robertogreco + reproduction   19

The Weirdness and Joy of Black Mountain College | The Nation
"Can the art of teaching art be exhibited? No, but people keep trying."

...

"Can art be taught? That question isn’t as old or as hoary as one might imagine. For many centuries, artists were taught, either through a studio apprenticeship or, later, in a formal academy. It only became possible to think of art as something different in the 19th century, when the old system fell apart and it seemed conceivable that anyone could be an artist. But very few people were. Perhaps being an artist was the result of some peculiar inner drive or necessity, some genius that burned in certain kinds of people—something they were born with rather than something that they learned. The question has by now fueled two centuries’ worth of bar banter, family quarrels, and panel discussions. What keeps the conversation going is that many of the people who say that art can’t be taught still make their living by teaching it. Teaching does have its own rewards, and so does trying to learn, whether the learning “takes” or not.

A related question is easier to answer: Can the art of teaching art be exhibited? No, but people keep trying. The ambitious show “Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957,” at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, is the latest such effort. (It will be on view at the Hammer Museum at the University of California, Los Angeles, from February 21 to May 15, and then at the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University in Columbus from September 17 to January 1, 2017. A handsome catalog is available from Yale University Press.) In fact, Black Mountain exhibitions have become a genre unto themselves. “Leap Before You Look,” curated by Helen Molesworth, formerly of the ICA/Boston and now at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, is the fourth that I know of. The first, which I saw in 2002, was “Black Mountain College: Una Aventura Americana,” curated by Vincent Katz, at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid. Then came “Starting at Zero: Black Mountain College 1933–1957,” curated by Caroline Collier and Michael Harrison, at the Arnolfini in Bristol, England, and Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge, in 2005 and 2006. And last summer, I paid a visit to the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum für Gegenwart in Berlin, which mounted “Black Mountain: An Interdisciplinary Experiment 1933–1957,” curated by Eugen Blume and Gabriele Knapstein.

Why the recurring preoccupation with a short-lived, unaccredited school at the back of beyond, which never had enough students to pay its way? It could be the school’s believe-it-or-not story and how, the more you learn about it, the more unlikely it seems. The tale begins in 1933, when an unorthodox, arrogant classics professor named John Andrew Rice and several of his colleagues were purged from Rollins College in Florida. A number of their fellow professors resigned in protest, and some students withdrew as well. Bent on starting a college of their own, they found a complex of buildings for rent near Asheville, North Carolina, and some start-up money—but not much. At first, the faculty worked without salaries, but at least they owned the joint: The papers of incorporation specified that “the sole membership of the corporation” would be “the whole body of the faculty.” In other words, there was no board of directors and no non-teaching administration either, so the instructors had no other masters than themselves.

There was splendor and misery at Black Mountain, which was run according to the will of its teachers and, to a great extent, its students. The faculty believed that the curriculum should reflect what the students needed or desired to learn. This principle runs contrary not only to the present conception of the student as a consumer or client who is to be supplied with certain knowledge, but also to the designs of the conservative governors of North Carolina, Wisconsin, and other states, who believe that they should have the final say over what’s being taught and who’s doing the teaching at their state colleges and universities. At Black Mountain, teachers and students committed themselves to shared undertakings, the educational equivalent of socialism: from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."

...

"Black Mountain’s founder had in his own way anticipated the Maoist doctrine of continuous revolution. “At one time Rice said he thought the college should disperse every ten years into smaller units,” recalled M.C. Richards, the English professor turned potter who’d been instrumental in bringing Olson to the campus. “This was to avoid too much stability. It was to be faithful to the chaos out of which creativity constellates.” No one was better at cultivating chaos and spangling the atmosphere with its constellations than Olson. Who else would have thought of suggesting to a fellow poet, Robert Creeley, that he fill in as a teacher of biology? When Creeley pointed out that he’d never studied the subject, even in high school, Olson “said, ‘Terrific, you can learn something,’” Creeley recalled. “Subsequently, I realized that teaching is teaching. It has, paradoxically, nothing to do with the subject.” In other words, true learning, as described by Jacques Rancière in The Ignorant Schoolmaster, is fostered by teaching what one does not know.

As Rancière wrote, this kind of education can never be institutionalized; “it is the natural method of the human mind,” yet everything works against it. No wonder Black Mountain could never come to terms with the outside world or itself. Robert Duncan, in his extraordinary poem “The Song of the Border-Guard”—shown in “Leap Before You Look” as a broadside accompanied by a Twombly linocut—imagines “a barbarian host at the border-line of sense.” Which side of the border was Black Mountain on? Were its denizens the barbarians readying themselves to overcome the common sense of Eisenhower’s America, or were they guardians of a deeper sense of life and learning against the yahoo horde surrounding them? No matter. “The enamourd guards desert their posts / harkening to the lion-smell of a poem / that rings in their ears.” And the poem of Black Mountain still rings in ours."
bmc  blackmountaincollege  pedagogy  teaching  education  highereducation  highered  2016  barryschwabsky  leapbeforeyoulook  johnandrewrice  rancière  reproduction  ephemeral  ephemerality  institutions  institutionalization  lcproject  openstudioproject  tcsnmy  sfsh  cv  art  arts  socialism  jacquesrancière 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Jonathan Rosa on Twitter: "When decolonial perspectives ground your research, they completely transform questions, methods, analyses, modes of representation, proposed interventions, and political commitments. A thread..."
"When decolonial perspectives ground your research, they completely transform questions, methods, analyses, modes of representation, proposed interventions, and political commitments. A thread...

Decolonial perspectives transform research questions by centering longstanding power relations in analyses of contemporary challenges, including racial inequity, poverty, labor exploitation, misogyny, heteronormativity, transphobia, trauma, migration, & ecological instability.

A normative research question vs. one framed from a decolonial perspective: What are the causes of educational achievement gaps? vs. How can “achievement gaps” be understood in relation to modes of accumulation & dispossession mainstream schools were designed to facilitate?

Methodologically, decolonial perspectives challenge positivist approaches to data collection that legitimate colonially constituted categories, boundaries, modes of governance, ways of knowing, and societal hierarchies.

As compared to normative Western scholarly methodologies, approaches informed by decolonial perspectives include collaborating with members of colonially marginalized communities as co-theorists to analyze & respond to the historically constituted challenges they face.

Whereas normative analytical logics narrowly frame what counts as legitimate evidence to make particular kinds of claims, decolonial analyses question conceptions of truth that have parsed the world in service of toxic modes of accumulation & dispossession.

While an analysis that presumes the legitimacy of normative scientific truth might seek to use evidence to disprove racial inferiority, a decolonial approach rejects such debates, instead investing in imagining and enacting forms of racial redress and reparation.

Whereas normative scholarly work adheres to rigidly defined representational genres & is often restricted to paywalled journals, decolonial approaches seek to fashion new modes of representation & strategies/platforms for circulation that redefine & redistribute knowledge.

Canonical anthropological uses of “thick description” often result in exoticizing & pathologizing representations of race, gender, & class; decolonial approaches enact a politics of refusal, challenging the demand for ethnographic disclosure, particularly in Indigenous contexts.

Normative scholarship often proposes interventions that focus on modifying individual behaviors rather than transforming institutions; decolonial scholarship challenges the fundamental legitimacy of prevailing societal structures that have led to the misdiagnosis of problems.

Normative scholarship might propose interventions encouraging civic participation to strengthen US institutions in the face of perceived threats to democracy; decolonial scholarship seeks to reimagine governance because the US never was nor could ever be a legitimate democracy.

Normative scholarship often seeks to establish objective facts & eschews explicit political commitments, thereby explicitly committing to political reproduction; decolonial scholarship owns its politics & engages in knowledge production to imagine & enact sustainable worlds.

Normative scholarship might seek to document, analyze, & even revitalize Indigenous languages; decolonial scholarship engages in Indigenous language revitalization as part of broader political struggles over sovereignty, historical trauma, dispossession, & sustainable ecologies.

In short, whereas normative scholarship invites you to accept, reproduce, or slightly modify the existing world, decolonial scholarship insists that otherwise worlds have always existed & demands a radical reimagining of possible pasts, presents, & futures."
jonathanrosa  2018  decolonization  norms  academia  highereducation  highered  dispossession  indigeneity  reproduction  colonization  form  writing  labor  work  convention  conventions  method  accumulaltion  sustainability  knoweldgeproduction 
october 2018 by robertogreco
DAVID GRAEBER / The Revolt of the Caring Classes / 2018 - YouTube
"The financialisation of major economies since the '80s has radically changed the terms for social movements everywhere. How does one organise workplaces, for example, in societies where up to 40% of the workforce believe their jobs should not exist? David Graeber makes the case that, slowly but surely, a new form of class politics is emerging, based around recognising the centrality of meaningful 'caring labour' in creating social value. He identifies a slowly emerging rebellion of the caring classes which potentially represents just as much of a threat to financial capitalism as earlier forms of proletarian struggle did to industrial capitalism.

David Graeber is Professor of Anthropology, London School of Economics and previously Assistant Professor and Associate Professor of Anthropology at Yale and Reader in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. His books include The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy (2015) Debt: The First 5000 Years (2011) and Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology (2004). His activism includes protests against the 3rd Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001, and the 2002 World Economic Forum in New York City. Graeber was a leading figure in the Occupy Wall Street movement, and is sometimes credited with having coined the slogan, 'We are the 99 percent'.

This lecture was given at the Collège de France on the 22nd March 2018."
davidgraeber  care  caring  teaching  nursing  economics  capitalism  labor  work  employment  compensation  resentment  bullshitjobs  finance  politics  policy  us  uk  workingclass  intellectuals  intellectualism  society  manufacturing  management  jobs  liberalism  values  benefits  nobility  truth  beauty  charity  nonprofit  highered  highereducation  activism  humanrights  os  occupywallstreet  opportunity  revolution  revolt  hollywood  military  misery  productivity  creation  creativity  maintenance  gender  production  reproduction  socialsciences  proletariat  wagelabor  wage  salaries  religion  belief  discipline  maintstreamleft  hospitals  freedom  play  teachers  parenting  mothers  education  learning  unions  consumption  anarchism  spontaneity  universalbasicincome  nonprofits  ubi 
may 2018 by robertogreco
This Children's Book Explains All The Different Ways Babies Are Made
"Cory Silverberg is a sex educator and author who noticed that books about reproduction for kids didn't cover all families and birth situations."
corysilverberg  fionasmyth  2015  books  sexed  reproduction  birth  children  families 
january 2018 by robertogreco
I Could Do That | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios - YouTube
"So you look at a work of art and think to yourself, I could have done that. And maybe you really could have, but the issue here is more complex than that -- why didn't you? Why did the artist? And why does it have an audience? We delve into it by looking at work by artists like Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Piet Mondrian, and Cy Twombly, among others. You might find it’s not quite as simple as you think."
art  video  felixgonzalez-torres  pietmondrian  cytwombly  2015  craft  via:ablerism  production  ideas  photography  reproduction  skill  research  deduction  craftsmanship  though  thinking  criticalthinking  thewhy 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Kenneth Goldsmith - Talks | Frieze Projects NY
[Direct link to .mp3: http://friezeprojectsny.org/uploads/files/talks/Kenneth_Goldsmith.mp3 ]

"‘I Look to Theory Only When I Realize That Somebody Has Dedicated Their Entire Life to a Question I Have Only Fleetingly Considered’

A keynote lecture by the poet Kenneth Goldsmith, whose writing has been described as ‘some of the most exhaustive and beautiful collage work yet produced in poetry’ (Publishers Weekly). Goldsmith is the author of eleven books of poetry and founding editor of the online archive UbuWeb. In 2013, he was named as the inaugural Poet Laureate of MoMA."
kennethgoldsmith  copying  uncreativewriting  mercecunningham  writing  internet  web  online  remixing  culture  art  poetry  originality  appropriation  quantity  quality  curiosity  harrypotter  poetics  digital  reproduction  translation  displacement  disjunction  corydoctorow  change  howwewrite  pointing  data  metadata  choice  authorship  versioning  misfiling  language  difference  meaning  ethics  morality  literature  twitter  artworld  marshallmcluhan  christianbök  plagiarism  charleseames  rules  notknowing  archiving  improvisation  text  bricolage  assemblage  cv  painting  technology  photography  readerships  thinkerships  thoughtobjects  reassembly  ubuweb  freeculture  moma  outreach  communityoutreach  nyc  copyright  ip  intellectualproperty  ideas  information  sfpc  vitoacconci  audience  accessibility  situationist  museums  markets  criticism  artcriticism  economics  money  browsers  citation  sampling  jonathanfranzen  internetasliterature  getrudestein  internetasfavoritebook  namjunepaik  johncage  misbehaving  andywarhol  bobdylan  barbarakruger  jkrowling  china  creati 
august 2014 by robertogreco
You Need to Hear This Extremely Rare Recording  — The Message — Medium
"A story for the millennials in the room: Once upon a time, owning a rare media object was sorta cool. But some people used these objects to project their cultural superiority, which was pretty lame."



"The economics of popularity can be gamed, but scarcity is a devil’s trade."



"From snobby obscurist to pretentious scold, from rarity to reaction. As Comic Book Guy shows, you no longer have to be “in the know.” You just have to know what to say."
rexsorgatz  2014  aesthetics  culture  commonplace  abundance  scarcity  rarity  rare  digital  reproduction  copies  popularity  obscurity  internet  web  comicbookguy  thesimpsons  music  media  caseykasem  negativeland 
june 2014 by robertogreco
[this is aaronland] Am I the only one who’s ever thought of referring to the @smithsonian logo as the “mullet sun” ?
"Increasingly the objects that all design museums collect will look more like like Planetary ["an iPad application for visualizing your music collection"] than not and they will face many of the same issues. Issues that no one is entirely sure how deal with. This may seem a little discouraging at first but that is cost of living in the present and we're certainly not going to figure anything out by standing around doing nothing."



"the common thread in all these passages [preceding slides] is the idea of motive and how we recognize it. That's an important question for all museums, but especially for a design museum since by-and-large we all have the same things in our collections. By their nature design objects come in multiples, often to the point of being mass-produced or in some cases not even being considered design objects unless they are mass-produced."



"The late painter Francis Bacon gave an interview, somewhere around the mid-point of his career, in which he said that he aspired to create paintings that defied narrative. Whether or not he succeeded or whether or not he even still believed that idea by the time of his death is sort of irrelevant. We have always celebrated works of exceptional execution and in contemporary times we increasingly afford artists the luxury to pursue a singular itch to that end.

It is interesting to consider that as the art world and the discourse that surrounds it continues to get wordier and more theory-driven we are also seeing both museums and artists create works that can only be described as spectacles. That's a whole other talk but just keep this idea in the back of your mind: That people are starting to use spectacle itself as a kind of medium in part, I think, because it remains bigger than words.

I want to mention craft and the timeless arts-and-crafts debate only long enough to describe a scene guaranteed to upset everyone involved. That capital-A art is the Abel to capital-C craft's Cain, but with a twist. If art will knowingly murder his brother the problem he faces is that his brother is also a zombie who can never die and wants to eat his brain.

It's not a very flattering picture for anyone but the reason I enjoy this fiction is because it's a useful way to consider design. That is, design is the shadow of the unresolvable struggle between an outstanding, over-achieving sociopath and a his seen-to-be lesser too who refuses to give up no matter what anyone says."



"we might consider contemporary design practice as akin to the decorative arts but with motive or deliberation. It is not the singular exceptional itch of the indivudual artist but rather the art and craft (sorry) of an elegant solution to a problem that can be articulated, in the service of a plurality.

Here’s the rub, though. No matter how impressive or elegant a solution they are not meant to be contemplative endeavours. They can't be. Imagine any thing you consider to be an elegant design solution or object and then try to imagine having a PHILOSOPHICAL MOMENT every time you used it.

We celebrate design that ultimately can be taken for granted. We celebrate a practice whose products afford us the plausible illusion of fading in to the background, of not always demanding center stage, and of not asking us to spend our already too-busy lives in a state of near-constant intellectual Rapture."



"We’re still not very good at that. We have a bad habit of falling back on how pretty a thing is or the mastery of its manufacturing prowess or a designer's access to production facilities as proxies for the merit and value of a design solution. The problem that design museums are facing, though, is that we’re increasingly collecting things which have no thing-ness about them so the rhetoric we've always used to talk about our collections make less and less sense.

Things like interaction design or service design or user-centered design or experience design. Given the challenge we already face collecting physical objects what are we supposed to do with practices that are as real as they are intangible?

Do you know who spends a lot of time trafficking in experience design, possibly more than anyone else in the aggregate? Museums.

What else are dioramas except early stage attempts at experience design? Because dioramas are basically fancy display cases for delicate or senstive objects we don't usually allow people to wander around in them. But when you consider that the film maker Peter Jackson, and his production company Weta, are creating a life-size trench experience from the Gallipoli Campaign inside Te Papa, the national museum of New Zealand, it doesn't seem like it will be long before museums can finally indulge their almost Captain Ahab like fantasy of a truly immersive experience. Personally I am waiting to see whether the trench installation offers a night at the museum style package where you can sleep in a pool of standing water, swatting away rats all while dodging ear-shattering explosions. When you stop to consider the many inevitable retrospectives that New Zealand museums will mount to celebrate the career of Peter Jackson, a native son, the crossover possibilities are endless.

For the time being we're left with stuff like this. This is a diorama from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition last year. It is a recreation of the men's bathroom at the now defunct music venue CBGB's where many of the bands that would shape the musical genre got their start. If you're wondering: It's not a functioning bathroom or, if it is, there's no way to find out because there's a short glass barrier preventing you from entering the space.

The exhibition's curators made a point of saying that the exhibition was about the influence of punk rock on the world of fashion and that they very deliberately stayed away from the politics of those involved. Which if we take them at their words makes the inclusion of an installation like this all the more problematic because it's the kind of thing where malice is almost more comforting than simple negligence.

I am going to leave the interpretation and meaning of using a tarted-up version of a gritty bathroom as a proxy object for... something as an excercise for the audience and only say that this installation was very deliberate and entirely with motive. It was designed."


"Even if we take a punt on the very real challenges of trying to create a preservation framework for still-living intellectual property, the more immediate problem we face is one where museums often won't even turn on the electronic equipment in their collections. That iPhone we've got with its version of iOS 1.0 (or maybe it was upgraded before we acquired it?) will remain forever powered-off because we risk damaging the circuit boards or simply because we've removed the battery to prevent the risk of it leaking and damaging the other objects in our collection. It all seems like a theater of the absurb, sometimes. The worst part is that in the absence of working solutions for genuinely hard problems we do these things for good reasons. But can we meaningfully talk about the iPhone without talking about the touchable interfaces, about the interaction design that was afforded by all that swiping? In short, about the software.

Aside from all its qualities as a stand-alone design object this is why we acquired Planetary. Planetary does not answer all of these questions but it does force us to address them."



"Don’t worry, though, we also printed everything out on archival paper using the approved OCR-compliant typographic conventions. Maybe one day someone will recite the source code for Planetary the way people perform Homer's Iliad or Joyce's Ullyses?

But, I want to emphasize that we did not acquire an iPad. We already had one of those.

We acquired source code that happens to have been written for an iOS device. This fact tells us something about the circumstances under which Planetary was created but I don't think that it defines what Planetary is or was trying to be. The iPad was simply the then-best representation of what Planetary was trying to be.

Had Bloom survived longer as a company they would have almost certainly released an Android version of Planetary and then what? Which one would we have acquired? Both of them? Only the iOS version because it is not so much the genesis of the project but the first manifestation of it? What if the Android version, by virtue of whatever hardware or operating system level optimizations it enjoyed, better embodied the spirit of the project?

So yeah, we acquired code because to my never-ending dismay it's just Sol Lewitt all the way down but we acquired that code as a way create an environment that will hopefully foster the preservation of the interaction design that was at the root of Planetary. Have we succeed yet? Probably not. Have we created the circumstances that will afford that preservation? I hope so."



"I like to understand what TinySpeck did in giving away all their stuff as another example of using open source as a preservation strategy for an endeavour that is very real but which lacks, by design, the known and quatifiable territory of a single work of art."



"Dan's project is not necessarily Glitch as its creators imagined but is it Glitch enough that perhaps we might look to the theater, with its multiple and on-going performaces of a single text, as our inspriration? Perhaps it allows us to imagine software preservation the way one imagines a working collection."
aaronstraupcope  preservation  software  art  craft  design  2014  cooper-hewitt  museums  motive  collections  objects  reproduction  glitch  tinyspeck  opensource  sollewitt 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Theo Jansen: WATCH: An Artist Creates a New Form of Life
"I've also thought a lot about the reproduction of these animals. Imagine these Strandbeests making copies of themselves simply by feeding them plastic tubes. I'm sure this is possible, but I need a few more million years to make that a reality.

Today, Strandbeests have an ability to multiply that I wasn't aware of in 2007. Let me explain. The leg system of the beach animals works because of a combination of certain lengths of tubes. Because of the proportion of lengths, the animals walk smoothly. You could say that this range of numbers is their genetic code. I published this genetic code on my website and since then, hundreds of students, especially in the United States, have been able to produce their own Strandbeests. (Search YouTube for "theo jansen mechanism" and you will find them.)

You may argue that humans do this replication, but I see it differently. The Strandbeest is a self-replicating meme, a brain virus. It infects the student's brain. In fact, the Strandbeest abuse students for their reproduction. For two years, this reproduction fell into a flow acceleration. Now, 3D printers produce walking mini Strandbeests. They are born, not assembled, and walk on the table, which you can see here."
theojansen  strandbeests  2013  reproduction 
june 2013 by robertogreco
The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction | The New York Public Library
"The French painter Paul Delaroche allegedly said "From today, painting is dead" when he first experienced Louis Daguerre's photographic process in 1839…

Within a few decades the ease of mechanically capturing an accurate representation of someone or something became available and affordable to the masses.

A century later the mechanical process became digital.

People with cameras left the elevated site to change their film and process their negatives, replaced by others who instantly shared their photos of the barn with the world on Flickr.

Ceci n'est pas une pipe.This is Joseph Kosuth's chair.This is a photograph of Joseph Kosuth's chair.Joseph Kosuth's chair (noun) is a piece of furniture consisting of a seat, leags, back, and often arms, designed to accommodate one person.

Reality and representation.

The indigenous people's souls were taken…

"Once you've seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn."
photography  flickr  reproduction  observation  pauldelaroche  nypl  billyparrott  painting  digital  representation  reality  from delicious
august 2011 by robertogreco
The Age of Mechanical Reproduction - The Morning News
"The worst thing that can happen in that room is “failure to produce.” They warn you about it. Men go in and hours later have not come out. They’re sobbing and their arms are sore. Their wives or partners are out in the waiting room, surly from hormone treatments. No one has sympathy for a man who can’t produce. They should have sympathy but they don’t. You do not want to be that guy."
health  medicine  paulford  sex  reproduction  in-vitrofertilization  ivf  fertility  2011  writing  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
FT.com / Arts / Film & Television - Joking apart
"…few years ago, I received an unsolicited e-mail asking me if I was interested in “submitting content”…Eventually it transpired that content-seeker wanted to know if I had any jokes that could be sold to be viewed on mobile phones…my material is written to be performed as part of a whole in particular sorts of places, & I have given a great deal of thought to how the acceptability and impact of ideas is affected by pacing, context and their position as part of a whole…didn’t want it being chopped up, miniaturised, de-contextualised…

"Next month I am curating a weekend of comedy and music at the Southbank Centre, London. I am a curator. What a dead word. It sounds like someone stirring turds in a toilet bowl with a stick. If something is being curated it already seems fixed and decayed – bands recreating their classic albums in their entirety, seasons of film screenings working towards a pre-ordained conclusion. To that end, I’ve tried to schedule events that are unrepeatable."
stewartlee  curation  curating  albums  johncage  indeterminacy  slow  simplicity  twitter  mobile  phones  speed  content  context  pacing  2011  events  uniqueness  reproduction 
april 2011 by robertogreco
The Good Show - Radiolab
"In this episode, a question that haunted Charles Darwin: if natural selection boils down to survival of the fittest, how do you explain why one creature might stick its neck out for another?

The standard view of evolution is that living things are shaped by cold-hearted competition. And there is no doubt that today's plants and animals carry the genetic legacy of ancestors who fought fiercely to survive and reproduce. But in this hour, we wonder whether there might also be a logic behind sharing, niceness, kindness ... or even, self-sacrifice. Is altruism an aberration, or just an elaborate guise for sneaky self-interest? Do we really live in a selfish, dog-eat-dog world? Or has evolution carved out a hidden code that rewards genuine cooperation?"

[Related: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/11/books/review/deWaal-t.html?pagewanted=all ]

[Update: in case the URL breaks, try this: http://www.radiolab.org/story/103951-the-good-show/ ]
radiolab  good  altruism  genetics  instinct  generosity  evolution  georgeprice  heroism  heroes  gametheory  math  selfishness  self-preservation  human  cooperation  niceness  kindness  survival  reproduction  darwin  charlesdarwin  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Cicadas mating
"Many potential predators have 2-5-year life cycles. Such cycles are not set by the availability of cicadas (for they peak too often in years of nonemergence), but cicadas might be eagerly harvested when the cycles coincide. Consider a predator with a life-cycle of five years: if cicadas emerged every 15 years, each bloom would be hit by the predator. By cycling at a large prime number, cicadas minimize the number of coincidences (every 5 x 17, or 85 years, in this case). Thirteen- and 17-year cycles cannot be tracked by any smaller number."
biology  evolution  cycles  mating  reproduction  insects  predation 
august 2009 by robertogreco
WebHome < Main < Reprap
"RepRap is short for Replicating Rapid-prototyper. It is the practical self-copying 3D printer shown on the right - a self-replicating machine. This 3D printer builds the component up in layers of plastic."
opensource  hardware  diy  3dprinter  3d  prototype  technology  rapidprototyping  fabrication  fabbing  reprap  reproduction  replicator  machines  robots  future 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Birds Do It. Bees Do It. Dragons Don’t Need To. - New York Times
"In a world of clones, there would not be enough variation for populations to adapt. Virgin birth, then, is a great stopgap measure to ensure the survival of a species, but works against it in the long haul."
animals  evolution  survival  biology  kimododragons  fish  amphibians  reproduction 
february 2008 by robertogreco
James Gleick on the value of objects in contemporary society.... (kottke.org)
"Mass produced and virtual items are getting ever cheaper while items like an original copy of the Magna Carta are getting more and more expensive."
art  glvo  reproduction  handmade 
january 2008 by robertogreco

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