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robertogreco : disappearance   5

Final Boss Form — faeralyn: Metsänpeitto is a phenomenon found in...
"Metsänpeitto is a phenomenon found in Finnish folklore. It was used to describe people or domestic animals who went missing in nature for unexplained reasons.

People “covered by forest” were described as not being able to recognize the terrain around them, even if they were on familiar grounds. In other cases they might have walked endlessly through unfamiliar terrain, or were rendered completely paralyzed, unable to move or speak. Unnatural silence devoid of the sounds of nature was also common.

People or animals under the influence of the phenomenon were described as becoming either completely invisible to other people, or looking like part of the nature around them, like a rock. In one story a man had been looking for a missing cow for days. When he finally gave up and returned to his work, the first tree stump he struck with his axe transformed back into his cow.

The cause behind metsänpeitto was usually credited to maahinens, who were small humanoid creatures living underground (usually translated to English as “gnomes”). Some people managed to free themselves from metsänpeitto by their own means, for example by turning their jacket inside out, by switching their shoes to the wrong feet, or by looking between their own legs. This was because of the idea that everything was topsy-turvy in the lands of the maahinens. Some were released seemingly without reason, others only after being sought after by a shaman. Some were never seen again."
words  finnish  suomi  gnomes  invisibility  multipsecies  morethanhuman  nature  plants  animals  forests  rocks  missing  disappearance 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Letter of Recommendation: Ghosting - The New York Times
"In my father’s house, my stepmother cooks dinner. First she sweats the onions, then she sears the meat. On special occasions, she mixes dough with flour ground from enset, a plant that resembles the banana tree.

Enset has roots that are white, and when they’re ground into powder, it’s packed into little baggies. When my father travels to Ethiopia, he returns with these white baggies tucked into the pockets of his suitcase, which is one reason, among many, that it is difficult for him to cross the border and come home.

A few years ago, he began to disappear. First he skipped the onions, then he skipped the meat. Eventually he skipped the special occasions, and when he arrived home, after the baptism or graduation or wedding had long since ended, he had no desire to eat. When I asked him to explain his absences, he said, ‘‘Yes.’’ When I asked him where he kept disappearing off to, he said, ‘‘O.K.’’

If it weren’t for my father’s age (he’s 63), or for his eventual return, I would be tempted to call his unexplained absences by a name popular among young people: ghosting. The millennial neologism for an age-old conundrum, ‘‘ghosting’’ describes the situation in which a person — Tinder match, roommate, friend — exits a relationship swiftly and without discernible cause. Though its iterations are diffuse and occur along varying degrees of intimacy, the word is generally used by those who are left behind: ‘‘He ghosted me,’’ or ‘‘I was ghosted,’’ or ‘‘I was ghosted on.’’

Because I fear my father’s absence, I mimic his behavior and hope he might not be forgotten. I often close the channels of communication that I am expected to sustain, texting people I love only when I feel like it and answering the phone only when the caller is unknown. In November, the morning after the presidential election, a childhood friend sent me a text: ‘‘Sup?’’ I told him I was scared for my family. When he wrote back later that day to let me know that he, too, was scared — about his LSATs — I stopped responding; we haven’t spoken since. At a coffee shop, an Australian asked me what I was reading. I said, ‘‘ ‘Great Expectations,’ a terrible novel.’’ He told me he had gotten his Ph.D. studying apartheid and then wondered aloud which was more depressing: apartheid or the work of Charles Dickens. When he asked if I wanted to get a drink later that week to continue the conversation, I said, ‘‘O.K.’’ but never showed up.

According to the internet, this is very bad behavior. If you care about someone, and even if you don’t, you are meant to explain — in terms both clean and fair — why you are unable to fulfill the terms of their attachment: ‘‘I feel sick,’’ or ‘‘I have depression,’’ or ‘‘You are boring, and I am disappointed.’’ Those of us who neglect to disclose the seed of our indifference, or neglect to disclose the fact of our indifference altogether, are typically assumed to be selfish.

It’s no coincidence that ghosting arose as a collective fascination at a time of peak connectivity. When friends and acquaintances are almost always a swipe and a tap within reach, disappearing without a trace cuts especially deep. But the very function of ghosting is to halt the flow of information, and nearly every explainer written in its name — ‘‘How to Deal With Being Ghosted,’’ ‘‘How to Tell If You’re About to Be Ghosted,’’ ‘‘Why Friends Ghost on Even Their Closest Pals’’ — berates those who ghost for intentionally spinning silence into pain. Ghosters withhold information whose admission would be likely to provide relief in others, manipulating the terms of friendship, kinship and romantic love to appear in favor of a life lived in private.

If healthy relationships — especially in the digital age — are predicated on answerability, it makes sense that a lack of communication would feel like a breach of trust. But articulating negative feelings with tact is a task most often assigned to those whose feelings are assumed to be trivial. When fear for my family — black, migratory and therefore targets of the state — is equated with the mundane anxiety of a standardized test, I find it a relief to absent myself from the calculation. Saying, without anger, ‘‘This is how you hurt me’’ feels routine, like a ditty, and articulating the need for isolation — ‘‘Now I intend to disappear’’ — is always a betrayal of the need itself. Because society demands that people of color both accept offense and facilitate its reconciliation, we are rarely afforded the privacy we need. Ghosting, then, provides a line of flight. Freed from the ties that hurt us, or bore us, or make us feel uneasy, finally we can turn our attention inward.

Some months after my father began to arrive at dinner on time, he drove me through the neighborhood by his office, a route we had driven many times before. I asked him, once again, where he had run off to all those nights. Pulling over to the side of the road, he said, ‘‘There is an excellent meditation studio inside that building.’’ I looked at the building, which looked like nothing. Confused, I asked him what he knew about meditation. ‘‘I know much about meditation,’’ he told me. ‘‘I came here once daily. I meditated, I ate my dinner and, when I was finished, I returned home.’’

The information, it seemed, had become necessary. My father, like the rest of us, was just trying to get better."
antiblackness  poc  blackness  ghosting  2017  meditation  self-improvement  reltionships  digitalage  connectedness  answerability  emotions  flight  freedom  provacy  solitude  inwardness  attention  communication  isolation  kinship  disappearance 
august 2017 by robertogreco
ying gao - designer
"2 interactive dresses, Super organza, photoluminescent thread, PVDF, electronic devices.

The project was inspired by the essay entitled "Esthétique de la disparition" (The aesthetic of disappearance), by Paul Virilio (1979). " Absence often occurs at breakfast time – the tea cup dropped, then spilled on the table being one of its most common consequences. Absence lasts but a few seconds, its beginning and end are sudden. However closed to outside impressions, the senses are awake. The return is as immediate as the departure, the suspended word or movement is picked up where it was left off as conscious time automatically reconstructs itself, thus becoming continuous and free of any apparent interruption. " The series comprising two (2) dresses, made of photoluminescent thread and imbedded eye tracking technology, is activated by spectators' gaze. A photograph is said to be “spoiled” by blinking eyes – here however, the concept of presence and of disappearance are questioned, as the experience of chiaroscuro (clarity/obscurity) is achieved through an unfixed gaze."
fashion  wearable  wearables  gaze  yinggao  presence  disappearance  chiaroscuro  clarity  obscurity  paulvirilio  absence  photoluminescence  vision 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Before Minecraft or Snapchat, there was MicroMUSE – Robin Sloan – Aeon
"As kids, we make secret worlds – in trees, in our imaginations, even online – but can we go back to them when we’re grown?"



"If you explore MicroMUSE today, you’ll get a preview of the fate that awaits all of our social systems. The streets are empty, but it’s more than that: there is a palpable sense of entropy. You can query the system for a list of commands, but many of them no longer work. It’s half glitchy video game, half haunted house. Sometimes it falls offline entirely, only to return days later.

The system still speaks. You are welcomed by the transporter attendant, who gives directions to all newcomers to this space city. It cautions you: Clear communication is very important in a text-based environment…

When I logged in again after many years away – connected directly, no Gopher required, using the Terminal program on my MacBook, sleek descendant of that old Mac Plus – the first thing I did was look for Nib’s Knoll. In truth, I wasn’t sure where to begin. I had long forgotten the path through the holodeck. There were ways to teleport but, to teleport, you need to know where you’re going, and MicroMUSE wouldn’t, or couldn’t, reveal the location of my old home.

It is very likely that it no longer exists, swept away in a database purge sometime during the past 15 years. I mean, really very likely. Ninety-five percent likely.

And yet, the ghostliness of present-day MicroMUSE – the inability of the system to deliver a definitive yea or nay – leaves space for a dim hope. I wander the empty streets, and I see familiar places: structures and descriptions I remember from the mid-1990s. I remember the things I built with Hacker VII, and the feeling that followed when they actually worked. I remember the scrum of users; there would be five or six of us gathered in a room, and it would seem like a crowd, a veritable riot of life.

Hacker VII’s real name was Joe VanDeventer, and today Joe is a web developer in Chicago. Nib Noals’s real name was Robin Sloan, and today I am a writer in San Francisco.

Both of these paths were prefigured almost perfectly on MicroMUSE. All we did there – all we could do – was program and write. Build and describe. Every additional feature called for more words: words to tell a user what he or she was doing, words to show everyone else. It was a whole world made of words. It was the web before the web; it was a novel that could stand up and speak.

I don’t mean to mythologise a crusty old system; its innocence and simplicity were handicaps as much as they were virtues. But even so, I’m grateful that MicroMUSE, of all places, was my training ground. Social systems have values – arguments baked into their design. For example, Twitter’s core argument seems to be: everything should be public, and messages should find the largest audience possible. Snapchat’s might be: communication should be private and ephemeral. The video game Counter-Strike’s is almost certainly: aim for the head. Back in 1994, MicroMUSE’s core argument was: language is all you need. If you can write, it can be real.

I left the holodeck, but I never abandoned that notion.

It is, frankly, miraculous that MicroMUSE still runs at all. It’s not hosted by MIT anymore; the system has migrated to a server called MuseNet. If you can get yourself to a command prompt, you can type ‘telnet micromuse.musenet.org 4201’ and walk the empty streets yourself."
robinsloan  2014  minecraft  muse  micromuse  play  childhood  worldbuilding  imagaination  computers  creativity  online  internet  degradation  disappearance  digitalartifacts 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Learning From Legos - NYTimes.com
"WHEN I was a boy, my father, an architect, attempted a no-toy policy, with the significant exception that he’d buy my brother and me almost anything — any birthday, holiday or restless rainy Saturday — as long as it was Lego.

And so, if I needed a gun, I made it with Legos. The same with a walkie-talkie. And a lie detector. And all the life-size artifacts — let’s face it, mostly weapons — that were then my heart’s desire. Plus every scale-model spaceship, supertruck, planetary fortress, recombinant Tyrannosaurus and transforming robot.

These days Lego — with its namesake movie’s opening weekend box office of $69 million, and with global sales revenue tripling, recession-proof, between 2007 and 2012 — appears to be something more than just a Danish construction toy based on snap-together plastic bricks. Some of the film’s success comes from the charm of its intrepid construction worker hero and goth-ninja heroine, both remarkably expressive despite the limitations of Lego figurines’ cylindrical heads and hands.

But the film’s celebration of adaptive improvisation and spontaneous mythmaking also resonates deeply with our current moment of so-called maker culture. Thanks to new rapid-prototyping technologies like computer numerical control milling and 3-D printing, we’ve seen a convergence between hacker and hipster, between high-tech coding and the low-tech artisanal craft behind everything from Etsy to Burning Man.

Whether it’s Google’s first server rack having been made of Lego-like bricks (pragmatically cheap, heat-resistant and reconfigurable) at Stanford in 1996, or the programmable Lego bricks developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Architecture Machine Group (later the Media Lab where, no coincidence, my father worked), Lego is literally built into the computational and architectural history of maker culture.

And it is, in a special way, an architectural history. “A small interior world of color and form now came within grasp of small fingers,” wrote Frank Lloyd Wright about his 9-year-old self in a 1943 autobiographical sketch. “These ‘Gifts’ came into the gray house” and “made something live here.” These were the famous Froebel Blocks, educational wooden building blocks in systematic shapes and sizes developed in the 1840s by Friedrich Froebel, the inventor of kindergarten.

“The smooth shapely maple blocks with which to build, the sense of which never afterward leaves the fingers; so form became feeling. These primary forms were the secret of all effects,” Wright recalled, “which were ever got into the architecture of the world.” Wright’s son John would complete the circle, inventing in 1916 the construction toy that came to be known as Lincoln Logs.

Architectural historians have sought origins for Wright’s innovative organic architecture — his long horizontals and pinwheel plans — in the geometries of his toys, even reconstructing his early house designs using the Froebel Blocks themselves.

I suspect that the connection isn’t that literal. But it is certainly primal, and visceral, to do with the idea of making and unmaking, and the complex relationships of parts to wholes, and brokenness to wholeness.

Once, detouring through a parking-lot flea market, I stumbled across some Froebel Blocks from Wright’s era, stacked as tightly and delicately as the dovetail joints of their original wooden box. Froebel Blocks are collectible antiques, but these were flea-market finds and not auctioneers’ goods because they had been methodically defaced by years of scribbled arabesques in Magic Marker, in a child’s hand.

I discovered that these lines traveled continuously from block to block, and that by carefully aligning the distinctly colored arcs and loops of the markings, I could reconstruct all the arrangements into which the blocks had been built — those magic marks the inadvertent blueprints for a forgotten memory palace.

I remember the fugue of that reconstruction, low on the ground below a flea market table. I remember the astonishing intimacy of visiting a stranger’s childhood, and how that intimacy somehow caused me to delay actually buying this treasure. I circled the flea market, and returned to find it gone.

Maker culture, like Lego, is about loss. All building-block toys are about appearance and disappearance, demolition and reconstruction. Maker culture, for all its love of stuff, is similarly a culture of resourcefulness in an era of economic scarcity: relentless in its iterative prototyping, its radically adaptive reuse of ready-made objects, its tendency to unmake one thing to make another — all in a new ecology of economy.

When my brother and I wanted a new toy, we cannibalized whatever we’d made before, which had been made of all the things we’d ever made before that. So of all those years of guns and starships, I have only that Wrightian feeling for form in the fingertips — and the sound, somewhere between rustling and clinking, of a thousand plastic pieces tumbling from an overturned bucket into a disorderly pile, rippling away from a seeking hand.

I remember the last thing I ever made of Lego, far later into adolescence than I should admit. It was a robot that, thanks to double-jointed hinges, could continually reconfigure itself without being disassembled. And in this sense it was anti-Lego, capable of being remade without being unmade. I knew that it was the most I could ever do in the medium, and the end of an era. It drifted back into that bucket.

A quarter-century later I saw the same bucket opened and overturned by a young nephew. And there, like a time traveler, was this same robot. Mostly just its legs, standing Ozymandias-like in a pile of bricks. I reached for it, but not faster than my nephew, who, recognizing an accretion of especially useful pieces, instantly dissolved it with his hands. One of Wright’s secrets of all effects must be this: Because nothing comes from nothing, and nothing goes entirely out of the world, you have to take things apart if you seek to put everything together."
2014  thomsdemonchaux  making  makerculture  resourcefulness  lego  invention  franklloydwright  froebelblocks  froebeltoys  building  construction  unmaking  dissolution  prototyping  adaptivereuse  reuse  scarcity  materials  toys  play  appearance  disappearance  reconstruction  ecology 
march 2014 by robertogreco

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