Archive for July 12, 2006

comments back on

Just got robot wisdom’d

so comments are back on becuase some of you folks might have something to say.

July 12, 2006 at 5:35 pm Leave a comment

Some qoutes on Documentaries, Steve McQueen, and Biology

From October 114

T.J. Demos – The Art of Darkness: On Steve McQueen

“Current documentary practices, for instance, may return dangerously to precitical notions of representation that make problematic assumptions of transparency or neutrality. They may also run the risk of proclaiming truthful depictions of a ‘reality’ of authentic subjects living beneath a spectacle of stereotypes…the proposed transparency of a political signified may bring with it a paradoxically authorative interpretative structure that forcloses an otherwise open and polyvocal field of meaning.”

May? isn’t transparency after all one of the lasting methods of proving truth these days? If everyone releases their data on the internet we can all interpret it together… but of course even transparency leads to multiple meanings, example: Mann’s hockey puck thesis of global warming is available online and has been sliced and diced both inside and outside of academia and has lead instead to an increased polarising of climate sceptics and scientests. Simiarly, as The Bible became more transparent, the multiplicity of religious orders increased dramatically.

“McQueen’s work is part of a growing trend….that is developing a new model of documentary form, one incredulous about the objective or unmediated representation of some truthful event or experience, even while it refuses to dispense with the recent ethical imperative to pose new relationships of proximity-if troubled and complex-to those typically excluded or marginalized from the global order… [it] unleashes an uncertian relation to time, uproots any secure material site, and opens onto a multiplicity of meanings…it is the uncertianty between the real and the virtual that Western Deep stresses.”

I’m not sure what Demos means by the virtual here, I guess I’m a little out on art criticism terms, but I’m assuming the virtual means the imagined or interpreted parts of the documentary, for instance the formation of the arguement that the documentary is trying to prove (say gun control in the case of Bowling for Columbine) hence McQueen’s Western Deep makes this unsteady relation apparent and uses it as a means of increasing the depth of his execise, something that Kirk Fitzhugh seems to be searching for in biology:

“Are species classes, that is, the mental constructs consisting of compilations of objects based on properties of those objects? Or do species have the ontological status of objects or individuals? (Objects and individuals, in contrast to classes, exist independent of our perceivi9ng them, although they must have discernible properties for us to recognize them.) Or is a species something else altogether, as I contend, neither class nor individual? Yet no answer is in sight that would indicate that biologists are approaching any sort of consensus.”
from Bioscience June 2006
DNA Barcoding: An instance of Technology-driven science? by Kirk Fitzhugh

Like McQueen, Fitzhugh is concerned with the actual i.e. organisms and the virtual i.e. species: “species names refer to neither individuals nor classes, but rather to scientist’s explanatory hypothesises”. Several aspects of Fithugh’s arguement are classic while species is a common term in biology it’s definition was never actually set down in stone in by scientific literature, and it’s usage since then has held multiple meanings, hence Fitzhugh feels that, “If a species is a hypothesis, a systematist who observes the properties of an organism enages in an inferential process that brings the effects of past reproductive events into an explanatory nexus. This must be based on all relevant evidence, not just sequence data.” Later Kirk notes, “the requirement of total evidence preents an insurmountable obstacle to the method.” Unfortunately, Mr. Kirk is unlikely to breed as many new biologists as McQueen is likely to make documentary film makers. The means of science and the paradigm that DNA barcoding is perhaps bringing into effect necessitates that such questions be submerged into negligence until the possibilities of the new field are satisfied. Who ever said science moves faster than art?

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July 12, 2006 at 5:24 pm

On video games

Much of the discussion about video games I’ve seen focuses on either violence or hand idea coordination with the exception being people like the Terra Nova crew working on the economics and societal aspects of MMORPGs. What’s interesting though, is the logic of the decissions in FPSes. A good FPS player is more than just a good shot or someone incredibly agile with a mouse, it’s about predictive behavoirs. Will the countering team have a sniper rifle? Will they come down path a or b? in groups? etc. A good player is able to position themself by surprise and take advantage of the level instead of the other player’s ping time or lack of a huge screen and gyroscopic mouse etc. These types of decissions aren’t as common in MMORPG where group strategy and leveling up help more than position, but predicting the enemies’ movement in Battlefield, Medal of Honor, Quake, Doom, Half Life, or CS is vital. It’s being able to build a model of user behavoir and know who will run with the group and who’s going to be slinking around the unprotected corner. Perhaps that’s why I find MMORPGs so boring. I bought a Guild Wars account and used it at most 3 times on the other hand I play CS or Quake almost everyday.

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added comments to this thread and pings.

P.S. it’s interesting that these FPSes stress these kinds of proximate logics.

Basically, your average level of counter strike is a fuzzy logic puzzle which might explain part of it’s appeal. After all such pattern recongition games from minimal information and intuitive factors is exactly what the brain specializes in.

July 12, 2006 at 4:38 pm Leave a comment

links for 2006-07-12

July 12, 2006 at 3:20 pm

Women and Peach Wine

The guy next door is kinda like Andy Warhol. He wears leather jackets in spring and always has a hat on giving him a slight hip-hop edge. His girlfriend appears to be living with him now, or perhaps she is the resident and he is sleeper? I go out to work on my aquarium and when I hit the lights she splayed on the floor in a black dress, smiling, and ducking down over a teddy bear. She is waiting for her boyfriend. She is flush and attractive with a demeanor that is much nicer and interesting than their hey boyfriend’s gaze. You could fall in love with this girl quite easily.

Bar #1 is named C’est La Vie and I’ve drunken at it before. It contains several over weight women, and then when CHAOS cloes a bevy of chinese punk rockers dolled out in elvis costello glasses and mohwaks. I start to talk to Yo Yo and read when a woman comes out with her dog. She starts to talk me and has that nice comfortable mother out on the town atmosphere. She is remarkably attractive for someone who I peg at being 40. She spends most of the night messing around with her son in law who sells used furniture. She, and this is becoming a theme in Taipei, is an agent. She seems to be asking me to e-mail her for a part in a commercial. I have no idea. As the night progresses the punk rock girl walks in on me in the bathroom and is terribly polite and surprisingly not embarassed. Agent mom offers me a glass of peach wine and continues to talk to me. She is a lot of fun. A girl walks in with the perfect stature, composure, and solitude of any well off Asian beauty. She is one of those normal girls I’d never talk to, who’s face seems to restlessly picky that it seems like there’s a dress code just to talk to her. She is pimped. As she leans against the bar her lace thong underwear rides up her ass and her monotone green blouse is tied in back with a single long not. She is obviously trowling for something, of course I stare. She looks back at me a couple of times. The fat girl, who works with Pen Gen the agent mom, seems to be having a good time. Suddenly the silk girl begins to cry. She puts ther head down on the desk. Agent mom comes over and begins to talk to her. She continues to sob. I ask why is she crying? Thinking that the fat girl is making fun of her perhaps or is insulting her. She begins to moan, “kill me… kill me…” and then a fragile conversation of mandarin and english ensues with Pen saying “look at me! look at me!” as the girl barely looks up. Ordinarily she wouldn’t come here. About 3 beers (that I didn’t order and two glasses of wine later i.e. about 3 hours) the girl is crying and screaming and everyone is trying to help her. Pen asks me to come over and say something, I feel like I’m inspecting a train wreck, like I’m just calmly looking at some oddity of the world and not a girl who’s heart is broken. Guin, as her name turns out to be, is 23 and her boyfriend has just broken up with her. She sob out little stories, “he knows all my secrets…” etc. and cries. Pen, after about 2 hours of consulting her, tells me she is leaving. “I will be here tomorrow,” she says, is that a come on? Guin on the other hand I spend about 20 minutes next to, Yo Yo tries to translate (he’s not gay BTW) and Pen tells me, don’t go home with that girl, Guin continues to look at me. After she vomits and comes back for more water she has recovered he usual sense of detachment, I am given a non-interested mode of information and finish my beer and leave. Later I circle the bar, looking for her, wanting to go home.

Bar #2 is Kai Lee’s bar who seems to have a boyfriend or at least be dating a member of her staff. She is well travelled (she grew up in Fiji before moving to Australia and then Japan) and her brother is now Japanese (he attained citizenship). Her father is a Doctor which means we both have strange stories of our parents commuting to Japan for conferences and lectures etc. I wanted Dragonball she got sanrio. We go through music together and she reveals she has a John Lennon pink mesh trucker hat which fits over head. She sits in a 1970s space helmet chair which reveals tons of fluff under it and pecks away on her laptop. She is rich, this much is obvious, probably more so than me taken the extended nature of her family and their apparent ability to be insourced to Singaporean collges, Japanese biotech firms, and foreign government (her father lived in Fiji working on transgenic cane plants for the farms there.) She complains about how hard it is to get music here (which is somewhat true little boutiques stock 5 or 6 cds from smallish european labels that would be hard to find in the U.S.) her coffee bar has wifi and serves patte on bagels with wine etc. The more I talk to her, she seems to be more a product of her family’s wealth than perhaps as intellectual, but she is the first person to trackspot tracks from my ipod that we both agree are amazing (she likes Geoff White a lot). In the end the bar closes and we’re still talking, how old is this girl? is the man behind her boyfriend (judging from his eyes yes).

As I go home one beer and a bagel richer, I run into Wei Wei who is talking on her cell phone. She asks, why haven’t you come recently? I can’t drink every night I say, despite the fact that I am coming directly from the bar nextdoor, she laughs and I say I’ll come by later in the week. One thing I hate about Taipei is having to drink to meet people.

July 12, 2006 at 1:30 am Leave a comment


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