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New Media Old Values

Berkeley Center for New Media Announces Endowment

Photo by Craig Newmark. CONE sutro forest project.

Last year Craigslist founder Craig Newmark placed a camera that allowed thousands of people, collaboratively controlling it online, to capture images of birds from the deck of his home on the edge of the Sutro Forest in San Francisco. It was project developed by Ken Goldberg, now the Director of the Berkeley Center for New Media and Texas A & M University. It's a project that's a metaphor for all of his double-edged art/science projects, the tools are only valuable when it's possible to observe and understand how people use them in their natural habitats. The Berkeley Center for New Media has just announced an endowment of $1.6million from Craigslist, matched by $1.5 million from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for a total of $3.1 million. It will support research, symposia and lectures. Craigslist and the Center for New Media share "...interests in research areas such as privacy, reputation, trust, access and new ways to encourage socially constructive actions," said Goldberg. The Berkeley Alumni magazine said "The Center for New Media is less concerned with whiz-bang technologies than with old values—truth, depth, reliablitity, authenticity, aesthetics, and public service."

Goldberg's telerobotic art projects created around his research with the Industrial Engineering and Operations Research School at Berkeley were in the realm of what he termed "telepistemology", the study of ways of knowing, and the validity of what we know, if that knowledge is gained at a distance, through the internet. He encourages what he calls "the resumption of disbelief," being skeptical of what we find on the internet. His Dislocation of Intimacy project wondered if all that we discover about the world through the internet, which seems like everything, might be nothing more than the shadows on the walls seen by the prisoners in Plato's cave parable. He combined this with wondering about a place for genuine mystery and wonder in this world, with a mechanism that was a telerobotic version of Duchamp's hidden noise in ball of twine project. Whether to dismantle something to find out how it works or accept the mystery is a crucial question in today's world.

All of the telerobotic projects were available to anyone, anywhere online, and the opening up of university research to the world is part of an going mission. There's a Los Angeles Times article posted on the Berkeley Center for New Media's website that looks at the phenomenon of university lectures delivered through i-Tunes as free podcasts.

By making hundreds of lectures from elite academic institutions available online for free, Apple is reinvigorating the minds of people who have been estranged from the world of ideas.

For several years universities have posted recorded lectures on their internal websites, giving students a chance to brush up on their classes or catch ones they missed.

But 28 colleges and universities, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford and Yale, now post select courses without charge at iTunes.

The universities want to promote themselves to parents and prospective students, as well as strengthen ties with alumni. Some also see their mission as sharing the ivory tower's intellectual riches with the rest of the world.

"It was something we couldn't easily do before the digital age," UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said.

Michelle Quinn. LA Times. November 24, 2007

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

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Music

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

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From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

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Acid house legends 808 State bring a psychedelic vibe to Berlin producer NHOAH's stunning track "Abstellgleis".

Berlin producer NHOAH's "Abstellgleis" is a lean and slinky song from his album West-Berlin in which he reduced his working instruments down to a modular synthesizer system with a few controllers and a computer. "Abstellgleis" works primarily with circular patterns that establish a trancey mood and gently grow and expand as the piece proceeds. It creates a great deal of movement and energy.

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Beechwood offers up a breezy slice of sweet pop in "Heroin Honey" from the upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod.

At just under two minutes, Beechwood's "Heroin Honey" is a breezy slice of sweet pop that recalls the best moments of the Zombies and Beach Boys, adding elements of garage and light tinges of the psychedelic. The song is one of 10 (11 if you count a bonus CD cut) tracks on the group's upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod out 26 January via Alive Natural Sound Records.

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