The 1′s and 0′s of home, or what the Olsen twins have to do with John Locke and God.
Every once in a while we stumble across something we don’t quite get, but can tell is brilliant. Case in point: The Plan 9.001 Flickr set from an artist by the cryptic name of 9000.
Full of wondrous, beautifully art directed charts, graphs, diagrams and other fascinations that capture the human condition, the illustrations are part poetry, part art direction, part homage to geek culture — and all genius.
Most of the images are left to exist in their self-contained reality, with no caption or explanation, inviting you to make sense of them ever which way you wish.
And some are brimming with keen cultural commentary, oozing both from the images themselves and from the quotes accompanying — mismatched at first glance, like this odd psalm that we had to Google-translate, but deeply profound in context.
Indeed, there’s a certain preoccupation with the God — a quest for divinity in the godless, lonesome, conflicted world the artist seems to inhabit. Or, you know, it’s just a mockery thereof.
And while we’re not quite sure what to make of it it all, we urge you to explore the Plan 9.001 set and the rest of 9000′s rather diverse but uniformly bizarre body of work — if for no other reason than that it has intrigued us more than anything we’ve come across in a long, long time.
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Why big minds play in small spaces, or what bacteria and architecture have in common.
We love Jonathan Harris. And his latest project is nothing short of brilliant.
Two years in the making, Sputnik is an “observatory for the study of contemporary culture” — an effort to document, catalog, and share ideas that shape our cultural era by interviewing global thought-leaders in the arts, sciences and technology. With its ambitious mission and inspired vision, the project is a piece of cultural anthropology of the most precious, sorely needed kind.
Our philosophy is that ideas are NOT selfish, ideas are NOT viruses. Ideas survive because they fit in with the rest of life. Our position is that ideas are energy, and should interconnect and re-connect continuously because by linking ideas together we learn, and new ideas emerge.
Sound familiar? The project is part TED, part BigThink, part — we like to think — Brain Pickings. It’s a celebration of the cross-pollination of ideas and the interconnectedness of everything — something we’re big on around here — based on the central premise that topics and ideas that may appear niche and left-of-center are actually the playground of human genius. Sputnik‘s aim is to give these fringe ideas a platform for expression, so the world can begin to make sense of them.
Our goal is to encourage life-long learning, and we have created this website as a portal of possibilities. A democratic space where people can listen and engage with ideas that inform contemporary history. Ideas that we believe will empower everyone to be a part of today’s cultural conversation.
Currently, the site features about 200 interviews across architecture, quantum physics, neuroscience, video games, biology, economics, digital art, computer science, music and more. These conversations, conducted over more than a decade and previously unavailable to the public, offer a glimpse into humanity’s most progressive, visionary thinking.
The site’s functionality mirrors its conceptual premise, offering a stream-of-consciousness experience that invites you to browse paths, people, themes, and conversations.
The Paths tool is particularly interesting, as it adds a customization layer to your Observatory experience, letting you record, save and share what you found most fascinating — a neat research and publishing tool that acts as a powerful medium for Sputnik’s fundamental message: The dissemination of great ideas.
The biggest challenge of such high-concept projects is that it’s easy to slip into a pattern of merely broadcasting content — however compelling it may be — at people, rather than engaging the viewer-participant with it. And we like how Sputnik doesn’t just aim to build a museum of human thought — a static, linear space — but actually encourages a dynamic, customized, shareable experience that’s part collaboration, part exploration, part cultural curation.
So go ahead, explore Sputnik for yourself. Here’s a good place to start.
What the CIA has to do narcissism, attractiveness and Autistic children.
The face, with its intricate lace of 33 different muscles, is a powerful gateway to human emotion and thus the subject of relentless research aiming to pin down how and why we express our inner selves on that living canvas. Here are 3 fascinating projects that probe what lies beneath.
NYU Media Research Lab professor Ken Perlin has the ambitious goal of isolating the minimal number of facial expression elements that capture our character and personality.
His project, Responsive Face, is a 3D animation demo that lets you play with various facial elements — brows, gaze, head tilt, mouth and more — to see how they change as they capture emotions like fear, anger, surprise, disappointment and happiness.
The eventual goal of this research is to give computer/human interfaces the ability to represent the subtleties we take for granted in face to face communication, so that they can function as agents for an emotional point of view.
The demo is based on the iconic Facial Action Coding System (FACS) developed by psychologist Paul Ekman, who pioneered the study of emotions through the taxonomy of all conceivable facial expressions and whose work is now being used by anyone from lawyers to actors to the CIA. (Ekman also collaborated with the BBC on the excellent series The Human Face, which we couldn’t recommend enough.)
Perlin’s work is also being implemented in helping children with Autism, teaching kids not only how to “read” other people’s expressions, but also how to manipulate their own faces to communicate their emotions.
If you’ve ever made a few beer bucks in college participating in paid psych experiments, you know those can be long, tedious, and possibly involving being stuck in a a big, noisy fMRI machine for an hour.
Enter Face Research, an online portal for psychology experiments about people’s preferences for faces and voices, where you can help the advance of science from the comfort of your own living room. The project invites users to take a series of personality questionnaires and participate in various experiments in exchange for a look at the findings once data is collected. Granted, that won’t pay for beer, but it does indulge the psych geeks among us.
The project is a joint venture between the University of Aberdeen School of Psychology Face Research Lab and The Perception Lab at the University of St Andrews. Sign up and help coin the cultural definition of attractiveness.
THAT’S MY FACE
That’s My Face lives in that awkward limbo between the scientific and the bizarre, with one foot firmly planted in the questionable. Simply put, it’s a tool that lets you upload photos of yourself and explore your face in 3D as you manipulate age, race, gender and other attributes.
So far so good. But then comes the questionable — the site offers various souvenirs of narcissism, such as your own action figure, framed 3D portrait, and custom 3D crystal. There’s even an affiliate program, where the more, um, entrepreneurial can make a few bucks off of other people’s self-worship.
That’s My Face was founded by a grad student from University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory. We think it’s an interesting metaphor for the value of a PhD in today’s cultural environment — make what you will of that statement.
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