r _Web.log

Archives: 2009-11

Found photographs, Epping Forest

Found in a photo album at Wimbledon car boot sale, 28 November. No dates on the pictures but some accompanied by the label Epping Forest: "Gravel Pits", reclaimed as lakes after 19th century gravelworks.


Connectivity of scientific authorship networks

Mark Newman is a physicist and mathematician whose research is focused on the structure of complex networks, from epidemiology to social relationships. The below diagram is taken from his 2000 paper on scientific coauthorship networks, and is a wonderful illustration of the small-world model (as famously typified in Erdös and Bacon numbers).

Scientific coauthorship network

As well as his prolific research output, Newman is also co-author of The Atlas of the Real World, which distorts the standard Mercator projection to illustrate localized weightings of various statistics. It's not the most aesthetically enduring of techniques, but is effective in its aims. The HIV prevalence map, with its flattened upper hemisphere, is particularly haunting.

Daniel Libeskind's Three Lessons in Architecture

K http://lebbeuswoods.wordpress.com/.../libeskinds-machines/

The blog of architect Lebbeus Woods is one of the most consistently rich and stimulating sites that I've encountered recently, a source of endless inspiration and philosophical avenues. His latest piece is on a series of machines created by Daniel Libeskind for the 1985 Venice Biennale, Three Lessons in Architecture. Even given my infatuation with both Woods and Libeskind, these blew me away.

Memory Machine
Memory Machine

Reading Machine
Reading Machine

Memory Machine
Writing Machine

(+ many more unmissable images...)

Each of the machines is intended to illustrate a set of architectural ideas relating to Western architecture; according to theorist Ersi Ioannidou, “[re-articulating] the role of humanism in design”. Ioannidou goes on to describe the process that Libeskind undertook in building the Reading Machine, modelled after monastic rotary reading desks:

Libeskind, determined to retrieve the experience of constructing such a machine, chooses to recreate not only the object, but also the experience. He works as a craftsman, bearing total faith in the craft of making. He builds it with hand-tools, solely from wood, with glue-less joints, dawn to dusk, in complete silence. When finished, he makes eight books – he writes them, makes the paper, binds them; just one of each – and places them on the wheel.


1 to 222

Digging through a collection of childhood drawings and letters recently, I happened upon this gem. At some point in my young life, I appear to have sat at a typewriter and painstakingly transcribed the sequence of positive integers from 1 to 222, before cutting out the paper in question for future reference. A sign of things to come, no doubt.

Michael Dzjaparidze - The Schrödinger equation

I am smitten with this audiovisual piece by Michael Dzjaparidze. Based upon the Schrödinger equation — a central tenet of quantum mechanics, which describes the behaviour as a particle as its wavefunction equivalent — it is thoroughly conceptually faithful as well as aesthetically impressive.

Dzjaparidze states:

The curves obtained from the equation are for instance used as envelopes for the different sound layers but also as probability functions which determine duration, (quantized) pitch, density etc. of the grains and the additive 'waves'.

Most of the sounds for this piece are a combination of granular and additive synthesis so as to be conceptually in accordance with the wave-particle duality of all matter and radiation. The frequencies for all sounds are based on the Lyman series.

The author has also produced a number of studies in pure FM synthesis, whose organic richness is a refreshing escape from the notoriously harsh digital overtones of the typical FM sound.

SuperCollider UGen templates for Xcode

K http://www.erase.net/projects/sc_xcode/

Tired of doing search-and-replace on the SuperCollider distribution code when developing unit generators, I figured it was about time that some kosher Xcode templates existed for the purpose. And lo, here they are.

Features a standard audio/control rate UGen, plus a version which performs dynamic memory management and thus requires a destructor function.

delicious/twitter digest #2

It feels like there's been a particular surge lately of quality digital art hyperlinks, which make the cut over on my twitter/delicious feeds but I don't quite have time to blog about. To save them from the abyss of social network ephemerality, here's a digest of the highlights.

  • The Mandelbulb, breathtaking renderings of 3D fractal forms - frightening in their organicness. Eerily reminiscent of the Romanesco cauliflower.
  • Jonathan Zawada is an Australian designer and illustrator, incorporating influences both psychedelic and mathematical. He also makes the masterly move of explicitly acknowledging these influences in his "cliffnotes" sidebar. Win!
  • Osmos is a really, really sexy-looking ambient game based on particle interactions. Soundtracked by Loscil, Gas, Biosphere and more.
  • When naming the mascot for their much-vaunted Go language, Google obviously weren't aware of 1980s UK kids TV. Compare: Gordon the Gopher vs Gordon the Gopher. Oops.
  • The parallax-glitch interface to Daniel Leyva's portfolio needs to be experienced. Great concept, and executed with no use of Flash whatsoever.
  • Continuing the psychedelia note, Fred Tomaselli creates explosions of colour and multiplicity which threaten to do strange things to your consciousness. Really want to see these paintaings in the flesh.





K http://www.temporary.cc

temporary.cc is a marvellously concise piece of netart by prolific openFrameworks contributor Zach Gage. Each unique visitor causes a single fragment of the page's HTML to be deleted, resulting in an irreversibly degenerative piece of online space. Each visit is inevitably further decayed than the last, and any attempts to archive or document are futile.

Reminds me of Feliz Gonzales-Torres' beautiful candy-pile pieces, though with very different conceptual intent.


edit: Alex kindly pointed me at Dust, a projected created by Geoff Cox way back in 2000 which applied the same idea to a digital image. Particularly striking right after a conversation we'd been having about art and the fallacies of originality.

The Atlas Obscura

Athanasius Kircher was a 17th century German scholar, priest, inventor and polymath, whose life was spent harvesting the world's knowledge and republishing prodigious amounts of texts on his research (in total, 44 books and countless other manuscripts). When not designing early machines, theorizing the existence of disease-causing micro-organisms or lowering himself down into active volcanos, he could be found producing magnificently detailed and beautiful illustrations of his ideas.

Athanasius Kircher: illustration of musical amplification

One such idea was the notion of a parabolic horn which could amplify sound waves for the enjoyment of listeners - a thought which eventually proved exceedingly popular.

A collection of Kircher's illustrations has recently been published in beautiful hardback form. Online, Stanford offer a huge archive of his works; unfortunately, it's locked away in the widely unsupported DjVu format, with buggy browser plugins not helping proceedings. Better is this Flickr stream, which collects a great deal of images in decent resolution.

Until recently, there existed an Athanasius Kircher Society, which collected together esoterica of Kircher's ilk. Now defunct, a new and equally exciting endeavour has risen in its place: Atlas Obscura, a compendium of the world's wonders, curiosities and esoterica. Kind of like a geographical Taryn Simon, it's a distributed, visually rich investigation into weird locations around the world.

Die Weltmaschine

International Banana Club

Lowell Observatory

YouTube lost transmissions

K http://www.youtube.com/user/ideoforms#p/f

The video stream has been a core part of erase.net for many moons - an ever-changing screening room for the countless nuggets of weirdness and wonder found around YouTube's desolate wastelands. Somewhat sadly, I have realized that it is perhaps time to unlock it contents for future generations by transforming it into a real YouTube channel, with, like, subscriptions and the other stuff that this entails.

So, behold:

lost transmissions

channel shot

In going through the index, it seems that an unnerving 15% of the original videos have been removed by YouTube courtesy of takedown orders and other such things - almost universally music videos, which would almost universally have brought further attention to their artists. See this recent study which indicates, contra to popular beliefs, an overall rise in recording artist revenues over the past few years.

Anyhow, this is life. If you're on YouTube, please do add me to your network and say hello. Original videos coming soon (though most will probably remain on my Vimeo account).