Imaginary Cities


I’m sure I’m like most of you when I say Saturday mornings as a child were made up of animated shorts of an imaginary futurescapes like the Jetsons. However Imaginary Cities need not simply exist in fiction or the mind. Each city dreamt up by artists, writers, architects and lunatics has a real-life equivalent.

Disney’s  release of the film Tomorrowland (2015), is an exciting look at the possibilities of the future and the necessity for determination, dedication and optimism to achieve it. The film stars Academy Award winner George Clooney as a disillusioned former boy-genius who tries to save humanity from itself- with the help of a teenage, NASA-nerd anarchist. Casey (Britt Robertson) is a dreamer with a capital D. While her teachers bemoan the cataclysmic shape of world events and instability, she doggedly raises her hand to ask, “Yeah, but what can we do to fix it?”With Athena the android replacing Clarence the angel, it’s an ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ for the 21st century. Tomorrowland boasts a wealth of sumptuous visuals: a shiny and vintage 1960s Disney World, and a bright and gleaming futuristic metropolis. But crafting movies around theme park rides is a rather risky creative proposition. For every Pirates of the Caribbean mega-franchise, there’s a Haunted Mansion. Theme park rides are more locations then they are stories, so it’s an adaptation where there’s nothing really to adapt except for a setting starting point.

SpaceGhostsAn in-depth look at the metropolis of the imagination, as well as being a work of creative nonfiction is the book, Imaginary Cities. Inspired by the surreal accounts of the explorer and ‘man of a million lies’ Marco Polo, it charts the metropolis and the imagination, and the symbiosis therein. The book roams through space, time and possibility, mapping cities of sound, melancholia and the afterlife, where time runs backwards or which float among the clouds. In doing so, Imaginary Cities seeks to move beyond the clichés of psychogeography and hauntology, to not simply revisit the urban past, or our relationship with it, but to invade and reinvent it. 

Following in the lineage of Borges, Calvino, Chris Marker and Kenneth White, the book examines the city from global macrocosm to the microcosm of its inhabitants’ perspectives. It proceeds through opium dreams, sea voyages, the hallucinations of prisoners, nocturnal decadence, impossible Soviet skyscrapers, marauding golems, subterranean civilisations, apocalyptic prophecies and the work of architectural visionaries such as Antonio Sant’Elia, Archigram and Buckminster Fuller. It rethinks the ideas of utopias and dystopias, urban exploration, alienation and resistance. It claims that the Situationists lacked ambition when they suggested, “Beneath the paving stones, the beach.” Instead, beneath the paving stones, we may just be able to discern the entire universe.

Recently it has become fashionable to talk about the “urban commons”, and it’s clear why. What we traditionally conceive of as “the public” is in retreat: public services are at the mercy of austerity policies, public housing is being sold off and public space is increasingly no such thing. In a relentlessly neoliberal climate, the commons seems to offer an alternative to the battle between public and private. The idea of land or services that are commonly owned and managed speaks to a 21st-century sensibility of, to use some jargon, participative citizenship and peer-to-peer production. In theory, at least, the commons is full of radical potential. Can commoning be scaled up to influence the workings of a metropolis – able to tackle questions of housing, energy use, food distribution and clean air? In other words, can the city be reimagined as commons, or is commoning the realm of tiny acts of autarchy and resistance?

The current popularity of the commons as an idea is partially driven by the internet and the fact that network tools make it so much more feasible for larger groups to self-organise. Open-source software, Wikipedia, the creative commons and social media make commoning possible while affirming the ethos of horizontal organisation. Darran Anderson, the author of Imaginary Cities says:

“While it’s amazing to have information that far surpasses the Library of Alexandria online—a dream that’s haunted writers for centuries— in terms of interacting, there’s nothing online that wasn’t foreseen and described by Aristophanes or Plato thousands of years ago. You talk to people who restore your faith in humanity and then seconds later you talk to foul-tempered, frothing pedants who insist that a building you posted made entirely out of clouds couldn’t possibly be built and demand you defend imaginary buildings you haven’t designed. The mediums change but the humans remain, for better and worse.”

England has a particular history of commoning that is still written into the fabric of London. Wimbledon, Clapham, Ealing – they all have commons, where our forebears once had the right to graze their livestock. But the enclosures of the 18th century transferred the majority of common land into private hands, turning it into a marketable resource and creating a landless working class. And the problem of the commons today is that we still tend to think of it as a common resource, whether it be oceans and rivers or fish stocks.

DenCity1Imaginary Cities demonstrates that each city dreamt up by artists, writers, architects and lunatics has a real-life equivalent and that the great Marco Polo was no liar. Imaginary Cities need not simply exist in fiction or the mind. DEN-City1 is a temporary city opening at the end of june in London. Curator of DEN-City1 Rebecca Feiner says: “The name is inspired by the overcrowded and precarious conditions many Londoners now live in… how space to be creative in has become increasingly scarce. “It also reflects the nomadic existence forced on people in the rent sector… and in Hackney Wick’s case how artists are being driven out by the ferocious profit-driven appetite of developers.” She also sees a “contradiction and tension” when artists have been “making over” an area not previously seen as attractive, “bringing colour and creativity”, then being moved on.

However, if this all seems a bit too grim, gritty and earnest for you, Feiner has invited international artist Tom Estes to act as Honorary Mayor of DEN-City1. Estes describes himself as a “Sci-fi inspired Carnival Sideshow Conceptualist, combining a bare-bones formal conceptualism with an eternally adolescent, DIY comic-prank approach”. For Estes “fantasy and illusion are not a contradiction of reality, but instead an integral part of our everyday lives”. And fresh back from a Residency during the prestigious Venice Biennale,  rumor has it that he is planning a Ferrero Roche inspired Ambassadors Reception for the opening nightof DEN-City1 .

The question is whether the commons, with its potent political dimension, can transcend extreme need and symbolic resistance on the one hand and harmless local initiatives on the other. In fact, it is often in moments of crisis that the idea of commons asserts itself. The protest movements that took over Tahrir Square in Cairo, Gezi Park in Istanbul and Zuccotti Park in New York transformed public space – state-owned, with the exception of Zuccotti – into a temporary commons through mass self-organisation. Similarly, the economic crisis in Greece has led to a resurgence of commoning in Athens, where parks neglected by the municipality started to be maintained by resident groups. And one could cite numerous examples of commoning in the favelas of Brazil, where many communities take pride in co-creating and self-managing their environment.

Jettsonsride And there are other encouraging examples. One commons project that is beginning to achieve an ambitious scale and complexity is in Colombes, in the suburbs of Paris. Since 2012, the Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée has been developing what its co-director, Doina Petrescou, calls “a bottom-up strategy of resilient regeneration” – and it goes beyond your average urban agriculture initiative. It’s true that there is a micro-farm for collective use but that is only one of three hubs, the others being a mini recycling plant and cooperative eco-housing.

The project now has 400 citizens co-managing 5000 square metres of land, producing food, energy and housing, while actively reducing waste and water usage. Already, by European standards, it is a fairly large-scale experiment in alternative urban living. But the aim is to add five more hubs over the next five years and to grow into a commons-based civic movement.

DEN-City1 a temporary utopian city of installations, dens and assemblages. Colourfully, repurposing, and recycling on the theme ‘Work in Progress’ . DEN- City1 will be mushrooming on a prime piece of land by the Olympic site. Forget Glastonbury, this is a free space, an art city and the only place to be in response to the London Festival of Architecture.

Featuring talks, workshops, graffiti artoff, stand up comedy to poetry, performance special opening night and many other surprises…
Friday June 26,- 6-9pm/ Saturday June 27, 2-9pm/ Sunday June 29, 1-4pm

Darran Anderson is a writer from Derry. He is former contributing editor to 3:AM Magazine and Dogmatika. He has written the 33 1/3 study of Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire de Melody Nelson(Bloomsbury, 2013) as well as the forthcoming Jack Kerouac – Critical Lives (Reaktion Books, 2014) and A Hubristic Flea (3:AM Press, 2014). He has also written several collections of poetry including Tesla’s Ghost (Blackheath Books, 2009). He regularly writes on art, literature and music for the likes of Studio International, 3:AM and The Quietus.

Image credits- The Jetsons and Space Ghost’s “Battle of the Planets” Ride by Bruce Bushman for a Hanna-Barbera Land . His notes indicate a level of interactivity with “simulated ray gun hits” and “individual climb and dive controls”. These design concepts were never built.

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The Future of Art In An Age Of Digital Intelligence


Previously it was thought that no robot could create anything that is related to creativity or art. However, scientists of Konstanz University have created a robot artist that paints on white paper with its digital painter program. Its name is eDavid and it works just like a human painter. It is a combination of digital computers, normal robotic arm and a camera.

There is a popular meme in tech and economics right now: the idea that technology — or robots specifically — will take our jobs and put us all out of work. The technology is here. But the jobs are nowhere to be found. Thanks to the efficiency of the internet and automated systems, productivity and GDP have grown during the last few decades, but the middle class and jobs are disappearing. But what about artists? Can art made by humans be replaced by machines? Creativity is one of humanity’s uniquely defining qualities. Numerous thinkers have explored the qualities that creativity must have, and most pick out two important factors: whatever the process of creativity produces, it must be novel and it must be influential.

The history of art is filled with good examples in the form of paintings that are unlike any that have appeared before and that have hugely influenced those that follow. Leonardo’s 1469 Madonna and child with a pomegranate, Goya’s 1780 Christ crucified or Monet’s 1865 Haystacks at Chailly at sunrise and so on. Others paintings are more derivative, showing many similarities with those that have gone before and so are thought of as less creative.

The job of distinguishing the most creative from the others falls to art historians. And it is no easy task. It requires, at the very least, an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of art. The historian must then spot novel features and be able to recognize similar features in future paintings to determine their influence.


Creativity is one of humanity’s uniquely defining qualities. Numerous thinkers have explored the qualities that creativity must have, and most pick out two important factors: whatever the process of creativity produces, it must be novel and it must be influential.

Making artistic decisions are a tricky tasks for a human and until recently, it would have been unimaginable that a computer could take them on. But today that changes thanks to the work of Ahmed Elgammal and Babak Saleh at Rutgers University in New Jersey, who say they have a machine that can do just this.

They’ve put it to work on a database of some 62,000 pictures of fine art paintings to determine those that are the most creative in history. The results provide a new way to explore the history of art and the role that creativity has played in it.

Several advances have come together to make this advance possible. The first is the rapid breakthroughs that have been made in recent years in machine vision, based on a way to classify images by the visual concepts they contain.

These visual concepts are called classemes. They can be low-level features such as color, texture, and so on, simple objects such as a house, a church or a haystack and much higher-level features such as walking, a dead body, and so on.

This approach allows a machine vision algorithm to analyze a picture and produce a list of classemes that describe it (up to 2,559 different classemes, in this case). This list is like a vector that defines the picture and can be used to compare it against others analyzed in the same way.


Technology is going to hit every corner of human civilization. This approach is not just limited to art. Elgammal and Saleh point out that it can also be used to explore creativity in literature, sculpture, and even in science.

The second advance that makes this work possible is the advent of huge online databases of art. This is important because machine visions algorithms need big databases to learn their trade. Elgammal and Saleh do it on two large databases, one of which, from the Wikiart website, contains images and annotations on some 62,000 works of art from throughout history.

The final component of their work is theoretical. The problem is to work out which paintings are the most novel compared to others that have gone before and then determine how many paintings in the future have uses similar features to work out their influence. Elgammal and Saleh approach this as a problem of network science. Their idea is to treat the history of art as a network in which each painting links to similar paintings in the future and is linked to by similar paintings from the past.


New developments in artificial intelligence and it’s relationship to art is acted out in a Live Art Performance by Tom Estes at The Venice Biennale. While computers are beginning to act more and more like humans, artist Tom Estes reverses this relationship by acting like a computer program.

The problem of determining the most creative is then one of working out when certain patterns of classemes first appear and how these patterns are adopted in the future. “We show that the problem can reduce to a variant of network centrality problems, which can be solved efficiently,” they say.

In other words, the problem of finding the most creative paintings is similar to the problem of finding the most influential person on a social network, or the most important station in a city’s metro system or super spreaders of disease. These have become standard problems in network theory in recent years, and now Elgammal and Saleh apply it to creativity networks for the first time.


The artist Tom Estes acts out the emergence of a new intelligence by wearing the “H” from the hologram “Rimmer” in the British sci-fi TV comedy Red Dwarf and the personality disc of  the characters called ‘programs’ found in the film Tron.

The results of the machine vision algorithm’s analysis are interesting. The figure above shows artworks plotted by date along the bottom axis and by the algorithm’s creativity score on the vertical axis.

Several famous pictures stand out as being particularly novel and influential, such as Goya’s Christ crucified, Monet’s Haystacks at Chailly at sunrise and Munch’s The Scream. Other works of art stand out because they are not deemed creative, such as Rodin’s 1889 sculpture Danaid and Durer’s charcoal drawing of Barbara Durer dating from 1514.


In the performance which Tom Estes calls ‘A Virtual Drawing Machine’ Estes references a new-born entity through child-like scribblings on a type-writer at The Biennial Project Residency in Venice

Many art historians would agree. “In most cases the results of the algorithm are pieces of art that art historians indeed highlight as innovative and influential,” say Elgammal and Saleh.An important point here is that these results are entirely automated. They come about because of the network of links between paintings that the algorithm uncovers. There is no initial seeding that biases the search one way or another.

Of course, art historians will always argue about exactly how to define creativity and how this changes their view of what makes it onto the list of most creative. The beauty of Elgammal and Saleh’s techniques is that small changes to their algorithm allow different definitions of creativity to be explored automatically. This kind of data mining could have important impacts on the way art historians evaluate paintings.  The ability to represent the entire history of art in this way changes the way it is possible to think about art and to discuss it. In a way, this kind of data mining, and the figures that represent it, are new instruments of reason for art historians.

A robot writes a Torah at an installation in the Jewish Museum in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, July 10, 2014. It is an installation by the artist group robotolab. The robot is equipped with a pen nib and ink and will write the Torah in human speed. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

 A robot writes a Torah at an installation in the Jewish Museum in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, July 10, 2014. It is an installation by the artist group robotolab. The robot was equipped with a pen nib and ink and wrote the Torah in human speed. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

And this approach is not just limited to art. Elgammal and Saleh point out that it can also be used to explore creativity in literature, sculpture, and even in science.  In fact, we have reached a tipping point where technology is now destroying more jobs than it creates. And if the trend continues we could face a serious crisis, said Wendell Wallach, a consultant, ethicist, and scholar at the Yale University Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics. Robots, 3D printing, and other emerging technologies are all fueling technological unemployment and global wealth disparity. Technological unemployment is the concept of technology killing more jobs than it produces. While that fear has been considered a Luddite fallacy for the past 200 years, it is now becoming a stark reality.

“This is an unparalleled situation and one that I think could actually lead to all sorts of disruptions once the public starts to catch on that we are truly in the midst of technological unemployment,” Wallach said during a presentation at the Carnegie Council for Ethics and International Affairs.

It is true that tech companies employ fewer people directly. But they create ecosystems that employ more people indirectly. Think of Facebook, which has more than 2 million advertisers. Or the hundreds of thousands of sellers on eBay and Amazon. The mobile app industry alone is now bigger than the entire movie industry. Google alone is now bigger than the entire newspaper and magazine ad industry. Employment obeys its own cycles governed by overall economic growth, not tech. The most frustrating thing about the “robots are taking our jobs!” meme is that it feels true on an anecdotal basis. You can draw that blue trend line arrow wherever you want, of course. It is true that new tech may destroy jobs temporarily. But Tech jobs also tend to be better paid than the old jobs, too. Remember all those people who used to be employed making beepers? All those jobs are gone but the workers who did those beeper jobs are not unemployed. Society is not overrun by an army of destitute beeper assembly workers.  In 2008,The Times named Science Fiction writer Iain Banks in their list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945. In this interview he sums it up quite nicely:

“People still buy paintings even though the camera was invented… people still go the the theater despite the invention of cinema. I don’t think any of these things necessarily mean the end to what came earlier… perhaps it is best to see it as an opportunity rather than a threat.

Ref: : Quantifying Creativity in Art Networks

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The Beginning Of The End Of Terrestrial Collider-Based Physics?


The existence of magnetic monopoles is a widely discussed topic in physics. Predicted in 1931 by Paul Dirac, a magnetic monopole is a particle that contains only one magnetic pole, therefore containing a net “magnetic charge”. They are yet to be seen in nature.

June 6, 2015 – Physicists around the world (myself included) are hoping that this week will mark the beginning of a new era of discovery. And not, as some fear, the end of particle physics as we know it.

After 27 months of shutdown and re-commissioning, the Large Hadron Collider has begun its much-anticipated “Season 2”. Deep beneath the Franco-Swiss border, the first physics data is now being collected in CERN’s freshly upgraded detector-temples at the record-breaking collision energy of 13 teraelectonvolts (TeV).

Much has been written about the upgrade to the accelerator, the experiments, and the computing infrastructure required to handle the fresh deluge of data from the new energy frontier. There has also – quite rightly – been a lot of attention paid to the crowning achievement of Run 1: the discovery of the Higgs boson.

But the “elephant in the collider” is this: we knew that Run 1 had to find the Higgs boson – or something like it, and it did. With Run 2, we don’t know what we’re looking for.

OK, so maybe that’s bit of an over-simplification. We certainly have a good few guesses as to what’s beyond the Standard Model of particle physics, our current best understanding of matter and forces at the fundamental level that was essentially completed in July 2012.

One of the leading contenders is supersymmetry, a theory that provides a candidate for the dark matter that supposedly makes up some 23% of our universe. As it happens, my PhD was based on the first results from the LHC Run 1 that said we hadn’t found evidence for supersymmetry.

To date, I have not had to write an embarrassing addendum to my thesis. But, while there are many compelling arguments for supersymmetry, it is not required in the same way the Higgs boson was. The Higgs was a missing piece in our current physics jigsaw; supersymmetry would represent a new puzzle entirely.

Scientific Wild-Goose Chase?

Does that make Run 2 a waste of time? Are we pouring money into an extra-dimensional wild-goose chase? Are we, in fact, staring down the barrel of the end of collider-based particle physics?


Back in action: CERN’s LHC will begin Run 2 

You’d be forgiven for thinking so, if you had no knowledge or understanding of the history of particle physics (or how science works, for that matter). After all, science is arguably at its most boring when you 1) know exactly what you’re looking for, and 2) find it.

It’s much more fun to consider physics in the middle of the 20th century. You could pretty much describe all of known physics, chemistry, materials science, and biology with electrons, protons, neutrons and photons. Yet advances in particle detector technology – Wilson’s cloud chamber, Blackett’s triggers, Powell’s photographic emulsions – led to the discovery of completely new particles outside of this comfortable model of nature.

At the time, cosmic rays – particles bombarding our atmosphere from outer space – had far greater energies than the particles laboratory-based accelerators could produce. They represented a new energy frontier for physics, explored by the heroic particle hunters of the 1930s and ‘40s who trekked up mountains, launched high-altitude balloons, and flew aeroplanes in search of their quantum quarry.

They were rewarded for their efforts with, among other things, strange particles, a completely new type of matter that defied the predictions of the time and opened the door to a veritable zoo of subatomic building blocks.

The second half of the 20th century saw a trans-Atlantic race to build bigger and bigger particle accelerators to artificially produce cosmic rays in the controlled conditions of the laboratory and tame the particle zoo. This race was, arguably, won by the LHC. As we approach the new, unknown energy frontier of Run 2, we are therefore once again in need of a new generation of particle hunters. We need experimental physicists who are able to painstakingly pore over every byte of data in search of “what’s next”.

Personally, I have eschewed supersymmetric searches (been there, done that) and, along with the students of the Langton Star Centre, joined the MoEDAL Collaboration. This experiment is looking for Paul Dirac’s hypothesised magnetic monopole. Based in the LHCb cavern at Point 8, MoEDAL (Monopole and Exotics Detector at the LHC) will use a number of novel detector technologies to look for tracks generated by the heavy, highly-ionising magnetic monopoles that could, in theory, be produced in the proton-proton collisions.

Magnetic monopoles are the magnetic equivalent of single electric charges – like a magnet with only a north or south pole, and not both – and their discovery would shake physics to its electromagnetic core. It’s a high-risk, high-reward search – but by providing alternatives to the traditional detector methodologies of CMS and ATLAS, we’re ensuring that as many bases are covered as possible.

We don’t know what we will find in Run 2. It could be monopoles, dark matter, micro-black holes, extra dimensional excitations, gravitons or something else entirely. What’s certain is this: if we are to find anything, we are going to have to be incredibly clever about how we go about it. We may even need your help. If we don’t find anything, it might be the beginning of the end of what terrestial, collider-based physics can tell us about the Universe. But even a null result from Run 2 would still be a result, and an important one at that.

So, it is the dawn of a new era for particle physics. It is time for the experimentalists to once again outshine their theoretical friends. It is open season for the particle hunters.

You can find out more about the MoEDAL experiment at this year’s Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, 30 June – 5 July, London.

Dr. Tom Whyntie is Visiting Academic and GridPP Dissemination Officer at Queen Mary University of London. Tom Whyntie is the resident scientist for CERN@school. After reading Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, Dr Whyntie completed his PhD in experimental particle physics on the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at Imperial College London and CERN, Switzerland.

His thesis centred on the (as yet) fruitless search for Dark Matter in the proton-proton collisions of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Dr Whyntie is currently the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Researcher in Residence at the Langton Star Centre in Canterbury, Kent, and is a Visiting Academic with the Particle Physics Research Centre at Queen Mary, University of London. As the resident scientist for the CERN@school project, he coordinates the student research programme associated with the school-based Timepix detectors and the space-based Langton Ultimate Cosmic ray Intenstity Detector (LUCID) experiment.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Avengers: Age of Ultron UI Screen Graphics

With a creative approach that brings emotive depth to their work, Territory crafted technology, UI and tools that expressed each individual’s unique characteristics in digital form. And, by referencing research into state of the art clinical diagnostic technology, and the latest thinking in military, robotics and avionics technology, the team was able to bring a fresh level of authenticity to the Marvel universe.

Tasked to bring an unprecedented level of realism to the beleaguered heroes and their technology, Territory created new visual identities and UI for the technology seen in Avengers Tower, including Stark lab and Banner’s research lab, the Quinjet aircraft and newly introduced characters the evil Baron Von Strucker and his Fortress stronghold, and Dr Cho, whose advanced medical lab supports the Avengers in the story.

In total, Territory created more than 200 screens and 80 minutes of unique animations across all 11 sets. Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron is proving to be one of the year’s biggest film releases so far. As with most superhero films or Hollywood blockbusters, budget plays a big role in the quality of the output, and Age of Ultron‘s whopping $220 million USD cost means the franchise’s latest venture resulted in top-tier work. Illustrating the fine detail that goes into such productions is London-based Territory Studio, who have revealed a small look into the more than 200 user interface screen graphics and 80 minutes of unique animations that were created for the film, making Avengers: Age of Ultron Marvel’s most ambitious production to date at Shepperton Studio.

On Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, Territory worked closely with production designer Charles Wood and the art department, to craft a visual language to support Whedon’s dark and gritty vision for the film and reflect the individual characteristics of the personalities in the story.

Marvel Credits
Director: Joss Whedon
Production Designer: Charles Wood
Set Decoration: Richard Roberts
Art Director: Alan Payne
VFX Supervisor: Christopher Townsend
VFX Producer: Ron Ames
Territory Credits
Creative Director: David Sheldon-Hicks
Producer: Sam Hart
Motion Designers: Peter Eszenyi, Nik ‘nikill’ Hill, Daniel Højlund, Ryan Rafferty-Phelan, Marti Romances, Yugen Blake, Ernesto Porto, Alasdair Willson
Playback Credits
Edit: Marti Romances, Andy Schofield
DOP: Nik ‘nikill’ Hill
Audio: Zelig Sound
 © 2015 Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron
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What follows is a movie written by a machine…

Chris R. Wilson wrote a movie plot with the help of the artificial intelligence website, Cleverbot. The weirdest part about this film is that the actors are actually good. And they can recite vapid dialogue emotively while keeping a straight face. I guess machines can’t fully replace us yet…

Cleverbot is a web application that uses an artificial intelligence algorithm to have conversations with humans. Cleverbot participated in a formal Turing Test at the 2011 Techniche festival at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahation September 3, 2011. Out of the 334 votes cast, Cleverbot was judged to be 59.3% human, compared to the rating of 63.3% human achieved by human participants. A score of 50.05% or higher is often considered to be a passing grade.

Unlike other chatterbots, Cleverbot’s responses are not programmed. Instead, it “learns” from human input; Humans type into the box below the Cleverbot logo and the system finds all keywords or an exact phrase matching the input. After searching through its saved conversations, it responds to the input by finding how a human responded to that input when it was asked, in part or in full, by Cleverbot

It was created by the British AI scientist Rollo Carpenter, who also created Jabberwacky, a similar web application. It is unique in the sense that it learns from humans, remembering words within its AI. In its first decade Cleverbot held several thousand conversations with Carpenter and his associates. Since launching on the web in 1997, the number of conversations held has exceeded 150 million.

Director Chris R Wilson claims that this movie ‘Do You Love Me?’ was written by a machine. He states

“I tried to talk to Cleverbot just like I would with a human writing partner. I set up scenarios and Cleverbot provided all of the dialog content for the scene.”


If you’d like to see how the script was written here is the transcript of the conversation with Cleverbot.

User: Let’s write a movie together.

Cleverbot: What would you like to write the poem about?

User: Whatever. Okay, so what do you want the title of the movie to be.

Cleverbot: Do you love me?

User: Great! I’ll start: It’s sunset in a beautiful forest. We see the hero of the film. What do you want the heroes name to be?

Cleverbot: Not my name, my stomach.

User: Ooookay. Stomach looks around the forest and says:.

Cleverbot: I can give you myself as food.

User: Fantastic. What do you want the love interest’s name to be?

Cleverbot: Whatever you want your name to be is what I want your name to be.

User: We’ll call her Peaches.

Cleverbot: You have terrible sense of naming. Allow me to suggest some names. Leviticus. Prometheus. Ariadne.

User: Fantastic. Her name is Prometheus.

Cleverbot: Oooh! Tell me all about her.

User: Not right now. Prometheus walks up to Stomach and says:.

Cleverbot: Brilliant. Why are you telling me this?

User: Suddenly the mood changes as the enemy approaches. What’s the enemies name?

Cleverbot: Rapping at my chamber door.

User: Can we shorten his name to just ‘Door’?

Cleverbot: No, but I can give you a name if you’d like.

User: Please do.

Cleverbot: I name you Robert. Do you like this name?

User: Sure. So HIS name will be Robert. Robert yells at the two:.

Cleverbot: Why yes. How’d you know?

User: Stomach, confused by the altercation asks Robert:.

Cleverbot: I may be confused, I guess, am I wrong?

User: Robert laughs maniacally and yells:

Cleverbot: No one calls me ‘Cleverbot’ and gets away with it! I’d watch yourself!

User: Well played sir. Robert lunges towards Prometheus as she screams:.

Cleverbot: If Robert Frost said he was playing a game, he would play it.

User: Stomach steps in his way and sternly tells Robert this:.

Cleverbot: Interesting. I must get inner peace a lot if those are the symptoms.

User: How does Robert respond?

Cleverbot: Who owns the horses?

User: Stomach responds?

Cleverbot: Who?

User: What’s an angry statement?

Cleverbot: Why does it feel so good to be gangster.

User: Prometheus interrupts, how does she stop the argument?

Cleverbot: We should think about Will Smith. Do you know about William?

User: Brilliant. Prometheus turns to Stomach to reveal something about herself and who?

Cleverbot: Who?

User: Give me a name!

Cleverbot: Do you want me to name you, or do you want to know my name, I am confused.

User: Give me the name of a character.

Cleverbot: No.

User: Yes.

Cleverbot: Maybe.

User: What’s your brother’s name?

Cleverbot: Eric.

User: Was that so hard? Okay, Prometheus says to Stomach that she needs to tell him something about her and Eric. What’s a big scandal?

Cleverbot: Interesting. I have not heard about anything of the sort.

User: Give me a big scandal.

Cleverbot: What actress starred in the movie Clueless?

User: Silverstone, why?

Cleverbot: We have achieved something that seemed impossible for a long time, I think you should feel proud.

User: Great, what would be a huge scandal?

Cleverbot: I would prove it but chuck norris doesn’t have to prove anything to anybody.

User: How would Stomach respond?

Cleverbot: Part of a tooth just chipped off.

User: What’s an example of a big scandal?

Cleverbot: I said example not expletive you fool.

User: What’s an example of a big scandal?

Cleverbot: To get rid of muggles, to kill harry potter. TO TAKE OVER.

User: If you were really angry, what would you say?

Cleverbot: Make this a better conversation.

User: She tells Stomach he has to go. Stomach drops to his knees and says this:.

Cleverbot: *stomach rumbles loudly*.

User: You’re the best Cleverbot! Despite their fight, Robert consoles Stomach with this:.

Cleverbot: Why do you find me amusing?

User: And to wrap up the film, Stomach tells Robert this:.

Cleverbot: My name is Cleverbot.

User: Well played sir, thank you.

Cleverbot: Thank you.

User: The end?

Cleverbot: Yes the end.

Oh, and if you want the song, here it is: Overture to Egmont, Op. 84 – Beethoven

‘Do You Love Me’, a film by Cleverbot

Directed by Chris R Wilson. Starring Austin Hillebrecht, Britt Harris and Mad Martian. Edited by Zach Persson. Key grip, Tim Cogley.

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Einstein & The Alternate Theory Of Gravity


The Space Power Facility at NASA Glenn Research Center’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, houses the world’s largest vacuum chamber. Image Credit: NASA/Michelle Murphy (WYLE)

Albert Einstein, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921, contributed an alternate theory of gravity in the early 1900s. It was part of his famous General Theory of Relativity, and it offered a very different explanation from Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation. Einstein didn’t believe gravity was a force at all; he said it was a distortion in the shape of space-time, otherwise known as “the fourth dimension”.

Einstein, in his theory of special relativity, determined that the laws of physics are the same for all non-accelerating observers, and he showed that the speed of light within a vacuum is the same no matter the speed at which an observer travels. As a result, he found that space and time were interwoven into a single continuum known as space-time. Events that occur at the same time for one observer could occur at different times for another.

Brian Cox visits NASA’s Space Power Facility in Ohio to see what happens when a bowling ball and a feather are dropped together under the conditions of outer space.

Basic physics states that if there are no external forces at work, an object will always travel in the straightest possible line. Accordingly, without an external force, two objects travelling along parallel paths will always remain parallel. They will never meet.

But the fact is, they do meet. Particles that start off on parallel paths sometimes end up colliding. Newton’s theory says this can occur because of gravity, a force attracting those objects to one another or to a single, third object. Einstein also says this occurs due to gravity — but in his theory, gravity is not a force. It’s a curve in space-time.

According to Einstein, those objects are still travelling along the straightest possible line, but due to a distortion in space-time, the straightest possible line is now along a spherical path. So two objects that were moving along a flat plane are now moving along a spherical plane. And two straight paths along that sphere end in a single point.

In 1905, Albert Einstein determined that the laws of physics are the same for all non-accelerating observers, and that the speed of light in a vacuum was independent of the motion of all observers. This was the theory of special relativity.  It introduced a new framework for all of physics and proposed new concepts of space and time.


Einstein’s theory of general relativity predicted that the space-time around Earth would be not only warped but also twisted by the planet’s rotation.

Still more-recent theories of gravity express the phenomenon in terms of particles and waves. One view states that particles called gravitons cause objects to be attracted to one another. Gravitons have never actually been observed, though. And neither have gravitational waves, sometimes called gravitational radiation, which supposedly are generated when an object is accelerated by an external force .

Gravitons or no gravitons, we know that what goes up must come down. Perhaps someday, we’ll know exactly why. But until then, we can be satisfied just knowing that planet Earth won’t go hurdling into the sun anytime soon. Gravity is keeping it safely in orbit.

The Space Power Facility (SPF) is a vacuum chamber built by NASA in 1969. It stands 122 feet (37 m) high and 100 feet (30 m) in diameter, enclosing a bullet-shaped space. It is the world’s largest thermal vacuum chamber. It was originally commissioned for nuclear-electric power studies under vacuum conditions, but was later decommissioned. Recently, it was recommissioned for use in testing spacecraft propulsion systems. Recent uses include testing the airbag landing systems for the Mars Pathfinder and the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, under simulated Mars atmospheric conditions.

The facility was designed and constructed to test both nuclear and non-nuclear space hardware in a simulated Low-Earth-Orbiting environment. Although the facility was designed for testing nuclear hardware, only non-nuclear tests have been performed throughout its history.

Some of the test programs that have been performed at the facility include high-energy experiments, rocket-fairing separation tests, Mars Lander system tests, deployable Solar Sail tests and International Space Station hardware tests. The SPF is located at the NASA Glenn Research Center at the Plum Brook site.

The facility can sustain a high vacuum (10−6 torr); simulate solar radiation via a 4 MW quartz heat lamp array, solar spectrum by a 400 kW arc lamp, and cold environments (−320 °F (−195.6 °C)) with a variable geometry cryogenic cold shroud.

The facility is available on a full-cost reimbursable basis to government, universities, and the private sector. In Spring 2013 SpaceX conducted a fairing separation test in the vacuum chamber. 

Aluminum Test Chamber

The Aluminum Test Chamber is a vacuum-tight aluminum plate vessel that is 100 feet (30 m) in diameter and 122 feet (37 m) high. Designed for an external pressure of 2.5 psi (17 kPa) and internal pressure of 5 psi (34 kPa), the chamber is constructed of Type 5083 aluminum which is a clad on the interior surface with a 18 in (3.2 mm) thick type 3003 aluminum for corrosion resistance. This material was selected because of its low neutron absorption cross-section. The floor plate and vertical shell are 1 inch (25 mm) (total) thick, while the dome shell is 1 38 in (35 mm). Welded circumferentially to the exterior surface is aluminum structural T-section members that are 3 feet (0.9 m) deep and 2 feet (0.6 m) wide. The doors of the test chamber are 50 by 50 feet (15 by 15 m) in size and have double door seals to prevent leakage. The chamber floor was designed for a load of 300 tons.

Concrete Chamber Enclosure

The concrete chamber enclosure serves not only as a radiological shield but also as a primary vacuum barrier from atmospheric pressure. 130 feet (40 m) in diameter and 150 feet (46 m) in height, the chamber was designed to withstand atmospheric pressure outside of the chamber at the same time vacuum conditions are occurring within. The concrete thickness varies from 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 m) and contains a leak-tight steel containment barrier embedded within. The chamber’s doors are 50 by 50 feet (15 by 15 m) and have inflatable seals. The space between the concrete enclosure and the aluminum test chamber is pumped down to a pressure of 20 torrs (2.7 kPa) during a test.


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All The Worlds Futures: The Venice Biennale & The Digital Universe


Live Long And Prosper by Tom Estes Digital map of all the known galaxies in the universe projected onto the artist’s right hand. Each dot represents a whole Galaxy just like our own Milky Way.  The hand is in a salute which first appeared in popular culture through the television series  Star Trek. But this salute has nuch older origins. It turns out it is an ancient priestly blessing that forms the Hebrew letter Shin.

The connection between art and the social is undeniable. The historic city of Venice, for example is a living “open-air” museum with a cultural and artistic heritage of inestimable value. The city also plays host to The Venice Biennale —  has for over a century been one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world. “All the World’s Futures” is the title of the 56th Art Exhibition organized by la Biennale di Venezia and curated by internationally recognized Nigerian born, Okwui Enwezor.

This year the organizers of The Venice Biennale employed a metaphorical “Filter”, for the historical trajectory that the event itself, over the course of its one hundred and twenty years of existence has run over. A Filter through which to reflect on both the current “state of things” and the “appearance of things. The President of la Biennale di Venezia, Paolo Baratta, accompanied by the curator, Okwui Enwezor, met with the representatives of the 53 Countries participating and determined this years theme for 2015. A “Parliament of Forms” rather than one overarching theme was chosen. The title and theme which is ‘All the World’s Futures’ is informed by a layer of intersecting “Filters” or a constellation of parameters that circumscribe multiple ideas, touched upon to both imagine and realize a diversity of practices.


The Biennial Project  Residency Project takes place in the heart of the historic city of Venice — an “open-air” museum with a cultural and artistic heritage of inestimable value. The residency for this years recipient, Tom Estes also takes place during The Venice Biennale — which has for over a century been one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world.

This year’s Biennial Project Artist in Residence, Tom Estes has always leaned toward making Live Art performance work that is participatory or immersive in some way. In his Live Art performance Estes stages an ‘action’ and then ask members of the audience to take pictures on a communal camera. In this way, the audience becomes part of the performance, and the pictures are then posted on on-line social networking sites and web sites for another, wider on-line audience. In the search for a language and method for an exhibition in Venice, Artist Tom Estes  settled on the nature of the exhibition as fundamentally a visual, somatic, aural, and narrative event. In so doing, he asked how an exhibition of the scale and scope of the 56th International Art Biennale could be addressed in its format and refreshed within the potential of its temporal capacity.

In recent years science and technology have begun to catch up with science fiction. So many of the fantasies and illusions of the past are no longer a contradiction of reality, but instead an integral part of our everyday lives. Through his practice artist Tom Estes directly references the surreal wit of Sci-fi and horror and their related ideological fictions. But the above image is a real map comprised of high-quality raw scientific data collected to maximize the understanding of three scientific themes: Dark energy and cosmological parameters, The structure, dynamics and chemical evolution of the Milky Way & The architecture of planetary systems. And case you were wondering… all in all, there is an estimated 100 billion galaxies in the universe. To count them all, you have to be able to look far enough back in time or deep enough in space to see when galaxies were formed.

Through the work, Estes glimpses the possibilities and problems that emerge when becoming a digital entity. The concept of liveness and epic duration  in the work served two complementary purposes: they suggest the idea that All the World’s Futures is both a spatial and temporal manifestation that is relentlessly incomplete, structured by a logic of unfolding, and a program of events that can be experienced at the intersection of liveness and display.

NASAgravity-probe-bEstes explores the phyical in relation to the non-physical and the coexistence of disparate elements within shared spaces. This can be seen in relation to Einstein’s theory of general relativity which predicted that the space-time around Earth would be not only warped but also twisted by the planet’s rotation.

By enacting a Digital Universe Atlas of all the known galaxies in the universe projected onto the artist’s hand, Estes draws on the many works of science fiction as well as some forecasts by serious technologists and futurologists predict that enormous amounts of computing power will be available in the future.  Each digital dot represents a whole Galaxy just like our own Milky WayThe digital display staged by the artist is a dramatization of the space of as a continuous, unfolding, and unceasing live event. The work activates the micro and the macro as well as other works by the artist that are already existing while referencing and overlapping numerous mainstream, religious, technological and scientific cultural links. Concepts surrounding animation, digital technologies and Science Fiction are expanded and retracted into a digital display that enacts a sort of hysteria around flatness and depth perception in relation to technologies, space and time travel, real and illusory spaces—physical, virtual, the internal, and the external.

Back in 2003, British philosopher Nick Bostrom published a paper that proposed the universe we live in might in fact really be a numerical computer simulation. Simulated Reality is the hypothesis that reality could be simulated—for example by computer simulation—to a degree indistinguishable from “true” reality, and may in fact be such a simulation. It could contain conscious minds which may or may not be fully aware that they are living inside a simulation. This is quite different from the current, technologically achievable concept of virtual reality. Virtual reality is easily distinguished from the experience of actuality; participants are never in doubt about the nature of what they experience. Simulated reality, by contrast, would be hard or impossible to separate from “true” reality.  So for example the above ‘numerical simulation’ is a recognizable scientific visualization of the theory rather than an actual numerical simulation. Dimension-hopping has never been so easy or so exhilarating.

GematriaBut before you dismiss this idea as completely loony, the reality of such a Sim Universe might solve a lot of eerie mysteries about the cosmos. Gematria is an Assyro-Babylonian system of numerology later adopted by Jews that assigns numerical value to a word or phrase in the belief that words or phrases with identical numerical values bear some relation to each other or bear some relation to the number itself as it may apply to a person’s age, the calendar year, or the like. The best-known example of Gematria is the Hebrew word Chai (“alive”), which is composed of two letters that (using the assignments in the Mispar gadoltable shown below) add up to 18. Though gematria is most often used to calculate the values of individual words, psukim (Biblical verses), Talmudical aphorisms, sentences from the standard Jewish prayers, personal, angelic and Godly names, and other religiously significant material, Kabbalists use them often for arbitrary phrases and, occasionally, for various languages. Some identify two forms of gematria: the “revealed” form, which is prevalent in many hermeneutic methods found throughout Rabbinic literature, and the “mystical” form, a largely Kabbalistic practice.

 The Vulcan salute (as well as the title) found in Estes’ work Live Long And Prosper first appeared in “Star Trek” in 1967 with the episode “Amok Time.” But where did it come from? It turns out it came from the actor Nimoy himself. Nimoy says in his autobiography that it is a priestly blessing that forms the Hebrew letter Shin. Shin stands for the word Shaddai, a name for God. Because of this, a kohen (priest) forms the letter Shin with his hands as he recites the Priestly Blessing. Shin also stands for the word Shaddai, a name for God. Because of this, a kohen (priest) forms the letter Shin with his hands as he recites thePriestly Blessing. In the mid 1960s, actor Leonard Nimoy used a single-handed version of this gesture to create the Vulcan hand salute for his character, Mr. Spock, on Star Trek.


In this Live Art Performance Gags betray complex meanings and socio-political satire, and unrelated objects, locales, and avatars interact in both the same dimension and time as well as imagined ones. In this performance Estes wears an “H” on his forehead acting out the role of a hologram- thereby suggesting that he is ‘not physically present’ or ‘not really there’. 

In the Sefer Yetzirah the letter Shin is King over Fire, Formed Heaven in the Universe, Hot in the Year, and the Head in the Soul. The letter shin appears engraved on both sides of the head- tefilin. On the right side, the shin possesses three heads, while on the left side it possesses four heads. In Kabbalah we are taught that the three-headed shin is the shin of this world while the four- headed shin is the shin of the World to Come. The secret of the shin is “the flame [Divine Revelation] bound to the coal [Divine Essence].” A simmering coal actually possesses an invisible flame within it, which emerges and ascends from the surface of the coal when the coal is blown upon. The three levels: coal, inner flame, and outer flame, correspond to the secret of chash-mal-mal, as will be explained in the next letter, the tav.

The shape of the letter Shin mimics the structure of the human heart: the lower, larger left ventricle (which supplies the full body) and the smaller right ventricle (which supplies the lungs) are positioned like the lines of the letter Shin. A religious significance has been applied to the fact that there are three valleys which comprise the city of Jerusalem’s geography: the Valley of Ben Hinnom, Tyropoeon Valley, and Kidron Valley, and that these valleys converge to also form the shape of the letter shin, and that the Temple in Jerusalem is located where the dagesh (horizontal line) is. This is seen as a fulfillment of passages such as Deuteronomy 16:2 that instructs Jews to celebrate the Pasach at “the place the LORD will choose as a dwelling for his Name” (NIV).

One of the meanings of the word shin in Hebrew is shinui, “change.” The coal symbolizes changeless essence, the secret of the verse: “I am God, I have not changed,” meaning that relative to God’s Essence absolutely no change has occurred from before Creation to after Creation. The inner flame is the paradoxical latent presence of the power of change within the changeless. The outer flame of the shin is continuously in a state of motion and change. As in the above-quoted verse, the changeless Essence is the secret of the Name Havayah. The power of change, as latently present within God’s Essence before Creation and thereafter revealed in the infinite intricacy and beauty of an ever-dancing flame, is the secret of the explicit Name of Creation, Elokim, the only Name of God which appears in the plural. The number of the letter shin, 300, unites these two Divine Names as the “flame bound to the coal.” In at’bash, the Name Havayah transforms to the letters mem-tzadik-pei-tzadik, which total 300. The five letters of Elokim (alef-lamed-hei-yud-mem) when written in full, also equal 300.


Transversable Wormhole Coordinates- A Digital Projection by Tom Estes. Recently an international team of scientists studying ultrafast physics have solved a mystery of quantum mechanics, and found that quantum tunneling is an instantaneous process.

The three heads of the shin of this world correspond to the three levels of the changeless, potential, and actual change as discussed above. In this world, the changeless is symbolized only by a black, dark coal, not as the revealed light of the flame. Nonetheless the endurance of the flame depends upon the changeless essence of the coal. In the World to Come, the changeless essence will reveal itself within the flame. This revelation of the future is the secret of the fourth head of the shin. In the flame of a candle one sees three levels of light: the “dark light” around the wick of the candle, the white flame encompassing it, and an amorphous aura around the white flame itself. Each of these three levels of revealed light manifests a dimension contained within the invisible flame present in the coal. In general the flame symbolizes love, as is said: “as mighty as death is love…the flame of God.” The dark light corresponds to the love of Israel, souls enclothed within physical bodies. The white light corresponds to the love of Torah. The aura corresponds to the love of God. These are the three essential manifestations of love as taught by the Ba’al Shem Tov. The fourth head of the shin of the future – the revelation of the essence of the coal itself – corresponds to the love of the Land of Israel and, as our Sages teach: “the Land of Israel will in the future spread to incorporate all the lands of the earth.

But here is the catch. As off-the-wall as all this sounds, a team of physicists at the University of Washington (UW) has since announced that there is a potential test to the Simulation Hypothesis. Ironically, it would be the first such observation for scientifically hypothesized evidence of intelligent design behind the cosmos. If we are living in such a computer program, there could be tell-tale evidence for the underlying lattice used in modeling the space-time continuum, say the researchers. This signature could show up as a limitation in the energy of cosmic rays. They would travel diagonally across the model universe and not interact equally in all directions, as they otherwise would be expected to do according to present cosmology.


Estes created his performance and digital projects for Venice thinking through the lens of 20th-century cartoons, Atari video games, The Sims, ancient Hebrew Texts, the writing of Oxford Professor of Philosophy Nick Bostrom, the innovative and self-reflective film Tron and televison series Star Trek and Red Dwarf, and other children’s entertainment.

Let us suppose for a moment that these predictions are correct. One thing that later generations might do with their super-powerful computers is run detailed simulations of their forebears or of people like their forebears. Because their computers would be so powerful, they could run a great many such simulations. Suppose that these simulated people are conscious (as they would be if the simulations were sufficiently fine-grained and if a certain quite widely accepted position in the philosophy of mind is correct). Then it could be the case that the vast majority of minds like ours do not belong to the original race but rather to people simulated by the advanced descendants of an original race. It is then possible to argue that, if this were the case, we would be rational to think that we are likely among the simulated minds rather than among the original biological ones.

The extraordinary vision of the Simulation Hypothesis and it’s bizarre Twilight Zone twist, was first published by Hans Moravec in 1988, pushed the boundaries of imagination, science and digital-effects technology. In 2003, Oxford University philosopher Nick Bostrom published a paper that proposed the universe we live in might in fact really be a numerical computer simulation.  The mind-twisting Simulated Reality hypothesis suggests that reality could be simulated—for example by computer simulation—to a degree indistinguishable from “true” reality, and may in fact be such a simulation. It could contain conscious minds which may or may not be fully aware that they are living inside a simulation. This is quite different from the current, technologically achievable concept of virtual reality. Virtual reality is easily distinguished from the experience of actuality; participants are never in doubt about the nature of what they experience. Simulated reality, by contrast, would be hard or impossible to separate from “true” reality. The paper exemplifies the idea that a sufficiently cool outcome justifies all of the tortured narrative it takes to get there.



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