Officegarden

e-Paper

Will our mobile devices look like this in two years time? This is an example-application of the featherweight QVGA (320×240 pixels) active-matrix display: Phillips e-paper. (It doesn’t look very next-nature, does it?)

The question is: why are we developping rich information-technology that looks and feels like old media. What’s the gain?

Fake Nature

Kernwasser Wonderland

The construction of this nucleair powerplant near Kalkar (DE) started in 1973. After the build was finished, in 1991 it was decided not to use it for political reasons. The complex was sold to the Dutch businessman Hennie van der Most who turned it into a recretionational area.

The mountainlandscape was painted by Florentijn Hofman, Harmjan Timmerarends, Henk Boverhoff and Levan Busurashvillie.

www.kernwasser-wunderland.de | artist website

Calm-technology

Walls with Ears

A traditional textile heritage is celebrated with flocked wallpaper that comes to life as it reacts to ambient noise levels. The louder the space the brighter the wallpaper glows. It explores the experience of human presence and action having a tangible effect on space and provides a direct and analogue reflection of this by addressing the point where ambient space ends and surface begins. A new depth and language is brought to otherwise dormant decorative materials that simply surface and contain space.

See the project

Manufactured Animals

Penguin Fashion

In January 2000 an oil spill near Phillip Island, Australia, threatened the tiny penguins who live there. The penguins’ home was already at risk – in the past 80 years, the penguins have lost more than 3/4 of their Phillip Island breeding area, mostly as a result of human actions.

Dressing the penguins in doll sweaters proved to be a successful technique to keep the penguins warm and to stop them from swallowing oil. The birds’ feathers are coated in natural oils that keep them warm and waterproof. The oil from the spill destroys the animals’ natural oils. Penguins also clean and smooth their feathers using their beaks. If a penguin preens after an oil spill, it will swallow poisonous oil, and probably die.

Knitters in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States set to work, some adding special touches, like little bows or knitting the sweaters in the colors of their favorite sports teams.

Thanks to the hard work of volunteers, the Phillip Island Nature Park now has more penguin sweaters than penguins who need sweaters. But all involved hope that this unique effort will inspire ways to help other marine wildlife.

Fake-nature

We Love You Lucy

Lucy the Margate Elephant is a New Jersey landmark built in 1881. Pilgrims came from all around to gaze in wide wonder at the Elephant god (after gambling). The back of this beautiful postcard from Atlantic City, New Jersey, 1950’s, reads:

The only elephant in the world you can go through and come out alive. This famous building was erected in 1885. The elephant contains ten rooms; its interior is visited by thousands.

Check her out!

Manufactured Animals

Cat Power

Athanasius Kircher first described the cat piano in his landmark 1650 work Musurgia Universalis. In order to raise the spirits of an Italian prince burdened by the cares of his position, a musician created a cat piano for him. The musician selected cats whose natural voices were at different pitches and arranged them in cages, side by side, so that when a key on the piano was depressed, a mechanism drove a sharp spike into the appropriate cat’s tail. The result was a wondrous melody of meows that became more vigorous as the cats became more and more desperate. Who could not help but laugh at such music? Thus was the prince raised from his melancholy.

Wild-systems

24 hours economy

Could the biggest, most successful discount store in the world really meet your every need? Twenty-four hours a day? That’s what the TV spots are saying. Really living there. Eating, sleeping, checking out the DVDs, never leaving.
Skyler Bartels walked into the big box wearing jeans and a white T-shirt. He had his cell phone in case of emergency, his heart medicine, his bank card, two forms of identification, and nothing else. He spent the first afternoon watching “Chicken Little,” the animated Disney film. He watched it all. Deleted scenes, interviews, outtakes. Everything.

“They had it on a continuous loop the whole time I was there,” he said. “I’d pass through the department and say, ‘Oh, it’s about halfway through’ or, ‘I like this part. I think I’ll watch it again.’ “

He decided not to buy anything he couldn’t carry around the store. He ended up with a jacket (for storage space), a note pad, some pencils, an electronic voice recorder, a three-pack of underwear, a comb, a toothbrush and some toothpaste. He lived off energy drinks, doughnuts, yogurt and Subway sandwiches. He figures he slept four hours out of the 41 in captivity. He’d catch a few minutes whenever he could – in a Subway booth or a restroom stall.
The best place for dozing was lawn and garden, where the lights weren’t so bright. Nobody worked there between 2 and 4 a.m. Bartels found a lawn chair, kicked back and wondered how life could be better.

By Tuesday morning, not even halfway through the great experiment, the store was on to him. His debit account was frozen. He was exhausted and paranoid. Game over. His med-student brother picked him up and took him away.

“We weren’t aware of this,” said corporate spokeswoman Sharon Weber, “but it’s not something we condone. We’re a retailer, not a hotel.”

Like real life, you can’t get everything at Wal-Mart (new slogan: Not a Hotel). Bartels couldn’t get a shower or a bed. He couldn’t find one of those miniature bottles of shampoo.

The-map-is-the-territory

Code Country

There’s some loophole in international maritime law that allows you to start a free state off the coast of Los Angeles.

In the summer of 2005, the San Diego-based company SeaCode announced that they would permanently anchor a cruise ship off the coast of Los Angeles, in international waters, filling it with an army of “offshore” computer programmers. Sea-coders, in other words.

This odd new micronation would beam the results of its cheap labor back to mainland clients via microwave and T3 internet connections. It would have a steady labor base, sovereign terrain, potentially even immunity from taxes – and loads and loads of code.

Sentient Spaces

What’s Epic?

Epic is a fictional prospect (from 2004) on the future culture of media and internet-corporations. The human addiction to news and information must – according to this video – accumulate to one great scattered source with over too many editors. But is it the product we wanted? by Robin Sloan

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