Archive by Author

Predicting the Future With Porn?

29 Nov

Curious about what is happening here neurologically in relation to porn AND if there is a saturation point at which this … porn ESP effect becomes readable. In other words, is it our innate relationship to observing sexual acts that makes us porn pre-cogs, or is it stimulus type and frequency in concert that prime us for uncannily accurate and sexy predictions? Also: I’d love to see the grant application that funded this research.– AD

An upcoming study to be published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology claims that test subjects were able to accurately predict future events–and that pornography was one of the tools used in research for the project. But the methodology is sound. Skeptics are impressed. Do humans really have extra-sensory perception (ESP)? Can it really be triggered by the latest issue of Penthouse?

Experimentees were asked 36 times to guess whether an image of “couples engaged in nonviolent but explicit consensual sexual acts” or a blank picture would show up on different sectors of a video screen. Subjects were able to predict the appearance of the pornographic picture 53.1% of the time–significantly above the statistical average of 50%.

Via Fast Company.


Google Streetview at the New Museum

24 Nov

Artist Jon Rafman scours the photographic outputs of and selects the most narratively compelling, bizarre and beautiful among them to create curated collections of … pictures of randomly captured moments from around the globe.

What seems mildly wonky is that, while these images pass through a state of semi-authorlessness and are recontextualized in the museum (and hence “elevated” to art status) there are tons of “Check out this ker-azzzy Google Streetview image” posts and even pages floating about online that remain categorized as non-art. The ends are often the same – while some selections are, of course, about the hilarity of catching someone randomly peeing on a stop sign in Iowa, others have the kind of cinemtaic quality of a Gregory Crewdson photograph (and are sometimes just as artificially set as with the hoax Streetview Miracle Birth picture posted on Gizmodo this week – see comparison below).

Streetview Miracle Birth (probable) Hoax

Gregory Crewdson

I definitely plan to see the show – it looks fascinating. But I have to admit that I kind of resent the “special sauce” sprinkled over this feat of doing exactly what many have been doing for some time but with an MFA and a connection at the New Museum. I know this is a typically facile criticism but it’s still bubbling up …. Judgment (mostly) reserved until I actually see the show. I guess.

NB: It’s part of the NM’s “Free” exhibition which “explores how the internet has fundamentally changed our landscape of information and our notion of public space.” Fairly strong reviews thus far. A lot of interesting MES & MCC-relevant work.

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Lady Gaga and Sociology

31 Oct

“What … accounts for the soaring popularity of the 24-year-old global phenom? The question has intrigued and inspired Mathieu Deflem, 48, a sociology professor at the University of South Carolina at Columbia, who plans to teach a course called “Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame.” He believes it is the only such full-time college course in the country.

He wants to explore what makes a person famous and what being famous means in today’s culture. Or, as the course description puts it: “The central objective is to unravel some of the sociologically relevant dimensions of the fame of Lady Gaga.” ” – The New York Times, 11/28/10

Focus on pop culture figures isn’t new in academia (The Real World, The Wire and The Simpsons are a few that have made the classroom cross) but the intensity of Lady Gaga’s rise and transition is somewhat unique. Considering that rapid change and constant re-self-presentation is such a huge part of what makes Gaga Gaga, it will be interesting to see how well the course flexes to accommodate her endlessly refreshing possibilities.

NRDC and StoryCorps Bring You Oral Histories of Gulf Life After BP

21 Oct

So … remember the oil spill? Although it has run out of photographically-rich material to accompany updates (which, coupled with the possible obsfuscatory (as if that’s a real word…) efforts of the U.S. gov and BP, and the lack of sizzle, may contribute to the scarcity of continued coverage) there are projects that aim to capture and disseminate the stories of those affected by the disaster.

It will be interesting to see how the framing of the event will shift now that we aren’t seeing huge aerial shots of marblized rust-colored water. For many, it probably already feels like it didn’t happen.

Watch here.


TED Prize Goes to Artist J R

21 Oct

In the longstanding tradition of European graffiti artists who create incredibly large and very public works but who hold onto their anonymity like the “outlaws” that they are, French graffiteur, J R, was just awarded $100,000 by TED, which typically doles their prizes out to the Bill Clintons and tech wunderkinds of the world.

What is really fascinating (and maybe a bit problematic) about J R is not just that he creates these incredible large scale visual projects in urban “slums”* from Brazil to China to the Netherlands, but that the vinyl photo-images are of the people who live in these spaces (though not all locally) made, truly, spectacular.

There is something about seeing a woman whose lack of access to clean drinking water, heath care, safe streets and all of the Bright and Shiny Things that are the focus of so many TED talks, is typically ignored, blown up to an unignorable size. It should be noted that the vinyl posters also often serve as roof retrofitting and heat insulation to the homes on which they are applied. Maybe image culture isn’t all bad?

* I hate using this word and I hate how it was used in the NYT headline:”Award to Artist Who Gives Slums a Human Face.” What … was the face of the slums before if not human?

“Where Is The Proof That It Gets Better?”

20 Oct

The popularity of Dan Savage’s (touching, awesome, terrifying, hopeful and inspiring) “It Gets Better” videos as a response to the cluster of publicized suicides of LGBT youth this fall has sparked a number of amazing homespun YouTube contributions in kind as well as some interesting debate about how media can be mobilized to create dynamic support systems.

The response to a recent article in Vibe (resurrected once again) reminded me of how the tentacles that can send out hopeful messages have also made pushback faster and louder.

From Racialicious:

Last week, the internet was in a tizzy over Aliya S. King’s article for Vibe. The piece, titled the Mean Girls of Morehouse, explored how Morehouse’s change in dress code was really a reaction to a small group of genderqueer students on campus. The article dove into the lives of these students on campus. Vibe and King were both blasted for attacking Morehouse, a bastion of the black community, and a video was quickly uploaded to the internet showing a spirited discussion at Morehouse around the content of the article, exploring everything from lack of queer perspective to the representation of Morehouse.