Archive for January, 2011

The art is in the performance (art)

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

It is interesting to follow the development of modern art forms, and performance art seems to be on the rise. It can not easily be put into nice and predictable category-boxes, it is a challenge for all of us: to take part, be surprised, to understand, to think afterwards.

This weekend the city of Bergen, Norway had an arrangement called Never or Now, also presenting a seminar to discuss, explain and contextualize the art.

Performance art shows the active body in space interacting with others, pictures, things and artefacts, videos in real time. The possibilities for variation are immense – for suprises also.

The aim is to be quiet, dramatic, tense, funny, shocking, abnormal – it is all up to the artist who is a free spirit. The artist wants to make you part of his world, to make you better understand your own.

So the members of the audience can expect anything, unpredictability is part of performance art, real life comes up. Performance art is also a one-off, so you have to be there.

The Never or Now festival in Bergen takes place in the former Bergen Kjøtt (meatproduction facility), an old 4-storey, 2000m2 building which has been converted into studios for artists of all kinds, and that can take about 1000 spectators.

There are many simultaneous performances, most specially made for the site – and beware also of the off-site performances. Artists have been given carte blanche – boundaries are loose.

Is this kind of art bringing us closer to what life is all really all about? There is resistance, some surprises surpass what we like, the thinking is often so-called bizarre – but maturity must never come or the performance art loses itself.

Se link Never or Now Performance Art Festival

Micro energy catchment: small and useful

Friday, January 28th, 2011

There is energy everywhere – you have to transform or convert it into a suitable form for your purposes.

It has been stipulated that the sun-energy hitting the Sahara desert in 6 hours is enough for humanity’s needs for a whole year: There is a big conversion challenge in here – and people are working on it, systems are getting better all the time.

There is another energy world too – collecting the energy from the tiny generators we have everywhere around us and making it useful.

  • Sound contains energy
  • Piezo-electric effects – exerting pressure on crystallic materials – generate currents, e.g. from pressure on floors, gateways…
  • Vibrational energy can be taken out with vibro-generators
  • Optical energy
  • Thermal gradients
  • Small heat-exchangers, heat emissions from varm objects like your body or an oven
  • Water running in pipes
  • Airstreams
  • Metabolic energies of trees or large plants via temperature or humidity sensors
  • Electromagnetic emissions
  • Swinging doors can be fitted with generators
  • Body generators catching your body energy
  • Parasitically harvest surplus energy in many places
  • There surely will be more ……

Micro energy catchment can drive RFIDs, small motors, sensors, mobile phones, appliances where energy requirements are small or intermittent, charge batteries or we can save power-supplies like batteries and have a permanent source of energy instead.

Not big energy savings or emissions reductions, but useful in many ways. And new ideas will come – let us keep up the innovative processes.

The biological GPS system

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser, professors of neurosciences at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway, have found that the brain makes its own maps. They have been awarded the 2011 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine for this and similar work.

The brain of the rat – and probably human brains too – has a kind of “biological GPS” which provides individuals with a sense of spatial orientation.

Individuals have the ability to find their way when they need to go from one point to another, and they can memorize spatial environments. The neurons that contribute to this are situated in the hippocampus and the entorhinal cortex.

The entorhinal cortex is where information is processed prior to being sent to the hippocampus, and this is where the professors discovered the existence of special neurons which they called “grid cells”.

These cells fire selectively when the individual passes different locations in the environment. (What impulse or signal fires the cells – what are signals and where do they come from? Visual through the eyes?) The firing locations of each cell define a periodic triangular array that tiles the entire space visited by the subject, much like the cross points of graphics paper, but with an equilateral triangle as the unit of the grid.

The brain thus makes its own maps.

So the the entorhinal cortex turns out to be a crossroads in the network of neurons, and it allows us to find our way.

The Mosers also identified other types of neurons which play a part in navigation. They found cells in the brain system that respond selectively depending on the direction taken by the animal, and cells that tell the animal when it is approaching the physical limits of its environment. The signals emanating from these different cells are used by spatial memory circuits in the hippocampus.

Edvard and May-Britt Moser’s discoveries are quite remarkable. They have shown how the brain calculates the position of the organism in its spatial environment, completely overturning prior conventional thinking in the field.

You already have a GPS and you didn’t know? That is because it has been on “automatic” all the time.

When shall we se the end of conventional thinking?

See link: NTNU News

Finding new understanding – finding your own I

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Gurdjieff’s thinking is spreading. It represents a new way to see yourself and the world – these ideas should be explored by many of us.

We are often wondering what modern civilisation has become. Many say that money, power, greed, selfishness are at the root of the problems the world is seeing. People are increasingly looking for the meaning of life, and to find a personal willed way of conducting our life.

We are locked in patterns of thinking – e.g how to win a cyberwar when we should be thinking about how to stop wars – our thinking is groupthinking, your own I is lost, you become a machine thinking like everybody else, and you have already been manipulated into passivity. Your contribution to what is going on is near nothing, you perform a routine job to earn a living, your life is shallow, narrow and not what it could be.

Do you need to change this? Do you have the will to change this? First of all you must assure yourself that your I is awake.

It is not easy – there are powers and forces involved stopping you: you are lazy, wish to be comfortable, your interaction with others become difficult, political and economic forces want you to be docile and serve you entertainment to achieve their aims.

You can find your own I and manifest it through the way you live if you want it hard enough.

If you want to be this new person, an awake person seeing what happens, you must first observe yourself so that you see clearly what you do, so that you know yourself thoroughly.

The aim is to develop a conscious relationship between intellect, emotion and movement , i.e. what you think, feel and do.

Gurdjieff postulates that there is a wholeness in the world, things are connected in ecology or cosmology, there is a depth psychology, a new consciousness, we need to revise human history, he proposes a specialized music of octaves integrating man and cosmos, he gives spiritually instructive dance exercises to find consciousness and inner balance, a blending of science and alternative thinking. It seems everything is connected and that there is a wholeness which is similar to deep ecology.

Gurdjieff has instituted the practice of the Work as the way to move forward for individuals. To find your own way you have to start a personal Work. By doing this you are entering a metaphysical domain – it may seem exotic and esoteric – it is easy to lose yourself or not find substance in these ideas. The process of building understanding of Gurdjieff’s ideas is hard and entails finding new levels as you go along. If you succeed you will find wisdom.

We all need to think along the lines given us by Gurdjieff’s ideas – to try to find insight into what we – our Is – and the collective world is doing and where we all are going.

So therefore think metaphysics – it is a big word – to find inner balance so you can find your real I and contribute to a better world. It is really about seeing the richness of the world by waking your I, to become really alive.

Life is real only then, when I am

See Gurdjieff literature: Futurethrills Store by Amazon See also writing by CG Jung, Arne Naess

Grasping art

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

When you take in fine art you may feel the greatness of life itself, a raised consciousness, an inner experience. No? Well, then you must work harder – keep it up and it will come to you too.

We are all interested in art – there are many reasons: buy it and sell it for a profit, take it into your home for decorative purposes, to your workplace to set the style, go to a gallery to see and get an intellectual stimulation, make you happy, make you think, engage deep feeling, arouse curiosity, feel disgust, make you ashamed, make you proud, sense beauty, make a living from it …..

Art can obviously be good for us: make us more alert, stimulate our thinking, relieve boredom.

What is “quality art”  is the cause of most often endless but sometimes conclusive debate – there surely must be quality art out there. It may be hard to find the level of quality, but maybe you know it when you see it? Recognition of artists vary widely – some are not recognized when they are new, but often this gradually changes. Most important artists are men, or the galleries – and the customers – prefer them, and the reasons for this are obscure.

To day many things are called art – there are no limits to the number of labels that are used any more: figurative, abstract, non-figurative, elitist, kitsch, primitive, indigenous, …..

Sculpture can be bold, solid, fluid, fragile – with all sorts of connections and comparisons. Words like simple, stylised, decorative can be used.

Influences are of all sorts: Native American, African, Indian, urban, Aboriginal and schools of many kinds abound.

Art can be bold, opulent, enigmatic, atmospheric, energetic, ugly, harmonious, enticing, it can show movement or be static, be entertaining, valuable.

There are markets with supply and demand, critics, knowledgeable people, impostors, thieves, sponsors, active buyers or collectors, galleries – the activity is huge and nobody can follow it all – you must choose or get lost.

The media used are limitless: paint, video, stone, rubbish, sound, pictures, mixes of these.

Many artists have been found to been obnoxious in the past – they have broken the norms – but broken norms can push us forward.

Your own thinking about art will develop when you take part: see, read, listen, go there. Never lose faith – art is a very big and wide concept – too big to grasp fully. Developments are there all the time – try and get some of it.

At the bottom of it all – or is it the top – is the wish we have to see and try to understand larger forces, reveal deeper truths, become more active, increase consciousness and come closer to our own I. It is also about the fusion of intellect and emotion, engaging only one at a time will not do. And don’t leave out the fun.

Have you had a look at Australian Aboriginal Art ?

Have you seen what Google is up to?  Google Art Project

The force controlling the USA

Monday, January 24th, 2011

The re-thinking of the US role in the world ought to be on many people’s agenda. Strain is visible, and there are now obvious grave budgetary difficulties, and something has got to give – or happen.

It all has to do with military spending: the military part of the budget has passed 50 %, there is a non-solved economic crisis going on touching upon all ordinary Americans lives. The US military spending is about half the military spending of the whole world – with 5% of the world population. Nobody seems to be willing to challenge this activity, to end wars, to turn all this productive capacity into bettering the lot of the ordinary Americans instead.

The US defence activity is not a project to protect own shores and land, it is about being active all over the world, about policing the world, and building and wielding economic power for a select few. It has been said that American forces can be present anywhere in the world in the course of two hours. It is a great machine.

A new arms race seems to have been set in motion related to China. Other conflicts are boiling in many places, there is heavy arming in the Middle East – the US military industry is producing like never before, weapons are also bought in many countries. The people of the US benefit only slightly from this, but the owners of the military industry benefits wildly. In the process the US has made the world into a playground for itself: pushing security thinking forward, backing it up with military equipment and running a global economic wonder-machine for the select few.

The result of using such massive resources for war purposes is a slow process of suffocation for US society and the US role in the world. This clearly can not go on. The USSR is already a goner – will the US be the next one? Or will there be a war soon – to prop up the economy? A disgraceful thought of course.

The US never disarmed after world war one – it appeared there was lots of money to be made keeping military activity on a high level. It also never disarmed after World War II – there was just too much money to be made. And it will just keep going so long as the taxpayers can pay.

It has all been called the military-industrial complex MIC, war has become part of the economic policy, it stimulates the economy, war is good for the economy. Similar thinking has earlier been seen in Britain, Germany, France in colonial days. But now US taxpayers are seeing the picture: The US economy can no longer carry this burden – the end is near. People are not getting what they should have for their tax money: a good life. The politicians see this well, but appear lame.

Also the fearmongering – we had the cold war, now is terror – what will be the next – glorifying war – we don’t need enemies to have a society.

Is this all we can say – is there a systemic force at work that we can not control? Is this the fruit of centuries of civilisation, of idealistic nation-building? Think what is possible instead – what it could be.

The new superdevice SD – personal mobile device.

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

It is coming to us: the move to mobile computing has started. The personal phone, the pad, the netbook, communications device or personal linking center – please somebody find a good name – that can connect you to it all – whichever way you want to – wherever you are – your contacts, relations management, documents, information search, videos, pictures, music, camera, calendar, reader for books, digital storage, even games.

It will be an ultraportable smart-device with good hardware and with software you can set up yourself to your own liking, just like a PC or Mac. Closed systems machines will be out, standards must be established  to allow establishing a non-proprietary common world. Or will the comfort of a tightly controlled user interface, fine usability, integration, firmness of execution be important?

These ultraportable devices will synch with your activity or workflow: scale to large screens, with touch, pointing, keyboard, voice command, include loudspeakers via docking device or wireless connection 4G or wireless. The synch must be continous, session centric, place independent, integrate all components that you choose, keep track of sessions. Desktops, TV, laptops, tablets, phones, cameras must all be included, and this will be done through a combination of software and hardware.

The design must be web/cloudbased, location and device independent, and use open standards for hardware and software so that all devices can be included. And the phone function may the least important of it all?

There is a convergence out there that is becoming strongly visible – the business is there for the taking – customers will love this.

So who will do it: a big boon for users and businesses is coming – and soon too. Whatever we call it – it will be nice.

30 minutes a day – that’s all: Get going

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Most people in the Western world need to improve their fitness, and a very simple approach is now being tested in Norway: Commit yourself to doing some exercises every day. All that is needed is 30 minutes or less. Push yourself up from the couch, walk a bit – count your steps.

The awareness of requirements for good health is growing everywhere. Research shows lots of benefits from reasonable fitness: less illness, more alertness, better performance at work, improved sexlife….

The Norwegian Health Directorate is starting a campaign to make all Norwegians move, exercise, walk every day: whatever physical exertion you can think of is good for you. You should perform your chosen exercise every day for 30 minutes.

You have not got the time? But you have! You have about 16 waking hours per day – surely 1/32 of this can be used to improve your life, your health, make you more active, creative, social, daring.

It is all there and you can have it if you want it – it is easy.

Still not convinced?  Try to make your employer give you 30 minutes every day to exercise – it will make you more efficient. So that’s difficult too?

Well, you can dance for 30 minutes in your own home, jog for 18 minutes, run intensely for 13 minutes or walk to the shop or mall, take a walk in the forest or park, walk the dog or if you haven’t got one borrow your neighbour’s dog, bicycle, walk with your children to school, use the stairs everywhere you have a chance, take a walk during the lunch break, play ping-pong in the office, go to the gym….. See – the possibilities are endless and you have the time. And you can push physical activity into everything you do all day – be a little physical: lift, walk, jump, stretch, balance…

And taxes will be lower because health costs go down. (I have to see that to believe it!)

The warring world must mend its ways

Friday, January 7th, 2011

The media are filled with reports of military activity and impending military activity. It is normal to have wars in our world, we are used it, it is necessary to keep wars going it seems. Movies are glorifying it.

The force behind it all is the US being busy all over the world with their “defence” and security activities, and pulling or forcing their allies into it. The recent Wikileaks fully confirm this.

The Middle East is now filling up with armory, Iran is trying to build an atomic bomb, what Israel and others are doing nobody knows. Afghanistan is continuing with more troops coming, Pakistan is shaking. Egypt is shaking and wants to change.

The Chinese are building an army, a navy, an airforce, surely weaponry of many kinds too. The conflict over sea areas in the South China Sea is escalating, the Chinese will not lose face in what they consider their own home waters.

The Korean question hangs in the air too, even if it seems we have forgotten why this national conflict should lead to a larger conflict in the area. The US carriers are busily steaming back and forth here, presenting everyone with a threatening view.

The US is busy everywhere, and now the US debt is dangerously high – economically dangerous for everyone – but the “defence” budget will not be trimmed – “defence” action all over the world must continue.

All this makes for an unstable world – we all worry. The clue to it all is the US and its need to keep people on their toes so that their military spending will be high. Combined with methodical pressure on most nations the world lumbers on with US military industry as busy as ever.

Add the terror industry the US is creating and the picture is complete. The media in all of the western world is giving credibility to it all: yes, this is how it must be.

The result is a world full of scared people – we are all scared. This is part of a huge moneymaking industry: Scare the world, arm it and get rich. If somebody use the weapons you get even richer.

China is now facing up to the US. They want the US to stop interfering in its own backyard. What if China deployed cruisers in US coastal areas – to protect its own interests? What if somebody should threaten the US on its own land?

The US is a scarying nation, scaring us all with their ways. This can not continue.

We can have a better life than this, and the first job is to scale the US down to its real size: With 5% of the world’s population it should have 5% influence in the world.

Surely this is not all we are capable of: war? What about shifting focus to the big challenges to humanity: sustainability, poverty reduction, education for all, health issues…?

Understanding evolution post-Darwin (II)

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Traditionally we are thinking in terms of human supremacy – we are now trying to manipulate DNA as we see fit – we are tops of evolution.

But life science says it is not so. There is a microcosm consisting of bacteria, cells, mitochondria in symbiotic evolution that we are all part of. The story of human evolution is just part of a bigger story about what goes on in microcosmos.

Discoveries have shown that we have a place in nature. Microbes are indispensable to life and to all living structures on Earth, including humans. We are all sophisticated, aggregated, evolving microbial life. All organisms are thus equally evolved. We have no lower lifeforms and with humans at the high end – all lifeforms are equally evolved. This is microcosm.

We live in a world of extended continued cooperation and interaction between lifeforms. Life on Earth is not divided between plants and animals, but between prokaryotes/bacteria and eukaryotes which is all the rest.

Prokaryotes/bacteria has transformed the Earth’s surface through advanced biotechnological processes: fermentation, photosynthesis, oxygen breathing, removal of nitrogen gas from the air.

The dynamics of evolution works by symbiosis via DNA, transfer of genetic material to other individuals (sex), mitochondria which are tiny membrane wrapped inclusions in the cells with their own DNA necessary for utilization of oxygen. Symbiosis is thus established as a major power of change and the maker of all visible organisms, and continuing all around us in interaction with the microcosm.

Life, including intelligence and consciousness, is the property of the microcosm.

Does this make it clear to you what is going on: the risks, the progress ahead? Humanity may be able to destroy itself, but most of the rest will surely survive.

See book: Lynn Margulis, Dorion Sagan: Microcosmos