Man vs. Box

As the Japanese continue their misguided forays into the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence, we can, no doubt, expect to see more scenarios like the one played out here, in this video. What chance does a human being stand against the cold, steel mind of the insidious Machine? If a man can’t even flip a switch in peace in the presence of one of these things, what hope is there for our future?

This is what happens when our creations rebel. This will be the end of us.

Evil Robot or Japanese Building?

Flickr user turezure recently snapped this menacing picture of the Humax Pavilion in Shibuya. Doesn’t it look like it’s just sitting there, biding its time, waiting to bust a move, Megatron-style?

The Pavilion was designed in 1991 by Hiroyuki Wakabayashi, who also designed the Nankai 50000 train series, seen above. The design theme for the train was Outdated Future, and indeed, there is a suspicious resemblance to the 1978  Cylon Centurian model.Wakabayashi’s other works include the breathtaking Uji Station and Maruto Bldg. No.17 in Kyoto. [via Battling Pink Robots]

Genki Sudo and World Order Present “MACHINE CIVILIZATION”

In response to last month’s horrific earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and in an effort to rally people’s spirits, the music group World Order has produced this surreal and touching video, “Machine Civilization”. World Order is the brain child of Genki Sudo –a mixed martial artist, musician and choreographer– who had this to say [rough translation via Angry Asian Man]:

Many disasters are ongoing in Japan; earthquakes, Tsunami, and nuclear accidents. These unprecedented things may be able to change however from now. That’s why I expressed through World Order to convey some message to you on my own way. I see these accidents will become a turning point of civilization. I think the time of revolution is coming, where people in the world coexist with this planet against the system of modern society, economy and politics.

Any accident is neutral. Although we are straying around this deep darkness, I believe we can get through anything when each of us let go of our fear, and face things positively.

The world won’t change on its own. We do change one by one. That makes the world change. The darkness just before the dawn is deepest. So, we do rise up together to greet the brilliant morning truly coming for the human beings.


(On that note, big thanks to all who bid on the Coilhouse Care Package for Japan auction. You helped raise a donation of $122.50 to the Red Cross in support of disaster relief efforts.)

(World Order link via William Gibson. Arigatou gozaimasu!)

The Forgotten Arms Race

The reels of footage from America were, to say the least, a cause for concern. So concerning, in fact, that Serov personally presented the official report to Khrushchev. Witnesses in the room claim that the First Secretary of the Central Committee looked visibly shaken, the blood draining from his face. The idea that the enemy would be in possession of such an animal, empowered with such advanced situational awareness and capable of communicating with humans was astonishing. His first question upon composing himself was to ask just how the KGB could have been unaware of a program to create such a creature; a question for which Serov had no answer. It was a spectacular failure of intelligence that would haunt the rest of his career and, some speculated, would ultimately be the reason for his dismissal (unfairly, one might point out, as the experiment had come to fruition before his appointment as the Ministry’s head).

Needless to say, work began almost immediately on a response. The canine was smart, yes, and agile but it was still a dog and, therefore, still susceptible to all the dangers that might befall the squishy, fragile body of a living creature. Dr. Sergey Sergeyevich Bryukhonenko had already laid the groundwork for what Russian scientists were proposing, and they wasted no time in putting it into practice. No such head-start was afforded them in the construction of the mechanical body, however, and yet the team still managed to build a working prototype in the span of two years.

“I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess”

Gynoids. Pleasure models. Fembots. Bionic women. Borg queens. Stepford wives. Sometimes they’re hot. Sometimes they’re fierce. And yet sometimes, they all start to look the same.

When’s the last time you saw a female robot who didn’t appear to have a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.7? Other than Rosie, the robot maid from The Jetsons. This powerful portrait of London-based plus-size model Bea Sweet by digital artist Benedict Campbell (previously on Coilhouse) confronts that question head-on.

It’s great to see a sexy, strong robotic woman who isn’t rail-thin, to imagine a future where robot designers craft something other than Barbies and Kens, or one in which robots design themselves in a way that discards the expectations of their human forbearers. And yeah, loving this doesn’t mean letting go of a deep adoration for Bjork’s All is Full of Love, or, for that matter, Takashi Itsuki’s bruised bondage robot amputees. There’s room for all those things.

A few quotes from Donna Haraway, author of The Cyborg Manifesto:

  • “We are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short, we are cyborgs.”
  • “A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social relations, our most important political construction, a world-changing fiction.”
  • “The cyborg would not recognize the Garden of Eden; it is not made of mud and cannot dream of returning to dust.”
  • “Cyborg writing must not be about the Fall, the imagination of a once-upon-a-time wholeness before language, before writing, before Man. Cyborg writing is about the power to survive, not on the basis of original innocence, but on the basis of seizing the tools to mark the world that marked them as other.”
  • “It is no accident that the symbolic system of the family of man – and so the essence of woman – breaks up at the same moment that networks of connection among people on the planet are unprecedentedly multiple, pregnant, and complex.”
  • “The cyborg is a kind of disassembled and reassembled, postmodern collective and personal self. This is the self feminists must code.”
  • “I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess”

Living Day To Day In The Post-Apocalypse

Nathaniel Lindsay’s Ducked and Covered: A Survival Guide to the Post Apocalypse addresses an almost completely overlooked subject in the world of informational videos: how one should go about daily life in a world ravaged by a nuclear holocaust when the remaining population has been reduced to a shambling band of mutants and/or have all resorted to cannibalism. I will admit I was skeptical at first, after all this video hails from Australia, a land populated by the worst England had to offer making its citizens decidedly untrustworthy, not to mention that their theories of what the world will be like after a cataclysm having a strange preoccupation with vehicular combat (no doubt due to the fact that when England founded this prison continent they made it illegal for citizens to own cars. Fact. (Editor’s Note: That is not a fact. What is it with you and Australia?)) Any worries I may have had proved unjustified as Lindsay makes sure to point out the real threat of post-apocalyptic civilization: killer robots. Killer robots with lasers.

Via The Daily What

A Beautiful Grid of Art and Science

The superbly-designed website SpaceCollective dedicates itself to study of topics such as transhumanism, robotics, experimental architecture, and pretty much anything else that one can equate to “living the life of science fiction today.” Most of the site’s activity centers around blog posts and collaborative university projects, but one of the most stunning portions of the site, dense with complex, inspiring visuals and information, is the gallery.

There are six pages of scienctific psychedelia – a absorbing mixture as varied as Googie architecture, macro shots of hydrozoa, renderings of magnetic structures, jellyfish automatons, microchip embroidery, concept art from sci-fi films, and much more along the same lines. Two random images from this gallery may not have much to do with each other, but all together, they make a surprisingly cohesive whole. Quotes from the likes of Verner Vinge, Buckminster Fuller and Jorge Luis Borges cycle between the imagery, and most images are hyperlinked out to further sources. Enjoy!

Kill Your Co-Workers By Flying Lotus

I admit I know nothing about Flying Lotus but the video for their song “Kill Your Co-Workers” caught my eye. Featuring the digital madness of Mike Winkelmann, viagra it depicts a joyful parade that goes horribly, horribly awry. Mr. Winkelmann has made the models open source and available for download for those with an artistic bent.

Arthur C. Clarke’s 1964 Predictions for Today

BBC’s Horizon is a philosophical and scientific series that still runs today. Its opening episode in 1964 featured Coilhouse patron saint, Buckminster Fuller, along with the program’s mission statement:

The aim of Horizon is to provide a platform from which some of the world’s greatest scientists and philosophers can communicate their curiosity, observations and reflections, and infuse into our common knowledge their changing views of the universe.

Later that year, science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke was invited to share his visions of the future. Some are scary, warning us of the world becoming a giant suburb – right up there with the terror of Idiocracy, which still gives my nightmares. Some are encouraging, though yet-unrealized. My favorite speculations include: domed communities on icecaps, holidays under the sea, planetary engineering, and my top favorite remains recording directly onto the brain [please, yes?].

Though we’re running out of time to camp on either of the Poles, who’s to say at least some of us won’t be vacationing on the Moon in a fifty years? After all, Clarke’s prediction of us communicating instead of commuting was dead on, cryogenics are in full swing, and The Replicator exists, if only as 3D printing and spimes, for now. Watch the segment below in two parts, then see also:

[Thanks, Disinfo]

The FAM: Memories: Episode 1: Magnetic Rose

In memory of Satoshi Kon, The FAM presents Katsuhiro Otomo’s Memories (1995), specifically the first episode of three entitled Metallic Rose, directed by Koji Morimoto and written by the late Mr. Kon. Metallic Rose tells the story of a space-faring salvage team who respond to a distress signal (in the form of a recording of Puccinni’s opera Madame Butterfly) emanating from a giant space station in a particularly dangerous area of the galaxy known as Area RZ-3005 or Sargasso. The ship’s two engineers, Heintz and Miguel, are deployed to investigate. Inside they find an opulent, rococo interior and a woman claiming to be an opera singer named Eva Friedal.

The true nature of Eva is something I won’t spoil, but it is safe to say that she is not exactly who she appears to be. Magnetic Rose then, in sci-fi shorthand, is a mash-up of the used, dingy, space-trucker aesthetics of Alien and the psychological mindfuckery of Solaris; and it succeeds admirably. And while it was based on a story by Otomo, it contains many of the themes that would define Kon’s work: the interest in the protagonist’s mental state and subjective reality. Two years later he would go on to write and direct his first feature film, Perfect Blue, and a brilliant career; but the seeds were sown here in the span of 40 minutes. If only that career could have lasted a little longer.