Tag: Hypernature

GFP mice
Genetic-surprises

Better Than Nature?

At the turn of the millennium, miniaturized canines acquired the cherished status of living, designer handbag ornaments.  These teeny tiny photogenic doggies, which had been shrunken from generations of in breeding, were snapped up by fashionistas who pouted alongside them in front of seas of clicking cameras.

In just a fragment of evolutionary time, today’s ‘to die for’ bio-couture has been genetically spliced with jellyfish signatures. These trophies are freer to roam and easier to find than their miniaturised predecessors, as they can glow under UV, or ‘black’ light. Although not all varieties can fit in a clutch purse yet, there is an impressive range of designer ‘glo’ organisms available in green and red (blue is possible but isn’t as impressive under UV light). Options include fruit flies, fish, mice, chickens, rabbits, pigs and cats (for glo-cats, see here, here and here).

Science justifies these media friendly creations in service of the greater public good. Yet these animals have great popular appeal that speaks little to their ability to fight cancer or other diseases. Despite their ‘freaky’ designer origins, glo pets are undeniably ‘cute’. Genetic modification is part of a spectrum of technological approaches offered by the new science of synthetic biology, which enable us to overcome the apparent lottery of nature. The fundamental ‘vanity’ at the heart of synthetic biology is that we can do ‘better’ than nature, but is this actually possible?

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plant lab
Food Technology

Growing Plants in the Dark

While sunlight contains all colors, the dominant type of chlorophyll in plants only needs purple light to function. This simple fact has big implications for the future of farming. Crops planted in…

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stockhom metro 1
Designed-by-Evolution

Any Sufficiently Advanced Civilization is Indistinguishable from Nature

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” [1]

In Western cultures, nature is a cosmological, primal ordering force and a terrestrial condition that exists in the absence of human beings. Both meanings are freely implied in everyday conversation. We distinguish ourselves from the natural world by manipulating our environment through technology. In What Technology Wants, Kevin Kelly proposes that technology behaves as a form of meta-nature, which has greater potential for cultural change than the evolutionary powers of the organic world alone.

With the advent of ‘living technologies’ [2], which possess some of the properties of living systems but are not ‘truly’ alive, a new understanding of our relationship to the natural and designed world is imminent. This change in perspective is encapsulated in Koert Van Mensvoort’s term ‘next nature’, which implies thinking ‘ecologically’, rather than ‘mechanically’. The implications of next nature are profound, and will shape our appreciation of humanity and influence the world around us.

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Food Technology

Mark Post – Meet the New Meat

According to professor Mark Post, lab-grown meat could become the environmentally friendly alternative for breeding cows and pigs for meat consumption. Watch his talk!

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i-weather logo
Humane-Technology

A Fake Sun for Your 25/7 Life

The earth operates on a 24 hour cycle, and so do humans. For most of history, we didn’t have much choice in the matter. However, in the absence of visual cues light…

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Designed-by-Evolution

What is Next Nature?

At the Next Nature Power Show 2011 our master of ceremony, Koert van Mensvoort gave a mini lecture on our changing notion of Nature.

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izzy forest
Guided Growth

A New Take on the Tree

Many people will have heard of the infamous swastika made up of larches that revealed itself every autumn in a forest outside Berlin. The trees, which turned yellow at the end of the year, stood out against the otherwise evergreen pine forest. The 60 sq yd Nazi symbol was only discovered after the fall of the Berlin Wall when the new German unified government ordered aerial surveys of state-owned land. While it may certainly be the most notorious, the German swastika plantation certainly isn’t the first time man has manipulated living trees for his own, often crude, purposes.

National Designs

Visitors to the Castelluccio region of Italy are usually surprised to see a strangely familiar shape looming from one of the mountains that enclose the vibrant valley. Planted by some unknown patriot, a small forest in the shape of Italy has established itself on the otherwise meadowed mountainside.

Although a small dose of nationalism can be expected from most rural folk, the plantations found along the rest of the mountain range – one in the shape of North America, one resembling Africa and another Australia – are perhaps more suited to  a Benetton advert than the sedate Umbrian countryside.

Over in Kyrgyzstan, a mountain in Tash-Bashat, near the edge of the Himalayas, is also the unfortunate home to a living swastika. At more than 600 feet wide, the fir tree plantation is at least 60 years old. Rumoured to have been planted by German prisoners of war, the actual truth of the design is shrouded in mystery.

Nationalism also spawned another, less offensive forest design. Situated on the chalky South Downs that separate the UK city of Brighton from its northerly neighbours stands a plantation in the shape of a huge ‘V’ – planted to commemorate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee in 1887. When planted, it consisted of 3060 trees costing 12 pounds, 10 shillings and four pence.

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Hypernature

Hiking in Hypernature

An escalator to the top of the hill, for people who like nature but don’t like to hike. This photo was taken at the Montjuïc in Barcelona two years ago. See the…

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recell_01
Calm-technology

Skyscrapers for Pandora

We’ve previously featured architecture that imitates nature by opening its walls like a flower, or drifting like a cloud. However, maybe this is not imitation enough. The next award-winning example by designer Stanislaw Mlynski shows a building made of the Re-cell ecological wall, which promises to turn a high-rise into an ecosystem. The cells use organic waste as an input, and produce filtered water, grow plants, and reduce C02. Now apartment-dwellers get to experience nature outside their windows. Decide for yourself: Does this project offer a promising future, or does it merely replace nature?

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h and m computer models
Anthropomorphobia

Who Needs Real Humans? Not H&M

Clothing giant H&M no longer uses real humans in its online catalog. The company has admitted that it pastes real models’ heads on computer-generated bodies. At least there’s a “racially diverse” example…

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realdolls26[2]
Anthropomorphobia

Anthropomorphobia

Are you familiar with the affliction? 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’. Although anthropomorphobia was originally rare, with complaints limiting themselves to fairs and amusement parks with moving dummies that laughed at visitors, the blurring boundary between people and products is leading to increased problems. Complaints can be accompanied by irrational panic attacks, disdain, revulsion, and confusion about what it means to be human. Will anthropomorphobia eventually become public disease number one? Or can anthropomorphobia serve as a guiding principle in the evolution of humanity? Herewith, an exploration.

By KOERT VAN MENSVOORT

Exploring the Twilight between Person and Product

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 – behaviour. At the same time, as a consequence of increasing technological capabilities, people are being more and more radically cultivated and turned into products. This essay will investigate the blurring of the boundary between people and products. My ultimate argument will be that we can use our relationship to anthropomorphobia as a guiding principle in our future evolution.

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de_groene_amsterdammer_nextnature_issue
Food Technology

Special in Groene Amsterdammer

This week the oldest and classiest Dutch newsmagazine De Groene Amsterdammer features an 11-page special with lots of material from the forthcoming Next Nature book The special includes a spread on Hypernature,…

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Anthropomorphobia

Skin Gun Heals Burn Victims

Earlier we’ve posted the Bulletproof Skin, now here is the Skin Gun: a stem cell spray gun used to heal burn victims. It is up to you – dear intelligent readers –…

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