This post records dispatches from August 2016 through December 2016.
August 5, 2016 - "Multiverse Fridays"
This friday, a beautiful video essay. I also enjoyed the inspiration for this film, The Allegory of the Cave from Plato's Republic.
August 12, 2016 - "Tech Wistfully Observing Nature Friday"
There's an almost endless amount of cool stuff that people do with a camera (or two, or sixty) and Photoshop.The latest installment is by photographer Xavi Bou in a series titled Ornitographies that layers photos of birds in flight and exposes the trails of their motion across the frame. He first shoots at 30 to 60 frames per second in order to capture movement after which he layers up up to 600 layers in Photoshop. It's fascinating that with all our technology and flight abilities, we are still not quite able to replicate this type of flight. Sweet.
August 19, 2016 - "Procedural Dance Friday"
The motions of this dancing body are almost real, and yet there is something slightly askew about them, and when paired together with the generic 3d digital "dummy" body, they look even a bit more artificial, calling up thoughts of humanoid robots (hey creeper) and better animations. The modeling and rendering techniques for the bodies in both films are nice and to be fair, the AICP reel went with a different representational choice from CYCLE, but these differences expose the interesting bits.
August 26, 2016 - "Big Things on the Move Friday"
Remember when they trucked the Space Shuttle Endeavor across Los Angeles at 2mph? I wasn't there, but I wish I had seen it in person. It had to have been an otherworldly sight to see a space plane inching across the mundane urban terrain, surrounded by a uniformed escort in hardhats and reflective vests. This friday I am sharing a short and fantastic read by Geoff Manaugh on moving monumental objects across urban infrastructure. In it, he conjures up images of ancient Roman processions and the large-scale works of Christo, a nice summer friday read.
September 2, 2016 - "Futurism Today Friday"
Blade Runner is one for the books. I gotta say though... they don't write sci-fi like they used to. I don't know, maybe I'm just getting old, but that good ol' sci-fi is just so good. I mean 1982... I don't know, I'm just sayin'.
That stuff is still inspiring people, and Liam Wong's photos of Tokyo are a case in point. CityLab spoke with him and he invoked Syd Mead, and Blade Runner as inspirations. But what's even cooler is that we are living in Blade Runner y'all! ... minus the flying cars and replicants part, but we're getting there.
September 9, 2016 - "Collecting Friday"
There is something about a collection/collective that can make the individual more interesting. Photographer Cassio Vasconcellos has amassed a number of collections that he has then composed in photoshop into a series titled "Collectives". Although his description for the series aims to communicate the magnitude of our (human) impact, it simultaneously does the reverse by calling attention to the individuals within each collective. And the important component for me is the relationship that forms between the individual and the collective, it's placing the individual within a context that is larger and more unexpected that expected. It is "seeing the forest for the trees".
September 16, 2016 - "Lawful Friday"
We are full of laws. So are parliaments, congresses, and other law-making bodies. Obviously. Our societies are built on sets and layers of laws that we collectively agree to obey. And while much is said and no doubt debated about the politics that go on behind the making of these laws, not much is mentioned about the venues hosting these activities, unless something extraordinary happens. Such extraordinary events (any of the major protests around the world in recent years) tend to highlight certain physicalities that enable them or set the stage for them. But what about the ordinary, routine law-making processes? How does the physical environment of a parliamentary body affect its law-making capacities or tendencies? For instance, do some seating/standing arrangements predispose the participants to more cooperation or opposition? Or to take a slight jump and make an analogy to our own bodies, does sitting up straight, shoulders back, predispose us to a better mood?
This is why I find the Parliament project/book by Max Cohen de Lara and David Mulder van der Vegt - two partners of the young agency of XML - is so intriguing. They catalogued every parliamentary chamber of the 193 UN member states. They visited some of these parliaments and created visual 360-degree views of their main halls the result of which is their website. The website is the interactive (but not comprehensive) half of the project, and in each of the featured chambers, the authors puts the viewer in 2-3 critical positions, such as that of the speaker, the members, or the public. XML attempts to raise awareness for these law-making halls hiding in plain sight by providing a broad examination of the two-sided relationship between the physical configuration of these spaces and the law-making bodies occupying it.
September 23, 2016 - "Concentrate Friday"
is the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Facility, aka a power plant that is effectively a monumental solar tracking mirror that concentrates the sun on a single point. It's hot. It's sprawling and strangely beautiful.
Brought to you by the power of focus.
September 30, 2016 - "Tricky Friday"
I've often wondered how do some movie car scenes or commercials get filmed? How much of them are real vs computer generated? There are obviously many ways to do it but here is one cool trick that happens to be a shape-shifting car. Cool!
October 7, 2016 - "Use(ful) Friday"
Have you ever taken something useless and transformed it into something once again useful and felt so proud of yourself that you instagrammed it to the world? Or how about... have you ever wanted to play a game like soccer and then realized that you can't because you only have 30-feet of sidewalk and an active road, but then played it anyway? Well, AP Thailand (a developer) and CJ Worx (an ad agency) took it one step further and made actual playing fields out of useless residual spaces in Bangkok (they made a promo video too). This looks like a great combination of repurposing a residual community space and creatively flexing a sport (something that as kids we did every day).
October 14, 2016 - "Perspective Fridays"
Sometimes we lose sight of the big picture and get lost in the weeds. Getting lost in the weeds is generally not very much fun, because we're lost, determined, but lost. The weeds can be pretty dense, and there are multiple species of weeds and they seem important because they are different, and sometimes differences seem important. And sometimes there is a clearing in the weeds, but it's only a clearing, and the weeds are still all around us.
Sorry for that waste of time back there, but sometimes we need a little jolt reminder to step back for some perspective.
But seriously, every so often, it's good to ask the big questions about the what and the why?
And finally, it's interesting that all of those comparisons are about bigness. Bigger = more interesting. Yes, perhaps. That's perhaps why the Donald wants his name bigger everywhere. It's also interesting that many of those comparisons are about man-made things, we live in an age where the things we build are bigger than the typical human can visualize. That's yuge.
October 21, 2016 - "Millennial Friday"
Millennials are all the rage these days. Or maybe we're over it with the millennials already. Whatever your stance is, whether you're pro-millennial or anti-millennial, this recent talk by Simon Sinek is poignant. He runs through a gamut of social/generational issues like technology, instant gratification, empathy, and werkwerkwerk.
October 28, 2016 - "Anthropofriday"
We are definitely leaving our mark on the planet. We are after all trying to name a geologic age after ourselves. What could be bigger? Two geologic ages. The anthropocene - a term for an epoch (an epoch spans several tens-of-millions of years) during which human activities are creating a significant impact on the Earth and its geology - is technically still just a proposal, but the term has been gaining traction. It is difficult to imagine creating an impact large enough to warrant an entire geologic epoch, and that's where the work of people like Edward Burtynsky comes in handy. His latest (out of many anthropocene themed) series of photos depicts expansive salt pans in Gujarat, India. The photos are surreal and look almost like abstract paintings or primitive markings on a canvas. And while they often lack a sense of scale (precisely because they are big), Evan Anderman's series "In Plain Sight" depicts more commonplace settings which most of us have seen through the window of a car but whose extents are hidden until you are looking out the window of a Cessna (or these days... through the eyeball of a drone).
November 4, 2016 - "Fairy Tale Friday"
November 11, 2016 - "Valuable Friday"
"And one of the marvelous things about poetry is that it’s useless. It’s useless. “What use is poetry?” people occasionally ask in the butcher shop, say. They come up to me, and they say, “What use is poetry?” And the answer is no use, but it doesn’t mean to say that it’s without value. It’s without use, but it has value. It has — it is valuable."
That is poet Michael Longley in conversation with Krista Tippett for her On Being podcast. It's a wonderful excerpt that has meaning beyond poetry. Being valuable and being useful are not always synonymous and that is more important now than ever. You can listen to the excerpt here by fast forwarding to just before the 40:30 mark. The larger conversation is about cherishing the ordinary things that are valuable to us and to our culture.
November 18, 2016 - "woops on the name"
New York City has mapped and documented all of its street trees. This calls up a few thoughts:
1. This is freaking cool! Various scales of the map show you different levels of detail and information and you can even favorite specific trees.
2. There are currently approximately 685,000 street trees in the five boroughs (these count just the street trees, no parks). There are approximately 1.4 million cars in the five boroughs as of 2010. There are about 304 square miles in the five boroughs as of todayish.
2.1 Queens has the most street trees, but Manhattan has the highest density of street trees. I was surprised too.
3. I like to think that we have a tendency to start counting things for a few reasons: when we are trying to predict the future, when we want to boast about something or when we are afraid we're going to run out of something. Which is the case here?
4. Thanks Cathy pointing me to this.
December 2, 2016 - "Night Light Friday"
Last Friday was a food-coma recovery holiday, but this week's link is about windows. Windows are more than just an operating system (and hopefully more than a bad joke). They convey architecture's character and allow passing glimpses from the outside in. At night they are all that you see - just constellations of night lights floating in the darkness. Photographer Clarissa Bonet, in her photo project 'Stray Light', likens them to a starry night of our own creation. Each window its own miniature universe.
And then there is also this photo (make sure to zoom in).
December 9, 2016 - "Drawing Lines on Fridays"
Drawing lines on a map has big consequences IRL. That's how the thought process goes (at least in my head): 1-draw line, 2-consequences. Isn't that sort of how we ended up with so many neatly rectilinear-ly shaped states? IRL it probably often doesn't work that way. The process might go backwards or lines might simply begin to get ignored or blurred, which is what has been going on in the US on a daily basis and is emerging as the acknowledgement of mega-regions*. Smart people are doing research and publishing studies and getting media coverage, so this is not fake, it's real y'all... just maybe not on an officially sanctioned map yet. Although the researchers are still making some cool maps, some of which can be perused here and here!
*A mega-region can be most often identified as a geographic region of interconnected metropolitan areas that may be linked and codependent economically, infrastructurally, ecologically, or culturally (I'm using lots of adverbs today). Different ways of establishing criteria result in different numbers of mega-regions in the US, the number ranges from about 10-20. One can argue that mega-regions would create a better representation of how the country actually works and that's how most of us live out our daily lives anyway, rather than according to quasi-arbitrarily drawn state lines. Various research teams have been studying this area, and the Federal Highway Administration has a number of case studies cited on their website. ¯\(°_o)/¯
December 16, 2016 - "It's All in Your Head Friday"
I like math, and I'm ok at doing math and actually pretty bad at doing mental math, but this guy loves math and is apparently pretty phenomenal at mental math. Mathemagics! Gotta love me some magic that's not actually magic.
December 23, 2016 - "HdM Elbphilharmonie by Drone"
The Hamburg Elbphilharmonie by Herzon & de Meuron is set to open soon. It's a fancy concert hall and it looks like it was expensive and I want to go visit. The building has some pretty wild architectural features like doubly curved glass panels for some windows, and the plaster work on the interior of the main concert hall itself. And to give you a taste of the building, they had two drones fly through it, which opens a whole new dimension beyond architectural photography. In the video, you can toggle back and forth between the two drones. It's fun. Or if you prefer simpler, there is a side-by-side version.