Photo by Wojciech Kruczynski / The Epson International Pano Awards

It's real

Physicists find we’re not living in a computer simulation
November 21st, 2017

Via Cosmos Magazine: "The finding – an unexpectedly definite one – arose from the discovery of a novel link between gravitational anomalies and computational complexity.

In a paper published in the journal Science Advances, Zohar Ringel and Dmitry Kovrizhi show that constructing a computer simulation of a particular quantum phenomenon that occurs in metals is impossible – not just practically, but in principle. [...]

The researchers calculated that just storing information about a couple of hundred electrons would require a computer memory that would physically require more atoms than exist in the universe. [...]

And given the physically impossible amount of computer grunt needed to store information for just one member of this subset, fears that we might be unknowingly living in some vast version of The Matrix can now be put to rest.

There is a caveat to this conclusion: if our universe is a simulation, there is no reason that the laws of physics should apply outside it. In the words of Zohar Ringel, the lead author of the paper, 'Who knows what are the computing capabilities of whatever simulates us?' "

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Johannes Geier

Red Orange Ground
November 6th, 2017

Red Orange Ground is a contemporary sports film about the sense of temporal dimension during a 100 meter sprint. Johannes Geier's idea for the film developed over a period of six years until he finally decided to produce it as his graduate film for his Motion Design diploma at the Baden-Württemberg Film Academy. He translated his feeling of temoral expansion when he runs with immersive metaphors and unique key visuals on to film.

Red Orange Ground was supervised by Alexander Hanowski and me. Johannes Geier's final presentation and exam were in spring this year, and now, finally, all rights are clarified and the clip is online.

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Photo by Denis Cherim from his "Coincidence Project".

Strange-face Illusions

October 28th, 2017
During Interpersonal-Gazing and Personality Differences of Spirituality

Via National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Strange-face illusions are produced when two individuals gaze at each other in the eyes in low illumination for more than a few minutes. Usually, the members of the dyad perceive numinous apparitions, like the other's face deformations and perception of a stranger or a monster in place of the other, and feel a short lasting dissociation. In the present experiment, the influence of the spirituality personality trait on strength and number of strange-face illusions was investigated. Thirty participants were preliminarily tested for superstition (Paranormal Belief Scale, PBS) and spirituality (Spiritual Transcendence Scale, STS); then, they were randomly assigned to 15 dyads. Dyads performed the intersubjective gazing task for 10 minutes and, finally, strange-face illusions (measured through the Strange-Face Questionnaire, SFQ) were evaluated. The first finding was that SFQ was independent of PBS; hence, strange-face illusions during intersubjective gazing are authentically perceptual, hallucination-like phenomena, and not due to superstition. The second finding was that SFQ depended on the spiritual-universality scale of STS (a belief in the unitive nature of life; e.g., 'there is a higher plane of consciousness or spirituality that binds all people') and the two variables were negatively correlated. Thus, strange-face illusions, in particular monstrous apparitions, could potentially disrupt binding among human beings. Strange-face illusions can be considered as projections of the subject's unconscious into the other's face. In conclusion, intersubjective gazing at low illumination can be a tool for conscious integration of unconscious shadows of the Self in order to reach completeness of the Self."

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In the Flow

by Boris Groys

Via Verso: "In the early twentieth century, art and its institutions came under critique from a new democratic and egalitarian spirit. The notion of works of art as sacred objects was decried and subsequently they would be understood merely as things. This meant an attack on realism, as well as on the traditional preservative mission of the museum. Acclaimed art theorist Boris Groys argues this led to the development of “direct realism”: an art that would not produce objects, but practices (from performance art to relational aesthetics) that would not survive. But for more than a century now, every advance in this direction has been quickly followed by new means of preserving art’s distinction.
In this major new work, Groys charts the paradoxes produced by this tension, and explores art in the age of the thingless medium, the Internet. Groys claims that if the techniques of mechanical reproduction gave us objects without aura, digital production generates aura without objects, transforming all its materials into vanishing markers of the transitory present."

Via e-flux: "And that means precisely that contemporary art has become the medium for investigating the eventfulness of events: the different modes of the immediate experience of events, their relationship to documentation and archiving, the intellectual and emotional modes of our relationship to documentation, and so forth. Now, if the thematization of the eventfulness of the event has become, indeed, the main preoccupation of contemporary art in general and the museum of contemporary art in particular, it makes no sense to condemn the museum for staging art events. On the contrary, today the museum has become the main analytical tool for staging and analyzing the event as radically contingent and irreversible—amidst our digitally controlled civilization that is based on tracking back and securing the traces of our individual existence in the hope of making everything controllable and reversible. The museum is a place where the asymmetrical war between the ordinary human gaze and the technologically armed gaze not only takes place, but also becomes revealed—so that it can be thematized and critically theorized."

Thanks to Swantje Lichtenstein!

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Everything

A wonderful game by David O'Reilly
October 4th, 2017

Everything is the latest work by David O'Reilly. It is simply mind-blowing. Play it or watch a Let's Play, but don't miss it. Via Wikipedia: "Throughout the game, quotes from philosopher Alan Watts are given to the player. [...]

OReilly described the game as 'about the things we see, their relationships, and their points of view. In this context, things are how we separate reality so we can understand it and talk about it with each other'. He also considered Everything to be a continuation of themes he had introduced in Mountain. Later, OReilly described his hope for players of the game: 'I want Everything to make people feel better about being alive. Not as an escape or distraction, or arbitrary frustration, but something you would leave and see the world in a new light.' Besides the ideas of Watts, OReilly said that Everything's approach and narrative includes Eastern philosophy, continental philosophy, and stoicism. [...]

An 11-minute trailer for Everything won the Jury Prize at the 2017 Vienna Independent Shorts film festival in May 2017; due to this, it is on the longlist for consideration for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 90th Academy Awards, making it the first video game to qualify for the Oscars."

One of the quotes by Alan Watts in the game: "Let's get this clear. If there is any such thing at all as intelligence and love and beauty, well you've found it in other people. In other words, it exists in us as human beings. And as I said, if it is there, in us, it is symptomatic of the scheme of things. We are as symptomatic of the scheme of things as the apples are symptomatic of the apple tree or the rose of the rose bush. The Earth is not a big rock infested with living organisms any more than your skeleton is bones infested with cells. The Earth is geological, yes, but this geological entity grows people, and our existence on the Earth is a symptom of this other system, and its balances, as much as the solar system in turn is a symptom of our galaxy, and our galaxy in its turn is a symptom of a whole company of other galaxies. Goodness only knows what that's in."

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On identity design

by Paula Scher
October 2nd, 2017

Paula Scher: "I never knew a designer that got hundreds of thousands of dollars to design a logo.  Mostly, designers get paid to negotiate the difficult terrain of individual egos, expectations, tastes, and aspirations of various individuals in an organization or corporation, against business needs, and constraints of the marketplace.  This is a process that can take a year or more.  Getting a large, diverse group of people to agree on a single new methodology for all of their corporate communications means the designer has to be a strategist, psychiatrist, diplomat, showman, and even a Svengali*. The complicated process is worth money. That's what clients pay for. The process, usually a series of endless presentations and refinements, persuasions and proofs, results, hopefully, in an accepted identity design."

* Via Wikipedia: "Svengali is the name of a fictional character in George du Maurier's 1894 novel Trilby. A sensation in its day, the novel created a stereotype of the evil hypnotist that persists to this day. [...]
The word svengali has entered the language meaning a person who with evil intent manipulates another into doing what is desired."

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rand

Cover artwork for "Neue Bilder"

Published by Mikroton, Moscow
September 28th, 2017

Thomas Lehn and Marcus Schmickler hired me to design the cover artwork of their new release Neue Bilder on Mikroton Recordings. I decided to use my old Letraset sheets once again to connect this deep, dynamic, and beautiful album with their 2000 release Bart.

Via Mikroton: "Thomas Lehn and Marcus Schmickler have been known for building their sonic worlds for 17 years since their first album Bart. After 6 years of studio silence, here comes Neue Bilder. Their 5th allbum is a constant flux of musical juxtapositions, collisions and balance of their tour de force with analogue synth and computer. The album features two tracks created from two concentrated performances in Münster and Wels, both being magnificently reworked stereo versions of their quadrophonic live concerts. Neue Bilder goes further in their development of sound with meticulously constructed abruptly appearing and disappearing abrasive and tonal sound clusters, remote echoes, and lonely remnants."

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Photo by Marisol Rodriguez.

Uncreative Writing

by Kenneth Goldsmith

Best book in years, and translated by my dear friend Prof. Dr. Swantje Lichtenstein. You can not afford to miss out on this one.

Via Brain Pickings: "Goldsmith echoes legendary designer Charles Eames, who famously advised to 'innovate only as a last resort,' and writes:

Having worked in advertising for many years as a ‘creative director,’ I can tell you that, despite what cultural pundits might say, creativity — as [it has] been defined by our culture with its endless parade of formulaic novels, memoirs, and films — is the thing to flee from, not only as a member of the ‘creative class’ but also as a member of the ‘artistic class.’ Living when technology is changing the rules of the game in every aspect of our lives, it’s time to question and tear down such clichés and lay them on the floor in front of us, then reconstruct these smoldering embers into something new, something contemporary, something — finally — relevant.

In addressing the most common contestations to his ideas about accepting all language as poetry by mere reframing — about what happens to the notion of authorship, about how careers and canons are to be established, about whether the heart of literature is reducible to mere algorithms — Goldsmith seconds a sentiment French polymath Henri Poincaré shared more then a century ago when he noted that to create is merely to choose wisely from the existing pool of ideas:

What becomes important is what you — the author — [decide] to choose. Success lies in knowing what to include and — more important — what to leave out. If all language can be transformed into poetry by mere reframing — an exciting possibility — then she who reframes words in the most charged and convincing way will be judged the best. I agree that the moment we throw judgment and quality out the window we’re in trouble. Democracy is fine for YouTube, but it’s generally a recipe for disaster when it comes to art. While all the words may be created equal — and thus treated — the way in which they’re assembled isn’t; it’s impossible to suspend judgment and folly to dismiss quality. Mimesis and replication [don’t] eradicate authorship, rather they simply place new demands on authors who must take these new conditions into account as part and parcel of the landscape when conceiving of a work of art: if you don’t want it copied, don’t put it online.

Ultimately, he argues that all of this is about the evolution — rather than the destruction — of authorship:

In 1959 the poet and artist Brion Gysin claimed that writing was fifty years behind painting. And he might still be right: in the art world, since impressionism, the avant-garde has been the mainstream. Innovation and risk taking have been consistently rewarded. But, in spite of the successes of modernism, literature has remained on two parallel tracks, the mainstream and the avant-garde, with the two rarely intersecting. Yet the conditions of digital culture have unexpectedly forced a collision, scrambling the once-sure footing of both camps. Suddenly, we all find ourselves in the same boat grappling with new questions concerning authorship, originality, and the way meaning is forged.

The rest of Uncreative Writing goes on to explore the history of appropriation in art, the emerging interchangeability between words and images in digital culture, the challenges of defining one’s identity in the vastness of the online environment, and many other pressing facets of what it means to be a writer — or, even more broadly, a creator — in the age of the internet."

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klein

Jury @ CreateMedia.NRW Düsseldorf

European Regional Development Fund
September 6th and 7th, 2017

The LeitmarktAgentur.NRW invited me to serve as a jury member for the lead market CreateMedia.NRW. For two days we sat in a Duesseldorf hotel and discussed complex, innovative, and outstanding proposals.

Via Wikipedia: "The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is a fund allocated by the European Union. Its purpose is to transfer money from richer regions (not countries), and invest it in the infrastructure and services of underdeveloped regions. This will allow those regions to start attracting private sector investments, and create jobs on their own."

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Oil painting by Ken Flewellyn.

Feel the feeling

A new study reveals the best coping mechanisms for stressed kids and teens
August 6th, 2017

Via Quartz: "'In this new work, we found that when the subjects used adaptive strategies, like looking at a problem in a different way, engaging in problem solving or pursuing constructive communication, they were better able to manage the adverse effects of stress,' Compas says. 'Those who used maladaptive strategies like suppressing, avoiding, or denying their feelings, had higher levels of problems associated with stress.' [   ]

'Stress is the single most potent risk factor for mental health problems in children and adolescents, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress syndrome, eating disorders, and substance use,' Compas says. 'But the good news is the brain is malleable. Once positive coping skills are learned and put into practice, especially as a family, they can be used to manage stress for a lifetime.'"

Related:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and the Wisdom to know the difference.

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