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What is Next Nature?

With our attempts to cultivate nature, humankind causes the rising of a next nature, which is wild and unpredictable as ever. Wild systems, genetic surprises, autonomous machinery and splendidly beautiful black flowers. Nature changes along with us.

Posts Tagged ‘Fake-nature’

  • YouTube Preview Image

    Enjoy Udder Milk

    Infomercial on the hypernatural Udder Cows, optimized for utmost milk production. The video was created by Amir Admoni for the very first next nature power show in 2005, however we probably have to wait until 2050 before the Udder Cows will be grazing the meadows near you, if ever.

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  • leaf-thermometer-temperature-gauge-designer-japan-3

    Leaf Thermometer

    Designer Hideyuki Kumagai must have been inspired by the seasonal colors of nature when he designed this thermometer.

    Stick the leaves to your window, or make a bush at your office garden, and they will tell you how hot it is by changing color. If it is nice and warm (20-25 degrees) the leaves stay fresh green. When it becomes cooler they slowly turn brown. And if they turn yellow, then you know it is time to cool down.

    Via JapanTrendShop.

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  • Salmofan salmon dyed pink

    Dyeing Salmon Pink for Farms and Profit

    Wild salmon gets its robust pink color from a diet rich in red-hued krill. Farmed salmon are fed on fish meal, chicken byproducts, soybeans, wheat and a long list of other monochrome food. The result is a fish that’s the same plain gray as tilapia or cod. To make up for this color deficit, salmon farmers feed their fish doses of the carotenoid pigments canthaxanthin and astaxanthin.With the help of the SalmoFan’s color swatches, the farmers can decide when their product is blush enough for market. Consumers prefer a deeper shade, with 66% choosing color No. 33.

    As with “orange” cheddar, these pigments do not affect taste, nor are they particularly “unnatural”. They are the same chemicals found in krill, shrimp, cyanobacteria and, yes, wild salmon. Instead, the coloration persuades (or tricks) customers into thinking that their chain store’s coho is fresher, healthier and wilder than it really is.

  • sea-sight_swimmingpool

    Seaside Swimming Pool

    Always good to see a swimming pool exactly where you need it. At San Alfonso del Mar resort in Chili they know how to cater people that love nature – except for the rocks, bites and tides of course!

    Did humankind crawl out of the ocean to end up in a seaside pool? I hope we can do better. Peculiar image of the week.  Thanks Thom.

  • vanilla bottles

    Real Vanilla is Natural, But Natural Vanilla is Fake

    What most gourmands would define as “real” and “natural” vanilla flavoring is simple: Vanilla beans steeped in alcohol. But vanillin, the chemical responsible for vanilla’s taste and flavor, is a far more complicated beast. Chemically identical to real vanilla, artificial vanilla can be made from clove oil, pine bark, coal tar, bran, even cow dung. Until fairly recently, the chemical lignin, derived from wood pulp, was the most common way of synthesizing vanillin. Most artificial vanilla is now derived from guaiacol, a chemical derived from creosote or Guaiacum flowers.

    The United States Food and Drug Administration has thrown a hint of confusion (and a note of lychee) into the cut-and-dry definitions of “real” and “fake” vanilla. Any flavor derived from edible sources can be labeled a natural flavor. Therefore, vanillin made from bacterial fermentation of corn or rice bran is a “natural” vanilla flavor – just not “real” vanilla flavor. However, vanillin made from cow dung, while natural in all senses, is not legally “natural”, because dung normally isn’t a source of food.

    If this legalese has given you a headache, try some real/natural/artificial vanilla aromatherapy. Most people prefer the fake stuff anyway, if they can even taste the difference at all.

    Via Edible Geography.

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  • Monkeys fall into the ‘Uncanny Valley’ too

    Monkeys fall into the ‘Uncanny Valley’ too

    The uncanny valley, a phrase coined by Japanese robotic researcher Masahiro Mori nearly three decades ago, describes the uncanny feeling that occurs when people look at representations designed to be as human-like as possible – whether computer animations or androids – but somehow fall short. It turns out monkeys have that too.

    In an attempt to answer deeper questions about the evolutionary basis of communication, Princeton University researchers have found that macaque monkeys also fall into the uncanny valley, exhibiting this reaction when looking at computer-generated images of monkeys that are close but less than perfect representations.

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  • Munich Beer Hall During Oktoberfest

    Essay: Next What?

    In this essay, anti-civilization, anarchist philosopher John Zerzan critiques the concept of ‘next nature.’ He argues that rather than freeing us, our self-domestication through technology has created a disconnected, depressed and over-medicated population. Phenomena from global warming to workplace shootings are all symptoms of global human “progress” gone totally awry. If we abandon ‘technology’ in favor of ‘tools’, what are the next steps for humanity? 


    Next Nature “refers to the nature produced by humans and their technology.” The prevailing attitude of Next Nature is “techno-optimism.”

    What is the nature of this “nature” and what are the grounds for the optimism?

    I’ll start by citing some recent technological phenomena and what they seem to indicate about the nature and direction of our technoculture. We’re already increasingly inhabitants of a technosphere, so let’s look at some of its actual offerings.

    A virtual French-kissing machine was unveiled in 2011. The Japanese device somehow connects tongues via a plastic apparatus. There is also a type of vest with sensors that transmits virtual “hugs.” From the Senseg Corporation in Finland comes “E-Sense” technology, which replicates the feeling of texture. Simulating touch itself! Are we not losing our grounding as physical beings as these developments advance?

    In some nursing homes now, the elderly are bathed in coffin-shaped washing machines. No human touch required. And as to the mourning process, it is now argued that online grieving is a better mode. Less intrusive, no need to be physically present for the bereaved! There is an iPhone application now available called the “baby cry app.” For those who wire their baby’s room to be alerted when she stirs, this invention tells parents what the baby’s cry means: hungry, wet, etc. (there are five choices). Just think, after about two million years of human parenting, at last we have a machine to tell us why our child is crying. Isn’t this all rather horrific?

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  • artificial wetlands

    The Benefits of Artificial Wetlands

    In 1994 researchers at Ohio State University created two artificial wetlands*  in riverine basins in order to investigate their possible benefits, and whether they could replace those lost to environmental degradation. A key benefit would be the cleaning and filtering of polluted water.

    The Mississippi watershed, like many other watershed regions, is affected by chemicals that turn about 7000 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico into a so-called ‘dead zone‘. This dead zone suffers from hypoxia, a condition that occurs when nitrates and phosphorus from fertilizers cause excessive growth of algae. These algal blooms deplete the water of almost all oxygen, making it dangerous for fish and other animals. Ohio State University wanted to find out if the design of these artificial wetlands would work.

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  • old_masts

    Cellphone Masts Disguised as Trees are Outdated

    There is a new version of the well-known cellphone masts disguised as trees. Instead of adding fake nature to these masts, ChamTech Operations wants to put a layer of invisible technology onto nature, therefore keeping it “authentic”.

    The small company developed a special nano particle mix spray which turns trees into high-powered antennas, a nice addition to the ‘Streetlight Trees‘.  The spray also works for enhancing the strength of current antennas. There will be no more failed calls with your iPhone 4 and no more annoyance over missing an important message due to poor signal strength. There could even be high bandwidth connections with cars, with the mix integrated in the white lines of the highway.

    This pushes our ‘connectedness’ a whole lot further. Even when we decide to flee from social pressure to the forest (or any other remote place), we are still connected. Instead of being limited by technology, we are now limited by our conscience and our perseverance.

    Via IEEE

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  • Love-is-blind_530

    Evolution is Blind

    …thus it walks into a lot of dead alleys. Peculiar image of the week.

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  • YouTube Preview Image

    Thijs Zonneveld – Let’s build a Mountain

    “God created the world, except for the Netherlands. That the Dutch created themselves”, Voltaire remarked in the eighteenth century already to describe the overly cultivated Dutch landscape. But when the Dutch built the Netherlands, they forgot to add any mountains. Former cyclist and visionary Thijs Zonneveld was annoyed by the lack of cyclable heights and proposed to build a 2000-meter high mountain in the Netherlands. Ridiculous idea or summit of Dutch Design?

    Unlike the earlier purely theoretical proposal by Jacob Tigges in Berlin, the people behind Die Berg Komt Er (That Mountain will be There) are taking their landscape-building mandate seriously. Their ‘mountain’ should really be understood as a very large building with all kinds of functions ranging from housing, to recreation, to sustainable energy source.

    Watch the presentation Tijs gave at the Next Nature Power Show last fall. If you feel the Dutch Mountain should be realized you can buy a 50 euro certificate to support their feasibility research.

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  • chinese dragon

    Where Be Dragons? Try Your Instinctual Fear of Snakes

    This last Monday rang in the Chinese Year of the Dragon. Not restricted just to the benevolent, snake-like creature of Chinese mythology, or to the greedy, princess-stealing monster from Europe, dragon-like creatures occur throughout the world. Legendary reptiles occur as far apart as the feathered snake of Precolombian America and the rainbow serpent of Aboriginal Australia. It may be that, like flight in bats, pterosaurs and birds, the dragon “evolved” multiple times independently throughout human mythology.

    If, indeed, the dragon can be considered a cultural universal –  it may be that “large scaly monster” is too general a category to be meaningful –  several theories purport to explain their origin. Giant reptiles like the crocodile or monitor lizard are obvious suspects. It’s easy to imagine how word-of-mouth could transform an already terrifying beast into something that flies or breathes fire. Dinosaur bones may have inspired other dragon myths, while the rotten carcasses of sharks and whales are even today routinely mistaken for sea monsters. By far the most interesting theory is that of anthropologist David E. Jones, who argues that dragons are a mash-up of the predators that ate our distant primate ancestors. Dragons prey on what we’re genetically primed to fear.

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  • The Living Room

    The private atmosphere of a Dutch living room is interrupted by the disturbing presence of a large oak tree that slowly enters the room.

    Made by roderickhietbrink.nl

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    Traditional Thanksgiving Meat

    Greenridge Farm offers this pork molded in the shape of a piglet. But if you are more the traditional type of person, Greenrdige Farms also offer Turkey-breasts in the shape of an actual turkey. Perfect for a traditional Thanksgiving!

    Will this pseudo-pig actually taste better in the shape of a piglet? Or does the shape reminds us too much of Babe, and becomes cruel to roast? At least it is a good marketing trick to distract you from what the piglet is actually made of.

    Via Consumerist

  • eyeless real doll

    Essay: Anthropomorphobia

    Are you familiar with the affliction? Anthropomorphobia is the fear of recognizing human characteristics in non-human objects. The term is a hybrid of two Greek-derived words: ‘anthropomorphic’ means ‘of human form’ and ‘phobia’ means ‘fear’. Although anthropomorphobia was originally rare, with complaints limiting themselves to fairs and amusement parks with moving dummies that laughed at visitors, the blurring boundary between people and products is leading to increased problems. Complaints can be accompanied by irrational panic attacks, disdain, revulsion, and confusion about what it means to be human. Will anthropomorphobia eventually become public disease number one? Or can anthropomorphobia serve as a guiding principle in the evolution of humanity? Herewith, an exploration.


    Exploring the Twilight between Person and Product

    Luxury cars with blinking headlight eyes. Perfume bottles shaped like beautiful ladies. Grandma’s face stretched smooth. Carefully selected designer babies. The Senseo coffeemaker shaped – subtly, but nonetheless – like a serving butler. And, of course, there are the robots, mowing grass, vacuuming living rooms, and even caring for elderly people with dementia. Today more and more products are designed to exhibit anthropomorphic – that is, human – behaviour. At the same time, as a consequence of increasing technological capabilities, people are being more and more radically cultivated and turned into products. This essay will investigate the blurring of the boundary between people and products. My ultimate argument will be that we can use our relationship to anthropomorphobia as a guiding principle in our future evolution.

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  • YouTube Preview Image

    Mastering Bambi

    In the film Mastering Bambi, artists Persijn Broersen and Margit Lukacs have stripped the landscape of its cuddly, anthropomorphic characters. Over the course of the film, the camera pans across empty forest scenes and winter fields, accompanied by a chorus and orchestra. Using 3D photographic collages, the artists reconstruct elements of the backgrounds from the classic Disney film, which presented an unrealistically idyllic vision of nature.  According to Broersen and Lukacs:

    “…an important but often overlooked protagonist in the movie is nature itself: the pristine wilderness as the main grid on which Disney structured his ‘Bambi’. One of the first virtual worlds was created here: a world of deceptive realism and harmony, in which man is the only enemy.”

    Does Mastering Bambi imply that the audience has finally mastered nature by eliminating all its inhabitants? It may be a more stark comment on the destructive capacity of humanity than Disney’s decision to kill off Bambi’s mom. Once the harmonious woodland inhabitants are gone, we are left to uncomfortably wonder if we are their only replacements.

    Persijn Broersen and Margit Lukacs will be presenting Mastering Bambi at the Next Nature Power Show on November 5th.

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  • wolly mammoth parka

    Occasionally Extinct and Virtually Alive

    Japanese researchers are currently working on cloning a mammoth, and plan to produce a fluffy new prehistoric calf within four or five years. The bucardo, an extinct subspecies of the Spanish ibex, was resurrected for a few minutes in 2009 before the clone died. ‘Frozen zoos’ now keep the cryo-preserved tissues from dozens of endangered species to hedge their bets against future extinction.

    Until we have the godlike knowledge to reconstruct a genome from the base pairs on up, our resurrected zoo will be limited to the animals that we have stored away for safe keeping. Sorry, no dinosaurs, but there are at least 500 stuffed and dried passenger pigeons, 731 thylacines, and one remaining dodo specimen with soft tissue remaining.

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  • Big-Bird

    A Rare Giant Crane in Manhattan

    In this Petcha Kutcha presentation, Mike Dickison comes to a very funny conclusion: Although Big Bird might superficially resemble other ratites like the ostrich or emu, he is likely more closely related to a group of extinct, flightless cranes that once lived in Cuba and Bermuda. Birds tend to evolve towards flightlessness and gigantism when isolated on islands and, fittingly, Big Bird lives on the most famous island in the world.

    Watch: What if Anything is Bird Big

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