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tom moody

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The Senate confirmed Alberto "Electrodes" Gonzales as Attorney General of the U.S. today. 6 Democrats crossed over to join the Republicans in endorsing torture as the official policy of the U.S.: Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, Mark Pryor, Ken Salazar, and "Holy Joe" Lieberman. Way to go, guys!

The good news, as daily Kos sees it, is that "36 Dems in total made a principled stand against torture and voted 'no.' That's a huge victory, and yet additional evidence of that spinal transplant we've been hoping for."

- tom moody 2-04-2005 3:18 am [link]

In the '50s, a time of postwar optimism and faith in science, there was Hi-Fi. In the '90s, an era of slackers and diminished expectations, there was Lo-Fi. In the '00s, a time of neanderthal government and outright contempt for the arts, there is Neg-Fi. A watershed moment in the history of art and music--some might say sub-nadir--was reached tonight when this New York noise-rock duo demonstrated its Wireless UFDs (uncontrollable feedback devices) to an audience of 100 or so at Dorkbot-NYC. Walkie talkies from the dollar store have been reinstalled in custom cardboard cases. When placed in proximity to each other and turned on, they make squealing and static noises. And that's about it!

Neg-Fi 1

Neg-Fi 2

Neg-Fi 3

Neg-Fi's cassettes and art objects are available through La Superette, which is currently having a Valentines' Day sale. Also on the Dorkbot program tonight were Aaron Yassin, who digitally assembles plein air photos of architecture into seductive tiled patterns reminiscent of Islamic mosaics and Gothic stained glass, and Jason Freeman, who recently had a piece performed at Carnegie Hall in which an orchestra played notes based on the rate at which concertgoers turned on and off glow sticks. The somber 20th Century classical sounds made by the players, reading from a score digitally translating from the blinking lights, seemed even more sedate considering the stick-waving rave taking place in the audience.

UPDATE: The Neg-Fi photos have been brightened up. In true neg-fi spirit they lost some detail, but they are less dingy and yellow now.

- tom moody 2-03-2005 7:39 am [link]

Leif Ritchey Painting

Another work from Leif Ritchey's show at ATM. In the beginning was Pollock, and it was called "formalism," but yea that was ridiculous because everyone knew it was a wrenching experience beyond language and not some pedantic exploration of art's technical building blocks. Then Pollock begat Mike Kelley, who stole from women (in a good way) and imbued the formal language that was never formal with specific cultural referents: the soiled stuffed animals plucked from a thousand swap meets that were tokens of love and personal debt: "more love hours than could ever be repaid." And they were good. And Pollock and Kelley begat Leif Ritchey, who returned art to its own innate discourse, leaving it to the viewer to find strands of narrative meaning in his seamstress bricabrac accumulated, teased, and tortured almost beyond belief. And thence it was bequeathed to cyberspace...

- tom moody 2-03-2005 12:20 am [link]

Barium Titanate Animated

Drawings of piezoelectrically stimulated barium titanate from Scientific American, June 1988, animated without permission.

- tom moody 2-02-2005 5:09 am [link]

Artist Bill Schwarz, who has a page here at Digital Media Tree, got into a cool online food fight yesterday with "design sponge"--a design blogger recently profiled in the New York Times. What is a "design blogger"? Reporter Lockhart Steele gives the flavor:
On design blogs, readers who are normally not privy to chatter among interior decorators and tastemakers can participate in debates on burning topics (sample: Is the designer Karim Rashid overrated?); get advance word on design trends, like erotic stained glass; and find answers to practical issues, such as how to quiet an obnoxiously loud apartment buzzer. These tips and tidbits are sometimes dispensed by bloggers who support themselves with day jobs within the design industry.
it seems Design Sponge blogs enthusiastically about (among other things) products her boss, a PR company, also happens to be flacking. Steele or his editor erroneously reported that she doesn't disclose the relationship--apparently she does, if that makes you feel better about her online recommendations.* Crabby artist that he is, though, Schwarz questioned the feelgood aspect of the project, from his own perspective as a former industry insider:
i think what puts me off about design sponge is the unironic career driven fashion immersion vibe. i worked for bergdorfs for over ten years and got a pretty good inside look at the design and fashion world. but it left me with fashion damage. what puts me off most is the underpinning of planned obsolescence. that little something that makes people dump their two year old stuff for new stuff. i think we should be dealing with classic designs that last for the life of the product and a product that is well made (a harris tweed jacket for instance) should last close to the life time of its owner.
The wordy, wordy responses to Schwarz from design sponge and a rabid reader never replied to this issue. The rabid reader focused with Clarence Darrow-like intensity on Schwarz's use of the word "smarmy" to describe Design Sponge (I'd just say "gushy"), whether he learned of Design Sponge from the Times or on his own, and whether his comment was design blog jealousy. Pretty hard for the latter to be the case when you're running an art blog consisting mostly of minimally or cryptically worded links, with a recurring focus on design, architecture, and arcane Americana, I'd say, but anything's possible.

*Sermon-in-a-footnote. We've heard a lot of blather on the political blogs lately about the need for a blogger code of ethics. You write on blogs about what you know and what you feel passionately about, which may just happen to include carefully insinuated strands of paid PR flackery. Readers have to be critical too, and know that a blog may be good for information or inspiration but not necessarily hard, peer-reviewed facts. When I was reBlogging at Eyebeam, I was a hair's breadth from posting a picture of a "street tagger"'s work before I realized he was a well-paid-by-the-industry, footwear-decorating hack. At least one other hoax I didn't catch. Trust nothing!

- tom moody 2-02-2005 5:08 am [link]

Abstraction w 2 Centrifuges

- tom moody 2-01-2005 6:35 am [link]

From daily Kos:
U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote :
Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times, September 4, 1967

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here.

- tom moody 2-01-2005 4:54 am [link]

This interview with a comment spammer should be of interest to bloggers dealing with this online pestilence. In a nutshell, comment spam is legal but unscrupulous use of blogs' comment features to game search engines and drive up traffic to various vice and pharm-oriented websites.
["Sam"] uses the thousands of "open proxies" on the net. These are machines which, by accident (read: clueless sysadmins) or design (read: clueless managers) are set up so that anyone, anywhere, can access another website through them. Usually intended for internal use, so a company only needs one machine facing the net, they're actually hard to lock down completely. Sam's code gets hundreds of open proxies to obediently spam blogs and other sites with the messages he wants posted. They usually target comments to old posts, so they won't show up to people reading the latest ones, though search engine spiders will spot them and index them.
The only foolproof solution (or at least the only solution "Sam" admits he dreads) is to install "captchas" on your site, such as randomly generated letters mangled in an imaging program that are readable by humans but not spambots, which would have to be typed in at the start of each comment.

- tom moody 2-01-2005 3:35 am [link]