Two Cultures

Category archives for Two Cultures

My New Book: High Frontiers!

Writing for the Internet is like yelling into the void: freeing, probably more than a little cathartic, but ultimately lonely. That’s not to say that I haven’t made profound connections out here, but like most writers I long for a little thing with my name on it that fits in the hand, that can be…

Mona Laser

The cultural critic Walter Benjamin, in his seminal 1936 essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, argued that the “aura” of a work of art, that sense of special awe and reverence we feel, being in its presence, isn’t inherent to art itself. Rather, it’s a side-effect of its exclusivity, restricted…

“This one will look like a jellybean,” the session director warns us. “Or, you know, when you empty a hole punch? The circles of paper that fall out? One of those.” She’s talking about Neptune, and I am about to step, carefully, up a ladder painted industrial yellow and wheeled into place in front of…

I probably don’t need to introduce Oliver Sacks to you. You’ve undoubtedly already delighted over his wobbly affectation and tales of neurological strangeness on RadioLab or NPR. You might have read his lovely first-person account, in the New Yorker, of his early experiments with hallucinogens of all stripes, from the “pharmacological launch pad” of amphetamines…

To scientists, “experimental” is a technical word, one with a precise meaning: that which relates to a procedure of methodical trial and error, to a systematic test for determining the nature of reality. I got in trouble on this blog once, with commenters, for using the word “experimental” too flippantly. But artists experiment too, of course.…

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…

Ed: This is an essay I wrote for my friends at the World Science Festival, riffing on the central themes of this years’ event. If you prefer, you can also read this piece on the World Science Festival site. And, if you’re in New York between the first and fifth of June, you could do…

The moon is a rock. But it’s also Selene, Artemis, Diana, Isis, the lunar deities; an eldritch clock by which we measure our growth and fertility; home of an old man in the West and a rabbit in the East; the site of countless imaginary voyages; a long-believed trigger of lunacy (luna…see?). It’s another world,…

This is the first in a series of posts about art, the moon, and art on the moon. You would think this would be a fairly limited subject, but… Art on the moon has been happening for a long time. In 1969, a coterie of American contemporary artists devised a plan to put an art…