On Pessimism

This lecture by Alain de Botton is inspiring, entertaining and even mindblowing. Have you ever thought that sometimes embracing sadness and pessimism could help you achieve better things in life? It may seem a little odd but it does make sense. If you have half an hour to spend, I suggest you listen to this.

“In this secular sermon, Alain challenges the great bourgeois promise that everyone can find happiness in love and work and suggests that we take on the joys of pessimism instead. He argues that the chances of anyone succeeding in both areas (let alone in one) are extremely remote – and that it is therefore peculiar, and deeply cruel, to base our societies around these values. Indeed, in denying a place for misery and despair, the modern world denies us the possibility of collective consolation, condemning us instead to solitary feelings of shame and persecution. ”

Francis Ford Coppola Predicts YouTube in 1991

“Suddenly, one day some little fat girl in Ohio is gonna be the new Mozart…and make a beautiful film with her father’s little camera-corder, and for once this whole professionalism about movies will be destroyed, forever, and it will really become an art form.” – Francis Ford Coppola

The excerpt comes from Hearts of Darkness, the documentary about Coppola’s 1979 cult-classic Apocalypse Now.

(via Brain Pickings)

Malcolm McLaren: The Quest for Authentic Creativity

This is possibly the best speech I heard about creativity and authenticity in years. Try to watch it entirely, it’s worth it:

Quoting from Open Culture‘s website:

In early October of 2009, Malcolm McLaren was nearing death but didn’t know it yet. He showed up at the 2009 Handheld Learning conference feeling fatigued, but managed to deliver a provocative and heartfelt speech titled, ‘Never Mind the Bullocks, Here’s the Txt Pistols,’ in which he reflects on his life growing up in post-World War II England and expresses dismay over the rise of what he called ‘karaoke culture.’

‘All popular culture today,’ said McLaren, ‘goes to great lengths to promote the idea that it’s cool to be stupid.’ He championed instead the ‘messy process of creativity’ in which struggle, failure and the acquisition of skill and knowledge are valued above instant fame. You can watch the complete speech above. A few days after it was given, McLaren went into the hospital and learned that he had cancer. He died six months later, on April 8, 2010.”

[via Open Culture]

Bundled, Buried & Behind Closed Doors

‘Bundled, Buried & Behind Closed Doors’ by Ben Mendelsohn is a short documentary on the material infrastructure of the Internet:

“Lower Manhattan’s 60 Hudson Street is one of the world’s most concentrated hubs of Internet connectivity. Set in the dense, mixed-use neighborhood of Tribeca, the building’s nondescript brick exterior conceals several network interconnection facilities where huge amounts of data are exchanged. This short documentary peeks inside, offering a glimpse of the massive material infrastructure that makes the Internet possible.”
(Via Laughing Squid)

We Live in Public


I just stumbled upon the story of Josh Harris. How did I miss this until now???

“Josh Harris is the founder of Jupiter Communications and Pseudo.com. The dot-com pioneer dreamed up legendary art project Quiet: We Live in Public, a late ’90s spycam experiment that placed more than 100 artists in a “human terrarium” under New York City, with webcams capturing their every move. It ended badly, and Harris’ personal life later took a dive when he tried a similarly intimate stunt in his own loft. ”

Here’s a documentary.

The future is arriving (at last)

Researchers at Berkeley have developed a system that reads people’s minds while they watch a video and then roughly reconstructs what they were watching from thousands of hours of YouTube videos.

Nishimoto and two other research team members served as subjects for the experiment, because the procedure requires volunteers to remain still inside the MRI scanner for hours at a time.

They watched two separate sets of Hollywood movie trailers, while fMRI was used to measure blood flow through the visual cortex, the part of the brain that processes visual information. On the computer, the brain was divided into small, three-dimensional cubes known as volumetric pixels, or ‘voxels.’

‘We built a model for each voxel that describes how shape and motion information in the movie is mapped into brain activity,’ Nishimoto said.

The brain activity recorded while subjects viewed the first set of clips was fed into a computer program that learned, second by second, to associate visual patterns in the movie with the corresponding brain activity.

Brain activity evoked by the second set of clips was used to test the movie reconstruction algorithm. This was done by feeding 18 million seconds of random YouTube videos into the computer program so that it could predict the brain activity that each film clip would most likely evoke in each subject.

Finally, the 100 clips that the computer program decided were most similar to the clip that the subject had probably seen were merged to produce a blurry yet continuous reconstruction of the original movie.

(via kottke.org)

Off Book: Visual Culture Online

“For decades now, people have joined together online to communicate and collaborate around interesting imagery. In recent years, the pace and intensity of this activity has reached a fever pitch. With countless communities engaging in a constant exchange, building on each others’ work, and producing a prodigious flow of material, we may be experiencing the early stages of a new type of artistic and cultural collaboration. In this episode of Off Book, we’ll speak with a number of Internet experts and artists who’ll give us an introductory look into this intriguing new world.”

Featuring:

Chris Menning, Viral Trends Researcher, Buzzfeed
MemeFactory, Internet Researchers
Olivia Gulin, Visual Reporter, Know Your Meme
Ryder Ripps, Artist and Co-Creator, Dump.fm
John Kelly, PH.D., Founder and Chief Scientist, Morningside Analytics

The Antics Roadshow

The Antics Roadshow is an hour-long special made by Banksy charting the history of behaving badly in public, from anarchists and activists to attention seeking eccentrics.
Contributors include Michael Fagan talking about breaking into the Queen’s bedroom: ‘I looked into her eyes, they were dark’; and Noel Godin, who pioneered attacking celebrities with custard pies: ‘Instead of a bullet I give them a cake’.
Explaining his reasoning behind the show, Banksy said: ‘Basically I just thought it was a good name for a TV programme and I’ve been working back from there’.
Narrated by Kathy Burke and produced by Jamie D’cruz, The Antics Roadshow examines the stories behind some of the most audacious stunts of recent times and what motivates the perpetrators, from mindless boredom to heartfelt political beliefs.
It includes a world exclusive first interview with the man responsible for putting the turf Mohican on Winston Churchill’s head.

In Statu Nascendi

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Created by Katarzyna Kijek and Przemysław Adamski, ’In statu nascendi’ captures the ’under construction’ process, in this case, of global illumination pass in rendering:

To highlight a peculiar inability to reflect reality by the film, we focus on the ‘struggle’ of generating an image. We capture the process of rendering ‘in statu nascendi’ (‘under construction’). Therefore we try to intercept this moment of the creative process, which is the most ephemeral – a temporary, piecemeal render phases (mostly global illumination pass). In the course of animation every next frame is more accurately rendered but still far from the target appearance. By analogy to chemical processes, the term ‘in statu nascendi’ refers to the intermediate products of chemical reactions, which can not be isolated from the environment of this reaction. They are therefore just ‘under construction’, and then disappear.

More at kijekadamski.blogspot.com

(via CreativeApplications.Net)

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