Bionics

Innovation inspired by Old Nature

Janine Benyus talks about biomimcry at TED (video). Of course, weÂ? likeÂ? her book and appreciate the concept of biomimcry (from bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate) a lot. Still somewhere, I am always a bit reluctant about this philosophy of design-inspired-by-old-nature. Janine’s jacket sort of sums it up: their view on the nature/culture relation tends to be rather naive.

What’s great about biomimcry is that it isn’t faking the superficial appearance of old nature (like plastic flower wallpapers), but aims to mimic old nature in its pragmatic functioning. Taking old nature as a mentor is a more modest and sympathetic attitude than the usual modernistic ‘man has to control nature’ perspective from the previous century. I would be interesting to hear Janine talk on how she thinks the categories of nature an culture would shift once the whole world has read her book.

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Calm-technology

Sao Paulo vs Billboards

The mayor of Sao Paulo decided that he was tired of the wildgrowth of billboards in the city. So he decided to take them all down (not personally). This creates a very pre (or post) Next Natural landscape. Watch a slideshow of it here.

Read a backgroundstory on the piece (International Herald Tribune website)

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Fake-nature

Compubeaver

Compubeaver by Kasey McMahon

“I am interested in the way we interact with nature. As we become increasingly reliant on technology, we become disconnected from our natural environment. Nature then is a spectacle (i.e. holy crap, that’s a beaver!), an outing, a thing that is nonexistent in our daily lives.

There is also something intrinsically funny about putting a computer in a beaver. In fact, I find it difficult to think of a more ridiculous case housing for an office machine. All innuendos aside, what better creature to house the busiest of machines – the machine that has sped up our lives and made us captive to a constant flow of information.

The beaver is the first case mod I’ve done. Many thanks to all those who helped.

Next, I would like to make a car out of a giant squid.”

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Biopolitics

Coexist

Donna Conlon is a Panama-based artist who often uses the relation between man and environment in her work. In her short film “Coexist” we get a close-up look at leaf cutter ants carrying political and institutional symbols like those seen in flag parades. The friction between the self oranised ant colony, based on evolutional strategies ratherthan on law and order, and the political symbols they carry, brings up questions on the issue of power and survival priciples. The revolution is here, it’s now and it’s green!
Watch an exerpt of the movie on Donna Conlon her website

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Biomimicmarketing

The Tissue Engineered Meat of Tomorrow

The meat in the supermarket is abstract, square and habitually made from wickedly manifactured animals. A friend once told me he only eats meat if he “can not recognize the animal in it”. I felt this was a disturbing remark, but this ‘consumers preference’ may also bring opportunities: disengage the animal from the meat.

According to researchers, Edible Meat Can be Grown in a Lab on Industrial Scale. Winston Churchil, a carnivore to the core, already in 1936 predicted that “we shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.” Today, growing meat in the lab still seems the stuff of science fiction, but reality is not far behind.

The picture above shows the Dressing the Meat of Tomorrow project by James King, who proposes scan the countryside looking for the most beautiful examples of cows, pigs, chickens and other livestock. Once located the animals are scanned from head to toe, creating precise cross-sectional images of its inner organs. These scans are used to mold a designers steak. The project was inspired by the Disembodied Cuisine project (pictured right).

Related: How to print an Organ, Pig Wings, What do do with your Cat.

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Toys’R’Us

March 2007 gave birth to Knut, the übercute baby icebear in the Berlin Zoo. A unique event, since it was 30 years ago a baby icebear was born in the zoo. Within weeks, Knut has become a mediastar. And as we know, no stars without a little controversy. Since the bear was abandoned by its mother, the baby bear is being raised on milk by its attendants. This “manual” raising of a baby bear is unnatural and unwated, says animal-rights activist Frank Albrecht and therefore the cute bear should be killed. Of course, this sparked the public’s sympathy for the animal. In the meanwhile, babybear Knut is Big Business. And we mean BIG. Everyday, 800 teddybear versions of knut are sold for at least 11,95 euro. There are Knut-ringtones, keycords and DVD’s for the eager fanbase. But there’s more. All this attention has driven the Berlin Zoo’s shares upto 4.000 euros, coming from 2.000. Images no longer represent products, but products represent images in todays Global Image Economy. This phenomena is definately no biomimicmarketing, but how to label it then? Biomarketing? Shareholderscuddlevalue? One thing’s for sure: the toys are us.

Die Zeit on babybear Knut
The Sun on Babybear Knut

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Biomimicmarketing

Pleo – the resurrected robot dino

Ever since Rosie from ‘The Jetsons,’ robots have been the next big thing, but the business case was never there. So far, companion robots have been a big flop in the market, but with Pleo maker Ugobe hopes to succeed in the second quarter of 2007. It is priced around $250, much lower than other companion robots. The resurrected robot dino exhibits emotional reactions to its surroundings, and can be programmed by its consumers owners. A peculiar combination of fake nature, old nature and biomimicmarketing. Don’t be fooled by the eyes; the vision system is in its nose.

Pleo Website | Interview with its makers.

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Calm-technology

Die Hard – Vilcus plug dactyloadapter

Many people get a kick out of a direct contact with AC power supply. To that end, people normally use U-shaped fragments of bare wire, paper clips or even usual metal forks. All these gimmicks are unreliable, short-lived and, most important, tend to cause a short circuit or even an inflammation in the wiring. The Vilcus dactyloadapter (adapter for fingers) was especially developed for people who like closing the electrical circuit with their own fingers. Vilcus does not consume power by itself, so it can be left plugged into the power outlet until the next session.

Sold from 1 april 2007 at ThinkGeek, related: Grow Your Own 1up Mushroom.

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