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How the blockchain is changing money and business | Don Tapscott

TED - Thu, 08/25/2016 - 10:55
What is the blockchain? If you don't know, you should; if you do, chances are you still need some clarification on how it actually works. Don Tapscott is here to help, demystifying this world-changing, trust-building technology which, he says, represents nothing less than the second generation of the internet and holds the potential to transform money, business, government and society.
Categories: New Media News

Book review: World of Malls. Architectures of Consumption

We Make Money Not Art - Thu, 08/25/2016 - 10:08

World of Malls. Architectures of Consumption, edited by Andres Lepik and Vera Simone Bader.

Available on amazon UK and USA.

Publisher Hatje Cantz writes: The catalogue World of Malls is devoted to a type of building that was invented in the United States just less than sixty years ago and quickly spread throughout the world. Due to urban planning’s increasing orientation toward the automobile, the mall became a substitute for lost urbanity. Yet what direction is the development of the shopping mall taking today? On the one hand, there continue to be spectacular new openings in America, Asia, the United Arab Emirates, and Europe. At the same time, however, many malls are empty, and some are being converted and repurposed. There is hardly any other building typology that is being discussed as controversially: does the shopping mall mean the death of the city, or does it stimulate its revitalization? In their essays, urban planners, economists, and architectural historians such as Anette Baldauf, Bob Bruegmann, Dietrich Erben, Richard Longstreth, Alain Thierstein, June Williamson, and Sophie Wolfrum examine the transformation processes of the shopping mall from the twentieth to the twenty-first century.

Architects Grazioli and Muthesius, Schloss-Arkaden, in Braunschweig, 2005-07. Photo: Thomas Meyer

Cumbernauld, Britain’s first shopping centre and the world’s first multi-level covered town centre. Photo: Dag Nilsen, via Glasgow Architecture

Shopping malls are reviled as much as they are flourishing. Marc Augé calls them non-places, Rem Koolhaas says they are junk spaces. No one with a bit of taste and civic ideals would openly admit their admiration for these perfectly air-conditioned theaters of consumption. They often offer little more than a self-contained micro cosmos where any behaviour, any living being that doesn’t serve a commercial purpose is banned. No photo, no skating, no begging, no jogging, no access outside of opening times, etc. And if that were not enough, shopping malls are also accused of robbing city centers of life and businesses. Or of turning them into bland clones filled with the exact same mass-produced garbage you can also buy in suburban malls.

World of Malls is the catalogue of an exhibition of the same name that is currently open at the Architekturmuseum in Munich. Both explore this type of architecture under its economic, political, psychological and sociological guises. The various essays are interspersed with texts and photos that examine some of the most iconic, controversial, inventive or failed experiments in the 60 year-long, yet understudied, history of shopping malls.

I liked this book so much i almost want to drop my computer right now and go to a shopping center just to look at it with new eyes. World of Malls is full of brutalist sublime, of insightful observations about the way we live and consume today but best of all, it is also full of fascinating stories…

El Helicoide, 1955-60, Caracas, Venezuela

Like the one of the ambitious “El Helicoide de la Roca Tarpeya,” in Caracas, Venezuela. It was planned as a drive-in mall for rich people. The concrete architecture is spectacular, the plans involved a roof cupola by Buckminster Fuller and even Salvador Dali thought it would be an ideal venue for his work. However, construction stopped a year before its completion in 1960 because of the political instability and the economic and legal complications that come with the flight of a dictator, the arrival of a military regime and then democratic election of a president. The building was abandoned for over 20 years, then squatted by some 10,000 people who were evacuated in the 1980s when the intelligence agencies moved in. The police has been using it for 15 years, it also serves as a prison. The rest of the structure is left to rot.

The Proyecto Helicoide organization is currently trying to save the building.

And then there are malls that evoke personal stories.

The Jerde Partnership, Horton Plaza, 1982-85, San Diego, USA. Photo: The Jerde Partnership

I’ll never forget the day i walked by chance into the Westfield Horton Plaza in San Diego. Never in my life had i seen anything so demented and garish. The shopping space is distributed along 5 mismatched levels, the facades are vividly painted and the inspiration for this aberration was old European towns. It was designed as “experience architecture.” While malls are usually conceived to keep shoppers’ eyes onto the goods, this space became an attraction in itself. It’s been so successful that it actually lured people back into downtown San Diego.

Joseph Wong Design Associates, New South China Mall, 2001-2005. Photo via Strange Abandoned Places

Joseph Wong Design Associates, New South China Mall, 2001-2005. Photo: UOL

The book also reminds us that there are malls that get revived and revamped and others that slowly die.

When it opened in 2005, New South China Mall in Guangdong Province was the largest shopping center in the world. Built like a small town, the space can accommodate 2,350 stores and it doubles as a theme park with a replica Arc de Triomphe, a giant Egyptian sphinx, canals with gondolas, a Teletubbies Edutainment Center, a mini Golden Gate, etc.

In spite of the lavish and outlandish architecture, many of the stores are empty and footfall is scant.

Rolling Acres Mall, built 1975 – closed 2008, Ohio, USA. Photo: Seph Lawless

Through economic decline and changing shopping habits, the number of “dead malls” has strongly increased in the last decade. Akron’s Rolling Acres Mall was the largest one in Ohio when it opened in 1975. It closed in 2008. Photojournalist Seph Lawless documented the space after vandals shot out the mall’s glass skylights.

Southdale Center, 1954-56, Edina/Minneapolis, USA. Photo: Gruen and Associates

The first shopping mall opened in Minnesota in 1956. Designed by Victor Gruen, Southdale Center was meant to challenge the “car-centric” America that was rising in the 1950s.

The architect gave his name to the Gruen Effect, the moment when a dazzling shop displays compels you to buy something you had never intended to purchase.

More places and images i discovered in the book:

Foster + Partners, Aldar Central Market, Abu Dhabi, 2011. Photo © Nigel Young, Foster + Partners

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Las Arenas Shopping Center Barcelona, 2011. Photo: WAF via e-architect

Main-Taunus-Zentrum, 1964 in Sulzbach, Germany. Photo: ECE Projektmanagement GmbH

The Main-Taunus-Zentrum, located on the outskirts of Frankfurt, was the first German shopping center to be built in the style of the American mall.

CentrO, Rhode Kellermann Wawrowsky, 1994-96, Oberhausen. Photo: Thomas Meyer

Emre Arolat Architects, Zorlu Center, 2007-2013, Istanbul, Turkey. Photo: Thomas Meyer

The Zorlu Center houses green rooftops as well as the largest performing arts center in Istanbul.

Aristide Boucicault, Au Bon Marche, opened 1887

Aristide Boucicault, Au Bon Marche, opened 1887. Grand staircase, Archives Moisant-Savey. Photo: Albert Chevojon, circa 1900

The exhibition World of Malls. Architectures of Consumption is at the Architekturmuseum der TU München, Pinakothek der Moderne until 22 October 2016.

Categories: New Media News

The deadly legacy of cluster bombs | Laura Boushnak

TED - Wed, 08/24/2016 - 11:07
The destruction of war doesn't stop when the fighting is over. During the 34-day Israel-Hezbollah War in 2006, an estimated four million cluster submunitions were dropped on Lebanon, killing indiscriminately. The danger remains, as many bomblets failed to explode and lay dormant, waiting to maim or kill anyone who encounters them. In this talk, photographer and TED Fellow Laura Boushnak shares haunting photos of cluster bomb survivors and asks those who still produce and condone the use of these weapons, including the United States, to abandon them.
Categories: New Media News

What we can do to die well | Timothy Ihrig

TED - Tue, 08/23/2016 - 11:04
The healthcare industry in America is so focused on pathology, surgery and pharmacology -- on what doctors "do" to patients -- that it often overlooks the values of the human beings it's supposed to care for. Palliative care physician Timothy Ihrig explains the benefits of a different approach, one that fosters a patient's overall quality of life and navigates serious illness from diagnosis to death with dignity and compassion.
Categories: New Media News

Show Us the Money. Portrait of financial impunity

We Make Money Not Art - Mon, 08/22/2016 - 11:49

Carlos Spottorno, Wealth Management

If there’s one art space in Belgium that never disappoints it’s FOMU, Antwerp’s photo museum. One of their current exhibitions draws an often startling portrait of the 1% and of the complex infrastructure that shields them from scrutiny.

Show Us The Money takes you on a journey to the world’s off-shore tax havens and corporate financial nerve centres. FOMU provides a glimpse of the structures that impact on all of us but which are themselves practically invisible. Three projects use very different artistic strategies to expose this global issue.

Take the train, plane, tram but don’t miss this exhibition. It’s extremely informative without ever feeling didactic. It’s entertaining without any trace of superficiality. And it provides an intelligent and fascinating way of answering all the questions you might have about offshore secrecy but were ashamed to ask.

Daniel Mayrit, You Haven’t Seen Their Faces

If you can’t make it to Antwerp before October, here are a few words and tons of photos from Show Us the Money:

Press articles about tax havens are often illustrated with images of anonymous beaches covered in white sand and coconut trees. With The Heavens, Paolo Woods and Gabriele Galimberti lift the lid on these furtive jurisdictions, their idiosyncrasies, players and apparatus. The photographic investigation features the usual suspects: the Cayman Islands, Singapore, the City of London, Luxembourg, etc. But it also brought my attention to a country i had never associated with Panama Papers, opacity and dubious cash flows: The Netherlands which, the photographers write, “is one of the biggest enablers of aggressive corporate tax avoidance and has built a booming industry around promoting and selling Dutch tax services to global companies.”

Selection of images. Captions by the artists:

An employee of “Jetpack Cayman” demonstrates this new watersport, now available on the island. A 2000cc motor pumps water up through the Jetpack, propelling the client out of the sea (359 USD for a 30-minute session). Mike Thalasinos, the owner of the company, remarks, “The Jetpack is zero gravity, the Cayman are zero taxes, we are in the right place!” Grand Cayman

Kandra Powery, 25, and her three children, Kayla, 9, Kaleb, 8, and Janae, 2. The Caymans, a thriving offshore financial center, is the fourth-richest country in the Americas (GDP per capita) but has real pockets of poverty. 55% of the labor force is composed of non-nationals occupying both low-paying jobs in the service sector and high-end jobs in the finance industry. Grand Cayman

Tony Reynard (on the right) and Christian Pauli, in one of the high-security vaults of the Singapore Freeport. Mr. Reynard is the Chairman of the Singapore Freeport and Mr. Pauli is the General Manger of Fine Art Logistics NLC, which in addition to Singapore, also has vaults in Geneva, Monaco and Luxembourg. The Singapore Freeport, which was designed, engineered and financed by a Swiss team of businessmen, is one of the world’s premier maximum-security vaults, where billions of dollars in art, gold and cash are stashed. Located just off the runway of Singapore’s airport, the Freeport is a fiscal no-man’s land where individuals as well as companies can confidentially collect valuables out of reach of the taxman. Singapore

The Cayman Islands are the fifth-largest financial center in the world, with twice as many companies based there as there are citizens. Many of these companies have a post office box but no office. Grand Cayman

Bicycle parking lot in Zuid, a growing financial center on the edge of the city of Amsterdam where thousands of empty mailbox companies used to avoid tax are located. The Netherlands is one of the biggest enablers of aggressive corporate tax avoidance and has built a booming industry around promoting and selling Dutch tax services to global companies. The Netherlands.

A man floats in the 57th-floor swimming pool of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, with the skyline of “Central,” the Singapore financial district, behind him. Singapore

Phil Davis, 46, is Vice President and General Manager of Dell for Asia Pacific and Japan. He has been living in Singapore for over 5 years. According to Bloomberg, Dell has based a substantial part of its operations in Singapore for purposes of tax optimization. Singapore

Nicole from the Philippines, works for a Singaporean family as a maid. On her day off, she prostitutes herself. Just like hundreds of other Filipinas, she is earning extra money to send back home. She is photographed in a hotel room where she brings her clients. The government in Singapore has recently passed a law that will require employers to give their “Foreign Domestic Workers” a minimum wage and one day off a week. Although the legislation passed, polls in Singapore have shown that a majority of the population was against it. Singapore

One hour south of Luanda lies the 18-hole Mangais championship golf course, host to PGA tournaments. Mercer, a leading financial analysis firm, ranks Luanda as the most expensive city in the world. This is despite the fact that two-thirds of Angola’s population lives on less than $2 a day and 150,000 children die before the age of 5 each year, from causes linked to poverty. Over 98% of Angola’s exports come from oil or diamonds. Researchers James Boyce and Léonce Ndikumana showed that Angola suffered $80 billion in capital flight from 1970-2008, with most of the money ending up in tax havens. Angola.

Richard J. Geisenberger (standing) is Delaware’s Chief Deputy Secretary of State. He is photographed in the Wilmington State Building, overseeing one of the more than 5000 incorporations that take place daily in Delaware. It takes a few minutes, no questions asked, to incorporate a company, and the state office stays open until midnight Monday through Thursday. More than 50% of all U.S. publicly traded companies and 63% of the Fortune 500 are incorporated in Delaware. Delaware

Galimberti and Woods judiciously registered their own company, The Heavens, in one of those tax havens: Delaware. In exchange of a small fee and zero question asked, “The Heavens” company is now based in the same office as Apple, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Google, and countless other multinational corporations, money launderers and businesses who’d rather avoid accountability.

Carlos Spottorno, Wealth Management

I’ve been following the work of Carlos Sottorno ever since i discovered PIGS, a satirical portray of “Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain through the eyes of the economists.” Wealth Management takes a similarly critical look at society and attempts to give a face to the world of tax evasion, obscene wealth and governments subordinate-to-master relationship with banks.

The project is a book that pretends to be the brochure of a fake bank called WTF bank. Spottorno traveled to San Marino, Luxembourg, Switzerland and London and looked for the stereotypes and cliches associated with the world of finance. The result is a series of images that blend truth and fiction.

Carlos Spottorno, Wealth Management

Carlos Spottorno, Wealth Management

Sottorno explains in an interview with Canvas:

This kind of imagery that looks like a noir movie – sometimes, not always but in many cases- comes of course from cinema but many look like corporate images: polo players, tailor-made shoes, airport, etc. These are the corporate images you would find in the brochure of a private bank and this is something i’ve been studying in actual brochures or websites of private banks where they often use black and white thinking it is more elegant and classy. This is how they perceive it. And i’ve been studying how these banks communicate their services to us in a very polite way, with beautiful and clean language, both written and visual. But basically what they are saying is “We will help you not to pay taxes.” That’s the baseline. Anything you read ends up there. And the images are related to that: “Enjoy life in an expensive way dont’ worry about anything. We are here to protect you, we have lawyers, we are inside the institutions that will protect your money. Don’t worry about that!”

Carlos Spottorno, Wealth Management

Carlos Spottorno, Wealth Management

Carlos Spottorno, Wealth Management

Carlos Spottorno, Wealth Management

The series that made the strongest impact on my imagination was You Haven’t Seen Their Faces, by Daniel Mayrit. The artist manipulated portrays of the most powerful men and women in the City of London to make them looks as if they were grainy images taken by surveillance cameras and annotated by the police. Brought down to the level of petty thieves and drug dealing suspects, the politicians, bankers and other schemers are assimilated to criminals involved in the 2008 financial crisis but who nvertheless keep on walking the streets in all impunity.

Daniel Mayrit, You Haven’t Seen Their Faces

Daniel Mayrit, You Haven’t Seen Their Faces

Daniel Mayrit, You Haven’t Seen Their Faces

Daniel Mayrit, You Haven’t Seen Their Faces

A few snapshots of the exhibition:

Show Us the Money was curated by Rein Deslé. The exhibition remains open at FOMU, the Photography Museum in Antwerp until 09 October 2016.
There’s an excellent tour of the show with audio interviews of Carlos Sottorno and David Mayrit as well as lots of images on Canvas. The text is in dutch.

Categories: New Media News

The next manufacturing revolution is here | Olivier Scalabre

TED - Mon, 08/22/2016 - 11:16
Economic growth has been slowing for the past 50 years, but relief might come from an unexpected place -- a new form of manufacturing that is neither what you thought it was nor where you thought it was. Industrial systems thinker Olivier Scalabre details how a fourth manufacturing revolution will produce a macroeconomic shift and boost employment, productivity and growth.
Categories: New Media News

AJNHAJTCLUB, a celebration of migrant workers

We Make Money Not Art - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 11:14

Bernd Oppl, Crooked Building, 2015

Evelyn Bencicova & Adam Csoka Keller, ASYMPTOTE

AJNHAJTCLUB, an exhibition at frei_raum Q21 in Vienna, celebrates the men and women who came from Yugoslavia (now Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina) to work in Austria.

50 years ago, on 4 April 1966, the two countries signed a contract that regulated the legal and voluntary migration of labor towards Austria, and created the Gastarbeiter (guestworker) phenomenon. Austria needed unskilled workers to support the surge of industrialization and Yugoslavia benefited from the money that workers sent to their families back home.

One of the articles of the agreement stipulated that the newcomers had the right to keep and develop their own cultural identity into workers social clubs. The clubs offered immigrants a way to connect to their roots as much as it kept them away from the street.

That’s from these clubs that the slightly baffling name of the show comes from. AJNHAJTCLUB means oneness or unity club in english. The German word for it is “EINHEIT CLUB” and AJNHAJTCLUB is the phonetic transcription of the word. Because many newcomers to Austria could not speak German this type of spelling was often used to simplify verbal communication between cultures. One of the artists in the show, Goran Novaković aka Goxilla, actually set up a class room in the space upstairs so that visitors can learn to pronounce correctly a look-a-like-language that they can not actually speak.

AJNHAJTCLUB is a contemporary “club” that “aims to unite these migrants’ past and present narratives using contemporary artistic practice and research, providing a look back to inform the future. Although more familiar from black and white imagery, the guestworker phenomenon is still alive. The exhibition shows this phenomenon in full color, complete with animated 3D avatars, modern folklore, interactive performances and contemporary interventions.”

It is tempting to see parallels between the focus of the exhibition and the current refugee situation in Europe. The context is quite different though. While Gastarbeiter came as a result of an agreement between two countries, the people who arrive in Europe today have been forced to leave their home because of the consequence of wars and other global developments.

AJNHAJTCLUB is a brave, timely and intelligent show that celebrates immigration and the economic and cultural contribution it can bring to a host country (i only wish that Trump, Brexiters and their likes across the world would visit it.) AJNHAJTCLUB could have been an exhibition full of gravity, nostalgia and anxiety. And indeed it sometimes features moments as serious as the times we are living but it is mostly a show full of humour, lightness and self-irony.

A quick walk through some of the works exhibited:

Milan Mijalkovic, Arbeiter mit Vorschlaghammer (Worker with Sledgehammer), 2015. From the series Arbeiter

Milan Mijalkovic‘s large format photograph Worker with Sledgehammer portrays a worker on a trash bin in the middle of a construction site. The heroic posture and the bin used as a pedestal celebrate anonymous migrant workers who, every day, physically erect buildings throughout the country.

Milan Mijalkovic, The Monument of the Working Man

The bitter-sweet Monument of the Working Man was one of my favourite works in the show.

The video shows balloons that are seemingly blown up automatically by a machine hidden inside the beige pedestal. But the balloons are actually inflated by a man who barely fits inside the box. The artist found the worker in front of a store where workmen gather and offer illicit labor. A Romanian bricklayer agreed to do it, demanding 1 Euro per balloon.

The deflated balloons on the floor are a sign that the party is over. In this work, the artist adopts the role of the brutal employer, reminding us of the reality, where this kind of
exploitation is carried out on a daily basis. Using people to operate the machines in closed boxes is cheaper than using a reliable machine-operated system

Addie Wagenknecht, Optimization of Parenthood, Part 2. Photo: Bernd Oppl

Addie Wagenknecht’s Optimization of Parenting is a robot arm that gently rocks the cradle whenever the baby cries and the mother is at work. The work pays homage to the women who left their home to work in Austria back in the 1960’s. Some of them had to leave their children with the grandparents. The installation also alludes to the fact that in these time of growing automation when many jobs can be done by machines, the roles and tasks of guestworkers are changing.

Bogomir Doringer in collaboration with Nature History Museum Vienna, Curated by Nature, 2016. Photo: Max Kropitz

Bogomir Doringer in collaboration with Nature History Museum Vienna, Curated by Nature. Opening of the exhibition. Photo Foto: eSeL – Joanna Pianka for Q21

Because migrants are often compared to migrant birds, Bogomir Doringer, an artist but also the curator of the exhibition, asked experts from the nearby Natural History Museum to select a series of birds whose narrative could be compared to the one of the guest workers.

Some of the birds in the showcase go back each year to the place they come from. Others stay in the new territory and become part of its ecosystem. Either because they find better living conditions or because their original habitat has changed for the worse. Some of these birds are called “invasive species.”

Interestingly, one of the birds selected is the Eurasian Collared Dove. The species came from Asia via the Balkans to Vienna and is now regarded as a typical Viennese bird.

Evelyn Bencicova & Adam Csoka Keller, ASYMPTOTE

Evelyn Bencicova & Adam Csoka Keller, ASYMPTOTE

In the elegant and almost clinical images produced by Evelyn Bencicova and Adam Csoka Keller, anonymous models pose next to buildings from the socialist period of Slovakia. Their forms seem to merge into the powerful architecture, suggesting that bodies function as pillars for institutional constructions and for an ideology that raised much hope but eventually failed. The work also suggests that to a young generation often described as ‘individualist’, the aesthetic of collective participation must have a very seductive, if abstract, appeal…

Opening of the exhibition. Photo Foto: eSeL – Joanna Pianka for Q21

Krsto Papićs, The Special Trains (film still), 1971

Krsto Papićs, The Special Trains (film still), 1971

Krsto Papićs, The Special Trains, 1971

Krsto Papićs’ The Special Trains is an extremely moving documentary.

It shows how the men who had volunteered to emigrate to Austria or Germany are transported by “special trains.” They are accompanied by a guide who ensures that they will arrive at their final destination quietly and cause as little disorder as possible. Prior to their trip, the workers are submitted to medical inspections to make sure that they will be strong and healthy enough to get a worker permit.

The film maker interviewed a group of these Yugoslavian guestworkers on the train. Many of them had to leave their family behind and most are a bit dispirited, wondering if they had made the right choice, realizing how hard it will be not to see their children, fearing that they will be regarded as second class citizens, lamenting the fact that they will feel uncomfortable in a country they know so little of. The film follows their arrival at Munich main station, where they are led to a basement. From this point on, they are no longer called by their names but by numbers.

Bernd Oppl, Crooked Building, 2015

Bernd Oppl distorted sculpture of a social housing block in Vienna highlights the inherent instability of such spaces. The Crooked Building also reminds visitors that while the guestworkers actually built the structures, they received quite late (compared to other countries) the right to get access to social housing.

Nikola Knezevic, V for Vienna (cropped window), 2016. Photo: Joanna Pianka

Nikola Knezevic. Installation view frei_raum Q21 exhibition space. Photo: Q21

Nikola Knezevic, The Placeholders (three oil paintings), 2016

Nikola Knežević‘s tryptich was another stand-out for me.

V for Vienna (cropped window) is a trophy to a guestworker employed in an aluminum factory in Vienna. Part of his job involved making each of the aluminum windows and doors for the Hilton Hotel in Vienna. The worker feels proud each time he now walks by the hotel.

The Placeholders are Mondrian-style paintings that allude to the presence of the phenomenon of guestworkers on the largest contemporary archive in the world: the Internet. Knezevic did an image search for the word Gastarbeiter and encountered mostly black and white images. Before the images appear on the screen, they are represented by placeholder filled with the dominant colour of each image. The placeholders that emerged while googling Gastarbeiter were sent to an oil painting company in China, where they were turned into abstract paintings and shipped back to Vienna. Everything was commissioned, executed and paid from a distance. The workforce is no longer required to be mobile as it was in the 1960s.

Nikola Knezevic, Not Yet Titled, 2016

The final work in the series, Not Yet Titled, brings side by side an ORF documentary from the 1970s about guestworkers and the opening sequence of Orson Welles’ film F for Fake (1974.) Both films use the same editing technique, the former to depict guestworkers, and the latter to introduce a professional art forger.

In each case, the camera follows a young woman in miniskirt walking in the street while male passersby (unaware that they are being filmed) stop on their track and openly stare at her. The woman in the ORF report is presented as an objectified and slightly threatened victim, while the one in Welles’ movie (who in real life was a Croatian woman living in Vienna), as a powerful temptress who directs men’s desire. The voice over of the ORF film even deplores that the guestworkers came with very few women.

The juxtaposition shows how similar images can be manipulated and given a different interpretation depending on the message that has to be communicated.

Olga Dimitrijevic. Photo Joanna Pianka for Q21

Olga Dimitrijević set up a “celebratory karaoke bar,” where visitors are invited to perform songs based on the lives and favourite songs of ex-Yugoslav women who live and work in Vienna.

Marta Popivoda, Yugoslavia, How Ideology Moved our Collective Body (still from the film), 2013

Marta Popivoda, Yugoslavia, How Ideology Moved our Collective Body (trailer), 2013

Marta Popivoda, Yugoslavia, How Ideology Moved our Collective Body (still from the film), 2013

In the center of the exhibition is a monumental projection of Marta Popivoda’s film study on “Yugoslavia: How Ideology Moved Our Collective Body (2013)”. The film uses archive footage to draw a personal perspective on the history of socialist Yugoslavia and its tragic end. The footage focuses on state performances (such as May Day parades and Youth Day celebrations) and on counter-demonstrations (student and civic demonstrations in the ‘90s, and the so-called Bulldozer Revolution which overthrew Slobodan Milošević in 2000.) Ultimately, the archive images demonstrate how ideology has the power to shape performances of crowds of people operating as one, but it also exposes the power of the same crowds to destroy the ideology.

More images from the exhibition:

Marko Lulic, für ein Denkmal für Migration in Perusic. Photo: Joanna Pianka

Josip Novosel, U Can Sit With Us. Photo: Bernd Oppl

Leyla Cardenas, Overlaying. Photo: Bernd Oppl

Claudia Maté, Untitled

Opening of the exhibition. Photo Foto: eSeL – Joanna Pianka for Q21

Opening of the exhibition. Photo Foto: eSeL – Joanna Pianka for Q21

Opening of the exhibition. Photo Foto: eSeL – Joanna Pianka for Q21

If you speak german, then well done you! You can enjoy this interview that Vice did with curator and artist Bogomir Doringer. Otherwise, i’d recommend the lively audio guide tour with the curator.

AJNHAJTCLUB was curated by Bogomir Doringer. The show remains open at the frei_raum Q21 exhibition space, MuseumsQuartier in Vienna until 4 September 2016.

Categories: New Media News

How Argentina's blind soccer team became champions | Gonzalo Vilariño

TED - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 10:14
With warmth and respect, Gonzalo Vilariño tells the captivating story of Argentina's blind soccer team -- and how a sincere belief in themselves and their capabilities transformed the players from humble beginnings into two-time World Champions. "You have to get out there and play every game in this beautiful tournament that we call life," Vilariño says.
Categories: New Media News

A letter to all who have lost in this era | Anand Giridharadas

TED - Thu, 08/18/2016 - 11:02
Summer, 2016: amid populist revolts, clashing resentments and fear, writer Anand Giridharadas doesn't give a talk but reads a letter. It's from those who have won in this era of change, to those who have, or feel, lost. It confesses to ignoring pain until it became anger. It chides an idealistic yet remote elite for its behind-closed-doors world-saving and airy, self-serving futurism — for at times worrying more about sending people to Mars than helping them on Earth. And it rejects the exclusionary dogmas to which we cling, calling us instead to "dare to commit to the dream of each other."
Categories: New Media News

Bodily Matters: Human Biomatter in Art (part 5. Working with HeLa cells, microflora and other biomedical material)

We Make Money Not Art - Wed, 08/17/2016 - 11:17

Previous episodes of Bodily Matters: Human Biomatter in Art: Part 1. The blood session; Part 2. At the morgue; Part 3: On expendable body parts and Part 4. On skin and hair.

Part five (and i can’t believe how slow i am) of the notes i took during Bodily Matters: Human Biomatter in Art. Materials / Aesthetics / Ethics, a symposium that took place a month ago at University College London. The outstanding event explored how artists use the human body not merely as the subject of their works, but also as their substance.

Session 5. The Extended Body: Biomedicine, Micromatter & the Transhuman was the most eclectic and unpredictable one. It investigated issues as diverse as the use of forensic methodologies in art, the presence of human cells outside of the body and the possible role of bacteria in creativity.

Mat Collishaw, Bullet Hole, 1988

Marc Quinn, Self, 1991

In his paper titled The Northern Way to Medical Display: The clinical methodology of Glaswegian artists in the 1990s and Christine Borland’s skeleton-works, Dr. Diego Mantoan (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Department of Philosophy & Cultural Heritage) looked at the different attitudes towards the use of clinical materials in the UK artworld in the 1990s.

The 1990s London art scene dominated by young British artists and their provocative approach to the use of human biomatter has long caused scholars to neglect the presence in the United Kingdom of different ways to treat the display of human remains or medical samples in art. Works such as Marc Quinn’s Self (1991), having the author’s own blood in a plaster cast, or Mat Collishaw’s framed images for Freeze (1988), adopting blown-up autopsy stills, appear rather centred on the public effect they would cause, once the viewer is aware of the material used.

During the YBA years, the only real art counterpart to London was Glasgow, in particular the artists who studied at the Environmental Art Department set up by David Harding at Glagow School of Art. Douglas Gordon and Christine Borland were among the first graduates from the course. Their approach to the use of human biomatter and clinical display was radically different from what Londoners were doing. For David Hardling, “the Context is half the work” and the ethos was reflected in the way Glasgow graduates treated biomatter. The Northerns not only engaged with the medical history and the tradition of clinical display but they also followed scientific protocols when dealing with the use of body parts in artworks.

Douglas Gordon, 24 Hour Psycho (extract), 1993

Douglas Gordon became known in the 1993 with 24 Hour Psycho which as its title clearly indicates is a slowed-down version of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film hallmark movie. The work can be seen as autopsy of a hallmark movie.

Douglas Gordon, Trigger Finger, 1996

After that work, Gordon spent 3 years researching found footage, especially medical footage from the 20th century. He wanted to breathe new life into them, to put non artist material into a context that would make it artistic, playing with ways of showing the material (fast forward, slow down, blow up the images, etc.) and giving it new aesthetic quality. He went to the archives of the Wellcome Trust and came back with 4 series of works that use clinical footage related to traumatic consequence of World War II, especially psychological disorders such as schizophrenia.

One of them was Head, a video installation showing a head which displayed signs of life right after it had been severed. The work echoes a scientific experiment done in 1905 by Dr Gabriel Beaurieux. The French doctor witnessed that the severed head of a guillotined murderer called Henri Languille remained responsive for some time after being separated from the body.

The eyelids and lips of the guillotined man worked in irregularly rhythmic contractions for about five or six seconds. [After several seconds], the spasmodic movements ceased… It was then that I called in a strong, sharp voice: “Languille!” I saw the eyelids slowly lift up, without any spasmodic contractions – I insist advisedly on this peculiarity – but with an even movement, quite distinct and normal, such as happens in everyday life, with people awakened or torn from their thoughts. Full text in guillotine.dk.

However, Gordon realized that the images of his video were too powerful and that he had to draw a line:

“I showed Head only once, in Uppsala; I showed it never again, because i was too shocked by the images. I think it worked, but it was very hard.” Douglas Gordon, interview by Hans Haase, 1999.

Maybe that’s why i couldn’t find any image of the work online.

Christine Borland, After a True Story: Giant & Fairy Tales, 1997. Photo Glasgow Museums

The skeleton of the 7.5 feet (230 cm) tall Byrne displayed at the Royal College of Surgeons of England in London (middle of this image.) Photo: Paul Dean (StoneColdCrazy) via wikipedia

Another artist from the Glasgow school who engaged by bodily matters was Christine Borland. The artist used clinical material (in particular human bones, skulls and skeletons) and clinical methodologies in her exploration of how to display forensic science and medicine topics.

The first project featuring biomatters was After a True Story: Giant & Fairy Tales.
The installation features two skeletons. One belonged to ‘Irish giant’ Charles Byrne, the other to “Sicilian Fairy” or “Sicilian Dwarf” Caroline Crachami. Clay casts of the original skeletons, kept at the Royal College of Surgeons, were used to leave traces in dust upon glass shelves. The skeletons were then removed and light is shone through the shelves represent the human bodies in their absence

Their individual stories of the people and the exploitation of their bodies (both while living and after their death) is detailed in the book, The Harmsworth Encyclopaedia, which lies open as part of the installation.

The piece reflects Borland’s interest in how scientists work with human remains in a way that can disregard the individuals’ identities and personal values.

Christine Borland, From Life, 1994. Photo: David Allen/Christine Borland/Simon Starling

Christine Borland, From Life, 1994. Photo: David Allen/Christine Borland/Simon Starling

Another of Borland’s works, From Life, consisted in a forensic reconstruction of a missing woman. She set out to purchase a skeleton (a task far more difficult than expected) and asked a crime scientist specialized in osteology to help her uncover the identity of the skeleton. Based on the forensic reconstitution, the artist made a bronze cast of the head. Her rebuilding of the missing woman aimed at giving a personality and identity back to the anonymous remains.

With that work, Borland also realized that she had reached a point where she went too far and she stopped working so intimately with body matters.

Christine Borland, Family Conservation Piece, 1998. Photo: The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow

The heads of Family Conservation Piece were cast from skulls found in the Anatomy Department of the University of Glasgow. They are made from fine bone china and decorated with colours and motifs that recall eighteenth century style porcelain. The work was originally made for an exhibition in Liverpool and the use of bone china pointed to the city’s history as a producer of china but it was also meant to evoke its role in the Slave Trade.

The works of Borland and Gordon are typical of the almost scientific method of the Glasgow school. What the artists also have in common is that at some point during their engagement with medical material they became aware that they might have gone too far. They were ready to take a step back in order to preserve the dignity of the individuals behind the often anonymous bodily remains.

Henrietta Lacks, circa 1945–1951. Photo via nbc

In her paper HeLa: Speculative Identity – On the ‘Survival’ of Henrietta Lacks in Art, Maria Tittel, PhD candidate (Universität Konstanz, Literature Arts Media), looked at two artworks that work with the DNA material of Henrietta Lacks.

Tittel writes in her abstract: Those artworks pose urgent ethical questions concerning the relation between artistic work and scientific research. Which aesthetical and ethical aspects are touched in both fields, respectivley, while using human biomatter as material for (art) work and what are the differences?

Medical researchers use “immortal” cells to study how cells work and how diseases can spread and be treated. These laboratory-grown human cells can grow indefinitely, be frozen for decades and shared among scientists for experiments. The first immortal human cell line was created in 1951 using a tissue sample taken from a young black woman with cervical cancer. Called HeLa cells, the cells were the first ones that could be cultivated outside the body. They quickly became invaluable to medical research and are at the origin of many scientific landmarks, including cloning, gene mapping, developing the polio vaccine and in vitro fertilization.

The donor remained a mystery for decades. HeLa are actually the initial letters of the donor’s name, Henrietta Lacks. Because the cells from her tumor were taken without the knowledge or consent of either the woman or her family, the HeLa cells raise a number of issues related to ethics in biotechnology and to the rights of Afro Americans (who in the early 1950s were different from the rights of white Americans.)

Aleksandra Domanović, HeLa on Zhora’s coat, 2015. Photo: Achim Hatzius

Aleksandra Domanović, HeLa on Zhora’s coat, 2015 (Detail.) Poto: Achim Hatzius

The first work discussed by Tittel was HeLa on Zhora by Aleksandra Domanović. The raincoats are covered in patterns that seem to be abstract but are actually based on medical images of HeLa cells. As for Zhora, she was a replicant in Blade Runner who searched for immortality but died on her way to find it.

The work explore the blurring boundaries between life (the immortal ones of the cells) and death, between the body and the self.

Christine Borland, HeLa, 2001. Photo: Medical Humanities

The other work explored in the presentation was Christine Borland’s HeLa installation which features a Petri dish put under a microscope. The live images of the HeLa cells quickly multiplying in the petri dish are relayed to a screen.

While in a biomedical research lab in Dundee, Borland became interested in the HeLa cells and realised that many of the researchers didn’t know anything about the origin of the material they were using in their work.

Similarly, the text that accompanies the installation is not very specific. The visitor is left wondering what the title “HeLa” stands for, where the cells come from, what the medical image is about. With this piece, Borland seems to be emphasizing the aesthetic aspect of medical imaging that often doesn’t take into account the background of the cell culture used.

Katy Connor, Untitled_Force (Laser engraved porcelain tiles), 2011

In her ‘Untitled_Force’: Becoming Nylon through 3D Print paper, Katy Connor, PhD candidate & visual artist (Bournemouth University, Centre for Experimental Media Research) presented Untitled_Force, a series of digital print and sculptures based on Atomic Force Microscope scans of her own blood.

Despite its microscopic scale, images from this process visually reference satellite photographs of the Earth’s surface, becoming body, landscape, and media simultaneously. Highly magnified, the data is also given form through a series of additive processes; layer upon layer of sintered nylon, these disarticulated fragments lending material shape to these intimate interactions, these entanglements between body and machine.

Bacterial War Games, Incubation Day 2. Photo: Simon Park

In The Extended Self: visualizing the human bacterial symbiont, microbiologist Dr. Simon (University of Surrey, Department of Microbial Sciences) took us on a tour of his adventures in microbiology and art (they are also documented on his blog exploringtheinvisible.)

Park wrote in his abstract: Whilst often ignored, our bacterial aspect (the microbiome), containing 100 trillion normally invisible cells, and 2 million microbial genes, dwarfs our eukaryotic genetics, biochemistry, and physiology. Moreover, many recent studies have begun to reveal the huge impact of the microbiome in terms of our health, its ability to modulate our own behavior and moods, and even its influence on our ability to learn. This paper will explore my practice in terms of the various processes and artworks that I have developed/made in order to reveal this usually hidden but vital aspect of self. These projects range from simple microvideos capturing the movement and activity of my own microflora, to a method for directly projecting the microbiome into the macroscopic world, and finally to a series of unique and autogenic self portraits that result directly from the activity of my microbiome.

First Park quickly defined a few key terms for us:

The microbiome is the aggregate of microorganisms that reside on or inside the body.
The human microbiome is the genomes of the microbiota (microbiomal genes outnumber our human genes by 1 to 100.)
The holobiont is the host plus all its microbial symbionts, including transient and resident members.

In 2000, the microbiologist got infected by a bacteria and was treated with heavy antibiotics. His microbiome was destroyed in the process. He says that he lost at least half of what was once him. A full microbiome eventually returned but it was not the same as the original one. This new microbiota changed Park forever, both physically and mentally.

Park now suffers from illnesses he never had before. Even his mood changed. Bacteria in the gut can influence the production and delivery of neuroactive substances such as serotonin. Mice that are born in germ free environment, for example, have 60% less serotonin.

Simon Park and Heather Barnett, Cellfies: cellular self portraits

Park then decided to look at what he had lost and started collaborating with artist Heather Barnett to develop a series of art & science projects. In one of them, Cellfies, they used a powerful (DIC) microscope to make selfies of themselves at a cellular lever. The microscope reveals nucleated human epithelial cells, bacteria from the microbiome, and cells from the human immune system.

In other works, they used bacterias as inks, as if they were living paints that move around and interact with each other. Each bacteria have their own characteristics. Some are quiet, others move aggressively. The pieces that the scientist and the artist developed together make visible the complexity of the microbiome: it is dynamic, changes everyday and it seemed natural to Park that it could play a role in art.

Park commented the following slide by saying that we have an internal galaxy inside our bodies. The number of stars in a galaxy can be compared to the number of cells in a colony. The images are similar but one was produced using a macroscope, the other was made with a microscope:

Simon Park, “A reflection on scale. Hubble Deep Field View of distant galaxies/my own microbiota (bacteria that live in/on me.)” Image: Simon Park

Photo on the homepage: Christine Borland, English Family China, 1998. Photo: imageobbjecttext.

Categories: New Media News

Hunting for Peru's lost civilizations -- with satellites | Sarah Parcak

TED - Wed, 08/17/2016 - 11:07
Around the world, hundreds of thousands of lost ancient sites lie buried and hidden from view. Satellite archaeologist Sarah Parcak is determined to find them before looters do. With the 2016 TED Prize, Parcak is building an online citizen-science tool called GlobalXplorer that will train an army of volunteer explorers to find and protect the world's hidden heritage. In this talk, she offers a preview of the first place they'll look: Peru -- the home of Machu Picchu, the Nazca lines and other archaeological wonders waiting to be discovered.
Categories: New Media News

3 moons and a planet that could have alien life | James Green

TED - Tue, 08/16/2016 - 11:08
Is there life beyond Earth? Join NASA's director of planetary science James Green for a survey of the places in our solar system that are most likely to harbor alien life.
Categories: New Media News

A small country with big ideas to get rid of fossil fuels | Monica Araya

TED - Mon, 08/15/2016 - 11:08
How do we build a society without fossil fuels? Using her native Costa Rica as an example of positive action on environmental protection and renewables, climate advocate Monica Araya outlines a bold vision for a world committed to clean energy in all sectors.
Categories: New Media News

Andres Serrano. Uncensored photographs

We Make Money Not Art - Fri, 08/12/2016 - 11:34

A few weeks ago i took advantage of a long morning in Brussels to visit Andres Serrano. Uncensored photographs at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts.

Uncensored photographs | Andres Serrano

I’ve always liked the work of Serrano. A lot. It’s outrageous, in your face and enjoyably iconoclastic. Portraits of the Ku Klux Klan leaders, close-up of Trump trying his best to look ‘deep’, plastic crucifix immersed into urine, bondage scenes, decaying corpses at the morgue… Shit. His images would be merely anecdotic if they were not also carefully shot, framed, lit and composed.

The exhibition at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts made me realize that until now i had paid the wrong kind of attention to his work. Blinded by the scandalous aura of the images, i had overlooked the compassionate look at society, the deep concern for humanity that a closer inspection reveals. With his portraits of imperfect individuals, Serrano doesn’t judge, he draws a portrait of our deeply flawed society.

Andress Serrano, Killed by Four Great Danes, 1992. From the series The Morgue

Andres Serrano, Blood and Semen V

In an attempt to explain why they chose to present works that caused controversy, criticism and physical attacks, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium wrote:

To show Serrano means to assert our basic values. Against barbarism and intolerance. Against obscurantism and inhumanity.

I wasn’t expecting to like this retrospective so much. Even the audioguide was not boring. Cunningly, the curator asked Serrano to talk directly about his photos. So that’s all you hear in the audioguide: the voice of the photographer telling you about his experiences, how he met the people he worked with, the challenges he encountered, the motivations behind the images. I could have listened to him for hours.

If you can’t make it to Brussels before the show closes (soon! on 21 August!) then check out this very small selection of the works on show. Most of the little texts underneath are quotes taken from Serrano’s descriptions of his work.

Andres Serrano, Klanswoman Grand Klaliff II, 1990

Andres Serrano, Klansmen (Knight Hawk Of Georgia of The Invisible Empire IV) 1990 © Andres Serrano, Courtesy Galerie Nathalie Obadia Paris/Brussels, THE KLAN SERIES

“The fact that i’m not white made it a bigger challenge, as well as the scandal of Piss Christ made me a natural enemy of the Klan. It was a challenge for them to agree to be photographer by somebody who embodied everything the Klan was against. It was difficult and risky too. Some people saw it as a provocation. Perhaps, but these photographs are first of all a confrontation, the desire to look them in the eye and represent them, because i regard the Klan as the outsider and I am an outsider myself. Aside from our antagonism, this similarity interested me.”

Andres Serrano, Hacked to Death II, 1992. From the series The Morgue

“The Morgue is a place built up around the human body, which is always present. Each photograph works as a portrait, all the stronger because of its singularity. First thing is that I wanted to protect the identity of the people. That’s why they are masked. Using close-up and focusing on details gives their individual qualities more expression. As well as the human being still present, these details symbolize death, sometimes horrible and violent barbaric, sometimes cunning and peaceful.”

Hacked to Death, from the Morgue series, is the portrait of a man killed by his wife. Even though he was stabbed twenty-three times, I was struck by the strong presence of this model, as encapsulated by this wide-open eye staring at the viewer. I felt a sort of threat similar to that of the guns in Objects of Desire. We look at the photograph but it stares back at us. It erects something against us and confronts us. This is an important aspect of my work.”

Andres Serrano, Infection Pneumonia, 1992. From the series The Morgue

“For me, the body of the model in Infectious Pneumonia is like classical painting. That’s how it appeared to me. I never touched any of the bodies I photographed in the mortuary. The sense of drapery and the timelessness of form striving for ideal perfection find singular resolution through connection, as the title indicates, to death 26 through illness, an internal process that attacked the body itself. The classical ideal is asserted and destroyed by its own built-in obsolescence. Its end is inside it.”

Andres Serrano, Rat Poison Suicide II, 1992. From the series The Morgue

Talking about Rat Poison Suicide: “In this photograph, the initial perception from a distance presents a sort of eroticism through the lighting, the velvety material and the sensuality of the skin. But it’s a dead body. The eye doesn’t realize this at first and the image tells us something different from what it is. What the title tells us with the objectivity of the cause of death. Sometimes painful, as in the case of these children, who seem to be asleep and who died of pneumonia or meningitis.”

Andres Serrano, Colt D.A. 45, 1992, from the series Objects of Desire

“The title of this series comes from the Buñuel film That Obscure Object of Desire (1977). I’m a big fan of his work. Having to work in New Orleans, I focused on the weapons that circulate there freely and everything a hand gun can mean as a psychic substitute. There I met gun collectors − men, never women − who treat these weapons like works of art, who respect them, admire them and covet them. The guns I photographed were all loaded. The desire was also a threat. I like the idea of looking death in the eye, of facing danger.”

Andres Serrano, Piss Christ, 1987 © Andres Serrano, Courtesy Galerie Nathalie Obadia Paris/Brussels, IMMERSIONS SERIES

“As a Catholic, i was brought up in the love of Christ, where divinity and humanity, ideal and sacrifice, purity and poverty are mixed. And so it seemed natural to me to immerse a crucifix in urine and call it Piss Christ. This photograph isn’t sacrilegious or blasphemous for me.

Crucifixion is a terrible torture, an act of cruelty that is always present. This small object that is so familiar to us, that we pray and touch with love, do we still see the horror it represents. My Piss Christ is a Christian work, a devotional work in the most traditional sense.”

Andres Serrano, Black Supper, 1990

“Taken in 1990, Black Supper is the last of the Immersions. I had arrived at the end of a road and I hesitated over this subject. Unlike the other Immersions, I used water. Bubbles formed accidentally, making it hard to see the subject. They give the polyptych this unreal, fairytale effect. These five photographs are not one image cut up but five different, separate shots that can form a bigger whole.”

Andres Serrano, Roberts & Luca vandalized

The History of Sex. View of the exhibition space in Brussels

A room separated by heavy black curtains from the main galleries shows works form the series History of Sex. Some of them had been vandalized in 2007 in Lund (Sweden) by a group of masked neo-Nazi. The attack was part of a campaign to protest against decadence and “degenerate art”, a term used by the Nazi regime in the 1930 to condemn virtually all modern art.

Andres Serrano, Fool’s Mask IV,Hever Castle, England (from the series Torture), 2015

Andres Serrano, XXVI-1, 2015. © Andres Serrano, Courtesy Galerie Nathalie Obadia Paris/Brussels, Torture series

“When I did the Torture series, my latest, I had a very strange feeling because I had to act as the torturer and at the same time empathise with the victim. Again, there is the duality: suffering and violence, sacrifice and inhumanity, the torturer and the tortured. The objects all are real and authentic, used to inflict cruelty through history. I found them all over Europe and they remind us of what human beings can do to other human beings. In a sense it is like the other side of Piss Christ, the side of violence and cruelty. With regard to the subjects, some bear direct testimony and others are actors taking part in a tableau vivant.”

Andres Serrano, Kevin Hannaway. From the series ‘The Hooded Men’

Part of a series of photos showing 4 hooded men. Behind the hoods are real members of the IRA (Irish Republican Army) arrested by the British police in the 1970s and held in isolation, hooded all the time. The ordeal lasted years for some of them. Serrano met 4 of these men and asked if he could photograph them in the hoods. Now old, they agreed because the hoods have become an inseparable part of their martyrdom despite the years.

Andres Serrano, Ahmed Osoble, 2015. From the Denizens of Brussels series

The Royal Museums of Fine Arts sent Serrano in the streets of Brussels and he came back with Denizens of Brussels, a very moving series portraying people living and sleeping in the streets of the capital.

Andres Serrano, Denizens of Brussels

Andres Serrano, The Other Christ, 2001

Andres Serrano, Lucas Suarez, Homeless, 2002. From the series America

Andres Serrano, Cross

Andres Serrano. Uncensored photographs is at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels until 21 August 2016.

Categories: New Media News

What a planet needs to sustain life | Dave Brain

TED - Fri, 08/12/2016 - 10:49
"Venus is too hot, Mars is too cold, and Earth is just right," says planetary scientist Dave Brain. But why? In this pleasantly humorous talk, Brain explores the fascinating science behind what it takes for a planet to host life -- and why humanity may just be in the right place at the right time when it comes to the timeline of life-sustaining planets.
Categories: New Media News

How Africa can keep rising | Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

TED - Thu, 08/11/2016 - 09:41
African growth is a trend, not a fluke, says economist and former Finance Minister of Nigeria Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. In this refreshingly candid and straightforward talk, Okonjo-Iweala describes the positive progress on the continent and outlines eight challenges African nations still need to address in order to create a better future.
Categories: New Media News

Book review – Japanese Tattoos: History * Culture * Design

We Make Money Not Art - Wed, 08/10/2016 - 11:41

Japanese Tattoos: History * Culture * Design, by editor Brian Ashcraft and tattoo artist Hori Benny.

On amazon USA and UK.

Tuttle Publishing writes: Japanese Tattoos is an insider’s look at the world of Japanese irezumi (tattoos).

Japanese Tattoos explains the imagery featured in Japanese tattoos so that readers can avoid getting ink they don’t understand or, worse, that they’ll regret. This photo-heavy book will also trace the history of Japanese tattooing, putting the iconography and kanji symbols in their proper context so readers will be better informed as to what they mean and have a deeper understanding of irezumi. Tattoos featured will range from traditional tebori (hand-poked) and kanji tattoos to anime-inspired and modern works—as well as everything in between. For the first time, Japanese tattooing will be put together in a visually attractive, informative, and authoritative way.

Dr. Masaichi Fukushi and His Collection of Body Art. Photo via imgur

You encounter all kinds of fascinating characters in the Japanese Tattoos book. Tattoo artists who explain how they mastered or re-invented their craft. Men who travel across the world to get a ‘full body suit’ by a famous tattoo virtuoso in Tokyo. The most unusual individual i discovered through the pages was Dr. Masaichi Fukushi, a Japanese scientist who in the early 20th century built up an impressive collection of irezumi taken from donated bodies. Fukushi would remove the tattooed skin off of the corpses (with the consent of the original wearer) and keep them stretched in a glass case. The collection counts over 100 skinned items, many of which are full body suits. They are on display at the Medical Pathology Museum at Tokyo University. Unfortunately, the exhibition is not open to the public.

Image Brian Ashcraft via Stripes

Instead of being yet another publication about all things weird, pop and outrageous in Japan, this book pays homage to the culture, history and symbolic content of irezumi. It explains the most popular motifs and monsters, the tools used, the rules, the different types of ‘body suits’, etc.

There are many difference between western tattoo culture and the Japanese one. We favour a little skull on the shoulder, a rose on the back, or maybe both on the hip. The Japanese don’t shun the ‘full body suit’ and they actually prefer cherry blossoms and octopuses. We show off tattoos. They don’t. Tattoos are personal, private and still associated with the yakuza look. In fact, you could be banned from pools and hot springs if you sport a tattoo and any sign of it peeking out of your jacket could prevent you from getting a job or a loan at the bank.

One of the authors’ confessed objectives is to help foreigners get a deeper understanding of Japanese tattoos and avoid embarrassing mistakes when asking for a kanji tattoo. The case of the humiliating Asian characters tattoo is fairly well-documented online but the book also teaches you that even if you stick to objects, flowers and animals, symbolism is not always universal and the poorly informed might still not get what they were hoping for if they arrive ill-prepared to the tattoo studio.

Image Brian Ashcraft via Stripes

Tattooed Male; attributed to Felice Beato, 1867-1968. Photo ehive

Photo Kotaku

Photo via Kotaku

I really enjoyed this book. I have no tattoo and no intention of ever getting one but i liked the clear and engaging writing style of the authors, the bits and pieces of insider knowledge such as ‘how to tell a Japanese dragon from a Chinese one’, the presence of women tattoo artists and of course the amazing photos of men clad in inked Monk Daruma, Koi fish and Lucky Cats.

Views inside the book:

Hop! A last image of Dr. Masaichi Fukushi:

Dr. Masaichi Fukushi and His Collection of Body Art. Photo via imgur

This way for more tattoos: Tattooists, tattooed and Bodily Matters: Human Biomatter in Art (part 4. On skin and hair).

Categories: New Media News

The taboo secret to healthier plants and people | Molly Winter

TED - Wed, 08/10/2016 - 10:52
Our poop and pee have superpowers, but for the most part we don't harness them. Molly Winter faces down our squeamishness and asks us to see what goes down the toilet as a resource, one that can help fight climate change, spur innovation and even save us money.
Categories: New Media News

How to build a business that lasts 100 years | Martin Reeves

TED - Tue, 08/09/2016 - 11:04
If you want to build a business that lasts, there may be no better place to look for inspiration than your own immune system. Join strategist Martin Reeves as he shares startling statistics about shrinking corporate life spans and explains how executives can apply six principles from living organisms to build resilient businesses that flourish in the face of change.
Categories: New Media News

The jobs we'll lose to machines -- and the ones we won't | Anthony Goldbloom

TED - Mon, 08/08/2016 - 10:51
Machine learning isn't just for simple tasks like assessing credit risk and sorting mail anymore -- today, it's capable of far more complex applications, like grading essays and diagnosing diseases. With these advances comes an uneasy question: Will a robot do your job in the future?
Categories: New Media News
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