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Life Out Of Balance April 30, 2009

Posted by chris drake in culture, cyborgs, humanity, technology.
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Koyaanisqatsi- A recommended film-

Koyaanisqatsi  opens with scenes of the American southwest, many of them filmed from the air and displaying the sheer hugeness of the area: deep chasms, enormous rocks on vast plains, all with little human presence. Shots of Niagara Falls and other troubled waters and an increasingly ominous tone to the music set the viewer on edge, as one begins to see signs of human presence: machines, pipelines, power lines take a place in the landscape. Nuclear explosions produce mushroom clouds over the desert.
People are eventually seen, sunbathing on a beach in the shadow of an enormous factory. The natural world soon disappears altogether, replaced long shots of packed highways. Sped up, they look like rivers of erratic light. The music becomes dominated by heavy steady beats.
Just as they seem about to explode in a frenzy, the images and the music stop, replaced by slow-motion footage of people who seem displaced, the music also grows much slower and simpler. After the previous section, this feels like a hangover. The movie ends with an astonishing, unbroken tracking shot of a rocket that explodes in mid-air shortly after liftoff. For several long minutes, the camera follows a piece of burning wreckage so steadily that it appears not to be falling at all, merely spinning in space.
Koyaanisqatsi asks the viewers to ponder their relationship to a social system that has come to dominate them rather than serve them. Much of the film is exhilarating and beautiful in a way that may seem counterproductive to that end. But the cumulative effect is more meditative than frightening. The film is not traditional in any sense. It takes the viewer on a wild flight from the tranquil (seemingly lifeless) western deserts of the United States, through the great planes of the nation’s heartland and mid-west, our forests and on to America’s largest cities. The pace accelerates as the music and images drive individualism from the minds’ eye. Modern technological life becomes impersonal and mechanical, and humans become robotic. Our everyday lives seem meaningless as we produce, consume, and maintain ever -increasing amounts of need. Technology feeds on itself and like the rocket shooting into space, as we speed to the top we our bound for destruction. Koyaanisqatsi is the Native American term for ‘Life Out of Balance’

Dollhouse April 28, 2009

Posted by saraholsen in cyborgs, gender, technology, television.
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After briefly bringing up Dollhouse, I thought it would be interesting to do this post about it. I have, as requested, watched all of the episodes of Dollhouse throughout the semester and I found the show to be both interesting and entertaining.

There is little need to say why it is interesting. The acting is fairly good, the plot is easy to follow and always intense, and the storyline is always different yet somehow relates to one another.

The interesting factor is, for me, a lot harder to scope out. I had never thought of the technological advances that are presented in the story. Though some times it seems highly realistic (and others not) it not really the reason why Im interested in the show. Immore interested in the show because it presents such strong sexual roles and how they affect our society. The male and female characters are all very controlled by their sexuality, whether they are one of the dolls or not. The woman who runs the Dollhouse even allows her sexuality to be played out through the dolls. But something I find more interesting the women characters. When they are dolls, they are submissive and quiet and obedient. However, especially in echoes character, she is rarely placed into a role that she is those things. In fact, in almost all her programing she takes on characteristics of strenghtligence, and power…all characteristics that we designate as male. And it is the male that seems to program her, and deprogram her for that matter. It is the switch that we have recently been discussing that controls the woman cyborg and her sexuality (characteristics).

Thumbs up to New Media April 28, 2009

Posted by jr4024 in art, class, fsct 301, technology.
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I guess with my last blog post, I’d like to reflect back on all of our different projects that we have executed through the different new media programs. First off, I’d like to reiterate that I did not think of myself as an artist in any way, shape, or form before this class. Sure I’m a creative person and my imagination tends to run wild, but literally speaking…no. However, in this class I was given the opportunity to make tangible pieces of artwork that weren’t necessarily your typical paintings, but definitley a piece of art. I never thought about programs such as Photoshop as an artistic skill that creates “pieces of art.” I’ll go ahead and say that I’ve created d*** masterpieces compared to what I thought was going to be a disaster. And as for my final project, I am going to use the one program that I found the most challenging and horrifying…photoshop. At this point, I know this seems a bit like “brown-nosing”, but I can truly call myself an artist having now been open to the “other side” of art…at least a digital one…and I have battle wounds to prove it!

Just a Thought….and a Question March 24, 2009

Posted by ah12 in class, technology.
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We all do this. We all scan google images hoping to find pictures for our powerpoints, projects,etc. We manipulate these images for our use and for our own projects. I did it for my class project using the software Comic Life to take another person’s image and adapted it for my needs. So what about this is troubling?

I would like to introduce an idea to you, its called image hosting. I would like to introduce another idea to you, internet vigilantism. So, when one of my favorite websites, Cracked.com, had one of its articles stolen by another website, El Grafico, they reacted in an interesting way.

Seeing as Cracked hosted all the images for its sight on its own server, any changes made at their end showed up on El Grafico. So, every image was played around with….usually in an extremely juvenile way. The final image was edited to have the original overlapped with the words “Its NEVER a good idea to plagarize someone else’s work. But, if you must do it, at least have the common sense to NOT link to images directly (Eat Shit).”

Here is the article on Cracked about El Grafico’s plagarizing:


This is an example of very minor example of internet vigilantism. For a look at some cooler, and more disturbing examples, heres another Cracked article:


Now, a thought: having read the ” 8 awesome cases of internet vigilantism” article, do you think internet vigilantism is a good thing? Or is it merely a case of large scale harrassment?  The internet is, for the most part, completely in the control of its users, programers and various other surfers. It does not, however, make you immune from real world consequences. You may not get into your choice of college if they see all those “sick drinking photos from the bahamas” like the ones my younger brother’s friends put on facebook. You may get harrassed, or even arrested, if you put a video of yourself doing something stupid and illegal on youtube. So surf safe.

Question: If anyone knows more about image hosting please let me know. For instance, if the image is saved to my computer, can the person who originally put it up still make changess to it?


Robot hired as substitute teacher March 11, 2009

Posted by animatingthecyborg in news, technology.
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The video embedding code isn’t working, so click here for the 50 second clip.

Robot teacher smiles, scolds in classroom

Robot teacher smiles, scolds in classroom

Read the rest of the article here: “But developers say it’s not about to replace human instructors.”

The Exponential Growth of Information March 5, 2009

Posted by chris drake in communication, culture, technology.
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‘Hybrid Cultures’ is an interesting and provocative topic that carries a look into the future of world cultures. Kelts’ Japanamerica only sheds light on a small portion of this whole notion of cultures combing and evolving into one. With this Age of Information and its exponential growth people around the world are able to communicate, create, share, influence, invade, control, and produce an idea soup in the media sphere. Globalization grows alongside information growth, which creates a world of Hybrid Cultures. Ultimately we are looking at a very distant future where there will be one unify culture, blended from all cultures past. A supreme remixing and growth of everything.

Sweeet Metaphor March 3, 2009

Posted by jr4024 in cyborgs, gender, technology.
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            Science fiction is not a genre that I have ever really shown any interest in, but the readings that we have in Gendered Cyborg gives science fiction an interesting twist on my part because of the connected relationship with gender. In this week’s reading especially, the concept of technoscience/gender interrelationships truly altered my views on science fiction as a genre in television or any other type of medium. I have always been turned off by the fallacy of series and films such as Star Wars, Lord of The Rings, and the Matrix. Although I am a lover of certain cartoons, there is just something about the whole monster/human that I never thought/cared much about.

            When I think about the cyborg as a metaphor to transcend boundaries, in the perspective of social justice issues, it forces me to have much more respect for the cyborg itself then I normally would. Donna Haraway mentions that “science fiction interpenetrates boundaries…with an exploration of possible worlds…” I found this to be stimulating in the sense that a cyborg isn’t simply this fictional creature that provides entertainment, but a creation that allows possibility for change in how we categorize and structure society. The genre of science fiction questions ideals in society and seems to almost be a representative of a kind of world with no differences in race, gender, and sexuality. This notion of binaries and pushing binaries challenges the way in which society is structured and breaks down what was thought to be permanently and scientifically established.

The model of the cyborg, in terms of questioning gender, brings up an interesting subject of the maternal-feminine that was talked about in the reading. Questions that came to mind were as follows. Is it acceptable to produce an offspring without the recognition of a pregnancy? On the other hand, could it be an idea that aids women break away from females as reproducing machines? Or even, is taking away maternal significance at all productive?

On Artificial Intelligence/Consciousness February 19, 2009

Posted by chris drake in cyborgs, technology.
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When reading Haraway’s “A Manifesto for Cyborgs” and Jackson’s “Patchwork Girl” I couldn’t help but think about where artificial intelligence fits in all of this.  A question that artificial intelligence poses is that if complete ‘AI’ were to be created would these machines be able to become self-aware and be able to retain consciousness? This is the philosophical debate of the possible existence of Artificial Consciousness. Attributing to the mind-body problem, if ‘AC’ were possible it would mean that human consciousness can be tracked back to physical properties and be emulated in machines, if ‘AC’ is not possible then it would mean that the consciousness of humans is separate from the physical properties of the brain. Cyborgs blend this line of distinction.

The aesthetic philosopher and artist Paul Ziff defines machines as incapable of having feelings or  consciousness in his essay “The Feelings of Robots”. He poses the question of whether we can attribute feelings to a machine and in so blurring the line between a man and a machine.  We base our perception of a person’s behavior not only on what evidence is present then and there but as well what has been seen elsewhere which would tie into what we see then and there. One cannot see what another knows. Suppose there is an actor performing the role of a grief-stricken man. One person knows he is acting and another does not. Then to that person who is unaware the man would seem to be truly grief-stricken. The other person knows that the man is only putting on a performance. Robots are performers and it would be incorrect to say that the robot is grief-stricken because it is only imitating the emotion. A robot would behave like a robot.

Paul Weiss, a nanoscientist and philospher,  expresses in his essay “Love in a Machine” what is needed to identify a consciousness in a machine. Weiss answers some basic questions in his writings stating these claims. Claim 1: “Behavior occurs in space and time”  this being the case it is true that the behavior of men can in principle be duplicated by machines. Claim 2: If machines could not behave in ways man could not then it would only show that man has more flexibility and wider range then a machine would, not that he has a private nature or mind that machines do not. Claim 3: If machines were to behave just as men do it would mean that machines could have minds that are recognize as minds of men. Claim 4: A person can only know others from the observable outside.

One cannot know whether or not another person has a mind. Therefore one cannot find a way of distinguishing men from the machines. Weiss is examining and explaining how people know themselves from the outside as well as from within. Since we can see how others behave then we can see that they have minds similar to our own. If there can be know observable distinguishing men from machines then it can be concluded that machines have minds as well. But to pose furthur questions and thinking, how do we explain the unseen relationship we have with our fellow humans? These unique bonds that connect humans beyond the physical realm, such as love.

Technology And/In/Through/ Art….and Vice Versa February 19, 2009

Posted by smike97k in communication, cyborgs, poetry, technology.
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The recent study of William Blake and print making in general has really got me thinking about the connections between technology and art.  Matthew Belmonte mentioned the ideas of science and art in his story “The Yellow Raincoat,” and the distinctions between what the two intend to do.  However, I want to look at the direct connection between the tools that technology has created, and their influence on the world of art.


To go far back into history, we could consider the stone as a form of technology.  The stone was a way of making paint from natural sources, like fruit and berries.  By crushing these sources, one was able to create a paint like substance, to then use in recording history.  The original pen was made with a feather, and the paintbrush, from animal hair, and still used today despite advancement in art technology.  All of these items could be considered forms of technology in the aid of art, going back thousands of years.  The question is are there some forms of art that are completely dependent on forms of technology, no matter how advanced they are?  Could one be considered a “cyborg” when using the then technology of a rock?


The printing press was key not only to the spreading of news in the first books and newspapers, but also in the art of print making, as made evident by William Blake and so many other’s work.  The press that we used in our own class was probably an older technology, but a technology none the less, as would never have been able to create such a clean print, with contrast of black and white, without it.


The computer, obviously, is one of the most powerful forms of technology today.  One form of art that the computer has had a great impact on is that of photography.  The computer and digital camera have made the storing and manipulating of photographs and unbelievably easy thing to do at its most basic level.  It has helped some artist create fascinating and surreal photos.  However, as a super amateur photographer, I was originally hesitant to go digital.  I loved the process of developing film and manipulating light onto negatives to create the effect of the photo that I wanted.  This brings up another question about technology in art.  Does technology affect art in a negative way?  Does it take away from artistic creation, which is not easy on any level?  I don’t know.  I’ve questioned these thoughts in my own creations. 


Technology and art can be seen to go hand in hand.  The creation of a lot of different forms of art becomes possible with the aid of technology, no matter how simple.  And if you want to go even further, we need art to create technology, in sketches and the building of machinery.  The two can be intertwined in many ways and have been since the beginning of human kind.

Laplacian? February 18, 2009

Posted by baimeeker in cyborgs, technology.
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Professor Burcar asked me to post this.  It’s about “The Raincoat.”

In “The Raincoat,” Matthew Belmonte reflects on his childhood raincoat, an object that represents the tension between himself and his environment, including other people. He compares this tension to the abnormal obsession with controlling the world that is associated with autism. I was particularly struck by his use of the word “Laplacian” to describe himself. I have searched in vain for a definition of Laplacian other than the mathematical term. Why would someone call themselves a “budding Laplacian”?

Although the actual definition of the Laplacian is based in differential calculus, one way that it can be described is in terms of its usefulness. In particular, the Laplacian is used to find equilibrium points in a system. Equilibrium points are points at which there is no movement. These points reflect the feeling Belmonte describes when wearing his raincoat, as though “immersed in the outside worlds flood yet insulated from it.” The areas around these equilibrium points may be moving in several different directions. They may be approaching the equilibrium point or even flying away from it. But the equilibrium point itself is not affected.

In addition, Belmonte discusses how his compulsion to understand the world, and thus reduce it order, pushed him to study science and creative writing, and in particular to describe the world in a mathematically tractable way. As I continue to study applied mathematics, I become more aware of the simplifications that must be made in order to study the world in this way. In the same way that a mathematician studies equilibrium points, Belmonte is looking for stationary rules that describe the best human knowledge of a system. Yet we must always leave things out of our equations for the sake of tractability. Otherwise we would not be able to find solutions. Because of this, equations that try to describe humanity prove to be difficult to create or to analyze. Belmonte tries to find and to convey the equilibrium points of human interaction through science and art. It is due to his participation in this struggle that he can be described as a Laplacian.