MonthMarch 2013

Kowloon Walled City Infographic

Now this is the sort of infographic I can get into:

Kowloon Walled City, located not far from the former Kai Tak Airport, was a remarkable high-rise squatter camp that by the 1980s had 50,000 residents. A historical accident of colonial Hong Kong, it existed in a lawless vacuum until it became an embarrassment for Britain. This month marks the 20th anniversary of its demolition.

From: South China Morning Post

(via Adam Greenfield)


TAZ History: Kowloon Walled City

Video: Kowloon Walled City Documentary

A Voyage To Modern Day Catan and Carcassonne


Fictional travel journalism by Adam Rothstein:

The island of Catan and the landlocked nation of Carcassonne export entertainment and community. Their economies and politics make possible the board games that families and friends play around their dining-room tables. They are game-nations, which exist only while the power of our minds gives their societies support.

We spend so much time hovering above these places, and yet we know them only through small bits of wood and paper. We read flat descriptions of historic port systems, of the building of new roads, of mountain villages in virginal ecosystems, of sprawling Kowloon-like architecture, and of religious and political intrigue.

But most people who play these games know little about what it is like to live in Catan and Carcassonne. I decided to visit and see for myself.

Full Story: The Magazine: Name so f the Games

Photo: Ernstl / CC

Meet the Man Who Sold His Fate to Investors at $1 a Share


On January 26, 2008, a 30-year-old part-time entrepreneur named Mike Merrill decided to sell himself on the open market. He divided himself into 100,000 shares and set an initial public offering price of $1 a share. Each share would earn a potential return on profits he made outside of his day job as a customer service rep at a small Portland, Oregon, software company. Over the next 10 days, 12 of his friends and acquaintances bought 929 shares, and Merrill ended up with a handful of extra cash. He kept the remaining 99.1 percent of himself but promised that his shares would be nonvoting: He’d let his new stockholders decide what he should do with his life.

Full Story: Wired: Meet the Man Who Sold His Fate to Investors at $1 a Share

Portlanders: Esoteric Book Club Will Discuss Illuminatus

I don’t know this group — Trevor Blake found the postcard downtown and sent me the scans. I don’t plan on going, but I thought I’d pass this along for anyone interested:



DARPA Temporary Tattoos Want a Tattoo That Tracks Troops’ Vitals

Temporary tattoo/sensor

From Danger Room:

In its ongoing quest to measure every aspect of U.S. troops’ physiology, the Pentagon’s esoteric research enclave wants to develop a durable, unobtrusive device that can track the body’s physical response to stress. Military scientists believe that using the device — preferably a tattoo — to track heart-rate, temperature or bio-electric response during various training situations will help them crack the code of combat fatigue.

Darpa, the same guys who are working on robot ostriches, battlefield illusions and a texting spy camera, recently requested research proposals to develop the next generation of bio-statistic devices. The solicitation, which opened last month, hopes new technologies can transcend the current paradigm of patient monitoring of needles, gels and electrodes. And advanced materials make it possible to integrate everything from the sensors to the transmitter into thumb-sized membranes that can stick to skin — like temporary tattoos.

Full Story: Wired Danger Room: Pentagon’s Mad Scientists Want a Tattoo That Tracks Troops’ Vitals

See also: Electronic Sensors Printed Directly on the Skin

This makes a lot of sense to me. I recently tried out a BodyMedia arm band, but returned it because it was a bit too big to wear day to day (it wouldn’t be bad for wearing just during workouts though). But a temporary tattoo that could track much of the same stats would solve the bulk/appearance problem without having to resort to, y’know, implants.

Like That Movie The Game, But Real: Odyssey Works

Odyssey Works

Odyssey Works is like a real life version of the movie The Game. From The New York Times:

IT all looked so normal: a dozen diners chatting over coffee and hash browns at an outdoor cafe near the waterfront here on an August morning. The cook flipped eggs, a dog sniffed for scraps, and the young woman in the black sweater suspected nothing of the spies and confederates sprinkled throughout. They’d been studying her life for four months and were finally preparing to pull it through the looking glass they’d constructed. Within 36 hours there would be confusion, euphoria, tears, even an abduction.

It was all in the service of art. For more than a decade a loose-knit, multidisciplinary collective called Odyssey Works has been quietly inverting art’s longstanding arrangement with its audience. Rather than a single artist creating for a general population, it directs many artists at a deeply researched population of one. The intricate creations that converge in the group members’ weekend-long performances — sound installations, films, performance art and more — exist only for their chosen subject, whom they’ve come to know very well. Then it all vanishes. The idea is a beautiful inefficiency: a tiny but infinitely more affected audience.

Full Story: The New York Times: A Waking Dream Made Just for You

(via Tim Maly)

Oh, and they’re accepting applications until April 15.

See also:

Videogames Adventure Services

The Strange and Exciting World Of Nordic Larping

A Theory Of Darkness. Also: Archives

Want an idea of what may or may not be discussed at Weird Shift Con?

Adam Rothstein wrote:

Dark Theory is both new and old. But to elucidate, if not to illuminate the ongoing practices of Dark Theory, it would be useful to review a number of the areas where Dark Theory finds itself reestablishing the darkness, coloring in the faded black paint, and erecting new shades to produce more shadow. There is nothing that can be properly said to either “be” Dark Theory or “not be”. It is impossible to tell whether the dark is due to neglect, or to attention; there is no distinction between negative value established by the mainstream, and positive value repaired by the undercurrent. The only thing that can be said is that Dark Theory has an interest. There are places where Dark Theory focuses its attention, like a pack of wolves turning their heads in recognition of an unfamiliar scent, whether prey or predator. Like rainwater, black and silent, nestling into the depressions of rock and soil, Dark Theory invests itself, collecting liquid potential across the pores and gullies of terrain, seeping down to pool in saturated dirt within the basin of rock, below. It is here that we will look for it, taking an interest in where it interests itself. Let us sink these wells, and drink of what rises to the surface.

He goes on to list several examples: black magic, black metal, crust, black bloc, black ops, black power, black flag, darknet, dark euphoria.

And Tim Maly wrote for Contents Magazine about “dark archives”:

First, let me show you three things that dark archives are not. On the left is an artist’s conception of the burned Library of Alexandria. That great library was once an archive, but when it was destroyed, it was destroyed utterly. It is no dark archive, it is simply gone. Proceeding clockwards, we have an artist’s rendering of the universal theory that connects gravity to quantum mechanics. This theory and countless other pieces of missing scientific knowledge are contained in no dark archive (so far as we know). They are simply unknown. They remain to be discovered. Finally, we have a screenshot of’s homepage. Its database of goods is vast, but Amazon invests considerable resources in ensuring that whatever is there is findable, and, through its network of affiliate links and public relations, ensuring that we know to look. Its archives are bright. […]

Known knowns. Known unknowns. Unknown unknowns.

If you think about that formulation, you’ll see that there is an unspoken fourth quadrant. These are the unknown knowns: the things we don’t know that we know. It is appropriate to our field of study that Mr. Rumsfeld left it off.

He cites the August 6th 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing titled Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States” as an example. He also writes about ships’ log books, which for many years were thought of as just antiques, but are now valuable to climate scientists. Once recognized for their value, the log books left the realm of “dark archive” and entered the ranks of “normal” archives.

Weird Shift Con 2013 Is Coming To Portland!

Weird Shift Con

Adam Rothstein writes:

On June 14-16, 2013, in Portland, OREGON: WEIRD SHIFT CON. An aggregation of derelict theory-objects, critical aberrations, intentional anomalies, techno-magical interventions, associated archive accesses, and socio-intellectual performances over the course of the month of June culminate into an EVENT–a participatory ritual of mythic proportions, meant to bend the usual continuous milieu into a metastasizing instance of scenius.

A three-day event in the midst of a longer event. Within a month-long gallery of oddity, celebrating and curating the Weird as submitted by the event participants, three days of meetings, discussions, and shares.

Please join us, and participate

Submit Proposals for WeirdShares: para-lectures, performative pre/post-humanity, theory fictions, theory-factions, ficto-quizzical accounts, pataphysical computing, vaporware demos, gonzo futurism, and other interdisciplinary investigations and documentations that puzzle, implode, sinter and splinter (ir)realities prismatically into many new streams for retrieval and report. We are especially in search of material that can be part of the month-long gallery event, as well as be personally introduced and shared in the three-day congress.

Inform Us of your intentions by filling out the survey here by May 1, 2013.

WeirdShares will take three general forms.

  • NanoShares (7-10 minutes). Short introductions, small tastes, nanoperformances, Pecha Kucha, artist statements, abstracts, abstractions. If desired, “evidence” presented in NanoShares should be incorporated into the Gallery LongShare.
  • KiloShares (~30 minutes). Performances, explanations, exegeses, tangents, talks. We would definitely like “evidence” presented in KiloShares to become part of the Gallery LongShare.
  • LongShares (one month). The collected residue of the shorter shares, once collected, preserved, archived, stratified, documented, and in-stasis, will be shown in the gallery before/after the live share.

Attending the three-day event

Submissions are due by May 1st. After which point we will CONSPIRE a formidable constellation of said submissions, and develop an elegant schedule-maze of presentations, discussions, late-night drinks and WeirdShares of all stripes.

WE EXPECT an array of activities to emerge including informal introductions over drinks and merriment, performances, reports, and assorted vidsonic situations. The weekend also promises outward excursions, running alongside and in opposition to reality as it is commonly construed. Agoraphobes may prefer the indoor offerings of the event, from perusing the LongShare of damned data to attending the wide variety of Nano and KiloShares within the host venue,galleryHomeland. In addition to the LongShares, the venue’s amenities, including the Research Commons, the PDF Library, the Archives, and the Map Room, paired with fine coffee and edibles, will provide other itineraries betwixt and between the scheduled events.

If you are planning on coming to the three-day event, please consider contributing $5-10 to our fund. The money goes towards refreshments during the event, conference materials and swag, and a zine publication to be mailed to all funding attendees.

Donate to Weird Shift Con!

Attending the month-long event

Stop by the gallery during open hours in the month of June as well as our opening event, on the First Friday in June, which is the 7th. More details forthcoming.

I had  a blast at last year’s. There were presentations, discussions, vegan Chinese food at cultist restaurants, a field trip to a ghost town, a talk on network culture delivered on the light rail, pizza, beer…

It looks like I’m going to be out of the country during this year’s event, but I might be able to catch the last day of it. Regardless I hope to at least drop by the gallery in June.

If you like this blog, and live in Portland, you should definitely go. And donate if you can.

Jezebel: New Web Comic From Reich Artist Elijah Brubaker

Jezebel by Elijah Brubaker

Jezebel is a new web comic by Elijah Brubaker, the writer and artist behind the Wilhelm Reich bio comic Reich. It’s humorous telling of the Biblical story of Jezebel.

The comic is being serialized at Study Group Comics every Wednesday. There’s a warning that this is not safe for work, but I haven’t noticed anything particular racy — but perhaps the comic will get more explicit as it progresses, so watch out for that.

My interview with Brubaker is here.

The Corporation Who Would Be King

Some design fiction from Tim Maly, who wrote that thing about corporations being bad AI:

“…if a firm, partnership, company, or corporation owns real property within the municipality, the president, vice president, secretary, or other designee of the entity is eligible to vote in a municipal election…”
-Montana Bill Would Give Corporations The Right To Vote by Ian Millhiser for Thinkprogress

A broader version of this law passes, leading to an explosion of algorithmic corporations owning nominal fractions of land to meet the real property requirement.

Eventually, the corporate hordes overrun their human voter counterparts. A ballot measure is introduced allowing corporations to stand for election. It passes. Now, their dark work begins.

Full Story: Quiet Babylon: The Corporation Who Would be King

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