A very impressive and entertaining Portal fan video. Awesome special effects.
My interpretation of what a real Portal gun would be like if one existed. Based on the video game, Portal. I tried to match the game as close as possible. This was the most challenging project I have ever undertaken, consisting of 3D tracking, seamless camera cuts and 3D camera projection. ENJOY! The Visual Effects.
Breakdowns will follow so watch for that.
For those of you that think the gun is a physical prop you can buy, well…..sorry to break the news to you, but it’s entirely CG. The 3D Portal gun was replacing/covering up a painted up coffee can with tracking markers.
Lucid dreams – who doesn’t wanna have them? Online, since long guides have existed detailing how to dream lucidly. For example, you can create the routine of performing a ‘reality check’, like holding your breath, looking at your watch or switching the light on. If this happens in your dream, but you still breathe or the light doesn’t go on (for some reason, electric light doesn’t seem to work in many people’s dreams), then you know you are dreaming and can start controlling it.
It takes a lot of practice, though, to control a dream and not wake up. Now, however, apps exist to aid you in this endeavor. As the BBC puts it, lucid dreaming has moved from the margin – featured in New Age fare like Carlos Castaneda’s The Art of Dreaming- to the mainstream. Apps like Dream:ON play sound cues, like singing birds, and thereby attempt to instill a dream without waking you up. Other apps are Singularity Experience, Dreamz and Lucid Dream Brainwave.
I very much wonder whether it works, however. In my experience, lucid dreams happen at that moment right between being asleep and being awake. That’s usually (hopefully) not the state you’re in in the middle of the night, but more like in the morning. Maybe if you combine it with setting your alarm way early and then going back to sleep again – another old lucid dreamer’s trick – it’ll work, but I doubt whether most working people will go to such lengths. Still, great stuff!
Lucid dreaming technically refers to any occasion when the sleeper is aware they are dreaming. But it is also used to describe the idea of being able to control those dreams.
Once confined to a handful of niche groups, interest in lucid dreaming has grown in recent years, spurred on by a spate of innovations from smartphone apps to specialist eye masks, all promising the ability to influence our dreams.
“A couple of years ago there were about four or five people organising meetings” says Mac Sweeney, a dentist and lucid dreaming expert from Islington, London. “Now there are closer to 50, and that’s in the capital alone.”
In addition to the group meetings, Michael has toyed with Dream:ON, the most popular of the many new smartphone apps now available.
Created by psychologist Richard Wiseman, the app has seen over half a million downloads in just six weeks.
“The new wave of interest is led by technology,” says Wiseman, whose app claims to allow users to choose their dream before bed, and plays sound cues once they have entered the right phase of sleep.
“When I selected birdsong, for example, I found myself dreaming that I was in a green and sunny field,” says Cave.
Whilst this isn’t strictly lucid dreaming, as it doesn’t offer users control from within a dream, there are many more which promise just that.
Singularity Experience, Dreamz, Sigmund and Lucid Dream Brainwave all work in a similar way, by playing subtle audio cues whilst the user is asleep. Not enough to wake them, but hopefully sufficient to trigger awareness inside a dream.
[R]eferences to lucid dreaming stretch back at least as far as Tibetan Buddhists in the 8th century, for whom it was just one stage in the practice of “dream yoga”. In 1867 Marquis d’Hervey de Saint-Denys even wrote an instruction manual entitled Dreams and How To Guide Them before a Dutch psychiatrist, Frederick Van Eeden, finally coined the term “lucid dreaming” in the early 20th century.
More recently it has been hinted at by films like Inception and the Science of Sleep, which have no doubt contributed to its allure.
Disappointingly, Hobson tells us, “lucid dreaming is very hard work and won’t happen for everyone”.
There’s no guarantee that the apps will help, either. Success rates in those we asked were low, even among experienced lucid dreamers.
Ultimately, the lucid dreaming adherents say attaining the revered state requires discipline and practice, and the key is being able to quickly distinguish dreams from reality.
In short: everything you ever did or sent on Facebook. Permanently. Facebook is required to disclose all this data by European law, which has now revealed that the corporation saves the content of all your messages (including deleted ones), tags, pokes, interests, GPS spots where you took your iPhone photos and what not, to sell to advertisers.
A couple of months ago, 24-year-old Austrian law student Max Schrems requested Facebook for all his personal data. The European arm of Facebook, based in Dublin, Ireland, was obliged to turn over this information, as they had to follow an European law that requires any entity to provide full access to data about an individual, should this individual personally request for it. Accordingly, Max received a CD containing about 1,222 pages (PDF files), including chats he had deleted more than a year ago, “pokes” dating back to 2008, invitations, and hundreds of other details.
Berlin-based newspaper taz.de decided to visualize [taz.de] different aspects of this data: the magnitude of the 1.222 unique pages, the exact times Max logged in and wrote messages, the times of day messages he sent or received, Max’s friend network, the locations of the pictures he took in Vienna, and the most popular tags of Max’s messages. While the visualizations by themselves might not stand out, they do reveal the huge amount of digital traces one leaves, even when they were originally purposively ‘deleted’ or discarded.
In addition, this event has triggered a wider initiative called Europe versus Facebook, which aims for more transparency and control of personal Facebook data.
By the way, how can you get access to your own data? Facebook has made it increasingly difficult to do so. What was previously a simple online form, must now happen via email or snail mail. All the instructions can be found here.
I agree for the full hundred percent with this reader’s critique over at Andrew Sullivan. I’ve rarely seen a media hype so ridiculous as the canonization of Steve Jobs. I mean, really: Apple had a great way of marketing products. But Steve Jobs didn’t “change the world” a bit. Maybe he incrementally changed it, a little bit, but all the iThings aren’t really revolutions; they’re evolutionary progress in technology, for the most part in the area of design. That’s it.
Plus, their products are expensive, and are made on the toiling backs of Chinese workers. They’re not environmentally friendly. If Jobs was the creator of cheap, green products that actually made the world better, then the media and all the Apple fans would be right to cheer on him. But not a marketeer, maybe an open-minded hippie marketeer (which I applaud), but still just a savvy capitalist.
Save the Nobel Prizes for scientists and real do-gooders, please.
I’m sick of the Steve Jobs eulogising by anyone who did so much as shake his hand (one article I’ve seen was by a man who was once so blessed as a teenager), or received a couple of phone calls (Aaron Sorkin), not to mention by all those people who never met him. And for those who declare that he changed the world, they misunderstand. What they mean is that he changed their lives. And if that is true, then frankly they need to get a life. (And no, there isn’t an app for that.) Jobs was a master marketer of overpriced, although good quality, consumer products. That is not the same thing as changing the world, and it is quite ridiculous that people think it is.
His whole marketing strategy was to present each iProduct as a cultural event, as opposed to just a bit of obstinate hardware that would be out of date in six months. The amazing thing about Jobs and Apple is that they contrived this strategy so successfully.
And to those who talk of the quality of Apple products, let me remind them, we pay for that quality. What would have been truly innovative is if the quality was as high while the price was as low as the competition. That would have changed the world, as it would have spurred other companies to design higher quality products for decent prices. For someone who made a great play of it not being about the money, he seemed to be quite happy with charging the earth.
The apotheosis of Jobs has all the hallmarks of a blogosphere feedback-led feeding frenzy. His legacy is making computer equipment desirable, so desirable that the consumer will pay a premium. This is largely no different from Armani vs high street clothing companies. And, like Armani, and unlike Ford, it remains prohibitively expensive to the majority.
In the past 48 hours we have learned about everything there is to know about the life of Steve Jobs from the countless obituaries. Most attention has obviously gone to his role in the evolution of Apple Computer. Other popular topics were his business and marketing genius, his difficult personality and even his love life. Some articles also briefly mentioned his conversion to Zen Buddhism and his experimentation with LSD in the 1970′s. This piece by Professor Juan Cole of the University of Michigan focuses on that topic. It highlights the impact that Buddhism and experimentation with mind-altering drugs have had on his creativity and how Steve Jobs can be seen as an example of the other America, the America that lies beyond the narrow idea of the “Christian Nation” as it was constructed by conservatives in the past decades:
Steve Jobs, who died yesterday, combined in himself all the contradictions of the Sixties and of Bay Area experiments in consciousness. It seems to me entirely possible that the young Jobs would have joined the OccupyWallStreet.org protests.
He is a one-man response to the charge that the counterculture produced no lasting positive change. Jobs’s technological vision, rooted in a concern for how people use technology or could use it more intuitively, profoundly altered our world. He used to say that those who had never had anything to do with the counterculture had difficulty understanding his way of thinking.
I’d be interested to know how that happened. There is very little Buddhism in India. Tibetan Buddhists have centers in places like Varanasi (Banares) in North India, because these monks are political or cultural exiles from Communist China. The Dalits or ‘untouchables’ of western Indian have had a conversion movement to Buddhism. Jobs is said to have gone with a college buddy to see a Hindu guru devoted to the monkey-god, Hanuman. I really wonder whether the Buddhism was not encountered in the US rather than in India, though the trip to India may have influenced his decision.
In the same period, he was doing psychedelic drugs like LSD, which he later said were very important to his creative vision.
Indic spiritual traditions were important to Jobs, especially Buddhism. The quest for states of altered consciousness, which characterized some in my generation, was central to his creative vision.
The DOS operating system was something that only an engineer could love, a set of odd commands entered on a blinking line against a black backdrop. Jobs preferred icons, and changed computing forever. He, at least, was convinced that without the liberal social and spiritual experimentation of his youth, his creative vision would not have been the same.
The conservative backlash of the past 30 years has put hundreds of thousands of people behind bars for drug use (though not for alcohol use, the licit dangerous drug), and Rick Perry’s insistence that the US is a Christian nation is an attempt to erase the Steve Jobses from American history. Herman Cain’s Islamophobia is an attempt to exclude people like Jobs’s biological father from American legitimacy. But you can’t take a Muslim Arab immigrant, a Hindu guru, Buddhist monks, and some little pills out of this great American success story without making nonsense of it. Multiculturalism and cultural and religious experimentation, not fundamentalism and racism, are what make America great. Jobs showed that they are not incompatible with that other American icon, business success. Contemporary conservatism has given us over-paid and under-regulated financiers who add no real value to anything, unlike Jobs. If the Perrys ever do succeed in remaking the US in their own image, it will be a much reduced, crippled America that can no longer lead the world in creative innovation.
Psychedelic drugs, Markoff argues, pushed the computer and Internet revolutions forward by showing folks that reality can be profoundly altered through unconventional, highly intuitive thinking. Douglas Engelbart is one example of a psychonaut who did just that: he helped invent the mouse. Apple’s Jobs has said that Microsoft’s Bill Gates, would “be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once.” In a 1994 interview with Playboy, however, Gates coyly didn’t deny having dosed as a young man.
Thinking differently–or learning to Think Different, as a Jobs slogan has it–is a hallmark of the acid experience. “When I’m on LSD and hearing something that’s pure rhythm, it takes me to another world and into anther brain state where I’ve stopped thinking and started knowing,” Kevin Herbert told Wired magazine at a symposium commemorating Hofmann’s one hundredth birthday. Herbert, an early employee of Cisco Systems who successfully banned drug testing of technologists at the company, reportedly “solved his toughest technical problems while tripping to drum solos by the Grateful Dead.”
“It must be changing something about the internal communication in my brain,” said Herbert. “Whatever my inner process is that lets me solve problems, it works differently, or maybe different parts of my brain are used.”
Burning Man, founded in 1986 by San Francisco techies, has always been an attempt to make a large number of people use different parts of their brains toward some nonspecific but ostensibly enlightening and communally beneficial end. The event was quickly moved to the desert of Nevada as it became too big for the city. Today, it’s more likely to be attended by a software engineer than a dropped-out hippie. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, are longtime Burners, and the influence of San Francisco and Seattle tech culture is everywhere in the camps and exhibits built for the eight-day festival. Its Web site suggests, in fluent acidese, that “[t]rying to explain what Burning Man is to someone who has never been to the event is a bit like trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind.”
Gilmore doubts, however, that a strict cause-and-effect relationship between drugs and the Internet can be proved. The type of person who’s inspired by the possibility of creating new ways of storing and sharing knowledge, he said, is often the same kind interested in consciousness exploration. At a basic level, both endeavors are a search for something outside of everyday reality–but so are many creative and spiritual undertakings, many of them strictly drug-free. But it’s true, Gilmore noted, that people do come to conclusions and experience revelations while tripping. Perhaps some of those revelations have turned up in programming code.
And perhaps in other scientific areas, too. According to Gilmore, the maverick surfer/chemist Kary Mullis, a well-known LSD enthusiast, told him that acid helped him develop the polymerase chain reaction, a crucial breakthrough for biochemistry. The advance won him the Nobel Prize in 1993. And according to reporter Alun Reese, Francis Crick, who discovered DNA along with James Watson, told friends that he first saw the double-helix structure while tripping on LSD.
EDIT: Slate just published an article on the topic as well.
Here’s one sentiment I can say I don’t share: missing the pop monoculture. According to Toure at Salon.com, our culture is “poorer” today because we don’t have gigantic acts like Michael Jackson and Prince anymore, that everybody can gather around to and collectively love. This goes hand in hand with the decline of big TV and radio stations that everybody used to watch. There are no “massive music moments” anymore when, for instance, an album becomes a big hit. There is no real shared pop culture anymore with larger-than-life figures.
Well, personally, I have no longing at all to go back to that time. As a millennial, I’m old enough to remember the time when you only had one or two music stations on TV; a couple of radio stations; and the charts that were based on album sales. The time before The Internet, when you were dependent on this small set of big media to enjoy pre-selected pop music. Nowadays, I almost never watch TV or listen to the radio anymore, and why would I? It means listening to crappy music catered for the masses. I have the Internet.
What the author at Salon calls the “balkanization” of pop culture I totally applaud: the Internet has allowed people to get exposed to more music than ever before, and that is of great value. In fact, that’s the only real argument in favor of illegal downloading, I think: exposure to every possible music style of the past and present, expanding your knowledge of pop culture and, if you’re an artist, re-packaging that in something new. I think it’s great that a kid nowadays can listen to Joy Division and actually like it.
Of course, the negative drawback of this mass online availability of past music is the incessant retromania that has dominated the first decade of the twenty-first century. There was a time when music used to look forward, be futuristic, but that is no longer the case: instead, every past musical niche gets exploited and is re-packaged. The hipster is the ultimate personification of the Internet era: no longer think of something new, but re-use past styles again and again. Nowadays I think only electronic music is still forward-looking, but even there you find more and more retro tunes and vibes. I wonder when something that is totally new will emerge; but before that, I guess first the entire musical and stylistic past must be dug up and re-used again.
That’s something else, however, than missing the time of mainstream pop culture. I’m glad the domination of the musical-industrial complex is over, thank you very much. If that means missing what Toure calls “generational moments”, well, so be it.
I live for those times when an album explodes throughout American society as more than a product — but as a piece of art that speaks to our deepest longings and desires and anxieties. In these Moments, an album becomes so ubiquitous it seems to blast through the windows, to chase you down until it’s impossible to ignore it. But you don’t want to ignore it, because the songs are holding up a mirror and telling you who we are at that moment in history.
These sorts of Moments can’t be denied. They leave an indelible imprint on the collective memory; when we look back at the year or the decade or the generation, there’s no arguing that the album had a huge impact on us. It’s pop music not just as private joy, but as a unifier, giving us something to share and bond over.
Actually, I should say I loved Massive Music Moments. They don’t really happen anymore.
The epic, collective roar — you know, the kind that followed “Thriller,”“Nevermind,”“Purple Rain,”“It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back,” and other albums so gigantic you don’t even need to name the artist — just doesn’t happen today. Those Moments made you part of a large tribe linked by sounds that spoke to who you are or who you wanted to be. Today there’s no Moments, just moments. They’re smaller, less intense, shorter in duration and shared by fewer people. The Balkanization of pop culture, the overthrow of the monopoly on distribution, and the fracturing of the collective attention into a million pieces has made it impossible for us to coalesce around one album en masse. We no longer live in a monoculture. We can’t even agree to hate the same thing anymore, as we did with disco in the 1970s.
If you’re under 25, you’ve never felt a true Massive Music Moment. Not Lady Gaga. Not Adele. Not even Kanye. As the critic Chuck Klosterman has written, “There’s fewer specific cultural touchstones that every member of a generation shares.” Sure, Gaga’s “The Fame Monster” spawned several hit singles. Adele’s “21″ and Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Watch the Throne” were massively popular. Kanye’s brilliant “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” was beloved and controversial and widely discussed enough to give a glimpse into the way things used to be. But those successes don’t compare to the explosive impact that “Thriller” and “Nevermind” had on American culture — really, will anyone ever commemorate “21″ at 20, the way the anniversary of Nirvana’s album has been memorialized in the last month?
Numbers don’t tell the whole story about how these cultural atomic bombs detonated and dominated pop culture. But at its peak, “Thriller” sold 500,000 copies a week. These days, the No. 1 album on the Billboard charts often sells less than 100,000 copies a week. What we have today are smaller detonations, because pop culture’s ability to unify has been crippled.
I miss Moments. I love being obsessed by a new album at the same time as many other people are. The last two albums that truly grabbed an enormous swath of America by the throat and made us lose our collective mind were “Nevermind” and Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic.” They sprung from something deep in the country’s soul and spoke to a generation’s disaffection and nihilism. They announced new voices on the national stage who would become legends (Kurt Cobain and Snoop Dogg) and introduced the maturation of subgenres that would have tremendous impact (grunge and gangsta rap).
No connection is made. Pop music has historically been great at creating Moments that brought people together. Now we’re all fans traveling in much smaller tribes, never getting the electric thrill of being in a big, ecstatic stampede. It’s reflected in the difference between the boombox and the iPod. The box was a public device that broadcast your choices to everyone within earshot and shaped the public discourse. The man with the box had to choose something current (or classic) that spoke to what the people wanted to hear. Now the dominant device, the iPod, privatizes the music experience, shutting you and your music off from the world. The iPod also makes it easy to travel with a seemingly infinite collection of songs — which means whatever you recently downloaded has to compete for your attention with everything you’ve ever owned. The iPod tempts you not to connect with the present, but to wallow in sonic comfort food from the past.
Back when MTV played videos, it functioned like a televised boombox. It was the central way for many people to experience music they loved and learn about new artists. Thus MTV directed and funneled the conversation. Now there’s no central authority. Fuse, where I work, plays videos and concerts and introduces people to new artists. But people also watch videos online, where there’s an endless library of everything ever made but no curation, killing its unifying potential.
These days, there are many more points of entry into the culture for a given album or artist. That can be a good thing — MTV, after all, played a limited number of videos in heavy rotation. Now there’s the potential to be exposed to more music. But where there used to be a finite number of gatekeepers, now there’s way too many: anyone with a blog. This is great for the individual listener who’s willing to sift through the chatter to find new bands. But society loses something when pop music does not speak to the entire populace.
Hollywood, too, is struggling to unite us. “Star Wars” and “The Matrix” and “Pulp Fiction” were so big they changed American film — as well as our visual language and Madison Avenue. You didn’t need to actually see the films to feel as if you had consumed them. Their impact was so pervasive, they seemed to bang down your door and announce themselves. The Harry Potter films and “Avatar” stand out for the size of the marketing and ticket buying associated with them. But did they bring large, diverse swaths of America together? Did they speak to something deep in the American soul?
It really seems to speak from a deep-seated insecurity of the author, doesn’t it? Please, go explore music that isn’t spit out over the masses and find a niche you like!
In Back to the Future Part II Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel from the year 1985 to the year 2015. In that very far future they encounter all kinds of cool gadgets, like a climate coat, a hoverboard and the Nike Air MAG. Because we are already nearing the year 2015 Nike figured it was about time to actually make the Nike Air MAG. They have decided to produce a limited number of 1500 Nike Air MAGs. This must be a sneakers collector’s wet dream. So here it is, an exact replica of the shoes from the movie (unfortunately without the “power laces”):
They’re making quite a fuzz about it too, with these kinds of commercials:
featuring Christoper Lloyd!:
150 pairs of shoes are auctioned every day and the money goes to Michael J. Fox’s Alzheimers foundation (the first one went for $ 37.500):
Arthur C. Clarke, the inventor of the communications sattelite and author of the novel 2001: A Space Oddysey, gave his thoughts on what the future would look like in the year 2000, on a t.v. show in 1964. Many of his predictions have become reality. Al Gore eat you heart out:
We could be in instant contact with each other, wherever we may be, where we can contact our friends anywhere on earth, even if we don’t know their actual physical location. It will be possible in that age, perhaps only 50 years from now, for a man to conduct his business from Tahiti or Bali just as well as he could from London…. Almost any executive skill, any administrative skill, even any physical skill, could be made independent of distance. I am perfectly serious when I suggest that one day we may have brain surgeons in Edinburgh operating on patients in New Zealand.
Mirror’s Edge (2008) is an underrated video game. The unique dystopian atmosphere, taking place in a picture-perfect white glass metropolis, that is nevertheless continuously under surveillance and where privacy doesn’t exist, reminds of the brilliant novel We (1921) by Yevgeny Zamyatin.
The game takes you free-running and parkouring through this metropolis as a sole resistance fighter on the run for police, all the while accompanied by some really decent electronic ambient music, reminiscent of Aphex Twin and Underworld.
The track posted below is an example of this music. It’s not brilliant, but pretty evocative of this game’s futuristic atmosphere, which I think shows what some games at least conceptually are capable of.
Pretty cool: an iPad app fully dedicated to the history and here-and-now of Berlin as electronic party paradise. Explore food joints with Modeselektor, urban architecture with Ben de Biel, day parties with Kotelett and Zadak, as well as hidden pieces of street art, the process of gentrification and hardware shopping.
Check out this unbelievable, epic, absolutely mindblowing dystopian conceptual short movie by directors Mischa Rozem and Si Scott from PostPanic.
Seriously: this is like Aphex Twin/Chris Cunningham, Children of Men, 1984 and Half-Life 2 combined, in a palette of dystopian imagery that is too cool to be described. Go watch it, it’s got everything.
The movie serves as the main titles for the digital culture festival OFFF that is this year held in Barcelona.
Written by Mischa Rozema and British graphic designer, Si Scott, the opening titles reflect their dark thoughts on a possible future. Directed by Mischa and shot on location in Prague, the film guides the viewer through a grim scenario embedded with the names of artists appearing at this year’s OFFF festival. The live action was brought back to Amsterdam for post, primarily carried out by PostPanic’s in-house team of artists but also with the additional help of freelancers and partner companies that we have enjoyed strong creative relationships with over the years. It’s really fair to say that this was a labour of love by a passionate crew of people.
Mischa Rozema, Director, says: “We knew we wanted to make something that would unsettle and menace the audience. It was always going to be dark but also highly aesthetic. This project has filled our spare hours for the past 6 months and it is incredibly satisfying to work on something that we were given complete creative freedom on – that’s a rare luxury these days.”