Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Elastic Mind

If you have some time to kill this weekend, browse the websites of the exhibition

in realitas at the MoMA in NYC, through May 12. According to the blurb: "The exhibition highlights designers’ ability to grasp momentous changes in technology, science, and history." It also explains "elasticity" is "the product of adaptability plus acceleration," thereby documenting a marvelous understanding of basic mathematics. But let us see how designers grasp the momentous changes.

There are for example the "Accessories for Lonely Men" by Noam Tora, electronic devices "designed to alleviate loneliness by simulating the—sometimes annoying—traces that one’s companion would normally leave behind", like the "Sheet Thief, which winds the bedclothes up on the other side of the bed while you’re sleeping".

James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau envision the "AfterLife Microbial Fuel Cell", which is "charged by the decomposed gastric acids of a dead loved one, can be engraved with an epitaph and can power a full range of electronic products", like for example a vibrator, as they suggest.

A group of British guys 'designs' a cellphone that delivers electric shocks if the person using it speaks too loudly and "disturb[s] others with their intrusive conversations".

A group of Australians wants to see pigs fly.

On the more serious side, there is James King, who considers the possibility that it will become possible to "grow edible meat in a laboratory from sample cells." Young Hyun, who presents a 3d visualization tool for directed graphs (called 'Walrus', for reasons that elude me), and Michael Burton who puts forward his Nanotopia, in which he argues that the advances in nanoscience might widen the gap between rich and poor: "While the upper classes might make the most of advances in bodily aesthetics and invent new cosmetic rituals, such as beguilingly long eyelashes, the poor might transform their bodies into farms “to cultivate desirable clinical and pharmaceutical products,” including stem cells developed from adipose (fat) tissue."

The website itself is a bit annoying, not only does it load a long time and is wider than the screen which makes vertical and horizontal scrolling necessary, it also beeps (I can't stand this). The color of links visited doesn't change, marked text isn't highlighted (one can copy and paste nevertheless, one just doesn't know exactly what), and the back button doesn't work, so you will have to use the 'Return' link. For even better readability I would recommend that next time they chose the text-color to be black on black ground, that would be optimally cool.

Nevertheless, it's fun, so check it out. A nice weekend to all of you!


  1. Accessories for Lonely Men cracked me up. :)

    Thank you!

  2. the product of adaptability plus acceleration - Must be one of those noncomputative algebras.

    Speech to music to John Cage.
    Prose to poetry to William McGonagall.
    Sight to art to dreck... and downward.

    It's photography's fault, then 3-D printing.

  3. ... It also explains "elasticity" is "the product of adaptability plus acceleration," thereby documenting a marvelous understanding of basic mathematics. ...

    It's actually the ratio between the amount of extension that causes no permanent deformation, and the amount of extension that causes actual breakage.


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