Category Archives: installation / sculpture

Tutankhamun Mask “Fixed”

Sometime last year, the beard on King Tut’s famous mask came off broken off and then was quickly repaired using “a quick drying, irreversible material”. Apparently, some sort of epoxy.

Jackie Rodriguez, a tourist who witnessed the repair work on the beard in late August, provided a photo to The Associated Press showing a museum employee holding it in place as the glue sets. “The whole job did look slapstick,” she said. “It was disconcerting given the procedure occurred in front of a large crowd and seemingly without the proper tools.”

Update Sat Jan 24 11:58:55 PST 2015: German restorer, Christian Eckmann, said in a press conference today, that the mask can properly be restored.

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The Only Gun The NRA Doesn’t Like

Meet the Armatix iP1. 22 LR calibre semiautomatic with a 10 round magazine. What’s not to like? How about the the RFID wristwatch that only allows the wearer to fire the gun?

Back in 2002, New Jersey passed a law mandating that all guns sold in the state had to have lockout technology built in, three years after such a gun went on sale somewhere in the United States. The gun has gone on sale &emdash; albeit very briefly &emdash; twice, once in Los Angeles, and then again in Rockville, Maryland (a place that it is strongly advised that one to not return to). Both stores stopped selling the guns after receiving death threats. Not only that, but the Republican Attorney General of New Jersey is refusing the certify that the gun was sold, and active the law.

Instead of “promoting freedom” to own the gun one chooses, the NRA is actively campaigning against the sell of a particular firearm, because the RFID locks would increase manufacturing costs. Why do they care about this? Because the NRA gets significant amounts of funding from gun manufacturers.

1919 Mechanical Play-by-Play Scoreboard

1919 mechanical play -by-play scoreboard

Back in 1978, a box of newsreels were found in the Yukon. Only recently though, was a newsreel of the infamous Black Sox 1919 World Series discovered in the collection.

It’s a great find, and as Deadspin points out, it shows the infamous 5 run inning that made it obvious everyone that the White Sox were throwing the game. However that’s not what caught my eye. What I was astonished by was the mechanical scoreboard that allowed people in Cincinnati to watch the game in near-real-time. The board doesn’t just feature moving base runners, but also features a ball that moves around as the play progresses. I had never seen anything like this before. Even the Flash players that MLB.com puts out, don’t feature a moving ball.

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Papal Blood Stolen

Over the weekend, thieves apparently not-too-concerned about booking a place in heaven, stole a relic that contained a piece of gauze that was once soaked with the blood of late Pope John Paul II. Church officials at the isolated San Pietro della Ienca church in the Abruzzo region of Italy reported the burglary. The small church housed the relic that is one of only three in the world.

According to the BBC, the relic was not heavily guarded, as the thieves were able to break through the iron bars and a window protecting the display. The burglars also took a crucifix, but left the church’s collection box untouched.

Be on the look out for pope clones, or perhaps Baphomet, or maybe just deranged billionaires with collections of bloody gauze. Who owns Curt Shilling’s bloody sock?

Emergent Pong

At SIGGRAPH91, graphics researcher and digital artist Loren Carpenter stood near the front of an 5000 seat auditorium in a Las Vegas hotel. In the seats in front of him, the attendees held cardboard paddles, one side of which was red, the other green. Behind him was a giant screen covered in blinking and shifting red and green dots. After a few moments, the audience figured out what Loren already knew. A camera was trained on the auditorium and was feeding images into a computer that then displayed the color and polishing of every paddle in the room. The audience cheered and began to wave back and forth in unison.

The screen changed to classic video game Pong. The only difference was that instead of all white paddles, the paddles were two-toned, with a green upper half, and a red lower half. Loren took the stage and addressed the crowd. “Okay guys. Folks on the left side of the auditorium control the left paddle. Folks on the right side control the right paddle. If you think you are on the left, then you really are. Okay? Go!”

The ball began to move across the screen and the paddles twitched to life. The paddles move to a height calculated from the relative number of red and green paddles. If everyone shows the same color, then the paddle will move to either the extreme top or the extreme bottom. However, if some show the opposite color, then paddle will stop somewhere in the middle. Surprisingly quickly, the crowd began to play effectively, even when the speed of the ball increased.

Save the Males

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This is the most powerful piece of art as social commentary I’ve come across in a while.

Via Andrew Fishman’s tumblr:

Every year, millions of male chicks are killed, usually by gas or by feeding them into a high-speed shredder. It is inefficient to raise males to adulthood, as they cannot lay eggs. Tinkerbell [aka Looove Tinkerbell], an artist and advocate for animal rights, decided she had to speak out against this.

In 2007, she purchased 61 male chicks (pictured above) from one of these facilities and brought them into a gallery along with a shredder. She announced that they were for sale, and that the ones that were not purchased by the end of the sale would be fed into the shredder. By the end of the sale, less than a dozen had sold. When it became clear that the artist was not bluffing, the gallery owner purchased the rest. The gallery owner was unable to care for them herself, so she gave them to the police, who gave them to a shelter, who gave them back to the original farm, where they were shredded.

Unsurprisingly, Tinkebell has received hundreds of thousands of emails and letters about this and other pieces. However, that the mail would be directed at her is an interesting phenomenon. She did not kill any of the chicks; in fact, she offered a chance to save them. Perhaps it was her willingness to kill them in public that was so offensive; we like to pretend situations like this don’t exist.

I would compare this to the “Trolley Problem” in psychological research. The “Trolley Problem” is a hypothetical scenario in which a person is able to pull a lever, redirecting a train from one track on which lies five people to one on which one person lies. Most respondents would pull that lever.

The “fat man” variation is more troubling for most. This variation specifies that a person is able to slow a train down by pushing a fat man onto the train tracks, which would slow it down before reaching the five people on the tracks. Practically, the scenarios are equivalent (one person dies to save five) but it feels very different. The difference is in the act itself. We are fine with allowing people to die, but killing is another story, even if the end result is exactly the same.

I think that this active/passive dichotomy is why Tinkebell receives so much hatred from the animal rights community. As a society, we’re more accepting of a company that kills millions of chicks every year than a woman who gave the opportunity to save a few dozen before returning them to their fate.

The Trolley Problem is an interesting comparison, and I do think there’s something to this line thinking, but when I read about this I immediately thought of executions instead. The idea that these chicks would be tossed live into a wood chipper isn’t what offended the gallery owner, it’s that the were going to be tossed into the wood chipper in front of an audience.

Executions, or to use a less euphemistic term: state sanctioned homicide, were performed in town squares in front of large audiences since the beginning of time. No doubt to spread fear and to intimidate the populous. Eventually, these spectacles became entertainment. (On a personal note, my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Fuller, talked about her father and a friend of his attended the the hanging of Charlie Birgir. It was the big event in Southern Illinois, and they left early and brought a picnic lunch in order to get a good spot. She wanted to go too, but her father wouldn’t let her. Apparently watching a man die wasn’t appropriate for a little girl.) This is unseemly. The “carnival in Owensboro” has been credited with ending public executions in the United States. Now in the “civilized” world where the practice continues, they’re performed behind closed doors with only few witnesses. In Japan, executions occur in secret. In China, the occur behind prison walls with rarely more than only prison officials watching. “Barbaric” societies on the other hand, like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, North Korea, Taliban Afghanistan, and other areas ruled by warlords have audiences. Don’t burn someone at the stake. Don’t behead them. Don’t bash someone’s head in with a rock. Don’t hang them. Make it photogenic. Make it look like they’re just falling asleep. Don’t make us face the cruel truth of what we do and allow to happen. And above all, don’t make us face the ugly reactions to this in our society. We’re civilized and better than blood thirsty savages.

This is a delusion, and Tinkerbell called society out on it.

Previously. Previously. Previously.