Saturday, December 29, 2012
Swedish band The Shout Out Louds released a limited edition of 10 promos for their new album that consisted of latex molds that you filled with distilled water, froze, and played on a turntable:
“We talked to professors at different universities telling us it would never work out, so we had to develop the technique ourselves,” he says. After receiving a negative imprint of the song’s master cut, they started experimenting; the office became a kind of amateur chemistry lab, and the team spent hours testing different types of liquid, various drying techniques, and multiple kinds of molds.It's a bit lo-fi, and the quality degrades quickly with meltage. But hey, record made of ice.
“One of the biggest challenges was that the bubbles made the ice cloudy and messed up the tiny tracks, which made the needle jump.” Further trial and error revealed that using distilled water did the trick, giving the final product a nice clarity and even surface. Another insight? Time is not, in fact, on your side when working with a frozen substance; functionality and sound quality diminish immediately once the melting starts. A silicone cast allowed for quick and easy record removal, essential to ensuring it could be used straight out of the freezer.
A Record Made Of Ice That Actually Plays
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Mississippi Drift, by Matt Power | Harper's Magazine
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
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Since 2004 England-based Simon Beck has strapped on a pair of snowshoes and lumbered out into the the freshly fallen snow at the Les Arcs ski resort in France to trample out his distinctly geometric patterns, footprint by footprint. Each work takes the 54-year-old artist anywhere between 6 hours and two days to complete, an impressive physical feat aided from years of competitive orienteering. The orie...
Workers fulfull orders at an Amazon warehouse in Rugeley, England. REUTERS/Phil Noble
What would a bot buy from Amazon, if given life—and a gift card loaded with credit? Noam Chomsky's Cartesian Linguistics, apparently.
It's hard to believe that'd be a random choice, but it is, coming from a creature engineered for randomness by a man fascinated with randomness -- and consumerism. My friend Darius Kazemi, Boston-based developer extraordinaire, has a long-held interest in randomness. He's made the Twitter account @metaphorminute, designed to tweet a random metaphor every couple minutes, and OutSlide, which generates a random set of slides based on phrase-oriented Google image results.
With a background primarily in games, he's always been drawn to roguelikes and other games where random generation is a factor in the experience; he's attracted to the idea of "abdicating design decisions to a computer."
For example, he recently noticed an apparently-random area of Manhattan where real estate seems particularly expensive; for some reason, trading computers have superior latency there, leading financial firms to buy up real estate all to gain space for a couple of extra machines and the efficiency thereof. The whim of a machine caused an unpredictable spike in the value of a certain spot on the landscape.
"I like randomness because it's telling you straight up that there's a computer making this decision, and it's completely alien," Kazemi tells me over the phone. "It's based off no criteria that you'd ever use in your own life."
In the recent year he and his spouse have bought a house, and with it comes increased thought on the conscientious couple's part to ideas about consumerism, "things." Kazemi noticed how the occasional sudden arrival of back-ordered Amazon products he'd long since forgotten about ordering feels somehow more exciting, "like a gift you bought yourself," and wondered what it would feel like to design a program that buys you things seemingly at random?
The bot's purpose, in Kazemi's words, is largely to "fill [his] life with crap," to see if somehow those purchases feel more or less meaningful than something he would have conscientiously chosen himself; a way, if you will, of exploring his attachment to that "crap."
Thus Random Shopper was born, complete with controls that keep it from buying anything too expensive or too physically large (spouse Courtney was "supportive," Kazemi says, but "was also like, 'I don't want skis showing up at the house.'"). Random Shopper has its own Amazon account, and its budget is limited to a set amount on a gift card. For now, Kazemi's restricted its categories to CDs, DVDs and paperback books -- that keeps the size issue under control, and limits purchases to stuff that's easily digitized, consumable and can be given away or donated, "as opposed to, like, a plug for a device that I don't own," he explains.
The bot shops using a random word plucked from the Wordnik API. Since Kazemi is able to run simulations on the bot up to the point of actual purchase, he plans to experiment with other categories, like housewares, just to see what kinds of things the bot would send.
"It's like having a martian as a personal shopper," he reflects.
The first time he turned on the bot, Kazemi eagerly awaited his first shipment, which he knew would come the following week. "When I saw the Chomsky book, I laughed," he says. "My AI just sent me a Chomsky book; that's hilarious, because Chomsky did a lot of work that was instrumental in the early formulation of AI."
The second gift: A fingerprint-logo black CD case that simply read "Ákos Rózmann" on the front, a name Kazemi had never heard. "The first track is this really abrasive noise, and it sounds like there's something wrong with the CD, and I was going, 'well, either this is some very avant-garde music, or I got a defective CD...' by the second track, I actually really liked it, and I was smiling ear to ear," he enthuses. "It was like, 'my bot sent me an awesome present.'"
Personifying bots is easy and comes naturally, Kazemi reflects. When it comes to his @metaphorminute bot, "I certainly consider it to be like a child. Not a child I'm particularly attached to, and if it died, I wouldn't cry. But maybe to the extent your pet goldfish is like a child, and you are responsible for it," he says. Once, @metaphorminute accidentally used foul language, tasking the parent with teaching it how to talk politely. "I do sort of casually refer to them like you'd refer to a child -- 'one of my bots did the cutest thing today!'"
Since that initial purchase, Random Shopper has sent along The Oxford History of World Cinema, 1995 sci-fi film Screamers, and something called the Covenant Discipleship Parents' Handbook. And has drawn some criticism, too, of the developer's leisure to spend real money on a bot that always runs the very real risk of essentially wasting money.In a blog post Kazemi says he recognizes the validity of that criticism, but likens it to the cost artists invest in supplies or research.
And there is an element of very conscious subversion to Random Shopper: "I like the idea of jamming Amazon's recommendations slightly, by having a consumer that doesn't conform to any statistical models," he says. "It's a tiny subversion, but I like that idea. I have a friend who was obsessed with putting nonsensical information in his Facebook profile just to throw off their predictive algorithms a bit. It's kind of like that."
Theoretically, if a mass of people changed all their Facebook data to nonsense, or set random shopper armies loose on Amazon, it'd break these services' growing ability to know us through data, to target and market to people with increasingly-unnerving, ever more personalized aptitude.
"Something else that's interesting to me is that within randomness, there's the idea of apophenia -- the human tendency to find patterns where there are none," Kazemi notes, pointing to how people once saw gods in the patterns of stars, or see deities in stains and mottles. "It'll be interesting to see how my relationship to this stuff evolves."
"Mostly it comes down to my weird sense of humor," he adds. "It's not that technically challenging to do this stuff."
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Tuesday, December 25, 2012
The story behind Mitt Romney's loss in the presidential campaign to President Obama - News - Boston.com
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Cool Tools Freecycle:
You probably have tools and gadgets you no longer use. Perfectly good ones, or maybe ones that are a bit worn, or perhaps you have a basement bin of parts that would be perfect for the right person. You may have thought about listing them on Craigs List for some pocket money. But you never will because its a bother. Yet your stuff may be exactly what your friends, or other readers of Cool Tools might be looking for — especially if it is free for picking up.
Here is a better way to give away cool stuff: Cool Tools Freecycle.
Cool Tools Freecycle is a sub-app that is part of Human.io phone/tablet app which lets you instantly post anything you want to give away for free. Your item along with a quick photo is added to a list, which is sorted by distance. So when you look in the app, all the give-aways nearest to you show up first. You respond in the app and it will contact the lister by email. The two of you arrange pickup.
The platform has been designed by the folks who created Delicious and HousingMaps. The platform makes it easy to collaborate small actions. The Cool Tool part is in beta. If folks use it, we’ll develop it more.
Go to an app store to download the app. Once installed scroll to and tap “Cool Tools Freecycle”
Leave comments here on your experience.
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Warren Ellis, always a shrewd observer of online media, supposes that we've reached peak social media, the point at which exciting new communications forms ossify into dull media titans:
Twitter alters its terms of access to its information, thereby harming the services that built themselves on that information. Which was stupid, because Twitter gets fewer and fewer material benefits from allowing people to use its water. And why would you build a service that relies on a private company's assets anyway? Facebook changes its terms of access regularly. It's broken its own Pages system and steadily grows more invasive and desperate. Instagram, now owned by Facebook, just went through its first major change in terms of service. Which went as badly as anyone who's interacted with Facebook would expect. As Twitter disconnected itself from sharing services like IFTTT, so Instagram disconnected itself from Twitter. Flickr's experiencing what will probably be a brief renaissance due to having finally built a decent iOS app, but its owners, Yahoo!, are expert in stealing defeat from the jaws of victory. Tumblr seems to me to be spiking in popularity, which coincides neatly with their hiring an advertising sales director away from Groupon, a company described by Techcrunch last year as basically loansharking by any other name.
This may be the end of the cycle that began with Friendster and Livejournal. Not the end of social media, by any means, obviously. But it feels like this is the point at where the current systems seize up for a bit. Perhaps not even in ways that most people will notice. But social media seems now to be clearly calcifying into Big Media, with Big Media problems like cable-style carriage disputes. Frame the Twitter-Instagram spat in terms of Virginmedia not being able to carry Sky Atlantic in the UK, say (I know there are many more US examples).
His closing remark is "I wonder if anyone's been thinking twice about giving up their personal websites." Good question.
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Instructables user Aandaghassaei has posted a HOWTO for making a 3D printed record that plays on a regular turntable. Her method converts any digital audio file to grooves ready to print. It's a bit fuzzy, but still rather exciting! I'm waiting for the way when taking a snapshot of a vinyl disc can be the first step toward deriving its audio content, converting that back to a shapefile, and printing out a high-fidelity duplicate.
In this Instructable, I'll demonstrate how I developed a workflow that can convert any audio file, of virtually any format, into a 3D model of a record. This is far too complex a task to perform with traditional drafting-style CAD techniques, so I wrote an program to do this conversion automatically. It works by importing raw audio data, performing some calculations to generate the geometry of a record, and eventually exporting this geometry straight to the STL file format (used by all 3D printers). Most of the heavy lifting is done by Processing, an open source environment that's often used for coding interactive graphics applications. To get Processing to export to STL, I used the ModelBuilder Library written by Marius Watz (if you are into Arduino/Processing and 3D printing I highly recommend checking this out, it works great).
I've uploaded some of my complete record models to the 123D gallery as well as the Pirate Bay. Check Step 6 for a complete listing of what's there and what I plan on posting. Alternatively, you can go to Step 7 to download my code and learn how to make your own printable records from any audio file you like.
Friday, December 21, 2012
Every single day since November 2010, without fail, Bristol-based artist Guy Denning (previously) posts a daily sketch to his Drawing a Day blog (occasionally mirrored on his Facebook page). It’s well worth following. For more of his work head over to Signal Gallery where he had a solo show in October, and you can see much more on his website.
It was a phenomenal year on Colossal and it’s all because of the extraordinary work by the artists, designers, photographers and filmmakers featured here every week. To recap an amazing 12 months, here are some of the most shared/visited/tweeted posts this year. Enjoy!
1. This is What Happens When You Give Thousands of Stickers to Thousands of Kids
2. Riusuke Fukahori Paints Three-Dimensional Goldfish Embedded in Layers of Resin
3. A Cathedral Made from 55,000 LED Lights
4. Rashad Alakbarov Paints with Shadows and Light
5. This is Not a Photograph: Amazing Portrait Drawn with Ballpoint Pens by Samuel Silva
6. A Canopy of Colorful Umbrellas Spotted in Portugal
7. Hilariously Ferocious Underwater Dogs
8. Mysterious Underwater ‘Crop Circles’ Discovered Off the Coast of Japan
9. Gale-Force Winds Directly to the Face
10. Gravity-Defying Land Art by Cornelia Konrads
11. Remarkable Portraits Made with a Single Sewing Thread Wrapped through Nails by Kumi Yamashita
12. New Carved Book Landscapes by Guy Laramée
13. Bloom: 28,000 Potted Flowers Installed at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center
14. Giant Fish Sculptures Made from Discarded Plastic Bottles in Rio
15. Anatomical Cross-Sections Made with Quilled Paper by Lisa Nilsson
Thank you so much for stopping by Colossal this year, some huge things are coming in 2013 and I can’t wait to share them with you. To make sure you don’t miss anything be sure to follow Colossal on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and our upcoming weekly email digest. And as always you can subscribe via RSS.