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{Wednesday, March 03, 2004}

The Conference of the Birds

The Conference of the Birds
Our pathways differ, no bird ever knows
The secret route by which another goes.

Phil Windley - ETCon 2004: Tim O'Reilly Keynote
What's on Tim's Radar: The net is the platform. The new killer apps of the Internet, eBay, Yahoo!, Amazon.com, PayPal, Mapquest, and others are on the O'Reilly best seller list, but moreover, are running on a new platform called the Internet. The software lives somewhere other than your local machine. These apps run on open source, but themselves are not open source.
Tim compares Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Amazon has harnessed the user community, but B&N has not. Amazon outsells B&N. Mapquest has not offered any social services. GeoURL and GeoAnnotation are some interesting projects in this area. Microsoft's Mappoint has an API, but they have no clue about end user participation. Tim believes that the first mapping site to bring social aspects to their site will come out on top. [...]
On the issue of mining the net for data, Tim talks about Technorati. He also mentions OrgNet.com's analysis of book purchase patterns. The study revealed a divided populace. Only two books connect the liberal and conservative book buyers. Interesting.

Pre-History of Cognitive Science: Robert Burton
"Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) is arguably the first major text in the history of Western cognitive science: not because Burton is the first to theorize the nature of cognition or engage in cognitive modeling, as is made plainly evident by the many quasi-plagiarisms and numerous references to other thinkers which appear in Burton's text, but because of the thematic underpinnings and encyclopedic nature of Burton's vision."
Carl Stahmer

Guardian Unlimited: Get caught mapping (27 March 2003)
"Drawing out the implications of projects such as Geonotes, a method of attaching digital notes to real world locations, [Ben] Russell says things will get interesting when people can "annotate space": attach digital graffiti to real places via a location-tracking technology. Someone kitted out suitably would then be able to see these notes and add their own."
Jim McClellan

New Scientist: Mobile Phones: Write here, write now (01 December 2001)
"One of the biggest schemes to exploit GPS messaging comes from Hewlett-Packard. It began as a typically Californian idea: what if everything had its own Web page? A washing machine's page would tell the engineer who comes to fix it everything about its service history. A valuable painting could have a page detailing its provenance.
And so, in 1994, HP engineers in Palo Alto started to create this new environment, calling it CoolTown. They began by assigning Web addresses, in the form of bar codes, to VCRs, hot tubs and -- perhaps more usefully -- medical equipment. A mobile phone or PDA with a bar-code reader would simply scan the object's code to download any relevant information. Later versions replaced the bar code with beacons -- tiny transmitters broadcasting the Web address encoded in radio waves. CoolTown is now a joint venture between HP's labs in Palo Alto and Bristol. The idea of giving every bit of empty space its own Web page only came ... when Bristol University student Alistair Mann came to HP to work on his master's degree project. Mann had been part of a team experimenting with a "cyberjacket" connected to the Internet by a mobile phone hidden in a sleeve. When it received text messages, a text-to-speech synthesiser played them into an earpiece. The jacket also sported a GPS locator.
Mann knew researchers at Lancaster University had whipped up a similar garment for tourists: a server would use locator beacons, scattered around the environment, to beam relevant messages to the jacket about historical sites, restaurants and other attractions to tempt visitors in the neighbourhood. "I realised that we could put the technologies of GPS and the cyberjacket together," Mann says. GPS means that you could attach digital media such as e-mails, text messages and Web pages to a physical position.
HP now has a prototype mid-air messaging system running ..."
Bennett Daviss

Information in places by Jim Spohrer (1999)
"What if we could put information in places? More precisely, what if we could associate relevant information with a place and perceive the information as if it were really there? WorldBoard is a vision of doing just that on a planetary scale and as a natural part of everyday life. For example, imagine being able to enter an airport and see a virtual red carpet leading you right to your gate, look at the ground and see property lines or underground buried cables, walk along a nature trail and see virtual signs near plants and rocks, or simply look at the night sky and see the outlines of the constellations."

Media and Metaphors: The Case of Virtual Wandering and Stationary Movement
Wolfgang Settekorn: "[...] The electronic-telematic possibilities mentioned here are new, but not the basic idea of information being packaged together (as, for example, is the case in semantic domains), which "in nature" usually only exists physically and systematically far apart. The museum itself is a place where things originally far apart are brought and put together to be more efficient for the visitor. Likewise, a Gothic cathedral is not only architectural space, but was meant to be a model of the world, an expression of its own cosmology. Libraries are spaces in which all manner of texts are brought together and more or less openly accessible.
These intimations support the general assumption that every medium has a specific type of composition, compilation, and presentation which always has a specific influence on the user's physical activity. A library requires one to go through the rows of bookcases to reach the shelves, often requiring the use of a stepladder. A library necessitates that one pull out, pick up and carry the books and turn their pages as well as assume a position for reading, which, thanks to the smaller format of the books, has changed greatly over the years (Schön 1987). A cathedral requires one to walk through it, lower and raise oneself and turn one's head and body, the complete involvement of which is demanded of those who come to see and explore. Yet, although one climbs up and down the stairs, still only a fraction of the overwhelming whole can be taken in.
All in all, the appreciation of architecture requires "the foot that walks, the head that turns, the eye that sees", "as Le Corbusier once described the experience of architecture" (Kostof 1993: 11). Books are no substitute for this sort of direct perception on-site. They have, however, as Kostof stresses, one advantage which is similar in some of its basic elements to that of ..."

The Conference of the Birds
A twelfth-century Sufi allegorical poem, The Conference of the Birds tells the story of the quest for a king undertaken by the birds of the world, as it also describes the Sufi (or mystical Islamic) path to enlightenment.

The Cosmetic Hieroglyph by Jeremy Lemmon
"The Egyptians did not view their script lightly. Extensive and critical thought was always applied to the creation of texts. The Egyptians were just as conscious of the beauty and sensation of their writing as we are today of art, music, and movies."

Information Prose : A Manifesto In 47 Points
23. "As artists, our work involves displacing and displaying bites of publicly available, publicly influential material because it peppers our personal environment and affects our consciousness. In our society, the media which surrounds us is as available, and as valid a subject for art, as nature itself."
Negativland's Tenets of Free Appropriation

"One interesting tidbit from Cordingly's most interesting book is the derivation of the dollar sign. Pieces-of-eight, or pesos, had twin towers representing the Pillars of Hercules stamped on them. At one time pesos were the most common currency in the Americas and the twin towers soon evolved into $."
Welch's Rarebits (March/April 1998)

Pillar Dollar (1753) Pieces of eight
"Minted in Lima, Peru, this coin is an example of the famous "pillar dollars" -- or pieces of eight -- that were used so extensively during colonial and post-colonial periods in American history. These coins and their replacement, the silver pesos of Mexico, formed the backbone of circulating currency in the colonies and the early United States. Only in 1857, in fact, did all foreign coins lose legal-tender status in the United States."

The Ankh, The Djed & the Knotty

Borges: "Around 1867, Captain Burton held the post of British Consul in Brazil. In July, 1942, Pedro Henríquez Ureña came across a manuscript of Burton's, in a library at Santos, dealing with the mirror which the Oriental world attributes to Iskander Zu al-Karnayn, or Alexander Bicornis of Macedonia. In its crystal the whole world was reflected. Burton mentions other similar devices -- the sevenfold cup of Kai Kosru; the mirror that Tariq ibn-Ziyad found in a tower (Thousand and One Nights, 272); the mirror that Lucian of Samosata examined on the moon (True History, I, 26); the mirrorlike spear that the first book of Capella's Satyricon attributes to Jupiter; Merlin's universal mirror, which was "round and hollow ... and seem'd a world of glas" (The Faerie Queene, III, 2, 19) -- and adds this curious statement: "But the aforesaid objects (besides the disadvantage of not existing) are mere optical instruments. The Faithful who gather at the mosque of Amr, in Cairo, are acquainted with the fact that the entire universe lies inside one of the stone pillars that ring its central court.... No one, of course, can actually see it, but those who lay an ear against the surface tell that after some short while they perceive its busy hum.... The mosque dates from the seventh century; the pillars come from other temples of pre-Islamic religions, since, as ibn-Khaldun has written: 'In nations founded by nomads, the aid of foreigners is essential in all concerning masonry.'"
Does this Aleph exist in the heart of a stone?"

"Heim and Zizek both point to the same Leibnizian paradox: that we are simultaneously connected and alone." Steven Shaviro

Bright Lights Film Journal: Burroughs, Gysin, Balch, and Cut Ups
"Describing the discovery of cut-ups, Brion Gysin stressed, "The cut-up method treats words as the painter treats his paints, raw materials with rules and reasons of its own." Because of his experience as a painter, Gysin was able to see the fundamental elements of literature as pictorial materials to be used like any other forms, shapes, colors, or textures. Burroughs and Gysin's individual and collaborative efforts in these areas have extended into a vast range of media aside from literature such as tape cut-ups ..."
Rob Bridgett

Laszlo Tisza: Remembering Eugene Wigner and pondering his legacy
"The requirement that Newtonian mechanics and Maxwellian electrodynamics be mutually consistent calls for the scrutiny of the concept of simultaneity and leads to the foundation of special relativity.
[...] Faraday's chemical atom was different from the mechanical atom implicit in Newtonian mechanics. The mechanical atom is defined by its position and velocity; it has no intrinsic structure. Two observations refer to the same particle if the observations refer to points on the same orbit as for the evening star and the morning star. By contrast, the chemical atom has intrinsic structure and ..."

The Doors of Expression: The Work of Art in the Age of Quantum Processing Power
Pablo Baler states: "Virtual environments radically reconfigure our perceptive and experiential premises regarding physical laws, temporal linearity, and stable agency. Cyber-sculpture (of which virtual reality scenarios are the ultimate manifestation) is not only free from the physical constraints of gravity, mass, motion, force, cause and effect, and so on, but is also naturally and fundamentally predisposed to search for a set of totally arbitrary, provisional, and personal universes with their own unpredictable logic, flexible mechanics, and fluid biologies.
One could cite several distinct early 20th-century sculptural antecedents of this tendency toward the expansion of reality. Probably the most conspicuous among them are Duchamp's speculations on alternative laws of measurement, causality, and the challenging notion of the infinite chain of dimensions; Rodchenko and Brancusi's attempts to release the object from the constraints of gravity; Moore's experimentation with the evolutionary laws of spatial mutation flagrantly rendered in his Composition 1932 but latent in the fluctuating, morphing shapes of his works; and Giacometti's surreal exploration of the logic of the subconscious in pieces such as Palace at 4AM, which gives us the sense of inhabiting the blueprint of an otherworldly architecture. In fact, André Breton's Surrealist manifesto could be seen as a manifesto of expansion as well: "To change life, to transform the world, to remake human understanding altogether."
But then again, while the sculpture of the last century seems to operate on the level of spatial rhetorical tropes rather than on the actual, concrete creation of alternative realities, virtual reality attempts to get rid of the metaphoric freight of art by actually producing parallel universes that can not only be evoked but also fully experienced."

ArtForum: In other's words (February 2002)
Sarat Maharaj: "Feyerabend proclaimed himself a scientific theoretician of an absolute anarchist bent. I find it particularly interesting that he felt this was even better described as a Dadaist epistemology. What he meant by this at moments sounds almost like elements in Marcel Duchamp's Notes to the Large Glass (with its own echoes of and borrowings from Bergson and Poincaré). Duchamp's speculations on "ironic physics," "emancipated metals of oscillating density," 4-D geometries, virtual images, etc., add up to poetic elements for a "hilarious painting" -- an artwork for which there is no previous model. Feyerabend's Dada model is reminiscent of this nominalist epistemology -- Duchamp speaks of a "pictorial nominalism" -- the artwork is invented in its making, not according to the givens of what is Art. Hence his fantastic paradox: How to make a work of art that isn't a work of art? One can sense roughly the "unscriptedness" that Feyerabend will take up for his Dada epistemology. More light is thrown on what he means if we mull over his remark that his greatest regret was not having taken the job offered to him to be Brecht's assistant. A reflexive, ironic art-practice type of paradigm of scientific thought."

Telegraph: When art itself went on trial
When is a sculpture not a sculpture?

Sunday Feature : The Brancusi Trial
"It's a Bird!"

posted by Andrew 3/03/2004 04:56:00 PM