Author: Silvia Celiberti


All-Natural E-nemies

Chemistry teacher James Kennedy sat down to show us that if we speak in terms of good and evil, Mother Nature’s products are far sneakier and complex than the lab’s. He virtually listed all the ingredients of non-GM fruits (excluding pesticides, fertilizers, insecticides or other contaminants), to reveal 13 E-numbers “naturally” packed in your morning blueberries, together with flavorings and fresh air.

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Cow Poower! Bacteria Turn Poo into Fuel

Fair Oaks Farm in Indiana is squeezing out more than milk from their 36,000 cows. Around 2 million gallons of compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel is created each year from tons and tons of cow poop.

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Gated Communities: In Or Out?

Anthropologist Setha Low, one of the first to study the subject, defines gated community as “residential developments surrounded by walls, [and] fences” with a “structured entrance”; or, as estate agents nicely put it, exclusive property that sums- for those who can afford it- the much needed three P’s: privacy, protection and prestige.

Known as “Cerradas” in Mexico,  “condomínios fechados” in Brasil or more eloquently as security estates in post-apartheid South Africa, the concept of a community defending itself from outside violence is, in a way, an ancient practice (think of Medieval fortress or, even before, walled Romans settlements). At first very popular in The States, where the first “self-contained suburban utopias,” sprung around 1850, gated communities are since the last decade a cross continental rising trend.

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Evolving Soft Robots

With four types of different building blocks – soft and hard tissues and two types of muscles – scientistic simulated evolution, with the one rule for success that the fastest robots create more offspring. Do you remember when you first got out of the ocean, brushed the water off your fins and tried your first steps? Aww. It’s a parade of puffing creatures you can not miss.

Via Motherboard


Mutation Furniture: Your Living Room Comes Alive

Beautiful Mutation series from Belgian designer Maarten De Ceulaer show how herpes would dramatically enhance the look of your Yves Klein blue sofa. Indeed the velvety series looks more comfortable than Tokujin Yoshioka’s growing crystal chair– although it’s only a biomimicmarketing simulation rather than a truly biological or chemical process.

De Ceulaar explains,” The pieces in this series look like they weren’t made by hands, but have grown to their present form organically. They might be the result of a mutation in cells, or the result of a chemical or nuclear reaction. Perhaps it’s a virus or bacteria that has grown dramatically out of scale. The Mutation pieces make you look at furniture in a different way. Maybe one day we would be able to grow a piece of furniture like we breed or clone an animal, and manipulate its shape like a bonsai tree.”

While society is still discussing futuristic in-vitro meat scenarios, designers are already watching TV on their very own in-vitro furniture.

Story via Feeldesain. Image via De Ceulaer’s website

Back to the Tribe

Tykkään or En tykkää? Digital Voting Takes to the Streets

Last April, the city of Helsinki asked its citizens to give their opinion about the construction of a new and expensive branch of the Guggenheim museum. Brought to the streets, and set up as a real-life Facebook interface (with the addition of a powerful “Dislike” button, a nonexistent option in the social network), a big touchscreen allowed people to physically  “Like” or “Dislike” the proposal.

The vote results did influence – but not determine –  the city’s final decision to not pursue the project. Maybe because the touchscreen system is still missing a way to identify individuals and avoid “likejacking” or multiple votes from the same passerby, or maybe due to the semantic implication of shifting from a yes/no polar question to a more emotional like/dislike reaction.

This experimental street translation of a social network feature makes it easier to see that once we set aside technological interfaces, our ancient tribal dynamics are the very reason behind the existence and popularity of social networks. Now hit the button/leave a rock in the pile if you’d like to leave your opinion.

Story and image via The Pop Up City


CAMOVER: Destroy All CCTV Cameras!

1. Choose a name for you and your fellows’ cell in honor of an inspiring historical personality.
2. Destroy as many CCTV cameras as you can.
3. Post videos or pictures of your conquests to earn points.

These are the rules for CAMOVER, a real-life game started under the motto Freiheit stirbt mit Sicherheit: Freedom dies with security. CAMOVER was founded in Berlin in response to the increasing number of security cameras getting installed around the German capital.

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algae opera feeds algae with the breath of a singer

“Algae Opera” Nourishes Algae with a Singer’s Breath

Are you blessed with a Maria Callas kind of voice? If, like us, you don’t go beyond croaking the occasional ” I want to break free” in the shower, watch out. If the artists of Algae Opera have their way, your morning algae might not taste so sweet.

Algae Opera debuted at the London 2012 Design Festival as part of Isoculture, a project that redesigns the city as a self-sustaining system. The structure, created by After Agri, channels the flow of CO2 produced by the powerful lungs of an opera singer’s breath into plastic tubes that feed what may soon become a fundamental source of nutrition: algae. But that’s not all there is to this synesthetic experience. The song and modulation of the singer’s voice, in connection with new techniques of sonic enhancement, influence the perception of the eating experience, shifting the taste of algae to either bitter or sweet.

Algae opera is a project that reframes art as a functional actor in future society, recontextualizing opera from a pleasing aesthetic experience to a functional tool to grow food. The project shows how society’s sensibilities can be reframed through technology and creativity, in order to deal with the challenges we’ll face as inhabitants of an overpopulated planet. So lie back and relax: dinner will be ready around the third act.

Story via Wired. Image via Laughing Squid.