Rijksmuseum/ The Rijksstudio Award


Warships in a Heavy Storm, a digital reworking by Tom Estes from a work in the Rijksmuseum for the Rijksstudio.


The question of The History of Art is problematic, not least because artistic activity is characterized by its antagonism towards stable temporality. It’s the business of the great sedentary assemblage of art institutions to establish settled lineages and well-ordered sequences, whereas artistic-processes attach themselves to coincidences, glitches and unforeseen consequences -breaks, twists and bends in time. For The Rijksstudio Award artist Tom Estes has re-interpreted a work from The Rijksmuseum as a short moving image. His work is a tribute based on Warships in a Heavy Storm, c. 1695  by Dutch Painter Ludolf Bakhuysen (1631-1708).

The Rijksstudio Award is inspired by the Rijksmuseum’s collection. As an artist, Estes is interested in the relationship of humans with machines. He sees the internet as a shaping conditions and a structuring paradox. Machines do many things for us, but they also do things to us and do things at us. At the core of this work is an attention to the flickering, fading definition of our lives as dictated by the computer monitor and the rapid reply of instant messaging. Here artist Tom Estes talks about his practice:

“There is a real Peter Pan Syndrome at play in my work and I suppose I would consider myself a carnival sideshow conceptualist, combining a bare-bones formal conceptualism with an eternally adolescent, DIY comic-prank approach. For me ‘fantasy’ and ‘illusion’ are not a contradiction of reality, but instead an integral part of our everyday lives. I have always leaned toward making work participatory or immersive in some way so while my practice is characterized by the mediums of photography, performance and installation, individual works can also be seen as part of a wider interdisciplinary project that incorporates innovative web conversations and social networks. I try to do this with wit and economy and by paraphrasing early Sci-fi and horror films and their associated ideological fictions in order to examine how dataflow from the virtual realm impacts on the significance and symbolism of real-world human senses. But in doing so, I have begun to generate unexpected questions about how art might be able to inscribe itself on the surface of reality.”

In regards to his work Warships in a Heavy Storm, a digital reworking for the Rijksmuseum’s  Rijksstudio Award Estes states:

” What I have managed to do is to create a sense of movement within an existing still image. The ground beneath your feet whips and churns like waves. The ominous clouds over head swirl in fury, the sea rolls while the sails billow and the flags flap madly in the wind…. it is almost as if you are looking at a film from the late 1600’s.”

Estes goes on to say:

“The internet is changing the structure of our brains and the structure of our planet in extraordinary ways, so quickly that we haven’t yet developed a proper vocabulary for it. Technological progress has accelerated to the point that the future is happening to us far faster than we could ever have anticipated. This new world is what Hans Ulrich Obrist calls extreme present, a time in which it feels impossible to maintain pace with the present, never mind to chart the future.  However, there is a process of retro-contamination in which the deep past finds itself already infected with the far future. In this Brave New World narratives are written and re-written, looping the past into the far future”

First prize for The Rijksstudio Award is 10,000 euro, the second 2,500 euro, and the third 1,500 euro. In addition, a people’s choice award of 1,000 euro is up for grabs. The finalists’ projects will be exhibited in one of the museum’s galleries for ten weeks following the reveal on 21 April 2017.



The Windmill at Wijk bij Duurstede, Jacob Isaacksz. van Ruisdael, c. 1668 – c. 1670 –  from the collection at the Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum dedicated to art and history in Amsterdam. It was founded in The Hague in 1800 and moved to Amsterdam in 1808. The museum has on display 8,000 objects of art and history, from their total collection of 1 million objects from the years 1200–2000, among which are some masterpieces by Rembrant, Frans Hals, and Johannes Vermeer. The museum also has a small Asian collection, which is on display in the Asian pavilion.

The artwork for The Rijksstudio Award is judged by an international panel of experts.

  • Irma Boom, Director of Irma Boom Office
  • Tony Chambers, Editor-in-Chief at Wallpaper
  • Ingrid Chou, Associate Creative Director, The Museum of Modern Art
  • Taco Dibbits, General Director of the Rijksmuseum (Jury President)
  • Ute Thon, editor-in-chief ART – Das Kunstmagazin
  • Thomas Widdershoven, Creative Director at the Design Academy, Eindhoven



The Threatened Swan by Norwegian Wood for The Rijksstudio Award

Please e-mail any questions or comments about the Rijksstudio Award to: award@rijksmuseum.nl






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The Paris Agreement


Blitz, by artist Tom Estes, a large scale digital projection on the front of the magnificent neo-classical facade of The Weston Park Museum in Sheffield. The projection took place on June 16th 2016 for the opening night of the Yorkshire Festival. In Blitz, an individual is depicted being thrown through the air by a lightning bolt, superimposed on to a Victorian Bible open to the story of Noah and the flood. Blitz therefore, recalls our own most immediate concern of tackling Climate Change and the threat of rising sea levels.  Estes states “The slapstick comedy of the image is a deliberate mitigation of surrealist shock but with the mad attention urges of a Play Station gamer”.

Storm Eva was the fifth named storm of the U.K  Met Office and Met Éireann’s Name our Storms project. Storm Eva and Storm Desmond together flooded more than 16,000 homes. Heavy rainfall from Eva occurred around three weeks after Storm Desmond had brought severe flooding to parts of Northern England, exacerbating the ongoing situation, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron issued a statement on 27 December 2015 after chairing an emergency COBRA crisis meeting on Storm Eva, describing the floods as “unprecedented” and “incredibly serious” and pledging help to those affected by sending out more troops to help with the defense and clear-up of the floods. The Times reported that senior politicians regarded the floods as being the result of extreme weather caused by climate change. Labour Shadow Environment Secretary Kerry McCarthy criticized the government for cutting spending on flood defenses, stating that as “unprecedented” weather events become more common, spending on flood defenses should be increased

The Paris Agreement—was a historic piece of climate change policy adopted by leaders of 195 countries of December 2015 —pledged to limit human-caused global warming to less than two degrees Celsius, with a “stretch goal” of keeping our planet’s thermostat from rising more than 1.5 degrees. We’re supposed to do that by aggressively cutting back on fossil fuels and switching entirely to renewable energy sources by the end of the century. However, a report out in Nature today, which finds that the carbon reductions pledges penned into the Paris Agreement are ridiculously inadequate for keeping our climate within a safe and stable boundary. barring some incredible new carbon capture technology, the window for limiting global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius appears to have closed. That’s the stark conclusion.

In addition to concluding that “the window for limiting warming to below 1.5 degrees C with high probability and without temporarily exceeding that level already seems to have closed,” the study found that the pledges outlined in the Paris Agreement will likely see global temperatures rise 2.6 to 3.1 degrees Celsius by 2100. A 3 degree uptick in global temperatures could cause sea level to rise up to 20 feet over the next few centuries, displacing hundreds of millions.

The Paris climate agreement aims at holding global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and to “pursue efforts” to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius. To accomplish this, countries have submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) outlining their post-2020 climate action.

But as climate scientists and well-informed politicians have been saying for months, global carbon emissions are way off track if we want to meet even the 2 degree goal. Just how off track is the subject of the new analysis, led by Joeri Rogelj at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

In addition to concluding that “the window for limiting warming to below 1.5 degrees C with high probability and without temporarily exceeding that level already seems to have closed,” the study found that the pledges outlined in the Paris Agreement will likely see global temperatures rise 2.6 to 3.1 degrees Celsius by 2100. A 3 degree uptick in global temperatures could cause sea level to rise up to 20 feet over the next few centuries, displacing hundreds of millions.

Low-lying island nations, which area already drawing up relocation plans in preparation for the inevitable, fought long and hard to get the 1.5 target included in the Paris Agreement. Recently, marine biologists have also been raising their voices, reminding the public that coral reefs around the world will experience catastrophic collapse if we exceed this threshold.The fact that we’re moving so quickly in the wrong direction ought to be a wakeup call.

The work ‘Blitz by Tom Estes was shown on June 16th 2016 as a one night projection of images on Weston Park museum on the theme of Yorkshire as a modern day Utopia.
God’s Own County is a collaborative event from Sheffield based arts collectives The Collaborators and The Professors. The huge projections were shown on the front of Weston Park Museum in Sheffield. The Professors developed the idea that their Yorkshire home presents a contemporary utopia whilst The Collaborators developed from a regional response to the theme of God’s Own County. The projection ran from dusk until dawn.

For artist Tom Estes the paradox of creating a Utopia is that everyone must be in agreement, therefore all the ‘nasty’ or disagreeable people have to be gotten rid of. In any case, as Tom Estes Artist admits, “To call something Utopian is…not entirely positive…The connotation of a perfect society is offset by that of a hopelessly impractical ideal”. His work, therefore represents the Genesis flood narrative which makes up chapters 6–9 in the Book of Genesis, in the Bible. In the Genesis account, the flood occurs because God judges humanity.

As one of many flood myths found in human cultures, the narrative recounts God’s intent to return the Earth to its pre-creation state of watery chaos by flooding the Earth because of humanity’s misdeeds and then remake it using the microcosm of Noah’s ark. Thus, the flood was no ordinary overflow but a reversal of creation. The narrative discusses the evil of mankind that moved God to destroy the world by the way of the flood, the preparation of the ark for certain animals, Noah, and his family, and God’s guarantee (the Noahic Covenant) for the continued existence of life under the promise that he would never send another such flood. The Genesis flood narrative is considered to be one of a number of similar flood myths.The earliest written flood myth is the Sumerian flood myth found in the ‘Epic of Ziusudra’. Earlier and very similar Mesopotamian flood stories are found in the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Epic of Atrahasis texts In the Atrahasis version, the flood is described as a “river” flood and dead bodies floated to the “riverbank”.

Estes work is called ‘Blitz’ a term which is a shortened version of the German word “blitz·krieg” (blĭts’krēg’) which means “A swift, sudden military offensive, usually by combined air and mobile land forces.” A recent investigation at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (by Jeffrey K. Smith and Lisa F. Smith) found that the mean time spent viewing a work of art was found to be 27.2 seconds, with a median time of 17.0 seconds. So one could say that to ‘Blitz’ a gallery, is to ‘vigorously attack’, or try to see all the works in the gallery in one go. This modern phenomenon, is of course, directly oppositional to the ‘meditative’ quality that museums are meant to suggest.

Blitz, on the other hand, depicts an individual being thrown through the air by a lightning bolt. Even the medium itself, a series of photographs, suggests speed, as a recording of ‘live’ split second action’. Estes’ slapstick comedy is a deliberate mitigation of surrealist shock but with the mad attention urges of a Play Station gamer. However, the tone of imagery seems to have more in common with the traditon of late nineteeth century photography or film. The work, therefore, seems to suggest that a movement away from the slow and contemplative in the visual arts is not just a modern phenomenon. It was not until 1892 that the Lumier brothers began to create moving pictures yet Estes’ work suggests that ‘the representation of action’ was already in gestation. By the 1910’s, films like those of the Keystone Cops were an established part of popular culture and so the representation of ‘speeded action’.


Yorkshire has been hard hit by flooding. The worst of the flooding occurred on the night of Christmas Day and throughout Boxing Day across Lancashire andYorkshire. On 26 December, homes were evacuated in Calder Valley, West Yorkshire, and in Ribchester and Whalley, Lancashire; according to the Environment Agency, every river in Lancashire peaked at their highest levels since records began.

The River Wharfe risen to the height of the bridge at Wetherby, West Yorkshire.

Flooding caused at least two explosions in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, as gas mains were ruptured. One explosion and subsequent fire occurred as a result of a footbridge being swept away by the River Irwell, with footage of the incident being widely shared on social media. Floodwater also entered an electricity sub station in Hebden Bridge producing a fire.

Around 3,000 homes were left without power in North and West Yorkshire on 26 December 2016 as a result of an electricity substation being flooded. Most of the power outages occurred in the Calder Valley and around Bingley and Skipton, with substation owners Northern Powergrid stating that their engineers cannot safely reach the substations to assess the damage due to rising floodwaters.

In Leeds the River Aire flooded over its banks causing flooding in the Kirkstall Road area of the city, blocking a main route into the city. A total of 7,574 homes across the north of England were without power by 0800 GMT on 27 December. Around 5,500 of these homes without power were located in the town of Rochdale in Greater Manchester, where a major electricity substation was flooded. As a result of power outages in Rochdale, electricity customers were told to limit their electricity usage to prevent further blackouts, for example by switching off their Christmas lights. Electricity provider Electricity North West warned that some homes would be without power until 28 December.

In York the Environment Agency were forced to open the Foss Barrier which has protected the city centre since 1987, as the control room had become flooded and the pumps were in danger of failing. To prevent the River Foss backing up and causing flooding, the Agency raised the barrier, allowing the flood waters from the River Ouse to move up the Foss. The action caused some 600 households in the city to flood whereas the Environment agency estimated 1800 homes would have flooded were the barrier not lifted. On 29 December part of Tadcaster Bridge in North Yorkshire collapsed due to flooding, having been closed since 27 December due to fears it had been structurally compromised.


Estes’ work was also part of the exhibition- Speeding & Braking: Navigating Acceleration

and at The New Art Gallery Walsall, next to/ and in relation to the galleries principle masterpiece, Vincent Van Gogh’s work, ‘Sorrow'(1882). http://artselectronic.weebly.com/event/blitz-by-tom-estes-at-new-gallery-walsall








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All The World’s Futures: Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter says World at “Turning Point”


According to former U.S. president Jimmy Carter”What is needed now, more than ever, is leadership that steers us away from fear and fosters greater confidence in the inherent goodness and ingenuity of humanity,” The above image ‘Live Long And Prosper’ by Tom Estes , was shown at a satellite event during The Venice Biennale, the 56th international art exhibition entitled “All The World’s Futures”.  His work is a digital map of all the known galaxies in the universe, projected onto the artist’s handThe hand is held in a salute which first appeared in popular culture through the television series  Star Trek. But this salute has much older origins. It turns out it is an ancient priestly blessing that forms the Hebrew letter Shin.

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter said Monday that the world is at a “turning point in history” and governments must choose policies of peace and human rights over war and human suffering. Carter’s remarks opened a forum of human rights workers hosted by The Carter Center in Atlanta, attended by more than 60 global activists.

Carter, 91, said military actions, human rights violations and restrictions on freedom have inspired the spread of violent extremist groups. He said even the peace-focused mission of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Humans Rights adopted by the UN in 1948 “have been abandoned by the world.”

“What is needed now, more than ever, is leadership that steers us away from fear and fosters greater confidence in the inherent goodness and ingenuity of humanity,” Carter said.

“The United States is a world superpower, and we’re likely to maintain the strongest military and also an influential culture as well as one of the dominant economies,” Carter said. “My prayer is that we also, the United States, become the undisputed champion of peace.”

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has excellent data on military spending by nation. Military spending as percentage of GDP is interesting as the US clocks in at 3.5%, China at an estimated 2.06%, and Oman at a whopping 11.6%. Of course, the GDP numbers are misleading as the US far outspends every other nation for its military, at over $500 billion, with China coming second at over $200 billion. As with any government spending, these dollars have an impact.

Capital is finite, and capital going into one spending category means that there is less money for another. This fact gets more interesting when we consider that any government spending exceeding revenues results in a deficit that is added to the national debt. The ballooning national debt has an economic impact on everyone, and military spending is one of many contributing factors. As the U.S. national debt grows, the interest expense of the debt grows and the cost of borrowing subtly increases due to the risk that increased debt represents. In theory, the increased debt will also drag on economic growth and eventually a driver towards higher taxes.

As of now, however, the US in particular has enjoyed generous debt terms from domestic and international lenders, so the role that military spending plays in increasing the debt is generally not focused on. Some advocates for decreased military spending have tied it to a certain percentage increase in the mortgage rates people pay, given the relationship between treasury yields and commercial lending. This reasoning holds and military spending does sit as a large percentage of discretionary spending. However, it is as much the mandatory spending on social programs and health in the budget that drive the deficits as it is the non-discretionary, so military spending alone is not at fault.

Global leaders must decrease the use of what Carter called “state-sanctioned violence,” he said, from drone attacks to the development or upgrading of nuclear weapons. The death penalty allows government to use violence as a punishment for crime, he said. Carter also specifically criticized the use of religion and culture to justify violence against women and girls or exclusion of women from leadership of government or religions. The issue is a frequent concern for Carter, whose 2014 book “A Call to Action” focused on the subject.


La Biennale di Venezia has for over a century been one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world. The 56th International Art Exhibition entitled All The World’s Futures, was curated by Okwui Enwezor and organized by La Biennale di Venezia and chaired by Paolo Baratta. Tom Estes’ Venice Residency took place in the heart of the historic city of Venice — an “open-air” museum with a cultural and artistic heritage of inestimable value.

Carter later referenced a Martin Luther King Jr. speech on the civil rights leader’s opposition to the Vietnam War. King argued that he must speak against all violence to continue urging nonviolence in the civil rights movement, Carter said.

“He called on us to reject violence and its cycle of destruction,” Carter said. “The world needs to heed his call today.”

The group meeting at The Carter Center plans to develop a document calling for governments worldwide to recommit to human rights. Carter said he will deliver copies to President Barack Obama, congressional leaders and U.S. presidential candidates. He urged others to do the same in their home countries.

He said the Obama administration’s landmark nuclear deal with Iran and normalized relations with Cuba are “hopeful examples” to celebrate. But he called the U.S. “complicit” in government oppression by providing financial support in Egypt, Honduras and other places.



Jimmy Carter, now 91,opened a forum of human rights workers hosted by The Carter Center in Atlanta, and attended by more than 60 global activists. Carter said governments cannot end terrorism and other violence without reducing “excessive state violence.”





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The World’s Oldest Library Opens to The Public


It is almost impossible not to be surprised; overwhelmed and challenged in this dream they call Morocco. A feast for the senses at all levels, from the dreamy landscape to the labyrinthine medinas. Whether stranded in the souqs or contemplating the pilgrims, these are all variations on the main splendid theme. Image: The Hassan II Mosque

The ancient al-Qarawiyyin Library in Fez isn’t just the oldest library in Africa, it is the oldest library in the world.  Until last month, only researchers had access to it but it is now open to the public. Built in 859, the library was a beacon for scholars, poets, and theologians for hundreds of years, but in recent years it had fallen into terrible disrepair. Now a massive, three-year restoration effort hasn’t just revitalized the building – it’s opened an ancient center of scholarship up to a new generation of readers!

Founded in 859, it’s the oldest working library in the world, holding ancient manuscripts that date as far back as 12 centuries. But modern life had taken a toll on the library, with its buildings falling into disrepair. That’s why in 2012, the Moroccan Ministry of Culture asked TED Fellow and architect Aziza Chaouni to rehabilitate the library so that it can reopen to the general public.

The center includes the large library, as well as a mosque and a university that may be the al-qarawiyyin-mosque-fez-oldest degree-granting institution in the world. It was founded by Fatima El-Fihriya, a rich merchant’s daughter who dedicated her inheritance to building the center (a habit that ran in her family, as her sister, Maryam, was the sponsor of Fez’s Al-Andalus mosque). After the Moroccan Ministry of Culture received a grant from Kuwait’s Arab Bank, they chose Canadian-Moroccan architect Aziza Chaouni, who grew up in Fez, to head the project. Since 2012 she and her team have corrected structural damage and painstakingly updated mosaics to preserved the library’s original beauty, while also modernizing the space with an airy cafe, courtyard umbrellas and misting stations, and a museum highlighting al-Qarawiyyin’s history.

As the center expanded in the 10th and 11th centuries, new facilities were added on that ranged over several levels of surrounding hills, so one of the difficulties of Chaouni’s job was to get each individual space up to the same standard of insulation and wiring. In addition to that, she needed to restore centuries-old wooden beams, and the delicate mosaic tiles called zellige, and faced the additional challenge that comes with an ancient building, like say when you break through a wall and find a centuries-old sewage system.

She describes the challenges inherent in undertaking a daunting, historic project. Chaouni, a TED fellow, talked to their Ideas blog about the restoration:

While working hard to protect and preserve, Chaouni had to bring a sense of 21st-century pragmatism to the project. “I didn’t want the building to become an embalmed cadaver!” she says. “There has to be a fine balance between keeping the original spaces, addressing the needs of current users, including students, researchers and visitors, and integrating new sustainable technologies — solar panels, water collection for garden irrigation, and so on.” Another thing that needed updating: the library’s fountains. Embedded within the dense urban fabric of the UNESCO World Heritage Medina of Fez, fountains are part of the city’s vast and ancient water network. Chaouni took special care to restore the library’s original courtyard fountains, but where necessary, she created them from scratch, using local materials and construction systems, and introducing passive energy.


Another challenge was restoring the books themselves, as NPR relates. al-Qarawiyyin houses texts including a 9th-century Quran written in Kufic calligraphy, the original copy of Ibn Khaldun’s 14th Century Muqadimmah, a manuscript on Islamic jurisprudence by Ibn Rochd (known as Averroes in Europe), and the oldest known collection of Islamic hadith, which are early accounts of the life and words of the Prophet Muhammed.

The University of al-Qarawiyyin or Al Quaraouiyine (Arabic: جامعة القرويين‎‎; French: Université Al Quaraouiyine) is the oldest existing, continually operating and the first degree awarding educational institution in the world according to UNESCO and Guinness World Records and is sometimes referred to as the oldest universit was incorporated into Morocco’s modern state university system in 1963.


The diploma of Fatima El-Fihriya, the woman who founded the University and Library.

Ibn_KhaldunT05Education at Al Quaraouiyine University concentrates on the Islamic religious and legal sciences with a heavy emphasis on, and particular strengths in Classical Arabic grammar/linguistics and Maliki law, although a few lessons on other non-Islamic subjects such as French, English and IT are also offered to students. Teaching is delivered in the traditional method, in which students are seated in a semi-circle (halqa) around a sheikh, who prompts them to read sections of a particular text, asks them questions on particular points of grammar, law, or interpretation, and explains difficult points. Students from all over Morocco and Islamic West Africa attend the Qarawiyyin, although a few might come from as far afield as Muslim Central Asia. Even Spanish Muslim converts frequently attend the institution, largely attracted by the fact that the sheikhs of the Qarawiyyin, and Islamic scholarship in Morocco in general, are heirs to the rich religious and scholarly heritage of Muslim al-Andalus.

Most students at the Qarawiyyin range from between the ages of 13 and 30, and study towards high school-level diplomas and university-level bachelor’s degrees, although Muslim males with a sufficiently high level of Arabic are also able to attend lecture circles on an informal basis, given the traditional category of visitors “in search of [religious and legal] knowledge” (zuwwaar li’l-talab fii ‘ilm). In addition to being Muslim and male, prospective students of the Qarawiyyin are required to have memorized the Qur’an in full as well as several other shorter medieval Islamic texts on grammar and Maliki law, and in general to have a very good command of Classical Arabic.

Fez - Mezquita Qarawiyyin - vista a--rea

The al-Qarawiyyin Library opened to visitors last month, so those of you who are Morocco-bound, be sure to check it out! And for the rest of us, you can learn more about the project here and here, and see more images of al-Qarawayyin’s beautiful mosaics here.


Now You Can Visit the Oldest Library in the World



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NASA Believes Mars Was Once Earth-like

Digital artist Kevin Gill’s image is a view of the Western hemisphere of Mars with Olympus Mons on the horizon beyond the Tharsis Montes volcanoes and the Valles Marineris canyons near the center. The completed model was done in several steps. A two dimensional digital elevation model was first rendered in jDem846 (an open-source learning project created by Gill). In that model, Gill picked a sea level and scripted it such that terrain at or below that level was flat and blue.

Chemicals found in Martian rocks by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover suggest the Red Planet once had more oxygen in its atmosphere than it does now. Researchers found high levels of manganese oxides by using a laser-firing instrument on the rover. This hint of more oxygen in Mars’ early atmosphere adds to other Curiosity findings — such as evidence about ancient lakes — revealing how Earth-like our neighboring planet once was.

This research also adds important context to other clues about atmospheric oxygen in Mars’ past. The manganese oxides were found in mineral veins within a geological setting the Curiosity mission has placed in a timeline of ancient environmental conditions. From that context, the higher oxygen level can be linked to a time when groundwater was present in the rover’s Gale Crater study area.

“The only ways on Earth that we know how to make these manganese materials involve atmospheric oxygen or microbes,” said Nina Lanza, a planetary scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. “Now we’re seeing manganese oxides on Mars, and we’re wondering how the heck these could have formed?”

Microbes seem far-fetched at this point, but the other alternative — that the Martian atmosphere contained more oxygen in the past than it does now — seems possible, Lanza said. “These high manganese materials can’t form without lots of liquid water and strongly oxidizing conditions. Here on Earth, we had lots of water but no widespread deposits of manganese oxides until after the oxygen levels in our atmosphere rose.”

Lanza is the lead author of a new report about the Martian manganese oxides in the American Geophysical Union’s Geophysical Research Letters. She uses Curiosity’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument, which fires laser pulses from atop the rover’s mast and observes the spectrum of resulting flashes of plasma to assess targets’ chemical makeup.


This scene shows NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at a location called “Windjana,” where the rover found rocks containing manganese-oxide minerals, which require abundant water and strongly oxidizing conditions to form. In front of the rover are two holes from the rover’s sample-collection drill and several dark-toned features that have been cleared of dust (see inset images). These flat features are erosion-resistant fracture fills containing manganese oxides. The discovery of these materials suggests the Martian atmosphere might once have contained higher abundances of free oxygen than it does now. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

In Earth’s geological record, the appearance of high concentrations of manganese oxide minerals is an important marker of a major shift in our atmosphere’s composition, from relatively low oxygen abundances to the oxygen-rich atmosphere we see today. The presence of the same types of materials on Mars suggests that oxygen levels rose there, too, before declining to their present values. If that’s the case, how was that oxygen-rich environment formed?

“One potential way that oxygen could have gotten into the Martian atmosphere is from the breakdown of water when Mars was losing its magnetic field,” said Lanza. “It’s thought that at this time in Mars’ history, water was much more abundant.” Yet without a protective magnetic field to shield the surface, ionizing radiation started splitting water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. Because of Mars’ relatively low gravity, the planet wasn’t able to hold onto the very light hydrogen atoms, but the heavier oxygen atoms remained behind. Much of this oxygen went into rocks, leading to the rusty red dust that covers the surface today. While Mars’ famous red iron oxides require only a mildly oxidizing environment to form, manganese oxides require a strongly oxidizing environment, more so than previously known for Mars.

Lanza added, “It’s hard to confirm whether this scenario for Martian atmospheric oxygen actually occurred. But it’s important to note that this idea represents a departure in our understanding for how planetary atmospheres might become oxygenated.” Abundant atmospheric oxygen has been treated as a so-called biosignature, or a sign of extant life, but this process does not require life.

Curiosity has been investigating sites in Gale Crater since 2012. The high-manganese materials it found are in mineral-filled cracks in sandstones in the “Kimberley” region of the crater. But that’s not the only place on Mars where high manganese abundances have been found. NASA’s Opportunity rover, exploring Mars since 2004, also recently discovered high manganese deposits thousands of miles from Curiosity. This supports the idea that the conditions needed to form these materials were present well beyond Gale Crater.


Digital artist Kevin Gill’s resulting Mars model was then brought into GIMP where Gill painted in land features using a NASA Blue Marble Next Generation image for the source textures. Gill tried to envision how the land would appear given certain features or the effects of likely atmospheric climate. For example, he didn’t envison much green taking hold within the area of Olympus Mons and the surrounding volcanoes, both due to the volcanic activity and the proximity to the equator (a more tropical climate). For these desert-like areas he mostly used textures taken from the Sahara in Africa and some of Australia. Likewise, as the terrain gets higher or lower in latitude Gill added darker flora along with tundra and glacial ice. These northern and southern areas textures are largely taken from around northern Russia. Tropical and subtropical greens were based on the rainforests of South America and Africa.


Los Alamos National Laboratory leads the U.S. and French team that jointly developed and operates ChemCam. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, built the rover and manages the Curiosity mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Guy Webster
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Laura Mullane
Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, N.M.


Last Updated: June 27, 2016
Editor: Tony Greicius
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NASA Record Sent To Aliens Now On SoundCloud


Carl Sagan called the project a “bottle in the cosmic ocean.”Launched in 1977, the two Voyager spacecrafts were each loaded with a golden phonograph record documenting life on Earth should either probe ever contact aliens.

In a paper published in the May issue of the journal Astrobiology, astronomers Adam Frank and Woodruff Sullivan suggest that a probability for an alien civilizations to have existed at some point in time is highly probable. According to their findings, even if you consider that only one civilization might form out of every ten billion planets, a trillion civilizations still would have appeared over the course of cosmic history.

In an article for the New York Times Adam Frank goes on to say:

“In other words, given what we now know about the number and orbital positions of the galaxy’s planets, the degree of pessimism required to doubt the existence, at some point in time, of an advanced extraterrestrial civilization borders on the irrational.”

The Voyager spacecrafts mission was devised to explore Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune before floating out of our solar system into interstellar space, hurtling away from the sun at 17 kilometres a second. Famous space guy Carl Sagan called the project a “bottle in the cosmic ocean.” Now, for your enjoyment, NASA has uploaded their message to SoundCloud.

The Voyager Golden Records are phonograph records that contain sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth, and are intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form, or for future humans, who may find them. Neither Voyager spacecraft is heading toward any particular star, but Voyager 1 will pass within 1.6 light-years of the star Gliese 445, currently in the constellation Camelopardalis, in about 40,000 years.

The recordings contain greetings in 55 languages, from Akkadian to Wu, as well as an assortment of sounds representative of life on earth, like a heartbeat, a mother kissing her child and the whistle of a train. The golden records also carry 90 minutes of music (not upped to SoundCloud, presumably for copyright reasons), including standards like Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, First Movement. 

Carl Sagan noted that “The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced space-faring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this ‘bottle’ into the cosmic ‘ocean’ says something very hopeful about life on this planet.”Thus the record is best seen as a time capsule.

Below is the example of what we think we sound like. I thought there’d be a lot more arguing:


Both craft carry with them a 12-inch golden phonograph record that contains pictures and sounds of Earth along with symbolic directions on the cover for playing the record and data detailing the location of our planet.The record is intended as a combination of a time capsule and an interstellar message to any civilization, alien or far-future human, that may recover either of the Voyagers. The contents of this record were selected by a committee that included Timothy Ferris and was chaired by Carl Sagan.

The contents of the record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan of Cornell University. The selection of content for the record took almost a year. Sagan and his associates assembled 116 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind, thunder and animals (including the songs of birds and whales). To this they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, spoken greetings in 55 ancient and modern languages, and printed messages from U.S. president Jimmy Carter and U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim. The record also includes the inspirational message Per aspera ad astra in Morse code.

The collection of images includes many photographs and diagrams both in black and white, and color. The first images are of scientific interest, showing mathematical and physical quantities, the Solar System and its planets, DNA, and human anatomy and reproduction. Care was taken to include not only pictures of humanity, but also some of animals, insects, plants and landscapes. Images of humanity depict a broad range of cultures. These images show food, architecture, and humans in portraits as well as going about their day-to-day lives. Many pictures are annotated with one or more indications of scales of time, size, or mass. Some images contain indications of chemical composition. All measures used on the pictures are defined in the first few images using physical references that are likely to be consistent anywhere in the universe.

The Golden Record also carries an hour long recording of the brainwaves of Ann Druyan. During the recording of the brainwaves, Druyan thought of many topics, including Earth’s history, civilizations and the problems they face, and what it was like to fall in love.

The record is constructed of gold-plated copper. The record’s cover is aluminum and electroplated upon it is an ultra-pure sample of the isotope uranium-238. Uranium-238 has a half-life of 4.468 billion years. It is possible (e.g. via mass-spectrometry) that a civilization that encounters the record will be able to use the ratio of remaining uranium to the other elements to determine the age of the record.

The records also had the inscription “To the makers of music – all worlds, all times” hand-etched on its surface. The inscription was located in the “takeout grooves”, an area of the record between the label and playable surface. Since this was not in the original specifications, the record was initially rejected, to be replaced with a blank disc. Sagan later convinced the administrator to include the record as is

After NASA had received criticism over the nudity on the Pioneer plaque (line drawings of a naked man and woman), the agency chose not to allow Sagan and his colleagues to include a photograph of a nude man and woman on the record. Instead, only a silhouette of the couple was included. However, the record does contain “Diagram of vertebrate evolution”, by Jon Lomberg, with drawings of an anatomically correct naked male and naked female, showing external organs.The pulsar map and hydrogen molecule diagram are shared in common with the Pioneer plaque.The 116 images are encoded in analogue form and composed of 512 vertical lines. The remainder of the record is audio, designed to be played at 16⅔ revolutions per minute.Carl Sagan suggested that The Beatles song “Here Comes the Sun” be included on the record, but the record company EMI that held the copyrights to the song, declined due to copyright concerns.

The Voyager program is a continuing American scientific program that employs two robotic probes, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, to study the outer Solar System. They were launched in 1977 to take advantage of a favorable alignment of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, and are now exploring the outer boundary of the heliosphere currently in interstellar space. Although their original mission was to study only the planetary systems of Jupiter and Saturn, Voyager 2 continued on to Uranus and Neptune, and both Voyagers are now tasked with exploring interstellar space. Their mission has been extended three times, and both probes continue to collect and relay useful scientific data. Both Uranus and Neptune have not been visited by any other probe other than Voyager 2.

On August 25, 2012, data from Voyager 1 indicated that it had become the first human-made object to enter interstellar space, traveling “further than anyone, or anything, in history”.As of 2013, Voyager 1 was moving with a velocity of 17 kilometers per second (11 mi/s) relative to the Sun. Voyager 2 is expected to enter interstellar space by 2016, and its plasma spectrometer should provide the first direct measurements of the density and temperature of the interstellar plasma.

Data and photographs collected by the Voyagers’ cameras, magnetometers, and other instruments revealed previously unknown details about each of the giant planets and their moons. Close-up images from the spacecraft charted Jupiter’s complex cloud forms, winds, and storm systems and discovered volcanic activity on its moon Io. Saturn’s rings were found to have enigmatic braids, kinks, and spokes and to be accompanied by a myriad of “ringlets.” At Uranus Voyager 2 discovered a substantial magnetic field around the planet and 10 additional moons. Its flyby of Neptune uncovered three complete rings and six hitherto unknown moons as well as a planetary magnetic field and complex, widely distributed auroras. Voyager 2 is still the only spacecraft to have visited the ice giants.


The golden record’s location on Voyager (middle-bottom-left)

Among scientists, the probability of the existence of an alien society with which we might make contact is discussed in terms of something called the Drake equation. In 1961, the National Academy of Sciences asked the astronomer Frank Drake to host a scientific meeting on the possibilities of “interstellar communication.” Since the odds of contact with alien life depended on how many advanced extraterrestrial civilizations existed in the galaxy, Drake identified seven factors on which that number would depend, and incorporated them into an equation.

The first factor was the number of stars born each year. The second was the fraction of stars that had planets. After that came the number of planets per star that traveled in orbits in the right locations for life to form (assuming life requires liquid water). The next factor was the fraction of such planets where life actually got started. Then came factors for the fraction of life-bearing planets on which intelligence and advanced civilizations (meaning radio signal-emitting) evolved. The final factor was the average lifetime of a technological civilization.

Drake’s equation was not like Einstein’s E=mc2. It was not a statement of a universal law. It was a mechanism for fostering organized discussion, a way of understanding what we needed to know to answer the question about alien civilizations. In 1961, only the first factor — the number of stars born each year — was understood. And that level of ignorance remained until very recently.

But our new planetary knowledge has removed some of the uncertainty from this debate. Three of the seven terms in Drake’s equation are now known. We know the number of stars born each year. We know that the percentage of stars hosting planets is about 100. And we also know that about 20 to 25 percent of those planets are in the right place for life to form. This puts us in a position, for the first time, to say something definitive about extraterrestrial civilizations — if we ask the right question.

In their recent paper, Professor Sullivan and Adam Frank  did this by shifting the focus of Drake’s equation. Instead of asking how many civilizations currently exist, they asked what the probability is that ours is the only technological civilization that has ever appeared. By asking this question, they could bypass the factor about the average lifetime of a civilization. This left them with only three unknown factors, which were combined into one “biotechnical” probability: the likelihood of the creation of life, intelligent life and technological capacity.




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Einstürzende Neubauten/ Collapsing New Buildings


Still going strong, Einstürzende Neubauten, or “Collapsing New Buildings” is playing the 18th of June at Kulttempel Oberhausen. A German industrial band, one of their trademarks is the use of custom-built instruments, predominantly made out of scrap metal and building tools.

Industrial music, is a genre of experimental/electronic music that draws on transgressive and provocative themes. The term was coined in the mid-1970s with the founding of Industrial Records by Genesis P-Orridge of Throbbing Gristle and Monte Cazazza; on Throbbing Gristle’s debut album The Second Annual Report, they coined the slogan “industrial music for industrial people”. In general, the style is harsh and challenging. AllMusic defines industrial as the “most abrasive and aggressive fusion of rock and electronic music”; “initially a blend of avant-garde electronics experiments (tape music, musique concrète, white noise, synthesizers, sequencers, etc.) and punk provocation”.


The first industrial artists experimented with noise and aesthetically controversial topics, musically and visually, such as fascism, serial killers and the occult. Their production was not limited to music, but included mail art, performance art,installation pieces and other art forms. Prominent industrial musicians include Throbbing Gristle, Monte Cazazza,SPK, Boyd Rice, Cabaret Voltaire, and Z’EV. The precursors that influenced the development of the genre included acts such as electronic group Kraftwerk, experimental rock acts such as The Velvet Underground and Frank Zappa,psychedelic rock artists such as Jimi Hendrix, and composers such as John Cage. Musicians also cite writers such as William S. Burroughs, and philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche as influences.

The birth of industrial music was a response to “an age [in which] the access and control of information were becoming the primary tools of power.” At its birth, the genre of industrial music was different from any other music, and its use of technology and disturbing lyrics and themes to tear apart preconceptions about the necessary rules of musical form supports the suggestion that industrial music is modernist music.The artists themselves made these goals explicit, even drawing connections to social changes they wished to argue for through their music.

While the term was self-applied by a small coterie of groups and individuals associated with Industrial Records in the 1970s, it was broadened to include artists influenced by the original movement or using an “industrial” aesthetic. These artists expanded the genre by pushing it into noisier and more electronic directions. Over time, its influence spread into and blended with styles including ambient and rock, all of which now fall under the post-industrial music label. Electro-industrial music is a primary subgenre that developed in the 1980s. The two other most notable hybrid genres are industrial rock and industrial metal, which include bands such as Nine Inch Nails and Ministry, both of which released platinum-selling albums in the 1990s. These three distinct genres are often referred to as simply industrial.

Originally from West Berlin, Einstürzende Neubauten formed in 1980. The group currently comprises Blixa Bargeld (lead vocals, guitar, keyboard), Alexander Hacke (bass, guitar, vocals), N.U. Unruh (custom-made instruments, percussion, vocals), Jochen Arbeit (guitar and vocals), and Rudolf Moser (custom-built instruments, percussion, and vocals).



Their early albums were unremittingly harsh, with Bargeld’s vocals shouted and screamed above a din of banging and scraping metal percussion. Subsequent recordings found the group’s sound growing somewhat more conventional, yet still containing many unorthodox elements.



Einstürzende Neubauten will be performing on 

Saturday, June 18 at 8 PM5 AM in UTC+02DJ

Stahlmusik spielt Neubautenmusik zum Tanzen
LIVE: Neubauten Coversongs u.a.
Neubautenfilme im Videoraum
Abendkasse – Kulttempel: 8 €
RA https://www.residentadvisor.net/event.aspx?834852

You can find out more about the band on their Facebook page-


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