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Silicon and surveillance: A tale of big data and bigger conspiracies


Thomas Pynchon’s novels have several recurring themes: paranoia and conspiracy, pastiches of high and low culture, synchronicity and coincidence, shadowy networks lurking around every corner, and the impact of science and technology. With the coming of the Internet age and the surveillance society that sprang up in the wake of 11 September 2001, it seems as though reality has finally caught up with his vision. In his latest work, Bleeding Edge, Pynchon takes full advantage of this convergence.

The first question asked of a new Pynchon book is: is this one of the sprawling, spiralling, time-tripping monsters with innumerable characters and a plot that is tricky to bring into focus, like Gravity’s Rainbow or Against the Day; or is it one of the fun detective stories with a well-defined protagonist, like The Crying of Lot 49 or Inherent Vice? Bleeding Edge is definitely in the latter category. There is a colourful cast of memorable personalities, and high jinks often ensue, but the tale is told linearly, from the point of view of an acknowledged main character, with something approximating an explicit goal.

Excerpt from an article written by Sean M. Carroll at Nature. Continue THERE

Bio · Performativity · Science

MADONNA’s Sterilization Team Wipes Traces of her DNA

The music legend apparently orders workers to complete an extreme clean of all her dressing rooms on tour so that any hair, skin or saliva belonging to the 53-year-old cannot be captured.

Concert promoter Alvaro Ramos, who is overseeing the ­Portuguese leg of Madonna’s MDNA tour, told Britain’s Daily Mirror: “We have to take extreme care, like I have never seen for any other artist.

“We cannot even look at the dressing room after it is ready, or even open the door.”

He added: “We can only enter after her sterilization team has left the room. There will not be any of Madonna’s DNA, any hair or anything. They will clean up ­everything. In the end, it is all to protect her and make her feel comfortable.”

Text and Image via Herald Sun

Animalia · Art/Aesthetics · Design · Education · Events · Performativity · Videos

Designer choreographs ant ballet at the Pestival

Produced by Ollie Palmer, the Ant Ballet is a 2-year investigation into the parallels between human and ant communication which culminated in the world’s first ballet to exclusively feature ants. It is currently in Phase I of IV.

Using synthesized pheromones (Z9:16Ald Hexadecanol) and highly invasive Linepthinema humile Argentine ants, a robotic arm lays pheromone powder trails that cause the ants to behave in a different way to their usual foraging. Performances in late 2012 will feature mass colony movement testing, and the first intercontinental ant ballet.

The machine is part of a larger study of paranoia, control systems, insects and architecture.

The Ant Ballet will be installed in ZSL London Zoo’s BUGS zone with simulated ants until June 2012, and at FutureEverything festival in Manchester from the 16th – 19th May. The first live Ant Ballet performance will take place as part of Pestival in Sao Paulo later in the year.



Pestival aims to initiate a cultural shift in the way people think, moving them towards a more integrated way of looking at the natural world. Pestival’s lasting legacy is to forge new working relationships between disciplines, communities and species. Pestival says “Insectes Sans Frontières”.

Pestival believes insects are critical to human life on Earth. With over a million insect species, they are the most diverse group of animals on Earth. And yet insects are frequently misunderstood, reviled or, at best, ignored by the majority of the human population.

Pestival has set out to challenge existing stereotypes about insects and to give them their rightful place, for good and bad (vectors and pollinators), in our collective cultural consciousness.

Via WIRED