Thursday, January 31, 2008

two energy futures: jeroen van der veer

earlier this week, shell oil president jeroen van der veer published an article in which he articulated his vision of the future of energy through the year 2100. what's fascinating about his thinking is that he advocates the speedy development of a government supported carbon capture and carbon credit trade system. his aside about whether or not the protocols established in bali are rhetoric or meaningful is also very tasty!!

Two Energy Futures By Jeroen van der Veer

By 2100, the world’s energy system will be radically different from today’s. Renewable energy like solar, wind, hydroelectricity, and biofuels will make up a large share of the energy mix, and nuclear energy, too, will have a place. Humans will have found ways of dealing with air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. New technologies will have reduced the amount of energy needed to power buildings and vehicles.

Indeed, the distant future looks bright, but much depends on how we get there. There are two possible routes. Let’s call the first scenario Scramble. Like an off-road rally through a mountainous desert, it promises excitement and fierce competition. However, the unintended consequence of “more haste” will often be “less speed,” and many will crash along the way.

The alternative scenario can be called Blueprints, which resembles a cautious ride, with some false starts, on a road that is still under construction. Whether we arrive safely at our destination depends on the discipline of the drivers and the ingenuity of all those involved in the construction effort. Technological innovation provides the excitement.

Regardless of which route we choose, the world’s current predicament limits our room to maneuver. We are experiencing a step-change in the growth rate of energy demand due to rising population and economic development. After 2015, easily accessible supplies of oil and gas probably will no longer keep up with demand.

As a result, we will have no choice but to add other sources of energy – renewables, yes, but also more nuclear power and unconventional fossil fuels such as oil sands. Using more energy inevitably means emitting more CO2 at a time when climate change has become a critical global issue.

In the Scramble scenario, nations rush to secure energy resources for themselves, fearing that energy security is a zero-sum game, with clear winners and losers. The use of local coal and homegrown biofuels increases fast. Taking the path of least resistance, policymakers pay little attention to curbing energy consumption – until supplies run short. Likewise, despite much rhetoric, greenhouse gas emissions are not seriously addressed until major shocks trigger political reactions. Since these responses are overdue, they are severe and lead to energy price spikes and volatility.

The Blueprints scenario is less painful, even if the start is more disorderly. Numerous coalitions emerge to take on the challenges of economic development, energy security, and environmental pollution through cross-border cooperation. Much innovation occurs at the local level, as major cities develop links with industry to reduce local emissions. National governments introduce efficiency standards, taxes, and other policy instruments to improve the environmental performance of buildings, vehicles, and transport fuels.

Moreover, as calls for harmonization increase, policies converge across the globe. Cap-and-trade mechanisms that put a price on industrial CO2 emissions gain international acceptance. Rising CO2 prices in turn accelerate innovation, spawning breakthroughs. A growing number of cars are powered by electricity and hydrogen, while industrial facilities are fitted with technology to capture CO2 and store it underground.

Against the backdrop of these two equally plausible scenarios, we will know only in a few years whether December’s Bali declaration on climate change was just rhetoric or the start of a global effort to counter it. Much will depend on how attitudes evolve in China, the European Union, India, and the United States.

Shell traditionally uses its scenarios to prepare for the future without expressing a preference for one over another. But, faced with the need to manage climate risk for our investors and our descendants, we believe the Blueprints outcomes provide the best balance between economy, energy, and environment. For a second opinion, we appealed to climate change calculations made at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. These calculations indicate that a Blueprints world with CO2 capture and storage results in the least amount of climate change, provided emissions of other major manmade greenhouse gases are similarly reduced.

But the Blueprints scenario will be realized only if policymakers agree on a global approach to emissions trading and actively promote energy efficiency and new technology in four sectors: heat and power generation, industry, transport, and buildings.
This will require hard work, and time is short. For example, Blueprints assumes CO2 is captured at 90% of all coal- and gas-fired power plants in developed countries by 2050, plus at least 50% of those in non-OECD countries. Today, none capture CO2. Because CO2 capture and storage adds costs and yields no revenues, government support is needed to make it happen quickly on a scale large enough to affect global emissions. At the least, companies should earn carbon credits for the CO2 they capture and store.

Blueprints will not be easy. But it offers the world the best chance of reaching a sustainable energy future unscathed, so we should explore this route with the same ingenuity and persistence that put humans on the moon and created the digital age.
The world faces a long voyage before it reaches a low-carbon energy system. Companies can suggest possible routes to get there, but governments are in the driver’s seat. And governments will determine whether we should prepare for bitter competition or a true team effort.

* Jeroen van der Veer, Chief Executive of Royal Dutch Shell plc, is Energy Community leader of the World Economic Forum energy industry partnership in 2007-2008 and chaired this year’s Energy Summit in Davos. He also chairs the Energy and Climate Change working group of the European Round Table of Industrialists.


a while ago i featured the “paratrooper” an indestructible folding bike designed for the military but released for public use. today i’d like to share something equally incredible, probably about as ugly, and maybe even as indestructible.

the arantix. manufactured in utah by delta 7 sports. at first glance it could be just another mountain bike,

but click on this image below for a closer look which will reveal a startling new approach to frame design.

iso truss technology has been applied to a variety of products of different scale. its design and composition makes it incredibly strong and incredibly lightweight.

so where you'd expect to see solid tubes, you see instead a woven lattice structure! "each arantix bike frame takes approximately 300 hours to build, as single carbon fiber strands are woven to create the open lattice structure of each frame tube. each bundle of carbon fiber strands are wrapped with kevlar and then baked at 255 degrees fahrenheit for four hours. the ends of the baked tubes are then machined before being joined with molded carbon fiber lugs to make a complete frame".

"in total, each completed arantix frame is built with 1,672 linear feet of carbon fiber," says tyler evans, program manager of delta 7 sports. "that's longer than five and a half football fields, or by comparison, a single strand that long would reach to the top of the tallest building in the world, the taipei 101 in taiwan."

here’s some information on the bike itself.

here’s a close-up of the iso truss lattice structure;

here's a picture of a girl holding an example of the lattice structure as applied to a larger form.

this is not a bike on the cheap side in fact it’ll set you back $11,995.00 (usd) but it’ll almost certainly be the only one on your block with a projected production rate of 200 for 2008 and 1000 per year after that. if you’re happy just owning a frame then prepare to chisel a cheque for $7,000.00 (usd).

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

still life

i walked home this evening - an hour and a half in winds gusting to fifty k per hour in temps around minus twenty - crazy? maybe . . . but i was comfortable after the half way point and really warm towards the end.

here are some pictures i've been sitting on for a couple of weeks that i'd like you to have a look at!

here's a christmas gift geode that sits about a metre from me:

here's a visitor from vancouver's wreck beach:

with other visitors from wreck beach:

space food sticks

there are many, many little pieces of childhood that flare large on the horizon, arrive, and then disappear out of your awareness. this morning i came across a little memory, obscure, and probably not high on the list of importance but it returned all the same.

food has always been high on my list of priorities. i love all kinds of food, from junk to gourmet, appreciating each in its own right. as a kid i lived in a time when we were just beginning to get good at frozen food, and maybe "beginning" is overly generous, but the really cool food of my childhood was the stuff that came out for the astronauts going to the moon. in particular i remember the "space food sticks". about the size and texture of a pepperette but flavoured like chocolate, peanut butter, and caramel, the space food sticks looked and even tasted like the real thing. surely astronauts ate those and of course that gave what was essentially a piece of junk, real panache!

check this out.....

noon solar

noon solar is making beautiful stuff - expensive to be sure - but really lovely bags with built in solar chargers. on the outside of the bag, there is a paper thin, flexible solar panel. this solar panel charges a battery pack located inside the bag to supply power for your cell phone or ipod, day or night. you can lay the bag near a window and leave it for six to eight hours and that charges it for several days!

here’s the home page for noon solar.

here is my fave bag for me: the logan which comes in at a hefty $412.

here is my fave bag for her: the willow which rings in at $274.

integrating solar chargers into wearable or useable clothing and accessories is becoming more and more commonplace. let’s hope that the prices come down!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

ontario ghost towns

sad testaments to visions that have passed their time, to the ravages of war, to a change in fortune, or sometimes even to a change in the weather, ghost towns can be found all over the world. what is common to them all is the lingering sense of presence that each carries. the memories of people for whom the town, the house, the garden, the shop, the carefully hung picture on the wall was home. home is such a precious thing carrying resonant weight in the form of security, comfort, and most especially as a receptacle, a location for the set of personal histories that populate it.

i love seeing abandoned buildings - especially farm houses - because they somehow retain the charm that was almost certainly there when they were working, filled with the stories of the people who were born there, lived there, and often died there as well. i don't feel the same comfort with abandoned or derelict commercial buildings, preferring a more arms length connection with them - preferably through photographs!

the economic landscape of ontario has undergone many changes, much of the change driven through dependency on natural resources that have either run out or for which the demand has simply vanished much like the people who dreamed of the wealth that they felt certain would come their way. there are many sites devoted to the history and current status of these ghost towns but i have dug up three that i think are worth digging into.

this site is well organized with fascinating stories, photo links, town plans, and photographs that tell the stories of a few ontario ghost towns.

a more comprehensive and extensively documented site can be found here at ontario abandoned places. chock full of amazing photographs that include a really good section on the don valley brickworks which i know i have passed by thousands of times in my life, the site also offers a link to the little known markham abandoned plane “graveyard”.

this site is more of a photo collection but each photo does contain a small descriptive phrase to give it more colour. the links to the former town of balaclava were especially intriguing and i came across this detailed wikipedia entry on the rise and fall of the town of balaclava. this site has more information and some pictures of balaclava.

Monday, January 28, 2008

free rice

this blog received its one thousandth visit today . . . five months almost to the day since its birth. i'm glad you all come here!

here's a worthy link that i visit whenever i get a chance.

free rice.

visiting this site will enlarge your vocabulary - i usually make it to level 44. level 48 or higher is exceptional and unusual. if you are skeptical about the worthiness of this project then please visit the site's link dedicated to faq's. thanks for supporting this great project!!


monday morning. the house is filled with silence. true silence. not merely quiet.

silence. a rare quality.
true silence allows for deep introspection and self-awareness.

the return of early morning light and early evening light has brought some of the flicker back into the flame of my being. the imminence of a milder period in terms of temperature is also heart-warming. to continue this process of thawing the interior as well as exterior components of my self i share with you today a translation of a poem by the sufi poet ibn 'arabi.

this image and others like it can be seen at this gorgeous flickr set .

a garden among the flames!
my heart can take on any form:
a meadow for gazelles,
a cloister for monks,
for the idols, sacred ground,
ka'ba for the circling pilgrim,
the tables of the torah,
the scrolls of the quran.
my creed is love;
wherever its caravan turns along the way,
that is my belief,
my faith.
- ibn arabi

ibn 'arabi was born in murcia, al-andalus, in 1165. he began to write at about the age of 27, and continued to do this for the rest of his life.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

winter walking

among the growing list of features of my life that i have noticed are changing since i turned fifty last summer is my enjoyment of walking. i've always enjoyed it but i am really appreciating the time it gives me to refocus, to think about life, and to really attune myself to my surroundings. as a means of transportation it has turned out to be time-consuming but really excellent in other ways. i see things in more detail, i can take pictures of things that stand out for me, i keep up some of my fitness level as i am neither biking nor running, and i am keeping my personal commitment to minimizing my carbon footprint.

readers might reasonably assume that it is cold when i walk and i'll agree with you - the temperature is cold. the amazing thing though is that when i get to my destination i am invariably sweating. i have my hat and mitts off and wish that i had worn fewer layers of clothing. this is no revelation to cross-country skiers who have known this all along. i find that the snow conditions also impact on the speed of travel. often the paths i use are either unplowed or are just snow-covered enough to make the experience a lot like walking in sand. positively, a better workout. negatively, it takes more time and you're much more tired when you get there.

here are some pics i took last week while walking.

these tree branches seemed to be reaching out to me as i walked past them and indeed at that point i thought about curling up inside this particular grove for a nap . . .

i saw this plant and backtracked back to it. unfortunately i used the viewfinder to center the image and so it isn't quite right. but i like it all the same.

along the walk i took the other day up to trent university there are a lot of sumac. the remnants of their beautiful red flowers are still there and i saw this one with snow crystals on it . . . .

this last image is of a late january sky on the way home from work.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

happy birthday little bruvver

my bruvver david was born on january 26th 1960. 1960 was a busy year but my bruvver was too little to really know what was going on around him.

here's what was going on in 1960!

here's a pic of when i first really knew him:

here's a pic of david now - high high up in a tree and photographed by vancouver ali . . . . (click on the pic to make it bigger)


love from steven

vetiver: been so long

wow! it's saturday and today is a hockey tournament day. a day that usually involves the consumption of a large breakfast somewhere, lots of coffee, usually a beery afternoon break, and a fair bit of waiting between games that is filled with poker. not my usual saturday fare. the challenge is to find the frenetic boyishness of the players and ride it like a wave. to be honest, today i'd really like to settle back in peacefullness and do some writing, some reading, some cleaning up. i'd really like to listen to some peaceful music as well. but i also love tournament days for their silliness and especially for the fact that my dawsonboy has such a wickedgood time.

just over a year ago a wave of music crossed my path that loosely fell under the unfortunate genre name of freak folk. music that grew clearly from the world of folk but which was tinged with psychedelia and linked itself in terms of its colour and flavour with the haight-ashbury scene of the late sixties.

devendra banhart appeared to be the fire inside the genre and so i checked out his work and naturally came across the vetiverse.

vetiver (in case you’re interested) is a perennial grass native to india.

vetiver had been around for a couple of years by the time i came across them and had released a cd eponymously entitled “vetiver”. this was folowed two years later (2006) by the album to which i’m drawing your attention today “to find me gone”.

here’s a live version of my favourite piece of music off this disc “been so long” by vetiver.

if this music reaches you and you are interested in hearing more, then (amazing as it might seem), vetiver has provided a stream of the entire album on their website so that you can listen to every song for free! i did just that before buying the download of the disc.

in my own view there is only one song that is not up to the sterling quality of the rest but i’ll let you decide for yourself if you find even one flaw in this extraordinary music. here’s the link for the streaming version of to find me gone

Friday, January 25, 2008

the third late friday night eclectic buffet

hey it's friday night again - a long week filled with details - events - happenings - but essentially a good week. i have heard more and more people commenting on how they're tired of the snow and winter and what's weird is that this year it's not bothering me . . . . well it hasn't yet anyway. so i thought i'd start the post with an old item that could add a little heat to things. there's a thousand and one jobs this thing could do but starting with melting the ice off my front porch would be one of 'em.

moving on with the heat theme i'd like to share a favourite tune of mine from the long lamented talking heads. i still recall the thrill of buying my first head's album which i only bought because brian eno produced it "more songs about buildings and food." i stuck with the heads through "fear of music" and especially loved "remain in light". from that album comes this tune entitled "crosseyed and painless".
david byrne. brian eno. the talking heads. a creative triumvirate that came together for a very short time in the late seventies, early eighties. through their work individually and collectively, they brought about a radical change in the manner with which popular music was played and heard.

here are byrne and eno looking slender and intelligent.
the tune and lyrics which stick with me over that twenty seven year span is called “crosseyed and painless”. described as “fractured electro funk”, this tune brings together byrne’s art school sensibilities with his abiding passion for rhythm and runs both through eno’s burgeoning (at that time) passion for world music and found sound.

byrne’s lyrics were written not so much with the intent of providing a conscious message as to give a sense or intimation of something contained unconsciously in the words relationships and so interpretation is very much in the moment and also very much a reflection of the interpreter.

the heads can be heard here live in rome in 1980. the video’s a bit ropey but it captures the spirit of the band. funk. art. smarts. dance. thinking. hips and head.

crosseyed and painless

lost my shape - trying to act casual!
can’t stop - i might end up in the hospital
i’m changing my shape - i feel like an accident
they’re back!- to explain their experience

isn’t it weird / looks too obscure to me
wasting away / and that was their policy

i’m ready to leave - i push the facts in front of me
facts lost - facts are never what they seem to be
nothing there!- no information left of any kind
lifting my head - looking for danger signs

there was a line / there was a formula
sharp as a knife / facts cut a hole in us
there was a line / there was a formula
sharp as a knife/ facts cut a hole in us

i’m still waiting...i’m still waiting...i’m still waiting...
i’m still waiting...i’m still waiting...i’m still waiting...
i’m still waiting...i’m still waiting...
the feeling returns / whenever we close our eyes
lifting my head / looking around inside

the island of doubt - it’s like the taste of medicine
working by hindsight - got the message from the oxygen
making a list - find the cost of opportunity
doing it right - facts are useless in emergencies

the feeling returns / whenever we close our eyes
lifting my head / looking around inside.

facts are simple and facts are straight
facts are lazy and facts are late
facts all come with points of view
facts don’t do what I want them to
facts just twist the truth around
facts are living turned inside out
facts are getting the best of them
facts are nothing on the face of things
facts don’t stain the furniture
facts go out and slam the door
facts are written all over your face
facts continue to change their shape

i’m still waiting...i’m still waiting...i’m still waiting...
i’m still waiting...i’m still waiting...i’m still waiting...
i’m still waiting...i’m still waiting...

here’s the link for a live version of this song:
crosseyed and painless
after a sloppy start, phish finds the pocket in the groove with this take of "crosseyed and painless" recorded at the rockpalast in 1997;

perhaps you're needing a little cool down now - some time to chill - take a moment or two then to look at one of my favourite works by the great dutch artist m.c. escher entitled "three worlds".

finally, in the realm of very cool comes this ambitious project developed by british architect norman foster to be built in the middle of moscow some time in the next five years. with a total floor area of 2.5million square metres – the project’s scale is unprecedented. At 450m in height it will also be one of the tallest structures on the planet.
here's where you can go to see renderings and read much more about the crystal island.

the big here

a feature of living as i experience it nowadays is that much of my experiencing takes place in a more reactive / responsive mode than in a proactive / creative mode. the terms of my work confine the creative element of that tetrad to a prescriptive role that compels the form of my relationship with knowledge to be that of a purposeful rather than playful dynamic.

some features of my being in the big here are subjugated to a lesser place in my knowing because they carry less value, less utility, and so sit ignored somewhere in the deep mapping of my mind labelled “here be dragons”.

kevin kelly, being the clever, insightful person that he is, is as aware of this as anyone. i live atop a hill covered with what i suspect is glacial till carved out a very long time ago somewhere south west of here and deposited as the glacier passed over an outcropping of rock buried somewhere deep beneath where i am sitting. i know that its surface is comprised of a mixture of large boulders, smaller boulders, gravel, and sand. in some places on this hill, it is possible to dig down several metres through fine yellowish sand and still not hit the bottom of that vein.

knowing about what you walk on, live on, ride on, sleep on and so on, is one of those details that are submerged beneath the detritus of daily life. as one of kevin’s “cool tools” he has assembled a set of questions that ask you to consider your immediate component’s parts of the larger components parts of what is called a biome. the underlying big question is - do you know anything about the inner workings of the watershed in your area?

what’s very cool about this is that kevin has posted the answers provided by people from all over. of course, the answers to the questions are necessarily site specific and have been posted not so much for you to determine if you are right or wrong, as to act as signposts for your thinking. the answers are easily more fascinating than the questions and make for good reading!

have a look at
the big here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

the thief and the cobbler

upon a time . . . . how many magical journeys have you taken that began with those four words?

today i’d like you to enjoy a magical journey that doesn’t begin with those words but it could, because this is a story about a far away place and time where magic and happenstance blend into each other like grains of sand through an hourglass, each indistinguishable from the other.

"It is written among the limitless constellations, of the celestial heavens, and in the depths of the emerald sea, and upon every grain of sand in the vast desert, that the world which we see is an outward and visible dream, of an inward and invisible reality. Once upon a time, there was a golden city. In the center of the golden city, atop the tallest minaret, were three gold balls. The ancients had prophesised, that if the three golden balls were ever taken away, harmony would yield to discord, and the city would fall to destruction and death. But, the mystics had also foretold, that the city might be saved, by the simplest soul, with the smallest and simplest of things. In the city, there dwelt a lowly shoemaker, who was known as Tack the Cobbler. Also in the city, existed a thief, who shall be...nameless..."

so begins the narration of the thief and the cobbler. originally intended as a collection of tales assembled by idries shah containing the philosophical yet humorous tales of nasrudin, a “wise fool” of sufi literature, the project hit a roadblock when the director richard williams (see below), had a run-in with the shah family.

today’s posting requires one hour and thirty seven minutes of your time (plus time for reading this introduction). you may find it necessary to come back to this when you’ve got more time. i will tell you that it is very worth it!

what you will see is one of the more extraordinary animated films of our time. no it’s not computer animated but it is lavishly drawn, richly coloured and the plot is very very clever. this version is the “recobbled cut mark 2”. reassembled by fans of the toronto-born director, richard williams to more closely resemble his original vision, this features film from several versions and edits and eliminates a lot of the post production chopping and overdubbing that took place in the commercially released version.

if you would like to own your own copy then go here, but scroll down to the reviews and give them a good close read before clicking the “buy now” button. this is one of those movies that obviously ran afoul of the “entertainment quotient” police who decided to mess with it to ramp up sales.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

to the bottom of the marianas trench

an amazing story that very few people are aware of. on this day in 1963, the "bathyscape trieste" descended into the marianas trench in the pacific ocean. the amazing achievement of the two brave men who descended seven miles into the ocean depths - seven miles down folks - is chronicled in this "brief article".

here's a brief overview of the day they went right "to the bottom".

this lovely but short animated movie of the topography of the marianas trench is highly addictive stuff. i watched it a few times and wondered how amazing would it be to have the ability to see films like this of anyplace in the world above or below the water. here's "the marianas trench".

private space flights in my lifetime

well we knew it was coming but it's hard to believe or even imagine that very soon, people will be able to pay two hundred thousand dollars and get a ride into space. entrepeneur richard branson and designer bert rutan have teamed up to create this extraordinary opportunity. rutan's company "scaled composites" have routinely envisioned, created, and flown extraordinary machines. here's their latest.

concept sky commuter

have you ever wished that you could rise above your transportation issues? let's say that you are one of the many millions of commuters lined up in traffic in toronto, vancouver, tokyo, istanbul, london or any major metropolis. let's also say that you have a taste for adventure. well head right over to ebay and snap up this one-of-a-kind sky commuter.

see what i mean! get in this machine, spark up the engines and rise above it all!!!

the story and pictures attached to this listing are extraordinary and sad. so much time and money seems to have gone into what could have been a worthy concept. here are a couple more views of this clever vehicle.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

the single house

the single house - a reflection of the dynamic nature of people and especially their needs for space. uncluttered, unaccentuated, reasonably scaled space. taking its design cue from large-scale advertisments, the single house is a no-nonsense response to providing a clean, simple, aesthetically pleasing solution to a living space for one.

i could really use a space to pursue my art and my writing - the space i live in is defined and refined by the needs of my family. the single house does away with that and reflects the needs of the person living in it. i look at the images below and would take any one of those - slap some solar panelling on the top and back, sort out the water problem, and away you go. an escape.

here’s the manifesto as presented by the architects working under the company name “front architects”, two polish designers who are quickly making their mark in redefining living space.

“Single Hauz - a kind of manifest, proposal of a house/shelter for a Western Worlder. The "basic unit of society", as marriage is called, is no longer the only model of life. As a detached single occupant house unit, Single Hauz fills a kind of a void in the field of housing proposal for so called "singles". Inspired by a city billboard, it is designed as an object suitable for almost every place on earth. It is especially predisposed for sites of an interesting landscaping. For instance forests, seas, lakes, mountains, meadows - but, on the other hand, just next to the main city street.”

here are some images of “the single house”:

Monday, January 21, 2008

the whitehouse: ads that add up

as i observed in an earlier posting, commercials are often much more satisfying and clever these days than the programs that bracket them. today’s posting shares the work of one company engaged in the creation of some superb, highly creative advertising.

the whitehouse is an american firm whose work has attracted clients including nike, greenpeace, coca cola, land rover and a wide array of other large firms who have obviously been taken with the incredibly rich visual imagery and technical astuteness of the whitehouse. it is difficult to tear your eyes away from their ads as they engage you in an unfolding process that, like any good cliffhanger, compels you to hang in for the climax which they adroitly wrap up with the message.

when you visit their site you will see a huge selection of their work is available to view. some of their work is available on youtube which as you already know, provides a grainier, grittier rendering of anything that is uploaded there. so i’ll share my top three here, but you should head over to the whitehouse post and see not only these but all the rest of their offerings as crystal clear as they were intended. now folks, when all is said and done it’s still a set of commercials you’re watching. but, it’s so close to art that it makes your time spent there well worthwhile.

coca cola - live is the truth

greenpeace breathe

geico - the wall.

visitors to the whitehouse post will notice a link entitled “other”. it contains clips from movie trailers as well as a lovely set of music videos incluyding this stunner featuring the music of sigur ros "glosoli"

Sunday, January 20, 2008

katinka matson: twelve flowers

a source of fascination for me are the colours, shapes, and textures of plants, and especially their flowers. the incredible variety in petal colour, leaf structure, and the way in which plants organize their bodies leaves me breathless. look inside the flower of a lily and enter a mystery defined by form, colour, and shadow. look at a petal on any plant and wonder at the spectacular detail revealed in the many speckles and hues and shades that at a distance - even a metre, disappear. think of the complex chemical processes that would be required to convert sunlight, water, and nutrients from the earth into that complexity.

for this reason, people who photograph flowers and capture their beauty in detail, hold my attention. i know from my own experience that it is not a simple matter to work in close proximity with plants. they are often so fragile and sensitive to any sort of movement that capturing the fraction of a moment in their lives is filled with challenge.

today i would like to feature the work of a woman who has taken advantage of technology in order to bring the detailed beauty of flowers into our experience and in so doing, created a new genre of representation.

her name is katinka matson.

in her artist's statement matson writes that “... new technologies equal new perceptions. We create tools and then mould ourselves through our use of them.”

contrary to what you might be expecting, her work uses no cameras - it’s non-photographic. what she has come up with is a technique utilizing input through a flatbed ccd scanner. (for more information on how a ccd scanner works have a look here.

katinka describes the process of scanning these images as a melding of naturalism and technology.

“The process involves scanning flowers and other natural objects on an open-top scanner from underneath the objects with a slow-moving sensor. This technique involves both new hardware (the scanner and the inkjet printer), and software (Adobe Photoshop). Without the distortion of the lens, highly detailed resolution is uniform throughout the image, regardless of the size of the printable media. The lighting effects from the sliding sensor beneath the object, coupled with overhead effects involving lighting and movement, result in a 3-D-like imaging of intense sharpness and detail.”

a gallery of images collectively entitled ”forty flowers” shows an artist at play, exploring the possibilities.

her current work has to my eyes a more considered aesthetic. in its juxtaposition of multiple images of the same type of flower, it appears more refined while infinitely richer in its capturing the presence of the plant’s essence. katinka draws the plant’s organizational structure - its rhythm - to the forefront, compelling the viewer to relate to the plant in a wholly different manner. in scanning each image for difference there is something more intimate in recognizing the individual plant’s uniqueness. i hope that you have time to have a long look at her current work entitled ”twelve flowers”.

matson’s homepage contains links to older work as well as links to print editions. if you are interested, kevin kelly has written a powerful and thorough introduction to her work.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

january evening

the view behind my home as the sun goes down on a cold evening - dropping to minus twenty one celsius. great for the ice rink across the road!

lego world

i had a plastic building set as a boy - not lego - but an architectural kit that allowed you to build the frameworks of buildings. i remember one morning coming downstairs to discover that my dad had built a suspension bridge out of it. i couldn’t have been more than six so you can imagine both my surprise and awe that such a structure could be made out of the little plastic sticks and bits.

when i was a boy, lego consisted of five colours. black, white, yellow, red, and blue and maybe green. i used it to build cars, houses, guns, spacecraft and even a hockey rink. my brother and i used the little pieces for pucks and the long pieces for sticks! i loved that it came with little windows, and doors, and eventually green panels that were supposed to represent grass.

since that time lego has undergone many, many transformations through the model kits, to the computerized mindstorm sets.
but, i am still amazed by what people can build out of the little plastic bits called lego.

for example, this is a volvo made entirely out of lego!!

up in scotland, warren elsmore has built a six metre long - yes folks that’s six metres - version of the forth rail bridge. at his website he very generously provides linked images of the actual bridge alongside images of the component replica elements of his own bridge.

if you like transportation and want to see it rendered in lego then this guy ralph savelsberg’s work can’t be beat!

still in the realm of lego transportation, andrew harvey has assembled a whole set of working trains out of lego which can be viewed in a lovingly assembled collection of videos.

at alastair disley’s site, he has very generously linked to three exhibitions of lego buildings which are simply incredible! when you go to this link you will see three images. click on any of them to travel through to a page of photographs .....

for the mathematically inclined, andrew lipson renders mathematical sculptures to astonishing effect.

eric harshbarger is a professional lego constructor. if you go here you can see the entire portfolio of his works. my favourite? well hard to say, but i really like this grandfather clock.

nathan sawaya is another professional lego constructor. where nathan’s work stands out from the rest is that he is often working with the human form.

finally. this is so incredible you may not believe what you are seeing.

Friday, January 18, 2008

the second late friday night eclectic buffet

this friday evening finds the golden fish blog posting its two hundredth entry! the second late friday night eclectic buffet. what better way to celebrate and acknowledge the divergence and diversity of postings that appear here every day! i'm actually pretty happy with how it is turning out. eight hundred people have dropped by here at some point since its birth on august 29th, 2007 and that's very very surprising to me.

so onwards with the eclectic buffet.

nothing new to automobile afficionados but worth sharing all the same. the gm skateboard concept blew apart the expectations attached to almost every feature of automobile design. it’s impossible to know whether or not this will move beyond a statement and actually arrive in some practical mass-produced form. but like so many of the ideas shared on this blog, it’s very comforting and even exciting to know that the possibility exists.

let's move on now to the work of an origami master - eric joisel.

this video and other images and information can be seen here on eric's homepage

moving right on to some music with roots extending at least as far back as sixties soul, and from there back into the blues, righteous word and sound emanates here from the massive attack - hailing from bristol, this collective reshaped music with their melding and melting of musical forms and genres . . . . . .


"unfinished sympathy" sung by the incomparable shara nelson with the boys of massive attack . . . .

i know that i've imagined love before
and how it could be with you
really hurt me baby, really cut me baby
how can you have a day without a night
you're the book that i have opened
and now i've got to know much more

the curiousness of your potential kiss
has got my mind and body aching
really hurt me baby, really cut me baby
how can you have a day without a night
you're the book that i have opened
and now i've got to know much more

like a soul without a mind
in a body without a heart
i'm missing every part . . . . .

"unfinished sympathy" from their first album “blue lines”:

emerging amaryllis. i bought this as a bulb and it has begun to emerge. each day it has very slowly unfurled and this is where it is at today.

when vancouver ali and my bruvver david visited at christmas, one of the many gifts they brought with them was this exquisite geode.

i took my class for a little walk a few days ago and we came across this fence - an ordinary fence but covered with frost crystals. we all got as close as possible without shaking the crystals off or melting them with our breath and looked at this little wonder.

thankyou to all my visitors and especially thanks to the ones who return!

rubber band armament suppliers

at some point in most people's lives a rubber band has been loaded onto a pointer finger, aimed at an unwitting or cowering victim, and then released with a (sometimes) satisfying twang as it snaps away from you, followed by an equally (if not more) satisfying thwack as it makes contact with the intended target. i can say with confidence that if you haven't been the perpetrator of this heinous activity, you almost certainly have been the target.

perhaps inappropriate, probably immature, but a source of tremendous fun and almost instantaneous gratification to the shooter! the only downsides to this otherwise excellent pastime that i've encountered though are the problem of aim, and then also that you can only fire one at a time.

happily, the solution has been discovered by some good people across the pond in england who have put in a fair bit of work on developing a highly refined rubber band version of the gatling gun!

most generously, these same people have provided video evidence of the devastation that can be wrought with their superior invention. have a look. (oh, and i should suggest that for those of you with ears attuned to kinder, gentler music, you either turn down the volume or turn it right off . . . the accompanying soundtrack is - distracting.)

if the gatling gun version seems too conspicuous but you like the idea of having multiple rounds at your fingertips then perhaps the firewheel would be more to your liking.
this one is my fave design and colour
finally, the people over at surefire have a nice little page going devoted to the sale and support of the patented 12 shot rubber band shooter. a variety of designs are available - indeed, they will handcraft guns to suit your taste and needs.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

do androids dream of philip k. dick?

i can’t admit to having read a lot of philip k. dick. the piece of dick’s writing i am most familar with is “do androids dream of electric sheep?”, later made into the classic film “bladerunner” which not only presaged the arrival of the cyberpunk genre but redefined movie making standards in terms of its sets, the expectations a film could make of its audience, and science fiction films as a genre.

bladerunner gathered together some disparate but incredible talent ranging from the soundtrack which features the music of vangelis, to the lead character played by a young hunky harrison ford

, side-by-side with rutger hauer as the bad guy

and the strikingly attractive darryl hannah as pris . . . .

for an overview of “do androids dream of electric sheep?” this is a good place to start . . . . androids.

this is by far and away the most comprehensive and well-written overview of bladerunner, i’ve come across.

the next link takes you to an interesting graphic interpretation of a series of events which happened to dick in march of 1974. understandably, he spent the remaining years of his life trying to figure out what happened.

this extraordinary document comprising eight linked pages of graphic novel depicts what dick perceived as religious experiences. these same experiences have since been described by others as a schizophrenic bout. regardless of their nature, the experiences point in part to something of how and why dick was driven to create not alternate worlds and universes, but worlds resembling our very own. perhaps within his experiencing of this world was an echo that allowed him to describe the commonplace such that it became other.

this same approach underwrites the work of the cyberpunk writers, particularly william gibson.

as jean baudrillard, the french cultural theorist wrote:
"It is hyperreal. It is a universe of simulation, which is something altogether different. And this is so not because Dick speaks specifically of simulacra. SF has always done so, but it has always played upon the double, on artificial replication or imaginary duplication, whereas here the double has disappeared. There is no more double; one is always already in the other world, an other world which is not another, without mirrors or projection or utopias as means for reflection. The simulation is impassable, unsurpassable, checkmated, without exteriority. We can no longer move "through the mirror" to the other side, as we could during the golden age of transcendence."[