Better Man Than He


“Musician Sivu spent two hours inside an MRI machine to film the music video for his song “Better Man Than He.” The result is this hypnotic video, which lets us see what literally goes on in Sivu’s head as he sings.”

Earlier this year, unsigned singer Sivu and director Adam Powell made a mesmerising video for single Better Than Me using an MRI scanner at London’s St Bart’s Hospital. The incredible footage was created using hundreds of MRI scans. It’s an innovative technique – the video is allegedly the first to use real time MRI scans – and the result is visually striking.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI), or magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) is a medical imaging technique used in radiology to investigate the anatomy and physiology of the body in both health and disease. MRI scanners use strong magnetic fields and radiowaves to form images of the body. The technique is widely used in hospitals for medical diagnosis, staging of disease and for follow-up without exposure to ionizing radiation.

Better Man Than He features footage of Sivu singing into an MRI machine, which uses magnetic fields and radio waves to generate images of the body. The three-minute film offers a fascinating glimspe at the singer’s brain, muscles and movements, with additional effects added in post production.

Sivu contacted doctors Marc Miguel and Andrew Scott, who had spent a year researching how to capture moving images using MRI machines in an attempt to learn more about cleft palates and agreed to help make the film at St Bart’s. As Miguel and Scott explain, Page was required to wear a large head covering, known as a coil, while inside the scanner, which allowed it to generate detailed images depicting ‘slices’ of his head.

The video was released in January this year and has since received more than 600,000 views on YouTube. As Page explains in a new film on the making of the project, Powell, then his flatmate, suggested using an MRI scanner as a cheaper alternative to using costly cameras and filming equipment. Since its release, Sivu has been signed to Atlantic Records, while Powell has since directed promos for The 1975 and Example. The film has also been screened in medical conferences and university lectures.

Sivu has released a short film revealing how the promo was made.


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Strange Porn: Life Seen Through (MRI) Magnetic Resonance Imaging


Incredible footage was created using hundreds of MRI scans. It exposes every detail of an intimate moment, starting with the heart beating faster as two people kiss. 

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI), or magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) is a medical imaging technique used in radiology to investigate the anatomy and physiology of the body in both health and disease.
MRI scanners use strong magnetic fields and radiowaves to form images of the body. The technique is widely used in hospitals for medical diagnosis, staging of disease and for follow-up without exposure to ionizing radiation
Watch the full video here. Warning this video shows graphic images of a sexual nature.
Unlike X-rays and CAT scans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging doesn’t use harmful radiation so it can take more pictures. It produces detailed images through magnetic fields that map the position of water molecules, which exist at different densities in different types of tissue.However this video is a mash-up of various different MRI scans including a couple French couple, a baby in the womb, a horn player blowing his instrument and someone swallowing pineapple juice. 
‘Taking magnetic resonance images (MRI) of the male and female genitals during coitus is feasible and contributes to understanding of anatomy.’
And the scientific reason for filming the ‘insides’ of a man and woman during their most intimate moment? ‘To find out whether taking images of the male and female genitals during coitus is feasible and to find out whether former and current ideas about the anatomy during sexual intercourse and during female sexual arousal are based on assumptions or on facts,’ according to the British Medical Journal. This is perhaps something you don’t want to see in the morning as you tuck into your Corn Flakes. An MRI scan of a couple during sex.

MRI has a wide range of applications in medical diagnosis and there are estimated to be over 25,000 scanners in use worldwide. MRI has an impact on diagnosis and treatment in many specialties although the effect on improved health outcomes is uncertain. Since MRI does not use any ionizing radiation its use is recommended in preference to CT when either modality could yield the same information. MRI is in general a safe technique but the number of incidents causing patient harm have risen. Contraindications to MRI include most cochlear implants and cardiac pacemakers, shrapnel and metallic foreign bodies in the orbits, and some ferromagnetic surgical implants. The safety of MRI during the first trimester of pregnancy is uncertain, but it may be preferable to alternative options.


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Brain Movies: Scientists Turn Memories Into Video Recordings


Imagine tapping into the mind of a coma patient, or watching one’s own dream on YouTube. With a cutting-edge blend of brain imaging and computer simulation, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, are bringing these futuristic scenarios within reach. Image: Christopher Walken in Brainstorm, 1983

Now I know what you are thinking. Mind-reading through brain imaging technology is a common sci-fi theme. In the film Brainstorm we meet a group of scientists that are experimenting with a new kind of machine, a helmet that can record whatever your experience. The innovative part is that someone else can later watch the recording and relive the experience, all sensory input included. Commercial and military applications immediately abound for an invention like this one. But like any new invention, there’s always a dark side, for example, what happens when someone decides to record their death?

Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and computational models, UC Berkeley researchers have succeeded in decoding and reconstructing people’s dynamic visual experiences – in this case, watching Hollywood movie trailers.

“This is a major leap toward reconstructing internal imagery,” said Professor Jack Gallant, a UC Berkeley neuroscientist and coauthor of the study published online today (Sept. 22) in the journal Current Biology. “We are opening a window into the movies in our minds.”

Brainstorm1983Eventually, practical applications of the technology could include a better understanding of what goes on in the minds of people who cannot communicate verbally, such as stroke victims, coma patients and people with neurodegenerative diseases. It may also lay the groundwork for brain-machine interface so that people with cerebral palsy or paralysis, for example, can guide computers with their minds.

However, researchers point out that the technology is decades from allowing users to read others’ thoughts and intentions, as portrayed in such sci-fi classics as “Brainstorm,” in which scientists recorded a person’s sensations so that others could experience them.

Previously, Gallant and fellow researchers recorded brain activity in the visual cortex while a subject viewed black-and-white photographs. They then built a computational model that enabled them to predict with overwhelming accuracy which picture the subject was looking at.

In their latest experiment, researchers say they have solved a much more difficult problem by actually decoding brain signals generated by moving pictures.

“Our natural visual experience is like watching a movie,” said Shinji Nishimoto, lead author of the study and a post-doctoral researcher in Gallant’s lab. “In order for this technology to have wide applicability, we must understand how the brain processes these dynamic visual experiences.”  

The left clip is a segment of a Hollywood movie trailer that the subject viewed while in the magnet. The right clip shows the reconstruction of this segment from brain activity measured using fMRI.

Nishimoto and two other research team members served as subjects for the experiment, because the procedure requires volunteers to remain still inside the MRI scanner for hours at a time.

They watched two separate sets of Hollywood movie trailers, while fMRI was used to measure blood flow through the visual cortex, the part of the brain that processes visual information. On the computer, the brain was divided into small, three-dimensional cubes known as volumetric pixels, or “voxels.”

“We built a model for each voxel that describes how shape and motion information in the movie is mapped into brain activity,” Nishimoto said.

The brain activity recorded while subjects viewed the first set of clips was fed into a computer program that learned, second by second, to associate visual patterns in the movie with the corresponding brain activity.

Brain activity evoked by the second set of clips was used to test the movie reconstruction algorithm. This was done by feeding 18 million seconds of random YouTube videos into the computer program so that it could predict the brain activity that each film clip would most likely evoke in each subject.

In this clip the movie that each subject viewed while in the magnet is shown at upper left. Reconstructions for three subjects are shown in the three rows at bottom. All these reconstructions were obtained using only each subject’s brain activity and a library of 18 million seconds of random YouTube video that did not include the movies used as stimuli.

Finally, the 100 clips that the computer program decided were most similar to the clip that the subject had probably seen were merged to produce a blurry yet continuous reconstruction of the original movie.

Reconstructing movies using brain scans has been challenging because the blood flow signals measured using fMRI change much more slowly than the neural signals that encode dynamic information in movies, researchers said. For this reason, most previous attempts to decode brain activity have focused on static images.

“We addressed this problem by developing a two-stage model that separately describes the underlying neural population and blood flow signals,” Nishimoto said.

Ultimately, Nishimoto said, scientists need to understand how the brain processes dynamic visual events that we experience in everyday life.

“We need to know how the brain works in naturalistic conditions,” he said. “For that, we need to first understand how the brain works while we are watching movies.”

Other coauthors of the study are Thomas Naselaris with UC Berkeley’s Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute; An T. Vu with UC Berkeley’s Joint Graduate Group in Bioengineering; and Yuval Benjamini and Professor Bin Yu with the UC Berkeley Department of Statistics.

However as of yet, the technology can only reconstruct movie clips people have already viewed. However, the breakthrough paves the way for reproducing the movies inside our heads that no one else sees, such as dreams and memories, according to researchers.


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The V&A Digital Design Weekend


The LDF Digital Design Weekend is a weekend of events celebrating collaborations in digital art, design and science, coinciding with the London Design Festival at the V&A. As part of this year’s programme, ICN Gallery and the Japan Foundation will present Magnetic Field Record by designer Kouichi Okamoto, a suspended device recording and visualising the earth’s magnetic and gravitational forces into drawings.

A unique collaboration between the world’s leading museum of art and design and London’s foremost contemporary design festival and now in it’s fourth year, the Digital Design Weekend explores and promotes contemporary digital art and design and presents cutting edge work and research projects, giving audiences the opportunity to meet the artists, designers and researchers and find out more about processes while engaging in dialogue, debate and the creation of culture.

The Digital Design Weekend transforms the V&A into one big workshop; studios and galleries become makerspaces, tinkerspaces or labs, where visitors come together with artists and designers to discuss and think about objects, making and working collaboratively.


This year participants and audiences can explore digital value, cultural value and ‘making’ value, so we are inviting everyone to join in a weekend of collaborating, networking, sharing knowledge, tools, practice and of course playing! Encouraging experimentation they want to get people involved with design and making through provocative and surprising displays and workshops.

The programme includes many exciting projects such as Heidi Hinder’s Money No Object, which explores a new significance for material and physical currencies in an increasingly immaterial digital world, one where smart payment transactions are imperceptible, but human emotions, creativity and culture retain a value that money can’t buy. Or, Knyttan, sharing tools for pioneering the democratisation of manufacturing, the Restart Project helping people understand the impact of electronic waste and how to negate it and Flora Bowden and Dan Lockton’s Drawing Energy & Powerchord that explores energy use and everyday life, investigating and communicating data in meaningful ways.

London Design Festival is coming back to the V&A soon and with the annual Digital Design Weekend, The museum will be filled with activities for the curious, designers, students, hackers, makers and families and it is also a chance to see LDF’s installations before the end of the festival.

Over nine days in September, the London Design Festival features hundreds of events which take place across London, showcasing the city’s pivotal role in global design. The London Design Festival 2014 will take place from 13-21 September. The centerpeices of the Festival are commissions, the Landmark Projects. For these Landmark Projects the Festival commissioned some of the world’s greatest architects and designers to create pieces of work in London’s best-loved public spaces.


Candela by designer Felix de Pass, ceramicist Ian McIntyre, graphic designer Michael MontgomeryInstallation Brompton Design District 10am – 5.45pm


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The Guggenheim: Action Plan on The Northern Edge of Europe


From the smallest seaside town to the greatest European capital the story is the same: bring in a starchitect, build a gallery. If we build it they will come. Image: The history of Finland extracted from the Guggenheim Helsinki Museum Competition Brief

From the moment Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum was unveiled along the banks of the Nervión river in 1997, the term “Bilbao Effect” emerged as a battle cry from civic leaders, architects and city planners intent on revitalizing dilapidated city centers and elevating their status in a competitive global market. Funny how artists who would never admit to entering a chain fast food restaurant are queing in places like New York in order to be shown in a regional chain museum.

In fact, there was reason for elated optimism, as market research showed Gehry’s new building bringing an extra 3 million visitors to the city each year, with additional tax revenue and corporate sponsorship invading the flourishing post-industrial region. However, the success of the project would not rely on a single object, but on an inspiring urban strategy that cleared the city’s waterfront of old shipbuilding industries and introduced accessible green space that was capable of hosting popular city activities and attractions throughout the year.

The city, eager for a museum to compliment the region,  gave the Guggenheim foundation complete control of the project throughout the process. The result was an efficient, yet impressive construction. Nevertheless, it was obvious to the media and aspiring cities that the “Icon” resulted in the sudden fortune of Bilbao, elevating an emerging cultural industry in architecture that relies on the shock of iconographic structures for supremacy in a global market.


Guggenheim Helsinki site context map (image via Guggenheim Helsinki proposal)

Helsinki has long been a target for the foundation, but their proposals have brought opposition from many Finns. Their last proposal focused on a site in the Katajanokka district of the city, but was voted down by city councillors. The Swedish People’s Party and National Coalition supported the idea, but Green and Leftist representatives were opposed. National Coalition mayor Jussi Pajunen has been a strong supporter of the Guggenheim project.

Finland is already an extremely creative country for its size , and certainly doesn’t need a load of international art investor super-rich fotzen winding everyone up and edging out the local art scene with hyped up squashy buildings and Damian-Hirst-mäßig nonsense. If I were running Helsinki, I would replace this whole project with ‘the world institute of Heavy Metal’. That would probably also attract a tremendous amount of tourists, and also ones who are not total tubes. Fantastic country. Wahey!

However, after several visits to Finland over the summer, the foundation is now ready to try again. As the official Guggenheim Helsinki design competition drew to a close this week, a rival contest was announced: Next Helsinki, backed by the New York architecture and urban policy think tank Terreform, Finnish nonprofit arts organization Checkpoint Helsinki, and the Gulf Labor offshoot Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction (GULF) along with Occupy Museums.

The foundation’s website states:

“Helsinki is one of the world’s great cities – a beautiful and cultivated place, dancing by the water. But it is a city – like all others – with real needs.  For housing that is abundant and affordable. For an on-going retrofit for sustainability that is such an urgent part of the future of all the world’s cities. For rational transportation. For inventive platforms for experiencing and producing art. And for public spaces and a public culture that can generate decent livelihoods and be accountable to communities.”

The counter-competition is seeking submissions in any media across a wide range of disciplines and approaches. For jury chair Michael Sorkin of Terreform, this ethos encompasses “any representational conceit that [entrants] think is transparent to their intentions … inventive reflections on the future of Helsinki on any scale.”

It seems that the Guggenheim Foundation wanted Helsinki to produce an innovative and educative arts laboratory, a new kind of museum concept for the future, whereas Helsinki most of all wanted a landmark attraction with a lot of eye-candy for wealthy tourists. The latter would naturally have required some really iconic architecture, and names like Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid were already circulated in people’s wildest dreams. New York University sociologist Andrew Ross, an organizer with GULF, explained to Hyperallergic that the Next Helsinki contest is intentionally structured to reject the “traditional” confines of an architectural competition.

“We tried to get a spectrum of voices — pure architects, scholarly urbanists, arts practitioners, people who do urban consulting — not a typical jury,” Ross said.

The competition represents a joining of forces between urban policy thinkers suspicious of neoliberal cultural development models, groups opposed to the Guggenheim’s Abu Dhabi outpost, and a long-standing local opposition in Helsinki seeking an institution more in line with the domestic art scene.


But the tide has turned regarding these projects. They are becoming ever more frequently seen as impositions, and the rhetoric of regeneration that accompanies them. According to a New York Times article about the Finnish opposition to the Guggenheim proposal earlier this summer, a majority of Helsinki residents objected to the plans in 2012 newspaper polls. But the need for counter-gestures remains exigent, according to Ross. “Advocates of Guggenheim are ascendant in Finnish politics, which is becoming more neoliberal,” he said.

The idea of a subversive competition is partially borrowed from GULF, which in March published a spoof website,, mimicking the format of the official Guggenheim website and seeking plans for a “Sustainable Design Competition” to replace the institution’s soon-to-be-constructed Frank Gehry-designed Abu Dhabi franchise.

The Guggenheim debate demonstrates how the cultural landscape in Finland has changed. Since the 1960s arts and culture have been the protege of the political left, whereas conservatives have favoured more material things like highways, shopping centres – and, of course, lower taxes. But today art is seen as a creative industry and a good investment. Hence, it was the conservatives who backed Guggenheim, and the left and the greens who smashed it. According to the Guggenheim action plan, the museum would have brought Helsinki so many visitors and so much tax money that it would have more than covered its costs. Some high flyers even saw Helsinki as a northern Bilbao, drawing arts crowds from all over Europe, Russia and even Asia.What was funny about the whole Guggenheim debate in Finland was the meagre amount of space given to discussion about the actual art which would have been presented in the supposed museum (or gallery). Maybe the question was never about the art itself, maybe the debate was properly political and for once those usually suppressed political divisions surfaced.

Over fifteen years have passed since Bilbao grabbed headlines from all over the world. In those years, the population of urban centers around the world began to exceed those of rural areas and the tourism industry was surging with no sign of abating, leading to an assortment of cities to invest heavily in their cultural infrastructure during the economic ‘boom years’. This initiative was spearheaded by substantial performing-arts complexes (theaters, concert halls and opera houses) and lead to a total metamorphic shift in the live-art industry with efforts to combat inclusion, globalization and a dwindling audience. Now, architects were forced to balance between civic responsibility and a new form of city-branding, with politicians overwhelmingly focused on the latter. After the global financial meltdown in 2008, many of these major cultural projects (some still in construction) – combined with government mismanagement and poor attendance – resulted in intense public scrutiny and questioned the foundation of this surging iconography in architecture. This study will focus on the characteristics and campaigns for new performance architecture in a post-Bilbao environment, with an emphasis on geographically-condensed regions in Europe that traditionally have had regionalist building attitudes.


Submissions are due in March 2015, and the group intends to raise funds for a prize. Also planned are workshops or public fora after the competition closes, to be held both in New York and Helsinki.


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The Post-Digital Scholar


The Post-Digital Scholar Conference

Publishing between Open Access, Piracy and Public Spheres

12.11. – 14.11.2014 | Lüneburg, Germany

New media is dead! Long live new media! For three days, publishers, researchers, programmers, designers, artists, and entrepreneurs will discuss how research and publishing in the humanities have changed over the past decade. The conference will explore new tools for gathering knowledge, examine platforms for multimedia publishing, or collaborative writing experiments.

Participants will focus on the interplay between pixels and print, and discuss open and closed modes of knowledge, in order to seek out what this elusive thing could be: post-digital knowledge.

Please register here, participation is free of charge. This website will keep you updated and you can download the conference poster here.

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Future Lab: An Applied Experiment in Digital Scholarship


Edward L. Ayers, works with the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond, where he is President and Professor of History. In his essay ‘Does Digital Scholarship Have A Future‘ Ayers questions why the technological revolution has changed academic life yet the articles and books that scholars produce and the institutions themselves remains surprisingly unaltered. 

What will the future be like? Right now, the technologies that we use to understand the world are in the process of a major transformation. Almost every field of knowledge is generating vast quantities of data, requiring unprecedented computing power and intelligent algorithms to interpret. The head-spinning pace of technological and social change brought about by the internet have made us all accustomed to the transformations and innovations that would have amazed us ten years ago. Now they are merely passing news, as transient as a tweet, video, or Facebook post. Journalism has been profoundly altered—and we have grown used to the new forms. With the immense promise comes great challenges — the foremost being how to sift through the deluge of data to garner meaningful insights and translate them into practical innovations. Working out how to advance into personalized medicine from the human genome project, or create massive simulations of the cosmos from satellite and telescope data will occupy many.

Even educational institutions, traditionally skeptical of externally generated change, have become indifferent to the web-induced changes. Everyone takes e-mail, digital library resources, and is electronic connection to professional organizations for granted. “Professors fire up Firefox or Skype or Google Earth in class without thinking about using technology.” These are revolutions in higher education that have come quickly. Yet the foundation of academic life—the scholarship on which everything else is built—remains surprisingly unaltered. The nineteenth century model of Universities built on Enlightenment thinking still produces articles and books that scholars produce today bear little mark of the digital age in which they are created. Researchers use electronic tools as a matter of routine in their professional lives but not to transform the substance or form of scholarship.

According to Ayers, not many scholars worry about this situation. He states: “A recent random sample by Ithaka S+R finds that two-thirds of faculty—across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities judge that new digital methods are not valuable or important for their research. The study notes that even though digital practices may influence these scholars work in a variety of ways,” few scholars see “the value of integrating digital practices into their work as a deliberate activity.” So for many scholars using digital methods would simply not be “worth the time”; about one-third of the respondents said they do not know “how to effectively integrate digital research activities and methodologies” into their work and have no desire to learn.

For those who have watched the inception of digital innovation, this is disconcerting. In the early years of the internet it was entirely, untested and unrestrained. The digital appeared to be a place where scholars might foster exciting collaborations, building both a new infrastructure and content. Despite the restrictions of slow modems, weak processors, and limited servers, the web’s saw enthusiastic efforts to build new scholarly tools, including the Perseus Project in the Classics, the Rossetti Archive and the Walt Whitman Archive in literature, and the Valley of the Shadow in history.


Ayers goes on to say “The concept of digital scholarship has emerged to describe this activity. Although the phrase sometimes refers to issues surrounding copyright and open access and sometimes to scholarship analyzing the online world, digital scholarship—emanating, perhaps, from digital humanities—most frequently describes discipline-based scholarship produced with digital tools and presented in digital form. The University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab was established in 2007, and new centers have emerged at Rice, Brown, Emory, Miami, Ohio State, and Case Western Universities, the Universities of Utah, Oregon, Kansas, and California at Irvine, Haverford College, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and other colleges and universities. The tag has been used also for recent conferences and initiatives at Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Duke, and Macalester, as well as in the United Kingdom.”

Though the phrase digital scholarship reflects impressive interdisciplinary ambition and coherence, two crucial elements remain in short supply in this emerging field. First, the number of scholars willing to commit themselves and their careers to digital scholarship has not kept pace with institutional opportunities. Second, today few scholars are trying, as they did earlier in the web’s history, to re-imagine the form as well as the substance of scholarship. In some ways, scholarly innovation has been domesticated, with the very ubiquity of the web bringing a lowered sense of excitement, possibility, and urgency. These two deficiencies form a reinforcing cycle: the diminished sense of possibility weakens the incentive for scholars to take risks, and the unwillingness to take risks limits the impact and excitement generated by boldly innovative projects.

According to Ayers.the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond is attempting to build one model of what this new scholarship might look like. The lab combines various elements of proven strategies while also breaking new ground. With the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the historians Robert K. Nelson and Scott Nesbit and their colleagues are creating a digital atlas of American history. The first initiation of the atlas, Visualizing Emancipation, will be followed by an amplified, annotated, and animated digital edition of The Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, first published in 1932. Over the next three years, chapters of original and dynamic maps and interpretations will focus on key aspects of the American experience since the nation’s founding. The digital atlas will allow scholars to see patterns we have never been able to envision before while at the same time it will make available to teachers of all levels visualizations of crucial processes in American history.

The Valley of the Shadow was a digital history project hosted by the University of Virginia detailing the experiences of Confederate soldiers from Augusta County, Virginia and Union soldiers from Franklin County, Pennsylvania. William G. Thomas III and Edward L. Ayers, the creators of the project, called it “an applied experiment in digital scholarship.” Edward L. Ayers, one of the creators of the project in 1993, now works with the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond, where he is President and Professor of History. You can read the full essay by Edward L. Ayers,  ‘Does Digital Scholarship Have A Future’ by going to:

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