, in an era before widespread artificial lighting, illuminated reading rooms. The Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore’s oldest college, was founded in 1826 by Benjamin Latrobe as the Maryland Institute for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts. The Institutes were supported by subscription fees, and meant to educate working-class “mechanics” — today’s engineers, tradesmen, and builders. The San Francisco branch also organized industrial arts fairs, where “manufacturers, inventors, and merchants came in touch with the public.” 7 An early fair, in 1857, hosted over 900 exhibits, highlighting new Californian industries like paper mills as well as the first beetroot sugar plant on the West Coast. Not exactly schools or libraries, Mechanics’ Institutes were ur-makerspaces: member-based public workshops where people could learn, collaborate, and build things for a reasonable price.

In that same era, another kind of early maker space was forming around the activities of major inventors. In 1876, after he sold the rights to the quadraplex telegraph to Western Union, Thomas Edison used the proceeds to establish a research lab — what he would soon call his “invention factory” — in Menlo Park, New Jersey. A year later, in Washington, D.C., after winning the Volta Prize for the invention of the telephone, Alexander Bell started the Volta Laboratory, which would later inspire the creation of the storied Bell Labs. Despite the popular myth of the lone genius-inventor, Edison and Bell both recognized the value of collaboration and invested in well-equipped lab spaces. Other enterprising businesses and inventors took up the idea, and from 1900 to 1940 approximately 350 research labs were founded in the United States.
laboratories  makerspaces  making  infrastructure 
5 hours ago
RIXC, The Center for New Media Culture
DATA DRIFT exhibition showcases works by some of the most influential data designers of our time, as well as by artists who use data as their artistic medium. How can we use the data medium to represent our complex societies, going beyond "most popular," and "most liked"? How can we organize the data drifts that structure our lives to reveal meaning and beauty? How to use big data to "make strange," so we can see past and present as unfamiliar and new?

If painting was the art of the classical era, and photograph that of the modern era, data visualization is the medium of our own time. Rather than looking at the outside worldwide and picturing it in interesting ways like modernist artists (Instagram filters already do this well), data designers and artists are capturing and reflecting on the new data realities of our societies.

DATA DRIFT represents data visualization artworks by SPIN Unit (EU), Moritz STEFANER (DE), Frederic BRODBECK (DE), Kim ALBRECHT (DE), Boris MÜLLER (DE), Marian DÖRK (DE), Benjamin GROSSER (US), Maximilian SCHICH (DE/US), Mauro MARTINO (IT/US), Periscopic (US), Pitch Interactive (US), Smart Citizen Team (ES), Lev MANOVICH / Software Studies Initiative (US), Daniel GODDEMEYER (DE/US), Dominikus BAUR (DE), Mehrdad YAZDANI (US), Alise TIFENTALE (LV/US), Jay CHOW (US), Semiconductor (UK), Rasa SMITE, Raitis SMITS/RIXC (LV), Martins RATNIKS (LV), Kristaps EPNERS (LV).
data_visualization  archives  data_aesthetics 
8 hours ago
The Irony of Writing About Digital Preservation - The Atlantic
There is no guarantee that we will be able to read today’s news on tomorrow’s computers. I’ve been studying news preservation for the past two years, and I can confidently say that most media companies use a preservation strategy that resembles Swiss cheese....

News apps aren’t being preserved because they are software, and software preservation is a specialized, idiosyncratic pursuit that requires more money and more specialized labor than is available at media organizations today. But, you might argue, it ought to be easy to preserve stories that are not software, right? A story like LaFrance’s, which is composed of text and images and a few hyperlinks to outside sources, ought to be simpler to save?

You’d think so. But not necessarily....

It’s rarely just one CMS, however. Newsrooms rely on a blend of new and legacy systems. In a newsroom that produces a print edition, there is always an additional software system—like K4 or CCI or Hermes—that manages page layouts and sends those pages to digital printers. Let’s call this the print CMS. This is different than the web CMS, which could be a system like Wordpress. The BBC uses at least two web CMSs. (Here’s a diagram of the newest one, Vivo.)

Invisible processes seamlessly transmit text, images, headlines, and other content from one system to the other. Most news organizations don’t have in-house librarians any more, so archiving is largely done automatically. Large organizations like LexisNexis or EBSCO (The Atlantic’s archiver) will hoover up a digital feed from the news organization, store the information in a database, and then license packages of such databases to libraries. The digital feed might include the text of each story, the author’s name, the title of the story, any associated images, and some meta-information that describes the placement of the story or its licensing rights. In some cases, the feed also includes PDF images of each page of the newspaper or magazine....

...LaFrance’s story appeared on, which runs on a web CMS called Ollie. Ollie, which replaced three older CMSes, was custom-built using a popular open-source software framework called Django. The print edition of The Atlantic is managed through a workflow system called K4, which (unlike Django) works well with the Adobe software programs that are used to create layouts. From a media-tech perspective, this is state-of-the-art engineering. I don’t know how or where the EBSCO feed taps into this configuration. Probably, what happens is something like this:....

The quantity and variety of information we now produce has outpaced our ability to preserve it for the future. Librarians are the only ones who are making sure that our collective memory is preserved. And they, along with small teams of digital historians elsewhere, are still trying to understand the scope of myriad challenges involved in modern preservation. If today’s born-digital news stories are not automatically put into library storehouses, these stories are unlikely to survive in an accessible way.
digital_archives  archives  preservation  news 
8 hours ago
Architecture of Radio
The Architecture of Radio is a data visualization, based on global open datasets of cell tower, Wi-Fi and satellite locations. Based on your GPS location the app shows a 360 degree visualization of signals around you. The dataset includes almost 7 million cell towers, 19 million Wi-Fi routers and hundreds of satellites. A site specific version of the app includes wired communication infrastructure embedded in the exhibition space. It's aim is to provide a comprehensive window into the infosphere.
media_space  radio  apps  making_visible_invisible  infrastructure  hertzian_space 
12 hours ago
The Original Mobile App Was Made of Paper | Motherboard
An app is an interface for manipulating particular datasets. Rather than giving you unwieldy columns of data, the app presents information at the tips of your fingers, for quick scrolling and reference. In the 19th and 20th century, there was a simple, popular paper devices that performed a similar function on the cheap. It’s called a volvelle, and the technology is hundreds of years old.

The handheld data machine has a long lineage, of which the volvelle and the app are only the most recent inheritors. In the first half of the last millennium, if you wanted to know what time it was, you used a small, expensive gadget called an astrolabe....

The first volvelles were included in astronomy books, dating back to the times of the Arabic golden ages, in the 11th and 12th Century. Scientists from North Africa and the Middle East also did groundbreaking work with astrolabes and clocks in the same period.

The 13th Century Majorcan writer Ramon Llull brought the volvelle to Europe, along with many other Arabic ideas. Llull was fascinated by an Arab device called a zairja, which was a mechanical divination device featuring rotating disks of letters that were meant to answer philosophical questions, and he worked it into his mystical writings.
astronomy  temporality  textual_form  material_texts  interaction  materiality  book_history  apps 
12 hours ago
Manita Songserm disregards the rules to create unruly and intriguing work
Bangkok-based designer Manita Songserm uses type to create layered compositions that feel they are moments from descending into chaos. Overstretched type and a disregard for order is common in her work that would cause purists and obssessives sleepless nights. Manita’s portfolio includes poster designs and exhibition graphics for Bangkok Arts and Cultural Centre and a special festival edition of a Bangkok arts zine Bookmoby. Her self initiated Typewriter Project is a series of diagrams composed of individual characters that could be read simultaneously as a postmodern poem and as a drawing. Manita creates tense visual complexity with her disruptive approach that demands multiple reading without clouding what needs to be communicated.
typewriter  textual_form  typography  graphic_design  presentation_images  grid 
13 hours ago
School of Making Thinking
The School of Making Thinking is delighted to announce the pre-launch of QUIDDLE.
QUIDDLE is an interdisciplinary and multi-media journal that aims to enliven and expand our experience of the traditional academic platform. We maintain a strong commitment to inquiry while welcoming creative methods which elude the structures of the standard scholarly journal. Serving as a site for both critique and innovation, QUIDDLE affirms the transformative potential of putting on a silly hat while sitting with a serious thought.
In the spirit of the silly-serious, we invite you to submit to our QUIDDLE Pre-Issue: “Syllabus, Impossible.”

Syllabus, Impossible

The humble syllabus is a hybrid creature of unacknowledged creative potential.

At once a pedagogical apparatus and an inspiring map of projected insights to come, it oscillates between administrative routine and expanded flights of intellectual imagination. It can be the most exciting part of a course, existing prior to the real and before any physical limitation, suggesting futures of transformative epiphany.

In this special Quiddle pre-issue, we’d like to release the syllabus from its practical responsibilities and the constraints of our material world. What if the syllabus were to become a purely imaginative form?
syllabus  pedagogy  teaching  curriculum 
18 hours ago
David Rumsey Historical Map Collection | Timeline Maps
....Herbert Bayer's amazing chart below, the "Succession of Life and Geological Time Table" extends the timeline from the birth of the earth to the appearance of man - tying geologic history and the evolution of life together in one chart. It appeared in his "World Geo-Graphic Atlas" of 1953.
mapping  cartography  timelines  temporality  geology  history  historiography 
18 hours ago
Storefront for Art and Architecture | Programming: Events: Drawing Series: Armatures of Practice, Politics of Action
“Drawing Series: Armatures of Practices, Politics of Action” invites architects to produce a “Diagram of Exchanges” to articulate and visualize the relationships that structure their practices and those that emerge from them. These diagrams identify the myriad of actors beyond the prototypical pair of the architect and the private client. They reveal the logistics and networks of work, and illuminate the politics that emerge from architectural action.
UMS  topology  diagrams  influence 
19 hours ago
Storefront for Art and Architecture | DEMO Bibliography
Storefront’s Critical Halloween Party Bibliography is a compilation of readings that acts as a resource for individuals interested in investigating the topic of each year’s Critical Halloween event. The bibliography for this year’s theme of “DEMO” focuses in particular on issues of demolition, erasure, and destruction. 
Demolition can be a tool for the erasure of memory, a strategy for growth, and more. We will collect existing philosophies, ideologies, and knowledge in the archives of history through a series of texts that sheds light upon the articulation of thoughts, costumes, and critique.
architecture  rubble  waste  deconstruction  subtraction  erasure 
19 hours ago
Mali manuscripts: Nations treasure trove of ancient books saved from jihadists are once again at risk
The collection, which dates back as far as the 13th century, is not in a part of Mali where insurgents hold sway, but in Bamako, the capital. But almost three years after they were smuggled out of the clutches of jihadists in Timbuktu who had begun to burn them, the ancient books remain at risk.

As the murderous attack on the Radisson Blu Hotel showed, Bamako is not out of the reach of the Islamists and there is fear they may try to complete the cultural cleansing they had started almost three years ago.

The original plan was that with a French military operation driving off al-Qaeda and its allies, the documents would be returned to Timbuktu. But that is no longer an option with jihadists returning and strife rekindled....

The collection is hidden around Bamako. The largest batch, no fewer than 27,000 of them, are at a two-storey house in the suburbs where the Ahmed Baba Institute – a renowned centre of Islamic scholarship – has rebased from Timbuktu. Despite the obvious care and attention of those in charge, the conditions are far from ideal and many of the documents, some analysts estimate up to 40 per cent, have been damaged.

...The weather conditions here in Bamako are not good for keeping them. It’s a big problem. Even the dust here is not the same as the dust in Timbuktu and believe it or not the type of dust has a bearing on how the pages can be preserved.”....

Meanwhile, every page is being digitalised and new camel-skin binders produced in the building by craftsmen using traditional methods. “We consider the digitalisation vital,” said Fafana Sekou Sidia, in charge of the operation. “So at least we would have a record if anything is stolen or destroyed.”
timbuktu  preservation  archives  manuscripts  media_city  africa 
2 days ago
A Fragmented City Characterized by Fences, Doors, and Distance
Open To The Public, now showing at VACANCY, presents works that recreate some of the city’s most familiar physical features related to purposes of security, surveillance, and mobility. While Chris Burden’s assemblage of street lights at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art may bring a kind of whimsy to Los Angeles urbanism, the works here, by artists Brody Albert and Kaeleen Wescoat-O’Neill, create the opposite effect — a literal-mindedness that answers the question of how to represent the city by simulating some of its smallest, most banal yet salient, features....

Open To The Public disturbs the allowances of public and private space by transposing the security features of the city into the gallery. The artworks proscribe access to the space by literally functioning as physical barrier, and expand access by making some parts visible from the road or sidewalk. In this way, the show is as disorienting and easy to miss as the city experienced from the inside of a moving car.
art  transportation  public_sphere  surveillance  mapping  Los_Angeles 
2 days ago
How the New York Public Library is reinventing itself for the 21st century.
These days, digitization of the NYPL collections falls under the aegis of NYPL Labs—which began as a catchall name for a range of digital experiments, then became an in-house, prototype-building research and development group, and now is a full-fledged department that’s broadly responsible for both the digital and experimental sides of the library and its branches. And Labs thinks about digitization a little differently.

“There’s less of an emphasis on raw scale for scale’s sake,” says Ben Vershbow, NYPL Labs’ director. “The most exciting things are in the niches: smaller collections that have enormous amounts of data. It makes you ask: What are you talking about when you talk about scale?”...

But if these projects reflect the wider world and culture of technology, what is their trajectory? Where are we headed? It’s tempting to look at new technologies like 3-D printing, virtual reality, or robotics—products that have a loud and obvious “this is the future” appeal—and match them up with libraries in a kind of word association game. Doubtlessly, all of these tools and experiences will play some part in our future and libraries’ as well. But Labs’ most successful and appealing projects suggest something more subtle: a fusion of the new with the old, the past and the future, the high-tech and the all-too-human.

In its own way, the mission is all very traditional. Collect and preserve original materials; make them available to researchers and the public; both serve and draw on your membership and community. And just as the Web has become increasingly not just mainstream but central to many of our lives, the projects by teams like NYPL Labs may still be experimental but less R&D than central to the basic proposition of what a library is in the 21st century. Every day, the future becomes the present, just before it disappears altogether.
libraries  R&D  NYPL  research  methodology 
3 days ago
Dark Matters: an interview with Susan Schuppli
For quite some time I’ve been working on this concept I call the material witness. ‘Material witness’ is a legal term; it refers to someone who has knowledge pertinent to a criminal act or event that could be significant to the outcome of a trial. In my work, I poach the term ‘material witness’ to express the ways in which matter carries trace evidence of external events. But the material witness also performs a twofold operation; it is a double agent. The material witness does not only refer to the evidence of event but also the event of evidence.

It is insufficient to say that this specific type of material records or registers external events, because all material does that: with the right kind of analysis one can determine that my hand had been on the table, but this does not make a material witness of the table. A material witness has to disclose the kinds of institutional frameworks and practices that are able to render the material witness as significant. So if we consider the material witness as both the evidence of event and also the event of evidence, it allows me to understand why certain events are deemed to be worthy of our attention, and other things are disregarded. In the past I primarily looked at analogue media artefacts. I tracked the paths of those more concrete media. But through this work I also started to expand my understanding of what constitutes a ‘material substrate’, which has led me to become increasingly interested in how environmental systems themselves also operate as systems of registration. Today, my own interest, in particular vis-à-vis Dark Ecology, is shifting towards the ways in which certain contaminated or polluted environments start to function as proto-photographic systems. The chemistry of these toxic ecologies starts to induce a certain set of alchemical changes that seem analogous to some of the early experiments in photography. Besides that, I am not necessarily interested in the field of representation; so not in the picturing of things, but much more in the ontological material composition of things, which is where I tend to locate the political. For example, within the realm of digital processing, I’m interested in the moments in which a file is translated or transcoded from one format to the next. During this process, material parameters, standardised by human organisation, result in the discarding of certain digital data. These kinds of micro thresholds are moments when the political enters, because the deletion of certain data and the favouring of other data is a political decision, although positioned within a realm of micro processing.
witness  materiality  material_texts  historiography  things 
5 days ago
Line of Sight · Mapzen
What satellites are above you right now? Patricio Gonzales Vivo wanted to find out, so he built Line of Sight using Tangram, a few Mapzen services, open orbital data and open source software libraries....

Line of Sight uses Mapzen Search and Elevation to calculate the azimuth (direction) and elevation (angle) for a satellite over the next hour. Patricio decided to dynamically encode the locations of those satellites into image that can be quickly processed by Tangram. The longitude of 500 interesting, visible (and soon-to-be visible) satellites is encoded on the left side of the image, and their latitude is on the right.
mapping  satellites 
6 days ago
The 'Alternative Unknowns' Exhibition at apexart Explores Doomsday and Speculative Design - CityLab
The installation, which consists of both objects and performances, is more a thought-experiment than doomsday-themed entertainment, the curators say. Back in August, they hosted a roundtable discussion with emergency preparedness experts, designers, writers, and an actor. They were trying to identify a harrowing scenario to explore: something relatively unlikely, but plausible—less common than, say, a flood. That’s how they settled on an illness volleyed between riders on public transit.

”The simulator is not meant to be scary—it’s meant to put in place something we really could face, and start to work through that situation,” says Elliot Montgomery, who curated the show with Chris Woebken. “We see it in a really constructive light.”

Montgomery and Woebken aren’t emergency planners: they’re designers. But as opposed to producing discrete solutions to tangible problems—such as a more ergonomic work station or a safer road—they tinker with abstract ideas. They’re the co-founders of The Extrapolation Factory, which they describe as “an imagination-based studio for design-led futures studies.” The practice is based on the principles of speculative design....

“This is not just a scenario for getting out quick or privileging the well-to-do,” he says. “We’ve seen a lot of disasters—Katrina as a pointed example—where social justice was a problem.”

Role-playing disasters is a tactic that the city’s Office of Emergency Management uses, too. These can range from no-notice roundtable discussions to full-scale exercises involving volunteers and participants from numerous city agencies, explains Iskra Gencheva, Ready NY program manager. One recent activity brought staffers to Coney Island, where they simulated the aftermath of a dirty bomb....

Plus, they offer engaging, interactive ways to get people interested in disaster preparedness. The OEM disseminates information through a variety of means and media, including workshops with 2,000 citizen volunteers, and sending out newsletters and text messages. (They even have a superhero, Ready Girl, who swoops into elementary schools, cape and all.)
speculation  emergencies  infrastructure  protocol  methodology  simulations  pedagogy 
9 days ago
Why New York Subway Lines Are Missing Countdown Clocks
All track on the New York subway (and on most American rail) is broken into sections, here about 1,000 feet long. An electric current is constantly running in a loop through each section. When a train enters a section, it short-circuits the loop, which allows the system to know that the section is occupied. The signals behind it automatically turn red.

The neat thing about subway signals, as opposed to the ones you find on the road, is that they actually force you to stop. When a signal is red, a footlong metal T called (appropriately) a “train stop” protrudes above the track; each train car has a corresponding “trip cock” on its wheel frame connected to the emergency brakes. If you were to drive by a stop signal the train stop would hit the trip cock and you’d screech to a halt...

They wanted intelligent signals: signals where even if you made a mistake, even if you wanted to, you couldn’t command two trains to simultaneously drive into the same section of track.

This becomes especially important when you have tracks that cross, and switches that route trains from one track to another. In a subway system this happens all the time. New York’s is especially hairy, since many lines have both an express and local track going in each direction. Some big stations can have as many as a dozen lines connecting.

The way you do it is by having what’s called an “interlocking.” An interlocking is just a configuration of signals, switches, and their controls that is set up in such a way that you can never have an unsafe state. In the early days, this was enforced by levers that literally interlocked. If you want to flip a switch over here, you first have to make the signals over there red. If a train entered this section over there, the switch over here would always be disabled.

...“railroad interlockings and telephone exchanges were the big early computers.” Before semiconductors and the modern microprocessor, these systems represented our best attempt to mechanize complexity.

To design even a single interlocking was, and still is, “terrifically complicated.” A thousand considerations—the interactions between signals, switches, and trains; the curves, grades, and other track conditions that affect train speed and braking distances—go into their design. Greenberg, also a composer, likens the problem to writing classical music. “Interlocking is a kind of counterpoint for subway tracks; each track adds about as much complexity as a line of a fugue.”
computing_history  infrastructure  transportation  signals  subways  networks 
9 days ago
The Future of Architecture Visualization: An Interview with Morean Digital Realities and Zaha Hadid Architects | ArchDaily
PL: In your perspective as structural engineer, how important is visual communications to explain the project?

Karl Humpf: It has became more important as the forms of infrastructure projects often are more complex than in the past. Today you have to give the public and/or a wide range of stakeholders, organisations etc. a comprehensive impression of what will be built in the coming years and visualization has become a selling tool for authorities or, especially important in competitions or similar procedures of design.
media_architecture  rendering  animation 
9 days ago
Rosten Woo - Can I help you find something?
let's look at the even more byzantine system in place at a large research collection like Harvard –actually two interlocking systems created by the Library of Congress: Subject Headings and Call Numbers. The Subject Headings are what's known as a precoordinate controlled vocabulary. Controlled meaning that it tries to consolidate terminology (only using “automobile” and not “cars” - referring seekers of “cars” to “automobiles”) and precoordinate meaning that these resources are grouped together by a librarian when they are classified in a ever narrowing hierarchy that provides context for a single term. e.g. “Social sciences — Economic theory. Demography — Economic theory — General works — Recent, 1843/1876- — English and American — General work.” Postcoordinate implies that a series of unrelated descriptors that add up to a meaning. It is the difference between “Napoleon, mother, spouse” and “Napoleon's spouse's mother.”

"Chinese Language Criticism of 19th Century Literature" is somewhat different from "19th Century Criticism of Chinese Language Literature" but they would contain the same keywords.

A precoordinate system is less flexible but provides a more specific meaning. The full subject heading is not just the collection of tags, but the tags in a specific order. A book can have as many subject headings as the library cataloger sees fit but they must be from a pre-set list approved by the Library of Congress. Then the cataloger gives the book a Call Number that corresponds with the subject heading that the cataloger deems to be the book's “primary” subject.
libraries  classification  bookstacks  cataloguing 
10 days ago
I'm Josh Millard, and these are my bad ideas. Some of them even get a DIDIT tag. If you decide to do one, let me know!
workflow  bad_ideas  UMS  project_management 
10 days ago
The Strange Geopolitics of the International Cloud
...large companies building cloud infrastructure seek access to land, and appealing climates—environmental, financial, and political. Places with high concentrations of Internet exchanges, network infrastructure, U.S.-friendly governments, existing tech sectors, or highly educated populations (Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Singapore) become logical locations for data centers. Proximity to this Internet backbone reduces latency and it's easier to hire people to work there. Scandinavia, a region popular with companies like Google and Facebook, isn't particularly rife with backbone or dense with Internet exchanges, but it makes up for this with cool climates, access to hydroelectric and geothermal power, and vast expanses that instill both existential despair and stoicism.

In the case of Ireland, its data-center economy has been fueled in part by its cool climate, but also by its 12.5 percent corporate tax rate, which has led lots of tech companies to open offices and move assets to the country. In an unusual reversal of the typical narrative, massive infrastructural developments are following the data centers, with new submarine cables landing in Ireland to serve the country's tech sector.

Climate and latency aren't the only reasons for a company to expand its data-center footprint. As The Cloud absorbs more and more global data and the phrase “post-Snowden” sounds less and less pretentious, there's increasing international interest in data sovereignty, the idea that a citizen's personal data stays within their country's borders....

...framed within a U.S.-centric lens. I haven't even gotten into the political negotiations of an endeavor like Amazon Web Services's China region, or that Alibaba already has data centers operating in Silicon Valley. Or how totally broken Australian broadband infrastructure is. Or how most of the criteria that leads to data-center development in specific parts of the world also skews away from places that currently lack connectivity, where initiatives like the Facebook-led try to bridge gaps not with long-term infrastructural investment, but with laser drones and tiered-access schemes.
infrastructure  data_sovereignty  data_centers  climate 
12 days ago
The sound of refugees | geographical imaginations
Brian Foo is a programmer and visual artist who has been conducting a series of music experiments at Date Driven DJ that combine data, algorithms, and borrowed sounds.  His video below (screenshot above), ‘Distance from home‘, which is also available on vimeo, uses refugee data from the United Nations from 1975 to 2012 to create a truly remarkable audio visualization.
migration  refugees  data_sonification  sound_map 
12 days ago
What New York Could Look Like in 2020 | National Geographic
Manhattan is in the midst of an unprecedented boom in tall buildings. Before 2004, Manhattan was home to 28 skyscrapers 700 feet and taller. Since then, an additional 13 have been built, 15 are under construction, and 19 are proposed—47 more in all. These additions are rapidly—and radically—changing the skyline.
data_visualization  mapping  real_estate  skyline 
12 days ago
An Artist-in-Residence at a 19th Century Library: Lu Zhang
Her project topo(log) typo(log) is the culmination of a year-long studio residency, jointly facilitated between the ICA Baltimore and the library, which cleared off a few shelves of archaic science books to create a studio space for Zhang. During that time, Zhang embarked on a sort of non-objective research project—approaching the fruits of the Victorian impulse to collect and index knowledge with a contemporary gaze trained by scrolling, surfing, swiping, and favoriting. The result is a collection of single-edition printed matter loosely based around the Dewey Decimal system of relative location, each piece corresponding to a different level of the library’s physical structure. Zhang’s work is arranged on the atrium’s study tables for perusal, beginning with a large, cloth-bound book with content sourced from the concept of “General Reference.”

The book is a collection of images, mostly sourced from the 18th Century Diderot’s Encyclopédie, as well as archival architectural drawings of the library itself, and other works from the Peabody collection. Zhang xeroxed images that caught her eye and arranged them as a progression informed by formal or symbolic associations. An illustration of symmetrical balustrades might lead to an image of a neoclassical structure, back to the library itself, and on to other signs of the archival impulse—ending with a seemingly blank page that captures a hairline flaw in the bed of the library’s copier. The piece brings to mind Dina Kelberman’s ongoing artwork “I’m Google“, in which reverse-image search leads the artist and viewer down a rabbit hole of ever-slightly-changing imagery. In both cases, it’s suggested that we have such a surplus of collected knowledge at our fingertips that the most arbitrary or personal forms of sequencing it are just as valid coping mechanism for information overload/processing as any search algorithm....

“History” is recorded in a folding pamphlet with details of various library surfaces and their wear juxtaposed with what appears to be a transcript of a guided tour. Marble might show erosion from countless footsteps, while a wooden desk top might bear the marks of errant pen strokes. Zhang’s artifacts of “Language, Literature, and Translation” again recall the library’s texture, rather than text. She created plaster casts of everything from braille signage and ironwork florettes to contemporary fire-suppression systems. All of these tactile surfaces—including the banal ones most likely to be replaced eventually—are tenderly/clinically cradled by foam, preserved for posterity....

Sampling text from an old, charmingly authoritative/poetic guidebook to clouds, Zhang bound a vellum folio illustrated with cyanotype “specimens” of imaginary skies. These are created from mundane supplies one might encounter at a study desk—pens, scraps of paper, etc..—exposed to create absurd cloud formations.
library_art  book_art  typology  classification  encyclopedias  clouds 
12 days ago
Small Changes in Teaching: The Minutes Before Class - The Chronicle of Higher Education
let’s focus on what we can do in those potentially empty moments before class, the ones I used to fritter away with shuffling papers or collecting my thoughts. Some faculty have to move hurriedly from one course to their next and might not have the luxury of an extra few minutes prior to class. But for those who do, I think you will find that a very small investment of time can pay substantial dividends. Consider the following three ways that you can set up the day’s learning in the few minutes before the metaphorical bell rings.

HOW ARE YOU? ...he had made a determined effort to arrive a few minutes before class and speak to an individual student or two each day. She rotated around the room, so that eventually she had chatted with each of them. The interactions were simple and brief: She asked how they were doing, or commented on something she had overheard them discussing, or inquired about their major or other interests.

The results, she said, had been impressive. Students were more talkative in discussions. The atmosphere in class took on a more positive, productive tone, and she felt more connected to her students — even the ones who normally liked to hide out in the back row. Moreover, many students praised the practice in her end-of-term course evaluations.

DISPLAY THE FRAMEWORK: ...key differences exist between the way novices (students) and experts (faculty) understand and process new material. Experts have a clear picture of the framework of their discipline and can quickly recognize how new ideas alter or confirm their understanding. Novice learners tend to see facts, concepts, and skills as discrete, isolated pieces of knowledge, without any awareness of the connections that join them all together. A key difference between experts and novices is "the number or density of connections among the concepts, facts, and skills they know," they write. Their finding suggests that, in any given class period, we need to help students understand how to better organize the material. ... Before class, put up on the board the day’s agenda in whatever form you choose — perhaps a broad outline of the lecture material or a list of discussion topics. Keep your agenda there and visible throughout class. As the session progresses, continue to remind students where they are within the framework for that day’s material.

CREATE WONDER: ...suggests that instructors post an image on the screen at the front of the room and ask two questions about it: "What do you notice? What do you wonder?" Before class starts, let the image direct the informal conversations, Newbury argues, and then use it to guide a brief discussion during the opening minutes of class.

Chief among the benefits of this strategy, Newbury says: It can activate students’ prior knowledge, helping them form connections with what they already know. It also offers both the instructor and the students the opportunity to discuss how the images connect to previous course material. Obviously you could substitute anything for the NASA picture of the day: a great sentence in a writing class; a newspaper headline in a political-science class; an audio clip for a music class; an artifact in an archaeology class.

But what I really love about this technique is the simple message it conveys to students from the instructor: "I find this stuff fascinating, and I think you will, too; let’s wonder about it together." I can’t think of a better way to spend those moments before class officially begins.
teaching  pedagogy 
14 days ago
In L.A., One Way to Beat Traffic Runs Into Backlash
Ms. Menard’s suburban Los Angeles street of ranch houses, Cody Road, has turned into a thoroughfare with enough gridlock to make Times Square at rush hour feel tranquil. On early mornings when headlights are still needed, it resembles one long funeral procession.

The culprit: Waze, the popular app owned by Alphabet Inc.’s Google that provides alternate routes to busy boulevards and packed freeways. Launched in 2007, Waze has 50 million users world-wide and about two million in Los Angeles, its biggest U.S. market.

Waze sometimes sends drivers through little-used side streets such as Cody Road. The mile-long hilly street in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood runs parallel to the 405 freeway and leads to Mulholland Drive, through which commuters can make their way from the San Fernando Valley to Beverly Hills, Hollywood and West Los Angeles.
navigation  cartography  transportation  mapping  Google 
15 days ago
A Sizable Challenge: Mapping Alaska
For the first time in decades, the federal government is mapping the entire state of Alaska, where Denali is located. It isn’t just a vanity project—the aim is to correct errors that have created confusion and cost lives.

“There have been a number of accidents and incidents when planes went into mountains or high peaks because maps were inaccurate,” said Mark Newell, a spokesman for the U.S. Geological Survey. “Not only do we want better maps for recreation and business and science but also for aviation safety.”...

Throughout the U.S., accurate maps are critical for executing emergency responses, managing natural resources, planning infrastructure and recording administrative boundaries such as congressional and voting districts. Since 2009, when the USGS rolled out digital topographical maps, the agency has mapped U.S. states and territories every three years to keep up with changes.

Only Alaska has been neglected.

he state, aptly nicknamed the Last Frontier, is particularly challenging to map because of its size, weather and terrain. It is bigger than Texas, California and Montana combined, and its landscape is often obscured by clouds and shadows.

Those conditions make it difficult to collect the aerial photographs and elevation measurements necessary for accurate mapping.

The last attempt was in the 1950s, before the state joined the union, when Alaska was mapped using World War II-era aerial equipment that couldn’t handle the conditions. As a result, some mountains got a haircut or were plopped down in the wrong spot, and some rivers and streams were missed altogether....

In other instances, the topography has simply changed. Alaska has mile-wide rivers whose coursing channels can shift by as much as a mile in one year. “You can’t even keep up with them...

The most advanced technology for collecting elevation data, and the one used by the USGS for the continental U.S., is Lidar, or light detection and ranging, which measures distance from airplanes equipped with lasers.

Because clouds interfere with that technology, Alaska’s elevation is being measured with something different—Ifsar, or interferometric synthetic aperture radar, which is less accurate but able to penetrate clouds. It is also collected by plane....

Because Alaska is so large, for mapping purposes, the state is divided into 11,275 quadrangles.... "Think of it as a pizza,” said Nicholas Mastrodicasa, the digital mapping project manager in Alaska’s Department of Transportation. “Elevation data is the crust. Imagery is the sauce. Then you’ve got administrative boundaries, hydrography, roads, buildings, vegetation. All have to be correctly registered to the elevation to be accurate.”
mapping  cartography  instruments  aviation  machine_vision  infrastructure 
15 days ago
Film and Video Artist Diana Thater’s First Retrospective at LACMA
Known for projects that explore nature and the cosmos, frequently from the perspective of creatures like whales, wolves or bees, she has often found both inspiration and raw material in the observatory itself....

Michael Govan, LACMA’s director, credits her with being the pioneer who freed video from the confines of the monitor and the anonymous, illusory black-box environment. Instead, Thater has used video as the basis for immersive installations by projecting footage onto every surface of a space, while also revealing the audiovisual equipment and incorporating the viewer into the piece...

What first drew the art world’s attention was Thater’s lushly cinematic hand, as evidenced in her first major work, OO Fifi, Five Days in Claude Monet’s Garden, Part 1 (1992), produced soon after she earned her M.F.A. in 1990. Using footage she’d shot in the garden of Monet’s house in Giverny, France, during a residency there, Thater transformed a room at 1301PE Gallery in Los Angeles into a jewel box blossoming with red, yellow and blue flowers. She did this by manually splitting the image into primary colors rather than in post-production, skewing lenses inside the projector. The next month, for the second part of the piece, shown at Shoshana Wayne Gallery, in Santa Monica, California, she put the imagery back together again, using three separate projectors, one for each color, and focusing them together to create a fuzzily impressionistic floral environment....

Govan had a similar response some years later when he saw knots + surfaces, first presented at New York City’s Dia in 2001. The piece transformed the space into a blaze of supersaturated color as honeybees buzzed, swarmed and danced, anchored by a giant orange daisy blazing from monitors....

In Delphine (1999), Thater evokes a dolphin’s-eye view of the world. It depicts the mammals and two visions of the sun seen through water; scenes overlap onto the floor, walls and ceiling to create the illusion of being undersea while also suggesting dolphins’ unique combination of sonar and retinal perception.
perception  installation  color  video  video_art  animals 
15 days ago
Unfold explores different modes of existence of the library experimenting with the digital folder as a space for curatorial and artistic inquiry.
Unfold is an online library of folders in motion, progressively generated by seven guest curators. One after the other they will expand, reorganize and reshape the library engendering new research perspectives.
Unfold hosts shifting constellations of artistic content, books, found objects and software, both newly commissioned and already existing. Like all libraries, Unfold is a space of copies, copies of copies, appropriations, heterogeneity and contradictions.

A folder is a self-replicating structure leading to ramifications of other sub-folders and files as if in a mise en abyme of itself. As a container, a folder doesn’t exist as a distinct singularity preceding its content but implies a certain multiplicity resonating with Jean-Luc Nancy’s concept of “singular plural”. For Nancy there is no being without a “being with”, as well as there is no meaning without circulation. However, this “we” that comes prior to the “I” is not a monolithic identity but a web of relations and in-between tensions.
From this perspective we can look at a folder directory as a space in which we can learn to con-fuse singularities. The folder can facilitate associative thinking, anti-authorial agency, movement of thoughts, untimely collaborations. Its relational architecture encourages the dissolution of private properties in favor of polyphonic and shared narratives.
folders  libraries  textual_form  organization  library_art 
17 days ago
How Apple Is Giving Design A Bad Name
Once upon a time, Apple was known for designing easy-to-use, easy-to-understand products. It was a champion of the graphical user interface, where it is always possible to discover what actions are possible, clearly see how to select that action, receive unambiguous feedback as to the results of that action, and have the power to reverse that action—to undo it—if the result is not what was intended.

No more. Now, although the products are indeed even more beautiful than before, that beauty has come at a great price. Gone are the fundamental principles of good design: discoverability, feedback, recovery, and so on. Instead, Apple has, in striving for beauty, created fonts that are so small or thin, coupled with low contrast, that they are difficult or impossible for many people with normal vision to read. We have obscure gestures that are beyond even the developer’s ability to remember. We have great features that most people don’t realize exist.

...once upon a time, Apple was known for its ease of use, for computers and applications that were understandable, powerful, and could be used without reference to any manuals. All the operations were discoverable (the power of menus), all could be undone or redone, and there was considerable feedback so you always knew what had just taken place. Users were encouraged to blossom, with greater and greater power being revealed as users became ready. Apple’s design guidelines and their principles were powerful, popular, and influential.

However, when Apple moved to gestural-based interfaces with the first iPhone, followed by its tablets, it deliberately and consciously threw out many of the key Apple principles. No more discoverability, no more recoverability, just the barest remnants of feedback. Why? Not because this was to be a gestural interface, but because Apple simultaneously made a radical move toward visual simplicity and elegance at the expense of learnability, usability, and productivity.
interfaces  graphic_design  interface_aesthetics  gesture  apple  tactility  navigation 
17 days ago
Judging a Book by its Cover | medievalbooks
The page number, for example, is encountered in papyrus manuscripts made some two thousand years ago (see this older blog post).

Crucially, to look up information in a book you must have first located the object. And so the shelfmark was invented, the equivalent of our call number. By the end of the medieval period it had become as clever as the book to which it was added: letters, digits, and even colour coding was used to guide the reader to a particular manuscript (see this post on GPS in the medieval library). This post explores the medieval roots of yet another tool for finding a specific book, one that is as popular now as it was in medieval times: title and author information displayed on the spine and dust jacket.  How did the outside of the medieval manuscript communicate what was hidden inside?...

Why make things complicated? The easiest way to identify a manuscript was to simply jot the title on the front cover, straight on the leather of the binding (Figs. 1-2). Although one might imagine that this is how the tradition of our modern cover information began, there are too few original bindings left to know for sure. The manuscript seen in Figs. 1-2 is important as it shows that the practice goes back to at least the fourteenth century.

...tells us that for 200-300 years users were quite content with an “anonymous” book, which did not provide a clue to what information it contained. ...

...write the information on a parchment or paper slip – a label – that was subsequently pasted on the cover, as is still common practice in libraries today....As detailed as these labels are, they exclusively list the titles of the works contained by the manuscript, not the authors’ names....

FENESTRA: Paper or parchment title shields were sometimes placed under a thin piece of horn (bone), for protection (Figs. 7-8). The so-called “fenestra” (window in Latin) was secured to the wooden cover with nails: it was clearly going nowhere (Fig. 8). This type of cover information can be seen as the next step in the process of providing efficient book titles: a clear and permanent label, hammered into wooden boards with nails. ...

SPINE TITLES: ... It all started on the fore-edge, the long side of the book that shows the paper or parchment pages. From at least the fourteenth century decoration was added to this location.... Given that the fore-edge was facing the reader, this location was also the perfect place to write down the title or author of the work contained by the volume. ...When books finally turned their backs to the reader, the title ended up where it is still found today: on the spine. Based on my own experience, this practice was not common in medieval times, for the simple fact that manuscripts were not usually placed with their backs facing the reader. Cases from the early-modern period are plentiful. In fact, it became so popular that some readers wrote extensive tables of contents on the backs of their books...

The early history of displaying a book’s title and author on the outside is long and winding: first the information was found on the front or back, then on the fore-edge, and finally on the spine. This order is no coincidence, because it roughly reflects another development, namely how books were stored: first flat (Early and Central Middle Ages), then upright with the fore-edge facing the reader (Later Middle Ages), and finally with the spine facing outward (Early Modern period).

Judging from surviving book bindings, the history of the “dust jacket” with title actually starts surprisingly late. After all, the earliest traceable specimens date from the fourteenth century. Curiously, in the same century the Latin titulus was first used for denoting the title of a book (see here), which may also indicate that titles did not exist before then. If correct, this reconstruction suggests that for much of the Middle Ages readers could not tell what texts were found inside a book.
books  book_history  titles  libraries  textual_form  intellectual_furnishings  reading 
17 days ago
Why is so much of design school a waste of time? — Dear Design Student — Medium
Especially once you make it past the first year or two of working, you spend less time wrestling with making things and more time listening to people in person, on the phone, in slack, in texts, in email, pretty much everywhere where they can find you. They are redundant, inarticulate, inefficient, vague, and inconsistent, and they are constantly going on and on about something. And god bless them. They don’t owe you clarity. If ten percent of what they say is useful, that’s a win. Your job as a student is to practice figuring out which ten percent is useful, how to mine it, and how to use it. This is what school is for. If you want to learn how to use digital tools, talk to the internet..

You’re also thinking here that success in a critique means that people like what you made, and that success in the next critique is showing how obedient you are in following their suggestions. You’re missing the point. It’s a gift exchange, not an oral exam, and if you don’t get past this in school, you will be condemned to repeat it after you leave. You’ll go to one client meeting and walk out mad that they didn’t like what you made, then you’ll grumpily make their suggestions real and bring them in for the next round, and get mad again when they still don’t like it. You will complain to your friends about “pushing pixels” and how dumb clients are. And you will be as good a designer at 32 as you were at 22, maybe slightly worse....

The hero in your life is never going to be the person who pats you on the head: it’s going to be the person who puts their own need to be liked aside to make you a better designer. And no, someone doesn’t need to understand you or your project 100% before they have the right to say anything about it. The person who doesn’t get you or what you made is the one that is most likely to come up with the idea or the insight that you can’t come up with on your own. People who see things differently are gold.
So next time someone is giving you feedback about something you made, think to yourself that to win means getting two or three insights, ideas, or suggestions that you are excited about, and that you couldn’t think up on your own. Lead the conversation until you get there. Ask real questions that tell you something that you didn’t know already. Say “tell me more.” Let them wander, tell stories, not understand, be irrelevant — take as long as it takes to listen for the pieces that make you better.
And if they are hard on you, keep coming back to them. As my favorite client once said to someone working for him, “Is this it? Is this as good as you want to be? Are you done? Because if you are done, and you don’t want to be any better, I can stop talking. But if you’re not, I’m here for you.”
advising  UMS  critique 
17 days ago
Contagion, poison, trigger: books have always been d...
This is probably the first time in history that young readers themselves are demanding protection from the disturbing content of their course texts, yet reading has been seen as a threat to mental health for thousands of years. In accordance with the paternalistic ethos of ancient Greece, Socrates said that most people couldn’t handle written text on their own. He feared that for many – especially the uneducated – reading could trigger confusion and moral disorientation unless the reader was counselled by someone with wisdom. In Plato’s dialogue, the Phaedrus, written in 360 BCE, Socrates warned that reliance on the written word would weaken individuals’ memory, and remove from them the responsibility of remembering. Socrates used the Greek word pharmakon – ‘drug’ – as a metaphor for writing, conveying the paradox that reading could be a cure but most likely a poison. Scaremongers would repeat his warning that the text was analogous to a toxic substance for centuries to come.
reading  books  fear  moral_panic 
18 days ago
Uber Signs Digital Mapping Deal With TomTom - The New York Times
Uber, the ride-hailing service, agreed on Thursday to use digital maps provided by the Dutch technology company TomTom in its smartphone applications.

The move is the latest foray into digital mapping for Uber, which had offered to buy Nokia’s mapping business for around $3 billion early this year but lost out on the deal to a consortium of German automakers.

Uber, which is increasingly using digital maps to run its fast-expanding global operation, has also acquired a portion of Microsoft’s map technology and hired a number of engineers from Microsoft’s mapping team.
uber  mapping 
18 days ago
How Chemistry Is Rescuing Our Audio History from Melting
The cause of tape disintegration is something called sticky shed syndrome, a result of the hydrolysis of esters. When ester, a compound that partly constitutes the polyurethane binder that holds a tape’s magnetic particles, combines with water, they form a carboxylic acid plus alcohol. The acid and alcohol make the tapes sticky and unplayable. This means that tapes stored in damp, humid climates—like so many of the unplayable 1960s jazz tapes filling attics in the South—are especially prone to disintegration. Audio engineers know the sound of sticky shed right away: The tapes squeak and squeal across the players.

Sticky shed tapes are not lost to the world forever, however. They can be baked in a low-temperature oven (about 100 degrees F) for eight hours or more. This often drains the water from the tape and can make it playable for a short while. However, baking tapes also makes them precariously brittle—so treating tapes of unknown quality isn’t a good idea.

...they combined a laptop-sized infrared spectrometer with an algorithm that uses multivariate statistics to pick up patterns of all the absorption peaks (this kind of analysis is called chemometrics). As the tapes go through the breakdown reaction, the chemical changes give off tiny signals in the form of compounds, which can be seen with infrared light—and when the patterns of reactions are analyzed with the model, it can predict which tapes are playable. The sound engineers could use this, says Breitung. “We couldn’t have them analyzing spectra—it would take too long and the types of changes were too subtle.” Taking spectra samples at 20 different places along the tape, the researchers get a pretty good sense of the tape’s condition
measurement  archives  preservation  chemistry  media_archaeology  digital_preservation  tape 
19 days ago
Faux-Archaeological Artifacts of an Imagined Skater-Aztec Civilization
SANGREE’s two members, Mexico City natives René Godínez Pozas and Carlos Lara, combine elements from pre-Hispanic and mystical traditions with contemporary aesthetics. A mix of hard and soft materials, such as concrete and inflatables, create hybrid sculptural forms. The duo playfully imagines an alternate history where colonization didn’t involve massacre and indigenous peoples became hipsters like the rest of us. In the exhibition, scale models of pyramid structures are combined with skate parks to create architectural visions of an ideal multiculturalism that never existed. The combined elements in SANGREE’s work represent outsider cultures, both urban and native, such as objects fusing punk and Mexica elements. A life-size sculpture of an indigenous man is marked with punk tattoos. Native patterns and reliefs are printed on plastic and rolled into inflatable columns whose fans fill the gallery with atmospheric noise.

Things that should be hard are soft, and vice versa. At first glance the sculptures, made with earthy concrete and gray scale printed plastic, appear ancient. But further examination reveals that these purported antiquities are not so old. Untreated gray concrete is the exhibition’s dominant aesthetic, alluding to the universal building material of gray urban landscapes — the result of colonialism, as illustrated by the megalopolis Mexican capital stretching across the once-bountiful Valley of Mexico, where Mesoamerican cultures thrived off the land for thousands of years. The works function as antiquities that could be on display in an anthropology museum, and as ephemeral contemporary art objects.

Half pipes and handrails blend in with Aztec-style pyramid structures. The imagined cities or utopias toe the line between sculpture and history museum dioramas.
archaeology  artifacts  installation 
19 days ago
“The Architecture of Madness”: León Ferrari’s Héliographias – SOCKS
León Ferrari (1920-2013) was an Argentinian conceptual artist who worked with a series of extremely different medias through the years. Trained as an engineer, he gained notoriety in the 1960s thanks to his polemical works on religion and politics. Exiled in 1976 in Brazil, he started  a series of plans using heliography, the technique traditionally employed by architects,until the advent of the computers, in order to reproduce their drawings. Combining letraset icons to hand sketches, he invented labyrintic worlds which became part of a series called “The architecture of Madness”.
presentation_images  drawings  urban_form  architecture  plans 
20 days ago
Scholars Talk Writing: Camille Paglia - The Chronicle of Higher Education
I certainly learned nothing about writing from grad school! My teacher was Yale’s Sterling Library, that Gothic cathedral of scholarship. I was very drawn to the lucid simplicity of British classicists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, where one could hear a distinct speaking voice.

In my final years of grad school in the early 1970s, French poststructuralism was flooding into Yale, and I was appalled at its willful obscurantism and solipsism. After a talk by some preening Continental mandarin, I complained to a fellow student, "They’re like high priests murmuring to each other." I deeply admire French literature, but that poststructuralist swerve was one of the stupidest and most disastrous things that American humanities departments ever did to themselves or to the great works of art that were in their custody. It was mass suicide, and the elite schools are now littered with rotting corpses....

Yes, the actual writing! My system of composition has four parts. There’s a long period of very enjoyable rumination, where I assemble information and jot ideas and phrases at random on legal-size notepaper — pages upon pages. Then as the deadline approaches, I study my notes and bracket or underline principal themes in colored ink to map out a skeletal general outline. Third comes the dreaded moment of writing — which is total torture! It’s a terrible strain, and I’m literally tied up in knots of anxiety as I toil over it. Once a draft is blessedly complete, my fourth stage of reviewing and tweaking the text (which can go on for days, if there’s time) is pure, serene pleasure — there’s nothing I love more!...

Revision for me is essentially condensation — that’s where the Paglia voice suddenly emerges. By subtracting words, I force compression and speed on the text. Through long practice, I’ve achieved a distinct flow to my writing — a compulsive readability, even when the reader hates what I’m saying!...

In addition to condensation, I also employ syncopation, modeled on the jazz-inflected Beat poetry that had a huge impact on me in college. When people try to parody my prose, this is what they miss — those subtle, jagged twists, turns, and tugs, whose ultimate source is music. In short, the secret of my writing is focus, planning, persistence, labor, and attention to detail.
academia  writing 
20 days ago
How the Metaphor of “the Cloud” Changed Our Attitude Toward the Internet - The New Yorker
Around 2010, casual Internet users were introduced to the idea that the digital world around them could be understood in terms of the “cloud.” As a metaphor, the cloud seems easy to grasp: our data is somewhere in the ether, floating, drifting and wireless, available wherever and whenever we need it. It carries hints of childhood wonder; the term is evocative because it is the opposite of the hard, material world of plugs and cables, disk drives and superhighways. But the thing about a cloud, Tung-Hui Hu reminds us in his mesmerizing new book, “A Prehistory of the Cloud,” is that you can only see it from a distance. How did we come to place our faith in a symbol that is so ephemeral—all vapor and crystal? “Like the inaudible hum of the electrical grid at 60 hertz, the cloud is silent, in the background, and almost unnoticeable.” What might we learn if we try to trace its mellow outline against the sky?...

One of the earliest occurrences of its modern shape is found in a 1922 design for a series of linked telegraphs that allowed mathematicians to communicate with one another and thereby predict the weather. In 1951, A.T. & T. introduced a series of microwave relay stations and called it the “electronic ‘skyway’ ”—this, too, suggested a fuzzy, cloud-like formation. By the nineteen-seventies, the figure of the cloud had emerged as a way to depict complex communication networks, especially ones, like the telephone or Internet, where information traveled along unpredictable circuits. (Prior to this, networks had been depicted in terms of boxes, grids, straight lines, and direct arrows, rather than the squiggles and curls of these new renderings.)

What these examples had in common was a desire to collect something scattered and far-flung into a legible whole. As Hu explains, the idea of wholeness was important, since it contained the possibility that an entire network could continue functioning even if one node along the way went offline, a resilience that held special appeal for the military. The cloud had no beginning or end. It was adaptable and ubiquitous, a vision of a society with no center.

...they dispel present-day techno-utopianism. Just as old words get refurbished with new meanings, much of our nation’s Internet infrastructure was simply laid atop paths cleared for the railroads and telephones—a previous generation’s technological wonders. The name of the telecommunications giant Sprint, for example, was originally an acronym for Southern Pacific Railroad Internal Networking Telephony. Or consider Iron Mountain, once a nuclear blast-proof vault for corporate clients and now one of America’s biggest data backup and digital storage companies....

Understanding that history matters, if only to recognize where our attitudes and expectations toward technology came from, and how we came to accept the silent bargain each of us makes when we tap into the power of distant servers or escrow our digital lives somewhere in the sky. Hu argues, convincingly, that the military’s interest in online impregnability trickled down to the rest of us and became one of the central anxieties in our increasingly interlinked digital lives: the language of data security and disaster prevention, the overhyped concerns about borders and contamination that Hu eloquently reads in the leering hysteria over Nigerian spammers.
cloud  networks  media_archaeology 
20 days ago
What Cities Look Like When Your Brain Does the Mapping Without GPS - CityLab
When we aren’t sure how to get somewhere, our first instinct is to plug the address into a GPS gadget and let the program figure out the rest. But by relying so much on GPS, we miss out on the thrill of exploration.

It’s the same in mapmaking, says Archie Archambault, a designer who’s making an ongoing series called “Map From the Mind.” Archambault’s maps are based solely on his own explorations and time spent with locals in a given city. “It seems kind of dishonest to make a map completely based on secondhand data,” he says. “The tradition of mapmaking is surveying and being within the parameters of the space.”

The maps he’s made won’t give you turn-by-turn directions from from point A to point B, but they will give you the gist of various cities through the eyes of locals. Call them, he says, the CliffNotes to a city. Each map is simple, using circles to illustrate neighborhoods, parks, and other areas that communities deem meaningful or significant.

For some cities, the maps are circular—a shape Archambault says makes it easy for our eyes and brains to take in information. For others, he stayed true to the actual shape of the city. The partial diamond shape of Washington, D.C., for example, is important to the city’s history. He’s even got maps of the moon, our solar system, and our bodies, highlighting what stands out the most in those settings.

...researchers have been looking at the effect of GPS use on our brains for a while now, and according to a handful of studies out there, the results aren’t good. A set of three studies from researchers at McGill University in 2010 suggest that our reliance of GPS may reduce the function of the hippocampus. That’s the part of our brain that’s responsible for learning, retaining memories, and, well, navigating.

They found that those who rely on spatial navigation—using landmarks as visual cues to determine location and find destinations—had more brain activity than those who simply relied on GPS. In another study, from 2000, researchers found that London cab drivers who navigate the city using only their knowledge of the streets had more gray matter in parts of their hippocampus than the average Londoner.
mapping  cognitive_mapping  cartography  place 
20 days ago
So why did Amazon open a bookstore? » MobyLives
So why brick-and-mortar retail? Most likely because Amazon’s long-term strategy is simple: It wants everyone, everywhere to buy everything from Amazon … it will be a potentially valuable learning experience … lacking a physical presence the company ends up with a somewhat limited view of what its customers look like and how they behave. A retail presence can help change that.

And there you have it. Even a blind squirrel can find a nut every now and then. Amazon may indeed learn something from its bookstore/test lab—about show-rooming or about what kind of different data it can collect in situ. But does it really think brick and mortar stores, which it has been so disdainful of since the company’s beginnings, have anything to teach it?

Most likely not. As Yglesias sort of says before hedging his bets, Amazon may just be doing this simply because it can.

In short, let us not read too much into this blank slate that is no more nor less than a pure and brain-dead emanation—perhaps the ultimate emanation—of a rapacious free-market capitalism. A shark eating everything in its path because that’s what sharks do.

The question may not be “Why did Amazon open a bookstore?” but rather, “Why not?”
bookstores  amazon  media_architecture 
20 days ago
Libraries are changing international development.
the foundation has funded the work of organizations like READ Global, which constructs library and resource centers throughout rural regions in South Asia. As Tina Sciabica, READ’s executive director, told me, in the process of serving whole communities these facilities also provide a safe space for women, some of whom are otherwise unable to leave the home without the permission of their husbands. “Once there, the women can gain access to literacy classes, self-help groups (savings cooperatives), health programs, and livelihood training that they otherwise would not be able to access,” Sciabica told me. To some extent this is possible because READ actively involves local communities in establishing the libraries and requires co-investment, instilling a sense of collective ownership.

Naturally, libraries won’t be able to function in this capacity without changing themselves. As a report from the Aspen Institute (produced in collaboration with the Gates Foundation) acknowledges, the association between libraries and physical books will probably shrink in the years ahead, a process that is already well underway. Nevertheless, the report stresses, “The public library remains a destination for many users, serving many purposes.” It’s this openness to various needs that’s most important, especially from a development perspective, as it allows libraries to respond to specific needs: In Botswana, for example, where economic diversification is a priority, the Gates Foundation helped create library services designed to encourage small business development. Instead of imperialistically imprinting the same mode of learning everywhere, libraries can respond to the changing particulars of different communities and contexts.
libraries  global 
20 days ago
Taste Treat: The Museum of Food and Drink Opens in New York | Observer
The Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) recently opened in Brooklyn with an inaugural exhibit entitled “Flavor: Making It and Faking It,” which reviews the history of the flavor industry that dates back to the 19th century with the creation of the first artificial vanilla flavor....

What’s your favorite part of the debut exhibit? I like watching people use the smell machines. I can hear them right now they’re hitting all the buttons and they’re cranking the gumball machines. I like people tasting and smelling because it’s the reasons why we need to have a brick and water space like this. What people learn with the smell machines is that smells that are unpleasant on their own are good when they’re added in to other things.
sensation  multisensory_art  exhibition  smell  food  taste 
21 days ago
This Is What The Internet Sounds Like | The Creators Project
Big data centers have always had a noise control problem, but it's only now that the relentless din of the cloud seems to be reaching a fever pitch.

There is something almost sublime about the sound of data in a holding pattern. It's a digital ambience that fascinates Matt Parker, a British sound artist. Parker recently paid a visit to a medium-sized data center at Birmingham City University-Edgbaston, and rolled tape as the center's server racks and array of hard drives did their thing, emitting a steady white noise. The raw recording is the soundtrack of so much of our lives today, replete with a faulty drive panel that beeps out for help, but nobody's home.

"The idea is to highlight the physical nature of ‘cloud computing,'" Parker tells the blog Cities and Memory, "and to remind people that whilst their phones might be sat silently in their pockets, somewhere out there, a huge hive of hard drives and fans is spinning around frantically; managing our digital identities."

He's not alone. Data center field recording has become a sort of cottage industry. Take the appropriately titled "Data Center Hum" by AutoDestructo:
data_centers  acoustics  sound_space  cloud 
21 days ago
Soundwwwalks are an emerging genre of live browser-based performances where improvisation meets plugin sound-collage and multitab mixing, shamelessly blending the traditions of acoustic ecologies, pro-surfing and laptop performance. The artists take the audience on a sonic detour through the World Wide Web.

A Soundwwwalk considers the act of surfing the World Wide Web as a form of sonic action in the networked space of the Internet, a place where multitudes of sound sources, sonic events and acoustic phenomena converge. All performances follow the Soundwwwalk One-Line-Manifesto: “All sound sources must be played in a browser, must not be self-produced and must be publicly accessible.” The artists perform their Soundwwwalks in person on stage or transmit the notation, sometimes in real time, to a local interpreter operating the browser.
sound_space  net_art  performance  music  sound_art 
21 days ago
My Holy Nacho, it’s all about the gaps in online communication | We Make Money Not Art
In the early 1920s, painter and photographer László Moholy-Nagy started creating artworks through instructions he gave over the phone:

In 1922 I ordered by telephone from a sign factory five paintings in porcelain enamel. I had the factory’s color chart before me and I sketched my paintings on graph paper. At the other end of the telephone the factory supervisor had the same kind of paper, divided into squares. He took down the dictated shapes in the correct position. (It was like playing chess by correspondence.) One of the pictures was delivered in three different sizes, so that I could study the subtle differences in the color relations caused by the enlargement and reduction. (via)

With this series of paintings, Moholy-Nagy presents the artist as a producer of ideas rather than objects.

Jamie Allen and Bernhard Garnicnig were inspired by Moholy-Nagy’s telephone pictures. They are using the internet this time but also the gaps in communications that happen via electronic media. The title of the work itself is the result of a misunderstanding: Austrian artist Bernhard mis-hearing of the name Moholy-Nagy when it was pronounced with a Canadian accent by Jamie in a noisy pub in Northern England.

That’s how Moholy-Nagy became My Holy Nacho. In this work in progress, a single object is traveling to manufacturers and workshops to have various physical fabrication ‘processes’ applied to it via online services. Each process is chosen, in secret and in turn, by the collaborating artists, Jamie Allen and Bernhard Garnicnig. After 10 processes, the final sculptural object — whatever it turns out to look like — will be exhibited, alongside the documentation of process and dialog with manufacturers and shipment companies.

The piece reveals the materiality of networks and the power of information infrastructures to enact physical change....

We’ve been trying to develop ways of communicating a piece that essentially all process, without disclosing any information about the object or the processes. So one of the things you’ll see on the project website is a realtime feed of messages sent between the administrator and the contractors, automatically garbled by a trivial word replacement algorithm that keeps us (amongst others) from understanding what’s actually going on. ...

At the beginning of the project it became obvious that we’d need someone to move the project along, and keep anyone involved from knowing anything about the object or prior processes. We couldn’t necessarily entrust the various manufacturers with shipping the object to the next stage, so our administrator is taking care of that. Beyond that the assistant also selected the initial object from the object each one of the artists proposed.

The role of the project administrator became essential rather early on, is to ensure that neither one of us is aware of the processes of the other, and that the processes are completed, the object shipped to the next location....

The gaps we are looking at are inherent to an increasingly common, and particularly Internetty workflow. The process of the todays artistic practices of creating and exhibiting work globally involves a lot more email, digital document creating and coordination than people like to admit. So, as well as artistic reception occurring mostly online these days (trolling for images of artworks and exhibition photos on tumblr), works are also themselves also created at-a-distance: involving ‘ordering’, production processes, tools for fabrication. So the artistic medium actually looks more and more like an abstract software specification, where in some ways the artistic ‘practice’ is specification and coordination itself....

The agreed upon rules for the piece stipulate that the processes must be available via “online order.” This sometimes devolves to coordinating via email, but the initial research and information about each process always takes place through web and online research. Otherwise the selection is completely up to us, individually, and something that gets even more meaning through its arbitrariness.

As we’re not aware of the process that came before, we suppose that the processes will get ever-more ridiculous and hard to interpret. Amongst other things (the object will likely get larger in size, for example) the physical piece itself will gain a kind of troublesome complexity, there may be issues with chemical decomposition or temperature and structural integrity… as well as the more fundamental problems of someone we’ve ordered a process from understanding why any of this would be going on in the first place.
information  translation  networks  manufacturing  materiality  administration  exquisite_corpse  process 
21 days ago
Choreographies of Everyday Friction | Patelli | continent.
Any reading or picnic gathering over twenty persons in one of New York City’s parks requires a special event permit. In Sweden, you might need to apply for a permit todance in public. In Cairo one is allowed to spontaneously discuss public matters only if there are fewer than ten people.[1] Some regulations surely sound sensible, some bizarre, many are contested and strongly conflictual. Choreographies of law in space extend beyond the spectacular event to the everyday. The high visibility of the exceptional event, of the battleground, suddenly makes one aware of the infra-ordinary in its invisibility.

Friction Atlas — a project initiated by the authors in Ljubljana in 2014, and expanded in Berlin, Athens, and Melbourne — aims to make regulations — always implicitly present in any public space — explicit and legible through graphical devices. Through the engagement of the public, we attempt to make the dynamics of authority become not only visually but also physically discernible.

In each city, we drew full-scale diagrams onto the pavement of public spaces to illustrate the rules that control their uses in overlay with rules of other cities, such as Genoa, Cairo, Washington, Stockholm, Sydney. We sampled from different cities in order to show not specific conflicts, but the pervasivity of minor and daily frictions. We deliberately designed and arranged situations — collectively organising an environment and a play of events — that then resulted in actions, dérives, crossings of the city.[2] We invited the public to assemble, to participate in staged choreographies, to discuss, and reread the urban space, highlighting some of its hidden aspects....

From the citadel to the boulevard, urban history includes a wide array of theories and practices, whose aims include making crowds and individuals legible — addressable, shapeable — from above. Nevertheless, the regulation of the city, and questions of space — such as the control of public space — extend to less visible structures and relations as a variety of abstractions, codes, and law.[4]...

As a critical intervention, it reflects on the double entendre of legibility: through graphical devices and performative practices it reshapes local laws into fully visible agents, providing possible models for opening up to new forms of civic and aesthetic engagement with hidden or abstract layers of the city.
public_space  law  protocol  discourse  voice  choreography  drawing 
21 days ago
Clive Phillpot by Ashley McNelis Expanding the medium of artists' books.
Clive Phillpot is a writer, editor and curator best known for his tenure as the head of the library of the Museum of Modern Art from 1977 to 1994. At MoMA he initiated and shaped the Artist Book Collection, one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of its kind....

AM The artists you most frequently mention are Ed Ruscha, Sol LeWitt and Lawrence Weiner. Do you think that the rise of Conceptual Art or even photography—since a lot of book artists use photography—is inextricable from the history of artists’ books?

CP No, but I think it’s one of the main threads. Other movements, like Fluxus, were parallel to Conceptual Art. Artists’ books aren’t so far from what they were doing with multiples. Conceptual Art is very important but on the other hand, purely Conceptual books were not the most interesting formally....

When thinking about collecting, I thought there would probably be a lot of parallels between the Printed Matter archive and the collection at MoMA. For example, the rule where a bookwork needed to be produced in a batch of at least 100 copies in order to be considered for the collection is the same for both...
artists_books  libraries  book_art  collection  books 
21 days ago
What Open-Access Publishing Actually Costs
"The digital environment doesn’t get rid of the labor cost," Mr. Eve said. "It makes the cost of disseminating material after that — making copies — infinitesimally smaller."

As at traditional academic journals, all of the peer reviewers for the group's publications work without pay, the idea being that academic editing is a function of academic jobs. The company is trying to steer clear of volunteer labor in other areas, although some volunteers help with outreach. "Being nonprofit," Mr. Eve said, "people feel less grudging in helping you."

Around $57,000 goes to Ubiquity Press, the publisher’s service provider. On average, that comes out to $380 per article. That pays for services like platform maintenance, digital preservation, and typesetting.

Then there’s what Mr. Eve calls "the really unspoken cost" of marketing. "It actually takes a lot of work to get people to give you money to do good things like open access," he said...

As at traditional academic journals, all of the peer reviewers for the group's publications work without pay, the idea being that academic editing is a function of academic jobs. The company is trying to steer clear of volunteer labor in other areas, although some volunteers help with outreach. "Being nonprofit," Mr. Eve said, "people feel less grudging in helping you."

Around $57,000 goes to Ubiquity Press, the publisher’s service provider. On average, that comes out to $380 per article. That pays for services like platform maintenance, digital preservation, and typesetting.

Then there’s what Mr. Eve calls "the really unspoken cost" of marketing. "It actually takes a lot of work to get people to give you money to do good things like open access," he said.

The Open Library of the Humanities budgets $10,000 for travel costs, the company’s biggest marketing expense. After that, there are also business cards and printing fees.

"The costs are largely the same between open-access journals and non-open-access journals," said Michael Eisen, a co-founder of the open-access project PLOS. "We’re doing essentially the same thing as traditional publishers."

'There's no such thing as a free journal. It costs money.' Publishing — regardless of the business model — is still a fairly labor-intensive process, he said. At PLOS, most of the money goes toward technology and labor costs. As technology improves, he hopes that more-efficient software will lower some of those costs. But for now, producing high-quality work is expensive.
labor  publishing  open_access 
21 days ago
Building the better bookshelf
Does the number of books in your home worry you? Do you lose track of the books you’re most interested in?

Well, sir/madame, Behold the single book bookshelf:

Finally, you can present a minimalist literary life, and tastefully curate a single book draped across a cool sheet of Belgian-designed acrylic. And it’s a way to highlight those books in your pile you really want to read … although it’s worht noting that this designer, Belgian Filip Janssens, has other designs as well that allow for the display of more than one book at a time …
furniture  intellectual_furnishings  books  bookstacks 
21 days ago
New York City's Mail Chutes
If you have ever worked in an old building, the chances are you will have at some point walked past a small mysterious brass box . Located about halfway up the wall, it is notable for a flat length of glass leading both into and out it, disappearing into the ceiling and the floor below. Often painted over, ignored and unused, they are a relic of the golden age of early skyscrapers called the Cutler mail chute.
The Cutler mail chutes flourished during the advent of the first multi-story buildings in the turn of the 20th century. The invention was fairly simple: the glass chutes would run internally the length of the building, with a mailing slot on each floor. Rather than having to make the trek downstairs to find the nearest mail box or post office, you would simply pop your letter into the chute from whichever floored you worked on, and gravity would swiftly carry your letter to a mailbox in the lobby, for daily collection from the postman. In an era when people were sending handfuls of letters each day, the convenience of the Cutler mail chute was a godsend....

As letters grew in size, clogging of the mail chutes became an increasing problem. A famous example occurred at the grand old McGraw Hill building on West 42nd Street. Once an emerald Art Deco masterpiece, and former home of Marvel Comics, the building has now faded into disrepair and a clog in their mail chute was discovered in the mid 1980s. When it was eventually tracked down and cleared, the resulting avalanche of undelivered mail filled 23 sacks.
dead_media  mail  infrastructure  media_archaeology  media_architecture 
21 days ago
MVRDV's Reflective 'Wunderkammer' in Rotterdam is Given the Green Light | ArchDaily
n 2014, having won the competition, MVRDV unveiled designs for the Boijman's new 'public art depot', which would sit adjacent to the institution in Museumpark – the city's cultural heart masterplanned by OMA and Yves Brunier in 1994. Its proposed location proved controversial. Petra Blaisse, a landscape architect and longtime collaborator of Rem Koolhaas who was involved in the original masterplan, spoke out to argue that "if I were the Boijmans and the municipality I'd reduce the building and completely re-design it."...

MVRDV's plan is for a new type of collection building: one that will simultaneously act as an archive and a gallery. A public route will "zigzag through the building" from the ground-floor lobby to a sculpture garden and restaurant on the roof. The disc-shaped roof space will afford views of the city and house Futuro, the "UFO-shaped" house designed by the Finnish architect Matti Suuronen. As it ascends, this route will "pass along and through art depots and restoration workshops," allowing for an ever-changing display determined by the position of movable storage racks and programmed by the museum's curators.

As an archive, the building will also have spaces inaccessible to the general public. There will, for example, be rooms for private art collections in which proprietors can view their property in "spaces comparable to the art-equivalent of a sky box." To counter the commercial overtones of this new venture, the depot will also accommodate an office for the philanthropic De Verre Bergen foundation.
archive  mvrdv  wunderkammer  exhibition  gallery  display 
21 days ago
Office Space and Work in Progress: Investigations South of Market | e-flux
Artists include: Cory Arcangel, Mark Benson, KP Brehmer, Joseph DeLappe, Alex Dordoy, Harun Farocki, Bea Fremderman, Idle Screenings (with works by Stephanie Davidson, Jacob Broms Engblom, Manuel Fernandez, Paul Flannery, Kim Laughton, and Jasper Spicero), Joel Holmberg, Josh Kline, Pil and Galia Kollectiv, Julien Prévieux, Laurel Ptak, Sean Raspet, Mika Tajima, Pilvi Takala, Ignacio Uriarte, Andrew Norman Wilson, and Haegue Yang

Office Space cleverly subverts contemporary office culture as a means of exploring labor practices in the 21st century’s post-industrial economy. As offices become mobile, and the nine-to-five becomes a nonstop 24-hour cycle, this exhibition reflects on what the Italian theorist Maurizio Lazzarato has identified as the rise of “immaterial labor” in developed, post-industrial countries. Citing the predominance of a service and information economy, as well as the rapidly dissolving line between pleasure and work among consumers and workers alike, Lazzarato describes “immaterial labor” as all the ways and means by which goods and services acquire their “informational and cultural content.” He argues that this move has radically modified the management and regulation of the workforce.

Through video, sculpture, painting, and installation, the artists in Office Space interrogate universally recognized aspects of office architecture, design, aesthetics, and protocols as a means of understanding the shift toward immaterial labor practices. Numerous approaches toward the re-engineering of work and life are on display, from outright dissent to the status quo, such as the portrayal of a Deloitte intern’s refusal to work in Pilvi Takala’s The Trainee (2008), to humorous hacks, like the continual out-of-office loop in Cory Arcangel’s Permanent Vacation (2008). Across all these works, the office becomes emblematic of the changing terrain for labor and productivity in the 21st century.
office_culture  exhibition  aesthetics_of_administration  labor  immaterial_labor 
22 days ago
Fantasies of Contact: Erica Baum, Susan Howe, and the Poetics of Paper | Full Stop
n a 1997 interview, Jacques Derrida turned his attention to the apparently banal subject of “paper”:

Exile was already there in paper [. . .] The pathos of paper already obeys a law of the genre — but why not yield to it?  It is an inconsolable nostalgia for the book [. . .] It is a nostalgia for paper before the reproducible “impression,” for paper once virginal, both sensitive and impassive, both friendly and resistant [. . .] a nostalgia for the color or weight, the thickness and the resistance of a sheet — its folds, the back of its recto-verso, the fantasies of contact, caress, of intimacy, resistance, or promise: the infinite desire of the copyist, the cult of calligraphy, an ambiguous love for the scarcity of writing, a fascination for the word incorporated in paper....

The histories of modernity’s political and economic structures, systems of scientific and humanistic knowledge, and networks of interpersonal communication can all be imagined as stories about paper, about its production, inscription, circulation, and above all its endless accumulation...

Yet paper — paper itself, tightly woven fibers of wood pulp (previously cotton or linen rags) pressed into thin, delicate layers — tends to become invisible, rendered nonexistent by its very omnipresence. Paper is supposed to be the mere vehicle for thought, but somehow comes to seem as ephemeral and insubstantial as the thoughts it carries....

elegiac, always expresses a longing to reencounter the body of paper — a body sacrificed upon its transformation into pure medium. The “exile” of paper from its body, and the nostalgia that desires to recuperate this exile, is for Derrida not just a product of the historical demise of paper but an integral part of what it means to live in a culture that thinks, so to speak, on paper. Nevertheless, we need not stray too far from Derrida to suggest that the seismic shifts we are currently undergoing in how we store and transmit information heighten the drama of paper’s simultaneous materiality and immateriality.

...poems and pieces of visual art that attempt to come to terms with paper — with its superabundance and with its spectrality — have had a quiet but continuous presence in our cultural imaginary for at least the past century. Kurt Schwitter’s collages, Robert Rauschenberg’s combines, Dieter Roth’s artist’s books, the Fluxus mail-art movement, Mark Bradford’s “paintings,” Anne Carson’s Nox, Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codes, Derrida’s own Glas, and even the work of the virtuoso bibliographer Randall McCleod all, in their own ways, try to make some sense of the unending deluge of paper that is, or was until very recently, an integral part of what it means to live in a late-capitalist society. But the most enduringly interesting meditations on paper, to my sensibilities, are always more than acts of mourning or expressions of nostalgia...

I’ll look at recent work by Erica Baum and Susan Howe to consider what happens when poetry wants to get close to paper — to elegize not only the apparent impending disappearance of paper but also its ubiquitous disappearance beneath the marks made on it and the uses it is put to.

...Dog Ear contains 24 close-up color photos, shot with crisp uniformity, of carefully dog-eared pages in old books, with fragments of text from two facing pages running horizontally and vertically and meeting in a diagonal crease. This trick creates clusters of laconic statements that intercept one another both spatially and textually...

Baum is, according to most profiles, a photographer and not a poet, but I’m not sure I buy it: the work in Dog Ear seamlessly integrates process, visual poetics, fragmentation, and the use of found texts, four of the major currents in the past half-century of avante-garde poetry. (Baum’s other work, much of which is now on ubuweb, includes close-up shots of indexes, card catalogue entries, and most recently, player-piano rolls.)....

Baum is, according to most profiles, a photographer and not a poet, but I’m not sure I buy it: the work in Dog Ear seamlessly integrates process, visual poetics, fragmentation, and the use of found texts, four of the major currents in the past half-century of avante-garde poetry. (Baum’s other work, much of which is now on ubuweb, includes close-up shots of indexes, card catalogue entries, and most recently, player-piano rolls.) ...we are not looking at ink on paper and not a “text.” In this way, Dog Ear seduces us with what Derrida calls “fantasies of contact,” simultaneously cultivating and interdicting a desire for closeness to printed words and the books that bear them....

...aum’s photos are concerned not so much with residuality as with simultaneity. Baum’s acts of folding cause texts to encounter themselves, extracting multiple moments from a continuous text and folding them, spatially and temporally, inward on one another. “Concrete” operations performed on books and “abstract” operations performed on texts thus converge on one another in the act of dog-earring. And it is worthwhile to remember that the dog ear is, first and foremost, a memory technique, preserving a favorite passage or recording progress through a book. Like note-taking and finger-counting, it is a trick for the extension of one’s mind into the matter that adjoins it, a transformation of a physical object into a mental one....

In their simultaneous use of paper as surface and threshold, Baum’s photos recall Susan Howe’s 2003 book-length poem The Midnight. A toweringly complex work that intersperses laconic, difficult verse with prose commentary on subjects as diverse as Howe’s mother (the Irish-American actress Mary Manning), the landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted, the rust-belt architecture of Buffalo, New York, and a visit to Harvard’s Houghton Library to look at Emily Dickinson’s papers...

Anticipating Baum’s fascination with paper as a permeable threshold, The Midnight is concerned in large part with interleaves, bed hangings, curtains, and other diaphanous membranes. ... The page that opens Howe’s poem, then, visualizes (quite literally) the disappearance of paper and the subsequent birth of the puzzling, difficult object we carelessly call a “text.” Instead of being the place where language is stored and transmitted, paper becomes the evanescent medium, wavering at the threshold of materiality, through which language appears from elsewhere.

The rest of The Midnight plays out this opening moment with the periodic insertion of images of old books and pictures in various attitudes of concealment (photographed aslant, covered by objects or other pieces of paper). The frontispiece illustration from The Master of Ballantrae, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a James Fenimore Cooper novel, and a handful of other old books are hidden behind interleaves and paperweights. Scraps of yellowed paper, perhaps once used as bookmarks, obstruct the title page of Howe’s mother’s copy of a Yeats collection. .... These acts of paper-concealment might be understood (correctly) as acts of mourning for the people associated with the hidden papers (principally Howe’s mother and uncle). But they are also acts of mourning for paper itself: in the shadow of the disappearing title page that opens the book, we must suspect that the hidden papers, even if revealed, would evaporate before our eyes and tell us nothing.
paper  material_texts  book_art  word_art  poetry  textual_form  memory  reading 
22 days ago
Amazing Building Adventures! by Martin Filler | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
Constructed of sturdy materials and meant to last decades, even centuries, architecture may seem to have little in common with comics, which are printed on cheap paper and prone to being thrown away by one’s mother. Yet the two mediums not only have a natural affinity, but the multi-panel drawing format can do several things that other visual methods cannot to advance broader knowledge of the building art.

An intriguing new exhibition, “Arkitektur-Striper: Architecture in Comic-Strip Form,” at Oslo’s National Museum-Architecture provides a fascinating overview of this phenomenon....

Comic strips can vividly illuminate a sequential story, and thus bring alive the often long, tedious, disjointed, and arcane process of architecture. Because so many comics are still hand-drawn, they can portray urban settings that feel much more emotionally alive than the super-slick, digitally altered photos now favored by real estate developers to make their unexecuted plans look as real as possible.

Two parallel but intertwined threads run through “Architektur-Striper”: comics that use architectural motifs, and architects who draw on the conventions of comics to present their designs....

Although the exhibition (and its brief but well-illustrated catalog, with texts in both Norwegian and English) is heavily weighted toward postmillennial examples, it begins with one of the greatest exponents of architecture in comic strips, the American artist Winsor McCay. In his various newspaper cartoon series, especially Little Nemo in Slumberland (1905-1914 and 1924-1925), McCay frequently evoked the skyscrapers that transformed American cities during the first decades of the twentieth century, and implied that these unprecedented wonders emanated from the realm of dreams....

One glaring absence in “Arkitektur-Striper” is material relating to America’s classic mid-century comic books, in which striking depictions of the modern city were as central to the narrative as omnipotent protagonists like Superman and Batman. Both those characters figure prominently in the small and disappointing show “Superheroes in Gotham,” on view at the New-York Historical Society concurrent with the Oslo exhibition. Despite the emphasis suggested by the title, the New York show is almost devoid of comics with architectural settings—all those moody skyscraper canyons through which Clark Kent’s alter ego flew and Bruce Wayne’s drove his Batmobile—and overloaded instead with kitschy showbiz memorabilia and fanboy merchandise.
media_architecture  comics 
22 days ago
Geometric Collages Created From Layers of Vintage File Folders and Index Cards | Colossal
Cataloging the tools once used for the very same purpose, Augustine Kofie creates collages that utilize file folders, index cards, and steno notepads from the ’50s through ’80s that were found while scouring the contents of Los Angeles estate sales. Kofie chooses to compile vintage materials from before the dawn of the digital age, a time when data took up physical space rather than gigabytes on an external hard drive.

The desire for collecting these specific paper forms comes from his obsession with historical forms of organization, the physical pen-to-paper process of keeping information tidy. After building collages from the papers in various colors and weights, he utilizes ballpoint pen, silkscreen, and acrylic ink to draw shapes and lines over top. These resulting collages have an architectural appearance, built forms with interlocking lines that mimic the precision of a building’s blueprint.
organization  aesthetics_of_administration  media_archaeology  filing  files  index_cards  collage  administration  office_culture 
22 days ago
The First Org Chart Ever Made Is a Masterpiece of Data Design | WIRED
Back in the mid-1800s, the Erie Railroad was a thriving but disorganized company responsible for transporting goods throughout the Northeast. The railroad company had more than 500 miles of track, making it one of the largest of its time. This was good for business, but bad for organization.

Today we deal with inconceivably large amounts of data that is made comprehensible only by modern technology. Back in the 19th century, big data meant something entirely different, but managing it was as vital then as it is today.
data_visualization  organization  mapping  management 
24 days ago
Written Recipes Undergo a Makeover - The New York Times
Like media and music, the recipe is being stretched and shattered, its conventions challenged by a generation that learned to cook from television chefs and YouTube videos.

Websites like, with more than a half-million submissions from users and its ethos of public recipe rating, have democratized the form. Food bloggers have demystified it....

Now, you can learn to bake a cake from a comic book, or by diving deep into a manifesto on leavening. You can pick the whimsical complexities of a Manhattan baker or the whimsical simplicity of a woman on a cattle ranch in Oklahoma.

The shift may seem subtle to someone who rarely picks up a pan, but editors, professional cooks and booksellers and others say recipes have become more open-ended and broader in their approach. Instructions have shifted away from formulas toward deeper explanations of technique, offering context and lyricism in ways Fannie Farmer could not have imagined.

The best recipes still get dinner on the table, but they also teach the reader to be a more intuitive cook...

No-recipe recipes, in which pictures or short bursts of text are used to describe how to put together a dish, are in vogue in mainstream publications like Every Day With Rachael Ray and more-specialized cooking platforms like Food52.

Recipes also are taking their cues from novels, with artful prose woven into the steps. They are being turned into graphic novels, an approach pioneered by Amanda Cohen, who in 2012 published “Dirt Candy: A Cookbook: Flavor-Forward Food from the Upstart New York City Vegetarian Restaurant.”...

Math teachers are being encouraged to drop rote memorization of the multiplication tables in favor of teaching methods that emphasize flexibility and functionality. The recipe is no different....

Although many chefs may cringe at the thought, food television has had a profound effect on how people expect cooking instruction to be presented. A book without clever kitchen hacks seems flat. Personal perspective needs to infuse every part, not just the headnotes.

...the cook who can write with a certain literary complexity is becoming a treasure....

Other recipe writers are going deep into science and technique, knowing their cooks will fortify their recipes with quick looks at the Internet for videos on how to braid challah or images of kung pao chicken as rendered by a restaurant in China.

The roots of the technique-first movement can be marked by Harold McGee’s “On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen,” which was published in 1984 and revised in 2004. Julia Child’s 1989 book “The Way to Cook,” which was organized by technique, not ingredient, popularized the style....

Michael Ruhlman picked up the baton in 2009, publishing “Ratio,” which tossed out recipes in favor of common ratios needed to make things like pie crusts, and went on to write a series of books that focused on specific techniques. His sauté book comes out in the spring.


Continue reading the main story

Continue reading the main story

“People are coming to realize it is not about the recipe,” he said. “They want to know how to think about food.”
material_texts  index  textual_form  writing  recipes  food 
24 days ago
Brian Dillon on “Pliure: Prologue (La part du Feu)” - / in print
IN HIS COOLLY PRESCIENT 1964 essay “The Book as Object,” the French novelist Michel Butor surveys the architecture of the modern printed page: an ordered space wherein we continually rehearse a repertoire of gestures, generally without giving a thought to the codes and hierarchies that structure our experience. The reading eye swivels and scans along ordained perpendiculars, but intermittently conducts tangential assays of headings, page numbers, and marginalia. Hand and mind flit back and forth between pages, turning their flat sequence into a delicately twitching time machine. And at the literal center of the book’s mechanism is sunk the hinge that makes such movement possible. This spine is pivotal, and also obscure: “The seam, in the middle of the diptych, creates a zone of reduced visibility.” Little or nothing (not even a reader’s scribbled annotation) happens along this gutter or internal horizon....

Pliure means “folding,” as action or achieved form. In English we get closest to its suggestiveness with volume: the page as furled wing or volute, spiraling inward, but in the modern codex arrested and flattened midturn. Historically, the simultaneous platitude and depth of the book have been mined for metaphoric value by the likes of Mallarmé, Blanchot, and Derrida, all of whom curator Paulo Pires do Vale invokes in the catalogue for “Pliure: Prologue (La part du feu)” (Fold: Prologue [The Share of the Fire]), a freewheeling transhistorical survey of the traffic between books and art. A sequel focusing on contemporary work opened at Paris’s Palais des Beaux-Arts in mid-April. But in its eclectic scanning of the centuries, this first installment unearthed a valuable trove of historical responses to the uncanny objecthood of the book.

At the Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian, the topic of the vacant fold was introduced via a selection of open books housed in vitrines. On the visible pages were a variety of gaps and lacunae, including twinned photographs of empty stretches of road in Richard Long’s Labyrinth (1991), the perfectly blank map in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876), and, in the huge, illustrated volume Description succincte de la colonne historiée de Constantinople (A Succinct Description of the Historic Column of Constantinople, 1702), a meticulous depiction of the carvings on the titular column.... The nudes and hand studies that Francesca Woodman inserted into a geometry textbook for Some Disordered Interior Geometries, 1981, seemed a fittingly secular, laconic skewing of the connections between physical and textual corpus.

The topic of the page as incarnation gave way in the next gallery to the abrupt ascension of books in fire and fury. A copy of Ed Ruscha’s Various Small Fires and Milk (1964) sat inviolate under glass, while Bruce Nauman’s Burning Small Fires, 1968, a foldout poster showing pages from Ruscha’s volume in flames, lay flat in front of it. On the wall opposite, a sequence from François Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 (1966) looped on a monitor: burned volumes embodied by the characters who keep them alive, learning their words by heart....

John Latham’s six-minute film Encyclopedia Britannica, 1971, is composed of every page from the multivolume reference, a double-page spread per frame. Knowledge is channeled into a seamless gray cascade, with only islands of imagery to cling to: crowns, diamonds, dogs. Alain Resnais’s 1956 documentary Toute la mémoire du monde (All the Memory of the World) is a sinuous, exquisitely choreographed study of the workings of the Bibliothèque Nationale, tracking the progress of a mocked-up (by Chris Marker) tourist guide to Mars as it negotiates the library’s acquisition process. Resnais and Latham seem to speak of the future from somewhere deep within the folds of the history of the book.
books  book_art  text_art  exhibition  material_texts  reading  library_art 
24 days ago
Winnie Wong on China’s museum boom - / in print
In 2002, the Chinese government rededicated itself to that ideal, when the State Administration of Cultural Heritage announced that the country would build one thousand museums by 2015. As improbably ambitious as that pronouncement might seem, it was in fact accomplished far ahead of schedule. By 2013, the country had already built almost fifteen hundred museums—in essence finishing a new museum every day during the periods of heaviest construction.

....many of the museums that have been constructed in China’s twenty-first century are categorized as public ones, insofar as they are paid for by public funds and administered by the reenergized propaganda arms of local governments at the neighborhood or district level. While often imposing in design, many simply sit empty and dark after their grand openings, lorded over by unassailable culture bureaucrats who open the museum up only for their leaders’ VIP visits. When they do turn on the lights, these institutions tend to display exclusively the “clean” and “nonsensitive” art (i.e., no eroticism and no politics) that is produced mainly by culture bureaucrats themselves. ....

in the often-paradoxical intermingling of public and private that marks China’s unique mode of state-sponsored capitalism, the new institutions that have attracted the most public attention are actually designated “private museums” because they are run by nongovernmental individuals. Officially, these museums function in the conceptual administrative space of the minjian—as enterprises for the people and by the people—as opposed to that of the guanfang (official-dom). So many have been built in the past fifteen years that it is difficult to classify them: The best funded and best run are contemporary art museums such as the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing and the Minsheng and Rockbund Art Museums in Shanghai....

Whether public or private, however, the overwhelming majority share one characteristic: They are all politically legitimizing components of far larger real estate schemes in which developers have been vastly enriched through the appropriation of land from the public. The Chinese government introduced the notion of “cultural industry” to national policy in 2002, and in subsequent years has increasingly placed culture at the center of programs intended to develop soft power and, recently, the Chinese dream. The thousand-museum drive can thus be understood as ideologically related to efforts to expand and quantify the nation’s physical infrastructure, for example the metrics set for China’s high-speed rail network or energy production. Crucially, because cultural building projects fulfill the policy of serving the people through democratization, they are also instrumental for private developers who need governmental approval to appropriate land for their massive construction plans....

The obvious problem with understanding a museum simply as a signature building, a unit of urban infrastructure, or a source of symbolic value is that in any case it does not need to be a functioning institution. The standard metaphor that Chinese architects and officials apply to the situation is that China lacks the “software” to fill all this new “hardware.”...

What is new in twenty-first-century China is that a political structure legitimated by the ideals of equality and collective good has been recombined into a vast array of practices driven by market economics. Cultural capital has become equivalent to real capital. Thus, in the economics of “Creative China,” designer cell-phone covers are subject to the same rhetoric and regulation as the most priceless archaeological artifacts: ...

In a sense, the creation of any museum is an act of dispossession: hence the global claims of repatriation that rightfully dog the European institutions founded at the height of Western imperial power. China’s legacy of the repeated loss of cultural property forms the emotional drive behind the national devotion to collecting, to history, and to museums....

In today’s China, where, in a total inversion, private ownership and capital are celebrated as the drivers of everything good, far less patriotic fervor has been directed against the very few who have been empowered to exploit the many. And so, almost as troubling as the dispossession of citizens from their homes by rampant development is the dispossession of cultural sites, artifacts, and institutions from the realm of public interest in order to legitimate that speculation.
museums  china  cultural_heritage 
24 days ago
Infinite Small Landscapes by Claire Harvey – SOCKS
English artist Claire Harvey proposes an interesting approach to contemporary drawing. She works with soft pencils using office supplies like removable scotch tapes, yellow Post-its or translucent papers as a canvas. The artist draws small detailed figures on the unusual artistic supports and then proceeds to juxtapose several of the pictures in order to produce landscapes of tiny characters or archives of Post-its drawings looking like sequences of photographs.
aesthetics_of_administration  office_culture  collage  palimpsest  post_its  tape 
24 days ago
Neighborhood Field Guides | Elsewhere
Neighborhood Field Guides are a series of pocket publications that reroute local histories, inviting you to experience the neighborhood from three different conceptual perspectives.

The Field Guides were developed through conversational research with South Elm residents and local experts this summer. The references and contributors are extensive: neighbors, professionals, architects, birdwatchers, botanists, geographers, historians, photo albums, municipal documents, meeting notes, advertisements, insurance maps, journals, archives, museums, and time spent walking around.

Like all versions of history, these guides to South Elm are only part of the shared story of a nuanced place. They hope tourists and Greensboro residents alike will continue to discover new ways of seeing the South Elm neighborhood.

Guides are available at Elsewhere, the Chamber of Commerce, at stores and tourist hubs around the neighborhood, and online at
urban_media  field_guide 
24 days ago
Here Comes the Sun in NASA’s New Mind-Blowing Footage
The space agency released an awe-inspiring, 30-minute video earlier this week that shows earth’s nearest star in striking clarity. It reveals a moody, fiery sphere continuously erupting in spectacular light storms, clouds of hot gas and plasma bursting across its surface. The footage was meticulously stitched together from photographs taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, which, since 2010, has been orbiting 22,000 miles above the earth snapping ultra HD photos of the sun every 12 seconds. It’s able to capture the sun in its entirety because it photographs 10 different wavelengths of ultraviolet light. These represent different ranges of temperature and were all given false colors so that scientists would be able to distinguish between them.
mapping  machine_vision  astronomy  space 
24 days ago
Schele Drawing Collection
Text of the east panel from the temple of the cross (glyphs p1-u17). text continues from the west panel with accession history of the palenque rulers to k'inich kan b'alam
media_city  writing  drawing  urban_media 
26 days ago
The death and life of digital archives.
I use the catch-all term digital archive with some trepidation. Digital does not distinguish between digitized (e.g. scans, transcriptions, recordings) or so-called born-digital materials (websites, emails, and digital photos). The term archive is itself contested, as detailed in Trevor Owens’ aptly titled entry for the Library of Congress. Owens, who is the senior program officer at the Institute of Museum and Library, recently shared with me several projects that illuminate the eclecticism of approaches to digital archives. One of the earliest projects, the Rossetti Archive, digitizes the correspondence and manuscripts of 19th-century writer Dante Gabriel Rossetti, alongside contextual materials such as contemporary periodicals; the result is, in Owens’ words, a “hybrid” of a critical edition and literary archive. The Salman Rushdie Papers, meanwhile, allow researchers to access born-digital materials by loading an emulator of Rushdie’s Macintosh Performa. The Sept. 11 Digital Archive was the first to crowd-source the collection of born-digital items, and its struggle for sustainability reveals how such projects are untenable without the human and financial support of universities, philanthropic organizations, and federal grants....

Unlike print materials, preserving them requires continuous translation. Whereas a manuscript might fall into disrepair over centuries, a file format might go obsolete with a software update. And just as it is unfair to ask progenitors to support projects indefinitely, it is disingenuous to promote online resources as finished when they are imbricated in cycles of growth and decay. Without continuous financial support and a long-term sustainability plan, a digital project relies upon the benevolence—and ad hoc maintenance—of advocates. These zombie projects, capable of neither growing nor dying, do a disservice to their publics.
archives  digital_archives  preservation 
26 days ago
Artist Sissel Tolaas on How to Capture the Smells of Your City - CityLab
Part of her job includes working with the likes of architects, environmentalists, and even commercial companies to create “smellscapes” of different cities, including Berlin, Mexico City, and Kansas City, Missouri. She’s been doing this since the early 2000s and already has smell profiles of 35 cities in her library. Altogether, she has a collection of more than 7,000 scents from various projects in her Berlin laboratory.....

In Kansas City, Tolaas was tasked with identifying and recreating smells that captured the city’s diversity. So Tolaas took participants on a nose-first scavenger hunt through a handful of neighborhoods and had them note the sources of smells that stood out—bakeries, laundromats, Ethiopian and Haitian restaurants, and even garbage and body odor.
sensation  smell 
26 days ago
The Looming Gamification of Higher Ed
The problem is gamification’s premise. It suggests that we should capitulate to a generation of students who supposedly can’t muster interest and curiosity on their own. Though the rhetoric of gamification claims ties to intrinsic motivation, any attempt to cause one behavior (i.e., learning) through other means (i.e., game elements) is the very definition of extrinsic motivation.

At the heart of this debate is a deep philosophical question about whether we should engage students where they are, or expect them to come with a well of intrinsic motivation. Like many questions in education, the answer is not either/or. A good teacher judiciously moves back and forth between tricks to elicit student interest and space for students to motivate themselves, all with the long-term goal of building intrinsic motivation....

But whether the goal is a life of the mind, a good job, or some of both, the ability to motivate oneself — even in the absence of game design — is essential. To be a scholar, one needs to appreciate the subject matter for its own sake. But even to thrive in a corporate office, generating self-motivation is critical. There will always be elements of work that are unrewarding, unrecognized, or just plain tedious. Good leaders push through those dry patches without an external motivating framework.
teaching  games  pedagogy 
28 days ago
Ghosts in the Machine – the scottbot irregular
Digital preservation it a complex process. In this case, it began by digitizing 235,000 analog Betacam SP Videocassettes, on which the original interviews had been recorded, a process which took from 2008-2012. This had to be done quickly (automatically/robotically), given that cassette tapes are prone to become sticky, brittle, and unplayable within a few decades due to hydrolysis. They digitized about 30,000 hours per year. The process eventually produced 8 petabytes (link to more technical details) of  lossless JPEG 2000 videos, roughly the equivalent of 2 million DVDs. Stacked on top of each other, those DVDs would reach three times higher than Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower.
From there, the team spent quite some time correcting errors that existed in the original tapes, and ones that were introduced in the process of digitization. They employed a small army of signal processing students, patented new technologies for automated error detection & processing/cleaning, and wound up cleaning video from about 12,000 tapes. According to our tour guide, cleaning is still happening.

Lest you feel safe knowing that digitization lengthens the preservation time, turns out you’re wrong. Film lasts longer than most electronic storage, but making film copies would have cost the foundation $140,000,000 and made access incredibly difficult. Digital copies would only cost tens of millions of dollars, even though hard-drives couldn’t be trusted to last more than a decade. Their solution was a RAID hard-drive system in an Oracle StorageTek SL8500 (of which they have two), and a nightly process of checking video files for even the slightest of errors.
archives  digital_preservation  preservation 
28 days ago
In the Studio: Amie Siegel - Magazine - Art in America
The Sleepers starts out in a seemingly distanced observational mode, accumulating views of apartments across the way. Its montage is both sequential and simultaneous: shots of individual apartments, seen one after the other, are mixed with wider shots of two or more apartments at a time. But gradually clues emerge to contradict the film’s seeming objectivity. You realize you are hearing conversations that would be impossible to make out from across the street. Then, late in the film, it suddenly becomes clear that the camera has entered one of the apartments, and you understand you are in the realm of fiction. With The Sleepers I became interested in making works that first show you how to view them, and then violate their internal rules....

Often my work reproduces the behavior of the system it describes. DDR/DDR examines the Stasi as an entirely analog enterprise, one that collapsed before the advent of digital technology. It may have been an organized apparatus of the state, but the Stasi also comprised individuals whose aesthetic choices and aspirations are visible in the surveillance images and training scenes they shot. In addition to Stasi films and videos and interviews with psychoanalysts, DDR/DDR interweaves multiple elements: sequences from East German “Westerns” (or “Easterns”) in which land-loving “Red” Indians triumph over imperialist Cowboys; segments with former East Germans who have remained Indian hobbyists; scripted scenes with a former East German film star; and footage of myself, with cameras and microphones, performing my own acts of interviewing and surveillance, as part of the production apparatus....

I knew immediately I wanted to make a film work featuring the Chandigarh furniture that would perform the movement of objects through the global marketplace, highlighting differences between cultural, monetary and use values. A few weeks later, reflecting on my own role as an artist in the economy of objects, I decided to auction Provenance and make a second film, Lot 248 [2013], depicting the sale of the first. Thereafter, the two films would be exhibited together....

Your work’s cinematography has become increasingly elegant over time. In Provenance you seduce viewers with leisurely, low-angle tracking shots that anthropomorphize their chair-subjects.

SIEGEL Provenance was the first work of mine shot entirely in high definition, which can have the stillness and clarity of cut glass. The film is really a succession of tracking shots whose effect is to put viewers in a mode of heightened consideration, looking carefully at every detail, anticipating what will enter the frame next. At times, the lighting and framing self-consciously reproduce tropes from high-end shelter magazines. In a sense, the work preys on viewers’ desires but aims to render them complicit in their viewing as well....

The Australian Villa Savoye [designed by Howard Raggatt] is black, a negative copy, or shadow version of the white French original. It houses an archive of ethnographic material relating to indigenous Australians, past and present, and a sophisticated copying laboratory geared toward the preservation and digitization of its collections. My piece will have two parts. The first will be a pair of 16mm black-and-white films, projected on opposite walls of one room, showing the exteriors of the two buildings in matching shot choreographies. The two films will be printed in negative, so the white building will appear black and vice versa.

The second part, playing in an adjacent room, will be an HD color projection that will lead viewers through a sequence of shots, from exterior to interior, of first the white building and then the black. Once inside the black building, you will encounter what is, in effect, a massive post-production imaging facility. Ethnographic objects and analog images and audio—collected over the last century under the rubric of “salvage ethnography,” a purported race against time to document “other” cultures before their “disappearance”—are being systematically digitized at the Institute. In the black Savoye, salvage ethnography becomes salvage media, duplicating and transferring information from disappearing formats to more contemporary ones.
film  sound_space  amie_siegel  voyeurism  surveillance  furniture  archives  indigenous  archive_art 
28 days ago
Micro-very-very-soft: Audio Lab Crowned World’s Quietest Place
What do you hear in the quietest place on Earth? The beating of your heart as loud as Edgar Allan Poe’s tell-tale organ; the gurgling of your stomach like an angry animal’s growl. The anechoic chamber (meaning a place without echoes) at Microsoft’s Building 87 in Redmond, Washington was crowned the world’s quietest place last month by Guinness World Records, reaching a new depth of total silence....

George Foy described his experience in the Orfield Labs chamber for the Guardian in 2012:

As the minutes ticked by, I started to hear the blood rushing in my veins. Your ears become more sensitive as a place gets quieter, and mine were going overtime. I frowned and heard my scalp moving over my skull, which was eerie, and a strange, metallic scraping noise I couldn’t explain. Was I hallucinating? The feeling of peace was spoiled by a tinge of disappointment — this place wasn’t quiet at all. You’d have to be dead for absolute silence....

Why does Microsoft need such a place of extreme quiet? It’s an ideal lab to test audio of devices, both microphones and speakers, as well as their digital assistant Cortana by experimenting with different voice recognition commands and interfering background noises. According to Reuters, Eckel Noise Control Technologies, which created the anechoic chamber at Orfield, designed and built the Microsoft space. It’s detached from other buildings, to eliminate any vibrations from foot traffic or other movement, and every element designed to be a consistent place of silence.
sound_space  quiet  acoustics  laboratories  testing 
28 days ago
Big Data, No Thanks |
As the headquarters of the Manhattan Project, Los Alamos needed access to the most concentrated computing power of the time, much of which was located elsewhere, both during and after the war.

This was one of the most important machines they went out to use.

It’s Harvard Mark 1, which was an electro-mechanical machine built of both digital and moving parts. It ran a series of calculations in 1944 which were crucial to proving the concept of an implosive nuclear weapon, the kind used at Nagasaki. It has a particular spectacular appearance of its own because it’s casing was designed by Norman Bel Geddes, which is why it looks so self-consciously futuristic: Geddes is best known for the General Motors Pavilion, known as Futurama, at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

This is the first electronic general-purpose computer, the ENIAC, which was built at the University of Pennsylvania between 1941 and 1946. It was used extensively for Edward Teller’s early work on hydrogen bombs. The size of a couple of rooms, it had thousands of components and millions of hand-soldered connections.

The engineer Harry Reed, who worked on it, recalled that the ENIAC was “strangely, a very personal computer. Now we think of a personal computer as one which you carry around with you. The ENIAC was actually one that you kind of lived inside. So instead of you holding a computer, the computer held you.” I’ve always liked that because it seems to describe the world we live in now, living inside a giant computational machine, from the computers in our pockets, to datacenters and satellites, a planetary-scale network. Reed also wrote about how, if you understood the machine, you could follow the execution of a programme around the room in blinking lights – but this was a privilege of comprehension only a few enjoyed.

This one marks a kind of high-water mark for me of simultaneous technological visibility and inscrutability. This is IBM’s Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator (SSEC), the computer which became the IBM 701, completed in 1948 and housed in a glass-fronted former shoe shop next to their world headquarters on Fifty-seventh Street and Fifth Avenue in New York. Unknown to all the passersby with their noses pressed up against the glass the computer was employed to run a programme called HIPPO, which calculated hydrogen bomb yields. That’s the first full simulation of a hydrogen bomb detonation, being run on a computer in a public showroom on 5th Avenue. Visible, but not legible. Unparseable....

And this history is complicit in the surveillant present. This historic capacity and inscrutability has its parallel in a contemporary infrastructure, that of surveillance and data-gathering, an infrastructure which occupies a similar landscape: from the Los Alamos mesa to the Utah datacenter being built by NSA. The inscrutability of the machine co-produces the inscrutability of the secret state, just as critique of the state is shielded by the complexity of the technology it deploys. And it goes far beyond the secret state – this model of technology, of information-gathering, of computation, of big data, of ever-increasing ontologies of information – is affecting, destructively, our ways of thinking and reasoning about the world....

And while I can sound alarmist about this, and recognise I’m at the extreme end of attitudes to dealing with this issue, here’s the thing: I actually think don’t think that these fears about data, storage and technology go far enough. I’m unsure about big data’s usefulness in the present and unconvinced by our capacity to deal with it safely and in the long term, but even more than that I think it’s damaging the very way we think about the world....

Just as we spent 45 years locked in a cold war perpetuated by the spectre of mutually assured destruction, we find ourselves in an intellectual, ontological dead end today. The primary method we have for evaluating the world: MORE DATA – is faltering. It’s failing to account for complex, human-driven systems, and its failure is becoming obvious. Not least because we’ve built a vast planet-spanning, information-sharing system for making it obvious to us....

When what we should be seeing is the network itself, in all of its complexity. And when I talk about the network, I mean the internet and us and the entire context, because the internet is only the latest but certainly the most advanced civilisation-scale tool for introspection our species has built thus far. To deal with the internet is to deal with this infinite library and all the inherent contradictions contained within it. Our categories, summaries and authorities are no longer merely insufficient; they’re literally incoherent.

Our current ways of thinking about the world can no more survive exposure to this totality of raw information than we can survive exposure to an atomic core.
intellectual_furnishings  servers  infrastructure  data_centers  media_space  big_data  epistemology  military  war  secrecy  surveillance  information_overload 
28 days ago
NASA Adds to Evidence of Mysterious Ancient Earthworks
High in the skies over Kazakhstan, space-age technology has revealed an ancient mystery on the ground.

Satellite pictures of a remote and treeless northern steppe reveal colossal earthworks — geometric figures of squares, crosses, lines and rings the size of several football fields, recognizable only from the air and the oldest estimated at 8,000 years old.

The largest, near a Neolithic settlement, is a giant square of 101 raised mounds, its opposite corners connected by a diagonal cross, covering more terrain than the Great Pyramid of Cheops. Another is a kind of three-limbed swastika, its arms ending in zigzags bent counterclockwise....

The idea that foragers could amass the numbers of people necessary to undertake large-scale projects — like creating the Kazakhstan geoglyphs — has caused archaeologists to deeply rethink the nature and timing of sophisticated large-scale human organization as one that predates settled and civilized societies,” Dr. Clarkson wrote in an email.

“Enormous efforts” went into the structures, agreed Giedre Motuzaite Matuzeviciute, an archaeologist from Cambridge University and a lecturer at Vilnius University in Lithuania, who visited two of the sites last year. She said by email that she was dubious about calling the structures geoglyphs — a term applied to the enigmatic Nazca Lines in Peru that depict animals and plants — because geoglyphs “define art rather than objects with function.”
writing  urban_media  geoglyphs  astronomy  infrastructure  urban_history 
28 days ago
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