How is it even possible that a mess of steel wires or a pile of useless scraps of trash can produce shadows that so perfectly mimic human faces and figures? Whether bringing forth unexpected shapes by combining abstract sculptures with a light source or exploring the psychological connotations of shadows, artists make light and darkness a physical element in each of these works.
Faces appear out of the most unlikely shapes and materials, from scrunched fabric to numbers mounted on a wall, while figures spring out of thin strips of metal. Says artist Kumi Yamashita, “I sculpt using light and shadow. I construct single or multiple objects and place them in relation to a single light source. The complete artwork is therefore comprised of both the material (the solid objects) and the immaterial (the light or shadow.)”
Though they do have a certain beauty in and of themselves, look at Larry Kagan’s wire sculptures on their own, without a light source, and you may find yourself scratching your head at what the word ‘art’ even means. But when they’re illuminated from just the right angle, they transform into something different altogether, becoming birds, insects, ladders and maps of the world.
Artist Rook Floro made a plasticine cast of his body to create this eerie shadow sculpture, which he displayed in a gallery while sitting nearby with his entire body painted black. “My sculpture/performance piece is inspired by Carl Jung’s psychological theory about the shadow. It concerns with the repressed ideas, weakness, and desires of oneself that the conscious mind refuses to acknowledge. It represents my ‘shadow’ which involves my hidden desires to be different and become perfect in y own right. We always feel the pressure to be perfect by everything around us such as the media, social network, advertisement, friends, and family.”
This adorable Japanese children’s book by Megumi Kajiwara and Tathuhiko Nijima is enhanced with the use of a flashlight to bring out extra figures via pop-up silhouettes. The book is hand-made to order.
Two static sculptures suddenly start to dance as a light source swings maniacally around them in this interactive art installation by Lauren Craste, created for the Chromatic festival in Montreal. It seems straightforward at first, but then the figures seem to take on a life of their own, moving in ways that don’t make sense. The secret is a hidden projector that tracks the movements of the light source to create certain effects.
Tom meets Miss Piggy [x]
"Nice try, Great Escapo."
I think that in any social group that reaches certain size, it’s a good idea to work under the assumption that at some point at least one abusive person will join the group and exploit the group’s social rules and existing systems to mistreat others.
So when approaching a new group, or even when judging a group you already belong to, the question should not be, “Are there abusive people in this group?” but “What features of this social group could potentially be exploited by abusive people?” or even “What features of this social group are already being exploited by abusive people?.”
Predators always find a way to use even the fairest, most nourishing environments to their advantage. It’s what they do. So any social group that claims to be “not like other groups” and to be “free of abusers” is at best passively ignorant of those who are taking advantage of the group and at worst spending a lot of time and resources and hiding the predators within the community and silencing their victims.
Therefore, any group to claims to be an predator-free oasis should be seen as suspect - specially if said group claims to be the only right one and the only abuser-free one.
After all, isolating your targets from other social groups is the first step in any abuser handbook.
I don’t post much serious stuff on my blog, I usually try and keep it pretty frivolous, but this is some true shit.
Relatedly: Don’t unquestioningly trust anyone in positions of power.
Part of an email conversation, reworked for sharing.
“Welcome to Holland” is an essay for parents of disabled kids. (And here’s an alternative and critical interpretation of that essay.) It makes the analogy of preparing for a trip to Italy — expecting a normal child — and then suddenly getting off the plane and finding you’re in Holland instead. “Italy” is a metaphor for “normal” childhood, whereas “Holland” is a metaphor for disability.
To extend the metaphor (in a way that would have been entirely true 5 years ago, although I’m less sure now): I’m an illegal immigrant. I snuck out of the Holland border as a toddler — crawled on my own, nobody carried me. Now I’m working and living in Italy, but always with a constant sense of fear. At any time, someone could check my papers and discover that my passport’s fake. They could deport me. Any time. (Ok, in real-life immigration law, Holland residents don’t need visas to enter Italy, but roll with me here.)
I make repeated dashes back and forth across that border. And none of my neighbors are allowed to know — the trips I take at night, the money I send back, all the exhaustion and the stress that comes with wrangling my life so I won’t be found out — in order to stay in Italy, I need to sweep that all under a rug of excuses and can’t come clean with them on why I’m just so tired all the time.
My family doesn’t entirely know that I’m an illegal alien either — they think I’ve long since traded my citizenship in for an Italian one. My parents live in Italy — not just in Italy, but in a really nice flat there; two brilliant kids with engineering degrees, a hard-working family success story. They got brochures about Holland, once upon a time, when I was small. But it’s a distant memory now, and thank goodness that their daughter ended up being Italian after all. Holland is that “other place” where “other people” go, the poor and pitiful ones. But not us, not me. Clearly, I’m not one of them.
But I am.
I still have my Holland passport. I will always have this passport. And I hate it, and resent it, and deny it. And I have carefully forged an Italian one that’s so good that even experts can’t tell it’s fake. But I know it isn’t real, no matter how hard I pretend.
The original email conversation ends here. I’ve added the rest since then.
If I don’t forge my Italian citizenship papers, I can’t go to school or get a job. I mean, kind of. But it would take a lot more effort to apply to a much smaller, crappier selection of them. And I have no route for naturalization. No matter how brave I am, how many useful things I do, how smart I am, who I marry, or how long I’m here, I’ll never magically become a citizen.
My deafness is not heritable, so my kids will probably be born Italian. I grew up seeing that you could only look at a Holland passport with pity — and I could never truly compensate for that, regardless of how hard I worked in Italy. So I used to honestly believe I ought never to put anyone in the terrible position of having me as a wife or mother — that it would be selfish and unfair of me to even open up the option. My kids will grow up with an illegal-immigrant mother — and being a first-generation child is hard, because your parents can’t coach you through early life experiences they haven’t had. Or if I choose to move to Holland, then my kids will have to go there if they want to visit me. Or if I choose to be a legal resident of Italy, I’ll have to walk around wearing a giant orange hat to visibly mark that I am from Holland — because that’s how Dutch people get “legal” status in Italy. And what kid wants to walk next to their mom when she’s wearing a weird giant orange hat?
And yet. There is a flaming hope there now, somewhere. That weird blended Dutch-Italian families with ordinary lives are possible. And that those ordinary lives would change the boundaries of what sorts of “ordinary lives” are possible. I know that other people do this, and I know it’s hard. But… I can do hard. I’ve done hard my entire life.
Hi, Italy. I’m an illegal immigrant from Holland.
Marchesa Luisa Casati. An heiress, a muse and a fashion legend, she dazzled everyone she met and shocked turn-of-the-century Europe. She wore live snakes as jewellery and was infamous for her evening strolls; naked beneath her furs whilst parading cheetahs on diamond-studded leads. Nude servants gilded in gold leaf attended her. Bizarre wax mannequins sat as guests at her dining table, some of them rumoured to contain the ashes of past lovers.
Not gonna lie, she looks like she’s cosplaying the Iron Throne.
We want to change this dynamic.
My friends at Combustion Books have just released an amazing book about the revolution in Rojava called A Small Key Can Open a Large Door , The introduction to which is now a zine from Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. Check it Out!
via saucie, the best thing I've seen in ages.
Man is a thirsty beast, and nowhere is that thirst more acutely exemplified than on Tinder, the matchmaking app that lets users swipe right in their quest to find love, lust, bots, or viral marketers. Now a California-based programmer has tweaked the app’s API, creating a catfish machine that fools men into thinking they’re talking to women — when in fact they’re talking with each other.
Like other semi-anonymized digital spaces, Tinder creates a forum for individuals — namely men — to test the limits of aggressive and lewd behavior with seemingly little repercussion.
At Vox, we have a chat room dedicated to staffers’ Tinder misadventures. It is a bleak landscape: women at the company have reported receiving a range of pick-up lines from the inane ("whats ur favorite beanie baby?"), to the bizarre ("Name a better song than Heartbreaker by the late Maria Carry" [sic]), to the gross and offensive and ("Those lips are so gorgeous that they make me wonder what your other set looks like").
But over the last few weeks, a California-based computer engineer — we’ll call him Patrick — has pitted heterosexual male against heterosexual male. Patrick’s program identifies two men who "like" one of his bait profiles (the first used prominent vlogger Boxxy's image; the second used an acquaintance who had given Patrick consent) and matched them to each other. The suitors’ messages — some aggressive, others mundane, but all of them unabashedly flirtatious — are then relayed, back and forth, to one another through the dummy profile.
Tinder is notoriously vulnerable to hacks: in 2013, a loophole in the app could be harnessed to reveal users’ locations to within 100 feet. Last summer, Valleywag reported on a number of techies who tweaked the system to automatically "mass-like" every girl they come across.
Patrick was a Tinder user (in fact, it's where he met his current girlfriend) and says that female friends of his would often complain about the messages they received on Tinder. "The original idea was to throw that back into the face of the people doing it to see how they would react." Initially, he set out to build a Twitter bot that tweeted every first message a female friend received, but then he looked into Tinder’s API and found it had little safeguard from more extensive tweaks. "Tinder makes it surprisingly easy to bot their system. As long as you have a Facebook authentication token, you can behave as a robot as if you were a person."
The program made matches within minutes of activation; Patrick estimates he was overseeing 40 conversations within the first 12 hours. He developed code to scramble phone numbers and stepped in when a real-world meeting was imminent, but he also feels ambiguous about the ethics of the prank: "They ignore all the signs, they ignore all the weird things," he says of the users. "When someone is so quick to meet up without any detail or know anything about the person at all — maybe it’s deserved."
Patrick's exploit reveals the weakness of Tinder's API — but also shows what happens when men's desperation is turned on each other: some turn to anger, others are confused, and still others appreciate the humor of it. But above all, over and over, men breeze by every red flag that indicates they’re not speaking with a woman. Evidently, the first symptom of extreme thirst is blindness.
The following screenshots of the dummy account were provided to The Verge.
It still blows my mind that they were able to slip a Beyonce reference into LOK I love it
i dont think anyone understands the irony of this. that dance scene is from ‘girls run the world’ and literally ten minutes later kuvira shows up and declares herself empress. not only is it a beyonce reference, but its a FORESHADOWING beyonce reference that’s hella relevant
Hovertext: I predict that by 2040, sex-dynamos will be cheap, efficient, and carbon-neutral, thanks to Elon Musk.
Adding hovertext to newer comics. Maybe I'll go back and add more to earlier stuff at some point.
A huge infrastructure project designed to prevent future Hurricane Sandy-style devastation, the Dryline is a perfectly-named solution for a city already sporting a successful High Line and an underground Low Line currently under construction. In the wake of that devastating super-storm, over 300,000 homes were left damaged or destroyed and nearly 20 billion dollars of destruction was caused in total – the first section of the Dryline is slated to cost a few hundred million, which in contrast does not seem like so much money.
Developed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), the scheme continuous to evolve with each iteration. This latest video illustrates many of the mechanisms of action through easy-to-understand sketches and diagrams. It also features interviews with New Yorkers about their vision for a greener southern tip for Manhattan.
Designed to be deployed incrementally, the grand plan involves many discrete steps, each intended to shore up the lower portion of the city – the place that takes the brunt of incoming tides. The individual interventions vary, from berms that double as parks to sliding barriers that move into position during unusually high tides. Ultimately, “the Dryline imagines a landscaped buffer stretching all the way from West 57th Street, looping down to the Battery and back up to East 42nd Street, bestowing Manhattan with a protective green cushion.”
At the same time, the design follows classic principles of urban landscape pioneers like Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs, taking this environmental challenge as an opportunity to create more park and civic space. Per The Guardian, “With a sprinkling of fairy-dust, the shoreline becomes furnished with undulating berms and protective planting, flip-down baffles and defensive kiosks, promenades and bike paths, bringing pedestrian life worthy of Lisbon or Barcelona to the gritty banks of Manhattan.”
BIG is a firm known for thinking large and this project is no exception. Then again, lessons learned from the other ambitious urban projects (like NYC’s High Line) can be applied here: built it piece by piece to reduce one-time costs and provide room for adjustment, and take citizen input into account. In the end, anyone who has walked the south edge of Manhattan knows it is a disjointed and, in many places, unwelcoming space – there is a huge opportunity for a new kind of part to provide connectivity and green space from this disparate set of urban landscapes.
“The Dryline consists of multiple but linked design opportunities; each on different scales of time, size and investment; each local neighborhood tailoring its own set of programs, functions, and opportunities. Small, relatively simple projects maintain the resiliency investment momentum post-Sandy, while setting in motion the longer-term solutions that will be necessary in the future.”
Three of us (Sands, Alexis & Rahul) were in India in mid January to lead a week long workshop for Indian undergraduates about Civic Innovation. Students and alumni from the MIT Media Lab have organized large Design Innovation workshops in India for the last few years, focused on a bottom-up approach to changing how engineering education happens in India. There are certainly exceptions, but Indian education is typically very traditional, and there aren't many opportunities for sharing ideas and approaches across disciplines.
Our goal was to work with the 30 participants in our track and explore a few questions:
To explore what civic innovation means in India, and to provide some inputs into our design process, we took a few field trips around Ahmedabad.
Ahmedabad is home to the Sabarmati Ashram, our first site visit, where Mahatma Gandhi lived with his wife for twelve years. At the ashram, Gandhi set up a school to teach manual labor and fabrication to promote India’s self-sufficiency. In 1930, Gandhi led his famous 241-mile Dandi march to protest the British Salt Law, which taxed Indian salts to promote the sale of British salts. Against this backdrop, we discussed the roots of activism in India and Gandhi’s continuing influence on contemporary civic activity.
Nearby the Ashram, we also visited the Toilet Garden, built by Ishwar Patel. Patel dedicated his life to researching and building toilets which he never patented or sold so that they could be accessible to all. Through co-design with communities, he refined his prototypes and built over 200,000 toilets across India. The Toilet Garden (and accompanying cafe) is an experiment in elevating sanitation work and providing a gathering place for researchers who work to improve Patel’s toilet designs.
We also visited Manav Sadhna, a community center inspired by Gandhi’s teachings. Manav Sadhna focuses on serving women in marginalized communities, particularly those who pick up the trash in the city at night and sell it to recycling facilities through a middleman. The director of the center showed us one of their innovative projects to bypass the middleman and pay the women a higher price for the trash. Key to their approach was creating a space and protocol that would make these women feel respected for their work that keeps the city functioning.
Our last site visit — and one which helped the participants cement relationships with one another — was to a restaurant called Seva Cafe. Seva Cafe is a restaurant and an “experiment in ‘peer-to-peer’ generosity.” At the cafe, there are no prices and visitors are invited to help cook the food, clean the dishes, and perform on a community stage. The students took part in all of these activities, ate a delicious dinner, and watched a theater group perform a participatory play about women’s rights in which the audience was invited to come on stage and discuss opportunities to combat double standards for young men and women in India.
After some amazing field trips to inspiring local sites, and exploring what civic innovation means together, we helped students organize into teams and start building things! Here's a list of the topics they focused on:
Inspired by one of our speakers, this team wanted to address problems of man-wildlife conflict in India. In many farming areas, elephants can be very dangerous to humans; they often trample crops (destroying farmers’ livelihoods), and they can unwittingly kill humans if they encounter people walking on streets at night. This team wanted to develop an elephant early warning system for farmers so that they would know when elephants were in the area and prepare accordingly. The team created a simple piezoelectric pressure sensor with no digital electronics, and tested it at a nearby zoo.
After our visit to Manav Sadhna and hearing about the work of the women who collect trash at night (referred to as “Rag Pickers”), this team wanted to redesign the cart that the women used to make it more efficient and ergonomic. They took a co-design approach, and went out in the middle of the night to visit with the women and speak further with the director of the program at Manav Sadhna. They prototyped several designs for a new cart, and modeled their final design out of bamboo.
Building on lessons learned from interviews with the blind in nearby communities, the Virtual Braille team built a suite of tools to augment reading and social interaction. In addition to building a device that allows individuals to have text recognized and translated to speech, the team also built technology that allows one to orient themselves to the object being read by detecting its edges. Further discussions led them to ideas for identifying the number of people in a room using facial recognition to approximate the number of people present.
Having found common struggles and sympathies with the impact of Alzheimer's on families, the ShieldON team decided to apply technology to this human challenge. Using geo-fencing, a mobile application sends alerts to an individual's care network, whether that is a family member or a community of neighbors, if an Alzheimer's patient leaves the geo-fence. They have further ambitions to present the patient with directions back to their home in the case that they cannot find their way back.
The iBins team took on the challenge of encouraging people to reduce the amount of food waste at a cafeteria by creating an interactive, physical data visualization kiosk. The team had access to data about the amount of food waste at a particular cafeteria over time, and designed a system to allow people to browse through past data to evaluate progress towards reducing the amount. In their design, the team tried to avoid lecturing or shaming people as a behavior change strategy, and instead focused on promoting progress and pledges for future waste reduction.
In order to make the impact of disasters more relatable and allow people to empathize with their scale, the Sense Makers team created a data visualization that translates disaster statistics into culturally relatable events and figures. The visualizations are location-specific to the target audience, putting the impact in terms that are familiar to them. Additional work was done to understand what events may be culturally significant enough to convey impact. They hope that through personalized news that is translated in relation to familiar events, there may be better cross-cultural understanding.
Blood Collective aims to draw on existing social practices in India to leverage social networks to connect blood donors with recipients. The team noticed that people are often using social media — like WhatsApp and Facebook — to find people with a certain blood type to donate in situations where blood is urgently needed. The team created a phone app to formalize this process and make it more efficient. Key to their design approach was creating a visual language to reinforce generosity and the emotional connection between donors and recipients.
An off-the-grid file sharing system was developed by the Illuminati team to allow those who have traveled to a new city and perhaps do not speak the language, or simply for individuals lacking internet access. By building small wifi hotspots connected to storage to be installed at locations such as bus stops, these data kiosks would provide contextual information to its users. In addition, it attempts to address concerns around file sharing, information consumption, and surveillance.
The event suffers a bit of an identity crisis - living somewhere between a workshop, a hackathon, and a conference. With that in mind, we focused on helping the participants have an experience they hadn't had before.
A number of teams continue to iterate on the ideas they prototyped at the workshop. Gaja Mitra is taking their sensors to test with elephants in the wild, and Sense Makers is modifying their initial prototype and pushing forward research questions about how people connect emotionally with data. Blood Collective is continuing to develop their app and collaborating with a non-profit partner to test it out with users.
The workshop participants, who traveled from all across India, continue to communicate with one another. The students set up several networks, including a Facebook group and a WhatsApp channel, to share civic innovation ideas and links to relevant projects. We look forward to seeing the collaborations that emerge in the future!
As for us as mentors, we come away with a number of outcomes. First off, we were inspired by the students' energy, ideas, and attitude! In addition, trying out our approaches and ideas to India gave us new insights into how to introduce other groups to civic innovation. We care deeply about how to localize our approaches to facilitation, and practicing those in a new place helped us refine them. Finally, the list of projects is a great set of examples we are already using in other settings to talk about what civic innovation means.
After a year of collaborative development with partners in Brazil, our newest tool, Promise Tracker, will officially launch in São Paulo this week on March 24th. Over the past 6 days, we ran 5 workshops in 4 different cities throughout the country to introduce the tool to civil society organizations and get some initial feedback. These workshops were the first in a series over the next 2 months that will introduce Promise Tracker to groups across the country that make up the Brazilian Network for Just and Sustainable Cities.
We were overwhelmed by the excitement and energy with which the project was received and by the desire of partner groups to leverage Promise Tracker and civic monitoring initiatives to engage a wider network of actors within their respective cities.
São Luis do Maranhão
On Sunday we flew up north to the capital of Maranhão. The state is the poorest in Brazil and currently in the midst of an exciting political shift. After 50+ years of oligarchy under the notorious Sarney family, Maranhão finally voted new leadership into power in the fall 2014 elections and is welcoming the state’s first governor from the Communist Party. There is a palpable sense of excitement amongst civil society groups in the region and a real desire to take advantage of this opening to transform participation and engagement within the state.
Our partner in Maranhão, Nossa São Luis, is an incredibly motivated movement that works under the wing of a coalition for corporate social responsibility in the city. We had an inspiring group of 15 participants for the workshop, including university students and civil society veterans that have been working in education, transportation, waste management and a variety of other issues for over a decade. Throughout the course of the day, we created campaigns to monitor bike lanes, trash collection sites and the construction of elementary schools.
Unlike in São Paulo, the local government in São Luis has not yet published a set of goals and promises specific enough to facilitate the type of monitoring we have carried out in other workshops. While preparing a campaign to track the construction progress on promised elementary schools, our education group came across a significant stumbling block. Without a list of the proposed construction sites, how could the group begin to monitor progress?
Throughout the course of the workshop, leaders of Nossa São Luis and other participants got out their cell phones and began calling contacts within City Hall and the Secretary of Education to try to get ahold of the needed information. Though we received only a partial list by the end of the day, Nossa São Luis members recognized this very process as perhaps one of the most important for the use of the tool in Maranhão. If citizen monitoring can increase the demand for detailed documentation on political promises, it has the potential to make significant strides for improving access to information and encouraging accountability of local leaders.
Building on the momentum and energy generated during the workshop, Nossa São Luis will be working with us to develop a team of local trainers in Maranhão and organize a formal launch event for Promise Tracker in São Luis, gathering companies, local government and civil society groups around the tool.
Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais
Following the debut in São Luis, we traveled to the capital of Minas Gerais to run a workshop with partners at Nossa BH. Founded in 2008, the organization brings together community leaders, residents, representatives of local civil society groups and companies to improve quality of life in Belo Horizonte.
Nossa BH invited a group of 10 to participate in the workshop, including university students, urban planners, and a representative from the city transportation authority. The group developed 2 campaigns to track transportation goals related to the new bus system. The first campaign focused on handicap accessibility in stations, the second on the accuracy of arrival times posted on new electronic displays. As a group, we boarded the same bus line and dropped off participants at each of the first 6 stops to collect information at each station. Initial data is available on the Promise Tracker site for accessibility and estimated arrival times.
We will be meeting with Nossa BH this week to discuss the organization of a more extensive accessibility campaign throughout the city and next steps for replicating the workshop with other interest groups in Belo Horizonte.
Betim, Minas Gerais
On Thursday we traveled to Betim, about 45 minutes outside of Belo Horizonte in Minas Gerais. The city is an industrial center, home to Fiat Chrysler’s largest manufacturing plant and a Petrobras oil refinery. Well aware of their impact on the city, some of Betim’s largest companies have joined together to support civil society organizations such as Nossa Betim and fund a local vocational school, SENAI.
We worked with a group of 10 participants including members of Nossa Betim’s leadership, a civics and philosophy professor, and a group of technical and communications students from SENAI. The group created 2 different surveys focused on handicap accessibility and maintenance of local parks. The team monitored 6 parks near the city center.
Participants had excellent ideas about how to modify the tool to facilitate more active engagement in and discussion of data collection campaigns. Nossa Betim’s leadership is excited about getting this younger and more tech savvy group involved as local multipliers and partnering to run other workshops with city councillors in Betim in April.
Butantã, São Paulo
To close the week, we gathered a group of local participatory councillors and community leaders who have been engaged throughout the past year in the collaborative development of Promise Tracker in São Paulo. Building on our experience from the week, our goal was to refine the methodology and materials for running future workshops with groups throughout the country.
Together we built the basis of a Promise Tracker trainers’ guide, including a workshop presentation, notes for facilitators, and documentation of key preparation and follow up steps for participants and workshop organizers. Over the next 2 months, we'll be refining the guide and working with local trainers to replicate Promise Tracker workshops around the country.
We look forward to sharing news from the official launch on the 24th and stories from the field as communities across Brazil begin to use Promise Tracker to monitor political promises in their cities!