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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 ‘Symbolic-Overdrive’

  • backtothetribe

    Essay: Back to the Tribe

    Traditionally, technology is seen as a force that diminishes our instincts and puts us at a distance of nature. Increasingly however, we realize technology can also energize and amplify our deepest human sensibilities – even some we had forgotten about. Propelling us not so much back to, but rather forward to nature.

    By VAN MENSVOORT

    Almost two decades ago, Brian Eno – artist, composer, inventor, thinker – gave an interview in which he stated the problem with computers was that there is not enough Africa in them [1]. “Africa is everything that something like classical music isn’t. Classical – perhaps I should say ‘orchestral’ – music is so digital, so cut up, rhythmically, pitch wise and in terms of the roles of the musicians. It’s all in little boxes.”… “Do you know what a nerd is? A nerd is a human being without enough Africa in him or her. I know this sounds sort of inversely racist to say, but I think the African connection is so important. I want so desperately for that sensibility to flood into these other areas, like computers.” … “It uses so little of my body. You’re just sitting there, and it’s quite boring. You’ve got this stupid little mouse that requires one hand, and your eyes. That’s it. What about the rest of you? No African would stand for a computer like that. It’s imprisoning.”

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  • We-create-the-cosmos530

    An Ecstatic Dialogue with Richard Doyle

    When techno–optimist and fellow at the Hybrid Reality Institute, Jason Silva, meets with Richard Doyle, author of Darwin’s Pharmacy: Sex, Plants and the Evolution of the Noosphere, we must buckle up for an Ecstatic Dialogue on language, reality, ancient Internets and how psychedelics make us human.

    JASONSILVA: Your new book Darwin’s Pharmacy talks about the relationship between psychedelic plants and the accelerating evolution of the “noosphere”, which some define as the knowledge substrate of reality, the invisible, informational dimension of collective intelligence and human knowledge. Is this more or less accurate?

    RICHDOYLE: The book features a set of nested claims about the evolution of mind, psychedelics (or, as I  prefer and propose, “ecodelics”),  and the evolution of the noosphere, but all of the claims can be understood via two claims:

    (1) Ecodelics have been an integral part of the human toolkit, so suppressing them is like suppressing music, jokes or other aspects of our humanity. (Here I am following Samorini, Siegel, and others)

    and

    (2) As integral parts of the human toolkit, ecodelics are best modeled as part of sexual selection – the competition for mates and the leaving of progeny. A careful look at Charles Darwin’s writings on sexual selection will show that sexual selection works through the management of attention – what we would now call “information technologies.” Think birdsong, bioluminescence ( the most widespread communication technology on the planet), poetry.  The peacock is managing and focusing peahen attention with his feathers, so what we have called “mind” has been involved in evolution for a very long time. Mandrilles eat iboga before competing for mates.

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  • nauga

    The Nauga’s Hyde

    Sometimes new technology has to bio-mimic old nature to be accepted. In the late 1960s and early 70s, Uniroyal Engineered Products invented the ‘nauga’ a beast that gives its name to naugahyde. The nauga is fictional; it breathes as much as polyvinyl fabric does. Since the new, cheap material could be perceived as off-putting and artificial, the critter was presented as friendly and cuddly. The species is a vegan dream, willingly shedding their hides several times a year. The last of the naugas live free-range on a ranch in Wisconsin. Though the nauga isn’t real, we can still rest assured that chocolate milk comes from chocolate cows.

    Via Snopes.  Image via Hyde Park Blvd.

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    The Monsters We Deserve

    Recently, a video clip has been circulating the web that purportedly shows a rabbit born earless due to the radiation at Fukushima. BoingBoing has a convincing take-down of the claims of the video: earless rabbits are a fairly common mutation, mother rabbits sometimes chew off their ears of their young due to stress, and no one even knows where the video was filmed.

    More interesting than the video is the fact that we want to it to be real. Radioactivity should have immediate, visible consequences. Bodily harm should be  made manifest, and any disturbances in the natural order need to be seen to be believed. After the nuclear bomb explodes, we all head to the ocean to watch Godzilla pop out of the waves.

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  • a run on the bank

    BitFriday – First Crash for Digital Currency

    On June 10, the digital currency Bitcoin lost 30% of its value in a few hours, dropping from US $28.92 to $20.01 per coin. Bitcoins are a largely untraceable form of money, relying on a peer-to-peer  system for legitimacy, instead of a central authority like a government or Second Life’s Linden Labs. Gawker recently brought Bitcoins to mainstream attention in a report on Silk Road, a website where aspiring drug users can use the anonymous currency to purchase home delivery of any psychoactive from LSD to cocaine.

    The Bitcoin Black Friday was the result of certain events that real life markets have learned to control for – a bank rush, where Bitcoin owners exchanged their Bits back to bucks en masse, and a market that stayed open despite rapid inflation over the last few weeks. Millions of dollars in Bitcoin investments were lost in the resulting crash. This fast-moving bear market goes to show that online events increasingly mimic ‘real’ events, and that the investors in digital markets could stand to crack open their history books. Virtual economies work the same as actual ones, although all money, by definition, is already virtual.

    Via DailyTech.  Image via Dipity.

  • Facing your Car

    Facing your Car

    Do cars have a face? You would be inclined to say yes immediately. And you would be right as well, because they do. Study has confirmed through a complex statistical analysis that many people see human facial features in the front end of automobiles and ascribe various personality traits to cars — a modern experience driven by our prehistoric psyches.

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  • dolphin-fish

    Babel Fish

    Researchers are working on a language and a device that will help humans and dolphins talk with each other.

    Denise Herzing, a researcher and founder of the Wild Dolphin Project in Jupiter, Florida aims to meet the mammals in the middle, creating a new language that both humans and dolphins can understand.

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  • Nintendo DS used for sexy fun

    Nintendo Portables Are Breeding Grounds For Sexy Fun

    Sexuality and sensuality are phenomena which have been a nature for us as long as we humans exist. Not only humans experience these phenomena; also animals experience sexuality and, more or less, sensuality.

    One of the things which make humans distinct from other animals when it comes to sex, is that humans make use of artificial artifacts to stimulate sexual feelings. Have you ever seen a lion which needed a vibrator to make things better?

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  • The Woods Smell of Shampoo

    Named after the story of a city girl that washes her hair with pine-needle shampoo and one day walks in the woods with her daddy says “Daddy! The Woods Smell of Shampoo”, this Dutch VPRO documentary investigates how media became the filters through which we experience the world around us.

    Media experiences are often more satisfying than real experiences. Do we still have real experiences or are all our feelings and thoughts shaped by media technologies? And if that’s the case, how bad is this anyhow?

    Ten years ago, when The Woods Smell of Shampoo was broadcasted on Dutch television, much of its statements were considered preposterous. Over time the film has gained a certain luster – if only for being Next Nature avant la lettre.

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  • DNA spray

    The Neighborhood’s DNA

    I’ve noticed DNA spray notices springing up around Amsterdam.  I assumed it was a fairly standard anti-theft device:  A crime is committed, a little nozzle is activated by the offended shop owner, and the criminal is coated in a long-lasting UV-dye.  So far, a more advanced update of the standard ‘exploding ink in a wad of money’ trick, but nothing unusual.   The DNA angle seemed like a marketing ploy to make a banal technology sound bio-futuristic.

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  • Fake plastic bags – made from real leather

    Fake plastic bags – made from real leather

    Fakeness is traditionally associated with inferiority; cheap Rolexes that break in two weeks, plastic Christmas trees, leaking silicone breasts, imitation caviar… However, in a society in which everything is a copy of a copy, the ‘fake’ seems to gain a certain authenticity.

    Can you imagine anything more classy and luxurious than these anonymous, brand less, recognizable ‘throw away’ bags re-created in durable, high quality leather by Femke de Vries? Better than the real thing!

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  • alex_gross_14

    Alex Gross

    Indulge in the paintings by Alex Gross. There is ‘something’ next nature about them… If happen to have more information on what that ‘something’ is, feel free to enlighten us in the comment box. Peculiar image of the week.

    Via Pinktentacle.

  • the_Matrix_530

    Next Nature Movie #6: The Matrix

    In the last few decades there have been numerous films that take the struggle between mankind and its increasingly intelligent and autonomous technology as a leitmotif. Ranging from Stanley Kubriks magnificent artwork Space Oddysee 2001 (1968), which is better defined as a posthuman than a nextnature film, to Disney’s cartoonish Tron (1982), to the Terminator series (1984, 1991, 2003).

    The notion of technology becoming competitive with the people who created it, is clearly a thankful movie subject. Pity though, the issue is always projected in the future – at distance from our everyday lives – as this limits the opportunity to reflect upon the co-evolutionary state people and technology have been caught up for a long time already.

    Apparently this is a movie law difficult to get around, and one that directors Andy and Larry Wachowski willingly accept. Yet they do something brilliant. They have a philosophical idea that they want to get out, but they are aware their idea is difficult to sell. If they had made it too explicit their movie would have been an art house film, or a giant flop. So they took their idea and wrapped it up in a sci-fi story, in an action packed blockbuster.

    The subtle premises of The Matrix (1999), is that the people subjected by the machines aren’t aware of the artificial intelligence that is ruling their lives. Like the prisoners in Plato’s Cave they’re blind to the simulation drawn before their eyes – a situation only stirred up with the arrival of the manga style dressed Christ–like savior Thomas Anderson, aka Neo, aka The One, played by a perfectly casted Keanu Reeves. Postmodernity in the overdrive? That’s not giving enough credit.

    Through their syncretic cocktail of ingredients from western and non-western philosophy (*), art and religion, the Wachowski brothers manage to achieve exactly what they want. Like a Trojan horse, they’ve planted something into your mind, the seed of doubt, even if you have no idea it’s there, yet it’s there. That voice in the back of your mind that something is wrong. That feeling you got left with after seeing the movie that it wasn’t just about computers and artificial intelligence but about something else, something more important, something you’re familiar with but just can’t put your finger on.

    The Matrix is a philosophical film that has cut through an entire generation, which now thinks differently about the technology in their surroundings than any generation before them. They’re aware that there may never be a day that technology awakes, becomes conscious and – politely or impolitely – introduces itself to us. They’re aware that this doesn’t withstand that technology is a strong all-pervasive force in our lives: A force that is not only driven by us, but in turn, also drives us. What is the Matrix, you ask? Something closer to reality than you think.

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    (*) Prior to the start of the filming the Wachowski brothers required the principal actors of the film to read three books: ‘Simulacra and Simulations’, by Jean Baudrillard, ‘Out of Control’ by Kevin Kelly, and ‘Introducing Evolutionary Psychology’ by Dylan Evans.

    Passed: Alphaville (1965), Space Oddysee 2001 (1968), Tron (1982), Tetsuo the Iron Man (1989), Terminator 2 (1991), Ghost in the Shell (1995), Technocalyps (2006).

  • terminal_tom_hanks_530

    Next Nature Movie #9 – The Terminal

    Viktor Navorski is an Eastern European traveler – portrayed by Tom Hanks, who in the movie ‘Cast Away’ already played a man stranded on an uninhabited island – that finds himself in the unique circumstance that a war broke out in country while he was traveling to New York. This makes him a man without a country, or one that the U.S. cannot recognize, thus he is denied entrance to the U.S. However, as he can’t be deported either, the Security Manager tells him he has to remain in the airport until his status can be fixed.

    Forced by the circumstances, Victor soon unfolds himself as a situational designer that cleverly repurposes the airport terminal as his living environment. In contrast, the rationalistic security manager desperately tries to cope with the parasitic element that has entered within the system. Guess who wins? Spoiler alert: It’s a Spielberg movie.

    Like in Jurassic Park, director Steven Spielberg shows us that, while people are experts at domesticating their environment with rationalistic systems, the systems we create can easily outgrow us up to the level that we start to perceive them as a next nature that has to be re-domesticated (again). The huge airport terminal set was built for this movie alone. Unsure if they have ever re-used it for a Big Brother-type of reality TV series – oh boy, did we just invent a TV format there?

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    Passed: Modern Times (1936), Brazil (1985)

  • Art-Captures-The-Lives-And-Sounds-Of-A-Thriving-Wildlife-Ecosystem-In-A-City

    Bird + Subwoofer

    The Bell Isle Zoo is one of the examples of the decay of the once great city of Detroit. Situated on an island in the Fleming Channel, the zoo was shut down years ago because of lack of money just as many other landmarks in and around the city. The deserted area around the zoo became a popular spot for teenagers to hang around and race their cars. Meanwhile the zoo itself, secretly transformed into a new ecosystem with a surprising variety of wildlife. Especially a great number of bird species.

    Artists Paul Elliman & Nicole Macdonald found out about this natural world inside the manmade ruins and reflect on this by documenting everything through audio and video and by creating artistic projects.

    One of these reflections can be seen at Casco in Utrecht. A big subwoofer is installed next to a TV that displays the sound of the bird phonetically. The sound of the bird is lead through the subwoofer and is transformed into a deep bass. It’s a reaction on the two worlds living so close together. The teenage kids riding around in their cars pumping out loud music through their car stereos and the birds that try to adapt to their new neighbours.  The only question that arises is; ‘Do you call a bird-sound-emitting-subwoofer a tweeter?’

    This installation as well as audio and video fragments of the zoo can be found at Casco until the 3rd of October.

    Subwoofer installation from the expo ‘Teach me to Disapear’ at Casco, Utrecht

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    Search Stories

    Once upon a time humans told stories by painting on cave walls, showing plays in an amphitheater, pressing text on paper and shining light trough pieces of film. Today we tell our stories with Google.

    ‘Googling’ is part of everybody’s daily life, and millions of things are searched for and found every day. While searching seems so simple, fast and formal; when all your searches are connected you get a rather accurate sketch of your personality or social situation.

    Check out some of the touching, funny and sad videos on the Search Stories video channel on Youtube, or make your own. I recommend watching Dog, Graduation and Brother and Sister.

    If we have to believe Google, “Every search is a quest. Every quest is a story. These videos show that anyone can do anything when paired with the power of search.”

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    Matt Ridley – When Ideas have Sex

    At TEDGlobal 2010, author Matt Ridley argues how, throughout history, the engine of human progress has been the meeting and mating of ideas to make new ideas. According to Ridley, it is not important how clever individuals are, what really matters is how smart the collective brain is. Resistance is futile.