The digital world offers us many advantages, but if we yield to that world too completely we may lose the privacy we need to develop a self. Activities that require time and careful attention, like serious reading, are at risk; we read less and skim more as the Internet occupies more of our lives. And there’s a link between selfhood and reading slowly, rather than scanning for quick information, as the Web encourages us to do. Recent work in sociology and psychology suggests that reading books, a private experience, is an important aspect of coming to know who we are.

Cellular Forms uses a simplified model of cellular growth to create intricate sculptural shape. Structures are created out of interconnected cells, with rules for the forces between cells, as well as rules for how cells accumulate internal nutrients. When the nutrient level in a cell exceeds a given threshold the cell splits into two, with both the parent and daughter cells reconnecting to their immediate neighbours. Many different complex organic structures are seen to arise from subtle variations on these rules, creating forms with strong reminiscences of plants, corals, internal organs and micro-organisms.

The aim is to create structures emergently: exploring generic similarities between many different forms in nature rather than recreating any particular organism, in the process exploring universal archetypal forms that can come from growth processes rather than top-down externally engineered design.

For more information: andylomas.com

In the 1980s the prolific German American philosopher Nicholas Rescher argued against SETI’s insistence that the signs of extraterrestrial life would resemble detectable communication technology. Extraterrestrials, Rescher suggested, are perhaps so alien that their science and technology is incomprehensible to us; we could never understand it as intelligence. I’ll push Rescher’s idea even farther: it’s not just that the communications technologies of the alien escape our comprehension, but that their very idea of “life” might not correspond with ours. The alien might not be life, at all.
Bogost, Ian. Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2012. (via carvalhais)


Tauba Auerbach

Tauba Auerbach’s Static series explores the place of aesthetics as it contends with digital and analog media. These abstract works are digital prints of the analog phenomenon known as static: that visual output of “white noise” that we so quickly associate with the early days of television. Auerbach isolates and magnifies various static pictures to an artistic end, highlighting not only an aesthetic but also cultural tension between analog and digital forms.

 Are these really abstractions? We know, after all, that there is an image to be resolved behind the confusion. In any case, Auerbach is able to play on our familiarity with static – perhaps a gesture toward its threatened status in a digital age. 

More Auerbach, including her beautiful Fold series on her website here. While you’re at it, you can learn about the science of static here, and even watch some here.

(All images sourced from Auerbach’s website). 

Erin Saunders

Arthur C. Clarke’s famous words are often repeated: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” What isn’t often mentioned is that this is third of three of Clarke’s Laws. The full list reads as follows:

(1) When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

(2) The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

(3) Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.