Archive for April, 2011

Realistic Human Robot Controlled by thoughts Speech Recognition

Posted in Uncategorized on April 22, 2011 by pauljohnwhite

Street art by Kurt Wenner

Posted in Uncategorized on April 15, 2011 by pauljohnwhite

 

 
This was the first interactive 3D street painting, combining real people with their painted reflections. It was created during a  street painting festival for a Swiss-German documentary in 1987 at Grazie Di Curtatone, Italy. This was the first interactive 3D street painting, combining real people with their painted reflections. It was created during a street painting festival for a Swiss-German documentary in 1987 at Grazie Di Curtatone, Italy.

Nathaniel Mellor: Singing Android Heads

Posted in Uncategorized on April 13, 2011 by pauljohnwhite

Many robots are made with the idea of further research, testing the limitations of technology or studying the potential of artificial intelligence, but some are designed simply to haunt your nightmares. It is hard to imagine what other purpose they might possibly have.

The video at the end displays three singing heads at the Art Basel Miami Beach 2009, a $75,000 art piece by Nathaniel Mellor. The wax faces are incredibly realistic, yet with their large, possessed eyes and electrical wiring sticking out the back of their heads, incredibly terrifying as well. The muscle sensors in their faces, controlled by a computer, provide exactly those unpredictable twitches and movements that make them so uncanny. The creepy aura is intensified by the ghost-like trembles that run through their exteriors from time to time.

As you can tell from the video at the end of this post, their appearance is not necessarily the most disturbing part. The disembodied heads randomly burst into a strange, moaning chorus, chanting “freedom” over and over again. Almost as if they want to grow their own bodies and walks out of the exhibit to explore the world, like perfectly horrifying monsters. The only thing that cheapens the spectacle a little bit are the large speakers behind the heads, which makes it obvious where the voices are actually coming from. This, however, is not a problem that can’t be easily corrected.

What is their potential use besides props for horror movies or Halloween parties? It is not exactly clear, but from an artistic point of view, this is a work of genius. It taps into some of people’s biggest fears, and is sure to give anyone seeing the display for the first time a bit of a fright.

Can robots get any creepier than this? Never say never, but one shudders to think what else they can come up with especially considering that it was just 3 years ago that android skin was perfected. (From Robotics Zeitgeist: Artificial Intelligence and Robotics blog: http://robotzeitgeist.com/tag/nathaniel-mellor)

The Black Mirror – influences in art and literature

Posted in Uncategorized on April 13, 2011 by pauljohnwhite

“In 1966, the British Museum acquired a curious object of convoluted provenance and sinister reputation. It is a black disc of highly polished stone, 1.3cm thick and 18.9cm in diameter, with a small handle-like protrusion to one side, pierced with a tiny hole. The thing is plainly a mirror of sorts, small enough to be held in the hand, and carved – so the museum established, after centuries of confusion – from obsidian: the glassy stone from which the Aztecs fashioned their ritual implements. It is usually exhibited alongside a desiccated and much-repaired flat leather case to which are attached two labels. The first, dating from 1842, when the “wondrous speculum” was sold at auction, simply says “Lot 48”. The second inscription is from the late 18th century, and likely quickens the hearts of serious scholars and New Age occultists alike: “The Black Stone into which Dr Dee used to call his spirits.”

The handwriting belongs to its former owner, Horace Walpole. The politician and collector seems to have chanced upon the enigmatic slab (which he thought was made of marble) in the collection of Lord Frederic Campbell, who was at a loss to say just what it was for. But Walpole was well apprised of the life of John Dee, the Elizabethan astronomer and conjurer who fell in and out of favour with the Queen, and was said to have communed regularly with the angels Gabriel and Raphael. Indeed, an excitable legend concerning his ink-black mirror or “scrying stone” states that it was given to him by one of these angelic interlocutors. The more plausible story has it that Dee bought the stone from a member of the Spanish court, and that it is an Aztec artefact of the late middle ages.

Dee’s black mirror does not appear in The Dark Monarch, the current show at Tate St Ives that posits hitherto unheeded links between “magic and modernity” in British art of the past century or so. It has in fact been restored to its historical and cultural context as part of the British Museum’s Moctezuma exhibition. But avatars of the mysterious and depthless stone are everywhere in the St Ives show, which seems, like the magician himself, to be in thrall to the spirited seductions of gleaming black objects and darkly reflective planes. It’s not simply a dusky Gothicism that seizes on artists as diverse as Barbara Hepworth and Derek Jarman, Graham Sutherland and Cerith Wyn Evans. Nor does the show merely return us to the familiar gloom and swirl of fin-de-siècle mysticism. Instead, it sets up a relay between modern and contemporary art and much older strains of occult thought. The black mirror (which historically fascinated artist and magus in equal measure) is actually and allegorically a portal between the most arcane practices and the mainstream of British painting and sculpture.

As an occult accoutrement, the black mirror has a venerable history. The belief that spirits could be summoned in a dark glass or smooth stone goes back at least as far as Euclid, who writes of images appearing in the space between the viewer and the magic surface into which he peers. By the 14th century, scrying with a black stone or a convex glass mirror was widely held to be a common practice among witches. (In fact, by an odd semantic sleight, the object itself came to be known as “the witch”.) So tenacious was the fear of such unholy rituals that in 1318 Pope John XXII published a letter decrying catoptromancy or divination by mirrors, and eight years later issued a bull, Super illius specula, that excommunicated all those engaging in the idolatrous art. During seances in the 16th century, demons were said to have been summoned from the depths of mirrors, and as late as the 18th century it seems the church was still pursuing adepts of the dark glass: an account from 1712 describes the arrest of a catoptromancer at the School of Theology in Paris.

There is something deeply seductive about the image of a pristine surface that frames unspeakable possibilities, so it is not surprising that a small literary canon has grown around the motif of the black mirror. In the extremely eccentric 15th-century Italian dream narrative Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, the protagonist finds himself in an avenue whose marble walls have been inlaid with two perfect circles of jet, so that he is mirrored to infinity. Five centuries later, Truman Capote’s short story “Music for Chameleons” seems to unfold in the depths of a black mirror, the “senseless flickerings” of which recall an untuned television. And in his fatally recursive tale “The Mirror of Ink”, Jorge Luis Borges makes a black mirror – or rather its common variant, a small pool of ink poured into the hand – the instrument of a terrible revenge.

In such stories, the black surface seems to function as a mise-en-abyme, swallowing among endless reflections those who dare to face it. It’s perhaps this aspect of self-reference that several of the artists in The Dark Monarch respond to, alongside the more elemental, occult properties of the black mirror. Jeremy Millar’s Assemblage I is an expanded replica of a Sol LeWitt sculpture from the mid-1970s (somewhat resembling a modular display unit) to which have been added certain ritual elements, including an obsidian disc and a hefty clump of fragments of the same material. The self-involved stones seem to leach energy from the surrounding structure, biding their time before deploying their revelatory power. Simon Periton’s Mint Snoopier is a convex, oval mirror, elaborately patterned in silver and black and placed ominously above a gallery door. And Eva Rothshchild’s sculpture Actualisation – which consists of two glass globes: one black, the other transparent – summons the most familiar image of fairground crystallomancy and at the same time essays an elegant reflection on what is seen and unseen, manifest and occulted.”

Quote from review of  Tate exhibition The Dark Monarch: Magic and Modernity in British Art. Found at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/oct/24/dark-monarch-exhibition-tate-review

Video found at: http://www.tate.org.uk/stives/exhibitions/dark-monarch/default.shtm

The Psychedelic Pineal

Posted in Uncategorized on April 11, 2011 by pauljohnwhite

The most general hypothesis is that the pineal gland produces psychedelic amounts of DMT at extraordinary times of our lives. Pineal DMT production is the physical representation of non-material, or energetic, processes. It provides us with the vehicle to consciously experience the movement of our life-force in its most extreme manifestations. Specific examples of this phenomenon are the following:

When our individual life force enters our fetal body, the movement in which we become truly human, it passes through the pineal and triggers the first primordial flood of DMT.

Later, at birth, the pineal releases more DMT.

In some of us, pineal DMT mediates the pivitol experiences of deep meditation, psychosis, and near-death experiences.

As we die, the life-force leaves the body through the pineal gland, releasing another flood of this psychedelic spirit molecule. (Strassman 2001: pp68-69)

Let’s now consider less pathological, but also relatively common and naturally occurring, altered states of awareness in which pineal DMT may play a role. Dream consciousness is one of these.

The most likely time for us to dream is also the time at which melatonin levels are highest, that is, around 3am.

Jace Callaway, Ph.D., has suggested that pineal derived beta-carbolines may mediate dreams.

Meditation or prayer also may elicit deeply altered states of consciousness. Pineal DMT production could underlie these mystical or spiritual experiences.

All spiritual disciplines describe quite psychedelic accounts of the transformative experiences, whose attainment motivate their practice. Blinding white light, encounters with demonic and angelic entities, ecstatic emotions, timelessness, heavenly sounds, feelings of having died and been reborn, contacting a powerful and loving presence underlying all of reality – these experiences cut across all denominations. They also are characteristic of a fully psychedelic DMT experience. (Strassman 2001: 73)

Perhaps in order to fully “let go” into any powerful emotional experience as adults we need a baseline of a safe and secure resolution to our first naturally occurring “high-dose DMT session,” which accompanies the birth process. Otherwise, later, as an adult, exposure to such unusual and unexpected states throws us into a completely unfamiliar set of experiences, disorientating and frightening us. (Strassman 2001: 76)

Compare life and death: the state of being alive to that of being dead. One moment we are thinking, moving, and feeling. Cells are dividing, replacing dying ones with fresh recruits for the liver, lung, skin, and heart. The next moment we are no longer breathing; our heart has pumped its last beat. What is the difference? What’s gone that was just there?

There is something that “enlivens” us when joined with our body. When present in matter, it shows itself by way of movement and heat. In the brain, it provides the power to receive, and transform into awareness, our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. When it is gone, the light is extinguished and the engine stops. Whatever it is, the presence of this enlivening force provides us the opportunity to interact with this time and place. (Strassman 2001: pp80-81)

I already knew that the Tibetan Buddhist Book of the Dead teaches that it takes forty-nine days for the soul of the recently dead to “reincarnate.” …I discovered this same forty-nine-day interval marking two landmark events in human embryo formation. It takes forty-nine days from conception for the first signs of the human pineal to appear. Forty-nine days is also when the fetus differentiates into male or female gender. Thus the soul’s rebirth, the pineal, and the sexual organs all require forty-nine days before they manifest.

As we die, if near-death experiences are any indication, there is a profound shift in consciousness away from identification with the body.
All the factors…combine for one final burst of DMT production: catecholamine release; decreased breakdown and increased formation of DMT; reduced anti-DMT; and decomposing pineal tissue. Therefore it may be that the pineal is the most active organ in the body at the time of death…The consequence of this flood of DMT upon our dying brain-based mind is a pulling back of the veils normally hiding what Tibetan Buddhists call the bardo, or intermediary states between this life and the next. (Strassman 2001: pp81-82)

Unmetabolized tendencies…can enter the fetus only when it is “ready.” This readiness may require forty-nine days, too, and may take the form of a pineal gland able to synthesize DMT. The pineal could act as an antenna or lightning rod for the soul…This is the dawning of consciousness, of mind, of awareness as a distinct biological and sexual entity. Until this forty-nine day watershed, the fetus may be only a physical, rather than a physical-spiritual, being. (Strassman 2001: 83)

Second skin

Posted in Uncategorized on April 11, 2011 by pauljohnwhite

The Object Body and the Lived Body

Posted in Uncategorized on April 6, 2011 by pauljohnwhite

Nurses…help people with the experience of living with and through what is happening to their bodies during illness, recovery or dying – times when the body can dominate existence. Nurses are, therefore, centrally concerned with the object body (an objective and material thing) and the lived body (the body as it is experienced by living people). They are concerned with integrating the object body with the lived body. This is what I have termed somology, that is, understanding the body as an integration of the object body (the thing) into experience so that it is simultaneously an object, a means of experience, a means of expression, a manner of presence amoung other people, and a part of one’s personal identity.
Jocalyn Lawler, Behind The Screens – Nursing, Somology, and the Problem of the Body. (1991) page 29