The V&A’s postmodernism exhibition (curated by my teachers – you can tell I don’t get out much) closed this week. Some belated musings…

Following the ascendancy of Lady Gaga, and the opening years of our achingly familiar economic apocalypse, the exhibition was well timed. We are struggling on as the world we grew up with collapses around us, and we’ve turned once again to quotation as the building blocks for our sterile, virtual spaces of distraction. In fact, in the social media age, quotation isn’t just a creative strategy, but a behaviour in which we all engage through ‘social sharing’ and retweeting.

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Wired disconnection

Arduino and LEDs showing results of an internet search

This is a quick write-up of an Arduino art consulting job I always intended to find photographs of, to no avail. Given the lack of lovely graphics to encourage your eye down the page, I’ll keep it brief.

The internet is growing, but as it grows, it is falling apart. This was the message of a communication designer, who came to me asking for an Arduino script and circuit that would fit inside a modem case, and flash LEDs upon receiving an output from other programs, which I didn’t write. The other program was set to search the internet for dead links and other signs of network degradation. It kicked out a file containing the number discovered of each of four types of errors. My component would flash a different light for each type, each time a new fault was discovered in the web.

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Selling to social selves

Facebook has become more panoptic. In doing so, it is leading the trend towards greater sharing online, a loss of anonymity, and the growth of a huge market in making cyberspace social. Google, threatened by the transformation of the online economy from links to likes, is trying to follow suit, holding services that people have come to depend upon ransom to its real names policy. Facebook’s policy change is, as always, motivated by the desire to increase advertising revenue, by making it easier for advertisers to target users who are most likely to buy particular products and services. This post is about advertising. It’s illustrated with beautiful Shiseido ads that, I suspect, speak not to the social self, but to something that Facebook can’t touch in its current state. Continue reading

Cornbread with sundried tomatoes and olives

Cornbread has become a major part of my life. Easy to make, easy to vary the flavour, and easy to incorporate in lots of different dishes, baking a large corn bread is a great way of having tasty food at hand to be eaten at any time of day. When it’s fresh it’s great on its own as a breakfast or snack, then as it gets firmer it’s great with a vegetable sauce, and towards the end of its life it makes the most delicious croutons for a really satisfying salad. Continue reading

Falling in love with Akihabara again: Queen Dolce

I’ve just come home after a month-long research trip in Japan, during which I re-discovered my love of Akihabara. I loved the things you find in Akihabara long before I ever set foot in the place – in fact, by the time I actually went on my first trip to Japan, my university course had peed on my geeky parade by immersing me in more acceptable things like Edo period woodblock prints and religious history. So most of the magic of Akihabara passed me by, because the lonely teenage otaku in me was lost behind a head full of academia. But no longer! Now I’m lucky enough to be studying computer games, pursuing electronics as a hobby which artists sometimes pay me for, and occasionally writing about genderqueer fashion. All three of those things are great excuses for me to spend endless hours trawling the streets of Akiba. Continue reading

Virtual Reality Design Logic in Copenhagen

Today was the last day of my brief visit to Copenhagen for the Against Procedurality seminar at IT University. After going to the Design Center (meh) I decided to take myself on an architectural walk using a map provided by the Architecture Centre, which I visited a couple of days ago. I popped into the Royal Library to use their internet, so that I could go on the CopenhagenX website and get information about some of the sights I was going to see – you’re supposed to buy the book to go with the map, but this way was cheaper and I was perfectly happy with it. I planned a 2-3 hour walk that would take me out of the city and home again. This was kind of a strange thing to do, because it meant leaving a lot of historical sites behind me and heading into a post-industrial wasteland, but it turned out to be very interesting. I wish more cities had architectural maps available like this, because it really does turn the cityscape into an exhibition of sorts, and with an extensive map such as the one made by Copenhagen X you end up finding very striking buildings in unexpected places.

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Desktop Wallpaper 2.5.11

My latest desktop wallpaper is a photograph of an illuminated manuscript of the Koran which I saw at the Islamic Arts Museum on a recent trip to Istanbul. This is one of the wallpapers I’ve been the most satisfied with so far – I like the tension between media and the way the use of the photo as wallpaper imposes flatness onto an image with a shallow depth of field. Its not too busy, but you can still enjoy picking tiny details out of the small part of the image that’s in focus. Hope I can make more like this in future.

DapperQ in Japan

I wrote this for awesome transgressive fashion blog Thought I’d repost it here for anybody interested:
All dapperQs know that female masculinity has its own unique style, swagger and sexual charms. But in a world dominated by polarised gender norms, celebrating dapperQs can seem like a pioneering step into unexplored, new territory. So it came as a surprise to me when I learned that in Japan, women taking masculine roles in musical theater are followed by hordes of screaming fangirls and praised for being the ideal man.

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