Books, Dorkbot, Rose Bowl

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

A couple months ago I picked up Simulacra and Simulation by French media-culture theorist Jean Baudrillard. Someone had made mention of it during an ITP function and I saw it on the shelf near the book I had actually come for, The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil.

So I read Spiritual Machines and enjoyed it despite (or maybe because of) the sort of fervid sci-fi flooffiness of the whole thing. It’s always exciting to read about how in the near-future my toaster will have more brain-power than I do. Don’t like the internet now? Just wait until your fridge has a blog.


Back to S&S… I started reading it today. Got through the first fifteen pages or so while eating (latish) lunch at the Cal-Mex place around the corner on 3rd Street. The idea he seems to be exploring — at first, anyway — is nature of representation in media and the “reality” (or lack of, more likely) that a piece of media refers to. Ugh. I hate writing about this… It’s navel-gazingly nerdy. Oh, but it turns out I have to read it for a class I’m in next semester, so that’s my excuse.

On to more interesting topics, then.

After writing on this-here journal at Tea Spot, I walked down to the dorkbot-nyc presentation in SoHo. Luke DuBois, another ITP prof, gave a talk about his recent sonic time-lapse spectrum-analysis pop-chart experiments. Interesting, but not something you’d, y’know, listen to while jogging.

Then Alyce Santoro presented her sonic fabric project, which was actually the presentation I most wanted to see. She came up with a technique to weave audio cassette tape into cloth in such a way that one could actually run an exposed tape-head over the fabric and get a jittery collage of sound particles from the original cassette recordings. A very cool effect and I’m curious to see (hear) where she goes with it. Someone mentioned making a record head that one could run over the fabric to make sound-lines on the two-dimensional tape-cloth surface. And Jon Fishman also apparently once performed using a dress made out of this sound fabric at a Phish show… Odd.

The third presentation was given by the dreadlocked Mikey Sklar, a guy who has implanted a pill-shaped RFID tag into his hand (which ties nicely into the first couple paragraphs, as he mentioned Spiritual Machines as one of his motivators). So Mikey has an RFID chip in his hand (that a surgeon-friend stuck in one evening in November). What he does with it is unclear, but it does broadcast a unique tag number that he can pick up at short distances with a small USB RFID-reader for his Mac. Mikey ran though the hows and whys (or lack of whys) of putting an RFID chip into yourself, and that was that.

Nice show. (Lots of ITP students in attendance, too.)

So. Dorkbot ended during the Big Game — the Rose Bowl. If you know me well, you might be aware of how football does absolutely nothing for me. (Zero.) But I felt compelled to watch UT vs. USC, so I found a bar a block from the apartment on Bleecker and watched the first half with fellow student Christin Roman and her friend Peter. They went home during the break (Peter a bit earlier — he had to pick up Christin’s sister at the airport) and I went home and watched the exciting conclusion at home with roommate Kevin. Good ending, I have to admit. I’m sure we’re all aware of the results. And those who aren’t, don’t care.

And neither do I anymore.