The 100 Most Iconic Artworks of the Last 5 Years (2007–2012)

art 2012

What are the most resonant works of art from the recent past? From among the thousands of individual works that pass through galleries and museums, which have affected the conversation in some significant way? Amid all of contemporary art’s chaotic installations and ephemeral gestures, which images have some staying power? These are the questions that ARTINFO set out to answer with its list of “100 Most Iconic Artworks From the Last 5 Years.”–100-most-iconic-artworks-of-the-last–5-years

What if the Crusades never end. And Calligraphy is a cosmological challenge to the Large Hadron Collider.

crusades, caligraphy, cosmology

@fadesingh: What if the Crusades never end. And Calligraphy is a cosmological challenge to the Large Hadron Collider. عجائب المخلوقات و غرائب الموجودات

Pigeons may ‘hear’ magnetic fields

biology, navigation, mesmerism, magnetism, pigeons

Pigeons’ remarkable navigational feats have long been pegged to the birds’ ability to sense magnetic fields, but pinning down how they do so has frustrated scientists for years. Work published today in Science shows that individual cells seem to encode information on a magnetic field’s direction, intensity and polarity1. The work also suggests that these signals come from a part of the inner ear called the lagena, further complicating matters for researchers in the field.–1.10540

The universe will fly like a bird

technology blindness, technolgy, futurism, humanities, singularity, ai, spaceweaver, rene

I admire Ray Kurzweil’s advocacy of radical ideas. However, like so many scientists and tech mavens he has never been able to frame the essential humanistic components of his master plan in a compelling way. When you promote powerful notions of human transformation it obviously becomes important not to portray humanity as something that must be overcome. Therefore it would seem to be essential to include a Future Humanities department as part of the Singularity University’s curriculum.

Amidst all the attention given to the sciences as to how they can lead to the cure of all diseases and daily problems of…

“Amidst all the attention given to the sciences as to how they can lead to the cure of all diseases and daily problems of mankind, I believe that the biggest breakthrough will be the realization that the arts, which are conventionally considered“useless,” will be recognized as the whole reason why we ever try to live longer or live more prosperously. The arts are the science of enjoying life.”

John Maeda

Resiliency, Risk, and a Good Compass: Tools for the Coming Chaos

resilience, joi ito, compass, systems, failure, principles, risk, education, learning, innovation

There are nine or so principles to work in a world like this: Resilience instead of strength, which means you want to yield and allow failure and you bounce back instead of trying to resist failure. You pull instead of push. That means you pull the resources from the network as you need them, as opposed to centrally stocking them and controlling them. You want to take risk instead of focusing on safety. You want to focus on the system instead of objects. You want to have good compasses not maps. You want to work on practice instead of theory. Because sometimes you don’t why it works, but what is important is that it is working, not that you have some theory around it. It disobedience instead of compliance. You don’t get a Nobel Prize for doing what you are told. Too much of school is about obedience, we should really be celebrating disobedience. It’s the crowd instead of experts. It’s a focus on learning instead of education.

Distance 01: “What Designers Know” by Jon Whipple

research, design, dsign

Because we already know a great deal, we can move research from a step in the design process to an ongoing, agency-wide activity: we can adopt a distributed research model. This model would result in better, more focused work, allowing us to spend more of our energy on specific issues relevant to the project at hand. It would also help us meet deadlines, because we can capitalize on the experience of the designer and community while maintaining a good relationship with the client. In this essay, I’ll describe how research is built and distributed across teams, and how it can benefit all of us to focus on institutional knowledge.

Urban guides for cyberflâneurs

Maria Popova, Adam Greenfield, Ben Hammersley, utopia, urbanism, architecture, review, books, urbane

Upon opening A smart Guide to Utopia, the first statement you read claims that cities are the true natural habitat of the human race: “Cities are where we are best, where individuals become communities.” Even if we don’t agree with such a manifesto, it is bold enough to catch our attention and hold our interested while discovering the 111 projects from across Europe presented in the book. Nearly all the projects can be described under the motto of tactical urbanism and bottom-up practices. Each chapter starts with a brief essay — “open your mind” — on the future of the city by a selection of writers and researchers including Ben Hammersley, Maria Popova and Adam Greenfield.

n+1: Leave Your Cellphone at Home

surveillance crypto appelbaum trackers phones NSA FBI NYPD

Cell phones are tracking devices that make phone calls. It’s sad, but it’s true. Which means software solutions don’t always matter. You can have a secure set of tools on your phone, but it doesn’t change the fact that your phone tracks everywhere you go. And the police can potentially push updates onto your phone that backdoor it and allow it to be turned into a microphone remotely, and do other stuff like that. The police can identify everybody at a protest by bringing in a device called an IMSI catcher. It’s a fake cell phone tower that can be built for 1500 bucks. And once nearby, everybody’s cell phones will automatically jump onto the tower, and if the phone’s unique identifier is exposed, all the police have to do is go to the phone company and ask for their information.

Approachably Reclusive: I Hate Snark

snark culture rhetoric argument literature

Snark is the universal solvent of cultural conversation. Someone mentions Hemingway; you mention cross-dressing, drinking, and short choppy sentences. Not only did you not have to read Hemingway, you have one-upped the other person by not having read it; you know more about it than they do because you know the important thing, that Hemingway doesn’t need to be read. Star Wars has a plot straight out of a comic book, the indescribable beauty of an athlete’s best moment is just ritualized combat, any given religion is a collection of three or fewer especially silly-sounding superstitions, all academic subjects are useless hazing intended to keep the wrong people from being hired, […] Occupy Wall Street is rebels without a clue (itself a plagiarized phrase), the Tea Party is scared old people, and nothing in the wide world matters compared to the general wonderfulness of the observer.

A Generation Lost in the Bazaar

programming computing software design review libtool unix posix bazaar ESR bsd cathedral configure

At the bottom of the food chain, so to speak, is libtool, which tries to hide the fact that there is no standardized way to build a shared library in Unix. Instead of standardizing how to do that across all Unixen—something that would take just a single flag to the ld(1) command […] the source code for devel/libtool weighs in at 414,740 lines. Half that line count is test cases, which in principle is commendable […] the tests elaborately explore the functionality of the complex solution for a problem that should not exist in the first place. Even more maddening is that 31,085 of those lines are in a single unreadably ugly shell script called configure. The idea is that the configure script performs approximately 200 automated tests, so that the user is not burdened with configuring libtool manually. This is a horribly bad idea […] It is a travesty that the configure idea survived.

The death of Kosmograd

There has always been an air of decay around Baikonour, the terrain littered with abandoned launch facilities. The Soviet Union was not known for sensitive land use, with a territory so large, the overriding mentality always seemed to be to build new rather than reuse or adapt. (I’ll be considering the topography of Cape Kennedy in a later post). Baikonour could be considered an experiment in distributed urbanism, a space city sprawled out over 1000s of square kilometres, connected by few roads but an extensive network of railways.

Dynamics of Conflicts in Wikipedia

conflict, Wikipedia, PLoS, Editwars

In this work we study the dynamical features of editorial wars in Wikipedia (WP). Based on our previously established algorithm, we build up samples of controversial and peaceful articles and analyze the temporal characteristics of the activity in these samples. On short time scales, we show that there is a clear correspondence between conflict and burstiness of activity patterns, and that memory effects play an important role in controversies. On long time scales, we identify three distinct developmental patterns for the overall behavior of the articles. We are able to distinguish cases eventually leading to consensus from those cases where a compromise is far from achievable. Finally, we analyze discussion networks and conclude that edit wars are mainly fought by few editors only.

In Praise of Leisure

Keynes, 15 hour week, employment, greed, desire, paleofuture, history, economics, work, leisure

Imagine a world in which most people worked only 15 hours a week. They would be paid as much as, or even more than, they now are, because the fruits of their labor would be distributed more evenly across society. Leisure would occupy far more of their waking hours than work. It was exactly this prospect that John Maynard Keynes conjured up in a little essay published in 1930 called “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren.” Its thesis was simple. As technological progress made possible an increase in the output of goods per hour worked, people would have to work less and less to satisfy their needs, until in the end they would have to work hardly at all.

Why Aren’t We Reading Turing?

humanities, culture, Alan Turing, Furtherfield, Technology, Turing

Perhaps we should ask whether the Turing Centenary will actually convince the humanities and the sciences to attentively read Turing’s work? Forgive the disingenuous patronising structure of the question; I clearly realise that people have read Turing’s work, especially his most famous and readable article, Computing Machinery and Intelligence published in 1950. But think back, have you actually read it?

“The Power of Fear in Networked Publics”

design, technology, control, culture of fear, socialmedia, privacy, networks, danahboyd, attention

When it comes to talking about social media, it’s easy to get trapped in utopian and dystopian rhetorics.  My goal is not to go down one of these rabbit holes, but rather, to critically interrogate our participation in the culture of fear.  Many of you are technologists, designers, pundits, and users. How are we contributing to or combating the culture of fear?  What are our responsibilities with regard to the culture of fear?  What kinds of things can and should we do?

Seminar on David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5000 Years

review, economic history, hist, david graeber, economics, debt, finance

David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5000 Years begins with a conversation in a London churchyard about debt and morality and takes us all the way from ancient Sumeria, through Roman slavery, the vast empires of the “Axial age”, medieval monasteries, New World conquest and slavery to the 2008 financial collapse. The breadth of material Graeber covers is extraordinarily impressive and, though anchored in the perspective of social anthropology, he also draws on economics and finance, law, history, classics, sociology and the history of ideas. I’m guessing that most of us can’t keep up and that we lack, to some degree, his erudition and multidisciplinary competence. Anyway, I do. But I hope that a Crooked Timber symposium can draw on experts and scholars from enough of these different disciplines to provide some critical perspective–5000-years-introduction/

Alternative Printing: A Conspectus

printing, process, photography, darkroom, chemistry, alternative

The full gamut of photographic printing processes may be little-known to contemporary photographers, who have been educated largely within the mainstream of the silver-gelatine tradition. My intention here is to help restore some of the ‘lost’ options by providing you with a handy reference list of the better-known alternative processes and an outline of their characteristics and working methods, without any detailed formulae or procedures. This should enable you to decide if 'there might be anything in it for you’. If so, then the texts listed in my bibliography should provide you with an entry into the practice

The Unbearable Stasis of “Accelerating Change”

stasis, futurism, transhumanism, extremism, robot cult, critique, tech bloom, singularity, Future-Sh

This is something that has struck me time and time again: The transhumanoids and singularitarians and online futurists love to congratulate themselves over their unflappability at the prospects of shatteringly onrushing changed futures. They literally have a whole “shock level” calculator, which is kinda sorta like a Cosmo sex quiz for pasty futurological males who think diddling themselves over cartoons of space elevators or descriptions of traversable wormholes demonstrates the awesomeness of their humanity-plus brains as compared to mehum (mere human) sheeple types.

Vandana Shiva on Resource Descent and Permaculture Politics

resource decent, soil association, Agriculture, Vandana Shiva, growold, politics, permaculture

Earlier in 2007 the Soil Association organized an amazing conference, “One Planet Agriculture: Preparing for a Post Peak-Oil Food and Farming Future.” Many talks from this conference are recorded and transcribed here, and I daresay if these are issues with which you are unfamiliar (or issues on which you are worse than unfamiliar because you have settled for mainstream mediated vacuities), devoting a lazy holiday afternoon to these marvelous talks might be a positively life-changing experience for you.