Design

Category archives for Design

Interview: Andrew Olney

Last week, I wrote a piece for Motherboard about an android version of the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. The story of the android is truly surreal, stranger than even Dick’s flipped-out fiction, and I recommend you pop over to Motherboard and mainline it for yourselves. For the piece, I interviewed the lead programmer on…

NA/SA: New Art/Science Affinities

“I read this book. It’s pretty good even if they made it in a week. Worth the fifty bucks, easy.” Bruce Sterling   In February of this year, I had the distinct pleasure of being invited to the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, a zygote of an institution nestled between departments at Carnegie Mellon University, to…

In the mid-1970s, the U.S. State Department prohibited the internal use of the term “space colony,” due to the global bad reputation of colonialism. Instead, the government opted for “space settlement.” Of course, as Stewart Brand pointed out at the time, the last thing you do in space is settle. Quite the opposite! Making the…

A few months ago, I attended Cyborg Camp in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. Cyborg Camp is an “unconference,” basically a room full of cyberpunks, mega-nerds, and aspirational coders that gather in an office building to talk about the “future of the relationship between humans and technology.” This event deserves a separate entry, but for…

Science Poem Manifesto

Earlier this year, I received a charming email from a pair of Helsinki-based artists and designers who work under the name of OK DO. OK DO is a socially-minded design think tank and online publication; they dug Universe and wanted to know if I’d contribute to a new publication and exhibition project they were working…

Eyes to the Future

My grandmother suffered in her old age from macular degeneration, a common age-related eye disease that causes the center of your visual field (the macula) to gradually fritz out. As it affected her more and more, the font size in her emails ballooned to cartoonish sizes. She began walking with a cane, and needed a…

Peripheral Vision

I believe the world is a complex phenomenological experience that can be explained, rationalized, and lived in myriad different ways. The way I see it, we all begin with the same fundamental mystery — why are we here? what is life? — and we attack this problem with whatever tools we find work best; some…

Ideological State Interface

The North Korean government has made an operating system called “Red Star.” Despite the fact that very few North Koreans have a computer, let alone Internet access, Red Star is designed to provide a safe operating environment in line with North Korean political philosophy of “juche,” or self-reliance (as well as, admittedly, monitor user activity).…

In his seminal 1991 essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction,” the video artist Douglas Davis writes that digital bits “can be endlessly reproduced, without degradation, always the same, always perfect.” This is different, Davis argues, from analogue information. In the past, copying an audio signal — for example, dubbing a…

The Evolution of Life in 60 Seconds

The Evolution of Life in 60 Seconds is an experiment in scale: by condensing 4.6 billion years of history into a minute, the video serves as a self-contained timepiece. Like a specialized clock, it gives a sense of perspective. Every event – from the formation of the Earth, to the Cambrian Explosion, to the evolution of mice…