The intersection of art and science can be a bit on the weird side (tiny jackets made of stem cells, anyone?). But if this new art project works as advertised, it’s pretty neat.
This piece of retainer-like jewelry is the creation of Aisen Chacin, a student at Parsons School of Design in New York. It differs in one very important way from the standard rapper’s grill: it includes a motor hooked up to the headphone jack of an iPod that lies flush against the wearer’s palate. To play your tunes, you manipulate the iPod’s controls with your tongue, and, thanks to the pulsing of the motor against your teeth, you can hear the music.
That’s thanks to a phenomenon called bone conduction, which allows sound to be transmitted to your hearing apparatus by the vibration of bones rather than the vibration of air hitting your ear drum. It’s why your voice on a recording sounds different than the voice you hear when you speak, and it’s the basis of certain hearing aids, as well as some headsets worn by divers so they can receive messages from people out of the water. In fact, it was Hugo Gernsback, renowned editor of pulp science fiction magazines and namesake of the Hugo Awards, who, in 1923, came up with the idea of a bone-conducting hearing aid. You can see drawings of it here.
If one London art gallery is correct in predicting the future of police surveillance, we may have to redefine the meaning of ‘sting’ operation: one artist’s mock-interview with a (fake) beekeeping police officer describes how bees can be used to track down growers of illegal plants–and the scary thing is that this art video is only a hop and a skip from reality.
An exhibition called “High Society: Mind-Altering Drugs in History and Culture” at London’s Wellcome Collection features a short film by artist Thomas Thwaites, entitled “Policing Genes,” in which a mock police officer explains the latest in surveillance trickery. Essentially, the police officers tend bee hives, and when the bees return from their daily pollen-hunt, the officers not only check the bees for pollen from such plants as marijuana, but can also use software to decode the dance of the honeybee. And since pollen-laden bees dance to tell the other bees where they found the pollen, decoding the dance would tell the police the exact location of the illegal plants.
Just as Beethoven suffered through hearing loss and Hemingway struggled with depression, an artist at New York University is also suffering for his art, but in a slightly different way: his body has rejected part of the camera that he implanted in his head.
Back in November, Wafaa Bilal, an NYU photography professor, embarked on a novel art experiment: he went to a Los Angeles tattoo shop and had a titanium base inserted behind the skin on the back of his head. Three posts that extended from this insert were then attached to a camera that snapped pictures once a minute, viewable to everyone on his website.
Would you connect your laptop to a random USB port installed on a wall on a city street? I don’t think I would, but Aram Bartholl, a German artist and architect currently residing in New York City, is betting that some people will be brave enough.
Bartholl explains the purpose of his new art installation on his website:
‘Dead Drops’ is an anonymous, offline, peer to peer file-sharing network in public space. I am ‘injecting’ USB flash drives into walls, buildings and curbs accessible to anybody in public space. You are invited to go to these places (so far 5 in NYC) to drop or find files on a dead drop. Plug your laptop to a wall, house or pole to share your favorite files and data.
In June, the Guggenheim Museum announced a collaborative video contest with none other than YouTube. Yes, you read that right: YouTube, the video website overrun with videos of cats and each tween’s latest shopping spree.
The contest was open to anyone and everyone who has made a video in the last two years. A total of 23,000 videos were submitted and judged by a panel of artists and curators, and the competition’s 25 winners were announced last night. These 25 videos will be on display at the Guggenheim Museum in New York through the weekend, and all the shortlisted videos will stay online indefinitely. While there was some excitement about the prospects of such a venture, the New York Times isn’t impressed by the final product:
At the time of the announcement, there was much talk about originality and discovery, which sounds rather hollow now, compared with the low quality of the 25 finally selected.
Ouch! When the competition was announced, some feared that it would dumb down the video art world, while others dreamed that it would break the community open to embrace YouTube’s DIY creativity and modern folk art stylings. The critics over at the New York Times seem to think the winning videos did neither, and fell somewhere between sophisticated video art and YouTube folk art:
One way to explain the lackluster quality of the first incarnation of “YouTube Play” is that almost none of the final 25 works, which are being screened in a gallery at the museum this weekend, fit either of those categories…. They seem to occupy a third sphere of slick and pointless professionalism, where too much technique serves relatively skimpy, generic ideas.
You can take a look a the 25 finalists and the additional 100 “shortlisted” videos online. In addition to the “Birds on the Wires” video above, here are some of my other favorites from the top 25:
Who would think a printer would inspire such beautiful art?
A collaboration between the ad company Dentsu London, Canon printers, and photographer/biochemist Linden Gledhill created these “sound sculptures” which use high speed cameras to catch tiny droplets of paint as they splatter under the force of sound waves. The resulting videos were used in an ad that celebrates Canon printers’ color quality, but honestly, who cares what they’re selling when the images are so pretty.
Gledhill gets extreme detail in his shots through his use of an ultra-high speed camera, which takes up to 5,000 frames per second, and a Canon 5D Mark II with a Canon EF 100mm Macro IS USM lens to get intense, up-close detail. He previously used the paint splatter sculpture technique in his “Water Figures” series, he said on Dentsu’s Flickr page:
I, like many people, find Water Figures almost compulsive viewing. They appeal to people in many ways because they represent a fusion of science, technology, natural chaos and art. Every image is unique and can be appreciated in all of these ways. For the scientist, who is interested in fluid dynamic or chaos theory, they capture the behavior of fluids in motion.
Hit the jump for more info and a video about the creative process.
Researchers have decided to get personal with Mona Lisa–by irradiating her face. In a study recently published in Angewandte Chemie, researchers trucked around the Louvre to look at nine faces painted by Leonardo Da Vinci with a portable X-ray machine.
Their particular technique, as reported by the BBC, is called X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and is a way to uncover the layers of paint without damaging the paintings. By looking at this layering, they learned more about Da Vinci’s brush strokes and a technique called sfumato, which he used to hide transitions between dark and light areas and to create realistic shading.
The Da Vinci researchers aren’t the only X-ray art historians. Another recently published study looked at “Mayan blue”–a long lasting pigment made by the civilization that lived in Central American from 2500 BC to the 1600s.
What do you see in this detail from the Sistine Chapel frescos?
We’ll give you a hint: Look at God’s neck.
Still can’t see it? Take a look in a May issue of the journal Neurosurgery. What do a medical illustrator and a neurosurgeon see when they look at a Michelangelo masterpiece?
We propose that in the Separation of Light From Darkness, Michelangelo drew into God’s neck a ventral view of the brainstem as well as the perisellar and chiasmatic regions.
Though finding this hidden drawing seems to take a lot of squinting and genuine imagination, the article’s authors claim that their beliefs have historical and artistic groundings. For one, Michelangelo was a master at dissecting cadavers, a hobby he started at age 17, the authors told NPR. They also point to the lighting, God’s trimmed beard, and the fact that, as a neck, it isn’t anatomically correct. For a brainstem, the authors think, it’s just right.
Some art historians aren’t convinced. Brian A. Curran, an associate professor of art history at Pennsylvania State University told The New York Times:
“I think this may be another case of the authors looking too hard for something they want to find. . . I don’t want to discourage people from looking. But sometimes a neck is just a neck.”
Discoblog: Astronomers Identify the Mystery Meteor That Inspired Walt Whitman
Discoblog: Super-Size Me, Jesus: Last Suppers in Paintings Have Gotten Bigger
Discoblog: Artistically Challenged Man Becomes “Michelangelo” After Brain Surgery
Bad Astronomy: A vast, cosmic cloudy brain looms in a nearby galaxy
DISCOVER: Visual Science The Achilles Heel on Michelangelo’s David: His Shin
Images: Wikimedia, Ian Suk and Rafael Tamargo / Neurosurgery
The Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan may seem the ultimate arbiter of contemporary art success, with space on its rotunda walls reserved for the world’s buzziest artists. But this October the museum will showcase 25 videos made not by famous or even up-and-coming artists. Instead, the museum is preparing to welcome the unknowns–from YouTube.
The museum and the video site are pairing up on a project they call YouTube Play: A Biennial of Creative Video. Participants can submit videos (one per person) created within the last two years, until the July 31 deadline.
As one might expect from a collaboration with a site that features both dancing birds and baby delivery how-tos, the competition has few entry restrictions. The hope, as described in a promotional video, is to tap the truly “new” and “to reach the widest possible audience, inviting each and every individual with access to the Internet to submit a video for consideration.”