robertogreco + perception   268

Humans, animals and the sensory world | Wellcome Collection
"How we perceive the world through our senses is often seen as what makes us human. But questioning the assumptions we make regarding our senses can help us think differently about our relationship with the animal world. Rather than separating us, our senses can show how animals and humans are interconnected."
senses  animals  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  perception  2019  wellcomecollection  multispecies  morethanhuman 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
College students think they learn less with an effective teaching method | Ars Technica
"One of the things that's amenable to scientific study is how we communicate information about science. Science education should, in theory at least, produce a scientifically literate public and prepare those most interested in the topic for advanced studies in their chosen field. That clearly hasn't worked out, so people have subjected science education itself to the scientific method.

What they've found is that an approach called active learning (also called active instruction) consistently produces the best results. This involves pushing students to work through problems and reason things out as an inherent part of the learning process.

Even though the science on that is clear, most college professors have remained committed to approaching class time as a lecture. In fact, a large number of instructors who try active learning end up going back to the standard lecture, and one of the reasons they cite is that the students prefer it that way. This sounds a bit like excuse making, so a group of instructors decided to test this belief using physics students. And it turns out professors weren't making an excuse. Even as understanding improved with active learning, the students felt they got more out of a traditional lecture."

...

"Explanations abound
So why is an extremely effective way of teaching so unpopular? The researchers come up with a number of potential explanations. One is simply that active learning is hard. "Students in the actively taught groups had to struggle with their peers through difficult physics problems that they initially did not know how to solve," the authors acknowledge. That's a big contrast with the standard lecture which, being the standard, is familiar to the students. A talented instructor can also make their lecture material feel like it's a straight-forward, coherent packet of information. This can lead students to over-rate their familiarity with the topic.

The other issue the authors suggest may be going on here is conceptually similar to the Dunning-Kruger effect, where people who don't understand a topic are unable to accurately evaluate how much they knew. Consistent with this, the researchers identified the students with the strongest backgrounds in physics, finding that they tended to be more accurate in assessing what they got out of each class.

Whatever the cause, it's not ideal to have students dislike the most effective method of teaching them. So, the authors suggest that professors who are considering adopting active learning take the time to prepare a little lecture on it. The researchers prepared one that described the active learning process and provided some evidence of its effectiveness. The introduction acknowledged the evidence described above—namely, that the students might not feel like they were getting as much out of the class.

In part thanks to this short addition to the class, by the end of the semester, 65% of the students reported feeling positive toward active learning. That's still not exactly overwhelming enthusiasm, but it might be enough to keep instructors from giving up on an extremely effective teaching technique."
learning  perception  education  pedagogy  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  deschooling  unschooling  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  cv  stem  lectures  activelearning  2019  science  participatory  participation  conversation  progressive 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
Measuring actual learning versus feeling of learning in response to being actively engaged in the classroom | PNAS
"Despite active learning being recognized as a superior method of instruction in the classroom, a major recent survey found that most college STEM instructors still choose traditional teaching methods. This article addresses the long-standing question of why students and faculty remain resistant to active learning. Comparing passive lectures with active learning using a randomized experimental approach and identical course materials, we find that students in the active classroom learn more, but they feel like they learn less. We show that this negative correlation is caused in part by the increased cognitive effort required during active learning. Faculty who adopt active learning are encouraged to intervene and address this misperception, and we describe a successful example of such an intervention."
learning  perception  education  pedagogy  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  deschooling  unschooling  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  cv  stem  lectures  activelearning  2019  science  participatory  participation  conversation  progressive 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
Anne Galloway 'Speculative Design and Glass Slaughterhouses' - This is HCD
"Andy: You’ve got quite an interesting background. I’m going to ask you about in a second. I wanted to start with the quote from Ursula Le Guin that you have on your website. It’s from the Lathe of Heaven. “We’re in the world, not against it. It doesn’t work to try and stand outside things and run them that way, it just doesn’t work. It goes against life. There is a way, but you have to follow it, the world is, no matter how we think it ought to be, you have to be with it, you have to let it be.

Then on the More Than Human website, you have these three questions. What if we refuse to uncouple nature and culture? What if we deny that human beings are exceptional? What if we stop speaking and listening only to ourselves? The More Than Human lab explores everyday entanglements of humans and non-humans and imagines more sustainable ways of thinking, making, and doing. Anne, let’s get started by first talking about what do you mean by all of that?

Anne: The Ursula Le Guin quote I love mostly because a critical perspective or an activist perspective, anything that says we ought to be changing the world in any way, it always assumes that we need to fix something, that the world is broken and that designers especially are well-suited to be able to solve some of these problems. I like thinking about what it means to respond to injustice by accepting it, not in the sense of believing that it’s okay or right, because clearly, it’s been identify as unjust. I love Le Guin’s attention to the fact that there is a way to be in the world.

As soon as we think that we’re outside of it, any choices or decisions or actions that we take are, well, they sit outside of it as well. I like being embedded in the trouble. I like Donna Haraway’s idea of staying with the trouble. It’s not that we have to accept that things are problematic, but rather that we have to work within the structures that already exist. Not to keep them that way, in fact, many should be dismantled or changed. Rather, to accept that there is a flow to the universe.

Of course, Le Guin was talking about Taoism, but here what I wanted to draw attention to is often our imperative to fix or to solve or to change things comes with a belief that we’re not part of the world that we’re trying to fix and change. It’s that that I want to highlight. That when we start asking difficult questions about the world, we can never remove ourselves from them. We’re complicit, we are on the receiving end of things. We’re never distant from it. I think that subtle but important shift in deciding how we approach our work is really important."



"Andy: Yes, okay. I was thinking about this, I was reading, in conjunction, this little Le Guin quote, I was trying to think, it’s unusual in the sense that it’s a discipline or a practice of design that uses its own practice to critique itself. It’s using design to critique design in many respects. A lot of what speculative design is talking about is, look what happens when we put stuff into the world, in some way, without much thought. I was trying to think if there was another discipline that does that. I think probably in the humanities there are, and certainly in sociology I think there probably is, where it uses its own discipline to critique itself. It’s a fairly unusual setup.

Anne: I would think actually it’s quite common in the humanities, perhaps the social sciences, where it’s not common is in the sciences. Any reflexive turn in any of the humanities would have used the discipline. Historiography is that sort of thing. Applied philosophy is that sort of thing. Reflexive anthropology is that sort of thing. I think it’s actually quite common, just not in the sciences, and design often tries to align itself with the sciences instead.

Andy: Yes, there was a great piece in the Aeon the other day, about how science doesn’t have an adequate description or explanation for consciousness. Yet, it’s the only thing it can be certain of. With that, it also doesn’t really seem to come up in the technology industry that much, because it’s so heavily aligned with science. Technology, and you’ve got this background in culture studies and science and technology and society, technology is a really strong vein throughout speculative design. Indeed, your work, right? Counting sheep is about the Internet of Things, and sheep. Do you want to tell us a little bit about that and why I am talking to you from the picture things to the Lord of the Rings, it basically looks like you’re living in part of the Shire in Middle Earth?

Anne: I do live in a place that looks remarkably like the Shire. It’s a bit disconcerting at times. The science and technology question in speculative design I think is first of all a matter of convenience. Science fiction, speculation, they lean historically, habitually towards science and tech. It becomes an easy target for critique. Not that it’s not necessary, but it’s right there, so why not? There’s that element to it. It has an easier ability to be transformed into something fanciful or terrifying, which allows for certain kinds of storytelling through speculation, that I think people, both creators and audiences or readers really enjoy.

Now, the irony of all of this, of course is that arguably one of the greatest concerns that people have would be tied to technological determinism, the idea that we’re going to have these technologies anyway, so what are we going to do about it? Now, when you speculate using these technologies, what you’re doing is actually reinforcing the idea that these technologies are coming, you play right into the same technological determinism that you’re trying to critique. In fact, one of the counting sheep scenarios was designed specifically to avoid the technology. It was the one that got the most positive responses."



"Andy: With all of this, and I may this pop at the beginning, just before we were recording, that there’s a sense of, because of everything going on in the world, that if only designers could run the world, everything would be fine, right, because we can see all of the solutions to everything. What would you want designers to get out of this kind of work or this kind of perspective?

Anne: Humility. That simple. I am one of those people. It’s because of being an ethnographer as well and doing participant observation and interviewing many people and their ideas about design. I’ve run into far more people who think that designers are arrogant than ones who don’t. This has always really interested me. What is it that designers do that seems to rub non-designers the wrong way? Part of it is this sense of, or implication that they know better than the rest of us, or that a designer will come in and say, “Let me fix your problem”, before even asking if there is a problem that the person wants fixed.

I actually gave a guest lecture in a class just the other day, where I suggested that there were people in the world who thought that designers were arrogant. One of the post-graduate students in the class really took umbrage at this and wanted to know why it was that designers were arrogant for offering to fix problems, but a builder wasn’t, or a doctor wasn’t.

Andy: What was your answer?

Anne: Well, my answer was, generally speaking, people go to them first and say, “I have this problem, I need help.” Whereas, designers come up with a problem, go find people that they think have it and then tell them they’d like to solve it. I think just on a social level, that is profoundly anti-social. That is not how people enjoy socially interacting with people.

Andy: I can completely see that and I think that I would say that argument has also levelled, quite rightly, a lot of Silicon Valley, which is the answer to everything is some kind of technology engineering startup to fix all the problems that all the other technology and engineering startups that are no longer startups have created. It’s probably true of quite a lot of areas of business and finance, as well, and politics, for that matter. The counter, I could imagine a designer saying, “Well, that’s not really true”, because one of the things as human-centred designers, the first thing we do, we go out, we do design ethnography, we go and speak to people, we go and observe, we go and do all of that stuff. We really understand their problems. We’re not just telling people what needs to be fixed. We’re going there and understanding things. What’s your response to that?

Anne: Well, my first response is, yes, that’s absolutely true. There are lots of very good designers in the world who do precisely that. Because I work in an academic institution though, I’m training students. What my job involves is getting the to the point where they know the difference between telling somebody something and asking somebody something. what it means to actually understand their client or their user. I prefer to just refer to them as people. What it is that people want or need. One of the things that I offer in all of my classes is, after doing the participant observation, my students always have the opportunity to submit a rationale for no design intervention whatsoever.

That’s not something that is offered to people in a lot of business contexts because there’s a business case that’s being made. Whereas, I want my students to understand that sometimes the research demonstrates that people are actually okay, and that even if they have little problems, they’re still okay with that, that people are quite okay with living with contradictions and that they will accept some issues because it allows for other things to emerge. That if they want, they can provide the evidence for saying, “Actually, the worst thing we could do in this scenario is design anything and I refuse to design.”

Andy: Right, that and the people made trade-offs all the time because of the pain of change is much … [more]
annegalloway  design  2019  speculativefiction  designethnography  morethanhuman  ursulaleguin  livestock  agriculture  farming  sheep  meat  morethanhumanlab  activism  criticaldesign  donnaharaway  stayingwiththetrouble  taoism  flow  change  changemaking  systemsthinking  complicity  catherinecaudwell  injustice  justice  dunneandraby  consciousness  science  technology  society  speculation  speculativedesign  questioning  fiction  future  criticalthinking  whatif  anthropology  humanities  reflexiveanthropology  newzealand  socialsciences  davidgrape  powersoften  animals  cows  genevievebell  markpesce  technologicaldeterminism  dogs  cats  ethnography  cooperation  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  slow  slowness  time  perception  psychology  humility  problemsolving  contentment  presence  peacefulness  workaholism  northamerica  europe  studsterkel  protestantworkethic  labor  capitalism  passion  pets  domestication 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Magic and the Machine — Emergence Magazine
"Indeed, it is only when a traditionally oral culture becomes literate that the land seems to fall silent. Only as our senses transferred their animating magic to the written word did the other animals fall dumb, the trees and rocks become mute. For, to learn this new magic, we had to break the spontaneous participation of our eyes and ears in the enfolding terrain in order to recouple those senses with the flat surface of the page. I remember well, in first grade, the intensity with which I had to train my listening ears and my visual focus upon the letters in order to make each letter trigger a specific sound made by my mouth, such that now whenever I see the letter K, I instantly hear “kah” in my mind’s ear, and whenever I see an M, I hear “mmm.” If my ancestors once engaged in animistic participation with bent twigs, animal tracks, cliff-faces, and cloud shapes, I learned an analogous participation with the letter shapes upon the page. But notice: while a thundercloud or a raven might utter strange sounds and communicate strange sensations, the written letters always speak with a human tongue.

Hence, far from enacting a clear break with animism, alphabetic literacy can be recognized as a particularly potent form of animism, one which shifts the locus of magic—or meaning—away from our interactions with the more-than-human surroundings to the relation between ourselves and our own signs. Only as alphabetic literacy comes into a previously oral culture (often through Christian missionaries teaching how to read the Good Book) does that culture get the curious idea that language is an exclusively human property. The living land is no longer felt to hold and utter forth its own manifold meanings; the surrounding earth soon comes to be viewed as a mostly passive background upon which human history unfolds."




"For animism—the instinctive experience of reciprocity or exchange between the perceiver and the perceived—lies at the heart of all human perception. While such participatory experience may be displaced by our engagement with particular tools and technologies, it can never entirely be dispelled. Rather, different technologies tend to capture and channel our instinctive, animistic proclivities in particular ways."



"Despite the flimsy gesture toward a kind of magical reality, the fact is that we’re still speaking only to ourselves, to things that we have programmed to talk back to us. And so, after the initial novelty, which maybe lasts about twenty minutes, there’s nothing here that can surprise us, or yield a sense that we’re in communication with beings strangely different from ourselves."



"And maybe this attempt to recreate that primal experience of intimacy with the surrounding world will actually succeed. Certainly it’s giving rise to all sorts of fascinating gizmos and whimsical inventions. But it’s also bound to disappoint. The difficult magic of animistic perception, the utter weirdness and dark wonder that lives in any deeply place-based relation to the earth, is the felt sense of being in contact with wakeful forms of sentience that are richly different from one’s own—the experience of interaction with intelligences that are radically other from one’s own human style of intelligence. Yet when interacting with the smart objects that inhabit the always-online world of the internet of things, well, there’s no real otherness there. Of course, there’s the quasi-otherness of the program designers, and of the other people living their own wired lives; although just how other anybody will be when we’re all deploying various forms of the same software (and so all thinking by means of the same preprogrammed algorithms) is an open question. My point, however, is that there’s no radical otherness involved: it’s all humanly programmed, and it’s inhabited by us humans and our own humanly-built artifacts; it’s all basically a big extension of the human nervous system. As we enter more deeply into the world of ubiquitous computing, we increasingly seal ourselves into an exclusively human zone of interaction. We enter into a bizarre kind of intraspecies incest."



"Yet it’s the alterity or otherness of things—the weirdly different awareness of a humpback whale sounding its eerie glissandos through the depths, or an orb-weaver spider spinning the cosmos out of her abdomen; or the complex intelligence of an old-growth forest, dank with mushrooms and bracket fungi, humming with insects and haunted by owls—it’s the wild, more-than-human otherness of these powers that makes any attentive relation with such beings a genuine form of magic, a trancelike negotiation between outrageously divergent worlds.

Without such radical otherness, there’s no magic. Wandering around inside a huge extension of our own nervous system is not likely to bring a renewal of creaturely wonder, or a recovery of ancestral capacities. It may keep us fascinated for a time but also vaguely unsatisfied and so always thirsty for the next invention, the next gadget that might finally satisfy our craving, might assuage our vague sense that something momentous is missing. Except it won’t."



"Western navigators, long reliant on a large array of instruments, remain astonished by the ability of traditional seafaring peoples to find their way across the broad ocean by sensing subtle changes in the ocean currents, by tasting the wind and reading the weather, by conversing with the patterns in the night sky. Similarly, many bookish persons find themselves flummoxed by the ease with which citizens of traditionally oral, place-based cultures seem always to know where they are—their capacity to find their way even through dense forests without obvious landmarks—an innate orienting ability that arises when on intimate terms with the ground, with the plants, with the cycles of sun, moon, and stars. GPS seems to replicate this innate and fairly magical capacity, but instead of this knowledge arising from our bodily interchange with the earthly cosmos, here the knowledge arrives as a disembodied calculation by a complex of orbiting and ground-based computers."



"There is nothing “extra-sensory” about this kind of earthly clairvoyance. Rather, sensory perception functions here as a kind of glue, binding one’s individual nervous system into the larger ecosystem. When our animal senses are all awake, our skin rippling with sensations as we palpate the surroundings with ears and eyes and flaring nostrils, it sometimes happens that our body becomes part of the larger Body of the land—that our sensate flesh is taken up within the wider Flesh of the breathing Earth—and so we begin to glimpse events unfolding at other locations within the broad Body of the land. In hunting and gathering communities, individuals are apprenticed to the intricate life of the local earth from an early age, and in the absence of firearms, hunters often depend upon this richly sensorial, synaesthetic clairvoyance for regular success in the hunt. The smartphone replicates something of this old, ancestral experience of earthly acumen that has long been central to our species: the sense of being situated over Here, while knowing what’s going on over There."



"And so we remain transfixed by these tools, searching in and through our digital engagements for an encounter they seem to promise yet never really provide: the consummate encounter with otherness, with radical alterity, with styles of sensibility and intelligence that thoroughly exceed the limits of our own sentience. Yet there’s the paradox: for the more we engage these remarkable tools, the less available we are for any actual contact outside the purely human estate. In truth, the more we participate with these astonishing technologies, the more we seal ourselves into an exclusively human cocoon, and the more our animal senses—themselves co-evolved with the winds, the waters, and the many-voiced terrain—are blunted, rendering us ever more blind, ever more deaf, ever more impervious to the more-than-human Earth.

Which brings us, finally, back to our initial question: What is the primary relation, if there is any actual relation, between the two contrasting collective moods currently circulating through contemporary society—between the upbeat technological optimism coursing through many social circles and the mood of ecological despondency and grief that so many other persons seem to be feeling? As a writer who uses digital technology, I can affirm that these tools are enabling many useful, astounding, and even magical possibilities. But all this virtual magic is taking a steep toll. For many long years this techno-wizardry has been blunting our creaturely senses, interrupting the instinctive rapport between our senses and the earthly sensuous. It’s been short-circuiting the spontaneous reciprocity between our animal body and the animate terrain, disrupting the very attunement that keeps us apprised of what’s going on in our locale—the simple, somatic affinity that entangles our body with the bodies of other creatures, binding our sentience with that of the local earth. Today, caught up in our fascination with countless screen-fitted gadgets, we’re far more aloof from the life of the land around us, and hence much less likely to notice the steady plundering of these woodlands and wetlands, the choking of the winds and the waters by the noxious by-products of the many industries we now rely on. As these insults to the elemental earth pile up—as the waters are rendered lifeless by more chemical runoff, by more oil spills, by giant patches of plastic rotating in huge gyres; as more glaciers melt and more forests succumb to the stresses of a destabilized climate—the sensorial world of our carnal experience is increasingly filled with horrific wounds, wounds that we feel in our flesh whenever we dare to taste the world with our creaturely senses. It’s too damned painful. Hence … [more]
animism  davidabram  technology  language  alphabet  writing  oraltradition  secondaryorality  smarthphones  gps  multispecies  morethanhuman  canon  literacy  listening  multisensory  senses  noticing  nature  intuition  alterity  otherness  object  animals  wildlife  plants  rocks  life  living  instinct  internet  web  online  maps  mapping  orientation  cities  sound  smell  texture  touch  humans  smartdevices  smarthomes  internetofthings  perception  virtuality  physical 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Alexandra Bell
"Alexandra Bell (b. 1983, Chicago, IL) is a multidisciplinary artist who investigates the complexities of narrative, information consumption, and perception. Utilizing various media, she deconstructs language and imagery to explore the tension between marginal experiences and dominant histories. Through investigative research, she considers the ways media frameworks construct memory and inform discursive practices around race, politics, and culture.

Her work has been exhibited at Jeffrey Deitch Gallery, Charlie James Gallery, MoMA PS1, We Buy Gold, Koenig & Clinton Gallery, The Nathan Cummings Foundation, Atlanta Contemporary, Pomona College Museum of Art, Spencer Museum of Art, and Usdan Gallery at Bennington College. She received the 2018 International Center of Photography Infinity Award in the applied category and is a 2018 Soros Equality Fellow. She is a 2019 CatchLight Fellow.

Bell holds a B.A. in interdisciplinary studies in the humanities from the University of Chicago and an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University. She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY."

[See also:
https://www.instagram.com/yesitsalex/ ]

[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bxh5ZQylaib/ ]
art  artists  alexandrabell  information  perception  history  counternarratives  language  imagery  media  narrative 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Gradients are everywhere from Facebook to the New York Times - Vox
"Here’s why The Daily, Coachella, and Facebook all use backgrounds that look like a sunset."



"What it is: A digital or print effect where one color fades into another. Typically rendered in soft or pastel tones.

Where it is: Gradients are seemingly everywhere in media and marketing. They are part of a suite of Facebook status backdrops introduced in 2017 and the branding for the New York Times’ popular podcast The Daily, which displays a yellow to blue gradient.

Gradients have taken over Coachella’s app and website (if you watch carefully, the colors shift). Ally’s billboard in A Star Is Born is a full-on gradient, and so was the branding for the Oscars ceremony that recognized Lady Gaga.

On Instagram, they provide a product backdrop for popular Korean beauty brand Glow, and have been embraced by indie magazines Gossamer and Anxy — both designed by Berkeley studio Anagraph.

On the luxury front, Brooklyn wallpaper company Calico has released an entire collection of gradient wallpapers called Aurora. Meanwhile, Spanish fashion house Loewe has introduced a version of their trendy Elephant bag in a spectrum of pink to yellow.

Are gradients drinkable? Heck yes, they are. Seltzer startup Recess has gone all-in on gradients in their branding.

Why you’re seeing it everywhere: Gradients are the confluence of three different trends: Light and Space art, vaporwave, and bisexual lighting.

In the art and design world, Light and Space — developed in the 1960s and ’70s — has been experiencing a revival thanks to its Instagramability. Light and Space pioneer James Turrell has been embraced by celebrities like Beyoncé, Drake, and Kanye West. Drake’s Hotline Bling video was inspired by Turrell’s light-infused rooms called Ganzfelds. The Kardashian-Jenner-West crew posted an Instagram in front of one of Turrell’s works in Los Angeles. (I was yelled at by security for taking a picture there but it’s fine.)

[image]

Most recently, West donated $10 million dollars to the artist.

James Turrell’s works come with a warning because the visitor quickly loses all depth perception. Soft gradients are alluring because they cut through the noise of social media, but they also are disorienting. The Twitter bot soft landscapes operates on a similar principle, but some days the landscape all but disappears.

“It’s nice to see calming things amongst all of the social ramifications of Instagram,” says Rion Harmon of Day Job, the design firm of record for Recess. Harmon compares the Recess branding to a sunset so beautiful you can’t help but stare (or take a picture) however busy you are. Changes to the sky are even more pronounced in Los Angeles, where Harmon’s studio is now based. “The quality of light in LA is something miraculous,” he says. The Light and Space movement was also started in Southern California, and it’s in the DNA of Coachella.

Gradients might be a manifestation of longing for sunshine and surf. But they also belong to the placeless digital citizen. 1980s and ’90s kids may remember messing around in Microsoft Paint and Powerpoint as a child, filling in shapes with these same gradients. It’s no surprise that this design effect is part of the technological nostalgia that fuels the vaporwave movement.

Vaporwave is a musical and aesthetic movement (started in the early 2010s) that spliced ambient music, advertising, and imagery from when the internet started. Gradient artwork shared by the clothing brand Public Space is vaporwave. So is this meme posted by direct-to-consumer health startup Hers.

[image]

When Facebook rolled out gradient status backgrounds in 2017, they knew what they were doing. “They have so much data into how the world works,” says Kerry Flynn, platforms reporter at Digiday. “They had a slow rollout to the color gradients … Obviously they could have pulled the plug anytime.”

Flynn goes on to explain that Facebook realized they had become their own worst enemy. There was so much information on their platform that personal sharing was down and they had to make it novel again. “Facebook wants our personal data, as much as possible. Hence, colorful backgrounds that encourage me to post information about myself and for my friends to ‘Like’ it and comment,” she says.

It’s ironic that in order to do so, Facebook borrowed from a digital texture most millennials associate with a time before Facebook. But it also mimics a current trend in film and television: bisexual lighting.

As Know Your Meme explains, “bisexual lighting is a slang in the queer community for neon lighting with high emphasis on pinks, purples, and blues in film.” These pinks, purples and blues often fade into one another — appearing like a gradient when rendered in two dimensions. Bisexual lighting shows up in the futuristic genre cyberpunk, which imagines an era in which high technology and low technology combine and cities are neon-bathed, landmarkless Gothams. (Overlapping with vaporwave.) Mainstream examples of cyberpunk include Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell, and Black Mirror (specifically the “San Junipero” episode). Hotline Bling makes the list of examples for bisexual lighting; the gradients come full circle.

Tati Pastukhova, co-founder of interactive art space ARTECHOUSE, says gradients have become more popular as computer display quality increases. She says the appeal of gradients is “the illusion of dimension, and giving 2-D designs 3-D appeal.” ARTECHOUSE is full of light-based digital installations, but visitors naturally gravitate toward what is most photogenic — including, unexpectedly, the soft lighting the space installed along their staircase for safety reasons.

[image]

Before gradients, neon lettering was the Instagram lighting aesthetic du jour. Gradients are wordless — like saying Live Laugh Love with just colors. “There’s an inherent progression in gradients, you are being taken through something. Like that progression of Live Laugh Love. Of starting at one point and ending at another point. Evoking that visually is something people are very drawn to,” says Taylor Lorenz, a staff writer at the Atlantic who covers internet culture.

Gradients are also boundaryless. In 2016, artist Wolfgang Tillmans used gradients in his anti-Brexit poster campaign. Through gradients, designers have found the perfect metaphor for subjectivity in an era when even the word “fact” is up for debate. “Gradients are a visual manifestation of all of these different spectrums that we live on,” including those of politics, gender, and sexuality, says Lorenz. “Before, I think we lived in a binary world. [Gradients are] a very modern representation of the world.”

At the very least, gradients offer an opportunity to self-soothe.

Calico co-founder Nick Cope says the Aurora collection is often used in meditation rooms. He and his wife have installed it across from their bed at home. “The design was created to immerse viewers in waves and washes of tranquil atmospheric color,” Cope says, adding, “Regardless of the weather, we wake up to a sunrise every morning.”"

[See also:
"Is 'bisexual lighting' a new cinematic phenomenon?"
https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-43765856 ]
color  gradients  design  socialmedia  jamesturrell  2019  light  space  perception  neon  desig  graphicdesign  ux  ui  wolfgangtillmans  nickcope  meditation  colors  tatipastukhova  artechouse  computing  bisexuallighting  lighting  queer  knowyourmeme  pink  purple  blue  cyberpunk  future  technology  hightechnology  lowtechnology  vaporwave  bladerunner  ghostintheshell  blackmirror  sanjunipero  hotlinebling  kerryflynn  facebook  microsoftpaint  rionharmon  sunsets  california  socal  losangeles  coachella  depthperception  ganzfelds  drake  kanyewest  beyoncé  anagraph  ladygaga  daisyalioto 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Reality — Still Processing — Overcast
"What’s real anymore?"

"We now live in an era where people can choose to believe whatever they want to believe, regardless of proof or evidence. From the Laquan McDonald trial to the film “Green Book” to R. Kelly’s song “I Believe I Can Fly” to the Nick Sandmann/Nathan Phillips encounter at the Lincoln Memorial, we wrestle with the ways that reality is contested, both personally and politically.

Discussed this week:

• "Jason Van Dyke Sentenced to Nearly 7 Years for Murdering Laquan McDonald" (Mitch Smith and Julie Bosman, The New York Times, Jan. 18, 2019) https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/18/us/jason-van-dyke-sentencing.html
• "Who is America?" (Showtime, 2018) https://www.sho.com/who-is-america
• "Green Book" (directed by Peter Farrelly, 2018) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6966692/
• "Why Do the Oscars Keep Falling for Racial Reconciliation Fantasies?" (Wesley Morris, The New York Times, Jan. 23, 2019) https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/23/arts/green-book-interracial-friendship.html
• "Surviving R. Kelly" (Lifetime, 2019) https://www.mylifetime.com/shows/surviving-r-kelly
• The Nick Sandmann/Nathan Phillips encounter at the Lincoln Memorial (Jan. 25, 2019) https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/20/us/nathan-phillips-covington.html "

[Also here:
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/31/podcasts/still-processing-reality-green-book-r-kelly.html
https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-new-york-times/still-processing/e/58489768
https://player.fm/series/still-processing-1785512/reality ]
jennawortham  wesleymorris  reality  perception  belief  2019  canon 
february 2019 by robertogreco
lalitha vasudevan on Twitter: "Overhearing tutoring session between adult tutor & suburban hs student. I despair at the extensive focus on relatability (between student & text) as strategy for responding to comprehension questions and essay writing, where
"Overhearing tutoring session between adult tutor & suburban hs student. I despair at the extensive focus on relatability (between student & text) as strategy for responding to comprehension questions and essay writing, wherein to relate to have personally experienced.

1/

Being able to relate, in and of itself, isn't the cause of my despair. It's the over-reliance on experience to the exclusion of other ways of creating conditions for understanding that worries me. This bent away from the traps of "cultural literacy" began w/good intentions;

2/

but this response -- understandably, in resistance to the hyper-testing mania that overtook and still dominates much of the schooling landscape -- may err too far in the direction of allowing some young people to never have to stray too far from their own thoughts.

3/

I want to know what young people think, what they notice and see, how they navigate and experience the world. AND, I want their insights on what others notice, see, conclude, design, and decide; for that, too, concerns young people --

4/

not only in their immediate, local, kinship networks, but about how they perceive others' perceptions of the they things they have noticed, or not. They are civic beings, active in their citizenry, and to deny this and allow otherwise is educational malpractice.

5/

I want young people to be seen and engaged as real interlocutors, not discursive window dressing to be written into curricula and grant proposals as the "participatory" element. I don't just want to hear what they think; I want to think with them, toward new questions.

6/

So, I return to a familiar, frustrating thought: My, how standardization, answer-driven teaching, & the greedy pursuit of efficiency-driven uniformity has royally screwed over kids & schools.
And (some) big data efforts want to help do more of the same.

7/7
#smalldatabigmoments"
lalithavasudevan  education  standardizedtesting  standardization  experience  relatability  teaching  learning  schools  schooliness  kinship  perception  culturalliteracy  howweteach  howwelearn  comprehension  essays  writing  howwewrite  teachingreading  teachingwriting  noticing  civics  citizenship  democracy  democratic  malpractice  participatory  participation  unschooling  deschooling  pedagogy  uniformity  efficiency  bigdata  testing 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Children learn best when engaged in the living world not on screens | Aeon Essays
"As a parent, it is obvious that children learn more when they engage their entire body in a meaningful experience than when they sit at a computer. If you doubt this, just observe children watching an activity on a screen and then doing the same activity for themselves. They are much more engaged riding a horse than watching a video about it, playing a sport with their whole bodies rather than a simulated version of it in an online game.

Today, however, many powerful people are pushing for children to spend more time in front of computer screens, not less. Philanthropists such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have contributed millions of dollars to ‘personal learning’, a term that describes children working by themselves on computers, and Laurene Powell Jobs has bankrolled the XQ Super School project to use technology to ‘transcend the confines of traditional teaching methodologies’. Policymakers such as the US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos call personalised learning ‘one of the most promising developments in K-12 education’, and Rhode Island has announced a statewide personalised learning push for all public school students. Think tanks such as the Brookings Institution recommend that Latin-American countries build ‘massive e-learning hubs that reach millions’. School administrators tout the advantages of giving all students, including those at kindergarten, personal computers.

Many adults appreciate the power of computers and the internet, and think that children should have access to them as soon as possible. Yet screen learning displaces other, more tactile ways to discover the world. Human beings learn with their eyes, yes, but also their ears, nose, mouth, skin, heart, hands, feet. The more time kids spend on computers, the less time they have to go on field trips, build model airplanes, have recess, hold a book in their hands, or talk with teachers and friends. In the 21st century, schools should not get with the times, as it were, and place children on computers for even more of their days. Instead, schools should provide children with rich experiences that engage their entire bodies.

To better understand why so many people embrace screen learning, we can turn to a classic of 20th-century French philosophy: Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception (1945).

According to Merleau-Ponty, European philosophy has long prioritised ‘seeing’ over ‘doing’ as a path to understanding. Plato, René Descartes, John Locke, David Hume, Immanuel Kant: each, in different ways, posits a gap between the mind and the world, the subject and the object, the thinking self and physical things. Philosophers take for granted that the mind sees things from a distance. When Descartes announced ‘I think therefore I am’, he was positing a fundamental gulf between the thinking self and the physical body. Despite the novelty of digital media, Merleau-Ponty would contend that Western thought has long assumed that the mind, not the body, is the site of thinking and learning.

According to Merleau-Ponty, however, ‘consciousness is originally not an “I think that”, but rather an “I can”’. In other words, human thinking emerges out of lived experience, and what we can do with our bodies profoundly shapes what philosophers think or scientists discover. ‘The entire universe of science is constructed upon the lived world,’ he wrote. Phenomenology of Perception aimed to help readers better appreciate the connection between the lived world and consciousness.

Philosophers are in the habit of saying that we ‘have’ a body. But as Merleau-Ponty points out: ‘I am not in front of my body, I am in my body, or rather I am my body.’ This simple correction carries important implications about learning. What does it mean to say that I am my body?

The mind is not somehow outside of time and space. Instead, the body thinks, feels, desires, hurts, has a history, and looks ahead. Merleau-Ponty invented the term ‘intentional arc’ to describe how consciousness connects ‘our past, our future, our human milieu, our physical situation, our ideological situation, and our moral situation’. He makes readers attend to the countless aspects of the world that permeate our thinking.

Merleau-Ponty challenges us to stop believing that the human mind transcends the rest of nature. Humans are thinking animals whose thinking is always infused with our animality. As the cognitive scientist Alan Jasanoff explains in a recent Aeon essay, it is even misleading to idealise the brain independent of the rest of the viscera. The learning process happens when an embodied mind ‘gears’ into the world.

Take the example of dancing. From a Cartesian perspective, the mind moves the body like a puppeteer pulls strings to move a puppet. To learn to dance, in this paradigm, a person needs to memorise a sequence of steps. For Merleau-Ponty, on the contrary, the way to learn to dance is to move one’s physical body in space: ‘in order for the new dance to integrate particular elements of general motricity, it must first have received, so to speak, a motor consecration.’ The mind does not reflect and make a conscious decision before the body moves; the body ‘catches’ the movement.

Philosophers have long attributed a spectatorial stance to the mind, when in fact the body participates in the world. It is common sense that the head is the ‘seat of thought’, but ‘the principal regions of my body are consecrated to actions’, and the ‘parts of my body participate in their value’. People learn, think and value with every part of their bodies, and our bodies know things that we can never fully articulate in words.

Surely, one could reply, this might be true for physical activities such as dancing but does not apply to all intellectual pursuits. Merleau-Ponty would respond: ‘The body is our general means of having a world.’ Everything we learn, think or know emanates from our body. It is by walking through a meadow, hiking beside a river, and boating down a lake that we are able to appreciate the science of geography. It is by talking with other people and learning their stories that we can appreciate literature. Buying food for our family infuses us with a conviction that we need to learn mathematics. We cannot always trace the route from experience to knowledge, from a childhood activity to adult insight. But there is no way for us to learn that bypasses the body: ‘the body is our anchorage in a world’.

Merleau-Ponty would not be surprised if people showed him students learning on a screen. Students can project themselves into the world that they see on a screen, just as many people are capable of thinking abstractly. As long as children have had some exposure to the world and other people, they should be able to make some sense of what they see on screens.

Still, Merleau-Ponty gives us reasons to resist the trend towards computer-based education. Proponents of personalised learning point to the advantages of having kids on computers for much of the school day, including students working at their own pace to meet learning objectives. However, from a phenomenological perspective, it is not clear why students will want to do this for very long when the experience is so removed from their flesh-and-blood lives. Teachers and parents will have to use incentives, threats and medication to make children sit at computers for long stretches of time when children want to run, play, paint, eat, sing, compete and laugh. To put it bluntly: advocates of screen learning sometimes seem to forget that children are young animals that want to move in the world, not watch it from a distance."
children  learning  nature  bodies  education  schools  howwelearn  2018  nicholastampio  howwethink  mauricemerleau-ponty  1945  plato  descartes  johnlocke  kant  davidhume  perception  screens  digital  technology  senses  personalization  sfsh  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  body 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Can we hope to understand how the Greeks saw their world? | Aeon Essays
"The Greek colour experience was made of movement and shimmer. Can we ever glimpse what they saw when gazing out to sea?"
color  history  language  mariamichelasassi  ancientgreece  perception  2017  at  culture 
august 2018 by robertogreco
The surprising pattern behind color names around the world - YouTube
"In 1969, two Berkeley researchers, Paul Kay and Brent Berlin, published a book on a pretty groundbreaking idea: that every culture in history, when they developed their languages, invented words for colors in the exact same order. They claimed to know this based off of a simple color identification test, where 20 respondents identified 330 colored chips by name. If a language had six words, they were always black, white, red, green, yellow, and blue. If it had four terms, they were always black, white, red, and then either green or yellow. If it had only three, they were always black, white, and red , and so on. The theory was revolutionary — and it shaped our understanding of how color terminologies emerge.

Read more on the research mentioned in this video:

Cook, Kay, and Regier on the World Color Survey: goo.gl/MTUi9C
Stephen C. Levinson on Yele color terms: goo.gl/CYDfvw
John A. Lucy on Hanunó'o color terms: goo.gl/okcyC3
Loreto, Mukherjee, and Tria on color naming population simulations: goo.gl/rALO1S

To learn more about how your language's color words can affect the way you think, check out this video lecture: goo.gl/WxYi1q "
color  classideas  perception  language  languages  paulkay  brentberlin  anthropology  linguistics  red  yellow  blue  green 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Worlds of sense and sensing the world: a response to Sarah Pink and David Howes
"In a recent debate with Sarah Pink in the pages of Social Anthropology, concerning the prospects for an anthropology that would highlight the work of the senses in human experience, David Howes objects to what I have myself written on this topic, specifically in my book The Perception of the Environment (Ingold 2000). In doing so, he distorts my arguments on six counts. In this brief response, I set the record straight on each count, and argue for a regrounding of the virtual worlds of sense, to which Howes directs our attention, in the practicalities of sensing the world."

[See also: "The future of sensory anthropology/the anthropology of the senses"
https://monoskop.org/images/5/54/Pink_Sarah_2010_The_Future_of_Sensory_Anthropology_The_Anthropology_of_the_Senses.pdf ]
sarahpink  davidhowes  sensoryethnography  senses  ethnography  socialsciences  multisensory  anthropology  timingold  2011  perception  phenomenology  visualstudies  culture  sensoryanthropology 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Michael Wesch – Unboxing Stories on Vimeo
"2015 Future of StoryTelling Summit Speaker: Michael Wesch, Cultural Anthropologist

A pioneer in digital ethnography, Dr. Michael Wesch studies how our changing media is altering human interaction. As an anthropologist in Papua New Guinea, Wesch saw firsthand how oral storytelling worked for much of human civilization: It was a group activity that rewarded participation, transformed our perceptions, and created a changing flow of stories across generations. Reading and writing replaced oral storytelling with linear, fixed stories. Upon returning from Papua New Guinea, Wesch created the 2007 viral video hit Web 2.0...The Machine Is Us/ing Us, about the Internet's effects on our culture. At FoST, he’ll explore how our evolution from a literate culture to a digital one can return us to collaborative storytelling, resulting in a more engaged, participatory, and connected society."
michaelwesch  stories  storytelling  anthropology  2015  papuanewguinea  humans  civilization  perception  connection  participation  spontaneity  immersion  religion  involvement  census  oraltradition  oral  wikipedia  society  web2.0  media  particiption  conversation  television  tv  generations  neilpostman  classideas  web  online  socialmedia  alonetogether  suburbs  history  happenings  confusion  future  josephcampbell  life  living  meaning  meaningmaking  culture  culturlanthropology  srg 
april 2018 by robertogreco
On how to grow an idea – The Creative Independent
"In the 1970s, a Japanese farmer discovered a better way to do something—by not doing it. In the introduction to Masasobu Fukuoka’s One-Straw Revolution, Frances Moore Lappé describes the farmer’s moment of inspiration:
The basic idea came to him one day as he happened to pass an old field which had been left unused and unplowed for many years. There he saw a tangle of grasses and weeds. From that time on, he stopped flooding his field in order to grow rice. He stopped sowing rice seed in the spring and, instead, put the seed out in the autumn, sowing it directly onto the surface of the field when it would naturally have fallen to the ground… Once he has seen to it that conditions have been tilted in favor of his crops, Mr. Fukuoka interferes as little as possible with the plant and animal communities in his fields.


Fukuoka’s practice, which he perfected over many years, eventually became known as “do nothing farming.” Not that it was easy: the do-nothing farmer needed to be more attentive and sensitive to the land and seasons than a regular farmer. After all, Fukuoka’s ingenious method was hard-won after decades of his own close observations of weather patterns, insects, birds, trees, soil, and the interrelationships among all of these.

In One Straw Revolution, Fukuoka is rightly proud of what he has perfected. Do-nothing farming not only required less labor, no machines, and no fertilizer—it also enriched the soil year by year, while most farms depleted their soil. Despite the skepticism of others, Fukuoka’s farm yielded a harvest equal to or greater than that of other farms. “It seems unlikely that there could be a simpler way of raising grain,” he wrote. “The proof is ripening right before your eyes.”

One of Fukuoka’s insights was that there is a natural intelligence at work in existing ecosystems, and therefore the most intelligent way to farm was to interfere as little as possible. This obviously requires a reworking not only of what we consider farming, but maybe even what we consider progress.

“The path I have followed, this natural way of farming, which strikes most people as strange, was first interpreted as a reaction against the advance and reckless development of science. But all I have been doing, farming out here in the country, is trying to show that humanity knows nothing. Because the world is moving with such furious energy in the opposite direction, it may appear that I have fallen behind the times, but I firmly believe that the path I have been following is the most sensible one.”

The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka

✶✶

In my view, Fukuoka was an inventor. Typically we associate invention and progress with the addition or development of new technology. So what happens when moving forward actually means taking something away, or moving in a direction that appears (to us) to be backward? Fukuoka wrote: “This method completely contradicts modern agricultural techniques. It throws scientific knowledge and traditional farming know-how right out the window.”

This practice of fitting oneself into the greater ecological scheme of things is almost comically opposite to the stories in John McPhee’s Control of Nature. There, we find near-Shakespearean tales of folly in which man tries and fails to master the sublime powers of his environment (e.g. the decades-long attempt to keep the Mississippi river from changing course).

Any artist or writer might find this contrast familiar. Why is it that when we sit down and try to force an idea, nothing comes—or, if we succeed in forcing it, it feels stale and contrived? Why do the best ideas appear uninvited and at the strangest times, darting out at us like an impish squirrel from a shrub?

The key, in my opinion, has to do with what you think it is that’s doing the producing, and where. It’s easy for me to say that “I” produce ideas. But when I’ve finished something, it’s often hard for me to say how it happened—where it started, what route it took, and why it ended where it did. Something similar is happening on a do-nothing farm, where transitive verbs seem inadequate. It doesn’t sound quite right to say that Fukuoka “farmed the land”—it’s more like he collaborated with the land, and through his collaboration, created the conditions for certain types of growth.

“A great number, if not the majority, of these things have been described, inventoried, photographed, talked about, or registered. My intention in the pages that follow was to describe the rest instead: that which is generally not taken note of, that which is not noticed, that which has no importance: what happens when nothing happens other than the weather, people, cars, and clouds.”

Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris by George Perec

✶✶

I’ve known for my entire adult that going for a walk is how I can think most easily. Walking is not simply moving your thinking mind (some imagined insular thing) outside. The process of walking is thinking. In fact, in his book Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World, David Abram proposes that it is not we who are thinking, but rather the environment that is thinking through us. Intelligence and thought are things to be found both in and around the self. “Each place is a unique state of mind,” Abram writes. “And the many owners that constitute and dwell within that locale—the spiders and the tree frogs no less than the human—all participate in, and partake of, the particular mind of the place.”

This is not as hand-wavy as it sounds. Studies in cognitive science have suggested that we do not encounter the environment as a static thing, nor are we static ourselves. As Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch put it in The Embodied Mind (a study of cognitive science alongside Buddhist principles): “Cognition is not the representation of a pre-given world by a pre-given mind but is rather the enactment of a world and a mind… “ (emphasis mine). Throughout the book, the authors build a model of cognition in which mind and environment are not separate, but rather co-produced from the very point at which they meet.

[image]

“The Telegarden is an art installation that allows web users to view and interact with a remote garden filled with living plants. Members can plant, water, and monitor the progress of seedlings via the tender movements of an industrial robot arm.”

✶✶

Ideas are not products, as much as corporations would like them to be. Ideas are intersections between ourselves and something else, whether that’s a book, a conversation with a friend, or the subtle suggestion of a tree. Ideas can literally arise out of clouds (if we are looking at them). That is to say: ideas, like consciousness itself, are emergent properties, and thinking might be more participation than it is production. If we can accept this view of the mind with humility and awe, we might be amazed at what will grow there.


breathing [animation]

✶✶

To accompany this essay, I’ve created a channel on Are.na called “How to grow an idea.” There you’ll find some seeds for thought, scattered amongst other growths: slime molds, twining vines, internet gardens, and starling murmurations. The interview with John Cage, where he sits by an open window and rejoices in unwritten music, might remind you a bit of Fukuoka, as might Scott Polach’s piece in which an audience applauds the sunset. The channel starts with a reminder to breathe, and ends with an invitation to take a nap. Hopefully, somewhere in between, you might encounter something new."
intelligence  methodology  ideas  jennyodell  2018  are.na  masasobufukuoka  francesmoorelappé  farming  slow  nothing  idleness  nature  time  patience  productivity  interdependence  multispecies  morethanhuman  do-nothingfarming  labor  work  sustainability  ecosystems  progress  invention  technology  knowledge  johnmcphee  collaboration  land  growth  georgesperec  walking  thinking  slowthinking  perception  language  davidabram  cognitivescience  franciscovarela  evanthompson  eleanorrosch  buddhism  cognition  johncage  agriculture 
april 2018 by robertogreco
#GeniusTweeter on Twitter: "The Midwest Academy Manual for Activist quotes a consultant who was speaking to a group of corporate executives about some of the *tricks* your opponents will use against you.… https://t.co/FGK2Gw2jPs"
"The Midwest Academy Manual for Activists [http://www.midwestacademy.com/manual/ ] quotes a consultant who was speaking to a group of corporate executives about some of the *tricks* your opponents will use against you.
The authors describe it as: "You are reasonable but your allies aren't. Can, we just deal with you?"... In this tactic, institutions resisting change can divide coalitions, decreasing their power and tempering their demands, by bringing those who have the most invested in the status quo into the Inner circle" to negotiate, in theory, for the full group's interests..? Lawyers often have an easier time getting meetings with decision makers precisely because we are seen as more "reasonable," i.e., amenable to the status quo, and we are too often tempted to accept this access rather than insisting on solidarity with more radical leaders from affected communities...

The manual quotes a consultant speaking to a group of corporate executives to explain this tactic,
Activists fall into three basic categories: radicals, idealists, and realists. The first step is to isolate and marginalize the radicals. They're the ones who see inherent structural problems that need remedying if indeed a particular change is to occur..' The goal is to sour the idealists on the idea of working with the radicals. Instead, get them working with the realists. Realists are people who want reform, but don't really want to upset the status quo; big public interest organizations that rely on foundation grants and corporate contributions are a prime example. With correct handling, realists can be counted on to cut a deal with industry that can be touted as a 'win-win" solution, but that is actually an industry victory.

"There's more to what the consultant advises the corporate executives:
"To isolate them (the radicals), try to create the perception in the public mind that people advocating fundamental solutions are terrorists, extremists, fear mongers, outsiders, communists, or whatever.+"
https://twitter.com/prisonculture/status/962360911225937920

"After marginalizing the radicals, then identify and educate the idealists - concerned and sympathetic members of the public -- by convincing them that changes advocated by the radicals would hurt people.""
https://twitter.com/prisonculture/status/962361148841627649 ]
idealists  idealism  activism  activists  radicals  radicalism  radicalists  centrists  statusquo  elitism  policy  politics  institutions  corporatism  democrats  republicans  marginalization  race  racism  cooption  power  control  corporations  law  lawyers  solidarity  leadership  reform  change  changemaking  fear  outsiders  communists  communism  inequality  oppression  perpetuation  terrorism  extremism  perception  messaging  mariamekaba 
february 2018 by robertogreco
The Touch of Madness - Pacific Standard
"So Jones grew alarmed when, soon after starting at DePaul in the fall of 2007, at age 27, she began having trouble retaining things she had just read. She also struggled to memorize the new characters she was learning in her advanced Chinese class. She had experienced milder versions of these cognitive and memory blips a couple times before, most recently as she’d finished her undergraduate studies earlier that year. These new mental glitches were worse. She would study and draw the new logograms one night, then come up short when she tried to draw them again the next morning.

These failures felt vaguely neurological. As if her synapses had clogged. She initially blamed them on the sleepless, near-manic excitement of finally being where she wanted to be. She had wished for exactly this, serious philosophy and nothing but, for half her life. Now her mind seemed to be failing. Words started to look strange. She began experiencing "inarticulable atmospheric changes," as she put it—not hallucinations, really, but alterations of temporality, spatiality, depth perception, kinesthetics. Shimmerings in reality's fabric. Sidewalks would feel soft and porous. Audio and visual input would fall out of sync, creating a lag between the movement of a speaker's lips and the words' arrival at Jones' ears. Something was off.

"You look at your hand," as she described it to me later, holding hers up and examining it front and back, "and it looks the same as always. But it's not. It's yours—but it's not. Nothing has changed"—she let her hand drop to her knee—"yet it's different. And that's what gets you. There's nothing to notice; but you can't help but notice."

Another time she found herself staring at the stone wall of a building on campus and realizing that the wall's thick stone possessed two contradictory states. She recognized that the wall was immovable and that, if she punched it, she'd break her hand. Yet she also perceived that the stone was merely a constellation of atomic particles so tenuously bound that, if she blew on it, it would come apart. She experienced this viscerally. She felt the emptiness within the stone.

Initially she found these anomalies less threatening than weird. But as they intensified, the gap between what she was perceiving and what she could understand rationally generated an unbearable cognitive dissonance. How could something feel so wrong but she couldn't say what? She had read up the wazoo about perception, phenomenology, subjectivity, consciousness. She of all people should be able to articulate what she was experiencing. Yet she could not. "Language had betrayed me," she says. "There was nothing you could point to and say, 'This looks different about the world.' There were no terms. I had no fucking idea."

Too much space was opening within and around and below her. She worried she was going mad. She had seen what madness looked like from the outside. When Jones was in her teens, one of her close relatives, an adult she'd always seen frequently, and whom we'll call Alex for privacy reasons, had in early middle age fallen into a state of almost relentless schizophrenia. It transformed Alex from a warm, caring, and open person who was fully engaged with the world into somebody who was isolated from it—somebody who seemed remote, behaved in confusing and alarming ways, and periodically required hospitalization. Jones now started to worry this might be happening to her."



"Reading philosophy helped Jones think. It helped order the disorderly. Yet later, in college, she lit up when she discovered the writers who laid the philosophical foundation for late 20-century critical psychiatry and madness studies: Michel Foucault, for instance, who wrote about how Western culture, by medicalizing madness, brands the mad as strangers to human nature. Foucault described both the process and the alienating effect of this exclusion-by-definition, or "othering," as it soon came to be known, and how the mad were cut out and cast away, flung into pits of despair and confusion, leaving ghosts of their presence behind.

To Jones, philosophy, not medicine, best explained the reverberations from the madness that had touched her family: the disappearance of the ex-husband; the alienation of Alex, who at times seemed "there but not there," unreachable. Jones today describes the madness in and around her family as a koan, a puzzle that teaches by its resistance to solution, and which forces upon her the question of how to speak for those who may not be able to speak for themselves.

Jones has since made a larger version of this question—of how we think of and treat the mad, and why in the West we usually shunt them aside—her life's work. Most of this work radiates from a single idea: Culture shapes the experience, expression, and outcome of madness. The idea is not that culture makes one mad. It's that culture profoundly influences every aspect about how madness develops and expresses itself, from its onset to its full-blown state, from how the afflicted experience it to how others respond to it, whether it destroys you or leaves you whole.

This idea is not original to Jones. It rose from the observation, first made at least a century ago and well-documented now, that Western cultures tend to send the afflicted into a downward spiral rarely seen in less modernized cultures. Schizophrenia actually has a poorer prognosis for people in the West than for those in less urbanized, non-Eurocentric societies. When the director of the World Health Organization's mental-health unit, Shekhar Saxena, was asked last year where he'd prefer to be if he were diagnosed with schizophrenia, he said for big cities he'd prefer a city in Ethiopia or Sri Lanka, like Colombo or Addis Ababa, rather than New York or London, because in the former he could expect to be seen as a productive if eccentric citizen rather than a reject and an outcast.

Over the past 25 years or so, the study of culture's effect on schizophrenia has received increasing attention from philosophers, historians, psychiatrists, anthropologists, and epidemiologists, and it is now edging into the mainstream. In the past five years, Nev Jones has made herself one of this view's most forceful proponents and one of the most effective advocates for changing how Western culture and psychiatry respond to people with psychosis. While still a graduate student at DePaul she founded three different groups to help students with psychosis continue their studies. After graduating in 2014, she expanded her reach first into the highest halls of academe, as a scholar at Stanford University, and then into policy, working with state and private agencies in California and elsewhere on programs for people with psychosis, and with federal agencies to produce toolkits for universities, students, and families about dealing with psychosis emerging during college or graduate study. Now in a new position as an assistant professor at the University of South Florida, she continues to examine—and ask the rest of us to see—how culture shapes madness.

In the United States, the culture's initial reaction to a person's first psychotic episode, embedded most officially in a medical system that sees psychosis and schizophrenia as essentially biological, tends to cut the person off instantly from friends, social networks, work, and their sense of identity. This harm can be greatly reduced, however, when a person's first care comes from the kind of comprehensive, early intervention programs, or EIPs, that Jones works on. These programs emphasize truly early intervention, rather than the usual months-long lag between first symptoms and any help; high, sustained levels of social, educational, and vocational support; and building on the person's experience, ambitions, and strengths to keep them as functional and engaged as possible. Compared to treatment as usual, EIPs lead to markedly better outcomes across the board, create more independence, and seem to create far less trauma for patients and their family and social circles."



"Once his eye was caught, Kraepelin started seeing culture's effects everywhere. In his native Germany, for instance, schizophrenic Saxons were more likely to kill themselves than were Bavarians, who were, in turn, more apt to do violence to others. In a 1925 trip to North America, Kraepelin found that Native Americans with schizophrenia, like Indonesians, didn't build in their heads the elaborate delusional worlds that schizophrenic Europeans did, and hallucinated less.

Kraepelin died in 1926, before he could publish a scholarly version of those findings. Late in his life, he embraced some widely held but horrific ideas about scientific racism and eugenics. Yet he had clearly seen that culture exerted a powerful, even fundamental, effect on the intensity, nature, and duration of symptoms in schizophrenia, and in bipolar disorder and depression. He urged psychiatrists to explore just how culture created such changes.

Even today, few in medicine have heeded this call. Anthropologists, on the other hand, have answered it vigorously over the last couple of decades. To a cultural anthropologist, culture includes the things most of us would expect—movies, music, literature, law, tools, technologies, institutions, and traditions. It also includes a society's predominant ideas, values, stories, interpretations, beliefs, symbols, and framings—everything from how we should dress, greet one another, and prepare and eat food, to what it means to be insane. Madness, in other words, is just one more thing about which a culture constructs and applies ideas that guide thought and behavior.

But what connects these layers of culture to something so seemingly internal as a person's state of mind? The biocultural anthropologist Daniel Lende says that it helps here to think of culture as a series of concentric circles surrounding each of us. For simplicity's sake, let's keep it to two circles around a core, with each circle … [more]
2017  daviddobbs  mentalhealth  psychology  health  culture  madness  nevjones  japan  ethiopia  colombo  addisababa  schizophrenia  society  srilanka  shekharsaxena  philosophy  perception  treatment  medicine  psychosis  media  academia  anthropology  daniellende  pauleugenbleuler  emilkraepelin  danielpaulschreber  edwadsapir  relationships  therapy  tinachanter  namitagoswami  irenehurford  richardnoll  ethanwatters  wolfgangjilek  wolfgangpfeiffer  stigma  banishment  hallucinations  really  but  alterations  of  temporality  time  spatiality  depthperception  kinesthetics  memory  memories  reality  phenomenology  subjectivity  consciousness  donaldwinnicott  alienation  kinship  isolation  tanyaluhrmann 
october 2017 by robertogreco
how to do nothing – Jenny Odell – Medium
[video: https://vimeo.com/232544904 ]

"What I would do there is nothing. I’d just sit there. And although I felt a bit guilty about how incongruous it seemed — beautiful garden versus terrifying world — it really did feel necessary, like a survival tactic. I found this necessity of doing nothing so perfectly articulated in a passage from Gilles Deleuze in Negotiations:
…we’re riddled with pointless talk, insane quantities of words and images. Stupidity’s never blind or mute. So it’s not a problem of getting people to express themselves but of providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people expressing themselves but rather force them to express themselves; what a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, and ever rarer, thing that might be worth saying. (emphasis mine)

He wrote that in 1985, but the sentiment is something I think we can all identify with right now, almost to a degree that’s painful. The function of nothing here, of saying nothing, is that it’s a precursor to something, to having something to say. “Nothing” is neither a luxury nor a waste of time, but rather a necessary part of meaningful thought and speech."



"In The Bureau of Suspended Objects, a project I did while in residence at Recology SF (otherwise known as the dump), I spent three months photographing, cataloguing and researching the origins of 200 objects. I presented them as browsable archive in which people could scan the objects’ tags and learn about the manufacturing, material, and corporate histories of the objects.

One woman at the Recology opening was very confused and said, “Wait… so did you actually make anything? Or did you just put things on shelves?” (Yes, I just put things on shelves.)"



"That’s an intellectual reason for making nothing, but I think that in my cases, it’s something simpler than that. Yes, the BYTE images speak in interesting and inadvertent ways about some of the more sinister aspects of technology, but I also just really love them.

This love of one’s subject is something I’m provisionally calling the observational eros. The observational eros is an emotional fascination with one’s subject that is so strong it overpowers the desire to make anything new. It’s pretty well summed up in the introduction of Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, where he describes the patience and care involved in close observation of one’s specimens:
When you collect marine animals there are certain flat worms so delicate that they are almost impossible to capture whole, for they break and tatter under the touch. You must let them ooze and crawl of their own will onto a knife blade and then lift them gently into your bottle of sea water. And perhaps that might be the way to write this book — to open the page and let the stories crawl in by themselves.

The subject of observation is so precious and fragile that it risks breaking under even the weight of observation. As an artist, I fear the breaking and tattering of my specimens under my touch, and so with everything I’ve ever “made,” without even thinking about it, I’ve tried to keep a very light touch.

It may not surprise you to know, then, that my favorite movies tend to be documentaries, and that one of my favorite public art pieces was done by the documentary filmmaker, Eleanor Coppola. In 1973, she carried out a public art project called Windows, which materially speaking consisted only of a map with a list of locations in San Francisco.

The map reads, “Eleanor Coppola has designated a number of windows in all parts of San Francisco as visual landmarks. Her purpose in this project is to bring to the attention of the whole community, art that exists in its own context, where it is found, without being altered or removed to a gallery situation.” I like to consider this piece in contrast with how we normally experience public art, which is some giant steel thing that looks like it landed in a corporate plaza from outer space.

Coppola instead casts a subtle frame over the whole of the city itself as a work of art, a light but meaningful touch that recognizes art that exists where it already is."



"What amazed me about birdwatching was the way it changed the granularity of my perception, which was pretty “low res” to begin with. At first, I just noticed birdsong more. Of course it had been there all along, but now that I was paying attention to it, I realized that it was almost everywhere, all day, all the time. In particular I can’t imagine how I went most of my life so far without noticing scrub jays, which are incredibly loud and sound like this:

[video]

And then, one by one, I started learning other songs and being able to associate each of them with a bird, so that now when I walk into the the rose garden, I inadvertently acknowledge them in my head as though they were people: hi raven, robin, song sparrow, chickadee, goldfinch, towhee, hawk, nuthatch, and so on. The diversification (in my attention) of what was previously “bird sounds” into discrete sounds that carry meaning is something I can only compare to the moment that I realized that my mom spoke three languages, not two.

My mom has only ever spoken English to me, and for a very long time, I assumed that whenever my mom was speaking to another Filipino person, that she was speaking Tagalog. I didn’t really have a good reason for thinking this other than that I knew she did speak Tagalog and it sort of all sounded like Tagalog to me. But my mom was actually only sometimes speaking Tagalog, and other times speaking Ilonggo, which is a completely different language that is specific to where she’s from in the Philippines.

The languages are not the same, i.e. one is not simply a dialect of the other; in fact, the Philippines is full of language groups that, according to my mom, have so little in common that speakers would not be able to understand each other, and Tagalog is only one.

This type of embarrassing discovery, in which something you thought was one thing is actually two things, and each of those two things is actually ten things, seems not only naturally cumulative but also a simple function of the duration and quality of one’s attention. With effort, we can become attuned to things, able to pick up and then hopefully differentiate finer and finer frequencies each time.

What these moments of stopping to listen have in common with those labyrinthine spaces is that they all initially enact some kind of removal from the sphere of familiarity. Even if brief or momentary, they are retreats, and like longer retreats, they affect the way we see everyday life when we do come back to it."



"Even the labyrinths I mentioned, by their very shape, collect our attention into these small circular spaces. When Rebecca Solnit, in her book Wanderlust, wrote about walking in the labyrinth inside the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, she said, “The circuit was so absorbing I lost sight of the people nearby and hardly heard the sound of the traffic and the bells for six o’clock.”

In the case of Deep Listening, although in theory it can be practiced anywhere at any time, it’s telling that there have also been Deep Listening retreats. And Turrell’s Sky Pesher not only removes the context from around the sky, but removes you from your surroundings (and in some ways, from the context of your life — given its underground, tomblike quality)."



"My dad said that leaving the confined context of a job made him understand himself not in relation to that world, but just to the world, and forever after that, things that happened at work only seemed like one small part of something much larger. It reminds me of how John Muir described himself not as a naturalist but as a “poetico-trampo-geologist-botanist and ornithologist-naturalist etc. etc.”, or of how Pauline Oliveros described herself in 1974: “Pauline Oliveros is a two legged human being, female, lesbian, musician, and composer among other things which contribute to her identity. She is herself and lives with her partner, along with assorted poultry, dogs, cats, rabbits and tropical hermit crabs.” Incidentally, this has encouraged me to maybe change my bio to: “Jenny Odell is an artist, professor, thinker, walker, sleeper, eater, and amateur birdnoticer.”

3. the precarity of nothing

There’s an obvious critique of all of this, and that’s that it comes from a place of privilege. I can go to the rose garden, or stare into trees all day, because I have a teaching job that only requires me to be somewhere two days a week, not to mention a whole set of other privileges. Part of the reason my dad could take that time off was that on some level, he had enough reason to think he could get another job. It’s possible to understand the practice of doing nothing solely as a self-indulgent luxury, the equivalent of taking a mental health day if you’re lucky enough to work at a place that has those.

But here I come back to Deleuze’s “right to say nothing,” and although we can definitely say that this right is variously accessible or even inaccessible for some, I believe that it is indeed a right. For example, the push for an 8-hour workday in 1886 called for “8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest, and 8 hours of what we will.” I’m struck by the quality of things that associated with the category “What we Will”: rest, thought, flowers, sunshine.

These are bodily, human things, and this bodily-ness is something I will come back to. When Samuel Gompers, who led the labor group that organized this particular iteration of the 8-hour movement, was asked, “What does labor want?” he responded, “It wants the earth and the fullness thereof.” And to me it seems significant that it’s not 8 hours of, say, “leisure” or “… [more]
jennyodell  idleness  nothing  art  eyeo2017  photoshop  specimens  care  richardprince  gillesdeleuze  recology  internetarchive  sanfrancisco  eleanorcoppola  2017  1973  maps  mapping  scottpolach  jamesturrell  architecture  design  structure  labyrinths  oakland  juliamorgan  chapelofthechimes  paulineoliveros  ucsd  1970s  deeplisening  listening  birds  birdwatching  birding  noticing  classideas  observation  perception  time  gracecathedral  deeplistening  johncage  gordonhempton  silence  maintenance  conviviality  technology  bodies  landscape  ordinary  everyday  cyclicality  cycles  1969  mierleladermanukeles  sensitivity  senses  multispecies  canon  productivity  presence  connectivity  conversation  audrelorde  gabriellemoss  fomo  nomo  nosmo  davidabram  becominganimal  animals  nature  ravens  corvids  crows  bluejays  pets  human-animalrelations  human-animalelationships  herons  dissent  rowe  caliressler  jodythompson  francoberardi  fiverr  popos  publicspace  blackmirror  anthonyantonellis  facebook  socialmedia  email  wpa  history  bayarea  crowdcontrol  mikedavis  cityofquartz  er 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Second Sight - The New Yorker
"Movement in the margins is not enough. Regularity becomes invisible. You switch up the moves, you introduce irregularity, in order to maintain visibility."



"The neurons in the visual system adapt to the stimulus, and redirect their attention."



"Years later, I lost faith. One form of binocular vision gave way to another. The world was now a series of interleaved apparitions. The thing was an image that could also bear an image. If one of the advantages of irreligion was an acceptance of others, that benefit was strangely echoed in the visual plane, which granted the things seen within the photographic rectangle a radical equality. This in part was why signs, pictures, ads, and murals came to mean so much: they were neither more nor less than the “real” elements by which they were framed. They were not to be excluded, nor were the spaces between things. “We see the world”: this simple statement becomes (Merleau-Ponty has also noted this) a tangled tree of meanings. Which world? See how? We who? Once absolute faith is no longer possible, perception moves forward on a case-by-case basis. The very contingency and brevity of vision become the long-sought miracle."



"The stage is set. Things seem to be prepared in advance for cameos, and even the sun is rigged like the expert lighting of a technician. The boundary between things and props is now dissolved, and the images of things have become things themselves."



"The body has to adjust to the environment, to the challenges in the environment. The body isn’t wrong, isn’t “disabled.” The environment itself—gravity, air, solidity or the lack of it, et cetera—is what is somehow wrong: ill-matched to the body’s abilities, inimical to its verticality, stability, or mobility."



"I rest at a concrete outcrop with a bunting of vintners’ blue nets, a blue the same color as the lake. It is as though something long awaited has come to fruition. A gust of wind sweeps in from across the lake. The curtain shifts, and suddenly everything can be seen. The scales fall from our eyes. The landscape opens. No longer are we alone: they are with us now, have been all along, all our living and all our dead."
tejucole  2017  margins  edges  attention  regularity  everyday  irregularity  visibility  invisibility  acceptance  belief  vision  photography  borders  liminalspaces  perception  brevity  ephemerality  adjustment  adaptability  disability  stability  mobility  verticality  body  bodies  contingency  sign  pictures  ads  images  advertising  between  betweenness  stimuli  liminality  ephemeral  disabilities 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Eight Theses Regarding Social Media | L.M. Sacasas
"1. Social media are the fidget spinners of the soul.

2. Each social media platform is a drug we self-prescribe and consume in order to regulate our emotional life, and we are constantly experimenting with the cocktail.

3. Law of Digital Relativity: Perception of space and time is relative to the digital density of the observer’s experience.

4. Affect overload is a more serious problem than information overload. The product of both is moral apathy and mental exhaustion.

5. While text and image flourish online, the psycho-dynamics of digital culture are most akin to those of oral cultures (per Walter Ong).

6. Just as the consumer economy was boundless in its power to commodify, so the attention economy is boundless in its power to render reality standing reserve for the project of identity construction/performance. The two processes, of course, are not unrelated.

7. In the attention economy, strategic silence is power. But, because of the above, it is also a deeply demanding practice of self-denial.

8. Virtue is self-forgetting. The structures of social media make it impossible to forget yourself."
michaelsacasas  2017  lmsacasas  socialmedia  virtue  forgetting  attention  attentioneconomy  economics  power  silence  self-denial  walterong  figeting  addiction  emotions  digitalrelativity  relativity  space  time  perception  experience  online  internet  affectoverload  apathy  exhaustion  infooverload  secondaryorality  oralcultures  images  text  commodification  identity  performance 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Science and the Senses: Perturbation — Cultural Anthropology
"I vividly remember how, on certain nights in my childhood, my brother and I would be herded toward the entrance hall of my parents’ house, where the Carl Zeiss Ultraphot II microscope still stands. This was a huge machine from the 1960s, one of the relics that my father would rescue from the constant upgrading of his lab required by so-called scientific progress. To me, as a child, it was some sort of abstruse, mysterious device. Taking up a large portion of the hall, it was a massive object, coming with its own table, which was usually covered with a thick gray drape to protect it from dust. Above the oculars, there was a giant, round screen typical of the 1960s design, all curves and matte metal. On those nights, my parents—both freshwater microbial ecologists—would take off the drape, turn all of the lights off, and turn on the screen to show my brother and me the wonders of microscopic worlds.

Growing up with experiences like this, the notion that science forgets the sensory never made much sense to me. Perception was present and was much more than just that: it entailed the full spectrum of emotions, passions, senses, and the kind of fascination and wonder that only the natural world can inspire. Still now, when I converse with scientists in the course of my fieldwork, I see that wonder and I find the senses present in all kinds of ways. Yet the role of the sensory is shifting. I hear it whenever my mother discusses her work with me: so many of the younger scientists with whom she works are oblivious, she tells me, to the sensorial engagements that she grew up with. “They don’t even count them!” she exclaims, referring to the microorganisms in their samples. “How can you know what you have if you don’t even look in the microscope?” The sensory dimensions of molecular biology are replacing the time consuming, eye-wrenching work of counting by microscope. More advanced techniques allow the scientist to determine what is in a sample without ever putting it in a slide under a microscope. Or so their proponents claim.

The problem with these changes is not so much the depersonalization of sensorial experience. Rather, it is the increasing confidence in new methods and the assumption that these are unproblematic and fully objective. The story goes that 16S rRNA analysis tells you what organisms you are dealing with with the certainty of a fact. Of course, most people working with these techniques know better. But as students have less time to get their degrees and are pushed forward faster, they have less time to doubt and to fully grasp the limits of their newly acquired sensorium. Often these techniques rely on advanced knowledge in other fields, far from the expertise of those who use them, thus hiding their limitations by design. Those who depend on these prosthetics are easily alienated from the nitty-gritty details of the materialities in play, and have little sense of what the limits and constraints of those prosthetics might be."



"This re-scription is useful when considering the scale of the microbial and the scientific sensorial apparatuses proper to it. But it is equally useful for thinking and doing on another scale, which is central to my current work: that of the planetary. Having been sucked into the maelstrom of the Anthropocene, my research tries to resist the traction of this notion and its mainstream political currents. To do so, I attend to the figure of the planet. The planetary scale is the motor force of the Anthropocene, on which the gears of the vast machine of sustainability rely. The way in which the Anthropocene frames global environmental change depends on the same sensorial apparatuses that make the planet. But in the process of making environmental emergency, the Anthropocene also risks remaking the planet Earth in its own image, perpetuating dangerous elisions and tensions and forgetting the limits of its own planetary sensorium. In resisting the notion of the planetary, then, I attend to it historically and praxiographically—but also, one might say, scientifically. My aim is to flesh out not only the continuities in the histories of this notion and its object, but also the gaps, interruptions, and diversions that characterize it. In doing so, I aim to offer inspiration for unfolding alternative constellations of the planetary. Here, the planet emerges not only as an object; it complicates the clear distinction between subjects and objects that informs the official epistemology of modern science. Rethinking the sensory in terms of modes of attention (and distraction) can, I think, play a crucial role in this rearticulation of the planetary away from received theories of knowledge, toward a world in which knowing is just one among a multiplicity of practices and doings/undoings that make worlds in which living together, willy-nilly, is done.



Attending to the sensorium of the planetary highlights the technosocial apparatuses that are at work in making planetary vision possible. It imagines as nature not only the planet, but also satellites, spaceflight, remote sensing, radioisotope tracers, global circulation models; the vast machine of climate-change science policy; social phenomena like the green economy and austerity; and the discourses of extinction, loss, adaptation, and proliferation that characterize the Anthropocene. Considering these sensory mediations as relational and historical modes of attention and distraction inflected across heterogeneous materials and sites allows us to attend to how knowing, doing, and living with the planet are enacted in the same gesture. This move can restore the sense of wonder that I saw in the screen of my childhood to the sciences."
science  senses  wonder  method  sfsh  expeuence  2017  donnaharaway  anthropology  anthropocene  perception  doubt  prosthetics  technology  time  technoscience  attention  maríacarozzi  williamjames  vincianedespret  knowing  distraction 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Boris Anthony 🕸 📚 on Twitter: "Debate = Finite game Purpose is to overcome. One winner, one loser Discussion = Infinite game Purpose is to accommodate. No winner, no loser"
"Debate = Finite game
Purpose is to overcome. One winner, one loser
Discussion = Infinite game
Purpose is to accommodate. No winner, no loser

In debate, opponents seek to turn the other into one of them—thus destroying the other—by arguing rationales & perceptions.

In discussion, participants seek to combine and expand each other into something greater by sharing rationales & perceptions."
conversation  debate  discussion  borisanthony  2017  competition  collaboration  cooperation  listening  sharing  perception  unfinished  infinite  finite 
february 2017 by robertogreco
BBC Four - John Berger: The Art of Looking
[video currently available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3VhbsXk9Ds ]

"Art, politics and motorcycles - on the occasion of his 90th birthday John Berger or the Art of Looking is an intimate portrait of the writer and art critic whose ground-breaking work on seeing has shaped our understanding of the concept for over five decades. The film explores how paintings become narratives and stories turn into images, and rarely does anybody demonstrate this as poignantly as Berger.

Berger lived and worked for decades in a small mountain village in the French Alps, where the nearness to nature, the world of the peasants and his motorcycle, which for him deals so much with presence, inspired his drawing and writing.

The film introduces Berger's art of looking with theatre wizard Simon McBurney, film-director Michael Dibb, visual artist John Christie, cartoonist Selçuk Demiral, photographer Jean Mohr as well as two of his children, film-critic Katya Berger and the painter Yves Berger.

The prelude and starting point is Berger's mind-boggling experience of restored vision following a successful cataract removal surgery. There, in the cusp of his clouding eyesight, Berger re-discovers the irredeemable wonder of seeing.

Realised as a portrait in works and collaborations, this creative documentary takes a different approach to biography, with John Berger leading in his favourite role of the storyteller."
2016  johnberger  documentary  towatch  simonmcburney  michaeldibb  johnchristie  selçukdemiral  jeanmohr  katyaberger  yvesberger  waysofseeing  seeing  looking  noticing  biography  storytelling  skepticism  photography  rebellion  writing  howwewrite  collaboration  canon  conspirators  rebels  friendship  community  migration  motorcycles  presence  being  living  life  interestedness  interested  painting  art  history  france  belonging  place  labor  home  identity  work  peasants  craft  craftsmanship  aesthetics  design  vision  cataracts  sight  teaching  howweteach  attention  focus  agriculture  memory  memories  shit  pigs  humans  animals  childhood  perception  freedom  independence  storytellers  travelers  nomads  trickster  dead  death  meaning  meaningmaking  companionship  listening  discovery  understanding  sfsh  srg  books  publishing  television  tv  communication  engagement  certainly  uncertainty 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Reading Things — Magazine — Walker Art Center
"I’m sunbathing on the beach on a cloudless August day in the Rockaways. It’s blindingly bright and I have a T-shirt draped over my eyes to block the sun. I am overhearing a conversation between some of the friends around me and someone new who has walked across the sand to us. Whose is this voice I don’t know? I think it is man, someone I’ve never met. I uncover my eyes and see that it is one of my friends—a woman, a transwoman whose female-ness I have never questioned, whose voice I had always heard as a female voice. Had I never heard her before? How can my ears hear two different voices, depending on whether or not I know who is speaking? As I puzzle over this, I start thinking of other instances in which two or more versions of reality butt up against each other, two contradictory sensory experiences that are somehow both real to me, depending on how I encounter them. What is going on here?"



"This winter I delivered an artist talk at Virginia Commonwealth University, where I’ve been teaching, about my investment in objects with open-ended or ambiguous function—things that cause one to ask, “What is this for?” I discuss the studio as a place where I aim to make objects that frustrate even my own attempts to know them, once and for all, as one thing and not others. I make things that ask for nuanced, open-ended forms of reading that can accommodate these objects of ambiguous functionality. Over coffee the following morning, one of the other faculty members in the department, Corin Hewitt, excitedly wanted to know if I had heard of a beloved object known as the “slant step.” I had not, but since then an image of it has been following me around—in the studio, on the train, in and out of bathrooms, while reading the news. The slant step is a small piece of furniture that was purchased in a second-hand store in Mill Valley, California, in 1965 by the artist William Wiley and his then-graduate student Bruce Nauman. Costing less than a dollar, this wood and green linoleum, one-of-a-kind handmade object struck these two artists as puzzling and fascinating, primarily because its function was a mystery. Though reminiscent of a step stool, the step part of the stool sits at a 45-degree angle to the floor, making it impossible to step up onto it, hence the name, the slant step. This unassuming ambiguous object resonated not just with Wiley and Nauman, but also with a whole range of Bay Area artists in the 1960s, inspiring more than one group exhibition themed around it, a catalogue, and numerous articles as well as extensive use as a teaching tool by the painter Frank Owen. It is now in the permanent collection of the University of California Davis.3"



"In the midst of all this urgency, the figure of the slant step comes to my mind. I feel embarrassed about it because what could this remote object have to offer when we are in need of such concrete changes? A useful object with no apparent use. A handmade thing of unknown origin, producing more questions than answers. An object that modestly requests a more effortful type of reading than what we normally engage in. We identify things in terms of their function and move on, reading passively. We learn only as much as we need to know. This object, compelling to so many in the past 50 years, is compelling to me as well, insofar as it encourages me to read more slowly. It makes me want to see it as more than one thing at once, or as many different things in quick succession. Looking to the slant step as a teacher, I want to learn what it seems to already know—I can’t always know what I am looking at. Clearly already well used in the mid-1960s but for an inscrutable purpose, the slant step speaks of bodies without being able to name them. It has always seemed wrong to me to say that we see what is before us and then interpret it, because the idea of “interpreting what we see” implies an inaccurate linearity to this process and suggests that the things themselves are fixed while our understandings of them remain malleable. Rather, we understand what we are seeing at the same moment we see it; perception is identification. Understood in this way, changing our interpretations is literally synonymous with changing the functioning of our senses, initiating a pulling apart of the instantaneous act of assigning meaning to what we see. This slowness to assign identification in the moment of encounter lies at the heart of the slant step’s curious appeal."



"On an overcast August day in 1995, Tyra Hunter, a hairstylist and black transgender woman, got in a car accident while driving in Washington, DC. Adrian Williams, the emergency medical technician at the scene who began to cut away her clothing to administer urgently needed aid, is reported to have said, “This bitch ain’t no girl… it’s a nigger; he’s got a dick!” Hunter lay on the ground bleeding as Williams and the other EMTs joked around her, and died later that day of her injuries at a nearby hospital. A subsequent investigation into the events leading to her death concluded that it would very likely have been prevented had treatment been continued at the scene of the accident.15

In the fall of 2014, a grand jury in St. Louis County Missouri decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. In the spring of 2015, the US Department of Justice also cleared Wilson of all civil rights violations, deeming the shooting to be an act of self-defense. In Wilson’s testimony in his grand jury hearing, he recounted looking at Brown in the moments before shooting him six times, and described him as having “the most intense aggressive face. The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked.”16

It’s hard to stomach these statements, but I write them here because I am noticing the ways that both of the speakers managed to transform the person they were about to kill from a human being to a thing in the moments before their deaths. By a probably less-than-conscious twist of verbal gymnastics, both killers shift from using a pronoun generally used to refer to people (he/she) to using a pronoun generally used to refer to inanimate things: it. If murder is the act of permanently dehumanizing another, then it is as if in order to give themselves permission to kill these two individuals Williams and Wilson had to preemptively transform them from people into things. “It’s a nigger…” “It looks like a demon…” Did these statements make it possible to turn a human being into a corpse? Maybe so, as a person turned nonconsensually into a thing is already a person dangerously close to death."



"In the 1966 slant step show, William Wiley, the artist who originally bought the step from the thrift store, made a metal casting from it that bore the following inscription: “This piece is dedicated to all the despised unknown, unloved, people, objects and ideas that just don’t make it and never will, who have so thoughtlessly given their time and talent to become objects of scorn but maintain an innocent ignorance and never realize that you hate them.”18 For Wiley, the slant step was both an intriguing object of ambiguous functionality, while also serving another purpose as the object of certain recuperations. To treat a discarded object with care, to focus on it, show it to others, make copies and homages to it—to, in a sense, treat it with love—had a value for him on its own account. A small act of treating an uncared-for thing with care as an articulation of an ethos for encountering one another. Frank Owen, one of Wiley’s friends and an original participant in the slant step show, used the step as a model in his life-drawing classes for decades—producing innumerable depictions of its likeness and encouraging his students to think deeply about it through the slow and close looking necessitated by drawing. “This was its job—to pose on a model stand patiently (which it is very good at) and be drawn while also posing its eternal question: What is this thing, what is it for and why do we attend to it?”19"



"In thinking about Mark and her succulents, I am wrapping myself around the sustaining potential of relations of care with non-human things. I wonder about the role that the cultivation, protection, and recuperation of things might play in the day-to-day processes of healing necessitated by living as a body that is objectified, misread, or unrecognized. Can attending to objects with care be a labor of self-sustenance for us as well? Can the things of our lives be our companions, our children, our comrades?24 What can we know or feel about our own bodies through the ways that we relate to objects? I want to propose the possibility that our relations with objects themselves might function as a means of remodeling our own often-fraught bonds with the materiality that is our own lived bodies. I sometimes joke that all I am doing in the studio is making friends. This joke is feeling more real by the day. I am thinking now about all the gorgeous non-traditionally gendered people I know coming back to their apartments exhausted from the daily labor of moving through the world and carefully watering their plants."
objects  kinship  objectkinship  care  caring  reality  perception  senses  gordonhall  gender  seeing  sculpture  art  artists  2016  functionality  corinhewitt  brucenauman  williamwiley  1960s  slow  slowreading  howweread  reading  knowing  howwelearn  noticing  observation  identification  bodies  naming  notknowing  meaning  meaningmaking  frankowen  ambiguity  mickybradford  race  markaguhar  michaelbrown  williamwitherup  mrionwintersteen  chancesdances  tyrahunter  northcarolina  housebill2  body 
august 2016 by robertogreco
ELLE's fka twigs Cover - Melissa Harris-Perry Responds
"Lesson 1: Becky 101



Lesson 2: Not everyone sees the same thing.



Lesson 3: Black women's hair is personal and political

Let me make this plain. For most black women in America (although not all), if we allow our hair to simply grow out of our heads in its natural state, most people will assume that we are making a social and political statement. If we allowed our hair to simply grow out of our heads, many of us would be barred or fired from our jobs. If we allowed our children's hair to grow similarly, many of our children would be dismissed from their schools. It is 2016. Sit with that for a moment. Most non-black folks fail to grapple with the profound implications of living in a society that institutionally requires an entire group to intervene so utterly in its own bodily reality and sanctions so heavily those who refuse to conform.

Despite the high stakes and deep trauma so often associated with black women's hair, many non-black individuals and institutions remain stunningly uninformed about even the most basic aspects of black hair. It is both insulting and disheartening to flip the pages of sophisticated fashion magazines and find so many images of black women wearing hair pieces, weaves, wigs, and chemical treatments, featured next to white women without these hair interventions, while the copy surrounding the images makes no mention of the differences. (Granted, in the ELLE spread, a few pages on from page 110, the text mentions that many of Zendaya's styles are wigs and weaves.) The omission makes it seem as though, in each case, the hair is simply growing wholesale from the heads of individuals pictured.

This practice does violence to us.

In her smart, funny memoir, The Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes writes about her daily, hours-long struggle as a teenage to make her hair look like Whitney Houston's. Curling irons, hair spray, and hours of frustration accompanied her attempts to make her hair looks like Whitney's. Then one day, years late, as a full-grown adult, Shonda is sitting at a hair salon and overhears a conversation between stylists. It turns out that, all along, Whitney's hair was a wig. Rhimes uses the story to illustrate the importance of accepting that working moms don't "do it all"; they all seek and hire great household help. But we shouldn't pass too swiftly over the hair story on the way to the childcare takeaway.

When magazines present hair pieces, weaves, wigs, and chemical treatments without any further clarification, they perpetrate a lie to black girls and women. Listen, no shade on extensions, lacefronts, sew-ins, or any other choices celebs and the rest of us make to look great. But magazines should not be reproducing another generation of teenage Shondas wasting precious hours trying to curl their hair into a wig.

This does not mean that every time a fashion magazine wants to include a black woman in a beauty spread on fall styles, or the new bob, or the hottest color trends, that it needs to include a humorless recitation of Willie Morrow's 400 Years Without a Comb to illustrate adequate understanding of black hair history. Cause damn. It does mean some ways of seeing black hair are just more woke than others.

When Lemonade turned the world upside for a few days, it offered an indirect opportunity to reckon with all the instances in which this issue has been elided. Elle.com published "The Complete Breakdown of Beyoncé's Hair Look's from Lemonade." We even had input from her stylist Kim Kimble. Nailed it.

Sure, but let me draw your attention to this piece on the same topic by Bustle.com. They too reviewed all the badass hairstyles of Lemonade. But they one-upped our wokeness by telling readers why these styles matter. They put the beauty in context, giving it history and social meaning. Ours … solid. This one … lit.

To be fair, Bustle.com is an online publication founded just a few years ago. Its origins rest in a vastly different context than Elle.com, a site attached to a magazine first published in France in 1945. Which brings me to lesson number 4; legacy fashion magazines do not have a reservoir of goodwill with black women, and this deficit heightens the potential tensions in moments like this.

Lesson 4: Legacy Fashion Magazines do not have a reservoir of goodwill with black women

It is hardly a secret that the fashion world is whiter than an Academy Awards after party. The evidence is everywhere from runways to brand ad campaigns to fashion week to yes, fashion magazines .

But all of these (important) tallies can overshadow another point: More impactful than the absence of black and brown faces on runways and covers are the representational fails that occurring when black and brown editorial voices are not present in decision-making spaces. For decades the mainstream beauty and fashion industry—an industry made familiar to most of us through the women's magazines we buy on our local newsstands—has engaged in everything from the total erasure of black faces to the use of blackface. And yes, in the past decade some of these publications have openly, purposefully, and visibly, worked to alter these practices and improve both the substance and style of representation in their pages. I genuinely believe ELLE and Elle.com to be leaders in this area. I believe the people I work with and the magazine and website we create together are substantive, valuable, and diverse, if imperfect. I also believe that we inherited a legacy of brutally racist cultural practices. We are working to stitch a fabric of trust with our readers, but that fabric remains frayed by that legacy. We must be accountable to that legacy. We cannot pretend it does not exist, especially if we reproduce it, even inadvertently.

A personal note

I've been writing, working, and thinking with the team at Elle.com since March. In those months Kerry Washington, Beyoncé, Leslie Jones, and now FKA twigs have appeared on the cover of the magazine. The site has published my testimony to the Congressional Caucus on Black Girls and Women, given me a place to highlight the work of Girls for Gender Equity, and allowed me space to convene the voices of Japanese American women reflecting on the presidential visit to Hiroshima. All this and free lipstick samples. Listen, I am in heaven. When I saw the August cover it felt like the first real test of my new gig. Was the honeymoon over?

I got a call asking if I would be willing to write a piece for the site. I could write what I liked, from my own editorial perspective, even if it was critical. Yep. Let's do it. The team also asked if I would sit down to chat with Robbie Myers the editor-in-chief of ELLE. This was no Devil Wears Prada Act 1, Scene 2, when awkward Andy stumbles into Miranda Priestly office. Robbie and I talked about race, culture, gender, and the world of magazine publishing for more than an hour. I wasn't there to scold, and she wasn't there to apologize, but for me it was a radically different workplace experience to simply be heard and taken seriously on issues of race and representation."
race  magazines  fashion  melissaharris-perry  2016  hair  fkatwigs  becky  elle  perception  racism  gender  beyoncé  lemonade 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Spin: Footage You Were Never Supposed to See (1995)
"Artist Brian Springer spent a year scouring the airwaves with a satellite dish grabbing back channel news feeds not intended for public consumption. The result of his research is SPIN, one of the most insightful films ever made about the mechanics of how television is used as a tool of social control to distort and limit the American public's perception of reality. Take the time to watch it from beginning to end and you'll never look at TV reporting the same again. Tell your friends about it. This extraordinary film released in the early 1990s is almost completely unknown. Hopefully, the Internet will change that."
brianspringer  1995  politics  media  1990s  billclinton  georgehwbush  documentary  us  larryking  elections  film  reality  perception  spin  socialcontrol  news  via:bopuc 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Transcript | This American Life: 406: True Urban Legends
"Act One. What's That Smell?

Ira Glass
What's that smell? The way Steve Poizner sees it, he did something admirable, something daring, something unusual. And when I read his account of what he did, he seemed sincere about it too. He's a bit of a corny writer. Though even that, you can kind of forgive him. He's not a professional author.

At the age of 45, after starting one Silicon Valley company that he sold for $30 million and a second one that sold for $1 billion, Poizner didn't need to work anymore. He says, he wanted to do some good for people. And so he called a dozen public high schools and volunteered to be a guest teacher of some sort. One called him back, a high school called Mount Pleasant. And Poizner got into his car, drove the 15 miles from his neighborhood in Los Gatos in Silicon Valley to East San Jose."



"I heard about Steve Poizner and the controversy over whether his book got things wrong when a publicist for the book contacted our radio program. She wrote an email describing the incident at the bookstore this way, "Liberal activist took offense at how he describes the school, accurately, as plagued by gangs, teen pregnancy, and disrepair. They are trying to shut him up and discredit his argument about charter schools." Poizner makes a case for charter schools late in the book. "This is a classic case of liberals refusing to listen to simple facts and rational solutions."

So I read the excerpt of his book online. There's a full chapter, and Poizner links to it from his campaign website. You can read it yourself. And it raised more questions than it answered. It's a very odd chapter, all about Poizner's first days teaching a class at Mount Pleasant. There's scene after scene where he's floundering, standing in front of the class asking big, abstract questions. "Would you want to live in a country where the leader didn't want to lead, if the money issued by the government wasn't any good, or people were treated unfairly?" None of the students respond.

He's a rookie teacher. He doesn't know how to engage them yet. Nothing unusual there. But here's the strange thing. The conclusion Poizner comes to, again and again, during these scenes isn't that he's doing anything wrong, or he has anything to learn as a teacher. Instead, he blames the kids. They're tough. They're unmotivated. They lack ambition. They're wired differently.

The students, meanwhile, in every scene in the book-- I've read the whole book-- seem utterly lovely. Polite, they don't interrupt, they don't talk back. They just seem a little bored. His very worst student is a graduating senior, who's hoping to go into the Marines. Checking school records, I learn that Poizner's unmotivated, unambitious class included one of the school valedictorians, Charles Rudy, who graduated and went to college.

Could he be getting this so completely wrong, I wondered? Could he have written an entire book misperceiving so thoroughly what was happening in front of his own eyes and was now trying to use that book to run for governor? It seemed too incredible. And that's what brought me to San Jose last week to visit the school and its neighborhood."

[PLUS]

"Foreigners arrive in the United States believing all kinds of misinformation about us...misinformation that turns out to be true. Mary Wiltenburg tells the story."

[audio here: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/406/true-urban-legends

"Act Two. Fleeing is Believing.

A retired millionaire tries to understand the reality of a tough, seedy, inner city neighborhood. But what if the neighborhood is none of those things? Ira Glass evaluates the claims of this millionaire, Steve Poizner, who is also running for governor of California."]
stevepoizner  2010  sanjose  losgatos  california  education  schools  perception  class  poltics  urbanlegends  via:robertsears  data  statistics  mountpleasanthighschool  eastsanjose  condescencion  refugees  immigration  culture  society  thisamericanlife 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Danielle Carr on Twitter: "So many critiques of quantification rely on the premise of an untrammeled wholeness that is sullied by description through numbers."
"So many critiques of quantification rely on the premise of an untrammeled wholeness that is sullied by description through numbers." [*two replies below)
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696719618543644672

"This idea of language as that which severs us from reality is precisely the lacanian critique of language as a traumatic alienation."
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696720251183038464

"So if we think of quantification as a form of nomination (if not of language as such), we miss something by insisting on its lack"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696720461217075200

"So much of "qualitative" social methods justifies itself methodologically by decrying the lack instantiated by quantification"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696720701751980036

"But languages aren't lack. They are the introduction of new associative capacities. We must think of any nominative system as PRODUCTIVE"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696720958653100032

"The question then, of course, is what is produced."
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696721047534571520

"It's easy to resent the hegemonic episteme of DATA, and yes, quantification is making absurd claims (eg literary analysis by word frequency)"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696721529841827841

"But nominative schemes introduce possibilities for linking things, often through equating one thing with another"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696721903084552196

"One thing is equivalent to another within the nominative scheme- my depression is equivalent to yours because we scored the same on a metric"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696722192978067456

"Does this linkage erase the "realness"reality? Of the deep social contextuality of our respective depression, etc?"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696722765060173828

"Only if we take the assertion of identity seriously rather than as an associative capacity emerging from a play of language"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696722816293539840

"My point is this: don't critique quantification like a lacanian dickhead or you'll miss the fun of nominative play"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696723071978377218

"One thing you'll learn from doing STS ethnography real quick: NOBODY THINKS THE NUMBERS ARE AN EXHAUSTIVE DESCRIPTION OF REALITY"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696723590054551552

"so sociological critiques that mouth "quantification is arbitrary/inadequate" are reaaaaaally old news to the actants in question"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696723938764845058

"Saying "numbers aren't adequate descriptions of reality" is fatuous because THERE IS NO ADEQUATE DESCRIPTION OF REALITY"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696724166322581505

"Description is itself a productive capacity of reality. So we have to ask what the descriptions do."
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696724472792014849

"Anyway I love sociological critique, I really do, but can we please stop pretending that language is real and numbers are arbitrary"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696724677931200513

[*replies:

"@flaneuryoconnor Yeah, this is dear to me—I wrote about it in this piece for Prickly Paradigm, "Bastard Algebra": https://static1.squarespace.com/static/55eb004ee4b0518639d59d9b/t/55ece03de4b0902fc059d901/1441587261788/seaver-bastardalgebra.pdf …"
https://twitter.com/npseaver/status/696766300597723136

"@flaneuryoconnor Yeah, sucks. Have you seen this special issue? A mixed bag, but these folks are working beyond that http://ant.sagepub.com/content/10/1-2.toc …"
https://twitter.com/npseaver/status/696739976088854528]
daniellecarr  nickseaver  data  quantification  2016  reality  words  language  lacan  traumaticalienation  realness  context  sts  ethnography  numbers  sociology  description  perception  arbitrariness 
february 2016 by robertogreco
What Art Unveils - The New York Times
"I think a lot about art. As a philosopher working on perception and consciousness, and as a teacher and writer, maybe more than most. It’s part of my work, but it is a pleasure, too. The task of getting a better sense of what art is — how it works, why it matters to us and what it can tell us about ourselves — is one of the greatest that we face, and it is also endlessly rewarding. But at times it also seems just endless, because art itself can be so hard to grasp. And so is the question of how to approach it. Is there a way of thinking about art that will get us closer to an understanding of its essential nature, and our own?

These days, as I’ve discussed here before, the trend is to try to answer these questions in the key of neuroscience. I recommend a different approach, but not because I don’t think it is crucial to explore the links between art and our biological nature. The problem is that neuroscience has yet to frame an adequate conception of our nature. You look in vain in the writings of neuroscientists for satisfying accounts of experience or consciousness. For this reason, I believe, we can’t use neuroscience to explain art and its place in our lives. Indeed, if I am right, the order of explanation may go in the other direction: Art can help us frame a better picture of our human nature.

This may be one of the sources of art’s abiding value. Art is a way of learning about ourselves. Works of art are tools, but they have been made strange, and that is the source of their power.

I begin with two commonplaces. First, artists make stuff. Pictures, sculptures, performances, songs; art has always been bound up with manufacture and craft, with tinkering and artifice. Second, and I think this is equally uncontroversial, the measure of art, the source of its value, is rarely how well it is made, or how effective it is in fulfilling this or that function. In contrast with mere technology, art doesn’t have to work to be good.

I don’t deny that artists sometimes make stuff that does work. For example, Leonardo’s portrait of Duke Ludovico’s teenage mistress, “The Lady With an Ermine,” works in the sense that it, well, it shows her. The same could be said of a photograph on a shopping website: it shows the jacket and lets you decide whether to order it. I only mean that the value of the artwork never boils down to this kind of application.

Why do artists make stuff if the familiar criteria of success or failure in the domain of manufacture are not dispositive when it comes to art? Why are artists so bent on making stuff? To what end?

My hypothesis is that artists make stuff not because the stuff they make is special in itself, but because making stuff is special for us. Making activities — technology, for short — constitute us as a species. Artists make stuff because in doing so they reveal something deep and important about our nature, indeed, I would go so far as to say, about our biological nature.

One of the reasons I’m skeptical of the neuroscientific approach is that it is too individualist, and too concerned alone with what goes on in the head, to comprehend the way social activities of making and doing contribute in this way to making us.

Human beings, I propose, are designers by nature. We are makers and consumers of technologies. Knives, clothing, dwellings, but also language, pictures, email, commercial air travel and social media. Tools and technologies organize us; they do so individually — think of the way chairs and doorknobs mold your posture and the way you move; and they do so collectively — think of the way the telephone or email have changed how we communicate. Technologies solve problems, but they also let us frame new problems. For example, there would be no higher mathematics without mathematical notations. Tools like the rake extend our bodies; tools like writing extend our minds.

Technologies organize us, but they do so only insofar as they are embedded in our lives. This is a crucial idea. Take a doorknob, for example. A simple bit of technology, yes, but one that presupposes a vast and remarkable social background. Doorknobs exist in the context of a whole form of life, a whole biology — the existence of doors, and buildings, and passages, the human body, the hand, and so on. A designer of doorknobs makes a simple artifact but he or she does so with an eye to its mesh with this larger cognitive and anthropological framework.

When you walk up to a door, you don’t stop to inspect the doorknob; you just go right through. Doorknobs don’t puzzle us. They do not puzzle us just to the degree that we are able to take everything that they presuppose — the whole background practice — for granted. If that cultural practice were strange to us, if we didn’t understand the human body or the fact that human beings live in buildings, if we were aliens from another planet, doorknobs would seem very strange and very puzzling indeed.

This brings us to art. Design, the work of technology, stops, and art begins, when we are unable to take the background of our familiar technologies and activities for granted, and when we can no longer take for granted what is, in fact, a precondition of the very natural-seeming intelligibility of such things as doorknobs and pictures, words and sounds. When you and are I talking, I don’t pay attention to the noises you are making; your language is a transparency through which I encounter you. Design, at least when it is optimal, is transparent in just this way; it disappears from view and gets absorbed in application. You study the digital image of the shirt on the website, you don’t contemplate its image.

Art, in contrast, makes things strange. You do contemplate the image, when you examine Leonardo’s depiction of the lady with the ermine. You are likely, for example, to notice her jarringly oversized and masculine hand and to wonder why Leonardo draws our attention to that feature of this otherwise beautiful young person. Art disrupts plain looking and it does so on purpose. By doing so it discloses just what plain looking conceals.

Art unveils us ourselves. Art is a making activity because we are by nature and culture organized by making activities. A work of art is a strange tool. It is an alien implement that affords us the opportunity to bring into view everything that was hidden in the background.

If I am right, art isn’t a phenomenon to be explained. Not by neuroscience, and not by philosophy. Art is itself a research practice, a way of investigating the world and ourselves. Art displays us to ourselves, and in a way makes us anew, by disrupting our habitual activities of doing and making."
culture  art  design  learning  perception  glvo  making  humans  2015  alvanoë  philosophy  purpose  via:Taryn  neuroscience  research  investigation  howwelearn  transparency  technology  tools  probelmsolving  social 
october 2015 by robertogreco
It Doesn't Know What You Want Until You Teach It
"So, I just got home from Tel Aviv, which, while I happened to be there, was hit by a massive sandstorm that swept across from Syria.

Now, sandstorms, or at least the one I saw, do not work like the ones in Mad Max. I woke up in my little hotel cocoon, threw back the blackout curtains and saw … nothing. Because that’s what sandstorms do: they make landscape into nothing. They disappear buildings and the sea and the horizon and even the sun. Beyond half a mile, everything fades into white-yellow nothing.

I went for a run up the beach until I got to an old crumbling stone jetty. An old shirtless man with a huge belly was fishing from it. All I could see was a few big hotels behind me rising into dust and this jetty with the man in front of me. And it was possible to imagine that this was all the world, that this little narrow spit of land was all that was left.

That’s the dystopian story.

But, at the same time, I could snap a photo of the sea and the sky and send it to my wife across the world and have her send me back a picture of our son. And I could go look up the sandstorm and see it from a NASA satellite. And Apple would put out a new version of their phone, and just down the road, hundreds of Israeli startups were building new things in the world. And as I wandered around Tel Aviv, the strange light of the sandstorm making every photo look as if it were taken in a dream, I thought to myself: there are so many futures happening at once.

When we imagine a utopia or dystopia, both represent a hope that human lives will somehow be less messy and complex in the future than they are now. Because, good or bad, that’s the most comforting lie we can tell ourselves about what’s going to come: that we might be able to process and understand it more easily than we do our own short moment.

It's good to be back."
alexismadrigal  sandstorms  future  futures  humanity  life  messiness  complexity  technology  2015  communication  photography  perception  utopia  dystopia  understanding  presence 
september 2015 by robertogreco
6, 55: Dilution of precision
"Some things are hard to understand until you’ve stood in them. Anthropologist Genevieve Bell (at 1:09, in the third video down) told executives at Intel how small living spaces in China could be, but when they went and stood in the places that she had described clearly, they were still surprised. “I can touch all the walls!”

Travel is a way of accumulating this embodied knowledge. Gazing up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Climbing up the passageway in the Great Pyramid at Giza. Standing in the shadow of redwoods. When we decided to take a weekend roadtrip in California, we really didn’t have to discuss what we’d go see: both of us have been thinking a lot about infrastructure and about the California drought, so we drew up a tentative plan, woke up early, and headed east from Santa Cruz towards Interstate Highway 5, to visit one of the most significant pieces of water infrastructure in California."



"Infrastructure is the set of systems that enable you to do what you do that you never think about. Power, water, heating, communications – all the things that (if you’re lucky enough) is just piped to your house – are never noticed until something goes wrong. As Warren Ellis put it this morning, “The victory condition [of utilities] is silence.” Then there’s the larger-scale infrastructure, like the highway system. We spent a lot of time on I-5, an economic backbone of the West Coast, running from Tijuana, Mexico to Blaine, Canada. But because it’s not in crisis, we don’t think about it much. We don’t take a weekend to stand on hills overlooking it. Likewise GPS, and stable currency, and mobile phone coverage."

[Also available here: http://tinyletter.com/metafoundry/letters/metafoundry-35-dilution-of-precision ]
perspective  infrastructure  2015charlieloyd  debchachra  2015  californiaaqueduct  california  water  californiastatewaterproject  agriculture  centralvalley  sanjoaquinvalley  sanluisreservoir  perception  scale  warrenellis  landscape  genevievebell  china  housing  i5  interstate5  i-5  food  farming 
may 2015 by robertogreco
oddhack • There’s one big difference between the poor and the rich…
“There’s one big difference between the poor and the rich,” Kite says, taking a drag from his cigarette. We are in a pub, at lunch-time. John Kite is always, unless stated otherwise, smoking a fag, in a pub, at lunch-time.

“The rich aren’t evil, as so many of my brothers would tell you. I’ve known rich people – I have played on their yachts – and they are not unkind, or malign, and they do not hate the poor, as many would tell you. And they are not stupid - or at least, not any more than the poor are. Much as I find amusing the idea of a ruling class of honking toffs, unable to put their socks on without Nanny helping them, it is not true. They build banks, and broker deals, and formulate policy, all with perfect competency.

No – the big difference between the rich and the poor is that the rich are blithe. They believe nothing can every really be so bad. They are born with the lovely, velvety coating of blitheness – like lanugo, on a baby – and it is never rubbed off by a bill that can’t be paid; a child that can’t be educated; a home that must be left for a hostel, when the rent becomes too much.

Their lives are the same for generations. There is no social upheaval that will really affect them. If you’re comfortably middle-class, what’s the worst a government policy could do? Ever? Tax you at 90% and leave your bins, unemptied, on the pavement. But you and everyone you know will continue to drink wine – but maybe cheaper – go on holiday – but somewhere nearer – and pay off your mortgage – although maybe later.

Consider, now, then, the poor. What’s the worst a government policy can do to them? It can cancel their operation, with no recourse to private care. It can run down their school – with no escape route to a prep. It can have you out of your house and in a B&B by the end of the year. When the middle classes get passionate about politics, they’re arguing about their treats - their tax-breaks and their investments. When the poor get passionate about politics, they’re fighting for their lives.

Politics will always mean more to the poor. Always. That’s why we strike and march, and despair when our young say they won’t vote. That’s why the poor are seen as more vital, and animalistic. No classical music for us – no walking around National Trust properties, or buying reclaimed flooring. We don’t have nostalgia. We don’t do yesterday. We can’t bare it. We don’t want to be reminded of our past, because it was awful: dying in mines, and slums, without literacy, or the vote. Without dignity. It was all so desperate, then. That’s why the present and the future is for the poor - that’s the place in time for us: surviving now, hoping for better, later. We live now - for our instant, hot, fast treats, to pep us up: sugar, a cigarette, a new fast song on the radio.

You must never, never forget, when you talk to someone poor, that it takes ten times the effort to get anywhere from a bad post-code. It’s a miracle when someone from a bad post-code gets anywhere, son. A miracle they do anything at all.”

A rant about the divide between the rich and the poor from “How To Build a Girl” by Caitlin Moran (via itsalljustvapourtrails)

“When the rich get passionate about politics, they’re arguing about treats. When the poor get passionate about politics, they are fighting for the lives.”
ealthy  inequality  poverty  poor  2015  caitlinmoran  passion  survival  perspective  perception  reality  outlook  policy 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Darkball on the App Store on iTunes
"Cristiano Ronaldo can famously volley a corner kick in total darkness. The magic behind this remarkable feat is hidden in Cristiano’s brain which enables him to use advance cues to plan upcoming actions. Darkball challenges your brain to do the same, distilling that scenario into its simplest form - intercept a ball in the dark. All you see is all you need.

One of the brain’s fundamental functions is to use information from the past and present to predict the future. This function is key to how animals, from dragonflies to humans, navigate a dynamic and uncertain world. To make predictions, the brain must have an “internal model” of the system it interacts with. A basic form of this function is at play when we move our body. For example, to reach for a cup, the brain must have a model to predict how the hand would respond to various motor commands. Internal models are also thought to play a crucial role when we mentally predict future states of the environment, for example when we track a ball as it moves behind another object. Here, we have designed a simple task to understand how the nervous system makes such predictions. In this task, subjects have to intercept a ball when it reaches its final position. By changing the speed of the ball, the intervals when it is invisible, and the target position, we will test various hypotheses about the algorithms that are used to integrate information about past and present to make predictions about future."

[via/by: http://blog.cwandt.com/post/117868107765/darkball

"A new super minimal game to test and train your time perception. Data collected from the app is analyzed by scientists in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT to find out more about how timing works in human brains. Play for research! darkball.media.mit.edu "]
time  perception  applications  ios  ios7  cw&t  brain  cognition  2015 
may 2015 by robertogreco
prosthetic knowledge — Pinhole Cinema Project from Fuwari Lab is a...
"Pinhole Cinema

Project from Fuwari Lab is a cardboard headset with tiny holes that project an alternative viewpoint inside it:

[embedded video: https://vimeo.com/111914423 ]
Workshop to make a pinhole cinema that can be enjoyed by wearing the head. To make your own movie theater in a box of size that can be mounted on the head … Images are projected therein, enters from a small hole drilled in the box …

More (in Japanese) here [http://www.fuwarilab.com/pinholecinema.html ]"

[See also: http://lensual.com/work/?lens_portfolio=pinhole-cinema ]
projectideas  perspective  perception  cameras  vision  fuwarilab  glvo  pinholecameras 
april 2015 by robertogreco
one after another | Fredrik deBoer
"I have two memories tonight, both from Wilbert Snow School, my childhood school, my childhood home.

In the first, it was a typical day on the blacktop, which means it could have been pretty much any grade, K-5. In those days the school was an actual campus; there was a main building with the office, the cafe, the auditorium, and the gym. Then there were a half-dozen or so satellite buildings, called units, which housed one grade apiece, plus an extra subject area room– art, music, so on. We called those specials. It was a campus, an elementary school campus. You had your classroom and across the hall was the other class in your same grade. In winter you’d load up your gear and trudge over to the other building for your special. It was all surrounded by forest, and on one thin side of the woods, the housing project that abutted my childhood house. In the back, there was a stretch of woods that George Washington was known to have once crossed through, and Mr. Shearer, my grumpy old Republican 5th grade teacher who I loved so dearly, walked us through and told us about it. There was a birch tree and you could pull off a switch and suck the end and taste the birch. I loved it, so much. Awhile after I left they tore it all down and built a one-building version. Efficiency. Anyway.

We were on the blacktop and one of the other boys, I’m thinking Kevin Hickman but I don’t really remember, accidentally kicked a playground ball deep into the woods by the blacktop. So he ran in to get it. It seemed like he was in there for ages, and then there was this shout of glee, and he came barreling out pushing a very different ball, a far larger one, a giant earth ball. It was literally taller than he was, but otherwise looked identical to the dull red playground balls we always had, and as he emerged the look of pure joy on his face was impossible, and every other kid let out this absolutely brilliant scream to see a ball that big, and we all ran to touch it. To this day I don’t know how it could have happened that the ball could have been lost in the woods– how could you just forget about a ball that large? — or how long it might have been out there, or how it stayed perfectly inflated for however long it was. But It doesn’t really matter. To this day, the feeling of communal exultation, that pure, unexpected joy, the look on his face as he tore out from the woods, and the fact that I can remember the look on his face but not whose face it was, these things are indelible, things I will remember forever.

And then the para came over and yelled at us and took the ball away.

The second memory is just a feeling. It was the day of my 5th grade graduation, the last day at Snow School. After that I would be sent to the weird, one-grade quasi-middle school in my hometown, Keigwin, and after that, the fresh hell that was Woodrow Wilson Middle School. The memory is just being at school on that day and suddenly realizing, with Snow over, that time was passing. I mean it in just that sense, not as something deeper or more symbolic. It wasn’t that I suddenly contemplated myself aging or growing up or, even worse, my mortality. Nothing so vulgar. I just suddenly realized that time was passing in a way that I never had before, that you left school eventually, and that things would be different instead of the same. It was profound and moving and frightening.

Now it seems as if the situation is quite the opposite; I feel that I can sense myself aging but not moving, that nothing passes but time, that there is nowhere for anything to go but for my life to pass grudgingly from year to year."
memory  time  freddiedeboer  2015  childhood  memories  emotions  feelings  joy  perception  school  play  balls  profundity 
march 2015 by robertogreco
VINCIANE DESPRET: Lecture (part 1 of 2) - YouTube
"WHERE ARE WE GOING, WALT WHITMAN?

An ecosophical roadmap for artists and other futurists

Conference -- festival that took place from 12--15 March, 2013 at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam.

Gabriëlle Schleijpen, head of Studium Generale Rietveld Academie invited Anselm Franke, Binna Choi, Carolyn Christof - Bakargiev, Natasha Ginwala and Vivian Ziherl to each inaugurate a discursive and performative program of one day.

Friday March 15

POIESIS OF WORLDING

Bringing together research, art, and various approaches and concerns relating to ecology, artist Ayreen Anastas, author, researcher, organiser of events and exhibitions, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, writer, philosopher and ethologist Vinciane Despret, artist Rene Gabri, artist and rural sociologist Fernando García-Dory and interdisciplinary artist Marcos Lutyens explored collectively what a 'poiesis of worlding' could involve. What could be a process of re-apprehending and re-animating worlds which our current systems of knowledge and understanding exclude? And how do such foreclosures relate to some of the most pressing challenges of our time? Departing from a lecture program by playing with predefined lecture protocols and later opening a space for shared doing-thinking, the day's journey was split into two parts which were sewn together by a collective hypnosis.

http://wherearewegoingwaltwhitman.rietveldacademie.nl/
http://gerritrietveldacademie.nl/en/ "

[part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vD77gU0XjMk]
vincianedespret  animals  storytelling  2013  via:anne  ethology  ecosophy  perspective  science  pov  multispecies  empathy  knowing  waysofknowing  waltwhitman  agency  poiesis  worlding  interdisciplinary  art  arts  ayreenanastas  meaning  meaningmaking  carolynchristov-bakargiev  perception  renegabri  fernandogarcía-dory  marcoslutyens  knowledge  future  futurism  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  worldbuilding  being  feeling  seeing  constructivism  richarddawkins  theselfishgene 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Tempra on the App Store on iTunes
"Test and increase the accuracy and precision of your sense of time.

For each trial, your goal is to get as close as possible to the displayed target time.

Breathe... relax, and focus on your internal sense of time.

Designed and built by Che-Wei Wang
MIT Media Lab, Playful Systems"

[See also: http://blog.cwandt.com/post/114375488090/http-bit-ly-tempra-app-im-finally-getting

"It’s called Tempra. It’s a simple game about absolute time. If you ever played the 10 second stopwatch game, you’ll get this right away. It’s that, but 0.5 seconds to infinity.

Our internal sense of time is subjective. It is localized by our culture, swings with our moods, and is affected by body temperature. But time is absolute. One second is defined as “the time that elapses during 9,192,631,770 cycles of the radiation produced by the transition between two levels of the cesium 133 atom.”[google:1 second] If we handed out stopwatches to a million people and asked them to intuitively time one second, where would we land? What would the average be? the median? deviations? We all know what we think one second feels like, but do we know how accurate that feeling is?

Tempra encourages users to train their internal time production in sub-second to minute long durations. It’s a lightweight casual game that’s very much like a stopwatch, except you can’t see the numbers. To play you must rely on your internal sense of time. The goal is to get as close to a given time increment as possible. Each level in the game increases in difficulty by lengthening the duration you have to model in your head. Each trial of the game requires greater concentration, encouraging you to deepen your inward focus and continuously sharpen your internal sense of time.

Practice, like with any other skill, yields higher accuracy. However, we don’t know if accuracy is generalizable. For example, if your sense of two seconds is super accurate, does that also mean you’re good at dodging traffic?

We also don’t know if time production is a skill that you can exercise like a muscle. Can you strengthen that muscle? Probably. Does it atrophy if it isn’t exercised explicitly? We don’t know.

If internal time production is a muscle that you can exercise, and if exercising that muscle has generalizable attributes, then practicing with Tempra may have profound effects on your health and well-being.

To gain insights into how our brain distorts time and generates biases towards time production, Tempra anonymously collects data from time production trials from players around the world.

We won’t know unless we try."]
che-weiwang  cw&t  time  ios  applications  iphone  perception  2014  ios7 
march 2015 by robertogreco
“The world is full of objects, more or less... - robertogreco {tumblr}
“The world is full of objects, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more.

I prefer, simply, to state the existence of things in terms of time and/or place.

More specifically, the work concerns itself with things whose inter-relationship is beyond direct perceptual experience.

Because the work is beyond direct perceptual experience, awareness of the work depends on a system of documentation.

The documentation takes the form of photographs, maps, drawings and descriptive language.”

—Douglas Huebler
time  place  documentation  cv  douglashuebler  art  experience  perception  awareness  belatedness  things  objects  cataloging  description  observation  photography  maps  mapping  drawing  drawings  systems  archives  noticing  collections  collecting  capturing 
march 2015 by robertogreco
perception is controlled hallucination‏ | synthetic_zero
[embedded video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDwhW3lO1KI

link to .pdf:
http://espra.scicog.fr/knowingwhatwecando.pdf
"How do questions concerning consciousness and phenomenal experience relate to, or interface with, questions concerning plans, knowledge and intentions? Visual perceptual experience, we shall argue, is fixed by an agent's direct unmediated knowledge concerning her poise (or apparent poise) over a currently enabled action space: a matrix of possibilities for pursuing and accomplishing one's intentional actions, goals and projects. If this is correct, the links between planning, intention and perceptual experience are tight, while (contrary to some recent accounts invoking the notion of ‘sensorimotor expectations’) the links between embodied activity and perceptual experience, though real, are indirect."

another embedded video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etViS0oSAtg ]
perception  hallucination  2015  consciousness  cognition  imagination  understanding  simulation  andyclark  learning  howwelearn  context  prediction  approximation  inference 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Linklater // On Cinema & Time on Vimeo
"Created for Sight & Sound magazine // November 2013
A visual essay about cinema and time via a conversation with Richard Linklater (and his films).

See accompanying text here:
bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/sight-sound-magazine/interviews/long-conversation-richard-linklater-cinema-time "
richardlinklater  time  film  filmmaking  memory  perception  2013  via:jbushnell  cinema  video  dreams 
november 2014 by robertogreco
BBC - Blogs - Adam Curtis - THE VEGETABLES OF TRUTH
"This is really just an excuse to show a wonderful film about vegetables.

But it is also about how modern science has radically changed in a way that hasn’t been fully understood.

How it has gone from promising extraordinary new worlds of the future - to become a powerfully conservative force that holds progress back and tends to keep people in their place.

And the odd role vegetables have played in showing how this has happened.

There are two - parallel - universes of science. One is the actual day-to-day work of scientists, patiently researching into all parts of the world and sometimes making amazing discoveries.

The other is the role science plays in the public imagination - the powerful effect it has in shaping how millions of ordinary people see the world.

Often the two worlds run together - with scientists from the first world giving us glimpses of their extraordinary discoveries. But what sometimes happens is that those discoveries - and what they promise - get mixed up with other social and political ideas. And then the science begins to change into something else.

This happened in a dramatic way in the second half of the twentieth century. Science did very well in the second world war and after the war ambitious scientists promised they could build a new kind of world.

But by the 1970s it became clear that there were unforeseen consequences. It started with chemical pollution - especially DDT killing wildlife. But it was nuclear power that really broke the faith in the optimistic view of science - with the disaster at Three Mile Island in the US in 1979.

What emerged instead was a powerful distrust of the idea that science and technocratic experts could make a better world. Here is a good example of that new mood. It’s an anti-nuclear rally held in New York after Three Mile Island.

Jane Fonda makes a celebrity appearance - and her interview articulates the mood very well. I also love the protest song at the end.

“Just give me the restless power of the wind

Give me the comforting glow of the wood fire

But please take all your atomic poison power away”

[video]

But if the scientists had been naive - so too was much of the counter-reaction.

The truth was that it might not have been the science itself that was at fault - but the way the science had been distorted and corrupted by the economic and political demands made on it.

Here is a section of a film I made about what went wrong with the building of the first big nuclear reactors. It shows how the companies building them - like General Electric - were under enormous economic pressure and political demands because of the cold war. And the technologists designed giant systems they knew were potentially unsafe.

[video]

Then came the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. All the distrust of big science that had been building up exploded out - and science became the problem. Not the solution any longer.

There was one man who articulated this new view of science very powerfully. He was a German political scientist called Ulrich Beck who wrote a book just before the Chernobyl explosion called Risk Society. In the wake of the disaster it captured the public imagination - and has been incredibly influential on social and political thinking in the west ever since.

The book was powerful because it laid out a new way of looking at the world. Beck said that what the scientists and technologists had been doing with these giant projects was not building a new and glorious future. Without realising it they had been doing the opposite - they had been creating enormous new dangers for the world.

Beck used the word risk. The scientists he said had been “manufacturing risks”.

In the past the big risks to human societies tended to be freak events of nature - like earthquakes and volcanoes and storms. But now the risks came from human ingenuity and ambition. Much of what had been created had potentially world-threatening side effects - like atomic fallout and ecological disasters.

The world had been turned upside down. It wasn’t nature that was the real threat to human existence any longer - it was now human science and technology that had the power to destroy nature and the whole of the planet. And it wasn’t going to stop - this was a new and growing danger.

It meant - Beck said - that the whole role of politics would inevitably change. In the past politicians’ main aim had been to create a more equal society. That was now in decline. In the new “risk society” their main focus should be to create safety.

Beck didn’t mince his words:
“Whereas the utopia of equality contains a wealth of substantial and positive goals of social change, the utopia of the risk society remains peculiarly negative and defensive. Basically, one is no longer concerned with attaining something ‘good’, but rather with preventing the worst.

The dream of the old society is that everyone wants and ought to have a share of the pie. The utopia of the risk society is that everyone should be spared from poisoning”

That was written in 1986 - and it is remarkably prescient. Because that short paragraph pretty much describes the present day mood in our society. A world where individuals are constantly calibrating risks in their lives, while politicians are expected to anticipate and avoid all future risks and dangers.

And everyone gives up on the idea of creating equality, which allows inequality to increase massively.

Beck’s book is extraordinary - because he came from the liberal left. Yet he is basically saying that in the face of these new potential risks we will have to move away from the political idea of progress and social reform - and instead hunker down in the brace position and try and anticipate all dangers that might be coming at us out of the darkness.

To be fair to Beck he is ambiguous in the book about the kind of pessimistic and anxious society that will arise from this new approach. But he says it is inevitable. And in a way it is a very honest depiction of what happened to the liberal mind set at the end of the 1980s - how it retreated into a gloomy pessimism where the only response to events is “oh dear.”

I think the truth probably is that it was the baby boomers losing their youth - and finding themselves unable to face the fact of their own mortality - they started to project their fears onto the rest of society. But somehow people like Beck transformed this into a grand pessimistic ideology.

I want to put up part of an extraordinary documentary made during the events of 1986 that dramatically shows just how different our attitudes to risk used to be. It is the record of the group of Soviet technologists who volunteered to go into the ruined reactor core at Chernobyl after the disaster.

It is extraordinary because they all knew they would die. Their protection against the radiation - as you see in the film - was minimal. It consisted of taping up their cuffs and trouser legs and not much else. But they went in because it was the only way to find out how to contain the disaster.

It is so moving because they are men from an older world. To them risk is irrelevant. They believe in something grander - bigger than their own lives. There is also the most fantastic remote controlled camera - it is mounted on a toy tank and its images are great.

…"
capitalism  media  science  adamcurtis  2014  politics  history  ulrichbeck  risk  statistics  measurement  society  perception  tomsanders  correlation  risksociety 
november 2014 by robertogreco
How Different Cultures Understand Time - Business Insider
"Both the linear-active northerner and the multi-active Latin think that they manage time in the best way possible. In some Eastern cultures, however, the adaptation of humans to time is seen as a viable alternative. In these cultures, time is viewed neither as linear nor event–relationship related, but as cyclic. Each day the sun rises and sets, the seasons follow one another, the heavenly bodies revolve around us, people grow old and die, but their children reconstitute the process. We know this cycle has gone on for 100,000 years and more. Cyclical time is not a scarce commodity. There seems always to be an unlimited supply of it just around the next bend. As they say in the East, when God made time, He made plenty of it.

It’s not surprising, then, that business decisions are arrived at in a different way from in the West. Westerners often expect an Asian to make a quick decision or to treat a current deal on its present merits, irrespective of what has happened in the past. Asians cannot do this. The past formulates the contextual back- ground to the present decision, about which in any case, as Asians, they must think long term—their hands are tied in many ways. Americans see time passing without decisions being made or actions performed as having been “wasted.” Asians do not see time as racing away unutilized in a linear future, but coming around again in a circle, where the same opportunities, risks and dangers will re- present themselves when people are so many days, weeks or months wiser. As proof of the veracity of the cyclical nature of time, how often do we (in the West) say, “If I had known then what I know now, I would never have done what I did?”

Figure 4.6 compares the speed of Western action chains with Asian reflection. The American, German and Swiss go home satisfied that all tasks have been completed. The French or Italian might leave some “mopping up” for the following day. John Paul Fieg, author of A Common Core: Thais and Americans, describing the Thai attitude toward time, saw it as a pool one could gradually walk around. This metaphor applies to most Asians, who, instead of tackling problems immediately in sequential fashion, circle around them for a few days or weeks before committing themselves. After a suitable period of reflection, tasks A, D and F may indeed seem worthy of pursuing (refer to Figure 4.6). Tasks B, C and E may be quietly dropped. Contemplation of the whole scene has indicated, however, that task G, perhaps not even envisaged at all earlier on, might be the most significant of all.

In a Buddhist culture (e.g., Thailand, Tibet), not only time but also life itself goes around in a circle. Whatever we plan, however we organize our particular world, generation follows generation; governments and rulers will succeed each other; crops will be harvested; monsoons, earthquakes and other catastrophes will recur; taxes will be paid; the sun and moon will rise and set; stocks and shares will rise and fall. Even the Americans will not change such events, certainly not by rushing things."



"Cultures observing both linear and cyclic concepts of time see the past as something we have put behind us and the future as something that lies before us. In Madagascar, the opposite is the case (see Figure 4.7). The Malagasy imagine the future as flowing into the back of their heads, or passing them from behind, then becoming the past as it stretches out in front of them. The past is in front of their eyes because it is visible, known and influential. They can look at it, enjoy it, learn from it, even “play” with it. The Malagasy people spend an inordinate amount of time consulting their ancestors, exhuming their bones, even partying with them.

By contrast, the Malagasy consider the future unknowable. It is behind their head where they do not have eyes. Their plans for this unknown area will be far from meticulous, for what can they be based on? Buses in Madagascar leave, not according to a predetermined timetable, but when the bus is full. The situation triggers the event. Not only does this make economic sense, but it is also the time that most passengers have chosen to leave. Consequently, in Madagascar stocks are not replenished until shelves are empty, filling stations order gas only when they run dry, and hordes of would-be passengers at the airport find that, in spite of their tickets, in reality everybody is wait-listed. The actual assignation of seats takes place between the opening of the check-in desk and the (eventual) departure of the plane."
time  communication  perception  culture  2014  richardlewis  via:blubirding  past  present  future  planning  priorities  madagascar  us  uk  asia  japan  china  thailand  italy  spain  españa  switzerland  northamerica  cycles  howwethink  scheduling  schedules 
september 2014 by robertogreco
How Culture Shapes Our Senses - NYTimes.com
"FLORENCE, Italy — WE think of our senses as hard-wired gateways to the world. Many years ago the social psychologist Daryl J. Bem described the knowledge we gain from our senses as “zero-order beliefs,” so taken for granted that we do not even notice them as beliefs. The sky is blue. The fan hums. Ice is cold. That’s the nature of reality, and it seems peculiar that different people with their senses intact would experience it subjectively.

Yet they do. In recent years anthropologists have begun to point out that sensory perception is culturally specific. “Sensory perception,” Constance Classen, the author of “The Deepest Sense: A Cultural History of Touch,” says, “is a cultural as well as physical act.” It’s a controversial claim made famous by Marshall McLuhan’s insistence that nonliterate societies were governed by spoken words and sound, while literate societies experienced words visually and so were dominated by sight. Few anthropologists would accept that straightforwardly today. But more and more are willing to argue that sensory perception is as much about the cultural training of attention as it is about biological capacity.

Now they have some quantitative evidence to support the point. Recently, a team of anthropologists and psychologists at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and Radboud University, both in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, set out to discover how language and culture affected sensory awareness. Under the leadership of Asifa Majid and Stephen C. Levinson, they made up a kit of systematic stimuli for the traditional five senses: for sight, color chips and geometric forms; for hearing, pitch, amplitude and rhythm variations; for smell, a set of scratch-and-sniff cards; and so forth. They took these kits to over 20 cultural groups around the world. Their results upend some of our basic assumptions.

For example, it’s fairly common, in scientific literature, to find the view that “humans are astonishingly bad at odor identification and naming,” as a recent review of 30 years of experiments concluded. When ordinary people are presented with the smell of ordinary substances (coffee, peanut butter, chocolate), they correctly identify about half of them. That’s why we think of scent as a trigger for personal memory — leading to the recall of something specific, particular, uniquely our own.

It turns out that the subjects of those 30 years of experiments were mostly English-speaking. Indeed, English speakers find it easy to identify the common color in milk and jasmine flowers (“white”) but not the common scent in, say, bat droppings and the leaf of ginger root. When the research team presented what should have been familiar scents to Americans — cinnamon, turpentine, lemon, rose and so forth — they were terrible at naming them. Americans, they wrote, said things like this when presented with the cinnamon scratch-and-sniff card: “I don’t know how to say that, sweet, yeah; I have tasted that gum like Big Red or something tastes like, what do I want to say? I can’t get the word. Jesus it’s like that gum smell like something like Big Red. Can I say that? O.K. Big Red, Big Red gum.”

When the research team visited the Jahai, rain-forest foragers on the Malay Peninsula, they found that the Jahai were succinct and more accurate with the scratch-and-sniff cards. In fact, they were about as good at naming what they smelled as what they saw. They do, in fact, have an abstract term for the shared odor in bat droppings and the leaf of ginger root. Abstract odor terms are common among people on the Malay Peninsula.

The team also found that several communities — speakers of Persian, Turkish and Zapotec — used different metaphors than English and Dutch speakers to describe pitch, or frequency: Sounds were thin or thick rather than high or low. In later work, they demonstrated that the metaphors were powerful enough to disrupt perception. When Dutch speakers heard a tone while being shown a mismatched height bar (e.g., a high tone and a low bar) and were asked to sing the tone, they sang a lower tone. But the perception wasn’t influenced when they were shown a thin or thick bar. When Persian speakers heard a tone and were shown a bar of mismatched thickness, however, they misremembered the tone — but not when they were shown a bar mismatched for height.

The team also found that some of these differences could change over time. They taught the Dutch speakers to think about pitch as thin or thick, and soon these participants, too, found that their memory of a tone was affected by being shown a bar that was too thick or too thin. They found that younger Cantonese speakers had fewer words for tastes and smells than older ones, a shift attributed to rapid socioeconomic development and Western-style schooling.

I wrote this in Florence, Italy, a city famous as a feast for the senses. People say that Florence teaches you to see differently — that as the soft light moves across the ocher buildings, you see colors you never noticed before.

It taught Kevin Systrom, a co-founder of Instagram, to see differently. He attributes his inspiration to a photography class he took in Florence while at a Stanford study-abroad program about a decade ago. His teacher took away his state-of-the-art camera and insisted he use an old plastic one instead, to change the way he saw. He loved those photos, the vintage feel of them, and the way the buildings looked in the light. He set out to recreate that look in the app he built. And that has changed the way many of us now see as well."
senses  taste  smell  olfaction  touch  sight  seeing  noticing  language  languages  culture  darylbem  tmluhrmann  constanceclassen  wcydwt  glvo  slow  marshallmcluhan  anthropology  psychology  perception  sense  asifamajid  stephenlevinson  sound  hearing  tone  pitch  rhythm  color  comparison  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  literacies  literacy  identification  naming  kevinsystrom 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Paris Review - The Art of Fiction No. 198, Marilynne Robinson
"ROBINSON
I don’t like categories like religious and not religious. As soon as religion draws a line around itself it becomes falsified. It seems to me that anything that is written compassionately and perceptively probably satisfies every definition of religious whether a writer intends it to be religious or not."



"INTERVIEWER
Ames says that in our everyday world there is “more beauty than our eyes can bear.” He’s living in America in the late 1950s. Would he say that today?

ROBINSON
You have to have a certain detachment in order to see beauty for yourself rather than something that has been put in quotation marks to be understood as “beauty.” Think about Dutch painting, where sunlight is falling on a basin of water and a woman is standing there in the clothes that she would wear when she wakes up in the morning—that beauty is a casual glimpse of something very ordinary. Or a painting like Rembrandt’s Carcass of Beef, where a simple piece of meat caught his eye because there was something mysterious about it. You also get that in Edward Hopper: Look at the sunlight! or Look at the human being! These are instances of genius. Cultures cherish artists because they are people who can say, Look at that. And it’s not Versailles. It’s a brick wall with a ray of sunlight falling on it.

At the same time, there has always been a basic human tendency toward a dubious notion of beauty. Think about cultures that rarify themselves into courts in which people paint themselves with lead paint and get dumber by the day, or women have ribs removed to have their waists cinched tighter. There’s no question that we have our versions of that now. The most destructive thing we can do is act as though this is some sign of cultural, spiritual decay rather than humans just acting human, which is what we’re doing most of the time.

INTERVIEWER
Ames believes that one of the benefits of religion is “it helps you concentrate. It gives you a good basic sense of what is being asked of you and also what you might as well ignore.” Is this something that your faith and religious practice has done for you?

ROBINSON
Religion is a framing mechanism. It is a language of orientation that presents itself as a series of questions. It talks about the arc of life and the quality of experience in ways that I’ve found fruitful to think about. Religion has been profoundly effective in enlarging human imagination and expression. It’s only very recently that you couldn’t see how the high arts are intimately connected to religion.

INTERVIEWER
Is this frame of religion something we’ve lost?

ROBINSON
There was a time when people felt as if structure in most forms were a constraint and they attacked it, which in a culture is like an autoimmune problem: the organism is not allowing itself the conditions of its own existence. We’re cultural creatures and meaning doesn’t simply generate itself out of thin air; it’s sustained by a cultural framework. It’s like deciding how much more interesting it would be if you had no skeleton: you could just slide under the door.

INTERVIEWER
How does science fit into this framework?

ROBINSON
I read as much as I can of contemporary cosmology because reality itself is profoundly mysterious. Quantum theory and classical physics, for instance, are both lovely within their own limits and yet at present they cannot be reconciled with each other. If different systems don’t merge in a comprehensible way, that’s a flaw in our comprehension and not a flaw in one system or the other.

INTERVIEWER
Are religion and science simply two systems that don’t merge?

ROBINSON
The debate seems to be between a naive understanding of religion and a naive understanding of science. When people try to debunk religion, it seems to me they are referring to an eighteenth-century notion of what science is. I’m talking about Richard Dawkins here, who has a status that I can’t quite understand. He acts as if the physical world that is manifest to us describes reality exhaustively. On the other side, many of the people who articulate and form religious expression have not acted in good faith. The us-versus-them mentality is a terrible corruption of the whole culture.

INTERVIEWER
You’ve written critically about Dawkins and the other New Atheists. Is it their disdain for religion and championing of pure science that troubles you?

ROBINSON
No, I read as much pure science as I can take in. It’s a fact that their thinking does not feel scientific. The whole excitement of science is that it’s always pushing toward the discovery of something that it cannot account for or did not anticipate. The New Atheist types, like Dawkins, act as if science had revealed the world as a closed system. That simply is not what contemporary science is about. A lot of scientists are atheists, but they don’t talk about reality in the same way that Dawkins does. And they would not assume that there is a simple-as-that kind of response to everything in question. Certainly not on the grounds of anything that science has discovered in the last hundred years.

The science that I prefer tends toward cosmology, theories of quantum reality, things that are finer-textured than classical physics in terms of their powers of description. Science is amazing. On a mote of celestial dust, we have figured out how to look to the edge of our universe. I feel instructed by everything I have read. Science has a lot of the satisfactions for me that good theology has.

INTERVIEWER
But doesn’t science address an objective notion of reality while religion addresses how we conceive of ourselves?

ROBINSON
As an achievement, science is itself a spectacular argument for the singularity of human beings among all things that exist. It has a prestige that comes with unambiguous changes in people’s experience—space travel, immunizations. It has an authority that’s based on its demonstrable power. But in discussions of human beings it tends to compare downwards: we’re intelligent because hyenas are intelligent and we just took a few more leaps.

The first obligation of religion is to maintain the sense of the value of human beings. If you had to summarize the Old Testament, the summary would be: stop doing this to yourselves. But it is not in our nature to stop harming ourselves. We don’t behave consistently with our own dignity or with the dignity of other people. The Bible reiterates this endlessly.

INTERVIEWER
Did you ever have a religious awakening?

ROBINSON
No, a mystical experience would be wasted on me. Ordinary things have always seemed numinous to me. One Calvinist notion deeply implanted in me is that there are two sides to your encounter with the world. You don’t simply perceive something that is statically present, but in fact there is a visionary quality to all experience. It means something because it is addressed to you. This is the individualism that you find in Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. You can draw from perception the same way a mystic would draw from a vision.

INTERVIEWER
How would one learn to see ordinary things this way?

ROBINSON
It’s not an acquired skill. It’s a skill that we’re born with that we lose. We learn not to do it."



"INTERVIEWER
Does your faith ever conflict with your “regular life”?

ROBINSON
When I’m teaching, sometimes issues come up. I might read a scene in a student’s story that seems—by my standards—pornographic. I don’t believe in exploiting or treating with disrespect even an imagined person. But at the same time, I realize that I can’t universalize my standards. In instances like that, I feel I have to hold my religious reaction at bay. It is important to let people live out their experience of the world without censorious interference, except in very extreme cases."



"INTERVIEWER
Most people know you as a novelist, but you spend a lot of your time writing nonfiction. What led you to start writing essays?

ROBINSON
To change my own mind. I try to create a new vocabulary or terrain for myself, so that I open out—I always think of the Dutch claiming land from the sea—or open up something that would have been closed to me before. That’s the point and the pleasure of it. I continuously scrutinize my own thinking. I write something and think, How do I know that that’s true? If I wrote what I thought I knew from the outset, then I wouldn’t be learning anything new.

In this culture, essays are often written for the sake of writing the essay. Someone finds a quibble of potential interest and quibbles about it. This doesn’t mean the writer isn’t capable of doing something of greater interest, but we generate a lot of prose that’s not vital. The best essays come from the moment in which people really need to work something out."



"ROBINSON
People are frightened of themselves. It’s like Freud saying that the best thing is to have no sensation at all, as if we’re supposed to live painlessly and unconsciously in the world. I have a much different view. The ancients are right: the dear old human experience is a singular, difficult, shadowed, brilliant experience that does not resolve into being comfortable in the world. The valley of the shadow is part of that, and you are depriving yourself if you do not experience what humankind has experienced, including doubt and sorrow. We experience pain and difficulty as failure instead of saying, I will pass through this, everyone I have ever admired has passed through this, music has come out of this, literature has come out of it. We should think of our humanity as a privilege."



"ROBINSON
Faith always sounds like an act of will. Frankly, I don’t know what faith in God means. For me, the experience is much more a sense of God. Nothing could be more miraculous than the fact that we have a consciousness that makes the world intelligible to us and are moved by what is beautiful."
marilynnerobinson  religion  sarahfay  2008  science  structure  atheism  belief  christianity  richarddawkins  newatheists  ordinary  everyday  perception  vision  seeing  noticing  observing  dignity  grace  faith  standards  mindchanging  openmindedness  thinking  writing  howwewrite  humanism  interviews  beauty  ordinariness  mindchanges 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Mapping a Museum’s Collection with Memory
"Hughen/Starkweather’s project, “Re:depiction,” was the latest in a public programming series at the AAM called the Artists Drawing Club. Organized by Marc Mayer, the institution’s educator for public programs, the series commissions Bay Area artists to create a new project in response to the AAM’s collection, exhibitions, location, and/or architecture. “Re:depiction” was an audio and visual intervention in the collection, for which Hughen and Starkweather asked staff to recall from memory works on display that they felt particularly connected to. Using those memories as inspiration, the duo created large, semiabstract works on paper, which were hung like scrolls in the museum’s main staircase for one night only (May 22). Along the handrails small audio players and headphones were set up that allowed visitors to listen to the original interviews while admiring the work — hence the opportunity to hear the director speak so frankly about a camo-wearing rhino.

Upon arriving at the museum on May 22, guests received a map connecting the contemporary drawings and interviews with their corresponding works on display in the permanent collection. Walking through the museum with these multiple layers of meaning and interpretation at hand — the original object, a staff memory, and the subsequent painting — showcased the fresh manner of looking that the Artists Drawing Club is aiming for.

Too often, museums offer only precise and manicured wall text to guide the audience. Maybe that’s okay, but there are so many ways of experiencing and engaging with artwork; featuring only one, as museums tend to do, misses something fundamental about how humans really engage with art. The Artists Drawing Club — somewhat like other intervention series at institutions around the country, such as the Museum of Modern Art’s Artist’s Choice series and the Jewish Museum’s recent Barbara Bloom show — asks how artists can provide us with new means of experiencing work. This may mean approaches that a museum hasn’t considered or provided before, including sight, smell, audio, movement, and more. One of the benefits of contemporary art is that it offers a space in which alternative, creative, and maybe even absurd perspectives are taken seriously; in this way “Re:depiction” became as much a reimagining of the AAM’s collection as it was a showcase of Hughen/Starkweather’s work.

Accompanying the map was a paper with a few questions, inviting the viewer to continue the kind of engagement the artists had started with AAM’s staff. “An Invitation … ,” as it was called, asked four simple questions about an important artwork in our lives, and visitors could submit their answers to be featured on the museum’s website. Like the map, which turned the museum visit into an act of searching and comparison, the questionnaire placed our personal experiences with artwork at the foreground — experiences usually ignored in favor of the “professional” insights of the curator, director, or artist.

How does memory make an artwork? How do our relationships with certain pieces define our perceptions of them? Do any two people actually see and feel the same way before the same work of art? These are the important questions that “Re:depiction” both raised and complicated. We tend think of artworks as static and finite objects, especially in historical and encyclopedic institutions like the AAM. The Artists Drawing Club proves that notion wrong, and seeks instead to reinvigorate the collection with a new sense of curiosity and exploration."
museusm  curation  maps  mapping  memory  art  2014  benvalentine  amandahughen  jenniferstarkweather  jayxu  drawing  exhibitions  exhibitiondesign  exploration  Re:depiction  perception 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Wendell Berry: Letter to Wes Jackson… | UKIAH BLOG
"From WENDELL BERRY
Home Economics (1982)

[This evening, August 3rd, will be our second First Friday of Neighbors Reading at Mulligan Books downtown Ukiah, 6-7pm. We share favorite passages from favorite books around topics of community, transition, resilience, or anything else, as part of the second semester of Mendo Free Skool. We video the readings for Community TV and invite your participation. I will be reading from one of my favorite authors, Wendell Berry... passages from an essay The Family Farm, from his book Home Economics. What follows is the opening essay from that book... -DS]

Dear Wes,

I want to try to complete the thought about “randomness” that I was working on when we talked the other day.

The Hans Jenny paragraph that started me off is the last one on page twenty-one of The Soil Resource:
Raindrops that pass in random fashion through an imaginary plane above the forest canopy are intercepted by leaves and twigs and channeled into distinctive vert space patterns of through-drip, crown-drip, and stem flow. The soil surface, as receiver, transmits the “rain message” downward, but as the subsoils lack a power source to mold a flow design, the water tends to leave the ecosystem as it entered it, in randomized fashion.

My question is: Does “random” in this (or any) context describe a verifiable condition or a limit of perception?

My answer is: It describes a limit of perception. This is, of course, not a scientist’s answer, but it may be that anybody’s answer would be unscientific. My answer is based on the belief that pattern is verifiable by limited information, whereas the information required to verify randomness is unlimited. As I think you said when we talked, what is perceived as random within a given limit may be seen as part of a pattern within a wider limit.

If this is so then Dr. Jenny, for accuracy’s sake, should have said that rainwater moves from mystery through pattern back into mystery.

If “mystery” is a necessary (that is, honest) term in such a description, then the modern scientific program has not altered the ancient perception of the human condition a jot. If, in using the word “random,” scientists only mean “random so far as we can tell,” then we are back at about the Book of Job. Some truth meets the eye; some does not. We are up against mystery. To call this mystery “randomness” or “chance” or a “fluke” is to take charge of it on behalf of those who do not respect pattern. To call the unknown “random” is to plant the flag by which to colonize and exploit the known. (A result that our friend Dr. Jenny, of course, did not propose and would not condone.)

To call the unknown by its right name, “mystery,” is to suggest that we had better respect the possibility of a larger, unseen pattern that can be damaged or destroyed and, with it, the smaller patterns.

This respecting of mystery obviously has something or other to do with religion, and we moderns have defended ourselves against it by turning it over to religion specialists, who take advantage of our indifference by claiming to know a lot about it.

What impresses me about it, however is the insistent practicality implicit in it. If we are up against mystery, then we dare act only on the most modest assumptions. The modern scientific program has held that we must act on the basis of knowledge, which, because its effects are so manifestly large, we have assumed to be ample. But if we are up against mystery, then knowledge is relatively small, and the ancient program is the right one: Act on the basis of ignorance. Acting on the basis of ignorance, paradoxically, requires one to know things, remember things— for instance, that failure is possible, that error is possible, that second chances are desirable (so don’t risk everything on the first chance), and so on.

What I think you and I and a few others are working on is a definition of agriculture as up against mystery and ignorance-based. I think we think that this is its necessary definition, just as I think we think that several kinds of ruin are the necessary result of an agriculture defined as knowledge-based and up against randomness. Such an agriculture conforms exactly to what the ancient program, or programs, understood as evil or hubris. Both the Greeks and the Hebrews told us to watch out for humans who assume that they make all the patterns."

[via Charlie's newsletter 6, 5 http://tinyletter.com/vruba/letters/6-5-hills ]
wendellberry  via:vruba  1982  mystery  science  random  patterns  patternsensing  zoominginandout  religion  belief  myth  myths  information  perspective  perception  modernism  indifference  ignorance  local  global  knowledge 
march 2014 by robertogreco
For Billions of People, “Wasting Time” Makes Little Sense - Facts So Romantic - Nautilus
"The concept of “wasting” time made no sense to Levine’s student.

Levine had come up against a basic cultural difference noted by psychologists. He was thinking according to clock time. The student was on event time.

Life on clock time is scheduled. Events begin and end at specific times. People wear watches (or carry phones that display the time) and punctuality is prized. Clock time is the norm throughout the industrialized world (North America, Western Europe, East Asia, Australia, New Zealand).

The idea that “time is money” is taken for granted in many clock-time cultures, including North America. When we want to get something done we budget our time carefully. We read books and download apps to help with time management (which turns out to have similarities with financial management). And if we make an investment of time, we hope for good returns. (See the related Nautilus article by Greg Beato, about how wasting time can actually increase your creativity.)

Event time is very different. Time is not so tangible, and certainly not equivalent to money. Attending to relationships is more important than attending to the clock. Life is allowed to be more spontaneous. Events generally do not begin and end at specific times; they get underway when all of the relevant people are assembled, and they end when they reach an organic conclusion. Event time is standard in most of South America, Africa, and South Asia.

Life on clock time and life on event time are profoundly different, and people raised according to one paradigm can undergo a great deal of stress when compelled to live according to the other. An early study of Peace Corps volunteers found that unfamiliar approaches to time were one of the most challenging aspects of their postings.

Even the meaning of “on time” is different in clock time and event time cultures, and subject to a good deal of cultural variation. In North America, the basic unit of time for assessing lateness is 5 minutes. So people typically feel the need to apologize if they are 10 minutes late (2 units of time). But people in the Arab world think of time in intervals of a quarter-hour, and would feel compelled to apologize if 20 minutes late (more than one unit of time).

Researchers found this pattern confirmed when they surveyed college students in Morocco, Estonia, and the U.S. When they were asked about when one would be considered inappropriately late or early in various scenarios, American and Estonian students tended to give answers in multiples of 5 minutes, and Moroccan students gave answers in 15-minute intervals."
time  culture  2014  productivity  psychology  language  perception  presence 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Victorian Occultism and the Art of Synesthesia | The Public Domain Review
"Grounded in the theory that ideas, emotions, and even events, can manifest as visible auras, Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater’s Thought-Forms (1901) is an odd and intriguing work. Benjamin Breen explores these “synesthetic” abstractions and asks to what extent they, and the Victorian mysticism of which they were born, influenced the Modernist movement that flourished in the following decades."



"These sorts of underlying associations between words, colors and sounds were precisely what motivated Thought-Forms. In other words, the book was about synesthesia. The illustration of the music of Mendelssohn reproduced above, for instance, depicts yellow, red, blue and green lines rising out of a church. This, Leadbeater and Besant explain, “signifies the movement of one of the parts of the melody, the four moving approximately together denoting the treble, alto, tenor and bass respectively.” Moreover, “the scalloped edging surrounding the whole is the result of various flourishes and arpeggios, and the floating crescents in the centre represent isolated or staccato chords.” Color and sound had become commingled.

Yet Leadbeater and Besant intended not only to visualize sound, but to demonstrate their distinctive psychic gifts: the ability to detect spiritual “vibrations” of ideas, emotions and sounds as visual forms. This, in other words, was a sort of spiritual synesthesia, as much a religious act as a neurological one."
synesthesia  art  history  occult  religion  anniebesant  charlesleadbeater  benjaminbreen  mysticism  modernism  belief  color  sound  perception  via:alexismadrigal 
march 2014 by robertogreco
What Screens Want by Frank Chimero
"We need to work as a community to develop a language of transformation so we can talk to one another. And we probably need to steal these words from places like animation, theater, puppetry, dance, and choreography.

Words matter. They are abstractions, too—an interface to thought and understanding by communication. The words we use mold our perception of our work and the world around us. They become a frame, just like the interfaces we design."



"When I realized that, a little light went off in my head: a map’s biases do service to one need, but distort everything else. Meaning, they misinform and confuse those with different needs.

That’s how I feel about the web these days. We have a map, but it’s not for me. So I am distanced. It feels like things are distorted. I am consistently confused.

See, we have our own abstractions on the web, and they are bigger than the user interfaces of the websites and apps we build. They are the abstractions we use to define the web. The commercial web. The things that have sprung up in the last decade, but gained considerable speed in the past five years.

It’s the business structures and funding models we use to create digital businesses. It’s the pressure to scale, simply because it’s easy to copy bits. It’s the relationships between the people who make the stuff, and the people who use that stuff, and the consistent abandonment of users by entrepreneurs.

It’s the churning and the burning, flipping companies, nickel and diming users with in-app purchases, data lock-in, and designing with dark patterns so that users accidentally do actions against their own self-interest.

Listen: I’m at the end of a 4-month sabbatical, and I worry about this stuff, because the further I get from everything, the more it begins to look toxic. These pernicious elements are the primary map we have of the web right now.

We used to have a map of a frontier that could be anything. The web isn’t young anymore, though. It’s settled. It’s been prospected and picked through. Increasingly, it feels like we decided to pave the wilderness, turn it into a suburb, and build a mall. And I hate this map of the web, because it only describes a fraction of what it is and what’s possible. We’ve taken an opportunity for connection and distorted it to commodify attention. That’s one of the sleaziest things you can do.

So what is the answer? I found this quote by Ted Nelson, the man who invented hypertext. He’s one of the original rebel technologists, so he has a lot of things to say about our current situation. Nelson:
The world is not yet finished, but everyone is behaving as if everything was known. This is not true. In fact, the computer world as we know it is based upon one tradition that has been waddling along for the last fifty years, growing in size and ungainliness, and is essentially defining the way we do everything. My view is that today’s computer world is based on techie misunderstandings of human thought and human life. And the imposition of inappropriate structures throughout the computer is the imposition of inappropriate structures on the things we want to do in the human world.



We can produce a vision of the web that isn’t based on:

consolidation
privatization
power
hierarchies
surveillance

We can make a new map. Or maybe reclaim a map we misplaced a long time ago. One built on:

extensibility
openness
communication
community
wildness

We can use the efficiency and power of interfaces to help people do what they already wish more quickly or enjoyably, and we can build up business structures so that it’s okay for people to put down technology and get on with their life once their job is done. We can rearrange how we think about the tools we build, so that someone putting down your tool doesn’t disprove its utility, but validates its usefulness.



Let me leave you with this: the point of my writing was to ask what screens want. I think that’s a great question, but it is a secondary concern. What screens want needs to match up with what we want.

People believe there’s an essence to the computer, that there’s something true and real and a correct way to do things. But—there is no right way. We get to choose how to aim the technology we build. At least for now, because increasingly, technology feels like something that happens to you instead of something you use. We need to figure out how to stop that, for all of our sakes, before we’re locked in, on rails, and headed toward who knows what.

One of the reasons that I’m so fascinated by screens is because their story is our story. First there was darkness, and then there was light. And then we figured out how to make that light dance. Both stories are about transformations, about change. Screens have flux, and so do we."
frankchimero  2013  screens  flux  build2013  plasticity  jamesburke  plastic  skeoumorphs  containers  materials  change  transitions  perception  flatdesign  windowsphonemetro  ios7  software  replacement  shape  affordances  grain  design  paper  print  eadwardmuybridge  movement  motion  animation  customization  responsivewebdesign  responsiveness  variability  mutability  mutations  ux  interactiondesign  interfaces  language  ethanmarcotte  maps  mapping  representation  cartography  embodiedmeaning  respresentation  tednelson  computersareforpeople  softwareisforpeople  unfinished  responsivedesign 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Aesthetics of Dispersed Attention: Interview with German Media Theorist Petra Löffler :: net critique by Geert Lovink
"GL: You got a fascinating chapter in your habilitation about early cinema and the scattering of attention it would be responsible for. The figure of the nosy parker that gawks interests you and you contrast it to the street roaming flaneur.

PL: Yes, the gawker is a fascinating figure, because according to my research results it is the corporation of the modern spectator who is also a member of a mass audience––the flaneur never was part of it. The gawker or gazer, like the flaneur, appeared at first in the modern metropolis with its multi-sensorial sensations and attractions. According to Walter Benjamin the flaneur disappeared at the moment, when the famous passages were broken down. They had to make room for greater boulevards that were able to steer the advanced traffic in the French metropolis. Always being part of the mass of passers-by the gawker looks at the same time for diversions, for accidents and incidents in the streets. This is to say his attention is always distracted between an awareness of what happens on the streets and navigating between people and vehicles. No wonder movie theatres were often opened at locations with a high level of traffic inviting passers-by to go inside and, for a certain period of time, becoming part of an audience. Furthermore many films of the period of Early Cinema were actualities showing the modern city-life. In these films the movie-camera was positioned at busy streets or corners in order to record movements of human and non-human agents. Gawkers often went into the view of the camera gesticulating or grimacing in front of it. That’s why the gawker has become a very popular figure mirroring the modern mass audience on the screen.

Today to view one’s own face on a screen is an everyday experience. Not only CCTV-cameras at public spaces record passers-by, often without their notice. Also popular TV-shows that require life-participation such as casting shows once more offer members of the audience the opportunity to see themselves on a screen. At the same time many people post their portraits on websites of social networks. They want to be seen by others because they want to be part of a greater audience––the network community. This is what Jean Baudrillard has called connectivity. The alliance between the drive to see and to being seen establishes a new order of seeing which differs significantly from Foucault’s panoptical vision: Today no more the few see the many (panopticon) or the many see the few (popular stars)––today, because of the multiplication and connectivity of screens in public and private spaces, the many see the many. Insofar, one can conclude, the gawker or gazer is an overall-phenomenon, a non-specific subjectivity of a distributed publicity."



"GL: I can imagine that debates during the rise of mass education, the invention of film are different from ours. But is that the case? It is all pedagogy, so it seems. We never seem to leave the classroom.

PL: The question is, leaving where? Entering the other side (likewise amusement sites or absorbing fantasies)? Why not? Changing perspectives? Yes, that’s what we have to do. But for that purpose we don’t have to leave the classroom necessarily. Rather, we should rebuilt it as a room of testing modes of thinking in very concrete ways. I’m thinking of Jacques Rancière’s suggestions, in his essay Le partage du sensible, about the power relation between teachers and pupils. Maybe today teachers can learn more (for instance soft skills) from their pupils than the other way around. We need other regimes of distribution of power, also in the classroom, a differentiation of tasks, of velocities and singularities—in short: we need micropolitics.

More seriously, your question indicates a strong relationship between pedagogy and media. There’s a reason why media theorists like Friedrich Kittler had pointed to media’s affinity to propaganda and institutions of power. I think of his important book Discourse Networks, where he has revealed the relevance of mediated writing techniques for the formation of educational institutions and for subjectivation. That’s why the question is, what are the tasks we have to learn in order to exist in the world of electronic mass media? What means ‘Bildung’ for us nowadays?

GL: There is an ‘attention war’ going on, with debates across traditional print and broadcast media about the rise in distraction, in schools, at home. On the street we see people hooked on their smart phones, multitasking, everywhere they go. What do you make of this? This is just a heightened sensibility, a fashion, or is there really something at stake? Would you classify it as petit-bourgeois anxieties? Loss of attention as a metaphor for threatening poverty and status loss of the traditional middle class in the West? How do you read the use of brain research by Nicholas Carr, Frank Schirrmacher and more recently also the German psychiatrist Manfred Spitzer who came up with a few bold statement concerning the devastating consequences of computer use for the (young) human brain. Having read your study one could say: don’t worry, nothing new under the sun. But is this the right answer?

PL: Your description addresses severe debates. Nothing less than the future of our Western culture seems to be at stake. Institutions like the educational systems are under permanent critique, concerning all levels from primary schools to universities. That’s why the Pisa studies have revealed a lot of deficits and have provoked debates on what kind of education is necessary for our children. On the one hand it’s a debate on cultural values, but on the other it’s a struggle on power relations. We are living in a society of control, and how to become a subject and how this subject is related to other subjects in mediated environments are important questions.

A great uncertainty is emerged. That’s why formulas that promise easy solutions are highly welcomed. Neurological concepts are often based on one-sided models concerning the relationship between body and mind, and they often leave out the role of social and environmental factors. From historians of science such as Canguilhem and Foucault one can learn that psychiatrist models of brain defects and mental anomalies not only mirror social anxieties, but also produce knowledge about what is defined as normal. And it is up to us as observers of such discourses to name those anxieties today. Nonetheless, I would not signify distraction as a metaphor. It is in fact a concrete phase of the body, a state of the mind. It’s real. You cannot deal with it when you call it a disability or a disease and just pop pills or switch off your electronic devices."
via:litherland  attention  distraction  2013  petralöffer  geertlovink  walterbenjamin  flaneur  gawkers  cities  internet  audience  diaphanesverlag  montaigne  albertkümmel  siegfriedkracauer  frankfurterschule  kant  tibot  psychology  daydreaming  media  mediaarchaeology  richardshusterman  film  micropolitics  friederichkittler  education  subjectivation  massmedia  bildung  nicholascarr  sherryturkle  frankschirrmacher  culture  values  culturalvalues  brain  bernardstiegler  socialmedia  marketing  entertainment  propaganda  deepreading  petersloterdijk  mindfulness  self-control  mediatheory  theory  theodoradorno  weimar  history  philosophy  reading  writing  data  perception  siegfriedzielinski  wolfgangernst  bernhardsiegert  erhardschüttpelz  francoberardi  andrewkeen  jaronlanier  howardrheingold  foucault  micheldemontaigne  michelfoucault 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Hearing can make “invisible” objects appear | Ars Technica
"Words that make objects appear from thin air are generally the stuff of the magical worlds of Harry Potter or Hobbits. But a new experiment has shown that words can make objects easier to recognize, as our sense of vision can be altered by other sensory inputs.

"People assume that vision is the most impervious of the senses, impenetrable to outside influences," said Gary Lupyan of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who led the research. But evidence is growing that shows external information can change what one sees.

Lupyan wanted to know how much of what we see is affected by factors outside of vision. "For example, when you see lights flashing in a club, they appear to be playing in time with the music. Actually, in most cases, the lights aren't doing that. The visual system adjusts what you see. In terms of timing, people have more accurate hearing, and thus what one sees gets altered accordingly," Lupyan said."

[See also: http://www.theguardian.com/science/neurophilosophy/2013/aug/12/language-boosts-invisible-objects-into-visual-awareness ]
vision  perception  senses  language  brain  psychology  science  garylupyan  emilyward 
august 2013 by robertogreco
The Lay of the Land | edgeca.se
[Now at: http://fjord.style/the-lay-of-the-land ]

"I have a lot of questions. I blame the fact that I grew up in a fjord.

Our town was squeezed onto a small strip of land on the edge of a deep bay, in an oblong bowl of mountains. To get anywhere, you had to leave by either “the narrows” on one end, or “the pass” on the other. Once outside, the closest approximation of civilization was eight hours away.

Inside this pre-Internet Shangri-La, raised with old comics instead of television, I developed a concept of the outside world which required a lot of recalibrating later. My education at the hands of my cartoon masters was supplemented by months-long summer family road trips, most of which was spent creeping through interminable mountain ranges, as I studied our road atlas, and my comics.

Eventually I escaped my fjord, but a few lessons of my youth have been repeatedly confirmed: topography is important, and there’s no faster way to make an impression than with a cartoon. And by “cartoon” I mean a simplification which exaggerates some details and omits others. You could also say “model,” but I like the connotations of “cartoon”; it retains a transgressive frisson that the word “model” doesn’t have, unless you’re in fashion. But anyway.

Some of my favorite things combine topography and cartoons. One in particular holds a special place in my heart: the raised relief map.

I love these maps because they feel like a very simple way of approaching some very complex questions which I don’t think anyone has answered to my satisfaction:
Where are we? What is this place like? What does it mean to be here?
Lately I’ve been focusing on a small part of this question set, something I’ve never felt I thoroughly understood: How big are mountains?"



"Whether due to limits of the material, the analytic or artistic judgements of the creator, or other artifacts of the process, most relief maps involve this kind of explicitly interpretive reduction. This increases their usefulness – an exact miniature of the landscape would not necessarily be more informative.

I’d love to explore a map of the world in such a style. But these things are incredibly time-consuming, requiring a lot of labor and decision-making, and eventually you run out of space. I’ve spent a lot of time working with 3D graphics, so here my thoughts naturally turn to a sub-question: Could these kinds of decisions be made programmatically in any way? And can our experience of mountains be incorporated at all into the process?

Which raises one further question: What is our experience of mountains?"
cartography  mapping  maps  dataviz  reality  perception  2013  peterrichardson  topography  mountains  elevation  comics  information  reliefmaps  canon 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Commented City Walks | Wi Journal
"This paper presents an interdisciplinary method designed to study urban ambiances. The main goal of the commented city walks approach is to gain access to the in situ sensory experience of passers-by. The key is to acquire accounts of perception in motion. For this, walking, perceiving and describing are simultaneously required. Commented walks are based on three central hypotheses: the situationally-rooted nature of perception, mobility as a condition for the existence of perception, the interlacing of words and perception. This method is applied here to the Grand Louvre in Paris."
walking  perceiving  noticing  2013  urban  urbanism  ethnography  methodology  sensory  senses  citywalks  cities  perception  mobility  everyday 
july 2013 by robertogreco
#cyborgchat with @NeilHarbisson (with tweets) · roseveleth · Storify
"Neil's eyeborg serves as a third eye, one that can see the colors he can't. "It transposes color into a continuous electronic beep, exploiting the fact that both light andsound are made up of waves of various frequencies. Red, at the bottom of the visual spectrum and with the lowest frequency, sounds the lowest, and violet, at the top, sounds highest. A chip at the back of Harbisson’s head performs the necessary computations, and a pressure-pad allows color-related sound to be conducted to Harbisson’s inner ear through the vibration of his skull, leaving his outer ears free for normal noise. Harbisson, who has perfect pitch, has learned to link these notes back to the colors that produced them.""

[See also: http://nautil.us/issue/1/what-makes-you-so-special/encounters-with-the-posthuman ]
neilharbisson  vision  color  cyborgs  sound  hearing  audio  perception  pitch  colors 
june 2013 by robertogreco
The Lives of Images Peter Galison in conversation with Trevor Paglen [.pdf]
"What is observation? What is seeing? What counts as “right depiction”? Are images today now doing more than showing? What is objectivity? What does the future of imaging hold?

Peter Galison, one of the world’s leading historians of science, has written widely on how visual representation shapes our understanding of the world. Trevor Paglen is an artist whose work with photography has explored governmental secrecy and the limits of seeing. For his most recent project, The Last Pictures, Paglen worked with a group of scientists to create a disc of images marking our historical moment; the project culminated in last year’s launch of a satellite, carrying those images, that will remain in Earth’s orbit perpetually. The following conversation took place at Aperture’s office earlier this year."



"Well, what is it that the digital really does? There are many ways in which the digital is shaped by the legacy of analog photography and film. Both for political reasons and aesthetic reasons, what’s really important is the fact that digital is small, cheap, and searchable. The combination of these three features is dramatic. It means that your smartphone does facial recognition—no longer is that an inaccessible and futuristic piece of the state-security apparatus. It’s ubiquitous.

Aesthetically, this can mean a kind of decentering, a vision of the world that is not directly human. It also means that cameras are everywhere, and you’re not even aware of them. There’s an interesting film by a colleague and friend, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, working with Véréna Paravel, called Leviathan (2012), filmed on fishing boats in the North Atlantic. A lot of the film would have been completely unimaginable just a generation ago. They use little high-resolution digital cameras to achieve points of view in places that would previously have been impossible: amidst the pile of dead fish, or underwater as the tank is being filled, or looking back at the front of the boat. These are not impossible camera angles, but they’re nonhuman points of view."



"It seems that we’re moving away from thinking about images interms of representation and toward thinking about their creation as part of a networked process, guided by political or economic “scripts” embedded in the algorithms controlling these image-making networks. If we look at Facebook’s facial-recognition and search technologies, or at Instagram, we see similar things going on, but in a commercial context."



"If images become tools, it’s easier to see them as stepping-stones to other things. For me, the fundamental separation between art and science is not an eternal characteristic of science. The split happened in a historical moment. If you said to Leonardo da Vinci—pardon me, historians—“Are your studies of turbulent water art or science?” he would reply (so I imagine): “You’re crazy! What are you talking about? I don’t even recognize this choice.” But in the nineteenth century, you begin to have the idea of an objective image and of a scientist who is defined by being self-restrained, followed by the idea of maximal detachment from the image. At that moment, Charles Baudelaire criticized photography, saying (approximately): “You know, this isn’t really part of art because it’s insufficiently modulated by the person who says he’s an artist.” In that sense, what Baudelaire is saying and what late-nineteenth-century scientists are saying is the same thing, except they come to opposite conclusions. What they agree on is that art is defined by intervention and science is defined by lack of intervention.

I believe the trunk split, at that point, into two branches. But in many ways the branches are coming back together again in our moment. People in the art world aren’t frightened, in the way they once were, of having a scientific dimension to what they do. It’s not destabilizing for Matthew Ritchie to collaborate with scientists, nor is it a professional disqualification for scientists to work with artists."
trevorpaglen  petergalison  aperture  images  photography  perception  interpretation  history  science  art  seeing  sight  leviathan  recording  video  film  processing  photoshop  digital  luciencastaing-taylor  vérénaparavel  presentation  manipulation  capture  distortion  depiction  universalism  language  communication  symbols  semiotics  aesthetics  interdisciplinary  glvo  instagram  networkedfictions  canon  matthewritchie  leonardodavinci  facebook  uniquity  gopro  charlesbaudelaire  newaesthetic  convergence 
june 2013 by robertogreco
The Surprising Psychology of How Names Shape Our Thoughts : The New Yorker
"These studies suggest a sort of linguistic Heisenberg principle: as soon as you label a concept, you change how people perceive it. It’s difficult to imagine a truly neutral label, because words evoke images (as do maluma and takete), are associated with other concepts (as are “north” with up and “south” with down), and vary in complexity (from KAR to RDO). Still, you don’t need to worry too much about what you name your children. The effects are subtle, people with non-fluent names succeed all the time, and norms change."
names  naming  language  2013  linguistics  sound  directions  perception  simonlaham  peterkoval  danieloppenheimer  adamalter  christianmorgenstern  words  wolfgangköhler  bentleycoffey  patrickmclaughlin  leifnelson  josephsimmons  psychology  maps  mapping  direction  elizabethloftus  johnpalmer 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Rashomon Project
"Recent protests, political unrest, and news events have been well documented with digital video and photos posted online on sites like YouTube. As smartphones grow in popularity, this trend will accelerate. Yet it remains difficult to obtain a comprehensive view of contested events from the many individual photos and video accounts. The result is that viewers often draw contradictory conclusions by seeing only parts of the available material. The Rashomon Project is developing an online toolkit that will facilitate rapidly assembly and public review of "Multi-Perspective Chronologies" where many videos are time-aligned and displayed simultaneously. Initial experiments with vanilla iPhone and Android video show that temporal metadata embedded in the digital files can be used to do a very close alignment. Once they are closely aligned, audio signals from video can be processed to further refine the alignment. Such a toolkit will benefit the public, citizen journalists, and ideally courts or commissions charged with investigating disputed incidents. Our goal is to allow the public (potentially hundreds of thousands of viewers) to gain a much better understanding of contested events from user-generated photos and video than is currently possible."

[via: http://www.krisfallon.com/projects/ ]

[Update 27 April 2014: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/04/hey-youtube-we-need-a-multi-video-syncing-function/361236/ ]
srg  rashomon  audio  journalism  perception  perspective  documentary  video  film  onlinetoolkit  multi-perspectivechronologies  citizenjournalism  time  chronology  iphone  android  storytelling  usergenerated  krisfallon  darkmatterproject 
may 2013 by robertogreco
The Pantograph Punch — At the Service of the Unusual
"Throughout our discussion Shaun kept talking about engineers. At the time I had very little idea what an engineer did but it was their language Shaun was using. Instead of adapting Shaun’s words into something I understood, something familiar, I wondered what would happen if I put my work at the service of the unusual. If I let the ideas and words of engineering rule my work rather than trying to force them into the shape of conventional fiction. Would I be able to recreate the odd way I had perceived those buildings on that day?"



"Where I’d always aimed to achieve mimicry I needed to attain literacy. I needed to find some engineers but I couldn’t just observe them, I needed to come out from the corners and ask them to teach me and test me. I found one engineer in particular, Andrew Charleson. Andrew works at Victoria University School of Architecture and Design. When I first met him he described himself as an engineer who had been ‘acrhictectualised’. He told me, if I was serious, I needed to take some courses he was running about structure."



"George Saunders was an engineer, so was Fyodor Dostoevsky, Neville Shute, Robert Musil, L. Sprague de Camp, Robert Louis Stevenson, Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer. Also, most of the engineers I talked to had a very wide reading habit. The myth of men reading only non-fiction seemed to be smashed by the engineers I met, a couple of whom wrote short stories and poetry themselves. But I wasn’t an engineer who wrote fiction, I was a writer who was pretending, play-acting at being an engineering student."
writing  empathy  learning  engineering  perception  language  vocabulary  thinking  mindset  georgesaunders  dostoyevsky  nevilleshute  robertmusil  robertlouisstevenson  kurtvonnegut  lspraguedecamp  normanmailer  2013  pipadam  poetry  storytelling  pretending  playacting  fiction  mimicry  vonnegut 
may 2013 by robertogreco
cartocacoethes
"n.— Note: Related to cacoethes. «Indeed, many prehistoric “maps” may be the result of cartocacoethes—a mania, uncontrollable urge, compulsion or itch to see maps everywhere. Map simulacra like chipped paint: a stone China: a mud puddle Australia: and “geographic tongue:” —a medical condition that “looks like a map.”» —“Cartocacoethes: Why the World’s Oldest Map Isn’t a Map” Making Maps: DIY Cartography Oct. 13, 2008. (source: Double-Tongued Dictionary)"

[via: https://twitter.com/meetar/status/332245421990756352 ]

[See also: "Cartocacoethes: Why the World’s Oldest Map Isn’t a Map" http://makingmaps.net/2008/10/13/cartocacoethes-why-the-worlds-oldest-map-isnt-a-map/ ]
maps  mapping  perception  cartocacoethes  manias  pareidolia  words  definitions  simulacra 
may 2013 by robertogreco
ENCAPSULATED UNIVERSES | Edge.org
"Think about it this way. We have 7,000 languages. Each of these languages encompasses a world-view, encompasses the ideas and predispositions and cognitive tools developed by thousands of years of people in that culture. Each one of those languages offers a whole encapsulated universe. So we have 7,000 parallel universes, some of them are quite similar to one another, and others are a lot more different. The fact that there's this great diversity is a real testament to the flexibility and the ingenuity of the human mind. The fact that we're able to take so many different perspectives and create such an incredibly diverse set of ways of looking at the world, that is something first to be celebrated, but also something to learn from: flexibility and diversity are at the very heart of what makes us human and what makes us so smart. I think the more we understand how people are able to take all these different perspectives, and able to change the way they think, the better we'll understand the nature of being human."
encapsulateduniverses  leraboroditsky  language  languages  perspective  perception  humanmind  humans  lostintranslation  flexibility  diversity  2013  paralleluniverses 
april 2013 by robertogreco
Wealth Inequality in America - YouTube
"Infographics on the distribution of wealth in America, highlighting both the inequality and the difference between our perception of inequality and the actual numbers. The reality is often not what we think it is."
inequality  incomeinequality  wealth  us  wealthdistribution  video  2012  infographics  perception  fairness  income  economics  finance  reality 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Slide 1 of 50 (Sci-fi I like, Fictional Futures, Goldsmiths)
"This presentation isn’t about telling. Just read and look at the pictures, and maybe new ideas will come. That’s all it’s about."

"Climb up on the Moon? Of course we did."
http://interconnected.org/notes/2006/02/scifi/?p=8

"You point towards the galactic centre for two centuries then away for another two."
http://interconnected.org/notes/2006/02/scifi/?p=9

"Years are pretty arbitrary, and long periods to count. I can’t really conceive of them. But these stars come along every few months, which is a more human scale."
http://interconnected.org/notes/2006/02/scifi/?p=11

"To get to your house, you had to climb up on top of the city, walk along until you got to your chimney and climb down."
http://interconnected.org/notes/2006/02/scifi/?p=34

“When I hit the drum like this
I think the sound
was there from the beginning,
and everything has gone to make that sound,
and after it
everything is different.”
http://interconnected.org/notes/2006/02/scifi/?p=39
perception  scale  humanscale  moon  years  time  streets  turkey  cities  Çatalhöyük  ronherron  archigram  italocalvino  schul  schulzeandwebb  berg  berglondon  ursulaleguin  fictionalfutures  mattwebb  sciencefiction  fiction  culture  literature  science  technology  future  design  scifi  from delicious
december 2012 by robertogreco
Stop Lying About What You Do | booktwo.org
"I have to confess too, to stop lying.

I don’t read like I used to—although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I rarely finish books. I’ve always had a habit of abandoning novels 50-100 pages before the end. I don’t know why, I’ve always done that. I think I’m doing it more and I don’t mind because I think my critical senses have improved and by eradicating book guilt I’ve reached a point where I am happy to cast things aside. I read 5, 10 books at once. I read them on paper and electronically as the mood takes me.

I read with continuous partial attention and I don’t care that I am frequently interrupting my own reading. I despise the discourse that says we are all shallow, that we are all flighty, distracted, not paying attention. I am paying attention, but I am paying attention to everything, and even if my knowledge is fragmented and hard to synthesise it is wider, and it plays in a vaster sphere, than any knowledge that has gone before."
psychology  future  lies  learning  perception  lying  honesty  ebooks  books  online  web  howweread  attention  2011  jamesbridle  continuouspartialattention  cv  reading  culture  from delicious
december 2012 by robertogreco
Lotto Lab
"Lottolab Studio is the world’s first public perception research space.

Perception underpins everything that we feel, think and believe. It is the source of all artistic expression and scientific exploration. What we perceive IS who we are.

The universality of perception gives us at Lottolab the freedom – and logic – to work outside the contrived boundaries between people, disciplines and institutions, and has enabled and inspired us to locate our lab within London’s Science Museum – thereby uniting science, the arts and education in one space.

Through our research, we seek to deepen both our scientific and philosophical understanding of human perception. Central to our ethos is the inclusion of the public at the centre of the process of discovery, which brings with it, not only new scientific insights, but also the potential for personal and social transformation, reflected in our programmes of public engagement."
lottolabstudio  lottolab  behavior  humanbehavior  humanperception  perception  research  science  illusions  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
Everything in Writing and Life is Fiction : The New Yorker
"I have no idea what I’m doing. All the decisions I appear to have made—about plots and characters and where to start and when to stop—are not decisions at all. They are compromises. A book is whittled down from hope, and when I start to cut my fingers I push it away from me to see what others make of it."

"I do no research. Given that I’ve just written a book that revolves around two London Met police detectives, this might seem a little foolhardy. I have no real idea what detectives do with their days. So I made some guesses. I suppose that they must investigate things. I tried to imagine what that might be like. I’ve seen the same films and TV shows that you have. I’ve read the same sorts of cheap thrillers. And I know that everything is fiction. Absolutely everything. Research is its own slow fiction, a process of reassurance for the author. I don’t want reassurance. I like writing out of confusion, panic, a sense of everything being perilously close to collapse. So I try to embrace the fiction of all things.

And I mean that—everything is fiction. When you tell yourself the story of your life, the story of your day, you edit and rewrite and weave a narrative out of a collection of random experiences and events. Your conversations are fiction. Your friends and loved ones—they are characters you have created. And your arguments with them are like meetings with an editor—please, they beseech you, you beseech them, rewrite me. You have a perception of the way things are, and you impose it on your memory, and in this way you think, in the same way that I think, that you are living something that is describable. When of course, what we actually live, what we actually experience—with our senses and our nerves—is a vast, absurd, beautiful, ridiculous chaos.

So I love hearing from people who have no time for fiction. Who read only biographies and popular science. I love hearing about the death of the novel. I love getting lectures about the triviality of fiction, the triviality of making things up. As if that wasn’t what all of us do, all day long, all life long. Fiction gives us everything. It gives us our memories, our understanding, our insight, our lives. We use it to invent ourselves and others. We use it to feel change and sadness and hope and love and to tell each other about ourselves. And we all, it turns out, know how to do it."
perception  living  2012  research  howwewrite  howwework  relationships  cv  life  reality  keithridgway  writing  fiction  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
We need to think very, very seriously about this - The Edge of Tomorrow - Standing on the verge of a technologically educational revolution.
"1. Why don’t we give kids more credit for their natural capacity to learn?

2. What if we’re the ones getting in the way?

3. Can we finally put to rest the silly digital immigrant/digital native nonsense?

4. Why does there remain such a fascination with teaching kids very specific technology skills in our schools today?

It’s intriguing to compare the new approach OLPC is taking with the tablets to the approach they took in Peru. Reading through the reflections on the failure in Peru brings to the surface two immediate observations. The hardware/software wasn’t ready for the task. And the adults continued getting in the way. The second point, to me, is the most salient. Read through each section of Patzer’s observations, and you see how often the breakdown happens in the way the adults try to move the students through a pre-determined way to learn with the device."

[via: http://blog.genyes.org/index.php/2012/11/02/given-tablets-but-no-teachers-ethiopian-children-teach-themselves/ ]
holeinthewall  perception  teaching  neoteny  belesshelpful  technology  autodidacts  1:1  ipads  littleboxes  ethiopia  olpc  learning  2012  deschooling  unschooling  bengrey  1to1  ipad  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
Poetry 180 - Tour [by Carol Snow]
"Near a shrine in Japan he'd swept the path
and then placed camellia blossoms there.

Or -- we had no way of knowing -- he'd swept the path
between fallen camellias."
camellias  via:maryannreilly  japan  knowing  perception  time  sequence  order  carolsnow  poetry  poems  from delicious
october 2012 by robertogreco
Not So Hot for Teacher - NYTimes.com
"look closely, and you’ll find they all, to some extent, use the teaching profession as a shorthand for a character’s dysfunction or even cosmic disenfranchisement."

"This trend is especially surprising given that Hollywood has historically been very nice to teachers — maybe too nice."

"More recently, we’ve seen less reverential takes on the inspirational-teacher trope: comedies like “School of Rock” or “Bad Teacher,”"

"in pop culture, there are so many lawyers, cops and doctors — many more than teachers, and these portrayals benefit from quantity as much as quality."

"the fact that we see teachers in such extreme terms — as angelically good, as horrifyingly bad — may in fact be an indication that we don’t see them at all."

"Once teachers were turned into objects of fun, it was apparently not hard to devolve them still further"

"What’s strange is that, while we’ve seen a lot of teachers, we still see very little teaching."
2012  badteacher  breakingbad  tonydanza  mattdamon  pr  publicimage  robertkolker  popculture  perception  caricatures  television  tv  fil  portrayal  media  respect  teachers  teaching  elizabethalsop  from delicious
september 2012 by robertogreco
Jan Zwicky. Possibility of Poetry
"One often has the sense with a good poem that everything that *can* be said *has* been said, and perfectly...in this, it seems to me good poems do resemble the simple visual proofs..."

"Mathematics, i believe, shows us necessary truths unconstrained by time's gravity. Poetry on the other hand articulates the necessary truths of mortality."

"...the development of 'true' analogies...consists in perceiving connections that point the way to yet other connections."
2006  perception  connection  analogy  analogies  janzwicky  poetry  mathematics  math  interdisciplinary  interdisciplinarity  via:jenlowe  from delicious
september 2012 by robertogreco
Improving Reality 2012 : Joanne Mcneil
[Try this link instead: http://www.joannemcneil.com/improving-reality/ ]

"Google privileges the relevant over the new — and our search habits on the web work the same. Why might I have guessed that after sitting there abandoned for thirty years, it would be gone just as I had the chance to see it? I made the mistake the people using that Haiti image had done — confused the past for the present.

I went out anyway, to see for myself, see the place in context, see if there was anything left. I stood there looking at my iPhone with Google Earth satellites telling me I should be in the middle of this fantastic place. But I was only standing in the pieces of what used to be.

The web has changed the way we think of time. We see examples of contemporary culture remixing the past, present, and future in celebrity holograms, instagram filters, WW2 in real time tweets."
improvingreality  leilajohnston  warrenellis  anajain  taiwan  taipei  sanzhr  images  ursualeguin  memory  conversation  community  accessibility  lifespan  mutability  timecapsules  timelines  friendster  reality  twitter  instagram  atemporality  newness  relevance  culture  web  google  search  perception  time  joannemcneil  2012  via:litherland  from delicious
september 2012 by robertogreco
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