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Link Roundup 12.20

In this new link roundup: phone hackers (a history), films in 70mm (15 are playing in New York city), a new book by Roberto Esposito about Italian philosophy, frozen anatomy, applying the law during occupation (a documentary), biorobots, more video games acquired by the MoMA, a collection of documentaries about Stanley Kubrick available on YouTube, a short interview with French philosopher Gaston Bachelard captured on film, science in the media, homicide rate in Canada for 2011 (it’s relatively low), some thoughts about the infamous cover published by The New York Post on December 4th, some humor from McSweeney’s, The Noun Project, American animator Bill Plympton’s new project, homosexuality and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the problems with digital television monitors and, finally, a chance to meet Monsieur Merde in a short film directed by Leos Carax in 2008.

• • •

  • Exploding the phone (official website). Upcoming book (February 2013) by Phil Lapsley from Grove/Atlantic Press:

    Author Phil Lapsley traces the birth of the telephone, the rise of AT&T’s monopoly, the discovery of Ma Bell’s Achilles heel, and follows the kids and outlaws who used it for fun and profit. Along the way you’ll meet an oddball cast of characters ranging from FBI agents to whistling blind kids, from informants to entrepreneurs. More than five years in the making, Exploding The Phone is based on original interviews and declassified documents and includes a Foreword by former phone phreak and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

    LAPSLEY 2013 Exploding the phone

  • The Film Society of Lincoln Center announces See It In 70mm (Dec. 21 – Jan. 1st):

    The Film Society of Lincoln Center announced today that it will present 15 films in their original 70mm glory, featuring a mix of beloved classics and rarely screened gems, all at the Walter Reade Theater – one of the last remaining cinemas in the country equipped to screen 70mm prints.

    Complementary reading from the FSLC’s blog: “The Big Picture” by Max Nelson, Nov. 20, 2012 and “What is 70mm?” by Scott Foundas, Nov. 29, 2012.

    70mm

  • Stanford University Press: Living Thought. The Origins and Actuality of Italian Philosophy by Roberto Esposito, tr. by Zakiya Hanafi, 2012, 296 pp. See also Google Books for a preview.

    The work of contemporary Italian thinkers, what Roberto Esposito refers to as Italian Theory, is attracting increasing attention around the world. This book explores the reasons for its growing popularity, its distinguishing traits, and why people are turning to these authors for answers to real-world issues and problems. The approach he takes, in line with the keen historical consciousness of Italian thinkers themselves, is a historical one. He offers insights into the great “unphilosophical” philosophers of life—poets, painters, politicians and revolutionaries, film-makers and literary critics—who have made Italian thought, from its beginnings, an “impure” thought. People like Machiavelli, Croce, Gentile, and Gramsci were all compelled to fulfill important political roles in the societies of their times. No wonder they felt that the abstract vocabulary and concepts of pure philosophy were inadequate to express themselves. Similarly, artists such as Dante, Leonardo Da Vinci, Leopardi, or Pasolini all had to turn to other disciplines outside philosophy in order to discuss and grapple with the messy, constantly changing realities of their lives.

  • Codex 99: “A Cross-Section Anatomy” post no. 132, Nov. 25, 2012.

    As early as 1803, the anatomist Pieter de Riemer published specimens from bodies frozen in the Dutch winter. Forty years later the legendary Russian surgeon Nicholas Ivanovitch Pirogoff, with the advantage of presumably even more severe winters, developed a method “by which the human body could be so solidified by freezing and that it could cut like wood into thin sections,” and published the first great cross sectional anatomy – the five-volume Anatomie Topographica.

    The next advance in tissue fixation was the use of formlin by Dimitrie Gerota in 1895. Using this method the St. Louis University anatomy professors Albert Chuancey Eycleshymer and Daniel Martin Schoemaker began to section subjects for classroom demonstration and research purposes. Eventually this lead to the idea of a comprehensive cross-sectional anatomy “to show the essential step between dissection and visualization; to suggest to the anatomist a basis for exact anatomy and to furnish the clinician a gross anatomy in practical form.” It took the pair nearly six years – and sections from fifty cadavers – to publish A Cross-Section Anatomy.

    Anatomy

  • The Law in These Parts a documentary by Ra’anan Alexandrowicz, 2011 (IMDb).

    Can a modern democracy impose a prolonged military occupation on another people while retaining its core democratic values? Since Israel conquered the territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 war, the military has imposed thousands of orders and laws, established military courts, sentenced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, enabled half a million Israeli “settlers” to move to the Occupied Territories and developed a system of long-term jurisdiction by an occupying army that is unique in the entire world. The men entrusted with creating this new legal framework were the members of Israel’s military legal corps. Responding to a constantly changing reality, these legal professionals have faced (and continue to face) complex judicial and moral dilemmas in order to develop and uphold a system of long-term military “rule by law” of an occupied population, all under the supervision of Israel’s Supreme Court, and, according to Israel, in complete accordance with international law.

  • The Creators Project: “3D Printed “Biobots” Powered By Rat Heart Cells” by Kevin Holmes, November 20, 2012.

    Everyday the future written about in sci-fi seems to get ever closer and it’s tech like 3D printing that’s making it happen. You can dispute that claim, but I will counter your dispute with this latest breakthrough: 3D printed biobots. These Frankenbots mix the biological with the artificial and use rat’s heart cells for power.

    The concoction is the result of work by scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The biobots are tiny biological robots—7mm tall—that use a 3D printer to create a flexible gel scaffold, which is then injected with the rat’s heart cells. The cells chow down on liquid food so they can allow the biobot to walk, travelling at the micro-speed of 236 micrometers per second.

  • MoMA’s Inside/Out: “Video Games: 14 in the Collection, for Starters” by Paola Antonelli (Senior curator, Department of Architecture and Design), Nov. 29, 2012. This is not the first notable museum to deal with video games. Previously this year, The Smithsonian held the exhibition The Art of Video Games. Last May, the MoMA presented a two-days symposium titled Critical Play—The Game as an Art Form. What’s interesting with Paola Antonelli announcement is that it’s also an essay about video games as design:

    Are video games art? They sure are, but they are also design, and a design approach is what we chose for this new foray into this universe. The games are selected as outstanding examples of interaction design—a field that MoMA has already explored and collected extensively, and one of the most important and oft-discussed expressions of contemporary design creativity. Our criteria, therefore, emphasize not only the visual quality and aesthetic experience of each game, but also the many other aspects—from the elegance of the code to the design of the player’s behavior—that pertain to interaction design.

  • Cinephilia & Beyond: “All the essential documentaries about Stanley Kubrick” September 26, 2012. Most of them are available to watch on YouTube. Below for example is the excellent Stanley Kubrick : Life in Pictures (IMDb) in all its 2 hours and 21 minutes.

  • Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962) was a French philosopher who’s important contribution to philosophy of science is widely recognized. Here’s a short film archive of an interview he gave to the French TV show Cinq Colonnes à la Une on December 1961:

  • The Guardian: “You can’t see DNA unless you look properly” by Stephen Curry, Dec. 1st, 2012. Curry is professor of structural biology at the Imperial College in London. Here, he reacts to the hyperbolic ways in which a new scientific study about DNA imaging (“Direct Imaging of DNA Fibers: The Visage of Double Helix”) was relayed by some media outlets. Although it isn’t a new issue (see “The Science News Cycle” by PhD Comics, May 18, 2009) it’s still an important one: what function fulfills this need to amplify information to a caricatural degree? As complementary reading, consider those two articles: The New Yorker: “Neuroscience Fiction” by Gary Marcus, Dec. 2, 2012 and New York magazine: “Proust Wasn’t a Neuroscientist. Neither was Jonah Lehrer” by Boris Kachka, Oct. 28, 2012

    DNA

  • Statistics Canada: “Homicide in Canada, 2011” Dec. 4, 2012.

    Police reported 598 homicides in Canada in 2011, 44 more than the year before. This was the first increase in homicides in three years. The homicide rate was 1.73 per 100,000 population in 2011, 7% higher than the previous year. Despite annual fluctuations, the homicide rate has remained relatively stable over the past decade. Previous to this, it had generally been declining since the mid-1970s.

    Homicide 2011 Canada

  • Reuters: “The deadliest image” by Jack Shafer, December 6, 2012

    “The outrage is less about the photo, picture or the New York Post than it is about us and how we are always changing the uncomfortable boundaries of when it’s appropriate to show death,” she writes. “In the 1940s, this picture would have been celebrated as a professional triumph.”

    The subway-photo debate speaks legions about our increasing squeamishness, Zelizer tells me, and the changes in our views about morality, politics, and technology. “The debate about this photographer becomes a useful punching bag for all our unresolved sentiments about what to show in news pics.”

    One take on the infamous photo of a man who had fallen onto the subway tracks in New York and was about to be hit by an incoming train (he was killed by the accident). When I first saw the image ―online― I immediately thought of Weegee and the kind of photos he was taking during his lifetime.

    NYP Doomed

  • McSweeney’s: “Welcome to My Rare and Antiquarian eBook Shop” by Eric Hague, Dec. 6 2012.

    No, I don’t have any DRM-cracked Game of Thrones files for Nook. Sir, need I remind you that this is a serious, scholarly establishment with an incredibly sophisticated clientele? Why, just the other day Jonathan Franzen was in here asking for directions to the Apple Store. At any rate, petty digital piracy is beneath my craft.

    Now if you’ll look over here, you’ll see that we have a rare .doc draft of The Corrections that I found when someone accidentally left his laptop bag in the store. How does $7,000 sound?

  • The Noun Project: a crowdsourced archive of free icons representing universal concepts. Great resource for designers.

    The Noun Project

  • Kickstarter: “Bill Plympton’s CHEATIN’ – An Animated Feature Film” launched on Dec. 3, 2012. Legendary America animator Bill Plympton is funding his next feature film via Kickstarter. If you don’t know about Bill Plympton’s work, there are many excerpt of his animation films on YouTube. Below is an example:

  • ABC Radio National: “81 Words: The Inside Story of Psychiatry and Homosexuality” August 4, 2007.

    Homosexuality was once labelled a mental disease by psychiatry. But in 1973 the challenge came from within. The American Psychiatric Association had a change of heart. And with the tweak of the 81-word definition of sexual deviance in its own diagnostic manual, lives were reclaimed, and values confronted. Reporter and narrator Alix Spiegel tells the gripping story from the inside, revealing the activities of a closeted group of gay psychiatrists who sowed the seeds of change, amongst them her own grandfather, president-elect of the APA at the time. From Chicago Public Radio’s This American Life.

    The story of how homosexuality was categorized as a mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is an excellent demonstration of an important although underestimated fact: categories are not natural, they are powerful political devices. Nobody “falls” into a category, like a distracted pedestrian into an uncovered well: we can chose to enter a category, but we can also be pushed and locked into one.

  • A.V. Club: “You’re watching it wrong: Threats to the image in the digital age” by Scott Tobias, August 9, 2012.

    If solving image problems in the digital age were as easy as fiddling with the settings on the TV—it’s not that easy, with the insane multitude of options, but it can be done—then I wouldn’t have much cause for concern. As much as my inner dictator would like to slip into every home, Santa Claus-style, and adjust the settings on people’s TV sets, they have the right to watch things however they like. In hotels across America right now, people are watching stretchy analog signals on HD sets and even cable outlets are broadcasting old TV shows like Seinfeld at 16:9, lest they field complaints about the dreaded black bars that would frame the show as it was actually photographed. It’s not just that people are watching TV wrong—it’s that they’re being encouraged to watch TV wrong. Funhouse distortion has become the norm.

    See also “Your New TV Ruins Movies” by Stu Maschwitz, March 28, 2011.

  • Finally, for those who haven’t watch Tokyo! (2008, IMDb), Vimeo has the 38 minutes segment directed by Leos Carax. The short film features Monsieur Merde, played by Denis Lavant. The character of Mr. Merde makes a notable come back in Lavant’s latest feature film Holy Motors (previously here). One wonders what Carax would think of his films being presented on a small computer screen.