Bio · Digital Media · Science · Technology · Videos

See-through brains clarify connections

A chemical treatment that turns whole organs transparent offers a big boost to the field of ‘connectomics’ — the push to map the brain’s fiendishly complicated wiring. Scientists could use the technique to view large networks of neurons with unprecedented ease and accuracy. The technology also opens up new research avenues for old brains that were saved from patients and healthy donors.

“This is probably one of the most important advances for doing neuroanatomy in decades,” says Thomas Insel, director of the US National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, which funded part of the work. Existing technology allows scientists to see neurons and their connections in microscopic detail — but only across tiny slivers of tissue. Researchers must reconstruct three-dimensional data from images of these thin slices. Aligning hundreds or even thousands of these snapshots to map long-range projections of nerve cells is laborious and error-prone, rendering fine-grain analysis of whole brains practically impossible.

The new method instead allows researchers to see directly into optically transparent whole brains or thick blocks of brain tissue. Called CLARITY, it was devised by Karl Deisseroth and his team at Stanford University in California. “You can get right down to the fine structure of the system while not losing the big picture,” says Deisseroth, who adds that his group is in the process of rendering an entire human brain transparent.

Excerpt from an article written by Helen Shen at Nature. Continue THERE

Art/Aesthetics · Book-Text-Read-Zines · Digital Media · Film/Video/New Media · Technology · Theory

Evil Media and Life after New Media

Evil Media develops a philosophy of media power that extends the concept of media beyond its tried and trusted use in the games of meaning, symbolism, and truth. It addresses the gray zones in which media exist as corporate work systems, algorithms and data structures, twenty-first century self-improvement manuals, and pharmaceutical techniques. Evil Media invites the reader to explore and understand the abstract infrastructure of the present day. From search engines to flirting strategies, from the value of institutional stupidity to the malicious minutiae of databases, this book shows how the devil is in the details.

The title takes the imperative “Don’t be evil” and asks, what would be done any differently in contemporary computational and networked media were that maxim reversed.

Media here are about much more and much less than symbols, stories, information, or communication: media do things. They incite and provoke, twist and bend, leak and manage. In a series of provocative stratagems designed to be used, Evil Media sets its reader an ethical challenge: either remain a transparent intermediary in the networks and chains of communicative power or become oneself an active, transformative medium.

Evil Media
Matthew Fuller and Andrew Goffey

Life after New Media
Mediation as a Vital Process
Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska

In Life after New Media, Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska make a case for a significant shift in our understanding of new media. They argue that we should move beyond our fascination with objects–computers, smart phones, iPods, Kindles–to an examination of the interlocking technical, social, and biological processes of mediation. Doing so, they say, reveals that life itself can be understood as mediated–subject to the same processes of reproduction, transformation, flattening, and patenting undergone by other media forms.

By Kember and Zylinska’s account, the dispersal of media and technology into our biological and social lives intensifies our entanglement with nonhuman entities. Mediation–all-encompassing and indivisible–becomes for them a key trope for understanding our being in the technological world. Drawing on the work of Bergson and Derrida while displaying a rigorous playfulness toward philosophy, Kember and Zylinska examine the multiple flows of mediation. Importantly, they also consider the ethical necessity of making a “cut” to any media processes in order to contain them. Considering topics that range from media-enacted cosmic events to the intelligent home, they propose a new way of “doing” media studies that is simultaneously critical and creative, and that performs an encounter between theory and practice.

Art/Aesthetics · Human-ities · Podcast · Science · Technology

Arts, Humanities, and Complex Networks

Maximilian Schich, Isabel Meirelles, and Roger Malina discuss the contents and creation of the new article collection, Arts, Humanities, and Complex Networks, which explores the application of the science of complex networks to art history, archeology, visual arts, the art market, and other areas of cultural importance. Listen to Podcast HERE

Text and Image via MIT Press

Book-Text-Read-Zines · Digital Media · Human-ities · Philosophy

Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks


A new theory of viral relationality beyond the biological

In this thought-provoking work, Tony D. Sampson presents a contagion theory fit for the age of networks. Unlike memes and microbial contagions, Virality does not restrict itself to biological analogies and medical metaphors; it instead points toward a theory of contagious assemblages, events, and affects. For Sampson, contagion is how society comes together and relates.

Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks

Design · Digital Media · Performativity · Photographics · Technology

Picture This—Reinventing The Camera As A Social And Anti-Technological Object

“Wifi Camera,” Sjölén, Haque, Somolai-Fischer, 2006.

Antonio De Rosa’s Instagram Socialmatic Project concept.

In the age of cell phones and other mobile devices with network and photographic capabilities, the art of taking photographs has become as daily a process as brushing one’s teeth or walking to work or school. In a sense, the art of photography has been lost in the phrase “everything that can be made, can be made social.” The ubiquity of the camera, assuming the form and shape of objects that we carry with us daily, has turned the act of taking a photo into an everyday duty rather than an artistic rendering. In addition, the advent of 80% of a global population carrying around a video and still image recording device with them daily has led to an overabundance of information and media gathering.

Responding to the challenge of transforming the traditional act of photography into something new that utilizes the strengths of the internet, artists are creating projects that not only question what it means to take a picture, but also to share and collaborate on the meaning of photography as it’s evolving in the world of Web 2.0. Within the context of crowdsourcing, two projects take advantage of the multitudes of human thought and expression circulating through the internet.

Text and Images via The Creators Projects

Electronic Instant Camera,” 2011.

Design · Digital Media · Sonic/Musical · Technology

Patch Schematics – The Aesthetics of Constraint / Best Practices

Creative Applications: Visual programming languages, languages that create programs by the manipulation of graphical elements, as opposed to specifying lines of text, have seen an increased popularity in recent years both in audio and video synthesis. Some of the more well-known environments, ones that are regularly used for projects that are featured on CAN, include VVVV (real-time motion graphics and physical IO) MAX/MSP (real-time music and multimedia), Pure Data (ostensibly an open source equivalent of MAX/MSP) and Quartz Composer (video synthesis for MAC).

Visual programming owes its many of its conventions for the representation of information and programs from Flowcharts – a lesser used term for these kinds of environments is Data-flow Programming. VPL’s date back to the late 60′s. A good example is the GraIL system (GRaphical Input Language) a flowchart language entered on a graphics tablet developed by the Rand Corporation in 1969.

DMX-LED Patches – Kalle Karlen

Via Creative Applications. Continue HERE