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robertogreco : theojansen   7

The Virtues of Promiscuity — CODE | WORDS: Technology and Theory in the Museum — Medium
"Museums would do well to learn a thing or two from Jansen, and focus more on the creating and spreading the “digital DNA” of our shared cultural heritage and less on controlling access to those assets. This is a call to be both more promiscuous and more discriminating in what we share and how. I know that sounds contradictory, but bear with me.

Museums’ current survival strategy is not unlike those of creatures that have evolved on remote islands. We have gotten very good at passing on one model of “museum” from generation to generation. We may have developed elaborate plumage and interesting displays, but these mask the underlying sameness of the idea we pass on. As long as the larger ecosystem evolved slowly, museums could adapt and keep pace. The global internet has shattered that isolation for good, and in the new ecosystem our current reproductive specialization will not continue to serve us well. Insularity — the tendency to look inward, ignore the larger world and produce institutions that are increasingly self-referential, self-pleasing, and obscure to the billions of potential museumgoers — is a strategy for extinction.

For Jansen, encouraging others to build on his idea of Strandbeests is a reproductive and evolutionary strategy. His best hope for the survival of his creations beyond his lifetime is to let them loose for others to tinker with. Survival (and further evolution) lies in spread. Cynthia Coburn gave a fascinating talk at the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning conference in 2014 on scale and spread. If you’re at all interested in dissemination of ideas, it’s worth reading. One thing that struck me from her talk and the paper from which it was distilled are that we tend to be imprecise about what we mean when we talk about “doing more!” Unpacking that, Coburn finds that there are “fundamentally different ways of conceptualizing the goals or outcomes of scale. We identify four: adoption, replication, adaptation, and reinvention.” For this essay, I’m most interested in the fourth outcome. This way of thinking about spread Coburn describes as, “the result of a process whereby local actors use ideas, practices, or tools as a jumping-off point for innovation.”"

"Promiscuity connects museums to maker communities. Community interaction and knowledge sharing are often mediated through networked technologies, with websites and social media tools forming the basis of knowledge repositories and a central channel for information sharing and exchange of ideas, and focused through social meetings in shared spaces such as hackspaces.

This latest eruption of interest in self-guided learning and doing has a long, distinguished lineage. Computer hobbyists, ham radio enthusiasts, and even the model railroad enthusiasts at the Tech Model Railroad Club at MIT, who gave us the modern meaning of “hacking” could claim to be “makers.” They were all communities of interest who came together to explore their passions and help each other out. The difference this time is the spread that the Internet makes possible. The 2012 Bay Area Maker Faire drew a crowd of 120,000 attendees over a weekend. “Making” with a capital M is now a firmly established subculture, and part of a growing economic sector.

Promiscuity allows museums to be participatory culture advocates. Henry Jenkins may have coined the term “participatory culture” in 2005, but the idea of a world where individuals are producers of culture, instead of just passive consumers, has been around a long time. I’ve got a dog-eared paper that I’ve toted around for years with a quote from the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihályi which reads, “Creating culture is always more rewarding than consuming it.” As someone who’s worked the cultural/creative sector my whole life, I know the truth of this statement. What might the world look like if we not only preserved and exhibited examples of human creative expression but also more actively encouraged that creative impulse in everyone we serve?

This kind of digital promiscuity also nicely aligns museums with the Open Culture movement. “Open” is already on track to supplant “participatory” as buzzword of the year, with good reason. The proliferation of groups supporting and encouraging openness in the cultural/creative sector is impressive. Wikimedia, Creative Commons, the Open Knowledge Foundation, free software advocates, open-source software advocates: the list gets longer all the time."

"The promiscuous spread of digital assets is a key factor in delivering on museums’ missions to educate, inform, stimulate, and enrich the lives of the people of the planet we live on. Merete Sanderhoff, in the excellent Sharing is Caring lays it out clearly,"
“Digital resources should be set free to form commons — a cultural quarry where users across the world can seek out and find building blaocks for their own personal learning.”

The more we sow these seeds of culture and the more effective we are at seeing those seeds take root, the more likely museums are to see cultural ideas persevere in the constantly-changing world.

"Promiscuity is one way to demolish the perception of exclusivity that has dogged museums for longer than I’ve been around. I realize that this virtue is by far the most painful, because it would force us as memory institutions to lay bare lots of things of things we’d rather not have to deal with: legacies of imperialism and colonialism, tensions between indigenous peoples and more recent arrivals. The history of the relations between Native Americans and museums is not the most cordial, at least in part because the perception that some museums are probably hiding things they don’t want tribes to know about is almost impossible to counter. Promiscuity offers a way to end that particular debate.

The “global village” the Internet has created is real, and now it is possible for a museum of any size to have global reach, provided they have anything to share. As Michael Edson pointed out in his introduction to Sharing is Caring, 34% of humanity is now reachable online. That’s 2.4 billion people who might be interested in your content.

One of the most interesting and infuriating changes in attitude that the Web has wrought is the expectation of finding everything. Not being visible online now is the equivalent of not existing."

"Creating digital analogues of our existing museums is a straitjacket that will not serve us well going forward. Making a virtual museum (in addition to sounding hopelessly 90s), regardless of the technology underlying it, fails to take into account the reality of how people consume digital content. They don’t go to museum websites. Jon Voss of HistoryPin made the statement that you have to meet people where they are, not where you wish they were. Museum websites, the traditional place for museums’ online presence, are not those places, so plowing resources into making bigger, swankier ones is a waste of resources that might be deployed in ways that actually reach a global audience."

"Merete Sanderhoff lists three problems this inability to be promiscuous creates:

1. By putting up impediments museums are pushing users away from authoritative sources of information.

2. We are missing out on the the opportunity to become hubs for people. The social gravity that museums could generate is largely unrealized.

3. By not using these new tools that are at our disposal, museums undermine their own raisons d’être."
museums  ideas  theojansen  2014  edrodley  open  openness  openculture  culturecreation  promiscuity  henryjenkins  mihalycsikszentmihalyi  darkmatter  rijksmuseum  cooper-hewitt  measurement  sebchan  kovensmith  michaeledson  visibility  exclusivity  sharing  maretesanderhoff  participatory 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Theo - a short film about the wind-eating Strandbeest - Aeon
"Theo Jansen is part-artist, part-mad scientist. From PVC piping, he builds fantastical creatures that feed only on the wind: propelled by the movement of the air around them, his many-legged Strandbeest are free to roam the countryside and beaches around his house in the Netherlands. From a distance, they look like enormous grazing sheep, but up close, the intricacy of the mechanisms that facilitate their movement is breathtaking. Theo invites us to enter Jansen’s imagination, and to see the Strandbeest as he sees them, not as kinetic sculptures, but as living, breathing creatures."

[Direct link to video: ]
theojansen  strandbeast  art  sculpture  kineticsculpture  georgibanks-davies  2009 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Theo Jansen: WATCH: An Artist Creates a New Form of Life
"I've also thought a lot about the reproduction of these animals. Imagine these Strandbeests making copies of themselves simply by feeding them plastic tubes. I'm sure this is possible, but I need a few more million years to make that a reality.

Today, Strandbeests have an ability to multiply that I wasn't aware of in 2007. Let me explain. The leg system of the beach animals works because of a combination of certain lengths of tubes. Because of the proportion of lengths, the animals walk smoothly. You could say that this range of numbers is their genetic code. I published this genetic code on my website and since then, hundreds of students, especially in the United States, have been able to produce their own Strandbeests. (Search YouTube for "theo jansen mechanism" and you will find them.)

You may argue that humans do this replication, but I see it differently. The Strandbeest is a self-replicating meme, a brain virus. It infects the student's brain. In fact, the Strandbeest abuse students for their reproduction. For two years, this reproduction fell into a flow acceleration. Now, 3D printers produce walking mini Strandbeests. They are born, not assembled, and walk on the table, which you can see here."
theojansen  strandbeests  2013  reproduction 
june 2013 by robertogreco
When Pushed, This Table Crawls Like a Huge Spider [Video] | Co.Design
"Further proof that robots rule and humans drool, now even your dining room table has a mind of its own. Through a complex mechanism of cranks and linkages based on a 19th century walking platform by Russian mathemetician Pafnuty Chebyshev, Wouter Scheublin’s Walking Table, shown here, creeps and crawls and clomps around your kitchen like a monstrous, galumphing insect. Ask a precocious high-school shop class to visualize The Metamorphosis, and you’ll get something approximating this.

Mind you, you have to push the thing along. So it’s not like it’s free to spiral wildly out of control and go on some kind of monstrous-galumphing-insect rampage or whatever. But to judge by the videos, it doesn’t need tons of help. Lookie here:"
furniture  tables  mechanics  theojansen  walkingtables  furniturelust  design 
march 2011 by robertogreco
The Complex History of Sustainability: A Timeline of Trends Authors, Projects, and Fiction by Amir Djalali and Piet Vollaard
"Looking back, we see that Western society has always been obsessed by its relationship with the environment, with what is meant to be outside ourselves, or, as some call it, nature.

Many ideas preceded the notion of Sustainability and even today there are various trends and original ideas following old ideological traditions. Some of these directly oppose Sustainability.

This timeline is a subjective attempt to historically map the different ideas around the problem of the relationship between humans and their environment."
via:javierarbona  sustainability  visualization  timelines  history  maps  mapping  theojansen  johnthackara  renzopiano  williammcdonough  ivanillich 
february 2009 by robertogreco
NPR: Creating the Sand Beasts
"Theo Jansen is a Dutch physicist turned sculptor who has spent much of his career fascinated with the role of evolution in natural life. Powered by the wind, his sculptures resemble massive dinosaur skeletons (he calls them "Sand Beasts") that seem to mo
theojansen  art  engineering  evolution  glvo  sculpture  movement 
october 2007 by robertogreco

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