Archive for the ‘The Future’ Category
The MayDay Post crew will be attending the Saturday sessions of this symposium at Columbia University, which we heard about through André Tavares, one of the speakers. Come and meet us!
One of my favorite presentations at the Design and Film symposium last Saturday was Stuart Kendall‘s talk on the film Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time. The documentary, directed by German filmmaker Thomas Riedelsheimer, focuses on Goldsworthy’s site-specific sculptural work.
I was particularly interested in Kendall’s reading of this film, which he says it is not about making, but about modifying things. To Kendall, Goldsworthy’s work challenges an anthropocentric view of the world (as vindicated from Descartes to the multiculturalist agenda), the fetishism of the heroic creator or the question of artistic and environmental appropriateness. Kendall’s lecture explored the concepts of modification vs. creation, of art – but also design – as disciplines that are part of a historical and material continuum he called long now.
This notion of a natural, physical continuum that contains humans, their actions and their consequences (as opposed to the notion of nature as a human construct) inspired a few questions asked by Kendall in his talk, such as: “What do I want to make today? What trace of my life can I leave here today? What can I do to improve existing matter and its environment?”. This is a fascinating, revolutionary way to look into human, material production. In the end, and as expressed by Goldworthy himself, “I don’t think the Earth needs me at all. But I do need it”.
I’ve been following Andy Rementer’s Techno Tuesday comics since we worked together at Fabrica four years ago. Apart from being hilariously funny, Rementer’s (and the occasional guest writer’s) take on our world of ubiquitous computing is a great, sharp critique to our über-connected society: we laugh at the pathetic characters in his small vignettes not because they’re info-excluded, but because they’re info-dependent. Even if most of the stories (such a shame Rementer has only a few strips on archive, there is so much more Techno Tuesday to be seen) show nonsensical, weird or ridiculous situations, we can’t help to imagine they can actually be happening to someone, somewhere. And then we realize we may even find ourselves in their position one day. Who’ll be laughing then?
I’ve been practicing driving on the narrow streets of Brooklyn, though I try to avoid doing so most of the time. It’s not really necessary to drive often, because of the plentiful public transportation; I also have bad memories of that night in a MINI Cooper (another story, lads). But on those rare nights when I want to gallivant around Red Hook, make a Target run, or just go “cruisin,” I turn to my trusty Zipcar car-share. I log onto Zipcar.com, reserve a smokin’ Toyota Matrix and I’m on my way.
The concept of car-sharing has certainly gained popularity over the past few years. I first heard of car-sharing in California and thought it was merely a hippie phenomenon. However, Zipcar has spread from Albuquerque to Milwaukee to my neighborhood in the span of a few years. If Zipcar, and others like it, are successful, it will be because of the positive aspects of car-sharing as well as an easy to use web interface.
At Zipcar.com, I find my nearest Zipcar garage and see what cars are available at what time on the time-line. If my Matrix is already reserved, it is marked with the color gray. If I reserve it, my time shows up as green. Simple, absolutely. Click on the car of your choice and you see more details: cost, special features, etc. I only wish I could return my car early for credit instead of having to overestimate usage, or worse, pay a fine.
Can we learn to share the most our most prized possession, our identity as red-blooded Americans? In spite its great service and easy to use website, Zipcar assumes that we are willing to give away this one-on-one relationship. Zipcar offers a new type of experience, not exclusive, but open. My Matrix can see other people if it wants. It even has a name: “Mantilla.” But then again, I can drive other cars as well. I’ve had my eye on “Micklos,” a red MINI. I guess this could work out.
Since my dad does a lot of academic writing, it was sad for my family and frustrating for him as he lost much of his vision over the past few years. He had to abandon work on a couple of books, and couldn‘t keep reading others. Instead of giving up, he took to the streets and bought his favorite new toy: a TOPAZ desktop video magnifier.
Reviews of equipment like this are difficult to find. The only review I could gather that didn’t reek of propaganda was online courtesy of the Dr. Bill Takeshita Foundation:
The Topaz provided the widest field of view of any video magnifier we tested and it also has the largest working space between the camera and the X-Y table, a very important factor for people who will use the Topaz to write or to repair items. We wish the Topaz came standard with the ability to connect to a computer to share the same monitor for both the computer and the Topaz. Freedom Scientific has an optional computer connectivity module that easily plugs into the Topaz to allow users to connect their computer to the Topaz for $300. In summary, the Topaz is a very versatile video magnifier that works very well for reading, writing, and repair-work.
Woah, Dr. Takeshita, let’s not get too greedy. Seems like it performs its essential function (magnification of text and display) decently, and I can attest to that, having used it (and my dad likes it too): the camera that zooms into the page and displays the text onto a large LCD screen. Another interesting feature is the color toggle: you change the display to show bright yellow text over black pages. It was very disturbing to see all of my assumptions of what a reading experience is shattered as I followed the text from side to side with the camera, simulating the movement of the eye and displaying bright text on a screen.
Though this technology has a limited demographic, I wonder if it has any other applications. If not, at least someone is getting some use out of it. And don’t take your eye muscles for granted, people!