August 2004 Archives

Optophonic Lunaphone

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Went to the MAC on Sunday night to see/hear the Optophonic Lunaphone, a project/performance by Brian Duffy - the man also behind the Modified Toy Orchestra and the ZX Spectrum Orchestra.


Brian had 8 or so 4-6" telescopes in the outdoor arena. Each had a light intensity to voltage convertor fitted, the idea being that a stars twinkle would produce a low frequency signal that could be fed into an analogue synthesiser (like my old Pro-One) to module a sound by frequency or amplitude. During the performance each telescope could be steered onto a different star in turn, or onto the moon, or the performers could manually obstruct the light to cause a variation.

Great in theory, but of course this being an English sumer there were few stars to be seen, and the moon was birght when up, but regularly obscured.

The start was delayed and delayed hoping for better weather, but in the end Brian wisely just went for it, and everybody was rooting for him. In the end I think the performance had next to no stellar input, lots of manually "twinkle", but Brian produced some really good white noise sculpted sounds that had everybody enthralled. The moon and the sky added to the atmosphere, if not the sounds. All in all a success, and well worth trying again.

Dilbert on AI



Just love this recent Dilbert.

Waking Life

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waking-life04t.jpg  waking-life02t.jpg

Finally got round to seeing Richard Linklater's Waking Life. Just a superb film. For those who don't know it it was shot on film, but then cartooned over in a wonderfully fluid, low res style. Wondeful. The film itself is just Linklater's character in a dream talking to a whole bunch of people oabout conciousnes, and the difference between the dreaming and waking life (the secret apparently is that light switches don't work in dreams). Wonderful film and well worth getting on DVD.

Also saw Donnie Darko on vid the other week. Another great indie film.

The Stone Canal & The Sky Road

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Ken MacLeod - The Stone Canal **** & The Sky Road **1/2


It's the summer holidays so I'm getting a fair amount read for a change. Finished off the 2nd and 4th books in Ken MacLeod "Communists in Space" quartet (my title not his. What is it about Communist SF - just reading Thigmoo which takes a similar stance). I really enjoyed the first book - The Star Fraction, and I'd say I enjoyed each book less as the quartet progresses. One of the main problems with The Sky Road is that it is verging on technofeudalism - one of my pet hates. Stone Canal also handles the dual time period narrative better than Sky Road - and works better because one of its narratives is our present.

Having read the first of his Engines of Light books, and abandoned the second where the lost colony/feudalist bit gets played even more, I'm sorry to say I'm going off him as an author. Hey even Iain Banks has shown feudal tendencies - obviously something in the Scottish water ( the Scotch? ).

Bryant's Gully



Just back from two weeks in Wales - successfully dodging the floods and rain. One week in the Gower - beaches and surfing, and one in Snowdonia with the MAM - climbing and walking. Highlight for me was doing Bryants Gully in Llanberis Pass. Just a bit perturbed that when I went looking for it on the the web all the photos showed teams with ropes and helmets - and I solo'd it with neither! Must go back though to get some good photos of the Giants Causeway type basalt columns at the top of the gully.

In June 2003 acclaimed business writer and Editor-at-Large Nicholas Carr wrote a short article in the Harvard Business Review entitled “IT Doesn’t Matter”. The article became a sensation and was hotly debated in major corporations and large IT suppliers – as Carr appeared to be challenging the justification for ever greater spending on IT. Carr has now published a book expanding on his thesis – but tellingly has chosen the less provocative title of “Does IT Matter?”.


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Jeff Noon - Nymphomation ***1/2


Sitting between Automated Alice and Vurt in Jeff's loosely coupled quartet Jeff Noon - Nymphomation is probably the most fun when its lampooning National Lottery culture - here represented by Mr Million's Dominoes game being trialled in Manchester. The style is similar to his other books, a very punk narrative. The burb-flys that fly around transmitting adverts are a nice nanotech/MEMS touch.
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