The Century of the Self

The good folks at BBC4 have produced a series of programs, four in all, which describe in detail how we are influenced by external forces  in the conduct of our everyday lives.  Learn how governments and especially marketers cater to our vanity and sexuality as they jockey for control of our preferences and behavior.  Discover the true meaning of "the ad and the id".  Sit back and enjoy these four 50 minute videos as Sigmund Freud and company prove to us what sick puppies we really are.  I highly recommend these well done programs produced as only BBC can. 

Silent Dialogue at the ICC, Tokyo

Silent Dialogue at the ICC, Tokyo: "

0aasilentdialog.jpgJust as i was panicking that i wouldn't be able to post anything today because i had spent most of my time doing some silly shopping, enters Vicente Gutierrez. Our Tokyo correspondent went to visit the latest exhibition at ICC, swift as the light he wrote a few lines about it and thus saved my life. I like drama, you might not so let's go straight to his report from the show:

Currently at the NTT InterCommunication Center[ICC] in concrete-laden Tokyo is an exhibit devoted to nature’s inter-relationships within the ecosystem we share with plants and animals.

Focusing on the interaction between plants, animals and humans, or this ‘invisible communication’ of nature which our senses might not always perceive, the works in the Silent Dialogue exhibition exhibited make those signals visual and audible through the use of biosensors as well as other algorithm-based software programs. Relying on such simulations, the works on display are a true fusion of science, design and art and provide a glimpse into the secret lives of plants while revealing more about the human effect and affect within the ecosystem we share. Investigating how plants, animals, or insects communicate and behave offered new perspectives to the effect of making us more apt to the signals our environment sends in an era of increasing interaction from humans and technology.

Call ? Response, 2007, by tEnt [Tanaka Hiroya + Cuhara Macoto], with technical support by Kamiyama Yusuke

Call <-> Response by Tanaka Hiroya and Cuhara Macoto (who are working under the collaborative title, tEnt) simulates a natural environment for birds in an effort to derive and explore how they communicate. Attempting to communicate beyond human language, the software was designed to record, generate and layer simulated bird calls. Here, the coconut shell is fitted with a small speaker which emits varying bird calls via a continuous algorithm-based signal.

Bio Photon: Allelopathy, 2007, by Ando Takahiro

One of the most interactive works displayed was Bio Photon: Allelopathy by Ando Takahiro. As plants germinate and grow, photons are emitted from their leaves. They are invisible to our eyes but in his work Ando work visualizes the amount of photons via the discreet sensors which results in a hyper-sporadic display of flickering lights across the dome at light speed, if you will. Ando has intentionally set up two electric-current-generating for us, which upon touching, allow us to feel the currents that we couldn’t otherwise visualize.

Paphio in My Life, 2007, by Fujieda Mamoru + Dogane Yuji

Dogane Yuji, a botanist who has focused his research on orchids, collaborated with composer Fujieda Mamoru for Paphio in My Life, where the inaudible sounds of plants are picked up by connected wires then converted to manifest a plant’s ‘voice.’ As plants respond to environmental stress, simulated by varying vibrations induced by the artists’ algorithmic program, the plant’s ‘voices’ vary accordingly. By broadcasting such a dialog, Dogane hopes to bring us closer to plants through this glimpse into their life.

Orchisoid 03, 2003, by FUJIHATA Masaki + DOGANE Yuji

In Orchisoid 03, Dogane Yuji worked with renowned digital media artist Fujihata Masaki (some of his previous works include Unreflective Mirror and Beyond Pages) to better understand adaptation and homeostasis in plants. For this project, several orchids were again wired and set to experience a variety of vibrations from the shifting table they rest upon. The artists concluded that the physiology of the plants changed the same way as human brain wave patterns change in response to stress. And because the orchid’s wave-activity fluctuates in real time, rather quickly, Dogane recognized it as a sign of high-level information processing.

Interactive Plant Growing, 1992, by Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau

Also on display were Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau's installation Interactive Plant Growing from 1992. Touch the plants and watch the screen fill up with a digital cascade of the plant’s leaves; still a great example of physical action into digital realization.

Ha, Ha! Your Mushrooms Have Gone, 2005, by Michael Prime

For a glance into the secret lives of mushrooms, Michael Prime affixed bio-sensors to various kinds of locally grown mushrooms to reveal a dialog we perhaps thought never even existed. From their docile setting in an aquarium, the bio-receptors broadcast the sounds of pulsating waves of noise through speakers in the installation space. The result- a surprising continuous drone that shifted tones rather sporadically revealing a brash, trance-like state of mushrooms- fascinating, surreal and surprising.

Until February 17, 2008 at the NTT InterCommunication Center[ICC].

All images Courtesy of ICC.

Fresh from our fruit & veggie aisle: Life Support Systems - Vanda, Night Garden, Post Patman, Upside Down Mushroom Room, Regulated Fool’s Milk Meadow, Living Letters, Real radish races on the net, Flora fights back, Plants racing for survival, etc

(Via we make money not art.)

The Way We Live Now: Mind of a Rock

Published: November 18, 2007

Most of us have no doubt that our fellow humans are conscious. We are also pretty sure that many animals have consciousness. Some, like the great ape species, even seem to possess self-consciousness, like us. Others, like dogs and cats and pigs, may lack a sense of self, but they certainly appear to experience inner states of pain and pleasure. About smaller creatures, like mosquitoes, we are not so sure; certainly we have few compunctions about killing them. As for plants, they obviously do not have minds, except in fairy tales. Nor do nonliving things like tables and rocks.

Continue reading: The Way We Live Now: Mind of a Rock: "Is everything conscious?"

(Via NYT > Magazine.)

Comet Strangeness, 17P/Holmes Flyby

Here is a celestial event for all to see... You don't need a telescope or any astronomical equipment for that matter... Just look up and there it is. 17P/Holmes is without a doubt a bizarre comet whose behavior is baffling astronomers around the world. It pass us by as a dim glob of ice and suddenly on October 22, exploded into a btight yellowish ball of fuzz easily visible to the naked eye. Holmes was discovered a little over a century ago and oddly enough was in the process of another flareup at that time as well. Stranger yet is the fact that it has no visible tail and thus does not resemble anything like the comets we've seen in the past. The folks at have information on the comet which you'll find here . also has some info on it along with a sky map to aid in your search for it. So here is the bottom line..... I stepped out into the backyard and using the directions from easily found the comet despite the fact that it was fairly low in the sky and directly over the city of Newport and it's bright lights. It hangs in the northeast sky in the constellation Perseus and looks like a tiny ball of smoke. Low power binoculars will make it easier to get a good look at it's head. This comet should be visible for the next few weeks and I'll be checking on it often. Now it's your turn.... enjoy the show.

No Scam Here Folks, No Siree !

OK Folks, Suppose for just a moment that I was a spirit medium. Let's also pretend that I have a big stick reputed to have magical powers. Now imagine that I told you that I could get fully refined diesel fuel from a rock just by tapping it with my stick. How about if you were the president of a third world country and I asked you for a billion dollars for this secret which would solve your country's energy problems for a century or more.... Would you go for it? You would? Better read this.