“As you can see, the objects produced are quite rudimentary, but it’s hard not to imagine something like this scaled up—an urban-sized glass factory in the desert, out of which strange future objects are released—or even mobilized, wandering the dunes, sintering Great Wall-sized pieces of desert architecture directly into the landscape, perhaps even dune-sailing across the hills of another planet, printing forward operating bases into that alien terrain.”—BLDGBLOG: Dune Bank Suitcase
“Chapter’s release coincides with the reissue of Dinosaur Jr’s 1988 album Bug on cassette. It’s believed to be the first time a band has reissued an album in the format.”—Cassette tapes | Rewind to the ’90s
Maybe my response to it is in some ways as nostalgic as my response to NASA imagery.
Maybe it’s the hauntology of moments in the 80s when the domestication of video, computing and business machinery made things new, cheap and bright to me. But for now, let me finish with this.
There’s both a nowness and nextness to Sensor-Vernacular.
I think my attraction to it – what ever it is – is that these signals are hints that the hangover of 10 years of ‘war-on-terror’ funding into defense and surveillance technology (where after all the advances in computer vision and relative-cheapness of devices like the Kinect came from) might get turned into an exuberant party.
Dancing in front of the eye of a retired-surveillance machine, scanning and printing and mixing and changing. Fashion from fear. Quantizing and surprising. Imperfections and mutations amplifying through it.
A study of the genomes of two families has found that the number of mutations thought to occur each generation had been overestimated, suggesting that the pace of human evolution is slower than scientists had thought.
The occupation of mayer’s indulgent mushrooms, a government project, becomes a powerful form of protest. ethel asks, do we believe in utopias? yes—but we also believe some of them are never meant to be built. in architecture, we tend to conflate formal and political utopias as a single group, when they are often at odds with each other. the megastructures of the japanese metabolists, as beautiful as they were, could only have been built by a powerful, centralized authority. we can appreciate their formal beauty, but we must understand the danger such centralized power represents
“We’re really not saying these are a ‘people without time’ or ‘outside time’. Amondawa people, like any other people, can talk about events and sequences of events. What we don’t find is a notion of time as being independent of the events which are occuring; they don’t have a notion of time which is something the events occur in.”—BBC News - Amondawa tribe lacks abstract idea of time, study says
Using a word like “nostalgia” is such a desperate sign of being out of touch, out of date, and so awfully-temporal in an atemporal time. “Nostalgia” assumes that there still was a temporal order in which someone could purposefully choose to “rewind”. It implies someone wants to “turn back a clock”, as if all our “wrist watches” weren’t synced to regulated network time via cell phone towers. Hilarious! You are the Encino Man of epistemology. Accusing an iPhone app of being inauthentically faux-vintage is about as cool as reminding your kids that some dead guy originally recorded the song being sung on American Idol way back in the 20th century. Pipe down, old man! The only people worried about what is correctly nostalgic or otherwise faking it are people who, for some reason, need to cling to a sense of permanent history that is not fluid, crowd-sourced, and always on instant remix mode. They probably still buy paper encyclopedias.
The momentary popularity of the Hipstamatic-style photo serves to highlight the larger trend of our viewing the present as increasingly a potentially documented past.
The rise of faux-vintage photography demonstrates a point that can be extrapolated to documentation on social media writ large: social media users have become always aware of the present as a potential document to be consumed by others. Facebook fixates the present as always a future past.
We come to see what we do as always a potential document, imploding the present with the past, and ultimately making us nostalgic for the here and now.
Johansen suggests, quite correctly, that the familiar tools of network culture by which we mark our lives put us into a perpetual future past. Unable to find a temporal grounding today, hipsters seek it in the past. Johansen points to the popular photographic filters that give the low-resolution digital images produced by smartphones a vintage look. These, he concludes, allow individuals living to reframe their lives around moments that seem more authentic. This fits rather neatly within the schema of atemporality identified by Bruce Sterling (see more here and my take on it here). The hipstamatic photo is different than Warhol’s approach. It’s similar to Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills (note that when I found that link, under related items the MoMA store listed the “Lomo” camera, the physical counterpart to the software Johansen discusses… DIY!) but not quite the same. Where postmodernism was marked by allegory, network culture’s use of the past is flatter, dispensing with the use of allegory or comment.
For a while now, I’ve been collecting images and things that seem to approach a new aesthetic of the future, which sounds more portentous than I mean. What I mean is that we’ve got frustrated with the NASA extropianism space-future, the failure of jetpacks, and we need to see the technologies we actually have with a new wonder. Consider this a mood-board for unknown products. (Some of these things might have appeared here, or nearby, before. They are not necessarily new new, but I want to put them together.) For so long we’ve stared up at space in wonder, but with cheap satellite imagery and cameras on kites and RC helicopters, we’re looking at the ground with new eyes, to see structures and infrastructures
The Open Utopia is an open-source, open-access, multi-platform, web-based edition of Thomas More’s Utopia.
“…though no one owns anything, everyone is rich.” — Thomas More, Utopia
At the core of More’s famous description of an alternative society is the principle that all property should be held in common. Since Utopia was published in 1516 many English language translations have passed into the public domain, yet there is still not a complete edition easily accessible. The Open Utopia will be the first.
There are few works of greater scope or structural genius than the series of fiction pieces by Horatio Bucklesby Ogden, collectively known as The Wire; yet for the most part, this Victorian masterpiece has been forgotten and ignored by scholars and popular culture alike. Like his contemporary Charles Dickens, Ogden has, due to the rough and at times lurid nature of his material, been dismissed as a hack, despite significant endorsements of literary critics of the nineteenth century. Unlike the corpus of Dickens, The Wire failed to reach the critical mass of readers necessary to sustain interest over time, and thus runs the risk of falling into the obscurity of academia. We come to you today to right that gross literary injustice.
Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s
Between 1933 and 1940 tens of millions of Americans visited world’s fairs in cities across the nation. Designing Tomorrow explores the modernist spectacles of architecture and design they witnessed — visions of a brighter future during the worst economic crisis the United States had known. The fairs popularized modern design for the American public and promoted the idea of science and consumerism as salvation from the Great Depression. Participating architects, eager for new projects at a time when few new buildings were being financed, populated the fairgrounds with an eclectic modern architecture. Pavilions housed innovative and dynamic exhibitions that paid tribute to factory production, technology, and speed. Exhibits forecasted the houses and cities of tomorrow and presented streamlined trains, modern furnishings, television, and talking robots.