Short Film Showcase: What Has Four Legs, Four Eyes, and Will Blow Your Mind?

This short from WB Production features the work of artist Johannes Stoetter. At first glance you might see a chameleon walking along a branch, but look closely as it begins to change before your eyes. I spoke with Stoetter about his art and how he went about making this piece.

When did you first start painting?

I started painting on canvas when I was 16 years old. As a child I drew a lot and wanted to become an artist. I did my first body-painting experiment in the year 2000.

What attracted you to body paint as a medium for expression?

The attractive thing about body-painting as a medium for expression is to work with people, with something alive. After my first experiment I immediately felt that it was something special and that it will be my way.

How long does it take you to create a scene like this one?

The chameleon took me six hours to paint and about another hour to work on the position of the models and to shoot the perfect photo and also the video. The design of the chameleon took me about five days.

Why does your art focus mostly on themes from nature?

I always had a deep relationship to nature. I grew up in it, I see it as my home, I see it as my religion, my idol. I am aware of its connection to us human beings; we are part of it. Nature offers inspiration, because it is already an artwork and contains so many wonderful colors, shapes, and structures.

Where did the inspiration for this piece come from initially?

The first piece of my animal-illusion-collection was the frog. The idea happened somehow like a coincidence, but actually I always had a special relationship to this animal. After I did this painting and saw —> Read More

Data and Authority, part III

The lovely city of Edinburgh. Photo courtesy of author.
The lovely city of Edinburgh. Photo courtesy of author.

In my last few posts, I tackled issues around authority, power, and objectivity in the worlds of data and mapping. My project for this fellowship involves mapping and representing the stories told by a group of Londoner’s digital data, so it makes sense that I would need to grapple with these issues. But even I didn’t think that I would have this much to say about them. As it turns out, the closer I inch to the end of this fellowship, the more I uncover things worth thinking, writing, and talking about.

With that in mind, I’m using this post as a chance to jump into two of the things that have been on my mind. They’re still related to my last couple of posts in that they tackle the communication of data as information, but they should be my last jump into these sorts of abstract topics. Having said that, I’m hoping that they’ll be relevant or useful for someone else out there, as well.

1. Most data is boring.

Data, minus story.

To anyone who has been involved in the messy process of gathering, cleaning, mining, or analyzing data, pointing out how the majority of data collected for any project is boring is about as controversial as saying that the sky is blue.

But I think this whole idea is true for more than just the niche world of data-based art/journalism. By way of example, I’m reminded of the idea of ritual in anthropology (I majored in anthropology, which is one of those subjects that no parent is ever excited to hear their child wants to study, so I relish any chance I get to prove the usefulness of the degree).

Anyway, rituals are quite important concepts in the —> Read More

Are You A Procrastinator? Scientists Say This Brain Hack Can Help You Meet Your Goals

Having trouble motivating yourself to work toward a future goal? Whether what you want is two days or 20 years away, new research finds that the key to avoiding procrastination may be to change the way you think about time.

The trick? Break down the time you have into smaller units. For instance, if you have a paper due in three months, think of it as 90 days. Or if you have a work project to complete in three days, think of your deadline as 72 hours away.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California, concludes that quantifying time in a more granular way — no matter how much time that is — can help you bring the future into the present, psychologically speaking.

And that’s useful because as Dr. Daphna Oyserman, a psychologist at the University of Southern California and the study’s lead author, told The Huffington Post, you’re more likely to put effort into immediate goals.

“People focus most of their attention on the present, which is for sure, rather than on the future, which is possible and may need our attention later,” Oyserman said. “The present takes precedence.”

In one experiment, 162 study participants were asked to imagine themselves preparing for a future event, such as a wedding or work presentation, and then told to consider the event as either days, months or years away. Those who thought about the time until the event in terms of days imagined that it would occur an average of 30 days earlier than those who thought in terms of months or years.

In another experiment, 1,100 participants were asked when they would start saving money for retirement or for a child’s college education. Some participants were told they would retire 30 or 40 years from —> Read More

13 MORE Things That Saved Apollo 13, part 11: The Caution and Warning System

A plaque from the three Apollo 13 astronauts thanking the mission support teams.  Note the panels of the caution and warning system above the signatures.  Image Courtesy Jerry Woodfill.

A plaque from the three Apollo 13 astronauts thanking the mission support teams. Note the panels of the caution and warning system above the signatures. Image Courtesy Jerry Woodfill.

To celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission, Universe Today is featuring “13 MORE Things That Saved Apollo 13,” discussing different turning points of the mission with NASA engineer Jerry Woodfill.

The air to ground transcript from the time of the explosion on Apollo 13 demonstrates the confusion of what was happening:

Jim Lovell: Houston, we’ve had a problem. We’ve had a MAIN B BUS undervolt.

Capcom: Roger. MAIN B undervolt. Okay, stand by, 13. We’re looking at it.

Fred Haise: Okay. Right now, Houston, the voltage is – is looking good. And we had a pretty large bang associated with the Caution and Warning there.

Lovell then started to name all the Caution and Warning lights that were illuminating, including the Guidance and Navigation light, a computer restart, and indicators that there might be a problem with the oxygen and helium tanks.

The Apollo spacecraft Caution and Warning System had one intended function: alert the astronauts and Mission Control to a potential system failure. Plainly put, the Caution and Warning System allowed the spacecraft to tell the story of what was going wrong.
(…)
Read the rest of 13 MORE Things That Saved Apollo 13, part 11: The Caution and Warning System (937 words)


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