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Technology hasn't changed love. Here's why | Helen Fisher

TED - 10 hours 23 min ago
In our tech-driven, interconnected world, we've developed new ways and rules to court each other, but the fundamental principles of love have stayed the same, says anthropologist Helen Fisher. In this energetic tell-all from the front lines of love, learn how our faster connections are actually leading to slower, more intimate relationships. Watch to the end for a lively discussion with love expert Esther Perel.
Categories: New Media News

Can we build AI without losing control over it? | Sam Harris

TED - Thu, 09/29/2016 - 10:51
Scared of superintelligent AI? You should be, says neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris -- and not just in some theoretical way. We're going to build superhuman machines, says Harris, but we haven't yet grappled with the problems associated with creating something that may treat us the way we treat ants.
Categories: New Media News

Childhoods under the lens of humanist documentary photography

We Make Money Not Art - Wed, 09/28/2016 - 12:01

The only photography venue in the UK exclusively devoted to documentary, Side Gallery, is about to re-open with an exhibition dedicated to children. Children! Now this is definitely not my favourite subject but a look at the press images made me realize that not everything related to kids needs to be offensively tiresome, uninspiring and jejune:


Phillip and Jamie are creatures from Outer Space in their spaceship, photograph by Denise Dixon, Portraits and Dreams, Wendy Ewald


Karen Robinson, Seaham, Co.Durham, Spring 2004. From All Dressed Up

Also how could it be soporific when the show is handled by Amber, a collective born in the late 1960s with a mission to document working class culture in photos and videos? The new exhibition, called CHILDHOODS, will present work from Amber’s collection, spanning four decades of documentary photography. From 1977 to 2016. From children living in a small coalfield community in the Appalachians, USA to the ones living in today’s marginalized communities.

Sadly, i can’t go to Newcastle and visit the show but i laid my hands on as many press images as i could and have dutifully copy/pasted them below. With, occasionally, a few notes about the photos:


James Mollison, Tzvika, 9, Beitar Illit, West Bank. From Where Children Sleep

“Tzvika, nine, lives in an apartment block in Beitar Illit, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. It is a gated community of 36,000 Haredi (Orthodox) Jews. Televisions and newspapers are banned from the settlement. The average family has nine children, but Tzvika has only one sister and two brothers, with whom he shares his room. He is taken by car to school, a two-minute drive. Sport is banned from the curriculum. Tzvika goes to the library every day and enjoys reading the holy scriptures. He also likes to play religious games on his computer. He wants to become a rabbi, and his favourite food is schnitzel and chips.”


James Mollison, Ahkôhxet, Brazil. From Where Children Sleep

“Ahkôhxet is a member of the Kraho tribe, who live in the basin of the river Amazon. There are only 1,900 members of the tribe. The Kraho people believe that the sun and moon were creators of the universe, and the red paint on Ahkôhxet’s chest is from one of his tribe’s rituals. The tribe grow and hunt their own foods, and any other material they need is bought using money earned from film crews and photographers who visit their camp.”


Dean Chapman, Shifting Ground, 2001


Dean Chapman, Shifting Ground, 2001

When photographer Lesley McIntyre’s daughter Molly was born in 1984, she was suffering from a muscular abnormality. The doctors thought it was highly unlikely she would survive more than a few weeks or months. But Molly lived until her fourteenth birthday and McIntyre documented her moments of happiness and challenges in the series The Time of Her Life.


Lesley McIntyre, Molly administering her own medication, St.Mary’s Hospital, London, 1998. From The Time of Her Life


Lesley McIntyre, Demonstration against cuts in education, Piccadilly, London, 1995. From The Time of Her Life


Karen Robinson, Text messaging in Lorianne’s bedroom. Thornley, Co.Durham, Summer 2004. From All Dressed Up


Tish Murtha, ‘Mala’ Anderson, Elswick. From the exhibition Juvenile Jazz Bands, commissioned by Side Gallery and first exhibited in 1979


Tish Murtha, The Chieftains training, Cruddas Park. From the exhibition Juvenile Jazz Bands, commissioned by Side Gallery and first exhibited in 1979


Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, Tanya and her grandfather, 1982. From Step by Step


Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, Connell-Brown Dancing School, North Shields, 1986. From Step by Step


Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, Dance display at Terminus club, 1982. From ‘Step by Step’


Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, Carmen Decker and mum, Diana, 1982. From ‘Step by Step’

Wendy Ewald‘s Portraits and Dreams was a participative project from the 1970s developed with the children she was teaching in a small coalfield community in the Appalachians, USA.


I Dreamt I Killed My Best Friend, Ricky Dixon. From Portraits & Dreams, Wendy Ewald

Liz Hingley’s Home Made in Smethwick are portraits of families living in Smethwick, one of England’s most ethnically diverse towns. The photos are accompanied by personal recipes.


Liz Hingley, 2016. From Home Made in Smethwick

Kai Wiedenhöfer is showing portraits of refugee children from his new work, Forty Out of One Million / Syrian Collateral.


Kai Wiedenhöfer, Duwa a and Shahd Sarshan. From Forty Out of One Million. Syrian Collateral, 2015


Julien Germain, Kuramo Junior College, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria. Basic 7 / Junior Secondary Level 1, Mathematics. June 22nd, 2009. From the series Classroom Portraits

CHILDHOODS opens on 1 October and closes on 27 November 2016 at Side Gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Previously: For Ever Amber, ennobling working class and marginalized communities.

Categories: New Media News

How we're harnessing nature's hidden superpowers | Oded Shoseyov

TED - Wed, 09/28/2016 - 11:15
What do you get when you combine the strongest materials from the plant world with the most elastic ones from the insect kingdom? Super-performing materials that might transform ... everything. Nanobiotechnologist Oded Shoseyov walks us through examples of amazing materials found throughout nature, in everything from cat fleas to sequoia trees, and shows the creative ways his team is harnessing them in everything from sports shoes to medical implants.
Categories: New Media News

A visual history of social dance in 25 moves | Camille A. Brown

TED - Tue, 09/27/2016 - 11:07
Why do we dance? African-American social dances started as a way for enslaved Africans to keep cultural traditions alive and retain a sense of inner freedom. They remain an affirmation of identity and independence. In this electric demonstration, packed with live performances, choreographer, educator and TED Fellow Camille A. Brown explores what happens when communities let loose and express themselves by dancing together.
Categories: New Media News

Because sometimes all you need is BATS

We Make Money Not Art - Mon, 09/26/2016 - 12:08


Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Bat Opera, 2013


Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Bat Opera, 2005

Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, who used to be called Spartacus Chetwynd, was born Alalia Chetwynd. That’s a lovely name of course but it doesn’t have the same punchy resonance as the one of a gladiator who lead a major revolt against the Romans or of the coolest, most brilliant R&B singer that ever was. Whatever her reasons to re-baptize herself so dramatically, she certainly has the spunk and knack to pull it off.

Chetwynd is known for her droll and brash performances. She enrolls amateurs, makes everyone dance, sing and wear hand-made outfits so demented you’re wondering if she didn’t intern at Martin Margiela a decade or two ago: fur sprouting everywhere, most unflattering volumes and wonky lengths. In her riots you meet pop culture and high brow references. Michael
 Jackson’s Thriller and the Canterbury Tales. Rabelais and Star Wars villains. But also super ugly creatures, giant turtles, merry cats. It’s a bit like the Bacchanalia but with more clothes on. Or what passes for clothes in Chetwynd’s world.


Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, The Cell Group (Episode Two), Bergen Assembly 2016 Performance documentation, St Jørgen’s Shelter, Bergen, NorwayPhoto: Thor Brødreskift

The artist was invited by Rhea Dall and Kristine Siegel from PRAXES to participate to the Bergen Assembly triennial with a programme made of an exhibition archive of some of her most eccentric performance costumes and props, workshops, performances and other gatherings bearing titles such as Iron Age Pasta Necklace Workshop and it’s not bald spot it’s a solar panel for a sex machine (Episode Three).

There’s a lot of the frenzy described above at the various Bergen Assembly events featuring Chetwynd’s works but there’s also a small exhibition of decidedly odd but ultimately charming bat portraits in the lobby of the City Hall of Bergen. I had never heard of that series before but i immediately wanted the little mammals to be part of my blog.

Quietly lined up against the rock and concrete wall, the Bat Opera paintings show the little creatures in all shapes, sizes and settings. Bat faces, bats in groups, bats high in the sky, bats spreading wings, bats that look tragic, defiant, deep.

The series has followed Chetwynd through a personal archeology of painting techniques and styles. Cute and horrendous, corny and ferocious, the Bat Opera paintings are tangentially linked to an eponymous live performance by Chetwynd, which, in turn, took inspiration from the opulent glam rock performer Meat Loaf’s epic album Bat Out of Hell—a churning amalgam of beauty and beast that utterly fascinates the artist.

Meet the bats:


Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Bat Opera, 2014


Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Bat Opera, 2008


Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Bat Opera, 2014


Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Bat Opera, 2014


Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, …ARE U BATS? Installation photo, Bergen Assembly 2016. Photo: Kobie Nel/Bergen Assembly


Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, …ARE U BATS? Installation photo, Bergen Assembly 2016. Photo: Kobie Nel/Bergen Assembly


Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Bat Opera, 2014


Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Bat Opera, 2013


Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Bat Opera, 2014


Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Bat Opera, 2013


Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Bat Opera, 2006


Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Bat Opera, 2003


Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, ARE YOU BATS? (PRAXES), Installation Shot, Bergen Assembly 2016. Bergen City Hall, Bergen. Photo: Thor Brødreskif


Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, ARE YOU BATS? (PRAXES), Installation Shot, Bergen Assembly 2016. Bergen City Hall, Bergen. Photo: Thor Brødreskif

This is my last story about the exciting and eclectic Bergen Assembly. Before i close this series, I need to salute Tim Schmitt and Anne Büttner from HORT did all the graphic design of the Bergen Assembly. I kept admiring their work throughout my stay in the Norwegian city. Just a couple images:

… Are u Bats? is in the lobby of the City Hall of Bergen until 9 December 2016.

Also part of the Bergen Assembly triennial: Infinite Ear. On the practices of un- or para-hearing and Within: Instruments that challenge the way we understand hearing. The End of Oil, the end of the world as we knew it.

Categories: New Media News

America's forgotten working class | J.D. Vance

TED - Mon, 09/26/2016 - 11:22
J.D. Vance grew up in a small, poor city in the Rust Belt of southern Ohio, where he had a front-row seat to many of the social ills plaguing America: a heroin epidemic, failing schools, families torn apart by divorce and sometimes violence. In a searching talk that will echo throughout the country's working-class towns, the author details what the loss of the American Dream feels like and raises an important question that everyone from community leaders to policy makers needs to ask: How can we help kids from America's forgotten places break free from hopelessness and live better lives?
Categories: New Media News

We can fight terror without sacrificing our rights | Rebecca MacKinnon

TED - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 10:17
Can we fight terror without destroying democracy? Internet freedom activist Rebecca MacKinnon thinks that we'll lose the battle against extremism and demagoguery if we censor the internet and press. In this critical talk, she calls for a doubling-down on strong encryption and appeals to governments to better protect, not silence, the journalists and activists fighting against extremists.
Categories: New Media News

Pixelache 2016: The Science of Empathy

We Make Money Not Art - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 05:06

The Pixelache Festival opened last night in Helsinki. It is, as usual, full of good surprises and inspiring shenanigans. The theme this year is:

The whole program is dedicated to exploring how empathy can be extended to the whole ecosystem, not just to other human beings. I’ll write a proper report later but today i really wanted to publish my notes from Katri Saarikivi‘s talk at the opening evening of the festival.

This month i’ve been writing about gloomy topic such as the drones that kill, robots that might take the power over us, oil industry that exploits its workforce, off-shore tax havens that enable the 1% to enjoy full impunity, etc. I thought i should also make space for stories that puts the human genre in a more positive light.


Katri Saarikivi at Pixelache

Saarikivi is a cognitive neuroscientist and the leader of NEMO – Natural Emotionality in Digital Interaction at the University of Helsinki. The group is looking for new ways to digitalize and transmit empathy in the digital realm. Her quick introduction to The Science of Empathy was brilliant and uplifting.

Saarikivi explained that empathy is important. It’s what makes us connect to other people’s emotions. Empathy is also an essential survival skill for humans. It’s what makes us come together and collaborate. It also makes collective intelligence possible. Compared to big beasts like bears and tigers, humans are small and weak so we needed to cooperate in order to be able to overcome them. That’s what has enabled humanity to survive and flourish over time.

Even if we don’t have to face big beasts nowadays, we still benefit from empathy. It is our route to great achievements. We wouldn’t have managed to put Rovers on Mars without it (whether sending vehicles onto distant planets is the most interesting thing we can do is another story.)

In fact, a report titled Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance of Human Groups showed that collective intelligence was best when it came to finding solutions to problems. According to the researchers, The key to high performance lay not in the content of a team’s discussion but in the manner in which it was communicating. Collective intelligence is at its most efficient when the following factors appear during the discussions:
– short speeches, no monologues,
– responsiveness towards others,
– everyone gets a turn to speak.
– empathy (the reading the mind in the eyes test)

Even Google data analysts agree. After years of intensive research on how to produce a more productive team, the tech giant discovered that the key to good team work was being nice.

In the future, the importance of empathy might become even more apparent. People will have to focus on tasks in which they are better than the ‘robots’. Tasks that can’t be automated and require ‘softer skills.’ Some of these tasks are the ones that involve learning and creativity; flexible, contextual thinking; empathy, etc.

Empathy, according to Saarikivi, is the ultimate human quality.

In neuroscience, empathy is divided into 3 levels: Thoughts, Actions and Emotions.

Thoughts: empathy helps you understand how other people think, it enables you to put yourself into someone else’s shoes. We are all mentalists!
Emotions: other people’s emotions are contagious. We feel sad when we see someone cry and feel happier when we see another person smile.
Actions: Mechanisms in our brain makes it rewarding to be altruistic.

Saarikivi explained that if you remove self-control from humans, they become overly generous towards other humans. It seems that we are inherently altruistic, that sharing and being generous is part of our brain default state.

What Saarikivi’s research group is trying to understand is how these mechanism works so that they can create more opportunities for empathy.

But neuroscience realizes that it might not be enough to understand what happens in the brain of one person. That’s where the two-brain perspective comes in. Two-brain neuroscience measures the activity of two brains at the same time and looks at the connections.

Researchers found that “cognition materializes in interpersonal space“:
– Rhythmic activity of brains synchronizes during interaction,
– The greater the extent of neural coupling between a speaker and a listener, the better the understanding.

Things that increase empathy:
Reading literary fiction,
Playing rock band together,
Moving together in synchrony: bouncing, clapping, rocking in rocking chair.

One of society’s current challenges is that empathy is not communicated efficiently online. The internet was conceived as a tool for empathy but as we know, that’s not what is happening. We need to improve ‘virtual empathy’. It appears that when we go online we are less empathetic than when we are face to face. Why? Saarikivi believes that the tools we use are not built to take human empathy into consideration.


Kids Read Mean Tweets

When a person’s feeling don’t reach you, this person can’t touch you. That’s how you end up with trolls.

She concluded that we need more interfaces for empathy, whether they are digital or not. We need them now because society is facing problems of global magnitude that we won’t be able to solve without empathy.

The Pixelache Festival takes place from September 22nd to 25th in Helsinki.

Categories: New Media News

The era of personal DNA testing is here | Sebastian Kraves

TED - Thu, 09/22/2016 - 10:35
From improving vaccines to modifying crops to solving crimes, DNA technology has transformed our world. Now, for the first time in history, anyone can experiment with DNA at home, in their kitchen, using a device smaller than a shoebox. We are living in a personal DNA revolution, says biotech entrepreneur Sebastian Kraves, where the secrets buried in DNA are yours to find.
Categories: New Media News

Why open a school? To close a prison | Nadia Lopez

TED - Wed, 09/21/2016 - 10:59
Our kids are our future, and it's crucial they believe it themselves. That's why Nadia Lopez opened an academic oasis in Brownsville, Brooklyn, one of the most underserved and violent neighborhoods in New York -- because she believes in every child's brilliance and capabilities. In this short, energizing talk, the founding principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy (and a star of Humans of New York) shares how she helps her scholars envision a brighter future for themselves and their families.
Categories: New Media News

Book review: Artificial Intelligence. What Everyone Needs to Know

We Make Money Not Art - Tue, 09/20/2016 - 12:36

Artificial Intelligence. What Everyone Needs to Know, by computer scientist, researcher and futurist Jerry Kaplan

On amazon USA and UK.

Publisher Oxford University Press writes: The emergence of systems capable of independent reasoning and action raises serious questions about just whose interests they are permitted to serve, and what limits our society should place on their creation and use. Deep ethical questions that have bedeviled philosophers for ages will suddenly arrive on the steps of our courthouses. Can a machine be held accountable for its actions? Should intelligent systems enjoy independent rights and responsibilities, or are they simple property? Who should be held responsible when a self-driving car kills a pedestrian? Can your personal robot hold your place in line, or be compelled to testify against you? If it turns out to be possible to upload your mind into a machine, is that still you?

Sometimes i realize that i need a new perspective on technology. My main sources of information about science or technology are art exhibitions, social media channels run by activists and books by social scientists or philosophers. I decided to expand my horizons and check out what an engineer has to say about technology. In particular artificial intelligence.

I thought a book like Artificial Intelligence. What Everyone Needs to Know wouldn’t overwhelm me with nerdiness. The volume is part of an Oxford University Press series that aims to offer compact and balanced monographs on complex issues in a Q&A format.

In his intro to the book, computer scientist and futurist Kaplan promises to give nontech readers an overview of the key issues and arguments about the main social, ethical, legal and economic issues raised by Artificial Intelligence.

The experience didn’t start too well for me… The first part is remarkably techy for a book that promises not to scare off the amateur. It’s not difficult to follow at all but i was there for the ethics, the critics and the possible pitfalls of AI! I soldiered on nonetheless, read about the intellectual history of AI, the history of machine learning, the various types of AI (actually that part was very interesting, it gives grounding and clarity to the whole field), etc.


JPL’s RoboSimian exits its vehicle following a brief drive through a slalom course at the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals. Photo: J. Krohn/ JPL-Caltech

Things picked up for me at chapter 4, the one that studies the philosophy of AI and how it poses a series of challenges to philosophy or religious doctrines which often orbit around human uniqueness and our place in universe. Whereas the first few chapters explained terms such as computer vision, speech recognition, natural language processing, the pages in chapter 4 invite readers to reconsider and refine their understanding of intelligence, free will, consciousness and what it means to be ‘alive.’ Automated methods are slowly nibbling at the list of abilities previously considered the sole province of humans. Think of chess, for example. Pre-Deep Blue, being a master of chess was regarded as the epitome of being intelligent and human. Then in 1996, Garry Kasparov was defeated by a computer and we had to find new benchmarks to define human intelligence.

The following chapters kept on getting more and more relevant to my interests as they explored the impact that AI will have -or already has- on law, on human labor, on social equity (although the disruptive effects of AI are not inevitable, it is quite likely that income inequality will get worse) and it ends by looking at the possible future impacts of artificial intelligence.

The questions Kaplan explores are fascinating. I sometimes wished he would have added more details and depth to several of the issues he presents but i guess the particular format of the book made it difficult for him to be too lengthy. Here are some of the questions he answers (and sometimes admits we don’t have quite yet the framework to answer them with certainty):

Should people bear full responsibility for their intelligent agents (if your autonomous car hits someone)? Should an AI system be permitted to own property? Could an AI system commit a crime (answer is yes) and can it be held accountable for it? Can a computer ‘feel’? Which professions are under threat of being automated in the near future? Will i be able to upload myself into a computer? How can we minimise future risks posed by the machines? What will be the impact of AI on social equity? What are the benefits and the risks of making computers that act like people? Who’s going to benefit from this tech revolution? Are there alternatives to our current labor-based economy?

Artificial Intelligence. What Everyone Needs to Know is not a book i would normally pick up but i’m glad i did. There is much hype and fear around robots and artificial intelligence and it’s difficult to get a clear view of what lays ahead of us. Much of the public perception of AI is shaped by Hollywood, sensationalist headlines, and videos of robots interacting flawlessly with a trained demonstrator. The reality, as Kaplan demonstrates in this book, is a bit more complicated:

IEEE Spectrum, A compilation of robots falling down on Day 1 of the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals, 2015

Categories: New Media News

Why you should know how much your coworkers get paid | David Burkus

TED - Tue, 09/20/2016 - 11:09
How much do you get paid? How does it compare to the people you work with? You should know, and so should they, says management researcher David Burkus. In this talk, Burkus questions our cultural assumptions around keeping salaries secret and makes a compelling case for why sharing them could benefit employees, organizations and society.
Categories: New Media News

There's no such thing as not voting | Eric Liu

TED - Mon, 09/19/2016 - 11:03
Many people like to talk about how important voting is, how it's your civic duty and responsibility as an adult. Eric Liu agrees with all that, but he also thinks it's time to bring joy back to the ballot box. The former political speechwriter details how he and his team are fostering the culture around voting in the 2016 US presidential election -- and closes with a powerful analysis of why anyone eligible should show up on Election Day.
Categories: New Media News

Within: Instruments that challenge the way we understand hearing

We Make Money Not Art - Fri, 09/16/2016 - 12:01


Tarek Atoui / WITHIN II. Performance, Bergen Assembly 2016. Sentralbadet, Bergen. Photo: Thor Brødreskift


Tarek Atoui/ Sonic Therapy Sessions, Deep Listening with Pauline Oliveros and Ione.Documentation shot, Bergen Assembly 2016. Sentralbadet, Bergen. Photo: Thor Brødreskift


Tarek Atoui / WITHIN II. Performance, Bergen Assembly 2016. Sentralbadet, Bergen. Photo: Thor Brødreskift


Tarek Atoui / WITHIN II. Performance, Bergen Assembly 2016. Sentralbadet, Bergen. Photo: Thor Brødreskift

A few days ago, i started writing about Tarek Atoui‘s artistic proposal for Bergen Assembly, a triennial currently taking place all over Bergen, Norway. The sound artist filled an abandoned swimming pool with new music instruments, historical objects, ideas, noises and sounds that challenge how both deaf and hearing people experience sound. Atoui delegated part of the exhibition to Council, a curatorial practice interested in connecting art with science and social engagement. The French duo came up with Infinite Ear, a show that looks into practices and artifacts which involve other senses in the hearing experience. I blogged about it last week so today is going to be about WITHIN, the research project about hearing diversities that Atoui started back in 2012 at the Sharjah Art Foundation in the UAE.

Atoui inhabited the largest, deepest (and obviously dried up) swimming basin with a series of sound instruments that he developed in collaboration with the local deaf communities, with other sound artists and with academics from various disciplines.

By working together on the instruments, which appeal to both the hearing and deaf public, the aim is to convey to visitors from the perspective of deaf people how instruments and the sounds produced by them are perceived by the deaf community and how the instruments can be played in these circumstances.

Atoui’s research project was as much about developing music instruments for people who cannot hear as it was about learning from the deaf and expanding our understanding of auditory perceptions. Is the hearing experience confined to the ear? Can sound be tactile? Can it emerge from visual stimuli? Can gestuality convey some of the sound experience? How can the eyes, the hands, the whole body even participate in the experience of sound?


Tarek Atoui / WITHIN II. Performance, Bergen Assembly 2016. Sentralbadet, Bergen. Photo: Thor Brødreskift


Tarek Atoui / WITHIN II. Performance, Bergen Assembly 2016. Sentralbadet, Bergen. Photo: Thor Brødreskift

Unfortunately, you cannot play with Tarek Atoui’s instruments. But you can experience the sensations, vibrations and the impact on your body and the architecture of the building that they produce during the regular public rehearsals, performances and concerts that take place this month in Bergen (full list of events over here.) If you are hearing-impaired however, you might be able to have a go at them.

Here’s a presentation of some of the instruments:


Tarek Atoui / WITHIN II. Performance, Bergen Assembly 2016. Sentralbadet, Bergen. Photo: Thor Brødreskift


Tarek Atoui / WITHIN II. Performance, Bergen Assembly 2016. Sentralbadet, Bergen. Photo: Thor Brødreskift

The True Laptop Quartet is a set of four tactile instruments that use metallic found objects, transducer speakers and old microphones to create feedback sounds. The objects are placed onto the lap of the performer who feels the sound in his/her hands or body through the vibrations of metal.



Tarek Atoui / WITHIN II. Performance, Bergen Assembly 2016. Sentralbadet, Bergen. Photo: Thor Brødreskift

The T1 is a MIDI keyboard. The sounds it produces can be heard in a tactile way. This controller easily connects to any type of musical software to play and process sounds the player chooses. It can also be used as a speaker that allows to perceive up to 5 sounds in the fingers and the palm of the hand.


Tarek Atoui / WITHIN II. Performance, Bergen Assembly 2016. Sentralbadet, Bergen. Photo: Thor Brødreskift


Tarek Atoui / WITHIN II. Performance, Bergen Assembly 2016. Sentralbadet, Bergen. Photo: Thor Brødreskift

The Sub-ink, developed by Julia Alsarraf, is a set of four units with a single subwoofer each on which the performer sits in contact with the sound. By touching a drawing the musician previously prepares using conductive ink, he or she plays a basic synthesizer in rhythmic or melodic ways. The Sub-Ink is a modular instrument that can be used to control other device such as computers and synthesizers, and to connect and synchronize musicians with different hearing abilities.


Tarek Atoui / WITHIN II. Performance, Bergen Assembly 2016. Sentralbadet, Bergen. Photo: Thor Brødreskift

33 Soft Cells is a touch sampler made out of 33 touch sensitive textile panels, each with a distinctive texture or pattern. The instrument can be connected to different computer software and types of sound, and playing it relies on the sense of touch.


Tarek Atoui / WITHIN II. Performance, Bergen Assembly 2016. Sentralbadet, Bergen. Photo: Thor Brødreskift

The 0.9 is a networked group of nine Meyer subwoofers speakers encased by 3 platforms on which performers stand. It has a gestural interface inspired by sign language and is similar to a Theremin. Through specific hands and finger movements, the player produces ultra-low-frequency sounds that are physically felt, perhaps even before they are heard. The instrument allows to play with resonance frequencies of the space where it’s being performed. The space and its architecture therefore become conductors of sound, and the audience can perceive the instrument through them.


Tarek Atoui / WITHIN II. Performance, Bergen Assembly 2016. Sentralbadet, Bergen. Photo: Thor Brødreskift


Tarek Atoui / WITHIN II. Performance, Bergen Assembly 2016. Sentralbadet, Bergen. Photo: Thor Brødreskift


Tarek Atoui / WITHIN II. Performance, Bergen Assembly 2016. Sentralbadet, Bergen. Photo: Thor Brødreskift

4 Iterations on Drums, is a set of percussion tables that focus on conducting sound through solid materials such as metal and wood rather than air. The sound produced is felt in the hands of the player before reaching the ears. Initially imagined by Thierry Madiot, the design of these tables was enhanced by students at the Nordahl Grieg high-school in Bergen.

More images, this time in b&w:


Tarek Atoui, Deaf Session, Sentralbadet. Documentation Shot, Bergen Assembly 2016 Photo: Thor Brødreskift


Tarek Atoui, Deaf Session, Sentralbadet. Documentation Shot, Bergen Assembly 2016 Photo: Thor Brødreskift


Tarek Atoui, Deaf Session, Sentralbadet. Documentation Shot, Bergen Assembly 2016 Photo: Thor Brødreskift


Tarek Atoui, Deaf Session, Sentralbadet. Documentation Shot, Bergen Assembly 2016 Photo: Thor Brødreskift


Tarek Atoui, Deaf Session, Sentralbadet. Documentation Shot, Bergen Assembly 2016 Photo: Thor Brødreskift


Tarek Atoui / WITHIN I, Sentralbadet. Performance, Bergen Assembly 2016 Photo: Thor Brødreskift


Tarek Atoui / WITHIN I, Sentralbadet. Performance, Bergen Assembly 2016 Photo: Thor Brødreskift


Tarek Atoui / WITHIN I, Sentralbadet. Performance, Bergen Assembly 2016 Photo: Thor Brødreskift


Tarek Atoui / WITHIN I, Sentralbadet. Performance, Bergen Assembly 2016 Photo: Thor Brødreskift

Tarek Atoui’s contribution to the Bergen Assembly remains open to visitors until 1 October 2016. Performances, workshops, open rehearsals of WITHIN are scheduled to take place in the coming days: On the 21st, 23rd, 25th and 30th of September.
The rest of the Bergen Assembly triennial continues in various venues around Bergen, Norway until 9 December, 2016.

Previously: Infinite Ear. On the practices of un- or para-hearing.
Also part of the Bergen Assembly: Bergen Assembly: The End of Oil, the end of the world as we knew it.

Categories: New Media News

Why some people are more altruistic than others | Abigail Marsh

TED - Fri, 09/16/2016 - 10:47
Why do some people do selfless things, helping other people even at risk to their own well-being? Psychology researcher Abigail Marsh studies the motivations of people who do extremely altruistic acts, like donating a kidney to a complete stranger. Are their brains just different?
Categories: New Media News

Architecture that's built to heal | Michael Murphy

TED - Thu, 09/15/2016 - 11:03
Architecture is more than a clever arrangement of bricks. In this eloquent talk, Michael Murphy shows how he and his team look far beyond the blueprint when they're designing. Considering factors from airflow to light, theirs is a holistic approach that produces community as well as (beautiful) buildings. He takes us on a tour of projects in countries such as Rwanda and Haiti, and reveals a moving, ambitious plan for The Memorial to Peace and Justice, which he hopes will heal hearts in the American South.
Categories: New Media News

Book review: Drone. Remote Control Warfare

We Make Money Not Art - Wed, 09/14/2016 - 11:18

Drone. Remote Control Warfare, by anthropologist Hugh Gusterson.

It’s on amazon USA and UK.

Publisher MIT Press writes: Advocates say that drones are more precise than conventional bombers, allowing warfare with minimal civilian deaths while keeping American pilots out of harm’s way. Critics say that drones are cowardly and that they often kill innocent civilians while terrorizing entire villages on the ground. In this book, Hugh Gusterson explores the significance of drone warfare from multiple perspectives, drawing on accounts by drone operators, victims of drone attacks, anti-drone activists, human rights activists, international lawyers, journalists, military thinkers, and academic experts.

Gusterson examines the way drone warfare has created commuter warriors and redefined the space of the battlefield. He looks at the paradoxical mix of closeness and distance involved in remote killing: is it easier than killing someone on the physical battlefield if you have to watch onscreen? He suggests a new way of understanding the debate over civilian casualties of drone attacks. He maps “ethical slippage” over time in the Obama administration’s targeting practices. And he contrasts Obama administration officials’ legal justification of drone attacks with arguments by international lawyers and NGOs.


U.S. soldiers fly an RQ-7B Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle at Hurlburt Field, Fla., from inside their ground control station, 2011. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andy M. Kin/Released


The aftermath of a drone strike in Yemen (photo)

Drone. Remote Control Warfare is a compact book that efficiently wraps up and reviews the most urgent topics explored in other books about drones (for example, A Theory of the Drone and Sudden Justice: America’s Secret Drone Wars.) In particular: the condition of a warfare that is so asymmetric it almost becomes unilateral; the psychological suffering of people who live under the constant threat of a drone attack but also the new forms of PTSD developed by drone operators who find it difficult to compartmentalize battlefield and domestic life; the strategies insurgents adopt to fight back (using couriers to communicate, taking advantage of urban topography to make it harder to be tracked, hacking drones); the globalization of the battlefield and the break from international rules that govern war zones and treatment of the people suspected of terrorism; the undermining of local cultural and religious practices; the many civilian casualties and the myth of the ‘surgically precise’ strike; the loosening of the interpretation of what constitutes a terrorist threat; the moral framing of the strikes (or rather the lack thereof); the crashes, lethal errors and other glitches associated with operating drones; the slow chain of command and diffused responsibility behind a drone strike, etc.


A man walks past a graffiti, denouncing strikes by U.S. drones in Yemen, painted on a wall in Sanaa November 13, 2014. Photo: Khaled Abdullah/REUTERS

The book also brings new perspective on drone warfare.

Gusterson believes that the danger of drones doesn’t lie in the technology itself but in the way it is currently used. As he writes:

A drone is a socio-technical ensemble, not just a machine, and the same drone will be deployed to different effects in different cultural and organizational contexts.

In his view, the United States have little chance to achieve their national security objectives if they keep on using drones as neo-colonial weapons (i.e. similarly to how British and French colonial soldiers used powerful fire arms against spear-carrying Africans) that anger local populations, demonstrate no trace of moral superiority and further militarizes relationship between ‘us’ and the Muslim world.


U.S. airmen prepare an RQ-4A Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle aircraft for takeoff, 2010. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eric Harris/Released

The author believes than it would make far more sense to police the use of drones than to attempt to ban the technology altogether. Such carefully controlled deployment of drones won’t be implemented without a strong pressure from the public and that’s where there is still a lot of work to do.

Drones have been deployed in the ‘war on terror’ for 15 years already. Yet, the American public knows relatively little about the violence spread in their name in faraway countries.

What makes drones so attractive to the US government is that they don’t involve the return of American body bags from the battlefront. The public doesn’t see casualties and therefore doesn’t question the legitimacy of drone warfare. Few congressmen will then challenge the use of drones and the threshold for military action can be lowered.

The author suggests that what is needed is some kind of new Guantanamo to rally against. If the American public realizes that drones are blackening the international reputation of the U.S. and actually make little contribution to the safety of the country, they might ask their representatives to surround the use of these new weapons with strict ethical regulations and greater transparency.


Red White and Blue Drone woven in Pakistan featuring Reaper drones, 2014. Photo: War Rug

As usual, the book focuses on drone warfare from the USA. I would be interested to read a similar book that also explores into more details the way Israel (a pioneering exporter, developer and proponent of drone violence) uses drones on its own and on neighbouring territories.

More drone books: Book review: A Theory of the Drone, Sudden Justice: America’s Secret Drone Wars.
And even more drone stories: Eyes from a distance. Personal encounters with military drones, A screaming comes across the sky. Drones, mass surveillance and invisible wars, A dystopian performance for drones, The Grey Zone. On the (il)legitimacy of targeted killing by drones, Tracking Drones, Reporting Lives, KGB, CIA black sites and drone performance. This must be an exhibition by Suzanne Treister, Under the Shadow of the Drone, etc.

Categories: New Media News

How fear of nuclear power is hurting the environment | Michael Shellenberger

TED - Wed, 09/14/2016 - 10:51
"We're not in a clean energy revolution; we're in a clean energy crisis," says climate policy expert Michael Shellenberger. His surprising solution: nuclear. In this passionate talk, he explains why it's time to overcome longstanding fears of the technology, and why he and other environmentalists believe it's past time to embrace nuclear as a viable and desirable source of clean power.
Categories: New Media News

How to raise successful kids -- without over-parenting | Julie Lythcott-Haims

TED - Tue, 09/13/2016 - 11:08
By loading kids with high expectations and micromanaging their lives at every turn, parents aren't actually helping. At least, that's how Julie Lythcott-Haims sees it. With passion and wry humor, the former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford makes the case for parents to stop defining their children's success via grades and test scores. Instead, she says, they should focus on providing the oldest idea of all: unconditional love.
Categories: New Media News
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