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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.

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Anthropomorphobia

Honey Pie Image: On Point
Blurring the line between people and products.

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’.

Its symptoms are irrational panic attacks, disdain, revulsion, and confusion over things that change what it means to be human: plastic surgery, robots, and intelligent animals. Will anthropomorphobia eventually become public disease number one?

Metalosis Maligna

Metalosis Maligna

Metalosis Maligna is a documentary by Floris Kaayk about a disease which affects patients with medical implants.

Anthropomorphobia

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 – behavior.

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We should prevent people from having to live in a world where they are constantly confused about what it means to be human. 

— Koert van Mensvoort, Anthropomorphobia

Voodoo Phone

Japanese professor Hiroshi Ishiguro from Osaka University has quite a track record of threading the uncanny valley. Remember his Doppelgänger Robot and Geminoid Female? His current proposal brings new dimensions to mobile communications:Humanoid dimensions.

Although our human body language is one the most effective and natural channels for communication, it plays no role in mobile communication so far. Hence Hiroshi Ishiguro teamed up with NTT Docomo and Qualcomm to develop a humanoid shaped phone, called Elfoid, which adds an element of realism to long-distance communication by recreating the physical presence of a remote person.

The fleshy urethane skinned prototype has a deliberate genderless and ageless appearance, as this should allow for the projection of the personality of any caller. Equipped with a camera and motion-capture system, the Elfoid phone will be able to watch the user’s face and transmit motion data to another Elfoid phone, which should then reproduce the face and head movements in real-time.

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Voodoo Phone
Aging Barbie

Aging Barbie

You wouldn’t give it to her but Barbie is already over 50 years old. The doll made her debut at the American International Toy Fair in 1959 and has been a young girls (and gays) beauty icon for decades. Just image what Barbie would have looked like today if only she wasn’t so utterly plastic fantastic by nature. Still a pretty woman, stylish too!

Should we clone Neanderthals?

If Neanderthals ever walk the earth again, the primordial ooze from which they will rise is an emulsion of oil, water, and DNA capture beads engineered in the laboratory of 454 Life Sciences in Branford, Connecticut. Over the past 4 years those beads have been gathering tiny fragments of DNA from samples of dissolved organic materials, including pieces of Neanderthal bone. Genetic sequences have given paleoanthropologists a new line of evidence for testing ideas about the biology of our closest extinct relative.
The first studies of Neanderthal DNA focused on the genetic sequences of mitochondria, the microscopic organelles that convert food to energy within cells. In 2005, however, 454 began a collaborative project with the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, to sequence the full genetic code of a Neanderthal woman who died in Croatia’s Vindija cave 30,000 years ago. As the Neanderthal genome is painstakingly sequenced, the archaeologists and biologists who study it will be faced with an opportunity that seemed like science fiction just 10 years ago. They will be able to look at the genetic blueprint of humankind’s nearest relative and understand its biology as intimately as our own.

In addition to giving scientists the ability to answer questions about Neanderthals’ relationship to our own species – did we interbreed, are we separate species, who was smarter – the Neanderthal genome may be useful in researching medical treatments. Newly developed techniques could make cloning Neanderthal cells or body parts a reality within a few years. The ability to use the genes of extinct hominins is going to …

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We try to make the world in our own image. What happens when we fail? We try to make the world in our own image. What happens when we fail?

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.

Designers have realized this for a long time; a lot of thought goes into designing the face of the car. It’s an important element of the design process. As Chris Bangle — former design director of the BWM Group Munich — puts it in the recent documentary Objectified: ‘You, as a person, can have lots of different faces, but with a car, you can only have one face. When you put …

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The Photoshop Beauties: Before and After

Usually we don’t realize the hours of photoshopping spent on magazine and advertising images before publication. The raw photographic material reveals a lot about the fine craft of ‘beauty construction’. The photo above shows documentary maker, former soap actress and challenger of the beauty industry Sunny Bergman, before and after ‘the photoshop’.

Sunny’s latest documentary Beperkt Houdbaar (Limited Preservation) makes a powerful analysis of the cultivation of the body for the beauty industry’s economic benefit. We are looking forward to her …

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