Robert Vitalini from Wheii.com, a cool futurism/trends site, sent me this photo of his friend Tom Brooks as an igargoyle photo submission.
Haven't had much time to write this week, as this site is still just a hobby, my little passion. I did get to watch the news this week and saw several cool things hit the radar. If they're old news to you, sorry, I'll be publishing more rapidly next week.
The UK's Big Brother Awards, the annual contest and expose for most awful companies and individuals when it comes to privacy.
Ms Hodge won her award as Worst Public Servant for her backing of intrusive government databases and desire to monitor children by pervasive tracking systems.
Ms Hodge, MP for Barking and Minister for Children, has supported controversial proposals in the Children's Bill that aims to set up a database that will, among other things, hold data about children deemed to be at risk of becoming criminals." [BBC]
I really wish they'd expand their coverage to the United States, we have a bunch of nominees over here too.
Open access cameras are the beginning of a truely transparent society. Seems that DNC cops are doing that with unsecured 802.11b cameras, but probably unintentionally. It may be an oversight, but personally I'm all for open access cameras so that power of information is not consolidated solely to the government.
Robot revolution posters, for sale. Buy one for your roomba.
Surveillance in our society is becoming more and more pervallant. I've been thinking about doing a side art project for Burning Man involving mock surveillance, which may not get a good reception from participants. It's interesting because, Burning Man used to be an almost refuge from normal society by people with creative careers. The idea that pictures may escape the event is a controversial idea, but it is generally accepted that pictures will be posted on participant websites.
But despite our regular society getting more and more transparent and locked down in terms of technology, you just don't see surveillance cameras at Burning Man. In fact when I saw a dark sphere looking down on me, I automatically assumed it was for protection of "The Embassy's" satellite uplink from yahoos. As it turned out, the camera was just for recording the event's climax with the burning of the man, as one of the Embassy techies showed me by grabbing a nearby joystick.
And there are other projects which involve cameras on the playa, such as Folding Time, which is described as "A Timewave Panorama of Burning Man Showing the Rise and Fall of Black Rock City". Even so, I think transparency at Burning Man is something many are experiencing and reacting to by building more private camps and less willing to talk to "strangers". Donalde Davis wrote this in his conclusion of Burning Man 2003 (last year):
Of course now long gone are the days one could safely light up a pipeful of Cannabis or urinate out in the emptiness. A web of surveillance using night vision equipment provided nearly as little privacy, even out in the open, as in a prison yard.
This years Burning man festival was in my observation a fabulous thing to experience, undoubtedly continuing to send out cultural 'echoes' as more people realize what fun such a thing can be. There is more talk of regional similar events springing up. Perhaps at such smaller burns the initial freedoms will be enjoyed until they too grow large enough to attract the attention of the cops and especially those BLM swine. Inevitably with enough people involved things have to be reigned in a bit to keep folks from getting killed. Such concerns as well as the headaches of grappling with federal agencies and groups hostile to the event have confronted the Burning man organization over recent years." [donaldedavis]
Which is why I'm pretty sure people would tear down my artwork if I made a non functional sculpture like this:
I'm not really sure how serious Marcin Panpuch is about his idea to build floating spherical houses for the Thames river, but I really like it. It lends itself to technomadics, zero enviornmental impact homes, and water dwelling.
Makes me think of that crazy raft idea in Snow Crash, where ships would tie on to that giant aircraft carrier as it migrated around the world.
Jobe Bittman writes "You always have good pictures on igargoyle. Maybe you can use this for someting.".
I'd like to start posting more pictures of cyborgs, so please send me any photos you find. If any readers take their own photos, please tell me so I can give credit where credit is due.
In the 1951 film "The Man in the White Suit", "a man invents a fabric that won't get dirty or wear out, but he seems to have made more enemies than friends in the process" [imdb]. In the more modern sci-fi novel, "The Diamond Age", one of the characters uses a pair of white gloves that are self cleaning.
Following fiction, "..scientists at Hong Kong Polytechnic University coated cotton with nanoparticles of titanium dioxide. When subjected to ultraviolet light, the titanium dioxide produces an oxidizing agent that can break down dirt and other organic substances." [boingboing]
In addition, the scientists say "...after a few days in the sunshine, or even indoor light, the dirt [from our clothing] will disappear." Quite a leap from odor free socks or stain resistant pants.
After searching long and hard this morning, I finally found something interesting for igargoyle.
Wikipedia has a growing list of Cyborgs in Fiction, which includes movies, television, and books that have to do with cyborgs. For example, they list the Tin Woodman from L. Frank Baum's Oz books, the Borg from the Startrek universe, Darth Vader (he had a cybernetic hand), Inspector Gadget, The Six Million Dollar Man, and many anime characters like Alita (Gally Yoko) from Battle Angel Alita (pictured right).
One notable cyborg that I'm looking forward to is General Grievous from Star Wars, who is going to make an appearance in Star Wars Episode III next year.
Part non-humanoid alien, part custom-designed droid, Grievous hunted Jedi for sport and proudly displayed his victims' lightsabers around his belt as trophies of his conquests. His unorthodox fighting form and mechanical enhancements gave him an edge in close-quarters combat, and his strategic ingenuity and flawless cunning rendered him almost invincible against the Jedi." [supershadow]
In addition, their definition of "Cyborg" would be a good place to list yourself if you think you're a cybernetic enough to deserve a mention.
Xybernaut, wearable computer manufactuer, is being touted as a good investment according to Michael Bush of MSN Money. While I personally would be more likely to put money into a new pair of boots or buy wearable computer parts, I do agree that this company will likely do well in the upcoming year, but then again I'm a cyborg-fanboy so I'm tainted.
The interesting thing about all of this, is just what I've been previously seen in this "post nine-eleven world", that Xybernaut is riding the government money train. As far as I'm concerned, that's a good thing. I believe all police should be recording both their point of view, and everything they say. After all, situations like Abu Ghraib don't happen when everyone is accountable.
Since even cyborgs with point of view cameras often carry around video cameras or handheld digicams, I thought I'd mention this cool DIY tripod, which costs only $1.50 in parts. Inspired by the ten dollar (now sold out) Bottle Cap Tripod, which is pictured below.
I went to a showing of a independent film called "What the !@#$% do we know?" last night. I thought the film was going to be some new-agey astrology flick, but turned out to be a lovely film about transhumanism, quantum physics, and religion. It blends scientists, philosophers, drama, and beautiful computer graphics to communicate the message of self-awareness and to describe complex ideas like neural networks.
The film had been held over for five extra weeks at the cinema I went to, so no doubt that it's distribution will continue to grow.
Even if you don't think that everything presented is completely true, this is a thought provoking film, which made me think seriously about enlightenment and transhumanism.
I just found this book, called "Natural Born Cyborgs" by Andy Clark, which I imagine is a good technological-read. Clark has written 27 other books, many dealing with artificial inteligence and cognitive science.
Another book that Clark has written, "Mindware" was reviewed as being
Since I haven't read either books, here is a description of Clark's "Natural Born Cyborgs":
Ever try using mapquest to get walking directions? A bit afraid to take their recommendation to use the freeway? Maybe you need better directions...
Whereas traditional journey planning services only offer one mode of transport, PEPTRAN is able to offer a journey based on driving, walking and public transport services. You might start your journey by driving to the edge of a city, where PEPTRAN will direct you to a car park which has vacant spaces. PEPTRAN will then tell you how to reach the nearest metro station or bus stop, and will tell you which line or service to take to reach your destination. To offer the best possible route from A to B, PEPTRAN knows what is happening out on the street. For example, if your bus is running late, maybe there's a better way?" [PEPTAN]
The service is only offered in Winchester and Hapshire in the UK, and Torino in Italy, but ideas like these don't generally stay so localized. Maybe some big map company will take the hint, and start including public transport information in their maps.
I can only imagine that this is worth going to if you're in the Toronto area. If you're attending, I would please email me about moblogging and/or photoblogging the event.
"The theme of this year's conference is "Art and Life in the Posthuman Era," featuring such presenters as cyborg Steve Mann, Australian performance artist Stelarc, Extropy Institute founder Max More, leading biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey, and transhumanist philosopher Nick Bostrom, among many others." [boingboing]
First Monday has an interesting article on collaborative reputation systems, aka trust metrics. I'm working in this field for the non-profit collaborative publishing project which I've written about before, called thingster.
But we suggest the potential utility of reputation services is far greater, touching nearly every aspect of society. By leveraging our limited and local human judgement power with collective networked filtering, it is possible to promote an interconnected ecology of socially beneficial reputation systems — to restrain the baser side of human nature, while unleashing positive social changes and enabling the realization of ever higher goals." [Manifesto for the Reputation Society]
The sequel to the huge anime hit, Ghost in the Shell, is about to go on a limited release. Written and directed by Mamoru Oshii, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence was the "first animé to ever screen in competition at the Cannes Film Festival" and may be the first cyborg story to be shown at Cannes. From the looks of the movie's website and their production photos, this is going to completely outdo the first Ghost in the Shell, as well as the GITS television series.
The original film "is set in the not-too-distant future, when an unnamed government uses lifelike cyborgs or 'enhanced' humans for undercover work" [Charles Solomon via amazon]. Commingsoon.net describes this sequel as "the story of a solitary cyborg who desperately wants to hold on to what's left of his humanity in a world where the worth of the human soul is fading almost into obscurity".
The sequel will be released in U.S. theaters on September 17, 2004 under the Go Fish Pictures banner, a division of DreamWorks Pictures. Anyone in the LA area is welcome to join us for the premiere, details will be announced in September.
I'm an avid NPR listener, so I was totally pleased to find out that they have interviewed the ever evolving cyborg, Steve Mann. He talks about his body's "dashboard" which shows him his heartrate and other bodily functions. Also touches on sousveillance - "the people watching the powers that be". Available in both RealAudio & Windows Media Player 9.
Above photo is a montage of the road data + art installations, the lower right image is what it will likely look like on your GPS. I used the Mad Max photo since he looks pretty lost like I usually am.
If you're going to Burning Man, and you're taking a GPS, you might want to nab these files, which are waypoints for Burning Man. They look a bit old, as the playa changes slightly every year, but I'll make sure to get the skinny since I'm doing technomadics at Burning Man anyways.
Why is it that most cartographers are hopelessly lost? Maybe I'm speaking from experience, but it seems like mapping, despite being one of the oldest exploratory traditions, is still quite young. Some people seem to think the world has already been discovered by people like Columbus and Magellan, but I think they just scratched the surface.
so they're looking for a killer RDF app, like everyone else. i maintain that the solution and the problem are the same thing; not a killer app, but a thousand interlocking sub-apps, enhancing each other; the swarm of bots, propelling themselves about a fluid continuum."
Jo gets it. She knows the power of RDF coupled with geo technologies. Defining space is about the name space and semantics. Trying to get well established companies and government cartography institutions to open up is a bit like trying to get your cat to take a bath. Even in countries like the United States, where government maps are more open, they still aren't reliable enough to use for generic things like driving directions, and the only other option is to lease expensive geographic feeds from companies like Mapquest and ESRI.
In this writer's opinion, community and open-source developers will be the ones forging the emerging cartography world, not a business model or better PDAs. Jo is the smartest girl I know, and possibly the smartest geek I know. The Ordinance Survey could greatly benefit the people of Britian if they open up and listen to cartography pioneers like Jo Walsh, who are often all too eager to hack shit up in the name of progress.
[Link from www.zooleika.org.uk]
Near Near Future futurism fangirl Regine says "I just read that you have to write a paper about locative games: [elastic space › Mobile social software applications] (via the excellent "Pasta & Vinegar")". This is a "growing list of social applications that work in a mobile context", but often the social mobile networks are just as fun as the ones with fantasy and complicated scoring systems.
Just finished an update on the ROAM-NET Project which will be returning to Burning Man with three vehicles - A golf cart, a car, and a van, each with slightly different artistic visions.
The vehicle I'm working on with my brother and various friends is called R0AM-1, which will have a public terminal, various webcams, and an external display to signal geolocated events that are both close in proximity and time. Those who publish feeds of their events at burning man will be able to get the word out visually, as well as through our interactive playa services.
With the use of webcams we'll be able to bounce photos of each other's point of view around the playa, and with our GPS units, we'll be able to pinpoint them using collaborative cartography. Just as blogging has changed the publishing community, I believe ROAM-NET will redefine how people visualize and signal each other at Black Rock City.
I'm always looking for suggestions, help, and computer equipment! Drop me a line if you want to get in touch. If you're in the LA/OC area, and also a "burner", please join LA Burners (laburners.tribe.net)
Zarlink Semiconductor is working under the EU to develop antennas for implants. This is big news for anyone with a pacemaker since currently patients with problematic implants need to go under the knife in order to fix their medical gadgets. With an antenna on board, doctors could fix the devices wirelessly. The development works up to three meters and can "work on wireless bands devoted to medical implant communications in both the United States and Europe."
Hacking concerns aside, I see this as a major improvment and would be great for things like digital tattoos and cyborganic sensors. Also it brings a whole new meaning to "ping me".
Using ideas behind collaborative cartography, Elephant Paths attempts to find common routes by doing analysis on GPS tracklogs. The author, Mari Keski-Korsu calls it "a project that explores a geographical and social space by mapping paths.", and is generating simple flash maps that includes geo-referenced images and video links.
While the project is premature and doesn't yet scale, Elephant Paths is an interesting idea playing on community, space, and motivations, and definitely should be incorporated in larger collaborative mapping web sites.
The Mexican Government seems to be embracing cyborg technology. Similar to pet id chips, the Attorney General of Mexico has been chipped. A microchip was inserted under the skin of one of his arms to identify him when accessing the governments new crime database. Since the country hasn't always been the most stable politically, the chip also is designed to trace him if he is ever abducted. Unfortunately, if he is ever abducted, his arms will be probably be cut off.
As Born Again children of God through Jesus Christ we are NOT to Accept the Mark of the Beast, no Matter how Good they make it sound. Those who Do Not accept the Mark of the Beast Cannot buy or Sell, but if you Accept it you are Eternally Lost & Doomed to the Lake of Fire with Satan." [jesusandsue]
Well I don't think think I agree with sue's zealous rant, I do think this is a frightening trend as "about 160 Mexican officials will carry the microchip" and "the chip can't be removed, but will be deactivated after Macedo's term as attorney general expires.", if it's okay to chip government employees, why wouldn't it be okay to chip criminals or citizens? Hey, I'm all for electronic implants, but I'm just a bit wary of governments doing it.
Cheers Attorney General Rafael Macedo, I look forward to joining you in the lake of fire.
Digital Tattoos are an interesting idea to me since traditional tattoos are awfully static. Imagine having an animated mario on your arm, or a winking woman. I'm not sure how soon this kind of stuff will be a reality, but I'm sure it's a possibility body modification technologists are working on, as this patent suggests. The above photo is a concept from the core77 memory contest, and also brings a third element to the digital tattoo- connectivity. The digital tattoo on the virtual model shows the weather condition on his cheek, which could just as easily be the number of American soldiers killed during the Iraq war, or the color-coded homeland security alert level.
Comments are open so you can tell igargoyle what you would put on your digital tattoo.
Wow, igargoyle got slashdotted on Friday. I've been keeping slashdot as a goal for this site since it's a major blogosphere hub, but it didn't occur to me that the renowned "news for nerds" had linked igargoyle when the hit counter skyrocketed, but the flood of comments (44 total!) was a clear giveaway. 27,000 hits in one day, approximately 4 times as much traffic than igargoyle has seen in the past two months. Thanks everyone for stopping by, and to those of you who have subscribed to our full XML syndication, I hope you enjoy the ad-free cyborg and wearable computing feed.
Pasadena Caltech researcher Richard Andersen, and his colleagues have been working on signals from brain cells involved with abstract thought, and have been able to decode them to predict body movement in monkeys' arm movements.
This development suggests that "...all kinds of cognitive signals can be decoded from patients", and the future for prosthetics for paralyzed people is optimistic. Unlike earlier research with monkeys controlling robotic arms, Andersen and his colleagues have been able to "[tap into] the messages of higher-order neurons involved in planning and motivation". It also suggests that other kinds of cognitive signals can be decoded.
[Link from betterhumans]
Psymbiote calls itself "Hybrid Apparatus for Social Interface - an evolution in progress", but in plainspeak, the Psymbiote is a cyborg persona from performing artist isa gorden in collaboration with Jesse Jarrell & DEvan Brown. Their aim seems to be to create performance using cyborganic based technology to "...stimulate dialogue regarding the future of technological enhancements to the human body". In the process they have created some amazing costume/cyborg prosthetics, and seem to be the leading cyborg performance art group currently, dispite Steve Mann's longstanding role as a cyborg/artist.
The piece I'm most interested in from Psymbiote is their wax prototype data input glove which would really go well with my technomadic art for Burning Man, which lends itself to a similar aesthetic ethos. The input is done via a series of flex sensors. Their production notes are also quite interesting:
They also address some interesting design issues to do with how we interact with people, especially in terms of encumbrance:
Probably inspired by cyborganic like artists such as H.R. Gieger, the Psymbiote seems alien, instead of attempting to embrace humanity. Then again, self expression and creativity is such a human trait, which is why I think I like body modification so, be it nose piercings, pacemakers, or even sumdermal blinking lights. Psymbiote is edgy and interesting, and I look forward to them hosting SIGGRAPH's 3rd annual Cyborg Fashion Show.
Another cyborg poem, this time from the Psymbiote, after the jump.
am i beautiful?
do you fear me?
will you let me seduce you?
but i need your permission
you have to let me inside your boundaries
you have to want to be dissected
let me caress the viscera
let me extend myself into you
we can blur the edges together
i can make you more
i can build you into something new
let me under your skin
and i will make you whole"
underneath my skin
drive that metal
drive that steel
underneath my skin
packets of silicon
plastic and seawater
underneath the skin
flesh so forgiving
bone melted with coral
strange modifications causing stranger looks
underneath the skin
quiet watches pumping life
ceramic bones and artificial appendages
appending freedom to our fragility
underneath our skin
all underneath our skin
silent whispers oscillate
all of which makes me contemplate
where is the soul of a cyborg?
underneath the skin
will it transcend with my humanity?
is a brain without a body alone?
bore that hole, make the slit
replace my body with a kit
just keep it underneath my skin
Written by Tom Longson (nym). Released in the public domain or whatever licence is the most liberal. Go ahead and make money off it, I don't care, but I would appreciate a link and credit. Danke!
Magnetic arm implant photo from madmax tatoo&piercing. "magnets to feel fields" line inspired by someone I met last weekend who had a magnetic implant in his finger to feel currents in power cables.
Update: Comments now open.
No confirmation yet if this is legitimate, but wi-fi networking news says:
This seems like a troublesome idea as it shifts the political reporting balance significantly out of the blogosphere for the democratic national convention. At least it's not a cellphone ban though. The future-saavy blogger Regine from we-make-money-not-art says "Read also 601Am for an insight about the (dis)organization of the event."
Looking to have some fun? We-make-money-not-art just republished a list of locative games that was posted to the locative mailing list. The list was compiled by Mjriam Struppeck from interactionfield in Bauwelt, (a german architecture Magazine). There's even some games I wasn't aware of, and I'm supposed to be writing an article for o'reilly on the subject!
[Link via we-make-money-not-art]
Verizon Wireless has even gotten into the game. The complete list is below after the jump.
Pac-Manhattan, by Dennis Crowley, Frank Lantz (instructor) and others
Location: Manhattan, New York, USA - 2004
Navigate the Streets, by Level 28 Brands
Location: Several Cities in Canada - 2004
I Like Frank in Adelaide, by Blast Theory
Location: Adelaide, Australia - 2004
Pirates!, by PLAY research studio, Interactive Institute
Location: HUC conference in Bristol, UK - August 2000
CitiTag, by HP Labs, the Open University's Knowledge Media Institute (KMi)
Location: Bristol, UK - 2004
Undercover, by YDreams
Location: Hong Kong / Portugal - since 2003
Uncle Roy All Around You, by Blast Theory
Location: London, UK - 2003
Can You See Me Now?, by Blast Theory
Location: Rotterdam, Netherlands, March - 2003
Mogi, Newt Games
Location: Tokyo, Japan - since 2003
, by Amy Hung
Urban Challenge, by Verizon Wireless
Location: Several Cities in USA - since 2002
NodeRunner, by Yury Gitman, Carlos J. Gomez de Llarena
Location: NYC, USA - since 2002
The Go Game, by Wink Back, Inc.
Location: San Francisco, USA - since 2001
MobileHunt, by HIPnTASTY
Location: USA and Canada - since 2001
Cutlass - Treasure Hunt, by DCA Productions, Steve Bull (CEO)
Location: Times Square, NYC, USA - since 2001
GunSlingers, Mikoishi Studios
Location: Singapore - 2003
BotFighters, by It's Alive
Location: Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Russia - since 2000
Geocaching/GPS Stash Hunt, by Groundspeak
Outdoor Mixed-reality Games
France Telecom has done some fun R&D to display pixelated images from your cellphone on your shirt or sleeve. These raver garments can even be used as a standalone device that can animate based on sounds and gestures. The technology uses a flexible circuit board with LEDs and other electronic bits like sensors layered in a fabric layered sandwich, which they claim is fairly comfortable.
The researchers at France Telecom hope people will use these textiles to do things like display their mood, but I'd be happy if my pixilated avatar would just bop to the beat of the baseline when I'm out on the town. I really hope to see better resolution displays; this technology is still very young. With better resolution, designer memes and logos might become the hot intellectual property being shared by the young hipsters. Animated clothing is something I've been seeing a lot at Burning Man by artists with electroluminescent wire, so I have hope that this technology will encourage fashion to be more creative. For example, I would love a shirt that could display a very large "NO SPAM" message to display disgust in solicitors and peddlers in appropiate situations. I'd love to hear how others would use this creatively, so once again, I've opened up the comments
After reading about the "War on Pornography", I found this cool flash art on Fleshbot called Luxereau. I've always loved metalic and fleshy curves, so it's interesting to see them combined. On the other hand I absolutely hate breast implants, they're so untactitle and they don't even come with a radio or flash drive.
These cyborg women from Luxereau remind me of Bjork's various robotic and body modification videos. Mmmm... cybersexual!
Kevin Warwick seemed like a pretty cool guy when I first picked up a wired issue with his face on the cover, but I quickly realised that this bloke is just a media whore and a bunch of hot air, and now he's trying to claim that he's the "World's first cyborg".
It's amazing that this guy ignores significant criticism for his tatics and lack of real development. Even Wired, after doing a feature story on Warwick, wrote a followup article entitled Kevin Warwick: Cyborg or Media Doll? exposing the stupidity of reporters who follow the "1st Cyborg".
[Warwick]'s been surprised by the criticism.
"None of them have said anything to me," he said. "I'm not going to get into some sideline, trivial argument. I've got research that I want to get on with and that's the important thing for me." [wired news]
Kevin, get a clue, and let the media interview the real cyborgs like Steve Mann.
[silly multi-light photo taken without permission from kevin's media whore website]
Imagine a world where with your cyborganic rose colored glasses, you can see messages that luddites can't.
Fujitsu Labs has developed some cool tech to embed 'invisible' data on your printed images. They see it as a technology to provide urls in documents so you can visit websites by photographing the document with your cellphone. That seems a bit odd though since there's no way to tell if a document has secret info in it or not.
For cyborgs with mediated reality, this could be a way to leave physical steganography in things like fliers and possibly stickers. With the ability to hide 12 characters in 1cm x 1cm, I bet the department of homeland security is going to have a panic attack.
While I don't care for the fashion, this jacket is probably the most comfortable one could get outside of an air conditioned RV. Maybe I can get this for my girlfriend. She won't look cute, but she won't have a heat stroke either.
Nobody knows where to buy these though! Comments are open on this in case someone has a clue.
Very cool mac hacking, someone needs to do this for gnome/x so we can do this for our head mounted displays.
Makes me miss my tiny o-so-portable (and stealable) iBook. Good times.
Accelerometers are tiny sensors that can detect small ammounts of movement, which has a lot of potential for location and geo based projects that require pinpoint precision instead of the 20-60ft range most GPS units provide.
Microsoft has been doing development into the relm of wearable computers with projects like the SenseCam. Lyndsay Williams' research with Microsoft has produced a small and potentially cheap device that uses accelerometers along with other sensors to track light, skin resistance, heart rate, and one's movement. Something that most hospitals would love to have for their patients, as well as at-home-patients and the elderly.