Sunday, August 26, 2007

A prescription for mental atrophy caused by the work week: listen to Harry Shearer's LE SHOW four times monthly.
Link to the podcast at KCRW.

A World Transfigured

The BBS DOCUMENTARY is a fascinating and careful examination of a world long gone; its author, Jason Scott, has also set up a website called TEXTFILES.COM which is a repository of the often crass and irreverent writings of that sub-culture. I frequented BBSes from middle school on until early 1999; mostly as a lurker and leech. The boards I dialed-into were much more of the public domain, rather than underground, variety. The Engine One and Engine Shop BBSes served as my Internet portals in Chicago, free of charge, until I moved away.

Link to the BBS DOCUMENTARY homepage.
There are eight episodes available on Google video. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8. Viewing the streaming version is legit because the documentary is under a creative commons license.
Link to the TEXTFILES.COM directory.
INTERNET ARCHIVE has 20 of the interviews from the documentary, uncut (link). I watched the one with Dead Lord of the Legion of Doom. He's a mild mannered fellow who unwittingly dodged Operation Sundevil and went on to run Manhattan's first ISP (link to the interview). The Legion of Doom plays a large role in Bruce Sterling's HACKER CRACKDOWN (link).

The Archive also has the two television shows that covered computerization from 1983 on, both by the same fellow, Stewart Cheifet. THE COMPUTER CHRONICLES (link)ran from 1983 to 2002, and THE NET CAFE (link) ran from 1996 to 2002. The second show has a very telling social & cultural bent.

There are many things worthy of notice on the
INTERNET ARCHIVE.; entirely unique, though, is the inclusion of material from the Prelinger Archive a "a collection of over 60,000 ephemeral (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur) films" (link), many of which lay bear the mid-20th century American psyche. Amid all the pyscho-social conditioning is a wonderful account of the construction of the Watts Towers in Los Angeles, built single-handedly by Simon Rodia over the course of thirty-years. (link to to the short movie, link to Wikipedia entry, link to 2,000+ Flickr photos of the Watts Towers).

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Pirate Bay Goes Mainstream!

The Swedes that form everybody's favorite anti-copyright group were interviewed for the Guardian. There is not much insight in the article, but I always get a kick out of reading the quotes of frothing at the mouth MPAA lawyers and executives.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

DOOM! Art Gallery Edition.

A friend of mine here in Berlin, Christoph Lauterbach who is finishing up an architecture degree, has put together a very interesting project. He is postponing his entry into the labor market as a drafting monkey to get a company off the ground dedicated to designing virtual art galleries. This is particularly for museums and blue-chip galleries, but also there is planned a service for individual artists.

As I understand the project, he will be designing a virtual urban center that will be dedicated to art showrooms and will then proceed renting out the real estate to interested parties. You can upload the two dimensional works that you want to be seen and they can even make 3-D models of sculptures or installations. The business model will follow something similar to World of Warcraft where you pay an initial fee to have your space designed and then a monthly premium to maintain the service.

This is not an incredibly new idea, as I remember a wacky visiting artist coming to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago sometime around 1997 talking about the fantastic future of art viewing in cyberspace. He even had a primitive "virtual reality" style example program. Other than that this artist painted rather uninspiring works of Nintendo controllers and tangled cables.

What is exciting here is that these virtual galleries are really well done and they are still only in a prototype phase. It is like a slow moving ego-shooter video game but dedicated exclusively to art connoisseurship. The most amusing part of the story is that their first prospective client was a guy that does really delicate multi-colored glass sculptures, which would be the equivalent of Dante's Inferno for computer modelers.

To view these virtual spaces you need a small plug-in for your web browser that the web pages in question will direct you to. Unfortunately this plug-in is only available for Apple and Microsoft operating systems.

The firm has a website called the Schauraumprojekte.
Navigate to "Showcase" to install the plug-in and see the first example.

Christoph made another example for his father who is a neo-cubist painter and antique dealer.
At the website of Galerie Lauterbach there is a Modernist two story virtual museum.