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Aftel Archive of Curious Scents
[https://www.yelp.com/biz/aftel-archive-of-curious-scents-berkeley ]

"Hi, I'm Mandy Aftel! I fell in love with natural aromatics more than twenty-five years ago, and I have had the privilege to live and work in their world ever since. In my practice of perfumery, I have curated thousands of gorgeous essences from all over the world, many of them antiques themselves. I have written 4 books about natural perfumes, and teach people how to create natural perfumes through my workbooks and in-studio classes."
senses  smells  berkeley  togo  via:derek  bayarea 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Dodie Bellany: Academonia
"In this lively, entertaining collection of essays, Dodie Bellamy has written not only a helpful pedagogical tool, but an epic narrative of survival against institutional deadening and the proscriptiveness that shoots the young writer like poison darts from all sides. By the 90s funding for the arts had dwindled and graduate writing programs—“cash cows”—had risen to fill the slack. Simultaneously, literary production moved from an unstable, at times frightening street culture where experiment was privileged beyond all else, to an institutionalized realm—Academonia!—that enforces, or tends to enforce, conservative aesthetic values.

Among the questions Bellamy raises: how does the writer figure out how to write? How will she claim her content among censorious voices? Can the avant-garde create forms that speak to political and spiritual crisis? Can desire exist in a world of networking structures? To the keepers of the status quo, what is so goddamned scary about experimental writing? Bellamy’s textual body morphs through sex, ravenous hunger, aging, displacement, cuddling with animals. Along the way she invokes Levi Strauss, Kurosawa, Marvin Gaye, Christiane (the faceless daughter in Georges Franju’s 1959 horror classic Eyes Without a Face), Alice Munro, Michael Moore, Quan Yin, Cinderella, and the beheaded heroine Lady Jane Grey. On Foucault’s grid of invisible assumptions, Academonia casts a blacklight vision, making it glow in giddy FX splendor.

*****

There are the institutions that are created without our input and the institutions that we create with others. Both sorts of institutions define us without our consent. Dodie Bellamy’s Academonia explores the prickly intersection among these spaces as it moves through institutions such as the academy, the experimental writing communities of the Bay Area, feminist and sexual identities, and group therapy. Continuing the work that she began in The Letters of Mina Harker pushing memoir and confession out of its safety zones and into its difficulties, this book provokes as it critiques and yet at the same time manages to delight with its hope.

--Juliana Spahr

Way back in the seventies, and before Bellamy, pastiche and bricolage as applied to literature made me yawn. Smug attacks on linear narrative through the use of tired language games aroused my contempt. As far as I was concerned, theory had ruined fiction by making critic and artist too intimate. Then Bellamy’s pioneering graftings of storytelling, theory and fractured metaphor changed all that, giving birth to a new avant-garde. Her writing sweeps from one mode of thought to another in absolute freedom, eviscerating hackneyed constructs about desire and language and stuffing them with a fascinating hodgepodge of sparkling sensory fragments. The result is true postmodernism, not the shallow dilettantism of the “postmodern palette.” She sustains it on page after page, weaving together sex and philosophy, fusing trash with high culture, injecting theory with the pathos of biography and accomplishing nothing less than a fresh and sustained lyricism. What is more, her transfiguration of the trivial details of life by the mechanisms of irony, fantasy, disjunction, nostalgia and perverse point of view prove that it’s not the life you live that matters, but how you tell it.

--Bruce Benderson"
writing  howwewrite  books  dodiebellany  institutions  proscriptiveness  academonia  academia  highered  highereducation  akirakurosawa  levistrauss  marvingaye  alicemonroe  michaelmoore  quanyin  cinderella  ladyjanegrey  foucault  institutionalization  julianaspahr  brucebenderson  bricolage  literature  linearity  form  feedom  structure  language  senses  sensory  postmodernism  dilettantism  culture  bayarea  experimental  experimentation  art  arts  funding  streetculture  2006 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Children learn best when engaged in the living world not on screens | Aeon Essays
"As a parent, it is obvious that children learn more when they engage their entire body in a meaningful experience than when they sit at a computer. If you doubt this, just observe children watching an activity on a screen and then doing the same activity for themselves. They are much more engaged riding a horse than watching a video about it, playing a sport with their whole bodies rather than a simulated version of it in an online game.

Today, however, many powerful people are pushing for children to spend more time in front of computer screens, not less. Philanthropists such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have contributed millions of dollars to ‘personal learning’, a term that describes children working by themselves on computers, and Laurene Powell Jobs has bankrolled the XQ Super School project to use technology to ‘transcend the confines of traditional teaching methodologies’. Policymakers such as the US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos call personalised learning ‘one of the most promising developments in K-12 education’, and Rhode Island has announced a statewide personalised learning push for all public school students. Think tanks such as the Brookings Institution recommend that Latin-American countries build ‘massive e-learning hubs that reach millions’. School administrators tout the advantages of giving all students, including those at kindergarten, personal computers.

Many adults appreciate the power of computers and the internet, and think that children should have access to them as soon as possible. Yet screen learning displaces other, more tactile ways to discover the world. Human beings learn with their eyes, yes, but also their ears, nose, mouth, skin, heart, hands, feet. The more time kids spend on computers, the less time they have to go on field trips, build model airplanes, have recess, hold a book in their hands, or talk with teachers and friends. In the 21st century, schools should not get with the times, as it were, and place children on computers for even more of their days. Instead, schools should provide children with rich experiences that engage their entire bodies.

To better understand why so many people embrace screen learning, we can turn to a classic of 20th-century French philosophy: Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception (1945).

According to Merleau-Ponty, European philosophy has long prioritised ‘seeing’ over ‘doing’ as a path to understanding. Plato, René Descartes, John Locke, David Hume, Immanuel Kant: each, in different ways, posits a gap between the mind and the world, the subject and the object, the thinking self and physical things. Philosophers take for granted that the mind sees things from a distance. When Descartes announced ‘I think therefore I am’, he was positing a fundamental gulf between the thinking self and the physical body. Despite the novelty of digital media, Merleau-Ponty would contend that Western thought has long assumed that the mind, not the body, is the site of thinking and learning.

According to Merleau-Ponty, however, ‘consciousness is originally not an “I think that”, but rather an “I can”’. In other words, human thinking emerges out of lived experience, and what we can do with our bodies profoundly shapes what philosophers think or scientists discover. ‘The entire universe of science is constructed upon the lived world,’ he wrote. Phenomenology of Perception aimed to help readers better appreciate the connection between the lived world and consciousness.

Philosophers are in the habit of saying that we ‘have’ a body. But as Merleau-Ponty points out: ‘I am not in front of my body, I am in my body, or rather I am my body.’ This simple correction carries important implications about learning. What does it mean to say that I am my body?

The mind is not somehow outside of time and space. Instead, the body thinks, feels, desires, hurts, has a history, and looks ahead. Merleau-Ponty invented the term ‘intentional arc’ to describe how consciousness connects ‘our past, our future, our human milieu, our physical situation, our ideological situation, and our moral situation’. He makes readers attend to the countless aspects of the world that permeate our thinking.

Merleau-Ponty challenges us to stop believing that the human mind transcends the rest of nature. Humans are thinking animals whose thinking is always infused with our animality. As the cognitive scientist Alan Jasanoff explains in a recent Aeon essay, it is even misleading to idealise the brain independent of the rest of the viscera. The learning process happens when an embodied mind ‘gears’ into the world.

Take the example of dancing. From a Cartesian perspective, the mind moves the body like a puppeteer pulls strings to move a puppet. To learn to dance, in this paradigm, a person needs to memorise a sequence of steps. For Merleau-Ponty, on the contrary, the way to learn to dance is to move one’s physical body in space: ‘in order for the new dance to integrate particular elements of general motricity, it must first have received, so to speak, a motor consecration.’ The mind does not reflect and make a conscious decision before the body moves; the body ‘catches’ the movement.

Philosophers have long attributed a spectatorial stance to the mind, when in fact the body participates in the world. It is common sense that the head is the ‘seat of thought’, but ‘the principal regions of my body are consecrated to actions’, and the ‘parts of my body participate in their value’. People learn, think and value with every part of their bodies, and our bodies know things that we can never fully articulate in words.

Surely, one could reply, this might be true for physical activities such as dancing but does not apply to all intellectual pursuits. Merleau-Ponty would respond: ‘The body is our general means of having a world.’ Everything we learn, think or know emanates from our body. It is by walking through a meadow, hiking beside a river, and boating down a lake that we are able to appreciate the science of geography. It is by talking with other people and learning their stories that we can appreciate literature. Buying food for our family infuses us with a conviction that we need to learn mathematics. We cannot always trace the route from experience to knowledge, from a childhood activity to adult insight. But there is no way for us to learn that bypasses the body: ‘the body is our anchorage in a world’.

Merleau-Ponty would not be surprised if people showed him students learning on a screen. Students can project themselves into the world that they see on a screen, just as many people are capable of thinking abstractly. As long as children have had some exposure to the world and other people, they should be able to make some sense of what they see on screens.

Still, Merleau-Ponty gives us reasons to resist the trend towards computer-based education. Proponents of personalised learning point to the advantages of having kids on computers for much of the school day, including students working at their own pace to meet learning objectives. However, from a phenomenological perspective, it is not clear why students will want to do this for very long when the experience is so removed from their flesh-and-blood lives. Teachers and parents will have to use incentives, threats and medication to make children sit at computers for long stretches of time when children want to run, play, paint, eat, sing, compete and laugh. To put it bluntly: advocates of screen learning sometimes seem to forget that children are young animals that want to move in the world, not watch it from a distance."
children  learning  nature  bodies  education  schools  howwelearn  2018  nicholastampio  howwethink  mauricemerleau-ponty  1945  plato  descartes  johnlocke  kant  davidhume  perception  screens  digital  technology  senses  personalization  sfsh  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  body 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Jacob Sam-La Rose en Instagram: “Decluttering. These are the keepers. I harbour a fantasy of my future kids being fascinated with these in the same way I raided my mother’s…”
"Decluttering. These are the keepers. I harbour a fantasy of my future kids being fascinated with these in the same way I raided my mother’s record collection. Not just for the music itself, but the cover design, the appeal of the tangible object... In a digital world, it’s good to have analog anchors..."

[Commented: "Oh, those spacial, ambient, tactile, smell, taste, and sound memories that come from the places where we are raised. Swoon. I just tracked down a book about whales that was in our house as a child. I’d been referencing it for years without remembering the name (The Whale), but recalling so many details of its contents and the situations I was in while pouring over the book. The confines of small-ish collections encourage repeated reencounters that just don’t come as easily in the near infinite expanse of YouTube, Spotify, etc. Maybe this is why I have been so keen to create my on digital collections, something that I can move around in over and over again?"]

[See also: https://www.instagram.com/p/BmL5xv5HcOo/]
jacobsam-larose  2018  decluttering  memory  space  sound  music  collections  senses  mariekondo  taste  smell  sounds  place  finite  curation  tangible  tactile  analog  digital  books  childhood  memories 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Are.na: Who Touched Me? - Fred Moten and Wu Tsang
[as described here:
https://www.are.na/blog/case%20study/2018/05/31/queer-technologies.html

"Moten and Tsang’s Who Touched Me? is a study in communicative ruptures. The print publication documents the development of their collaborative performance Gravitational Feel, described to embody the yet-to-be-realized work in its “virtual state.” Notes, poetry, and fragments of earlier collaborative work are framed by transcribed voicemails untethered from their original speaker. It follows Tsang and Moten’s correspondence chronologically, but their voices meld together with both each other’s and those of outsiders. Words and phrases repeat and resurface, sometimes in the form of a list, as though it were a conversational index. In the words of Moten and Tsang, “the research/experiment is how to sense entanglement.”"
fredmoten  wutsang  are.na  entanglement  senses  correspondence  books  artbooks  collaboration  relationships  conversation  performance 
june 2018 by robertogreco
GhostFood on Vimeo
"GhostFood explores eating in a future of and biodiversity loss brought on by climate change. The GhostFood mobile food trailer serves scent-food pairings that are consumed by the public using a wearable device that adapts human physiology to enable taste experiences of unavailable foods.

Created in collaboration with Miriam Songster. Commissioned by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation for Marfa Dialogues/NY, with additional support provided by Takasago, NextFab Studios and Whole Foods. Marfa Dialogues/NY is a collaboration between the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Ballroom Marfa and the Public Concern Foundation. GhostFood was presented by Gallery Aferro in Newark, Rauschenberg Project Space in New York and by SteamWorkPhilly in Philadelphia."
2014  food  miriamsimun  miriamsongster  climatechange  speculativefiction  speculativedesign  physiology  taste  smell  senses  ghostfood  extinction  cod  fish  peanuts  cocoa  flavor  multisensory  flavors 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Worlds of sense and sensing the world: a response to Sarah Pink and David Howes
"In a recent debate with Sarah Pink in the pages of Social Anthropology, concerning the prospects for an anthropology that would highlight the work of the senses in human experience, David Howes objects to what I have myself written on this topic, specifically in my book The Perception of the Environment (Ingold 2000). In doing so, he distorts my arguments on six counts. In this brief response, I set the record straight on each count, and argue for a regrounding of the virtual worlds of sense, to which Howes directs our attention, in the practicalities of sensing the world."

[See also: "The future of sensory anthropology/the anthropology of the senses"
https://monoskop.org/images/5/54/Pink_Sarah_2010_The_Future_of_Sensory_Anthropology_The_Anthropology_of_the_Senses.pdf ]
sarahpink  davidhowes  sensoryethnography  senses  ethnography  socialsciences  multisensory  anthropology  timingold  2011  perception  phenomenology  visualstudies  culture  sensoryanthropology 
may 2018 by robertogreco
François Laplantine: The Life of the Senses: Introduction to a Modal Anthropology (2005/2015) — Monoskop Log
"“Both a vital theoretical work and a fine illustration of the principles and practice of sensory ethnography, this much anticipated translation is destined to figure as a major catalyst in the expanding field of sensory studies.

Drawing on his own fieldwork in Brazil and Japan and a wide range of philosophical, literary and cinematic sources, the author outlines his vision for a ‘modal anthropology’. François Laplantine challenges the primacy accorded to ‘sign’ and ‘structure’ in conventional social science research, and redirects attention to the tonalities and rhythmic intensities of different ways of living. Arguing that meaning, sensation and sociality cannot be considered separately, he calls for a ‘politics of the sensible’ and a complete reorientation of our habitual ways of understanding reality.”

First published as Le social et le sensible: introduction à une anthropologie modale, Téraèdre, Paris, 2005.

Translated by Jamie Furniss
With an Introduction by David Howes
Publisher Bloomsbury, London, 2015
Sensory Studies series, 1
ISBN 1472534808, 9781472534804
xviii+152 pages"

[pdf is here: http://b3.ge.tt/gett/8Sl1pZd2/Laplantine%2C+Fran%C3%A7ois+-+The+Life+of+the+Senses.+Introduction+to+a+Modal+Anthropology.pdf?index=0&user=user-rH02fRWtWbQcXRxjIcC63NpWQttph9o1slEf1-&pdf= ]
senses  books  françoislaplantine  sensoryethnography  multisensory  2005  2015  anthropology  modalanthropology  ethnography 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Sarah Pink: A sensory Approach to Digital Media: beyond representation, beyond culture - YouTube
"A sensory Approach to Digital Media: beyond representation, beyond culture, Sarah Pink in DCC Section ECREA 3rd Workshop: Innovative practices and critical theories"
sarahpink  2011  ethnography  digitalmedia  senses  multisensory  culture  online  web  internet  anthropology  digital 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor - documenta 14
"Few filmmakers in recent years have managed to combine formal innovation with a programmatic stance toward filmmaking quite like Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor. In the process of reinventing the relationship between their two fields of inquiry, anthropology and cinema, they have established an experimental laboratory and school at Harvard University, the Sensory Ethnography Lab. The films coming out of the lab take a decentered, nonanthropocentric approach to the visual practice of the moving image. Their camera does not focus primarily on humans as privileged actors in the world but rather on the fabric of affective relations among the natural elements, animals, technology, and our physical lifeworlds.

Their “nonnarrative epics” are meditative, trance-like journeys into unseen and alien aspects of our environments; they unearth a different order for the principles of knowledge and cinematographic language, one that is nonsignifying and nonhierarchical. Paravel and Castaing-Taylor’s Leviathan (2012), for instance, is a vertigo-inducing study of the human relationship to the sea, filmed by equipping a fishing boat with numerous cameras and devices. The decentering achieved in the film evokes mythologies of the sea, while also addressing urgent contemporary concerns regarding the place of the human in the cosmos and within a future ecology.

Paravel and Castaing-Taylor, born in 1971 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, and in 1966, in Liverpool, respectively, are premiering two new film installations at documenta 14. In Somniloquies (2017), their camera moves over sleeping, unguarded naked bodies while a soundtrack relays the sleep talk, nocturnal speculations, and orated dreams of Dion McGregor, a gay American songwriter whose hallucinatory, salacious, and sadistic dreams were recorded by his New York roommate over a seven-year period in the 1960s. Their second installation focuses on the controversial figure of Issei Sagawa, who gained notoriety in 1981 when, as a graduate student in Paris, he murdered a fellow student and engaged in acts of cannibalism. After his release from a mental institution, Sagawa returned to Japan, and later appeared in innumerable documentaries and sexploitation films. In contrast to earlier journalistic documentaries on Sagawa, the film by Paravel and Castaing-Taylor suspends moral judgment and explores a realm that eludes classification as either “documentary” or “pure fiction,” to instead chart the ambiguous territory between crime, fantasy, and social realities, between an individual and the economy of his public persona. Theirs is a filmmaking that ultimately renders the elements of nature and culture …

—Hila Peleg"
vérénaparavel  luciencastaing-taylor  film  cinema  sensoryethnography  documenta14  hilapeleg  filmmaking  ethnography  anthropology  documentary  isseisagawa  sagawa  dionmcgregor  senses  visualethnography  somniloquies  narrative  nature  animals  multispecies  bodies  non-narrative  sensoryethnographylab  body 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Doing Visual Ethnography | SAGE Publications Inc
"Essential reading for anyone wishing to engage with images, technologies and society, Doing Visual Ethnography is a milestone in ethnographic and visual research. The Third Edition of this classic text includes new chapters on web-based practices for visual ethnography and the issues surrounding the representation, interpretation, and authoring of knowledge with the rise of digital media.  

The book provides a foundation for thinking about visual ethnography and introduces the practical and theoretical issues relating to the visual and digital technologies used in the field.  

Drawing upon her original research and the experiences of other ethnographers, author Sarah Pink once again challenges our understanding of the world and sets new agendas for visual ethnography by:

- Helpfully illustrating key concepts within real world contexts
- Introducing examples from both analogue and digital media
- Exploring material and electronic texts
- Setting out the shift towards applied, participatory and public visual scholarship.  

This book is a must-have for students and researchers across the social sciences who are interested in incorporating audiovisual media into their research practice.
sarahpink  books  visualethnography  visual  ethnography  anthropology  digital  web  internet  online  digitalmedia  audiovisual  senses  sensoryethnography 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Doing Sensory Ethnography | SAGE Publications Inc
"This bold agenda-setting title continues to spearhead interdisciplinary, multisensory research into experience, knowledge and practice.

Drawing on an explosion of new, cutting edge research Sarah Pink uses real world examples to bring this innovative area of study to life. She encourages us to challenge, revise and rethink core components of ethnography including interviews, participant observation and doing research in a digital world. The book provides an important framework for thinking about sensory ethnography stressing the numerous ways that smell, taste, touch and vision can be interconnected and interrelated within research. Bursting with practical advice on how to effectively conduct and share sensory ethnography this is an important, original book, relevant to all branches of social sciences and humanities."

[See also: http://caseyboyle.net/sense/pink01.pdf ]
sarahpink  books  sensoryethnography  senses  anthropology  ethnography  visualethnography  toread  multisensory  interdisciplinary  socialsicences  humanities 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Library Genesis: Anna Grimshaw - The Ethnographer's Eye: Ways of Seeing in Anthropology
"Grimshaw sets a new agenda for visual anthropology, attempting to transcend the old division between image and text-based ethnography. She argues for the use of vision as a critical tool with which anthropologists can address issues of knowledge and technique. The first part of the book critically examines anthropology's history, focusing on the work of key individuals--Rivers, Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown--in the context of early modern art and cinema. In the book's second part, Grimshaw considers the anthropological films of Jean Rouch, David and Judith MacDougall and Melissa Llewelyn-Davies."
annagrimshaw  ethnography  visualanthropology  anthropology  jeanrouch  davidmacdougall  judithmacdougall  melissallewelyn-davies  cinema  film  filmmaking  seeing  waysofseeing  visualethnography  senses  sensoryethnography 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Eyeo 2017 - Sissel Tolaas on Vimeo
"Sissel Tolaas at Eyeo 2017
| Knows NOSE : NOSE Knows |
Sissel Tolaas is a professional InBetweener, smellresearcher & artist with a background in mathematics, chemical science, languages, and visual art. Since 1990, her work has been concentrated on the topic of smell, language and communication. She established the SMELL RE_searchLab Berlin in January 2004, supported by IFF (International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.).

Tolaas builds up several smell archives, one of which contains 7000 real smells from all over the world. Since 1998, she has done research projects called ‘City SmellScapes’ with 52 major cities around the world. She launched the world’s first Smell Memory Kit and is a founding member of the International Sleep Science and Technology Association, and the Institute of Functional Smells.

Her research has won recognition through numerous international honors and awards including the 2014 CEW award for chemistry & innovation; the 2009 Rouse Foundation Award from Harvard University GSD, the 2010 Ars Electronica Award in Linz, Austria and the 2010-2014 Synthetic Biology / Synthetic Aesthetics Award from Stanford and Edinburgh Universities including a residency at Harvard Medical School."
sisseltolaas  art  senses  multisensory  classideas  smell  scents  smellscapes  children  play  language  communication 
april 2018 by robertogreco
About SYS [See Yourself Sensing: Redefining Human Perception] — Madeline Schwartzman
"See Yourself Sensing: Redefining Human Perception is an explosive and timely survey that explores the relationship between design, the body, technology and the senses over the last fifty years. Get ready to say goodbye to unconscious sensing and embrace cyborgs, post-humans, mediated reality and all manner of cutting edge sensory interventions like seeing with your tongue or plugging your nervous system directly into a computer. Astounding experiments with interaction design, cybernetics, neuroscience and art illustrate how we see and sense, and how artistic interpretation can undermine our fundamental perception of the world and ourselves.

The book presents the work of key practitioners in this field, from Rebecca Horn's mythical wearable structures and Stelarc's robotic body extensions, to Carsten Höllers' neurally interactive sculptures, as well as the work of artists who have emerged in the last five years, like Internet sensation Daito Manabe, Hyungkoo Lee and Michael Burton. The book explores projects such as solar-powered contact lenses that augment reality, LED eyelashes and goggles that allow one to communicate with electric fish, all created with the purpose of transforming and provoking the wearer's sensory experience. Madeline Schwartzman brings together this unique collection of images with provocative chapters and thoughtful descriptions of the concepts informing the work in this book."

[via: "It's an extended research project for her (incl. the book See Yourself Sensing - http://www.madelineschwartzman.com/see-yourself-sensing … - which I helped with the permissions for) and right now she's currently interviewing pilots about the sensory affordances of flying a plane."
https://twitter.com/chenoehart/status/930500542639489024 ]

[See also: http://www.madelineschwartzman.com/teaching/

via "Part of my inspiration for thinking about these vehicles from sensory POV comes from working with my former architecture professor Madeline Schwartzman, who gave us a design project to make a wearable device extending the sensory capabilities of our bodies"
https://twitter.com/chenoehart/status/930500099544719360 ]
madelineschwartzman  senses  sensing  sensory  architecture  design  perceptions  humans  bodies  body 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Judith Leemann - object lessons
"Over time, I've come to be most curious about the way in which language permits certain kinds of sense to come forward while actively preventing other kinds of sense from being made."
judithleemann  language  expression  communication  2007  via:caseygollan  objectlessons  art  senses  sensemaking  meaningmaking 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Sensory Maps
"My name is Kate McLean, an artist and designer, creator of smellmaps of cities around the world. I focus on human perception of the urban smellscape. While the visual dominates in data representation I believe we should tap into alternative sensory modes for individual and shared interpretation of place.

Smells form part of our knowing, but are elusive, often disappearing before they can be described pinned down. Smell perception is an invisible and currently under-presented dataset with strong connections to emotions and memory. I am part of a small but growing number of innovative practitioners committed to the study and capture of this highly nuanced sensory field.

The tools of my trade include: individual group smellwalks, individual smellwalks (the “smellfie”), smell sketching, collaborative smellwalks, graphic design, motion graphics, smell generation and smell diffusion, all united by mapmaking. Download a copy of my smellfie guide to smellwalking.

In 2014 I worked with Mapamundistas in Pamplona creating a bespoke piece of design in situ late in October 2014 and year of “Smellmap: Amsterdam” research collaboration with Bernardo (Brian) Fleming of International Flavors and Fragrances saw a summary exhibition at Mediamatic in April 2014 and at IEEE VIS 2014 Arts Programme in Paris in November 2014.

This year I am working on a unique sensory audit with Guy’s Hospital and St. Thomas’ / FutureCity to generate a London Bridge smellmap for the KHP Cancer Arts Programme and am busy analysing the data and information from smellwalking in Singapore.

I am a PhD candidate (part-time) in Information Experience Design (IED) a the Royal College of Art, a marathon runner and snowboarder."

[via: https://twitter.com/the_jennitaur/status/930267808599961600

"where has this been all my life http://sensorymaps.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Smellwalk_Intro_Kit_%C2%A9KateMcLean_2015.pdf "]

[See also: https://twitter.com/katemclean ]
maps  mapping  datavisualization  visualization  dataviz  cartography  katemclean  sensory  senses  classideas  cities  sense  mapmaking  smell  sensoryethnography  ethnography 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Wiley: The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses, 3rd Edition - Juhani Pallasmaa
"First published in 1996, The Eyes of the Skin has become a classic of architectural theory. It asks the far-reaching question why, when there are five senses, has one single sense – sight – become so predominant in architectural culture and design? With the ascendancy of the digital and the all-pervasive use of the image electronically, it is a subject that has become all the more pressing and topical since the first edition’s publication in the mid-1990s. Juhani Pallasmaa argues that the suppression of the other four sensory realms has led to the overall impoverishment of our built environment, often diminishing the emphasis on the spatial experience of a building and architecture’s ability to inspire, engage and be wholly life enhancing.

For every student studying Pallasmaa’s classic text for the first time, The Eyes of the Skin is a revelation. It compellingly provides a totally fresh insight into architectural culture. This third edition meets readers’ desire for a further understanding of the context of Pallasmaa’s thinking by providing a new essay by architectural author and educator Peter MacKeith. This text combines both a biographical portrait of Pallasmaa and an outline of his architectural thinking, its origins and its relationship to the wider context of Nordic and European thought, past and present. The focus of the essay is on the fundamental humanity, insight and sensitivity of Pallasmaa’s approach to architecture, bringing him closer to the reader. This is illustrated by Pallasmaa’s sketches and photographs of his own work. The new edition also provides a foreword by the internationally renowned architect Steven Holl and a revised introduction by Pallasmaa himself."

[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/BYOgbLqHRWb/ ]

[two different PDFs at:

http://arts.berkeley.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Pallasmaa_The-Eyes-of-the-Skin.pdf
http://home.fa.utl.pt/~al7531/pedidos/livros/Juhani%20Pallasmaa%20-%20Eyes%20of%20the%20Skin.pdf ]
books  toread  architecture  senses  multisensory  juhanipallasmaa  humans  bodies  stevenholl  sight  smell  sound  taste  texture  touch  humanism  sfsh  design  peterkeith  body 
august 2017 by robertogreco
how to do nothing – Jenny Odell – Medium
[video: https://vimeo.com/232544904 ]

"What I would do there is nothing. I’d just sit there. And although I felt a bit guilty about how incongruous it seemed — beautiful garden versus terrifying world — it really did feel necessary, like a survival tactic. I found this necessity of doing nothing so perfectly articulated in a passage from Gilles Deleuze in Negotiations:
…we’re riddled with pointless talk, insane quantities of words and images. Stupidity’s never blind or mute. So it’s not a problem of getting people to express themselves but of providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people expressing themselves but rather force them to express themselves; what a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, and ever rarer, thing that might be worth saying. (emphasis mine)

He wrote that in 1985, but the sentiment is something I think we can all identify with right now, almost to a degree that’s painful. The function of nothing here, of saying nothing, is that it’s a precursor to something, to having something to say. “Nothing” is neither a luxury nor a waste of time, but rather a necessary part of meaningful thought and speech."



"In The Bureau of Suspended Objects, a project I did while in residence at Recology SF (otherwise known as the dump), I spent three months photographing, cataloguing and researching the origins of 200 objects. I presented them as browsable archive in which people could scan the objects’ tags and learn about the manufacturing, material, and corporate histories of the objects.

One woman at the Recology opening was very confused and said, “Wait… so did you actually make anything? Or did you just put things on shelves?” (Yes, I just put things on shelves.)"



"That’s an intellectual reason for making nothing, but I think that in my cases, it’s something simpler than that. Yes, the BYTE images speak in interesting and inadvertent ways about some of the more sinister aspects of technology, but I also just really love them.

This love of one’s subject is something I’m provisionally calling the observational eros. The observational eros is an emotional fascination with one’s subject that is so strong it overpowers the desire to make anything new. It’s pretty well summed up in the introduction of Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, where he describes the patience and care involved in close observation of one’s specimens:
When you collect marine animals there are certain flat worms so delicate that they are almost impossible to capture whole, for they break and tatter under the touch. You must let them ooze and crawl of their own will onto a knife blade and then lift them gently into your bottle of sea water. And perhaps that might be the way to write this book — to open the page and let the stories crawl in by themselves.

The subject of observation is so precious and fragile that it risks breaking under even the weight of observation. As an artist, I fear the breaking and tattering of my specimens under my touch, and so with everything I’ve ever “made,” without even thinking about it, I’ve tried to keep a very light touch.

It may not surprise you to know, then, that my favorite movies tend to be documentaries, and that one of my favorite public art pieces was done by the documentary filmmaker, Eleanor Coppola. In 1973, she carried out a public art project called Windows, which materially speaking consisted only of a map with a list of locations in San Francisco.

The map reads, “Eleanor Coppola has designated a number of windows in all parts of San Francisco as visual landmarks. Her purpose in this project is to bring to the attention of the whole community, art that exists in its own context, where it is found, without being altered or removed to a gallery situation.” I like to consider this piece in contrast with how we normally experience public art, which is some giant steel thing that looks like it landed in a corporate plaza from outer space.

Coppola instead casts a subtle frame over the whole of the city itself as a work of art, a light but meaningful touch that recognizes art that exists where it already is."



"What amazed me about birdwatching was the way it changed the granularity of my perception, which was pretty “low res” to begin with. At first, I just noticed birdsong more. Of course it had been there all along, but now that I was paying attention to it, I realized that it was almost everywhere, all day, all the time. In particular I can’t imagine how I went most of my life so far without noticing scrub jays, which are incredibly loud and sound like this:

[video]

And then, one by one, I started learning other songs and being able to associate each of them with a bird, so that now when I walk into the the rose garden, I inadvertently acknowledge them in my head as though they were people: hi raven, robin, song sparrow, chickadee, goldfinch, towhee, hawk, nuthatch, and so on. The diversification (in my attention) of what was previously “bird sounds” into discrete sounds that carry meaning is something I can only compare to the moment that I realized that my mom spoke three languages, not two.

My mom has only ever spoken English to me, and for a very long time, I assumed that whenever my mom was speaking to another Filipino person, that she was speaking Tagalog. I didn’t really have a good reason for thinking this other than that I knew she did speak Tagalog and it sort of all sounded like Tagalog to me. But my mom was actually only sometimes speaking Tagalog, and other times speaking Ilonggo, which is a completely different language that is specific to where she’s from in the Philippines.

The languages are not the same, i.e. one is not simply a dialect of the other; in fact, the Philippines is full of language groups that, according to my mom, have so little in common that speakers would not be able to understand each other, and Tagalog is only one.

This type of embarrassing discovery, in which something you thought was one thing is actually two things, and each of those two things is actually ten things, seems not only naturally cumulative but also a simple function of the duration and quality of one’s attention. With effort, we can become attuned to things, able to pick up and then hopefully differentiate finer and finer frequencies each time.

What these moments of stopping to listen have in common with those labyrinthine spaces is that they all initially enact some kind of removal from the sphere of familiarity. Even if brief or momentary, they are retreats, and like longer retreats, they affect the way we see everyday life when we do come back to it."



"Even the labyrinths I mentioned, by their very shape, collect our attention into these small circular spaces. When Rebecca Solnit, in her book Wanderlust, wrote about walking in the labyrinth inside the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, she said, “The circuit was so absorbing I lost sight of the people nearby and hardly heard the sound of the traffic and the bells for six o’clock.”

In the case of Deep Listening, although in theory it can be practiced anywhere at any time, it’s telling that there have also been Deep Listening retreats. And Turrell’s Sky Pesher not only removes the context from around the sky, but removes you from your surroundings (and in some ways, from the context of your life — given its underground, tomblike quality)."



"My dad said that leaving the confined context of a job made him understand himself not in relation to that world, but just to the world, and forever after that, things that happened at work only seemed like one small part of something much larger. It reminds me of how John Muir described himself not as a naturalist but as a “poetico-trampo-geologist-botanist and ornithologist-naturalist etc. etc.”, or of how Pauline Oliveros described herself in 1974: “Pauline Oliveros is a two legged human being, female, lesbian, musician, and composer among other things which contribute to her identity. She is herself and lives with her partner, along with assorted poultry, dogs, cats, rabbits and tropical hermit crabs.” Incidentally, this has encouraged me to maybe change my bio to: “Jenny Odell is an artist, professor, thinker, walker, sleeper, eater, and amateur birdnoticer.”

3. the precarity of nothing

There’s an obvious critique of all of this, and that’s that it comes from a place of privilege. I can go to the rose garden, or stare into trees all day, because I have a teaching job that only requires me to be somewhere two days a week, not to mention a whole set of other privileges. Part of the reason my dad could take that time off was that on some level, he had enough reason to think he could get another job. It’s possible to understand the practice of doing nothing solely as a self-indulgent luxury, the equivalent of taking a mental health day if you’re lucky enough to work at a place that has those.

But here I come back to Deleuze’s “right to say nothing,” and although we can definitely say that this right is variously accessible or even inaccessible for some, I believe that it is indeed a right. For example, the push for an 8-hour workday in 1886 called for “8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest, and 8 hours of what we will.” I’m struck by the quality of things that associated with the category “What we Will”: rest, thought, flowers, sunshine.

These are bodily, human things, and this bodily-ness is something I will come back to. When Samuel Gompers, who led the labor group that organized this particular iteration of the 8-hour movement, was asked, “What does labor want?” he responded, “It wants the earth and the fullness thereof.” And to me it seems significant that it’s not 8 hours of, say, “leisure” or “… [more]
jennyodell  idleness  nothing  art  eyeo2017  photoshop  specimens  care  richardprince  gillesdeleuze  recology  internetarchive  sanfrancisco  eleanorcoppola  2017  1973  maps  mapping  scottpolach  jamesturrell  architecture  design  structure  labyrinths  oakland  juliamorgan  chapelofthechimes  paulineoliveros  ucsd  1970s  deeplisening  listening  birds  birdwatching  birding  noticing  classideas  observation  perception  time  gracecathedral  deeplistening  johncage  gordonhempton  silence  maintenance  conviviality  technology  bodies  landscape  ordinary  everyday  cyclicality  cycles  1969  mierleladermanukeles  sensitivity  senses  multispecies  canon  productivity  presence  connectivity  conversation  audrelorde  gabriellemoss  fomo  nomo  nosmo  davidabram  becominganimal  animals  nature  ravens  corvids  crows  bluejays  pets  human-animalrelations  human-animalelationships  herons  dissent  rowe  caliressler  jodythompson  francoberardi  fiverr  popos  publicspace  blackmirror  anthonyantonellis  facebook  socialmedia  email  wpa  history  bayarea  crowdcontrol  mikedavis  cityofquartz  er 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Everyday smells, sights and sounds of children in the city | Child in the City
"Building genuinely child friendly cities must begin with an appreciation of the child’s own daily perspective on their built environment, argues Jackie Bourke. Here, she describes how her research with inner city children in the Republic of Ireland capital, Dublin opened a window on the sensory and imaginative richness of children’s ‘everyday walks through a complex urban landscape of belonging’.

Increased attention to meeting children’s needs is an encouraging shift in urban planning, with models like the UNICEF Child Friendly Cities and Communities Initiative supporting cities to move in this direction. Dublin City is among those taking the first steps towards achieving child friendly status, with an initial focus on creating a playful city.

The urban public realm is of course not only a potential site of play for children and young people. Much like adults, they use public space to go to the shop, access amenities, visit friends and family and make the trip to and from school. A key question underpinning efforts to ensure cities are child friendly is how they experience these everyday journeys.

Research undertaken by the author, with 9-11 year olds based in Dublin, suggests it is a very rich and varied experience. Twenty children participated in the study, all of whom live in the North West Inner City. This part of Dublin has a diverse built environment; ponies kept down small cobbled laneways contrast with heavily trafficked arterial routes, bringing commuters in and out of the city.

The children who participated in the study all walk to school on a regular basis. As part of the research the children photographed their routes and captured their experience. Through their images they described journeys through an urban landscape at once social, sensory, imaginative and pragmatic.

Their social interactions with local shop keepers, business owners and neighbours are much treasured. Through small daily exchanges the children foster social capital and help knit the community together. Their experience is an embodied one and the children capture a range of sensory moments on their walks: they see and appreciate the aesthetic detail of buildings they pass, and describe the sounds of the city that gives texture to their walk: from the daunting clang of the tram, to the roar of traffic drowning out their conversations.

Sensory experience

Certain smells are evocative, particularly for the children who walk by the old fruit and vegetable market each day. Their sensory experience is also quite tactile and they described both the hard feel of the footpath beneath their feet and the more gentle touch of the sunshine on a warm sunny day.

At the same time the children mapped out an imaginative experience. They identified haunted houses, a visitors’ centre where, apparently, a broken lift has left a number of tourists stranded for several years, and even a forest of trees “full of life” hidden behind a high wall. Inevitably there was a pragmatic dimension to these walks and the children were quick to point to the challenges presented by the high volume of traffic. Equally, poorly designed spaces, neglect, decay, dereliction and rubbish must be navigated on their routes.

The childhood landscape of the urban public realm revealed through this study is rich and complex, both inviting and hostile, and it sheds valuable light on the city world children that inhabit and shape. This kind of insight into children’s everyday lives is an important starting point on the journey towards creating a genuinely child friendly city."
children  cities  urban  urbanism  sfsh  landscape  maps  mapping  experience  deblin  jackiebourke  classideas  geography  place  senses  smells  sounds  sounf  multisensory 
april 2017 by robertogreco
The Smell of Gold: On the Yuba River – Boom California
"When I was a kid, summer’s first swim began with my nose skimming the water’s surface in an effort to rediscover that familiar scent of river, rock, dragonfly—whatever it was that brewed Gold Country smell. My father, for whom “odors” were of paramount importance, a gateway to memory and feelings, taught me to register the smells of Highway 49. He would hang his head out the car window, shouting into hot wind, “Can you smell it?” For a New Jersey transplant by way of Greenwich Village and Berkeley, California was a land of Lotus Eaters. He never could get over the place and the smell of (what was it?) witch hazel, cedar, manzanita—it drove him wild.

Yes, I could smell it, though we could never name the intoxicating elixir of plants, animals, and dirt, for we were East Coast in origin, summer visitors and hedonists, not scientists. We would leave the diagnostics to people like Gary Snyder who lived year round on the ridge and actually studied the super biodiversity of California in general and this watershed in particular. My father was a romantic and so to smell and to feel, void of precise nomenclature, were enough—were everything."



"In 1972, people were doing this sort of thing. We weren’t the only people who had copies of Whole Earth Catalogue and Shelter magazine, which reprinted today can be found on any earthy boutique shelf in Nevada City. Perhaps sparked by his particular desires to escape the harangue of Berkeley politics and soothe his marriage, he was fueled too by the larger Californian and American consciousness to get back to the land—or get back to something. As a kid, I saw this idea on the cover of The Band album, in a group of musicians who looked as if they had crawled out of a mine shaft in patina leather. What were they digging for? I saw it in the films like Easy Rider and Sam Peckinpah’s The Ballad of Cable Hogue—individuals leaving home, setting up watering holes in the middle of the desert, always with dirt-encrusted beards. I heard it in Joni Mitchell’s directive to “get back to the Garden.” And so the Gold Country, like places of the imagination across time, became an El Dorado for those traveling from something to something, and ultimately looking for a return to Eden, even as they looked forward to the precipice of enterprise and fortune."



"Perhaps some who come to the Gold Country today to live share that dream of living off the land, escaping the rat race, and absorbing the wisdom of the river like Siddhartha. But people have always come here to make money mining gold, logging trees, and now growing pot. And so the question arises: What is California dreaming? Are these pursuits a means to an end? Is gold still and always the dream? Or, is the work itself the dream: the mining, the logging, the growing? Just months ago, the parcel belonging to the Republican uncle was sold to an investor who employs a property manager and farmer. The wooden fence that once corralled a horse is now six feet tall and possibly electrical. We met the hired farmer—a county native—yesterday, the nicest guy who’s traveled the world only to come home. I wonder if his California dream is growing marijuana for somebody else or if he is still searching."



"California dreams are so close to California schemes it is often difficult to tell which is which."



"But Malakoff Diggins was just another place, leaving me to wonder what we Californians make of our own history. Perhaps our history is too recent, too dredged in profit rather than ideals to have warranted in the 1970s, a mere 125 years from the Gold Rush, a cordon rope, a plaque, or tour guide with a badge. Perhaps California, like a child, did not have the perspective that comes with a more critical contextual awareness to take itself seriously enough to see itself as a historical subject.

So too, it has taken me a good chunk of my life to inaccurately, incompletely define the smell of this country, partly because of my own ignorance but also because the smell of the Gold Country isn’t only about plants and animals; it’s about the residue of the human endeavor that is palpable in the great piles of mossy boulders that Chinese miners pulled from the Yuba River that now sit on the roadside without ceremony or documentation. The smell is edible apple trees in the orchard, planted an unknowable number of years before my family bought the land, and which survive without irrigation or pruning. The smell is audible in the hush of rapids, momentarily drowned out by the motorcycle shifting into high gear on Highway 49. I suspect every California region from the county of Jefferson to the Imperial Valley provides a synesthesia of evidence to classify particular landscapes, histories, and endeavors, but I wonder if this Gold Country smell isn’t somehow more potent than it is in other areas. I wonder if the heart-cleaving beauty of the area coupled with a desperate drive to unearth a living hasn’t made love of this place more hard won. If California is, in the words of Wallace Stegner, “like the rest of America, only more so,” then perhaps the Gold Country is like the rest of California only more so—the unofficial capital of what the state is about—the always changing dreams, which following complicated labor, birth the next reality.

But odor is not a competition. California doesn’t need to compete with itself to define its character. The state is too diverse to characteristically identify with science or fiction; likewise, it remains impossible to name the smell of the Gold Country. So, I am not surprised when I ask my son as we sit on the rock what he thinks he smells and he says he doesn’t know. I instantly flash on a Gary Snyder poem that intimidated me with his authoritative chronology of the Malakoff Diggins area, citing millions and millions of years of evolution. That poem, “What Happened Here Before,” is one that still appeals to me for its allegiance to defining place using the names of plants and animals while imagining the erstwhile lives of miners, Indians, tax assessors, and a prophetic blue jay who screeches in response to the question of who we are: “We shall see / Who knows / How to be.”"
california  history  caitlinmohan  2017  senses  small  wallacestegner  goldrush  malakoffdiggins  marijuana  goldcountry  garysnyder 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Science and the Senses: Perturbation — Cultural Anthropology
"I vividly remember how, on certain nights in my childhood, my brother and I would be herded toward the entrance hall of my parents’ house, where the Carl Zeiss Ultraphot II microscope still stands. This was a huge machine from the 1960s, one of the relics that my father would rescue from the constant upgrading of his lab required by so-called scientific progress. To me, as a child, it was some sort of abstruse, mysterious device. Taking up a large portion of the hall, it was a massive object, coming with its own table, which was usually covered with a thick gray drape to protect it from dust. Above the oculars, there was a giant, round screen typical of the 1960s design, all curves and matte metal. On those nights, my parents—both freshwater microbial ecologists—would take off the drape, turn all of the lights off, and turn on the screen to show my brother and me the wonders of microscopic worlds.

Growing up with experiences like this, the notion that science forgets the sensory never made much sense to me. Perception was present and was much more than just that: it entailed the full spectrum of emotions, passions, senses, and the kind of fascination and wonder that only the natural world can inspire. Still now, when I converse with scientists in the course of my fieldwork, I see that wonder and I find the senses present in all kinds of ways. Yet the role of the sensory is shifting. I hear it whenever my mother discusses her work with me: so many of the younger scientists with whom she works are oblivious, she tells me, to the sensorial engagements that she grew up with. “They don’t even count them!” she exclaims, referring to the microorganisms in their samples. “How can you know what you have if you don’t even look in the microscope?” The sensory dimensions of molecular biology are replacing the time consuming, eye-wrenching work of counting by microscope. More advanced techniques allow the scientist to determine what is in a sample without ever putting it in a slide under a microscope. Or so their proponents claim.

The problem with these changes is not so much the depersonalization of sensorial experience. Rather, it is the increasing confidence in new methods and the assumption that these are unproblematic and fully objective. The story goes that 16S rRNA analysis tells you what organisms you are dealing with with the certainty of a fact. Of course, most people working with these techniques know better. But as students have less time to get their degrees and are pushed forward faster, they have less time to doubt and to fully grasp the limits of their newly acquired sensorium. Often these techniques rely on advanced knowledge in other fields, far from the expertise of those who use them, thus hiding their limitations by design. Those who depend on these prosthetics are easily alienated from the nitty-gritty details of the materialities in play, and have little sense of what the limits and constraints of those prosthetics might be."



"This re-scription is useful when considering the scale of the microbial and the scientific sensorial apparatuses proper to it. But it is equally useful for thinking and doing on another scale, which is central to my current work: that of the planetary. Having been sucked into the maelstrom of the Anthropocene, my research tries to resist the traction of this notion and its mainstream political currents. To do so, I attend to the figure of the planet. The planetary scale is the motor force of the Anthropocene, on which the gears of the vast machine of sustainability rely. The way in which the Anthropocene frames global environmental change depends on the same sensorial apparatuses that make the planet. But in the process of making environmental emergency, the Anthropocene also risks remaking the planet Earth in its own image, perpetuating dangerous elisions and tensions and forgetting the limits of its own planetary sensorium. In resisting the notion of the planetary, then, I attend to it historically and praxiographically—but also, one might say, scientifically. My aim is to flesh out not only the continuities in the histories of this notion and its object, but also the gaps, interruptions, and diversions that characterize it. In doing so, I aim to offer inspiration for unfolding alternative constellations of the planetary. Here, the planet emerges not only as an object; it complicates the clear distinction between subjects and objects that informs the official epistemology of modern science. Rethinking the sensory in terms of modes of attention (and distraction) can, I think, play a crucial role in this rearticulation of the planetary away from received theories of knowledge, toward a world in which knowing is just one among a multiplicity of practices and doings/undoings that make worlds in which living together, willy-nilly, is done.



Attending to the sensorium of the planetary highlights the technosocial apparatuses that are at work in making planetary vision possible. It imagines as nature not only the planet, but also satellites, spaceflight, remote sensing, radioisotope tracers, global circulation models; the vast machine of climate-change science policy; social phenomena like the green economy and austerity; and the discourses of extinction, loss, adaptation, and proliferation that characterize the Anthropocene. Considering these sensory mediations as relational and historical modes of attention and distraction inflected across heterogeneous materials and sites allows us to attend to how knowing, doing, and living with the planet are enacted in the same gesture. This move can restore the sense of wonder that I saw in the screen of my childhood to the sciences."
science  senses  wonder  method  sfsh  expeuence  2017  donnaharaway  anthropology  anthropocene  perception  doubt  prosthetics  technology  time  technoscience  attention  maríacarozzi  williamjames  vincianedespret  knowing  distraction 
february 2017 by robertogreco
John Berger remembered – by Geoff Dyer, Olivia Laing, Ali Smith and Simon McBurney | Books | The Guardian
"Ali Smith

I heard John Berger speaking at the end of 2015 in London at the British Library. Someone in the audience talked about A Seventh Man, his 1975 book about mass migrancy in which he says: “To try to understand the experience of another it is necessary to dismantle the world as seen from one’s own place within it and to reassemble it as seen from his.”

The questioner asked what Berger thought about the huge movement of people across the world. He put his head in his hands and sat and thought; he didn’t say anything at all for what felt like a long time, a thinking space that cancelled any notion of soundbite. When he answered, what he spoke about ostensibly seemed off on a tangent. He said: “I have been thinking about the storyteller’s responsibility to be hospitable.”

As he went on, it became clear how revolutionary, hopeful and astute his thinking was. The act of hospitality, he suggested, is ancient and contemporary and at the core of every story we’ve ever told or listened to about ourselves – deny it, and you deny all human worth. He talked about the art act’s deep relationship with this, and with inclusion. Then he gave us a definition of fascism: one set of human beings believing it has the right to cordon off and decide about another set of human beings.

A few minutes with Berger and a better world, a better outcome, wasn’t fantasy or imaginary, it was impetus – possible, feasible, urgent and clear. It wasn’t that another world was possible; it was that this world, if we looked differently, and responded differently, was differently possible.

His readers are the inheritors, across all the decades of his work, of a legacy that will always reapprehend the possibilities. We inherit his routing of the “power-shit” of everyday corporate hierarchy and consumerism, his determined communality, his ethos of unselfishness in a solipsistic world, his procreative questioning of the given shape of things, his articulate compassion, the relief of that articulacy. We inherit writing that won’t ever stop giving. A reader coming anywhere near his work encounters life-force, thought-force – and the force, too, of the love all through it.

It’s not just hard, it’s impossible, to think about what he’s given us over the years in any past tense. Everything about this great thinker, one of the great art writers, the greatest responders, is vital – and response and responsibility in Berger’s work always make for a fusion of thought and art as a force for the understanding, the seeing more clearly and the making better of the world we’re all citizens of. But John Berger gone? In the dark times, what’ll we do without him? Try to live up to him, to pay what Simone Weil called (as he notes in his essay about her) “creative attention”. The full Weil quote goes: “Love for our neighbour, being made of creative attention, is analogous to genius.”

Berger’s genius is its own fertile continuum – radical, brilliant, gentle, uncompromising – in the paying of an attention that shines with the fierce intelligence, the loving clarity of the visionary he was, is, and always will be.

***

Geoff Dyer

There is a long and distinguished tradition of aspiring writers meeting the writer they most revere only to discover that he or she has feet of clay. Sometimes it doesn’t stop at the feet – it can be legs, chest and head too – so that the disillusionment taints one’s feelings about the work, even about the trade itself. I count it one of my life’s blessings that the first great writer I ever met – the writer I admired above all others – turned out to be an exemplary human being. Nothing that has happened in the 30-odd years since then has diminished my love of the books or of the man who wrote them.

It was 1984. John Berger, who had radically altered and enlarged my ideas of what a book could be, was in London for the publication of And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos. I interviewed him for Marxism Today. He was 58, the age I am now. The interview went well but he seemed relieved when it was over – because, he said, now we could go to a pub and talk properly.

It was the highpoint of my life. My contemporaries had jobs, careers – some even owned houses – but I was in a pub with John Berger. He urged me to send him things I’d written – not the interview, he didn’t care about that, he wanted to read my own stuff. He wrote back enthusiastically. He was always encouraging. A relationship cannot be sustained on the basis of reverence and we soon settled into being friends.

The success and acclaim he enjoyed as a writer allowed him to be free of petty vanities, to concentrate on what he was always so impatient to achieve: relationships of equality. That’s why he was such a willing collaborator – and such a good friend to so many people, from all walks of life, from all over the world. There was no limit to his generosity, to his capacity to give. This did more than keep him young; it combined with a kind of negative pessimism to enable him to withstand the setbacks dished out by history. In an essay on Leopardi he proposed “that we are not living in a world in which it is possible to construct something approaching heaven-on-earth, but, on the contrary, are living in a world whose nature is far closer to that of hell; what difference would this make to any single one of our political or moral choices? We would be obliged to accept the same obligations and participate in the same struggle as we are already engaged in; perhaps even our sense of solidarity with the exploited and suffering would be more single-minded. All that would have changed would be the enormity of our hopes and finally the bitterness of our disappointments.”

While his work was influential and admired, its range – in both subject matter and form – makes it difficult to assess adequately. Ways of Seeing is his equivalent of Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert: a bravura performance that sometimes ends up as a substitute for or distraction from the larger body of work to which it serves as an introduction. In 1969 he put forward Art and Revolution “as the best example I have achieved of what I consider to be the critical method”, but it is in the numerous shorter pieces that he was at his best as a writer on art. (These diverse pieces have been assembled by Tom Overton in Portraits to form a chronological history of art.)

No one has ever matched Berger’s ability to help us look at paintings or photographs “more seeingly”, as Rilke put it in a letter about Cézanne. Think of the essay “Turner and the Barber’s Shop” in which he invites us to consider some of the late paintings in light of things the young boy saw in his dad’s barber shop: “water, froth, steam, gleaming metal, clouded mirrors, white bowls or basins in which soapy liquid is agitated by the barber’s brush and detritus deposited”.

Berger brought immense erudition to his writing but, as with DH Lawrence, everything had to be verified by appeal to his senses. He did not need a university education – he once spoke scathingly of a thinker who, when he wanted to find something out, took down a book from a shelf – but he was reliant, to the end, on his art school discipline of drawing. If he looked long and hard enough at anything it would either yield its secrets or, failing that, enable him to articulate why the withheld mystery constituted its essence. This holds true not just for the writings on art but also the documentary studies (of a country doctor in A Fortunate Man and of migrant labour in A Seventh Man), the novels, the peasant trilogy Into Their Labours, and the numerous books that refuse categorisation. Whatever their form or subject the books are jam-packed with observations so precise and delicate that they double as ideas – and vice versa. “The moment at which a piece of music begins provides a clue to the nature of all art,” he writes in “The Moment of Cubism”. In Here Is Where We Meet he imagines “travelling alone between Kalisz and Kielce a hundred and fifty years ago. Between the two names there would always have been a third – the name of your horse.”

The last time we met was a few days before Christmas 2015, in London. There were five of us: my wife and I, John (then 89), the writer Nella Bielski (in her late 70s) and the painter Yvonne Barlow (91), who had been his girlfriend when they were still teenagers. Jokingly, I asked, “So, what was John like when he was 17?” “He was exactly like he is now,” she replied, as though it were yesterday. “He was always so kind.” All that interested him about his own life, he once wrote, were the things he had in common with other people. He was a brilliant writer and thinker; but it was his lifelong kindness that she emphasised.

The film Walk Me Home which he co- wrote and acted in was, in his opinion, “a balls-up” but in it Berger utters a line that I think of constantly – and quote from memory – now: “When I die I want to be buried in land that no one owns.” In land, that is, that belongs to us all.

***

Olivia Laing

The only time I saw John Berger speak was at the 2015 British Library event. He clambered on to the stage, short, stocky, shy, his extraordinary hewn face topped with snowy curls. After each question he paused for a long time, tugging on his hair and writhing in his seat, physically wrestling with the demands of speech. It struck me then how rare it is to see a writer on stage actually thinking, and how glib and polished most speakers are. For Berger, thought was work, as taxing and rewarding as physical labour, a bringing of something real into the world. You have to strive and sweat; the act is urgent but might also fail.

He talked that evening about the need for hospitality. It was such a Bergerish notion. Hospitality: the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers, a word that … [more]
johnberger  2017  geoffdyer  olivialaing  alismith  simonmcburney  marxism  capitalism  migration  soundbites  hospitality  storytelling  hope  hopefulness  utopia  hierarchy  consumerism  compassion  unselfishness  questioning  skepticism  simoneweil  creativeattention  attention  goldenrule  humanism  encouragement  relationships  friendship  equality  giving  generosity  solidarity  suffering  seeing  noticing  looking  observation  senses  kindness  commonality  belonging  ownership  thinking  howwethink  care  caring  blackpanthers  blackpantherparty  clarity  money  communalism  narrowness  alls  difference  openness  crosspollination  hosting  hosts  guests  strangers  enemies  listening  canon  payingattention  audience  audiencesofone  laughter  resistance  existence  howtolive  living  life  howwelive  refuge  writing  certainty  tenderness 
january 2017 by robertogreco
li.st: How My Friends Described Some Colors To Me When I Couldn't See by Ashley (@ajesster)
"When I was a kid, I was legally blind due to the improper development of neurological connections as well as underdeveloped muscles. After a great doctor and a lot of work, I can see just fine now but for a while in my childhood, after a period of nothing, all I had was light and dark - this is how I remember family/friends describing colors to me.

(ran out of room in the description but these beautiful, old memories were brought up to the forefront of my mind by @kcupcaker and @nikkilounoel's lists about how they would describe themselves to somebody who couldn't see- like me!)

Red
They had me stand outside in the sun. They told me that the heat I was feeling is red. They explained that red is the color of a burn, from heat, embarrassment, or even anger.

Yellow
I didn't touch anything for this, they just told me that whenever you laugh so hard you can't stop, that that happiness is what yellow looks like.

Green
I held soft leaves and wet grass. They told me green felt like life. To this day it is still very much my favorite color.

Blue
They put my hands in their pool. They told me that that sensation I felt while swimming, that omnipresent coolness, that's blue. Blue feels like relaxation.

Brown
I held dirt and I touched a tree. They told me brown felt like earth, and like crunchy leaves or wilting flowers.

Grey
They told me that the rain is grey, and that so is concrete or cement. That it is a hard color, stern and with no personality. (Sorry grey, I like you now! But you scared me back then)"
color  writing  description  sight  senses  via:lukeneff 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Reading Things — Magazine — Walker Art Center
"I’m sunbathing on the beach on a cloudless August day in the Rockaways. It’s blindingly bright and I have a T-shirt draped over my eyes to block the sun. I am overhearing a conversation between some of the friends around me and someone new who has walked across the sand to us. Whose is this voice I don’t know? I think it is man, someone I’ve never met. I uncover my eyes and see that it is one of my friends—a woman, a transwoman whose female-ness I have never questioned, whose voice I had always heard as a female voice. Had I never heard her before? How can my ears hear two different voices, depending on whether or not I know who is speaking? As I puzzle over this, I start thinking of other instances in which two or more versions of reality butt up against each other, two contradictory sensory experiences that are somehow both real to me, depending on how I encounter them. What is going on here?"



"This winter I delivered an artist talk at Virginia Commonwealth University, where I’ve been teaching, about my investment in objects with open-ended or ambiguous function—things that cause one to ask, “What is this for?” I discuss the studio as a place where I aim to make objects that frustrate even my own attempts to know them, once and for all, as one thing and not others. I make things that ask for nuanced, open-ended forms of reading that can accommodate these objects of ambiguous functionality. Over coffee the following morning, one of the other faculty members in the department, Corin Hewitt, excitedly wanted to know if I had heard of a beloved object known as the “slant step.” I had not, but since then an image of it has been following me around—in the studio, on the train, in and out of bathrooms, while reading the news. The slant step is a small piece of furniture that was purchased in a second-hand store in Mill Valley, California, in 1965 by the artist William Wiley and his then-graduate student Bruce Nauman. Costing less than a dollar, this wood and green linoleum, one-of-a-kind handmade object struck these two artists as puzzling and fascinating, primarily because its function was a mystery. Though reminiscent of a step stool, the step part of the stool sits at a 45-degree angle to the floor, making it impossible to step up onto it, hence the name, the slant step. This unassuming ambiguous object resonated not just with Wiley and Nauman, but also with a whole range of Bay Area artists in the 1960s, inspiring more than one group exhibition themed around it, a catalogue, and numerous articles as well as extensive use as a teaching tool by the painter Frank Owen. It is now in the permanent collection of the University of California Davis.3"



"In the midst of all this urgency, the figure of the slant step comes to my mind. I feel embarrassed about it because what could this remote object have to offer when we are in need of such concrete changes? A useful object with no apparent use. A handmade thing of unknown origin, producing more questions than answers. An object that modestly requests a more effortful type of reading than what we normally engage in. We identify things in terms of their function and move on, reading passively. We learn only as much as we need to know. This object, compelling to so many in the past 50 years, is compelling to me as well, insofar as it encourages me to read more slowly. It makes me want to see it as more than one thing at once, or as many different things in quick succession. Looking to the slant step as a teacher, I want to learn what it seems to already know—I can’t always know what I am looking at. Clearly already well used in the mid-1960s but for an inscrutable purpose, the slant step speaks of bodies without being able to name them. It has always seemed wrong to me to say that we see what is before us and then interpret it, because the idea of “interpreting what we see” implies an inaccurate linearity to this process and suggests that the things themselves are fixed while our understandings of them remain malleable. Rather, we understand what we are seeing at the same moment we see it; perception is identification. Understood in this way, changing our interpretations is literally synonymous with changing the functioning of our senses, initiating a pulling apart of the instantaneous act of assigning meaning to what we see. This slowness to assign identification in the moment of encounter lies at the heart of the slant step’s curious appeal."



"On an overcast August day in 1995, Tyra Hunter, a hairstylist and black transgender woman, got in a car accident while driving in Washington, DC. Adrian Williams, the emergency medical technician at the scene who began to cut away her clothing to administer urgently needed aid, is reported to have said, “This bitch ain’t no girl… it’s a nigger; he’s got a dick!” Hunter lay on the ground bleeding as Williams and the other EMTs joked around her, and died later that day of her injuries at a nearby hospital. A subsequent investigation into the events leading to her death concluded that it would very likely have been prevented had treatment been continued at the scene of the accident.15

In the fall of 2014, a grand jury in St. Louis County Missouri decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. In the spring of 2015, the US Department of Justice also cleared Wilson of all civil rights violations, deeming the shooting to be an act of self-defense. In Wilson’s testimony in his grand jury hearing, he recounted looking at Brown in the moments before shooting him six times, and described him as having “the most intense aggressive face. The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked.”16

It’s hard to stomach these statements, but I write them here because I am noticing the ways that both of the speakers managed to transform the person they were about to kill from a human being to a thing in the moments before their deaths. By a probably less-than-conscious twist of verbal gymnastics, both killers shift from using a pronoun generally used to refer to people (he/she) to using a pronoun generally used to refer to inanimate things: it. If murder is the act of permanently dehumanizing another, then it is as if in order to give themselves permission to kill these two individuals Williams and Wilson had to preemptively transform them from people into things. “It’s a nigger…” “It looks like a demon…” Did these statements make it possible to turn a human being into a corpse? Maybe so, as a person turned nonconsensually into a thing is already a person dangerously close to death."



"In the 1966 slant step show, William Wiley, the artist who originally bought the step from the thrift store, made a metal casting from it that bore the following inscription: “This piece is dedicated to all the despised unknown, unloved, people, objects and ideas that just don’t make it and never will, who have so thoughtlessly given their time and talent to become objects of scorn but maintain an innocent ignorance and never realize that you hate them.”18 For Wiley, the slant step was both an intriguing object of ambiguous functionality, while also serving another purpose as the object of certain recuperations. To treat a discarded object with care, to focus on it, show it to others, make copies and homages to it—to, in a sense, treat it with love—had a value for him on its own account. A small act of treating an uncared-for thing with care as an articulation of an ethos for encountering one another. Frank Owen, one of Wiley’s friends and an original participant in the slant step show, used the step as a model in his life-drawing classes for decades—producing innumerable depictions of its likeness and encouraging his students to think deeply about it through the slow and close looking necessitated by drawing. “This was its job—to pose on a model stand patiently (which it is very good at) and be drawn while also posing its eternal question: What is this thing, what is it for and why do we attend to it?”19"



"In thinking about Mark and her succulents, I am wrapping myself around the sustaining potential of relations of care with non-human things. I wonder about the role that the cultivation, protection, and recuperation of things might play in the day-to-day processes of healing necessitated by living as a body that is objectified, misread, or unrecognized. Can attending to objects with care be a labor of self-sustenance for us as well? Can the things of our lives be our companions, our children, our comrades?24 What can we know or feel about our own bodies through the ways that we relate to objects? I want to propose the possibility that our relations with objects themselves might function as a means of remodeling our own often-fraught bonds with the materiality that is our own lived bodies. I sometimes joke that all I am doing in the studio is making friends. This joke is feeling more real by the day. I am thinking now about all the gorgeous non-traditionally gendered people I know coming back to their apartments exhausted from the daily labor of moving through the world and carefully watering their plants."
objects  kinship  objectkinship  care  caring  reality  perception  senses  gordonhall  gender  seeing  sculpture  art  artists  2016  functionality  corinhewitt  brucenauman  williamwiley  1960s  slow  slowreading  howweread  reading  knowing  howwelearn  noticing  observation  identification  bodies  naming  notknowing  meaning  meaningmaking  frankowen  ambiguity  mickybradford  race  markaguhar  michaelbrown  williamwitherup  mrionwintersteen  chancesdances  tyrahunter  northcarolina  housebill2  body 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Against Interpretation
[before quoting the entirety, quoting one line:

"What is important now is to recover our senses. We must learn to see more, to hear more, to feel more."]

"“Content is a glimpse of something, an encounter like a flash. It’s very tiny - very tiny, content.”
- Willem De Kooning, in an interview

“It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.”
- Oscar Wilde, in a letter

1

The earliest experience of art must have been that it was incantatory, magical; art was an instrument of ritual. (Cf. the paintings in the caves at Lascaux, Altamira, Niaux, La Pasiega, etc.) The earliest theory of art, that of the Greek philosophers, proposed that art was mimesis, imitation of reality.

It is at this point that the peculiar question of the value of art arose. For the mimetic theory, by its very terms, challenges art to justify itself.

Plato, who proposed the theory, seems to have done so in order to rule that the value of art is dubious. Since he considered ordinary material things as themselves mimetic objects, imitations of transcendent forms or structures, even the best painting of a bed would be only an “imitation of an imitation.” For Plato, art is neither particularly useful (the painting of a bed is no good to sleep on), nor, in the strict sense, true. And Aristotle’s arguments in defense of art do not really challenge Plato’s view that all art is an elaborate trompe l’oeil, and therefore a lie. But he does dispute Plato’s idea that art is useless. Lie or no, art has a certain value according to Aristotle because it is a form of therapy. Art is useful, after all, Aristotle counters, medicinally useful in that it arouses and purges dangerous emotions.

In Plato and Aristotle, the mimetic theory of art goes hand in hand with the assumption that art is always figurative. But advocates of the mimetic theory need not close their eyes to decorative and abstract art. The fallacy that art is necessarily a “realism” can be modified or scrapped without ever moving outside the problems delimited by the mimetic theory.

The fact is, all Western consciousness of and reflection upon art have remained within the confines staked out by the Greek theory of art as mimesis or representation. It is through this theory that art as such - above and beyond given works of art - becomes problematic, in need of defense. And it is the defense of art which gives birth to the odd vision by which something we have learned to call “form” is separated off from something we have learned to call “content,” and to the well-intentioned move which makes content essential and form accessory.

Even in modern times, when most artists and critics have discarded the theory of art as representation of an outer reality in favor of the theory of art as subjective expression, the main feature of the mimetic theory persists. Whether we conceive of the work of art on the model of a picture (art as a picture of reality) or on the model of a statement (art as the statement of the artist), content still comes first. The content may have changed. It may now be less figurative, less lucidly realistic. But it is still assumed that a work of art is its content. Or, as it’s usually put today, that a work of art by definition says something. (“What X is saying is . . . ,” “What X is trying to say is . . .,” “What X said is . . .” etc., etc.)

2

None of us can ever retrieve that innocence before all theory when art knew no need to justify itself, when one did not ask of a work of art what it said because one knew (or thought one knew) what it did. From now to the end of consciousness, we are stuck with the task of defending art. We can only quarrel with one or another means of defense. Indeed, we have an obligation to overthrow any means of defending and justifying art which becomes particularly obtuse or onerous or insensitive to contemporary needs and practice.

This is the case, today, with the very idea of content itself. Whatever it may have been in the past, the idea of content is today mainly a hindrance, a nuisance, a subtle or not so subtle philistinism.

Though the actual developments in many arts may seem to be leading us away from the idea that a work of art is primarily its content, the idea still exerts an extraordinary hegemony. I want to suggest that this is because the idea is now perpetuated in the guise of a certain way of encountering works of art thoroughly ingrained among most people who take any of the arts seriously. What the overemphasis on the idea of content entails is the perennial, never consummated project of interpretation. And, conversely, it is the habit of approaching works of art in order to interpret them that sustains the fancy that there really is such a thing as the content of a work of art.

3

Of course, I don’t mean interpretation in the broadest sense, the sense in which Nietzsche (rightly) says, “There are no facts, only interpretations.” By interpretation, I mean here a conscious act of the mind which illustrates a certain code, certain “rules” of interpretation.

Directed to art, interpretation means plucking a set of elements (the X, the Y, the Z, and so forth) from the whole work. The task of interpretation is virtually one of translation. The interpreter says, Look, don’t you see that X is really - or, really means - A? That Y is really B? That Z is really C?

What situation could prompt this curious project for transforming a text? History gives us the materials for an answer. Interpretation first appears in the culture of late classical antiquity, when the power and credibility of myth had been broken by the “realistic” view of the world introduced by scientific enlightenment. Once the question that haunts post-mythic consciousness - that of the seemliness of religious symbols - had been asked, the ancient texts were, in their pristine form, no longer acceptable. Then interpretation was summoned, to reconcile the ancient texts to “modern” demands. Thus, the Stoics, to accord with their view that the gods had to be moral, allegorized away the rude features of Zeus and his boisterous clan in Homer’s epics. What Homer really designated by the adultery of Zeus with Leto, they explained, was the union between power and wisdom. In the same vein, Philo of Alexandria interpreted the literal historical narratives of the Hebrew Bible as spiritual paradigms. The story of the exodus from Egypt, the wandering in the desert for forty years, and the entry into the promised land, said Philo, was really an allegory of the individual soul’s emancipation, tribulations, and final deliverance. Interpretation thus presupposes a discrepancy between the clear meaning of the text and the demands of (later) readers. It seeks to resolve that discrepancy. The situation is that for some reason a text has become unacceptable; yet it cannot be discarded. Interpretation is a radical strategy for conserving an old text, which is thought too precious to repudiate, by revamping it. The interpreter, without actually erasing or rewriting the text, is altering it. But he can’t admit to doing this. He claims to be only making it intelligible, by disclosing its true meaning. However far the interpreters alter the text (another notorious example is the Rabbinic and Christian “spiritual” interpretations of the clearly erotic Song of Songs), they must claim to be reading off a sense that is already there.

Interpretation in our own time, however, is even more complex. For the contemporary zeal for the project of interpretation is often prompted not by piety toward the troublesome text (which may conceal an aggression), but by an open aggressiveness, an overt contempt for appearances. The old style of interpretation was insistent, but respectful; it erected another meaning on top of the literal one. The modern style of interpretation excavates, and as it excavates, destroys; it digs “behind” the text, to find a sub-text which is the true one. The most celebrated and influential modern doctrines, those of Marx and Freud, actually amount to elaborate systems of hermeneutics, aggressive and impious theories of interpretation. All observable phenomena are bracketed, in Freud’s phrase, as manifest content. This manifest content must be probed and pushed aside to find the true meaning - the latent content - beneath. For Marx, social events like revolutions and wars; for Freud, the events of individual lives (like neurotic symptoms and slips of the tongue) as well as texts (like a dream or a work of art) - all are treated as occasions for interpretation. According to Marx and Freud, these events only seem to be intelligible. Actually, they have no meaning without interpretation. To understand is to interpret. And to interpret is to restate the phenomenon, in effect to find an equivalent for it.

Thus, interpretation is not (as most people assume) an absolute value, a gesture of mind situated in some timeless realm of capabilities. Interpretation must itself be evaluated, within a historical view of human consciousness. In some cultural contexts, interpretation is a liberating act. It is a means of revising, of transvaluing, of escaping the dead past. In other cultural contexts, it is reactionary, impertinent, cowardly, stifling.

4

Today is such a time, when the project of interpretation is largely reactionary, stifling. Like the fumes of the automobile and of heavy industry which befoul the urban atmosphere, the effusion of interpretations of art today poisons our sensibilities. In a culture whose already classical dilemma is the hypertrophy of the intellect at the expense of energy and sensual capability, interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art.

Even more. It is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world - in order to set up a shadow world of “meanings.” It is to turn … [more]
art  interpretation  philosophy  theory  essays  susansontag  plato  artistotle  film  representation  innocence  nietzsche  proust  kafka  tennesseewilliams  jean-lucgodard  rolandbarthes  erwinpanofsky  northropfrye  walterbenjamin  yasujirōozu  robertbresson  culture  thought  senses  oscarwilde  willemdekooning  content  appearances  aesthetics  invisibile  myth  antiquity  karlmarx  freud  jamesjoyce  rainermariarilke  andrégide  dhlawrence  jeancocteau  alainresnais  alainrobbe-grillet  ingmarbergman  ezrapund  tseliot  dgriffith  françoistruffaut  michelangeloantonioni  ermannoolmi  criticism  pierrefrancastel  mannyfarber  dorothyvanghent  rndalljarrell  waltwhitman  williamfaulkner 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Pool of Thought - The New York Times
"THERE is no drug — recreational or prescription — capable of inducing the tranquil euphoria brought on by swimming. I do all my best thinking in the pool, whether I’m trying to figure out how to treat a patient’s complicated ailment or write a paper. Why that is is mysterious, but I have a theory.

Assuming you have some basic stroke proficiency, your attention is freed from the outside world. You just have to dimly sense the approaching wall before you flip turn and go on your way. Cut off from sound, you are mostly aware of your breathing. You have to traverse boredom before you can get to a state of mental flow. Now your mind is free to revel in nonlinear, associative thought. Nothing has to make sense. You suddenly become aware that time has passed. You are not sure what elapsed in that strange discontinuity, but the solution to a problem that escaped you on land is perfectly obvious emerging from the water — a rapturous experience.

I could flood you with facts about the physiology of swimming in an attempt to convince you of its cognitive benefits. Some point to endorphins — but the idea that exertion causes endorphin levels to rise in the brain seems to be a myth. Perhaps swimming improves brain function by increasing blood flow? Sure, that’s true. It also raises the level of BDNF, a protein that promotes neurogenesis, especially in the hippocampus, which supports memory. But so does nearly every form of exercise that speeds up your heart rate.

And yet, immersion in water up to the level of the heart has been shown to increase blood flow to one of the brain’s major arteries by 14 percent over that which you’d expect on land. So perhaps there is something special about swimming that is distinct from exercise on land.

Some of my psychoanalytically oriented colleagues have joked that swimming promotes an emotional regression — back to “swimming” in utero. I love the notion, but considering that the brain regions central to encoding long-term memory don’t develop sufficiently until around age 1, it’s unlikely.

My love of swimming is as emotional as it is intellectual. My father, who was a great swimmer, taught me to swim when I was very young. We swam together in every conceivable body of water for years, so swimming is inextricably bound to my relationship with my father, who was an engineer and a deeply curious person.

Though we never discussed it, I suspect that he, too, swam not just for health, but to think. He would return from a long swim and disappear into his office, emerging hours later excited about an insight into a new technology or instrument.

A few years back, my husband and I celebrated on our honeymoon by swimming from Europe to Asia across the Dardanelles — the Hellespont of Greek myth. It was about a two-and-a-half-mile swim in some of the most beautiful cool azure water, so I had plenty of time to think.

Halfway across, I looked up and could see the coast of Canakkale, Turkey, in the distance, and realized I had 40 minutes or so more to finish. I found myself thinking of my father, as I often do in the water, and pictured his powerful, graceful stroke. Next thing I knew, I had reached land."

[via: http://www.deliberate.rest/?p=966 ]
swimming  richardfriedman  2016  immersion  euphoria  psychology  nonlinear  discontinuity  beathing  senses  thinking  flow  howwethink  non-linear  alinear  linearity 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Please Touch the Art on Vimeo
"cantorfineart.com/story/please-touch-the-art/

One day a blind man discovered a screw painting by Andrew Myers with his hands. The blind man found as much enjoyment out of the tactile elements of the work as any sighted person ever has by just looking at them. Andrew considers this moment as one of the most inspiring of his career. Which led us to a question: Why is touching artwork so taboo?

Prior to the mid-1800s, tactile interaction was commonplace for visitors experiencing collections of art, but as museums of art evolved, rules forbidding touch became the norm. In some cases, these were to protect artwork that truly was not meant to be touched, but in large part these norms had nothing do with preservation and everything to do with nineteenth century politics of gender, race and class control.

In light of all this, we decided to create a documentary that elevates the level of tactile arts, and gives back to the visually impaired community. It was at that point that we met George Wurtzel.

George is a blind artisan and teacher working at Enchanted Hills Camp in Napa Ca. This is a 300 acre camp nestled in the red wood forest above Napa Valley. Enchanted Hills is a summer camp for the visually impaired. Here George teaches blind folks, through example, how to use all the equipment necessary to become blind artisans.

Currently, George is converting an old grape crushing barn into a Tactile Art Center. The top floor of the building is his 1900 sq. ft. wood working shop. The bottom floor will be his Tactile Art gallery space where blind people can feel and sell their artwork.

We fell in love with George and his mission and wanted to support his new tactile art gallery. So we worked with Andrew Myers to surprise George with a tactile portrait of himself. The first portrait he will be able to feel and recognize.

Learn more about Enchanted hills here: lighthouse-sf.org/programs/enchanted-hills/

The Academy of Music for the Blind (AMB) were kind enough to create a song for our soundtrack. AMB specifically addresses the educational, social, and physical needs of talented blind music students so that they can fully develop their unique talents and be prepared for integration into the workplace or other educational settings.

To learn more about the AMB visit:ouramb.org/

To learn more about this project, visit cantorfineart.com/story/please-touch-the-art/

Music Credits:

Artist: Tycho, Song: A Walk
Buy it in iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/album/a-walk/id679251532?i=679251628

Artist: Aphex Twin, Song: 14th Avril
Buy it in iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/album/avril-14th/id50235099?i=50235117 "
video  art  tactile  blind  blindness  music  tactileinteraction  touch  senses  andrewmyers  georgewurtzel  enchantedhillscamp  napa  lagunabeach  tactileartcenter  2016 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Edmund de Waal and the Strange Alchemy of Porcelain - The New York Times
"The sculptor and writer wants us to rediscover our sense of touch by working with our hands."



"Within a few minutes of my meeting Edmund de Waal, he was putting things in my hands. He handed me, for instance, a 1,000-year-old Chinese porcelain plate — the kind of object you would expect to see in a climate-controlled glass case in a museum, protected, at great expense, from clumsy, meaty, oily, inexpert hands like mine. De Waal just passed it to me as if it were nothing. To understand an object, he believes, you have to touch it.

In my fingers, the plate felt both fragile and indestructible. It was older than printed books, older than every traceable generation of my family. I could have snapped it in half or thrown it on the floor. Instead, I just stood there, probing its edges with my finger pads, weighing it in my palms, tracing the precise volume of space that it was displacing in the world. If all went well, this delicate thing would outlive us all by many more generations. My fingers felt this as they felt the plate. I was touching not only space but time.

De Waal kept handing me objects: perfect things, ruined things, priceless things, worthless things. We were standing in the room where he writes, in his studio in London, and he was pulling these specimens off a shelf near his desk. He is 51 and very tall, with short slate-gray hair and round glasses that rest on large, protrusive ears: ears that are somehow childish, ears to be grown into. He has unusually big hands, too; all the objects looked relaxed and at home in them, like young birds in the grasp of an animal handler. He passed me an imperial stem cup, many hundreds of years old, the rim of which seemed to be wilting. ‘‘It’s collapsed in on itself,’’ he said, ‘‘but look at the fineness of it.’’

He handed me a rough lump of Cherokee clay: a clod of petrified dirt, a meatball from outer space. He handed me shard after shard after shard of ancient porcelain dishes. He seemed delighted by all the ruination. ‘‘Part of the DNA of porcelain is getting messed up,’’ he said. One of the shards was a big, chunky encrustation that looked like a particularly ugly seashell. It was, de Waal said, an odd overlapping of worlds: porcelain that had been cooked too hot, so that its delicate white layers had fused, permanently, with their rough outer molds; perfection and failure welded together into something more interesting than either on its own.

De Waal is himself multiple things fused together, an odd overlapping of worlds. He is, first of all, one of the most celebrated living potters. His stark white porcelain vessels, painstakingly arranged in groups on shelves, can be found in private collections throughout Europe and North America, as well as in the permanent collections of such august institutions as the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He is also one of the most adventurous nonfiction writers at work today. His 2010 book, ‘‘The Hare With Amber Eyes,’’ was a surprise best seller and is now being turned into a film. It is a memoir told through objects: a collection of 264 small Japanese carvings called netsuke, whimsical and intricate depictions, in ivory or wood, of hungry wolves or ripe fruit or sleeping servants or couples making love. Netsuke are roughly the size of a walnut shell. They are designed to be handled: carried in pockets, compulsively tumbled around in your fingers.

In the book, de Waal traces the history of these intricate little sculptures, which he inherited from his great-uncle Iggie, from 18th-century Japan to 19th-century Paris to Holocaust-era Vienna, where they were hidden in a mattress by the family’s maid to protect them from the Nazis. Through meticulous research, he tried to resurrect all of the many hands that have tumbled them over the centuries. The tiny netsuke become great repositories of human experience; they contain generations of Jewish aspiration, delusion, exile and loss."



"In 2009, the museum invited de Waal to contribute a major piece to its collection. He grew up visiting the museum, so he knew its porcelain collection well. He knew its loneliness, its isolation. He came up with an ingenious solution. De Waal designed a huge red aluminum ring, 120 feet in diameter, to nest inside the museum’s dome. The red ring is actually an elegant circular shelf: inside of it, all the way around, are pieces of porcelain by de Waal, large and extremely white, inspired by the museum’s collection. There are 425 of them, flashing against the red like teeth in a violent mouth. When visitors enter the museum, on their way to the better-known galleries closer to the street, their eyes are almost inevitably drawn up to this colorful ring hanging, very distantly, over the grand lobby. It’s like the hint of a scandal up in the attic, a sudden reason to make that long trip.

‘‘The White Road,’’ de Waal’s new book, performs an analogous trick. It rescues porcelain from the cultural attic — makes the subject feel vital, modern, interactive. In the book, de Waal refers to ‘‘Moby-Dick’’ several times (the whiteness of the whale, etc.), and he writes about porcelain as Melville writes about cetaceans: as one of the central elements of the universe. Porcelain is not just porcelain, it’s the essence of displacement. Touch a piece of it, and you travel through time, place, states of being, from ancient Chinese peasants harvesting clay to German alchemists suffocating in castle basements to emperors bankrupting their kingdoms in order to feed their collections. ‘‘Porzellankrankheit,’’ Germans called it — ‘‘porcelain sickness.’’ It is a delicate subject with a feverish history.

De Waal has his own special case of porcelain sickness, of course, and in ‘‘The White Road,’’ he follows it around the world. He visits primordial white hills in China, France, Germany and England. For 500 years, de Waal writes, the West had no idea how porcelain was made: People speculated that it was the crushed-up umbilical cords of fish that had been buried underground for decades. In fact, it is only clay. But it is clay of a very special kind: an extremely smooth combination of two minerals, petunse and kaolin, mined separately and mixed together in exactly the right proportions. When fired at extremely high temperatures, porcelain clay fuses into a kind of glass, hard and white but still slightly translucent. It is this paradoxical combination of qualities — hardness, softness, solidity, translucence — that has made people throughout history go so bananas.

‘‘The White Road’’ is a book of excess. It goes too far. It gets lost. It repeats itself. De Waal takes us all over the world, all over history: Jesuit priests, Spinoza, Constantinople, manhunts, self-immolation, Hitler, Cherokees, Quakers, modern Chinese street vendors selling ‘‘sixteenth-century porcelains from last week.’’ His prose style is like his pot style: He gets drunk on simplicity, on repetition. ‘‘The car turns off the new highway on to the old road and off the old road on to the old track rising between two farmers’ houses.’’ It could have been an easier book, more linear and contained. But then ‘‘Moby-Dick’’ could have been easier, too. One of de Waal’s core beliefs is that messes are interesting. There’s so much to feel inside of them."



"De Waal is an evangelist of touch. As he wrote in ‘‘The Hare With Amber Eyes’’: ‘‘Touch tells you what you need to know: it tells you about yourself.’’ As he writes in ‘‘The White Road’’: ‘‘Thinking is through the hands as well as the head.’’ Hands are the great universal human fact. Our opposable thumbs are the tools that helped launch us out of the forests and into the world we know now. Some of the earliest art is simply handprints on cave walls — a high-five across 30,000 years. Even in our postmodern, postindustrial, increasingly virtual digital world, we depend on our fingertips to decode for us, instantly, the crucial outlines of our environment: whether an object is hot or cold, whether it’s something to drink or peel or squeeze, something your teeth will be able to penetrate, a volume button or a power switch. We are still affectionate animals who greet each other with hands: handshakes, fist bumps, high-fives, hugs.

De Waal’s hands are rapturously attentive to the weight, grain, proportions and personalities of objects. For years, he says, he could remember every single pot he ever touched. In the same way that Bobby Fischer could run into someone at a tournament and say, about a game they had played 15 years earlier, ‘‘You should have moved your bishop to e7,’’ de Waal can recall exactly the way a particular vase swelled or tapered toward its rim, or if the heft of a teakettle was particularly well-balanced. Recently, he says, his memory has filled up, and old pots have started to drop out of it.

De Waal worries that modern humans are beginning to lose our fluency in touch. He thinks that we live in a world impoverished by a lack of attention to tactility. Our culture has a deeply embedded shame of the body, shame of skin, shame of ‘‘mere’’ sensation — a desire to transcend the animal coarseness of nerves, hair, blood flow. To live in clean, noble abstractions: things that we think will last. All of our digital technology, all of these portable virtual worlds, only make it easier to live in touchlessness. If you put on virtual-reality goggles, there will be plenty to look at and pretend to touch, but nothing to actually feel. But touch, de Waal insists, is fundamental to the human experience. If we can’t fully inhabit and value the world of touchable objects, de Waal told me, then we can’t fully value other human beings.

Despite our culture’s squeamishness, there is no escape from touch, and there is no escape from time, and these two facts are intimately related. All of the hands that exist … [more]
edmunddewaal  samanderson  senses  porcelain  touch  touchlessness  messes  messiness  netsuke  objects  worrybeads  fidgettools  anti-anxietydevices 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Sensory Substitution
"Can sensory data be fed through unusual sensory channels? And can the brain learn to extract the meaning of such information streams?

Yes and yes. Sensory substitution is a non-invasive technique for circumventing the loss of one sense by feeding its information through another channel. We are leveraging this technique to develop a non-invasive, low-cost vibratory vest to allow those with deafness or severe hearing impairments to perceive auditory information through small vibrations on their torso."
senses  synesthesia  visualisation  informationdavideagleman  substitution 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Alan dreams of suya | Snakes and Ladders
"I woke up in the middle of the night last night with an inexplicable but overwhelming craving for a food that I haven’t eaten in nearly 25 years. Suya: marinated, highly spiced slices of beef cooked over a wood or charcoal fire and served with sliced onions and, when I had it, anyway, plum tomatoes. (It turns out, comically enough, that the Wikipedia page for suya links to an article I published in 1992.) It’s a Nigerian treat, especially favored by the Hausa people in the north of the country, but I first tasted it in the city of Ilorin in the heart of Yorubaland.

It was early evening, and the suya vendor had set up his cart at the side of a road on which the chief government building of Kwara state stood facing the sharia court building, in a kind of standoff. I don’t know that I’ve ever smelled anything more mouth-watering than the aromas wafting from that cart, and though I haven’t thought about the experience in years, probably, when I woke up last night everything about that evening came back to me with an uncanny clarity — spreading the suya on its bed of newspaper out on the hood of a minivan, eating and talking quietly with my friends as others drifted to and from the cart … how wonderful that was. So many moments in life get lost in the jumble of everyday busyness, it’s a gift when something small and sweet makes a gentle return to memory, to presence."
food  taste  smell  senses  memory  suya  nigeria  2015  alanjacobs 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Radical Sensing - Selwa Sweidan
"Radical Sensing is a speculative design project rooted in the sense of smell. Radical Sensing imagines a future in which people have chosen to replace their noses with a "super smelling" neuroprosthetic or a "post-nose” that amplifies, isolates, decodes and records scent with simple gestures and downloadable customizations.

Radical Sensing poses questions about the future of prosthetics. Can the voluntary removal of body organs, in favor of augmented replacements, become normative?

Radical Sensing proposes a rearchitecting of the body, externally (though a wearable nose) and internally (through the neurological and experiential changes that arise when ehancing and even sharing the act of smelling).

Through performative prototyping, 3D modeling, user interviews, and a smell recording device - Radical Sensing raises questions about what it means to experience an enhanced sense of smell in the future, and what arises when we "live in our nose" in the present."

[See also:
https://vimeo.com/122488780
https://vimeo.com/124908121
https://vimeo.com/136255169 ]
smell  senses  speculativedesign  selwasweidan  prosthetics  neuroprosthetics 
august 2015 by robertogreco
laika
[via: http://forestambassador.com/post/118114779683/space-adventure-laika-is-a-game-about-a-dog-by

"Space Adventure Laika is a game about a dog by Misty De Meo.

Play Online

Why Try It: An intense, difficult story about the life of Laika based in historical truth.

Mood: Sad

Author’s Notes: “Space Adventure Laika is a game about a small dog who is going to die.” (read more)

You Might Also Like: Sputnik Dog Simulator, Dog Petting Sim"]
laika  games  twine  interactivefiction  srg  edg  gaming  history  space  mistydemeo  senses  if 
may 2015 by robertogreco
High modernist subjectivity gives an extraordinary... • see things differently
""High modernist subjectivity gives an extraordinary privilege … to judgement and especially to cognition…. The modern predominance of reading….

High [modernism] … furthermore … privileges the cognitive and moral over the aesthetic and the libidinal, the ego over the id, the visual over touch, and discursive over figural communication.

…the individual [is] somehow ‘closed’ instead of open; to be somehow obsessed with self-mastery and self-domination."

Lash, S. & Friedman, J. (Eds.). (1993). Modernity & Identity. Massachusetts: Blackwell, pg. 5"

[See also: http://linguisticcapital.wordpress.com/2011/11/05/modernism-in-the-streets/

"High modernist subjectivity gives an extraordinary privilege, for example, to judgement and especially to cognition. It correspondingly devalues the faculty of perception, so that vision itself is so to speak colonized by cognition. The modern predominance of reading fosters epistemologies of representation, of a visual paradigm in the sphere of art [...]. High modernist subjectivity seems furthermore to privilege the cognitive and moral over the aesthetic and the libidinal, the ego over the id, the visual over touch, and discursive over figural communication. It gives primacy to culture over nature, to the individual over the community, As an ethics of responsibility, high modernist personality and Lebensfürung [life-course] it allows the individual to be somehow ‘closed’ instead of open; to be somehow obsessed with self-mastery and self-domination."

Lash, S. & Friedman, J. (Eds.). (1993). Modernity & Identity. Massachusetts: Blackwell, pg. 5]
modernism  highmodernism  bias  cognition  morality  aesthetics  libidinal  ego  id  visual  senses  touch  discursion  figurative  communication  reading  literacy  gutenbergparenthesis  self-mastery  self-domination  modernity  identity  1993 
october 2014 by robertogreco
How Culture Shapes Our Senses - NYTimes.com
"FLORENCE, Italy — WE think of our senses as hard-wired gateways to the world. Many years ago the social psychologist Daryl J. Bem described the knowledge we gain from our senses as “zero-order beliefs,” so taken for granted that we do not even notice them as beliefs. The sky is blue. The fan hums. Ice is cold. That’s the nature of reality, and it seems peculiar that different people with their senses intact would experience it subjectively.

Yet they do. In recent years anthropologists have begun to point out that sensory perception is culturally specific. “Sensory perception,” Constance Classen, the author of “The Deepest Sense: A Cultural History of Touch,” says, “is a cultural as well as physical act.” It’s a controversial claim made famous by Marshall McLuhan’s insistence that nonliterate societies were governed by spoken words and sound, while literate societies experienced words visually and so were dominated by sight. Few anthropologists would accept that straightforwardly today. But more and more are willing to argue that sensory perception is as much about the cultural training of attention as it is about biological capacity.

Now they have some quantitative evidence to support the point. Recently, a team of anthropologists and psychologists at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and Radboud University, both in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, set out to discover how language and culture affected sensory awareness. Under the leadership of Asifa Majid and Stephen C. Levinson, they made up a kit of systematic stimuli for the traditional five senses: for sight, color chips and geometric forms; for hearing, pitch, amplitude and rhythm variations; for smell, a set of scratch-and-sniff cards; and so forth. They took these kits to over 20 cultural groups around the world. Their results upend some of our basic assumptions.

For example, it’s fairly common, in scientific literature, to find the view that “humans are astonishingly bad at odor identification and naming,” as a recent review of 30 years of experiments concluded. When ordinary people are presented with the smell of ordinary substances (coffee, peanut butter, chocolate), they correctly identify about half of them. That’s why we think of scent as a trigger for personal memory — leading to the recall of something specific, particular, uniquely our own.

It turns out that the subjects of those 30 years of experiments were mostly English-speaking. Indeed, English speakers find it easy to identify the common color in milk and jasmine flowers (“white”) but not the common scent in, say, bat droppings and the leaf of ginger root. When the research team presented what should have been familiar scents to Americans — cinnamon, turpentine, lemon, rose and so forth — they were terrible at naming them. Americans, they wrote, said things like this when presented with the cinnamon scratch-and-sniff card: “I don’t know how to say that, sweet, yeah; I have tasted that gum like Big Red or something tastes like, what do I want to say? I can’t get the word. Jesus it’s like that gum smell like something like Big Red. Can I say that? O.K. Big Red, Big Red gum.”

When the research team visited the Jahai, rain-forest foragers on the Malay Peninsula, they found that the Jahai were succinct and more accurate with the scratch-and-sniff cards. In fact, they were about as good at naming what they smelled as what they saw. They do, in fact, have an abstract term for the shared odor in bat droppings and the leaf of ginger root. Abstract odor terms are common among people on the Malay Peninsula.

The team also found that several communities — speakers of Persian, Turkish and Zapotec — used different metaphors than English and Dutch speakers to describe pitch, or frequency: Sounds were thin or thick rather than high or low. In later work, they demonstrated that the metaphors were powerful enough to disrupt perception. When Dutch speakers heard a tone while being shown a mismatched height bar (e.g., a high tone and a low bar) and were asked to sing the tone, they sang a lower tone. But the perception wasn’t influenced when they were shown a thin or thick bar. When Persian speakers heard a tone and were shown a bar of mismatched thickness, however, they misremembered the tone — but not when they were shown a bar mismatched for height.

The team also found that some of these differences could change over time. They taught the Dutch speakers to think about pitch as thin or thick, and soon these participants, too, found that their memory of a tone was affected by being shown a bar that was too thick or too thin. They found that younger Cantonese speakers had fewer words for tastes and smells than older ones, a shift attributed to rapid socioeconomic development and Western-style schooling.

I wrote this in Florence, Italy, a city famous as a feast for the senses. People say that Florence teaches you to see differently — that as the soft light moves across the ocher buildings, you see colors you never noticed before.

It taught Kevin Systrom, a co-founder of Instagram, to see differently. He attributes his inspiration to a photography class he took in Florence while at a Stanford study-abroad program about a decade ago. His teacher took away his state-of-the-art camera and insisted he use an old plastic one instead, to change the way he saw. He loved those photos, the vintage feel of them, and the way the buildings looked in the light. He set out to recreate that look in the app he built. And that has changed the way many of us now see as well."
senses  taste  smell  olfaction  touch  sight  seeing  noticing  language  languages  culture  darylbem  tmluhrmann  constanceclassen  wcydwt  glvo  slow  marshallmcluhan  anthropology  psychology  perception  sense  asifamajid  stephenlevinson  sound  hearing  tone  pitch  rhythm  color  comparison  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  literacies  literacy  identification  naming  kevinsystrom 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Burn the Seats: Audience Immersion in Interactive Theater on Vimeo
"“It’s about a heightened state of awareness,” says Felix Barrett about groundbreaking productions like Sleep No More and The Drowned Man. Punchdrunk productions transform existing architectural spaces into interactive theater pieces in order to disrupt the traditional, formulaic, and passive theater model. They demand the attention of all five senses."
theater  storytelling  2013  sleepnomore  felixbarrett  thedrownedman  architecture  immersive  senses  punchdrunk  interactive 
september 2014 by robertogreco
The art and science of whispering - Radiotonic - ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
"Autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR, is the name of both the tingling sensation we feel when listening to whispering and other high frequency noises and the online community devoted to it. Belinda Lopez enters a world of whispers and scientific curiosity."
via:alexismadrigal  whispering  sound  belindalopez  science  senses  audio  youtube  speech  2014 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Science teacher: On bulls and blossoms
"The cherry blossoms are a week late this year--they know better than I do when the bees will be around, so I do not begrudge their timing.

Several cherry trees line Liberty Street here in town, a road I've walked a few thousand times on my way to and from Bloomfield High School. A few have branches low enough for me to bury my nose into their blossoms, so I do, but not before I check for bees. The bees have work to do.

We are (mostly) visual creatures. We analyze light, look for patterns, capture it digitally so we can show others what we think we saw. We have cameras to compare our various abilities to capture light, to hold the world in a frame.

Me and my nose live in a different world, a world of curves not angles, smudges not sharp borders, a world where time and distances dissolve into layers of fog swirling into each other.

Cameras capture the sensuous, pleasing the cortex, blending thought and analysis and the beauty of order; my nose triggers the sensual, flaring up the olfactory lobe, part of our more primitive brain, visceral, without language.

If you have never slid your nose into an hours old cherry blossom, no words can describe wash of peppery sweetness that takes you to nowhere but here now. Noses are like that.

Yellow pollen sticks to my nose like fairy dust. I wipe it away, feeling vaguely self-conscious, ignoring the strangers who pause to stare at this madman burying his nose in the flowers. It takes me a moment to regain my bearings.

In a week the blossoms will be gone, and I will have nothing but a false memory left of what once was.

***

This cerebral, abstract culture of ours does not deal with noses well. Odors are just so hard to control, the memories they arouse so unpredictably deep, and the sense of smell is, well, too primitive for those of us who dwell in the abstract world of words, numbers, and big data.

We talk about stopping to smell the flowers, but we focus on the stopping, not the wave of sensuous, even sensual, deep aroma of flowers that give us reason to pause. What does it mean to stop and take a break, to get away from it all, when the all can be found in a moment spent on the edge of a city street, face buried in flowers.

One of my favorite books growing up was The Story of Ferdinand, a bull who would rather spend his days buried in flowers than fighting. The book was banned in many countries.

Things as they are would, of course, fall apart if too many children figured out that what we want them to want is more about success of our economy than about them them. Ferdinand is a dangerous role model.

You can live your life working for the next big thing, dreaming of your next vacation, your next car, your next hazelnut macchiato, You can dwell on the moments you will (or not) eventually have, but the idea of anything worthwhile is still just that--an abstract thought, reduced by the limits of imagination, and ultimately unsatisfying.

If you continue to see the kids in front of you as potential professionals, as potential thieves, as potential laborers or soldiers or teachers, you cannot see the child in front of you now, on a dreary April morning, here, in a room defined by its sharp edges and word salad on the walls.

Kids know if you're present in the classroom. Passionate teachers are effective not so much for their passion, but for their presence. You can fake passion--teachers are good actors--but you cannot fake presence."
michaeldoyl  life  living  teaching  cv  senses  spring  cherryblossoms  blossoms  vision  smell  scent  teching  howweteach  presence  passion  ferdinandthebull  canon  tcsnmy  unschooling  deschooling  education  2014 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Making Do
"“Having a conversation with the junk of a City of Riches feels surprisingly cosy.
And inspires intense concentration.

With a makeshift trolley of tools and resources in tow, Xin Cheng, Chris Berthelsen and companions become hypnotized by the fine-grain of Auckland’s native wetlands, urban industrial zones and sub/urban deathtraps. Over a series of walks they begin to work out how to come to terms with the Super City in a pragmatic, generative, and non-goal-oriented manner.”

making do by Xin Cheng, Chris Berthelsen and companions might concern: circumstances and eddies, niches and leftovers, material intrigue, spontaneous constructions and rearrangements, sustenance and pleasures of the senses.
at least.

A sketchbook of the project can be found at http://making-do.tumblr.com "
xincheng  chrisberthelsen  walking  conversation  makingdo  aukland  newzealand  wetlands  urban  urbanism  supercity  senses  generative 
april 2014 by robertogreco
To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees | Grand Strategy: The View from Oregon
"“To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees.” This is a quote frequently attributed to Paul Valéry, and the line has a quality that is at once both searching and poetic, making the attribution reasonable. I don’t know if Valéry actually said it (I can’t find the source of the quote), but I think of this line every once in a while: my mind returns to it as to an object of fascination. A good aphorism is perennially pregnant with meaning, and always repays further meditation.

If seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees, and mutatis mutandis for the aesthetic experiences that follow from the other senses — e.g., to taste is to forget the name of thing one tastes, and so forth — we may take the idea further and insist that it is the forgetting of not only the name but of all the linguistic (i.e., formal) accretions, all categorizations, and all predications, that enables us to experience the thing in itself (to employ a Kantian locution). What we are describing is the pursuit of prepredicative experience after the fact (to employ a Husserlian locution).

This is nothing other than the familiar theme of seeking a pure aesthetic experience unmediated by the intellect, undistracted by conceptualization, unmarred by thought — seeing without thinking the seen. In view of this, can we take the further step, beyond the generalization of naming, extending the conceit to all linguistic formalizations, so that we arrive at a pure aesthesis of thought? Can we say that to think is to forget the name of the thing one thinks?

The pure aesthesis of thought, to feel a thought as one feels an experience of the senses, would be thought unmediated by the conventions of naming, categories, predication, and all the familiar machinery of the intellect, i.e., thought unmediated by the accretions of consciousness. It would be thought without all that we usually think of as being thought. Is such thought even possible? Is this, perhaps, unconscious thought? Is Freud the proper model for a pure aesthesis of thought? Possible or not, conscious or not, Freudian or not, the pursuit of such thought would constitute an effort of thought that must enlarge our intellectual imagination, and the enlargement of our imagination is ultimately the enlargement of our world.

Wittgenstein famously wrote that the limits of my language are the limits of my world (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 5.6 — this is another wonderful aphorism that always repays further meditation). But the limits of language can be extended; we can systematically seek to transcend the limits of our language and thus the limits of our world, or we can augment our language and thus augment our world. Russell, Wittgenstein’s mentor and one-time collaborator, rather than focusing on limits of the self, developed an ethic of impersonal self-enlargement, i.e., the transgression of limits. In the last chapter of his The Problems of Philosophy Russell wrote:
All acquisition of knowledge is an enlargement of the Self, but this enlargement is best attained when it is not directly sought. It is obtained when the desire for knowledge is alone operative, by a study which does not wish in advance that its objects should have this or that character, but adapts the Self to the characters which it finds in its objects. This enlargement of Self is not obtained when, taking the Self as it is, we try to show that the world is so similar to this Self that knowledge of it is possible without any admission of what seems alien. The desire to prove this is a form of self-assertion and, like all self-assertion, it is an obstacle to the growth of Self which it desires, and of which the Self knows that it is capable. Self-assertion, in philosophic speculation as elsewhere, views the world as a means to its own ends; thus it makes the world of less account than Self, and the Self sets bounds to the greatness of its goods. In contemplation, on the contrary, we start from the not-Self, and through its greatness the boundaries of Self are enlarged; through the infinity of the universe the mind which contemplates it achieves some share in infinity.

The obvious extension of this conception of impersonal self-enlargement to an ethics of thought enjoins the self-enlargement of the intellect, the transgression of the limits of the intellect. It is the exercise of imagination that enlarges the intellect, and a great many human failures that we put to failures of understanding and cognition are in fact failures of imagination.

The moral obligation of self-enlargement is a duty of intellectual self-transgression. As Nietzsche put it: “A very popular error: having the courage of one’s convictions; rather it is a matter of having the courage for an attack on one’s convictions!”"

[Came here today because https://twitter.com/rogre/status/403632186944790528 + https://twitter.com/rogre/status/403632476154626048 + https://twitter.com/rogre/status/403636512656334848
thus the tagging with Robert Irwin, Lawrence Weschler, and Clarice Lispector]
paulvaléry  wittgenstein  thought  language  aphorism  mind  memory  senses  familiarization  robertirwin  lawrenceweschler  naming  categorization  predication  freud  bertrandrussell  self  philosophy  claricelispector  knowledge  knowledgeacquisition  self-enlargement  nietzsche  brasil  brazil  literature 
november 2013 by robertogreco
The Hauntology of Daily Life — Medium
"Next time I need to go to the café, I will know exactly where it is, just as I know that another café that I frequent is across the street — one block closer to the Pacific ocean — from a dim sum place I eat lunch at frequently, and just as I know that a favorite Vietnamese restaurant is on the same block as the movie theater that is closest to my home. I could not tell you the cross streets of any of these businesses, but I know where they all are in relation to each other. That is how memories are cemented. At least that is how my brain makes memories, through context, correlation, proximity.

And through incidence. There are different types of proximity, and though the word suggests physical nearness, there is also simply chance incident. On the way to the dim sum restaurant, there is a spot where I think about feathers, because a dead bird was left there for several weeks, and for weeks after its carcass had disappeared, individual feathers fluttered in the bushes and grass.

Key for my memory is sound, certain parallels between physical places and the sounds that I associate with them.

I do not think of alarms when I walk past the neighborhood fire station, but I do think about the crying in a nursery ward. This is because of a sign on the firehouse door that announces the place as a safe haven for unwanted newborns. The sign shows a child sleeping in a pair of hands, yet I cannot walk by that firehouse without the helpless calls of infants ringing in my mind’s ears.

There is a stretch of road between Pasadena and Glendale where I will always hear the rhythmic threadbare minimal techno of Monolake’s album Cinemascope, even if Led Zeppelin is blasting on the radio,even if I am deep in conversation on the phone or with a fellow passenger, even if the windows are open and letting in the sirens of passing police cars, all of which has happened. More than a decade ago, on a visit to the Los Angeles area, I blasted a CD of that album in a rental car after a long day of meetings, on my way to visit a friend across town, and though I have never again sat in that particular car, and I have long since parted ways with that employer, and my physical copy of the Monolake album is buried in a box in my closet, the music still hovers on the highway, waiting for me to trigger it simply by driving through it.

And I cannot step into a particular corner of my home’s small backyard without having the novelist China Miéville tell me a story — more specifically, tell me a particular part of a story. For at some point, many years ago, I struggled in that spot with a heavy ration of weeds, and while I pulled at the weeds, tried to separate them from the ground without leaving their crepuscular roots intact, a recording of Miéville reading from one of his stories played through the headphones attached to my MP3 player. I was fixed in that spot long enough for the story to take root. It is as if the story lingers there, set on a loop on an invisible jukebox, and I can access it if I get just inside a specific zone of the yard."
memory  mapping  place  senses  sound  sounds  2013  marcweidenbaum  audio  music  losangeles  context  proximity  chinamieville  brain  mameories  associations 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Hearing can make “invisible” objects appear | Ars Technica
"Words that make objects appear from thin air are generally the stuff of the magical worlds of Harry Potter or Hobbits. But a new experiment has shown that words can make objects easier to recognize, as our sense of vision can be altered by other sensory inputs.

"People assume that vision is the most impervious of the senses, impenetrable to outside influences," said Gary Lupyan of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who led the research. But evidence is growing that shows external information can change what one sees.

Lupyan wanted to know how much of what we see is affected by factors outside of vision. "For example, when you see lights flashing in a club, they appear to be playing in time with the music. Actually, in most cases, the lights aren't doing that. The visual system adjusts what you see. In terms of timing, people have more accurate hearing, and thus what one sees gets altered accordingly," Lupyan said."

[See also: http://www.theguardian.com/science/neurophilosophy/2013/aug/12/language-boosts-invisible-objects-into-visual-awareness ]
vision  perception  senses  language  brain  psychology  science  garylupyan  emilyward 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Commented City Walks | Wi Journal
"This paper presents an interdisciplinary method designed to study urban ambiances. The main goal of the commented city walks approach is to gain access to the in situ sensory experience of passers-by. The key is to acquire accounts of perception in motion. For this, walking, perceiving and describing are simultaneously required. Commented walks are based on three central hypotheses: the situationally-rooted nature of perception, mobility as a condition for the existence of perception, the interlacing of words and perception. This method is applied here to the Grand Louvre in Paris."
walking  perceiving  noticing  2013  urban  urbanism  ethnography  methodology  sensory  senses  citywalks  cities  perception  mobility  everyday 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Mass + Text
Text from the about page: http://massandtext.tumblr.com/post/51958922935/what-is-mass-text ]

"Mass + Text wants to understand the relationship between language (analogue and digital signals), physical objects, and the communities they anchor. I’m curious about how we translate thought into form, and back again.

Mass + Text happened because I like words, and I like the idea that objects are a byproduct of their cultural context. I think there’s an interesting back and forth between said things and made things, and this is an attempt to think-through-writing till I make some sense of it.

I’m not quite sure what I’m doing, but I’m going to scratch this itch anyway. What I do know is that the emergence of ubiquitous computing is going to bring together language and objects in weird and interesting ways, with implications for architecture, media, journalism, consumer technology, and fashion. This is my attempt to begin to make some sense of it.

***

The ease with which we’re able to summon and dismiss texts on glowing rectangles makes us forget that language isn’t weightless. The ways in which we call out and respond to each other are deeply anchored within physical things. Heavy things. We make meaning by spilling oceans of ink, crushing mountains of herbs and minerals into pigments, and by sliding slabs of quivering muscle against each other.

And even when we summon an idea from the depths of cyberspace,and it leaps onto our screens, that idea is bound to this plane by physical objects. Language exists within at least three dimensions.

So if language can shape mass (indeed, if language is mass), what will new forms of communication mean for the things we build, and the way we build? Can we incorporate content into spaces and objects in ways that go beyond merely turning them into display screens? How does this communication influence our relationships with our tools?

With ourselves?

***

Areas of interest:

• the evolution of media and journalism: what does it mean that ESPN is interested in the data being harvested from wearable tech such as the Jawbone UP? If the medium is the message, how will media companies design for wearable computing devices that have very little room for display screens?

• internet-connected devices: the coming wave of “smart" devices offers an opportunity to rethink everything from how these objects look to what they do. How do you design analog/digital interfaces that take into account qualities of mass such as weight, texture and temperature?

• architecture: we can speak to our spaces, and our spaces can speak back (through location-based Foursquare tips, geo-triggered alerts, changing room temperature to suit our personal profile, etc.). The built form is how we interface with the city, and changes to that form have implications for everything from our ideas about privacy, community, and to discussions about who has the right to the city.

• fashion: we know clothing can be language, but the use cases of clothing-as-tool have been surprisingly few, i.e. clothing can keep us warm, and they offer some measure of protection from weapons, but that’s about it. How can we make clothing even more useful? And how will those utilitarian scripts be reflected in aesthetics?

• histories of communication: everywhere mass intersects with text, an idea finds its way into our world, be it when a finger strikes against a keyboard, or when someone’s vocal chords rub together. I want to understand that threshold, liminal space where a concept is impregnated within an object, and given form."
text  communication  objects  emmanuelquartey  language  digital  communities  community  blogs  ubicomp  internetofthings  networkedobjects  senses  media  journalism  wearable  technology  jawbone  architecture  design  fashion  history  interfaces  ux  mobile  smartdevices  analog  wearables  iot 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Amy Radcliffe: Scent-ography: a post-visual past time
"Scent-ography: A post-visual past time

Our sense of smell is believed to have a direct link to our emotional memory. It is the sense that we react to most instinctually and also the furthest away from being stored or replicated digitally. From ambient smell-scapes to the utterly unique scent of an individual, our scent memory is a valuable resource yet to be systematically captured and archived.

If an analogue, amateur-friendly system of odour capture and synthesis could be developed, we could see a profound change in the way we regard the use and effect of smells in our daily lives. From manipulating our emotional wellbeing through prescribed nostalgia, to the functional use of conditioned scent memory, our olfactory sense could take on a much more conscious role in the way we consume and record the world.

How to succeed with your MADELEINE... [https://vimeo.com/68778690 ]

The Madeleine is, to all intents and purposes, an analogue odour camera. Based on current perfumery technology, Headspace Capture, The Madeleine works in much the same way as a 35mm camera. Just as the camera records the light information of a visual in order to create a replica The Madeleine records the molecular information of a smell."
via:ablerism  scent-ography  smell  smells  memory  art  artists  amyradcliffe  atemporality  archiving  nostalgia  scentmemory  senses  smell-scapes 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Sensory Maps by Kate McLean
"Newport's scents are largely ocean-based; the ocean itself, the lobster bait, suntan oil from the bathing tourists, beach roses that brighten the low lying sand dunes. In contrast country smells of hay and juniper speak to the rural aspect of this diverse city. To be seen and sniffed at the Discover Newport Visitor Center from August 20, 2012.

Smells share an attribute with soundings in that they are constantly shifting. Combined with Newport's sailing legacy this was enough for me to base the visual lexicon on an NOAA chart.

Odor intensity is included for the first time one of my smell maps.

A detail of the downtown area as the smells congregate along Thames Street, Broadway and the Wharfs."
2012  sensorymaps  senses  mapping  maps  smells  smell  katemclean  sensoryethnography  ethnography 
september 2012 by robertogreco
'Seeing' Through Touch - a set on Flickr
“To them, their fingers are eyes”

From 1913, John Alfred Charlton Deas, a former curator at Sunderland Museum, organised several handling sessions for the blind, first offering an invitation to the children from the Sunderland Council Blind School, to handle a few of the collections at Sunderland Museum, which was ‘eagerly accepted’.

They were so successful that Deas went on to develop and arrange a course of regular handling sessions, extending the invitations to blind adults.

The work that J. A. Charlton Deas carried out whilst at Sunderland Museum is much to be admired. His interest in the education of the blind and his determination to assist in their development, had a great impact on how they viewed the world."

[See specifically: http://www.flickr.com/photos/twm_news/5863459522/ ]
via:anne  perception  feeling  senses  sunderlandmuseum  johnalfredcharltondeas  1913  blindness  blind 
august 2012 by robertogreco
DIY Magic book by Anthony Alvarado | ARTHUR MAGAZINE
"In short, rather than advertise this as a book of magick, it could just as well have been labeled a book of psychology hacking. Or a cookbook. Think of it as jail-breaking the iPhone of your mind. Teaching it to do things that its basic programming was never set up for. Advanced self-psychology."

“Anthony Alvarado has concocted a cookbook for vivid living: poetry that’s lived rather than written. His “spells” are actually practical suggestions by which the reader may coax the extraordinary from the everyday—and from themselves.” – Lord Breaulove Swells Whimsy, author of The Affected Provincial’s Companion

“Few books are as immediately useful as this delightful, inspirational tips ‘n’ tricks tome. I’m having a backyard betel nut party in five minutes and everyone’s invited!” -Jay Babcock, editor of Arthur Magazine

[See also: http://www.arthurmag.com/contributors/diy-magic-by-anthony-alvarado/ AND http://www.floatingworldcomics.com/main/2012/02/23/d-i-y-magic-by-anthony-alvarado/ ]
senses  perception  self-psychology  howto  psychogeography  arthurmagazine  toread  2012  mindhacks  psychology  books  anthonyalvarado 
august 2012 by robertogreco
aesthetics of joy » Blog Archive » Writing retreat
"When you consider something like death, after which (there being no news flash to the contrary) we may well go out like a candle flame, then it probably doesn’t matter if we try too hard, are awkward sometimes, care for one another too deeply, are excessively curious about nature, are too open to experience, enjoy a nonstop expense of the senses in an effort to know life intimately and lovingly. It probably doesn’t matter if, while trying to be modest and eager watchers of life’s many spectacles, we sometimes look clumsy or get dirty or ask stupid questions or reveal our ignorance or say the wrong thing or light up with wonder like the children we are. It probably doesn’t matter if a passerby sees us dipping a finger into the moist pouches of dozens of lady’s slippers to find out what bugs tend to fall into them, and thinks us a bit eccentric…"

[Quote from "Diane Ackerman’s breathtaking A Natural History of the Senses": http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0679735666/ ]
moments  observation  nature  via:tealtan  life  watching  curiosity  living  noticing  children  wonder  howwewrite  writing  senses  dianeackerman 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Learning How to Eat Like Julia Child : The New Yorker
Julia learned how to eat. She did not preserve and shelter her plain, perfectly good Pasadena palate by moving to France and then cooking there, then writing books. She let herself taste and smell differently. She took seriously the smells and rhythms around her, and noticed how they changed her perception—and she came to like them.
thinking  food  cooking  juliachild  noticing  taste  smell  observation  presence  hwotolive  howtolisten  howtonotice  children  curiosity  attention  2012  via:litherland  senses  seeing  feeling  tasting  smelling  touching 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Millsin' About
"Using the Internet a great deal gives me, over time, the sense that I am rarely or never focusing my eyes in the real world: I am either looking at a screen, or my eyes are just a bit defocused, inattentive. I do not notice textures, colors, details in my environment; I take things in categorically, rather than as they are: jacket (not the details of the jacket); table (not what’s on it).

It is especially notable in its effect on memory: my memories seem more schematic than ever, more like summaries than records of perception. This seems like the habituated result of lots of textual Internet living. I note what happens, but as a tag or a description, not as actual sensory data. I mean: I’m not seeing, not looking. My eyes aren’t targeting anything; my life is in my mind, and it’s blurry and unmemorable."
attention  color  texture  brain  mind  sensorydeprivation  sensory  text  mechanization  internet  online  senses  2012  millsbaker  memory 
july 2012 by robertogreco
The Setup / Jack Cheng
"What would be your dream setup?

I was going to say it'd be great to have access to a wider variety of spaces to work from, but I realized I should just get out more because I live in New York City, a place overflowing with such spaces. I was at the Morgan Library a few weeks ago, taken aback by Pierpont Morgan's study, with its secret vaults, couches upholstered in lush velvet, and ornately framed renaissance paintings hanging on walls clad in red damask, all enveloping a desk that was over a hundred years old. It's the kind of place where you feel like you should be sitting with a quill pen drafting a constitution. From behind that desk, I thought to myself: it'd be pretty rad to sit here and write poop jokes.

Sometimes I also daydream about tools that don't exist yet, tools that light up different parts of your brain when you use them. I want a piano that plays colors or a typewriter that clacks smells. I want a pencil that scribbles stardust, an edible notebook whose flavor profile changes based on what you write inside. I want tools that make me feel like I'm trudging through the mud, tools that require some kind of physical mastery, that feel alive when you use them, like a cowhand's steed. Why do we have to slouch here in front of these glowing screens? Why can't the work we do be a higher expression of beauty, both mentally and physically, possess the grace an olympian propelling herself backwards over a wobbling high jump bar? What if web design was a full-contact sport?

But in reality, my ideal setup would produce a certain feeling, a feeling that arises when the space is so familiar you no longer notice it, when the tool melts into you and becomes an extension of your mind or body. There's this sense of harmony with the world, things crystalize in your wake, coming together almost impossibly, like throwing up a handful of toothpicks and having it land in the shape of the Eiffel Tower. And what I have currently-this combination pen and paper and glass and silicon, this assemblage of interchangeable tools, of well-worn routines with intermittent flux-sets up those moments beautifully."
synesthesia  senses  exploration  tools  routines  2012  thesetup  jackcheng  usesthis 
july 2012 by robertogreco
The future will be confusing. Fasten your seat belts. - Do Lectures
"Chris, a designer and computer programmer, asks how computers will change your life, and what happens when technology and genetics collide. The answers are complex and  we may not want to know them. His talk created more debate in the canteen than almost any other."
technology  change  complexity  dolectures  computers  computing  future  chrisheathcote  23&me  taste  supertasters  senses  genetics  science  alfrednorthwhitehead 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Theme | Muji Creative Director, Kenya Hara
"I’m not anti-technology; basically I’m concerned with thrilling and inspiring the senses. Human happiness lies in how fully we can savor our living environment. If we can fully perceive and enjoy the world in a newly emerging reality, virtual or not, that’s great. In fact, the term “haptic” is used extensively in virtual reality research. And virtual technology is in its nascent stage; we can’t judge it too harshly. One day—in two or three centuries— we might not be able to tell the difference between virtual and physical reality. But we shouldn’t stay where we are for long, because this technology doesn’t make us feel good."

"The concept of “emptiness” is one of my methods of communication design. I don’t launch a message at my viewers, but instead provide an empty vessel. In turn, I expect them to deposit something there, their own messages or images. This is an important aspect of communication, accepting what the other has to say."
communication  emptiness  interviews  via:tealtan  2005  technology  living  life  senses  haptic  japan  art  design  muji  simplicity  kenyahara 
april 2012 by robertogreco
Synesthesia's blended senses - latimes.com
"The study of synesthesia has helped shift the way scientists think about the brain. In the past, they have focused on matching different areas with specific functions; now, the entire organ is viewed as a tapestry of interwoven connections.

"The whole system is a giant network," Eagleman says. "It's no longer sufficient to think about single areas in isolation."

Like synesthesia, many neurological disorders — such as schizophrenia, autism,Alzheimer's disease, depression and epilepsy — have been linked to abnormal communication between brain regions. The hope is that as neuroscientists learn about how the connections in the synesthetic brain differ from those in normal brains, they will also gain insight into how these differences develop — and how they sometimes manifest as harmful disorders."
davideagleman  sensoryprocessingdysfunction  depression  epilepsy  alzheimers  schizophrenia  autism  music  sudio  sounds  smells  colors  numbers  ucsd  networks  senses  brain  neuroscience  2012  synesthesia 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Synesthesia: Can You Taste the Difference Between Sounds? | PRI's The World
"Audio extra: Test yourself, can you taste the sounds?

Oxford University psychologist Charles Spence studies human senses and how they interact. In recent studies, he had people smell wines and sample chocolate, and then match the different aromas and flavors to different musical sounds.

He found that people tend to associate sweet tastes with high-pitched notes and the sounds of a piano. People match bitter flavors with low notes and brass instruments.

Spence wondered if he could put this finding to use. Could he use music to influence what people smell or taste?"
music  flavor  theworld  audio  sounds  smells  smell  taste  jamespetrie  2012  daphnemaurer  charlesspence  senses  synesthesia 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Song of the Machine on Vimeo
What if we could change our view of the world with the flick of a switch? 'Song of the Machine' explores the possibilities of a new, modified – even enhanced – vision, where users can tune into streams of information and electromagnetic vistas currently outside of human vision.

This film is a part of an ongoing collaboration between Superflux and neuroscientist Dr. Patrick Degenaar, whose pioneering work in optogenetic retinal prostheses aims to bring back sight to the blind.

Unlike the implants and electrodes used to achieve bionic vision, this science modifies the human body genetically from within. First, a virus is used to infect the degenerate eye with a light-sensitive protein, altering the biological capabilities of the subject…"

[More: http://superflux.in/blog/song-of-the-machine-in-depth AND http://www.sciencegallery.com/humanplus/song-machine ]
2011  vision  sensing  senses  justinpickard  blind  sight  augmentation  prosthetics  perception  augmentedreality  ar 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Pasta&Vinegar; » Video games with less video
"Discussion with colleagues here at the design school about “screenless interaction design” led me to present some projects that I find interesting in the field. It seems that there’s starting to be a cluster of projects that aim at creating playful and digital interactions with less emphasis on the visual senses. Some examples I find interesting:

[1] SAP (for Situated Audio Platform) a “Barely Game prototype” by Russell Davies…

[2] Oterp by Antonin Fourneau (development by Kevin Lesur)…

[3] Papa Sangre…

It seems that there’s a continuum based on the degree to which the user need to look at his or her own device: from no need to do this to a quick glance once in a while. Interestingly, this connects to another interest of mine: asynchronous interactions between the user and digital realms… which led me to this kind of design space (teku teku angel is a Nintendo DS game in which you have to walk with a pedometer to raise so tamagotchi-like creature)…"
pedometer  tamagotchi  barelygames  kevinlesur  antoninfourneau  mobile  digitalinteractions  audio  senses  videogames  ds  nintendods  tekutekuangel  gaming  games  asynchronousinteractions  asynchronous  papasangre  oterp  nicolasnova  situatedaudioplatform  blind 
january 2012 by robertogreco
Rhizome | The Never Forgotten House
"I rarely hear anyone boast about photographic memory anymore. It's less impressive today as we can all supplement our own brains with an algorithmic search and the internet's seemingly infinite archival capacity. But this is still a period of transition…"

"We could accumulate hundreds of thousands of images throughout our lives but they will never taste like anything. An image represents and verifies a memory but the rest is left to imagination. Every essential moment of a child's life is documented if he was born in the West. With digital album after album for every birthday, every Christmas, he will never struggle to remember what his childhood home looked like. That reaching, that vague warm feeling for a place one remembers but cannot see; that is a sense now growing extinct.

A child today grows up in a never forgotten house."
memory  documentation  joannemcneil  via:frankchimero  2011  flickr  googlestreetview  childhood  search  images  photography  place  nostalgia  streetview  senses 
december 2011 by robertogreco
A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design
"The next time you make breakfast, pay attention to the exquisitely intricate choreography of opening cupboards and pouring the milk — notice how your limbs move in space, how effortlessly you use your weight and balance. The only reason your mind doesn't explode every morning from the sheer awesomeness of your balletic achievement is that everyone else in the world can do this as well.

With an entire body at your command, do you seriously think the Future Of Interaction should be a single finger?"

[via: http://twitter.com/debcha/status/134055293440106497 ]

[follow-up: http://worrydream.com/ABriefRantOnTheFutureOfInteractionDesign/responses.html ]
interactiondesign  design  future  ux  ui  touch  apple  microsoft  haptic  senses  2011  hands  human  humans  complexity  bretvictor 
november 2011 by robertogreco
The Smell of Control: Fear, Focus, Trust - we make money not art
"What should a robot smell like? Kevin Grennan has augmented three existing industrial robots with 'sweat glands'. Each uses a specific property of human sub-conscious behaviour in response to a chemical stimulus: one makes humans about to undergo surgery more trustful, another one makes women working in production line more focused and the third one is a bomb disposal robot that emits the smell of fear.

The contrast between the physical anti-anthropomorphic nature of the machines and the olfactory anthropomorphism highlights the absurd nature of the trickery at play in all anthropomorphism…

The Smell of Control: Fear, Focus, Trust also involved demonstrating the limits of anthropomorphism. The video of the android's birthday shows a lovely android attempting to recreate the most straightforward moment of a birthday celebration: blowing the candles of the birthday cake…"
kevingrennan  robots  design  anthropomorphism  androids  behavior  ai  senses  smell  uncannyvalley  2011  wmmna  fear  control  trust  réginedebatty 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Kevin Slavin – Reality Is Plenty, Thanks. « Mobile Monday Amsterdam
"Kevin Slavin closes the final Mobile Monday Amsterdam with an improvised talk about why reality is plenty. And closing the row of bare feet speakers at the event."

[YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o03wWtWASW4 ]
culture  history  games  psychology  mobile  kevinslavin  ar  augmentedreality  reality  2011  momoamsterdam  tv  television  jeanpiaget  extramission  immersion  mimesis  replication  uncannyvalley  information  tamagotchi  perception  senses  piaget  vision 
june 2011 by robertogreco
(hm) Electric Literacy Playground
[Wayback link: https://web.archive.org/web/20101028060343/http://www.headmine.net/electric-literacy-playground ]

"In the 20th century, youth culture gave birth to a new sensory training ground that helped us explore and adapt to the emerging electronic environment."

""To think of such a culture as 'preliterate' is already to distort it. It is like thinking of a horse as an automobile without wheels." - Walter Ong"

"Since we are, like the ancient Athenians, living through the beginning of a major technological revolution that is putting pressures on every aspect of our cultural fabric, de Kerckhove's study of the Greek theater should make us pause and ask ...

"What would a playground for electric literacy look like?" and "Have we already created such an environment?""

"What would a sensory training ground for electric literacy feel like?"

"The distinctions between art and utility are already beginning to blur in our digital world."
education  technology  culture  history  media  art  headmine  utility  glvo  cv  literacy  senses  sensory  training  unschooling  deschooling  digital  marshallmcluhan  ancientgreece  play  digitalliteracy  society  sensemaking  bighere  longnow  walterong  tcsnmy  lcproject  shiftctrlesc  secondaryorality 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Oscillatory Thoughts: We are all inattentive superheroes
"…amazed by the actual experience of sensation. Even beyond the philosophical wonder of passively sampling our outside environment in a shared, meaningful fashion is the ridiculous sensitivity of our senses.

We're used to thinking of our senses as being pretty shite: we can't see as well as eagles, we can't hear as well as bats, and we can't smell as well as dogs. Or so we're used to thinking.

It turns out that humans can, in fact, detect as few as 2 photons entering the retina. 2. As in, 1-plus-1.

It is often said that, under ideal conditions, a young, healthy person can see a candle flame from 30 miles away. That's like being able to see a candle in Times Square from Stamford, Connecticut. Or seeing a candle in Candlestick Park from Napa.

Similarly, it appears that the limits to our threshold of hearing may actually be Brownian motion. That means that we can almost hear the random movements of atoms.

We can also smell as few as 30 molecules of certain substances."
science  brain  attention  neuroscience  senses  human  2011  superheroes  superpowers 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Op-Art - Smells of New York City - Interactive Feature - NYTimes.com
"New York secretes its fullest range of smells in the summer; disgusting or enticing, delicate or overpowering, they are liberated by the heat. So one sweltering weekend, I set out to navigate the city by nose. As my nostrils led me from Manhattan’s northernmost end to its southern tip, some prosaic scents recurred (cigarette butts; suntan lotion; fried foods); some were singular and sublime (a delicate trail of flowers mingling with Indian curry around 34th Street); while others proved revoltingly unique (the garbage outside a nail salon). Some smells reminded me of other places, and some will forever remind me of New York."
design  art  cities  maps  environment  smells  senses  nyc  summer  food  experience  mapping 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Papa Sangre
"You are lost, deep in the darkness of the land of the dead. Your eyes are useless to you here — but your ears are filled with sound. And what is it you can hear…?

All you know is someone is in grave danger & desperately needs your help. Can you save them and make your escape or will you be trapped in the blackness forever?

You’re in Papa Sangre’s palace. His palace is in an afterlife that takes the form of a malevolent, unpredictable carnival: imagine a Mexican graveyard on the Day of the Dead — with the lights off. You’re the piñata for a host of partying monsters. They probably look a lot worse than they sound. You should count yourself lucky it’s too dark to see them.

Get out. Save the one you love. Do the right thing.

Papa Sangre is a video game with no video. It’s a first-person thriller, done entirely in audio by an award-winning team of game designers, musicians, sound designers & developers."
iphone  games  audio  ios  papasangre  díadelosmuertos  dayofthedead  gaming  senses  noticing 
march 2011 by robertogreco
notgames — Darkgame
"Darkgame is a sensory deprivation computer game by Eddo Stern currently in development. The game plays on physical manipulation of the player’s senses as the central focus of game strategy. The immersive gameplay is based upon the experience of communication and conflict under stress of sensory deprivation and sense isolation. During the game you are equipped with custom made head gear, applying different sensations to your head as you are navigating the virtual world interacting with other players over the internet."
darkgame  senses  sensorydeprivation  videogames  games  gaming  isolation 
january 2011 by robertogreco
The Science Behind Why We Love Ice Cream (and Other Things Creamy) - WSJ.com
"A new genetic study shows that people produce strikingly different amounts of amylase, and that the more of the enzyme people have in their mouth the faster they can liquefy starchy foods.

Scientists think this finding could help explain why people experience foods as creamy or slimy, sticky or watery, and that this perception could affect our preference for foods. For the numerous foods that contain starch, including pudding, sauces and even maple syrup, what can feel just right to some people is experienced as too runny or not melting enough for others because they produce different amounts of the enzyme."
food  taste  texture  pickyeaters  psychology  vegetables  icecream  senses  genetics  science  diet  dna 
november 2010 by robertogreco
You Are What You Touch: How Tool Use Changes the Brain's Representations of the Body: Scientific American
"A common illustration of just how flexible the sense of our body is comes from changes in the brain’s representation of the body due to tool use. Humans, and some other animals, are able to use tools as additions to the body. When we use a long pole to retrieve an object we couldn’t otherwise reach, the pole becomes, in some sense, an extension of our body. Is this merely a poetic way of speaking, or does the brain actually incorporate the tool into its representation of the body? Studies of monkeys learning to use a rake to obtain distant objects show that this may be more than a mere metaphor. Multisensory brain cells respond both to touch on the hand or visual objects appearing near the hand. When the monkeys used the rake, these cells began to respond to objects appearing anywhere along the length of the tool, suggesting the brain represented the rake as actually being part of the hand."
neuroscience  perception  evolution  psychology  mind  brain  body  senses  technology  tools  humans  bodyrepresentation  bodies 
september 2010 by robertogreco
Proprioception - Wikipedia [via: http://twitter.com/bopuc/status/20373983137]
"Proprioception (pronounced /ˌproʊpri.ɵˈsɛpʃən/ PRO-pree-o-SEP-shən), from Latin proprius, meaning "one's own" and perception, is the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body. Unlike the exteroceptive senses by which we perceive the outside world, and interoceptive senses, by which we perceive the pain and movement of internal organs, proprioception is a third distinct sensory modality that provides feedback solely on the status of the body internally. It is the sense that indicates whether the body is moving with required effort, as well as where the various parts of the body are located in relation to each other."
awareness  biology  body  brain  cartography  consciousness  neuroscience  mind  learning  ideas  human  health  perception  physiology  proprioception  psychology  senses  science  self  bodies 
august 2010 by robertogreco
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