Thursday, 25 August 2011

"Here in this machinery I have gone beyond that"

A scrapbook of images, sounds and moving pictures from the steampunk exhibition at Kew Bridge Steam Museum. I didn't expect the Tesla coil demonstration to be so Frankenstein and traumatizing. The noise! Aural shock treatment, a frequency to rattle bones and shake terror into yr marrow. The scale might be hard to gauge from the video, so let me assure you: it was at least 5ft tall.

As if all the gigantic steam-powered machinery (most of which was too big to capture in full through a lense) hadn't already reminded us how puny the human form can be next to the behemoths we create.

Mini, less panic-inducing Tesla coils. 

Tea dueling kit.


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Neo meets the Oracle

"The algorithms of Wall Street may be the cyber-equivalent of the 80's yuppie, but unlike their human counterparts, they don't demand red braces, cigars and champagne. What they want is fast pipes....
Meanwhile, a transatlantic fibre optic link between Nova Scotia in Canada and Somerset in the UK is being built primarily to serve the needs of algorithmic traders and will send shares from London to New York and back in 60 milliseconds. "We are running through the United States with dynamite and rock saws so an algorithm can close the deal three microseconds faster, all for a communications system that no humans will ever see," said Mr Slavin. As algorithms spread their influence beyond machines to shape the raw landscape around them, it might be time to work out exactly how much they know and whether we still have time to tame them."

Neo: Are there other programs like you?
The Oracle: Oh, well, not like me. But... look, see those birds? At some point a program was written to govern them. A program was written to watch over the trees, and the wind, the sunrise, and sunset. There are programs running all over the place. The ones doing their job, doing what they were meant to do, are invisible. You'd never even know they were here. But the other ones, well, we hear about them all the time. 

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Things I can hear right now when I turn the music off

High whine of the broken intercom buzzer.
Wailing child. 
Homely hum of above flat's boiler firing in to action.
An unfamiliar sitcom theme tune coming from next door's TV.
Aeroplanes, taking sleepy people to exciting places.
The occasional passing police-car siren. 
Teenage boys from the neighborhood chatting, laughing and smoking in the stairwell.
Tired car engines, pulling up and switching off. 

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Play like a girl

"I grew up in a small, all-white Midwestern town and the “United States of America” that I was being taught about in school – the one in which we all believed in equality, freedom and justice for all, the one where Americans were the good guys and everybody in the world  loved us – was essentially reflected back to me except for some seemingly small inconsistencies.  Learning that black people had somehow been excluded from the equation did not make sense to me, and I couldn’t make that fit in to who I thought ‘we’ were. Also, when I was twelve, a teacher gave me John Hersey’s book Hiroshima to read for extra credit. Learning that our country had used such a horrible weapon on civilians also seemed incomprehensible to me. I really did believe in the ideal version of America that was presented to me in school. At the time I concluded that something had gone wrong somewhere, and because the school system was the thing right in front of me I decided the problem lay there. I could see that we did not educate according to democratic principles and I thought that if we did do that we would create a truly democratic country, the place where everyone really did have equal opportunity for participation and growth. That was before I understood that the school system was simply supporting the economic system, which is in no way democratic"

Mad inspiring interview with Ann Hackler, co-founder of The Institute For The Musical Arts in Massachusetts, a teaching, performing and recording facility dedicated to supporting girls and women in music and music-related business. 25 years of alternative education and successful DIY music feminism. RAD.