Surfin’ ain’t what it used to be. Apparently, most action pictures of surfers have the waste photoshopped out? Photograph by Zak Noyle.
Surfin’ ain’t what it used to be. Apparently, most action pictures of surfers have the waste photoshopped out? Photograph by Zak Noyle.
Just when you thought the Second Life hype was long gone, meet Ukrainian body artist Valerie Lukyanova who aims to turn Second Life into First Life.
They call her the Human Barbie. She has been posting images & videos of her hypernatural beauty since November last year and her emergence on the internet erupted a virtual firestorm. Many have wondered if she was a hoax, however, her appearance in a television show seems to confirm she is a real lady.
Although we wholeheartedly grant Valerie the morphological freedom to alter her body like a Barbie, we also advise her to read the essay Anthropomorphobia – Exploring the Twilight Zone between Person and Product. It might help understand the uncanniness her fellow members of the human species experience with her appearance.
Via Vmagazine.com. Thanks Janine, Thanks Ronald.
Some years ago we wrote about the utterly nextnatural proposal by WHIM architects to create floating city composed of plastics from the great pacific garbage patch – a concentration of plastic litter in the central North Pacific about the size of France.
Although the proposal was highly speculative, they deserved kudos for perceiving the plastics in the Earths ecosystem as building material rather than waste. Now they want to get practical and construct the first floating villa of plastic waste material.
As we write, their Kickstarter project has gathered only $676, but that can quickly change if the billionaire readers of this website step in, no? Click here to get your unique villa from plastic material for only $70.000.
You cannot look around your local environment without seeing something made out of plastic. Almost all the stuff we buy is packaged in plastic. Since recycling packaging materials is difficult and expensive, these plastics are being moved to landfills to bio-degrade. If left undisturbed, this process could take more than a thousand years for the plastic lying on the bottom, where there is hardly any oxygen. Fortunately, researchers have recently found a fungus in the Amazon rainforest which is able to degrade the plastics.
In an expedition to discover plants and microorganisms in the Amazon, researchers discovered the first fungus species that could live on a diet of polyurethane and thrive in a climate without oxygen. This means that plastic on the bottom of a landfill might possible by broken down by Pestalotiopsis microspora or a similar species.
The mushroom is only found in the Amazon, a place without any plastics. Will this fungus have a future outside the rainforest?
When using devices nowadays everything feels like plastic. Nissan’s engineers are trying to change just that.
The inside of cars usually are built with plastic and can feel cheap instead of the pleasant feeling of human skin. The most comfortable materials, according to Nissan’s engineers, are soft, warm, smooth and even moist. When creating the most naturally feeling plastic the engineers are using these qualities to recreate the feeling of human skin. These qualities, however, are not the only factors in making plastic feel naturally.
The natural feeling comes from pressure resistance and texture as well. Nissan’s engineers are replicating the softness of human skin and applying it to the plastics. The most attractive texture according to Nissan’s research approximates that of the human fingerprint. The implementation of these new natural feeling plastics should lead to the most comfortable cars ever. Drivers will love the soft, natural feeling of the steering wheel.
Nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) sounds almost too good to be true. The same microscopic particles that help trees to stand up straight are also lightweight, non-toxic, stronger than steel and just happen to be the most abundant organic compound on Earth. First studied in earnest in the early 1990s, manufacturers can now produce pure NCC from wood pulp.
Some early boosters are predicting that NCC will replace metals, conventional glass, and petroleum-based plastics in everything from helicopters to office towers. The material is cheap, and doesn’t even require felling entire trees: It can be recovered from twigs, sawdust and presumably any plant with woody components. Though NCC is cheap, is potential profitability is anything but. The USDA anticipates that the nanocrystalline cellulose market will hit $600 billion by 2020. NCC might wean us off mining for nonrenewable resources, might lead to a second rush on the world’s forests, or may simply blow away in a puff of nanoscale hype.
Via Atlantic Cities.
Whale sharks are great at filtering; plastic needs to be filtered. For now, however, whale sharks only have an appetite for plankton. Industrial designer Elie Ahovi has jumped into the void with her Marine Drone, an autonomous robot that can dredge up the plastic junk that currently clogs our oceans. Roaming the ocean for two-week periods, Ahovi’s drone can collect plastic in its attached net while scaring off any marine life with an irritating high-pitched tone. When its batteries run low, the robot returns to a home base where humans can collect the plastic and ship it off to a recycling plant.
Via Popular Science.
So this is what you get when artists Lucyandbart practice their low-tech plastic surgery techniques on visitors of the MU gallery in Eindhoven. We are clueless on whether it was actually their objective to end up in the blend between tribal Africa & Beverly Hills. Peculiar image of the week.
Artist Willis Elkins “rescues” plastic detritus from the sea. His most recent venture, the Jamaica Bay Pen Project, retrieves sun-baked, useless pens from the shores of New York’s Jamaica Bay and reinvigorates them with fresh ink cartridges. Once consigned to the sea, Elkins gives these pens a second chance at a useful life. This project joins the New York City Lighter Log, Elkins’ previous effort to catalogue and preserve the various species of plastic lighters found on the city’s shores.
Elkins’ project is a reversal of our standard disregard for plastic junk. Instead of seeing it as disposable, the artist treats each object as a unique specimen worthy of preservation. According to Elkins, ”[land]scapes that were once virgin territories of human exploration: staggering mountains, vast oceans, even the depths of space are now all being rediscovered and examined not for containing profound examples of what is natural, but what is not.” From landfill mines to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the world is now overflowing with unnatural resources ready to be exploited.
Recipes from a post-fish world? Our peculiar image of the week was created by Nathalie Faber & Matthijs Immink.
While the Pacific garbage patch is often characterized as a dense, Texas-sized island of plastic, in reality it’s an area of 2,736 square km scattered with tiny, floating bits of plastic. Popular conception holds that the worst effect of this junk is that it strangles animals, or accumulates in their stomachs, leading to slow, painful deaths either way.
In reality, it’s much harder to suss out plastic’s impact on oceanic organisms. Fish and birds do eat plastic, and in large quantities. Bottle shards and cigarette lighters were found in the bellies of dead albatross chicks. However, it may be that for most animals, nurdles more or less harmlessly pass through their digestive systems. Scientists just don’t know. On the flip side of the plastic coin are ocean-faring creatures that are clearly thriving thanks to this novel material.
Peak oil, the point when petroleum extraction is at its maximum, may have already occurred sometime in the last few years. Not only affecting whether we drive a Humvee or not, engineer Debbia Chachra reminds us that peak oil also means peak plastic.
Not limited to water bottles and cheap toys, plastic is vital to medicine, industry, agriculture, and transportation. From the soles of your shoes to the carpeting in your house, it’s harder to find an object that doesn’t incorporate petrochemicals than one that does. “Plastic,” Chachra writes, “is so ubiquitous that it’s almost invisible.”
Plastic’s durability means that it winds up everywhere, welcome or not: In the bellies of albatross, in giant trash vortexes in the pacific, on beaches and in our blood. Although certain microbes may eventually evolve to eat plastic, the truth is that most of our plastic waste is going to stick around for thousands of years.
This resistance to degradation, Chachra argues, is a hidden asset. Millions of tons of petroplastic are buried in landfills, waiting for the day when the cost of excavating them becomes less than the cost of squeezing the last drops oil from the ground. Although we may develop workable alternatives, petroplastic’s killer combo of persistence, moldability, and sterilizability will make it valuable for centuries to come.
Chachra envisions a future where “cool, slick petroplastics will become a repository of warm nostalgia. I like to imagine the Brooklyn-hipsters-of-the-future, on their rooftops, using vodka and bitter almond oil to make artisanal polyethylene.”
Via Warren Ellis.
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.
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?
BY JOHN ZERZAN
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?
Plastic is a part of the earth’s ecosystem, but it’s a part that no one wants. At Harvard, scientists are looking to replace single-use plastic bottles, plates, and cups with packaging that not only biodegrades, but tastes great. These so-called Wikicells are made up of liquid or solid food contained within an organic membrane that’s held together by electrostatic forces – the same forces that cause cling wrap to cling. In the wonderful world of Wikicells, the wrap around a cut of in-vitro beef could contain the sauce, or an ice cream cone could be made from actual cream. If the scientists get it right, we may soon have an edible way to stop using plastic bags and bottles that take 500 to 1,000 years to degrade.
Photo via The Way We See the World.
Protei is a sailing robot that’s designed to clean up oil spills without human assistance. After sailing upwind, the bot drifts downwind, zigg-zagging across the surface to absorb oil in its long, tail-like boom. Since Protei is self-righting, it will be able to operate even under hurricane conditions, keeping human crews out of danger from both high winds and toxic chemicals. The robots can be operated by remote control, or can be programmed to work together as an autonomous swarm.
Though it’s currently only a prototype, the eco-friendly, open-source Protei may some day radically change how we clean up the ocean. Though it was originally designed to sop up future Deepwater Horizons, modified Protei could possibly be used to gather plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
More photos after the jump.
Clothing giant H&M no longer uses real humans in its online catalog. The company has admitted that it pastes real models’ heads on computer-generated bodies. At least there’s a “racially diverse” example thrown in with the caucasian cyborgs. CGI humanity: For when even Photoshop can’t invent a perfect body.
Thanks to Stefan. Story and image via Jezebel.
A ‘treasure in the trees’ reveals the exchange of materials between man and animal. This beautiful house finch nest, made of natural resources and manmade garbage, demonstrates how ‘bird architecture’ is able to make use of materials which are useless to us. For some people it might be art, but from another perspective this nest is a pure representation of how humans contribute to nature’s development. Certain bird species use their nests to compete for mates. High-tech-garbage, which contains materials like plastics, textiles or wires, might take their mating rituals to the next level (and to the next nature).
Image from Sharon Beal’s Nests: Fifty Nests and the Birds that Built Them.