Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Architecture inspired concrete desk accessories - The Islam

The artist/teacher/architect/art historian in me is really excited about this project that recently debuted - Architrays are an art history lesson in the form of indulgent decoration. These concrete trays are designed and fabricated by 7thFl, an industrial design duo (from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, same place I spent a good 5 years of my life learning about sustainable design). Each tray they make represents a historical period of architecture, from Gothic to Roman to the Islam tray pictured above. When it comes to geometric design, Islam knows what's up.

Here you see an example of how this kind of design is developed from a very simple algorithm, genius in its simplicity. You start with a circle, then you draw another circle so that its center lies anywhere on the first circle. Then you draw a third circle, again so that its center lies on the first circle, BUT so that the center of all three circles now make an equilateral triangle with 60 degree angles.

If you repeat this pattern all around the first circle, you get a hexagon. Look at the points of the image in the upper left, and see that they can make equilateral triangles and a hexagon. This is the starting point for the most complex, most beautiful of patterns.  And this is the theme cast into concrete by 7thFl for their Islamic Architray. In other words, these 'architrays' are a beautiful reminder of a rich history of art, design, and architecture. Check it out

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Making Memetics Work

After being thoroughly schooled on this topic of the transmission of cultural products (see the book linked below), I realize that memetics may never be the science of mind control that I think it is. However,  I think the name, the origin of the idea, and the 'stickiness' of the memtics narrative, that is, the ease with which we can explain the idea to other people, all these things make memetics the best representative of this nebulous subject of thought propagation.

As a reminder then, the meme of the meme comes from Richard Dawkins in his 1982 book, The Extended Phenotype (sequel to The Selfish Gene), where he uses likens the meme to a gene but for ideas.

Anyway, we are truly living in an age where the behavior of thoughts have become independent of their thinkers.

Viral charity campaigns have a psychological 'recipe' and all-too-brief lifespan
Feb 2017, phys.org

*Cultural Evolution: Society, Technology, Language, and Religion
(Strüngmann Forum Reports), 2013. PJ Richerson, CH Morten.

More Neurophysics

The thermodynamics of learning
Feb 2017, phys.org

While investigating how efficiently the brain can learn new information, physicists have found that, at the neuronal level, learning efficiency is ultimately limited by the laws of thermodynamics

"The second law is a very powerful statement about which transformations are possible—and learning is just a transformation of a neural network at the expense of energy. "
- Sebastian Goldt at the University of Stuttgart, Germany

In the new study, the scientists showed that learning efficiency is bounded by the total entropy production of a neural network. They demonstrated that, the slower a neuron learns, the less heat and entropy it produces, increasing its efficiency. In light of this finding, the scientists introduced a new measure of learning efficiency based on energy requirements and thermodynamics.

I Got Your Back

Topless. Now that I have your attention.

This is just nuts. The guy is renting out his back - no - he sold his back, like the back of his body, to an artist who tattooed it and now showcases the guy like an objectified piece of art, and the artist will eventually own his body long after he dies.

Dinner party conversation, discuss amongst yourselves.

The man who sold his back to an art dealer
BBC, 2016

The work, entitled TIM, sold for 150,000 euros (£130,000) to German art collector Rik Reinking in 2008, with Steiner receiving one third of the sum.
"My skin belongs to Rik Reinking now," he says. "My back is the canvas, I am the temporary frame."

As part of the deal, when Steiner dies his back is to be skinned, and the skin framed permanently, taking up a place in Reinking's personal art collection.

This practice is common in Japanese art history(?)

"As part of his contract, Steiner must exhibit the tattoo by sitting topless in a gallery at least three times a year.

His first exhibition took place in Zurich in June 2006 - when the tattoo was still a work-in-progress. When the 10th anniversary fell last year, he was in the middle of his longest-ever exhibition, a whole year at the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) in Hobart, Tasmania, working five hours a day, six days a week.

"I've been touched, blown on, screamed at, pushed and spat on, it's often been quite a circus," he says. "But I wasn't touched a single time on this trip, it's a miracle."
But he rejects the idea that this is performance art. "If the name Wim Delvoye was not attached to this tattoo, it would have no artistic relevance," he insists.
It is part of Delvoye's intention, though, to show the difference between a picture on the wall and a "living canvas" that changes over time.
"I can get fat, scarred, burned, anything," Steiner says. "It's the process of living. I've had two lower back operations."
"And one day TIM will just hang there. Beautiful."

Start Your Engines

A Refrigerator? What are we supposed to do with that?

Australian scientists use soybean oil to create graphene
Feb 2017, BBC

We've been waiting some time for this, after all the talk about what graphene can do, making it is finally a practical possibility. I try so hard to imagine what this world will be like in 20 years, after the impact of graphene. Like trying to imagine what facetime is like back in 1990. Or tupperware in the 50's? Ah, the refrigerator in the 30's. I remember seeing a picture of people putting their canned goods in the fridge; they just had no idea what to do with it.

Also note, as it goes, this advancement was not a result of human intent, or at least not in full.

Dr Han said the discovery, detailed in the journal Nature Communications, was made "kind of by accident".

Post Script
Australian scientists use soybean oil to create graphene
Feb 2017, BBC