Human-ities · Technology

Rage Against the Machine

Can technological progress be stopped? That is the question the Luddites asked 200 years ago in England. They did more than just ask the question — they tried to stop technological progress, physically. The Luddites were not particularly sophisticated in their methodology. Their main idea was to smash things. Their favorite things to smash were stocking frames. Stocking frames are machines used to knit. The first stocking frames were invented in the late 16th century. But stocking frames really came into their own at the beginning of the 19th century, with automation. That’s when the industrial revolution was swinging into high gear. The new machines being built in northern England in the early 19th century were transforming the textile industry from one that required highly skilled labor into an industry that required almost no skill at all. A person could be trained to operate a stocking frame in a few hours. Knitting — once a well-paid occupation — was fast becoming a low-wage affair.

According to legend, a young kid named Ned Ludd had smashed up a couple of stocking frames some time in the late 18th century. The Luddites of the early 19th century took up Ludd’s name and cause. They began smashing up factories and, occasionally, killing people. They also wrote letters to politicians and factory owners threatening they would kill them or otherwise make serious trouble. A typical Luddite letter, this one to Henry of Leicester, reads as follows:

It having been presented to me that you are one of those damned miscreants who deligh in distressing and bringing to poverty those poore unhappy and much injured men called Stocking makers; now be it known unto you that I have this day issued orders for your being shot through the body with a Leden Ball…
(From Writings of the Luddites, edited by Kevin Binfield)

Excerpt from an essay written by Idle Chatter at The Smart Set. Continue HERE

Art/Aesthetics · Digital Media · Film/Video/New Media · Performativity · Technology

SOFTWARE – An Exhibition (1970)

An art catalogue of an exhibition which explores the creative potential of communication technologies, with ideas and approaches which are relevant today.

Software was a show curated by an artist and critic Jack Burnham for the Jewish Museum in Brooklyn, New York City, 16 September – 8 November 1970, and the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 16 December 1970 – 14 February 1971. The show put together computers and conceptual artists, linking them through the idea of software as a process or a program to be carried out by a machine or, why not, by the audience based on “instruction lines” formulated by the artist.

Participating artists: Vito Acconci, David Antin, Architecture Group Machine M.I.T., John Baldessari, Robert Barry, Linda Berris, Donald Burgy, Paul Conly, Agnes Denes, Robert Duncan Enzmann, Carl Fernbach-Flarsheim, John Godyear, Hans Haacke, Douglas Huebler, Joseph Kosuth, Nam June Paik, Alex Razdow, Sonia Sheridan, Evander D. Schley, Theodosius Victoria, Laurence Weiner.

Download HERE

Text and PDF via Monoskop Log

Human-ities · Science · Social/Politics · Technology

Magic and the machine

Can firm distinctions be drawn between the natural and supernatural, between fantasy and technology?

As between the natural and the supernatural, I’ve never been much good at drawing firm distinctions. I know myself to be orbiting the sun at the speed of 65,000 miles per hour, but I can’t shake free of the impression shared by Pope Urban VIII, who in 1633 informed Galileo that the earth doesn’t move. So also the desk over which I bend to write, seemingly a solid mass of wood – but in point of fact a restless flux of atoms bubbling in a cauldron equivalent to the one attended by the witches in Macbeth.

Nor do I separate the reality from the virtual reality when conversing with the airy spirits in a mobile phone, or while gazing into the wizard’s mirror of a television screen. What once was sorcery maybe now is science, but the wonders technological of which I find myself in full possession, among them indoor plumbing and electric light, I incline to regard as demonstrations magical.

Excerpt of an article written by Lewis H Lapham at Aljazeera. Continue HERE

Games/Play · Performativity · Sculpt/Install · Videos

Mouth Factory

Chewing drill

“Mouth Factory”, by Cheng Guo, is a series of functional machines specifically designed to be operated by the mouth of the user. It explores the capabilities and versatility of this wondrous organ and correlating facial expressions, re-contextualized within the realm of production. As a comment on human enhancement, the project aims to explore the aesthetic of production through a series of performative devices. By focusing on the mouth, the production devices acquire a fantastic quality that amplifies and render visible the reciprocal relationship and effects between our body and our tools.

Inhaling vacuum form machine

Blowing rotational molding machine