• "Here are ‘the obsolete industrial plants; the inadequacy of unchanged transport systems and overstrained power supplies … the shift of power from industrial capital to international finance capital’ and so on. Here is the self-consciously world-historical Lowry, showing us Britain mired in its past, and perhaps the future of China. But here and there is the old local Lowry, whose people cannot see beyond the foreground terraces to the dystopian prospect, and so seem to manage, to cope, even to enjoy themselves, on their own tight patch. People stop to chat or just to stand about; kids play; dogs and babies get taken for walks; women wear bright vermilion, the happy colour of the summer of 2013, and apparently of 1950 too. It’s hard to say this without sounding as folksy as Brian and Michael, and perhaps that’s exactly what it is, but right now what I most admire and enjoy about Lowry is the interest he shows, without any apparent agenda, in what people do. I have no idea why that should be so moving." Wonderful article from this fortnight's LRB about the Lowry retrospective at Tate Britain.
  • "Coming up with a word like neuromancer is something that would earn you a really fine vacation if you worked in an ad agency. It was a kind of booby-trapped portmanteau that contained considerable potential for cognitive dissonance, that pleasurable buzz of feeling slightly unsettled." There is so, so much in this interview, that quoting it feels somewhat futile. It's a really lovely thing piece, that goes far beyond cyberpunk, and delves deep into Gibson's writing and history. There are at least five meaty quotes I wanted to yank; it's worth reading and rereading.
  • "Melville’s searing, wayward novel about obsession and the nature of evil becomes a twin-stick shooter for consoles. The twist? The playing field is 5000 miles wide, and there’s only one enemy." Christian is brilliant. (I'm pretty sure my links are full of 'Christian is brilliant' annotations)
  • "Or, in a diffirent formulation of the legendary author of Sim games Will Wright, "Playing the game is a continuous loop between the user (viewing the outcomes and inputting decisions) and the computer (calculating outcomes and displaying them back to the user). The user is trying to build a mental model of the computer model.""
  • "When another scholar worries that if one begins with data, one can “go anywhere,” Ramsay makes it clear that going anywhere is exactly what he wants to encourage. The critical acts he values are not directed at achieving closure by arriving at a meaning; they are, he says, “ludic” and they are “distinguished … by a refusal to declare meaning in any form.” The right question to propose “is not ‘What does the text mean?’ but, rather, ‘How do we ensure that it keeps on meaning’ — how … can we ensure that our engagement with the text is deep, multifaceted, and prolonged?”" Which is interesting, as is the whole article – the author is not convinced by the 'digital humanities', but he still links to some very interesting stuff about algorithmic criticism.
  • "A great deal of what is called `digital art’ is not digital art at all, and it seems many digital artists seem ashamed of the digital.  In digital installation art, the screen and keyboard are literally hidden in a box somewhere, as if words were a point of shame.  The digital source code behind the work is not shown, and all digital output is only viewable by the artist or a technician for debugging purposes.  The experience of the actual work is often entirely analog, the participant moves an arm, and observes an analog movement in response, in sight, sound or motor control.  They may choose to make jerky, discontinuous movements, and get a discontinuous movement in response, but this is far from the complexity of digital language.  This kind of installation forms a hall of mirrors.  You move your arm around and look for how your movement has been contorted."
  • "If I were in London now or in the next few weeks, instead of Frieze I'd probably be getting to these shows." Rod's lists are always good.
  • I've used the Settings plugin a lot, but it's very old and dusty. This is a nice fork of it, ported to Rails 3, and saved for future reference.
  • "In a sense, a child, by definition, shrinks Scribblenauts’ scope. The game’s potential solutions are necessarily limited by vocabulary, so players with a smaller vocabulary have fewer options open to them. But, free of the dry, efficient logic of adulthood, a child’s imagination also opens the game up in ways beyond most adults’ reach."
  • "Trace Holden Caulfield's perambulations around Manhattan in "The Catcher in the Rye" to places like the Edmont Hotel, where Holden had an awkward encounter with Sunny the hooker; the lake in Central Park, where he wondered about the ducks in winter; and the clock at the Biltmore, where he waited for his date." Lovely.
  • "Dreamed up by American and European SF writers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries — at a time when Lamarckian evolutionary philosophy, which posits a tendency for organisms to become more perfect as they evolve (because such change is needed or wanted, e.g., by “life”), remained popular — many of the first fictional supermen were portrayed by their creators as examples of a more perfect species towards which humankind has supposedly long aimed. Radium-Age superman was, that is to say, homo superior, an evolved human whose superiority was mental, physical, or both." Lovely essay; a nice bit of SF history (and originally published on IO9, I believe).
  • "I saw these two videos of Rock Band Network tracks over at RBDLC and couldn’t resist sharing them. The first is a serious jazz tune: “Footloose and Fancy Free” by Bill Bruford’s Earthworks. The thing that’s interesting about this is that the “guitar” track is actually piano — something Guitar Hero has done in the past but Rock Band has generally shied away from. But what’s even neater is that the “vocal” track is actually a sax line, intended (one would assume) to be played with a sax or other horn; the “lyrics” are simply the notes being played." There's no question that building tunes for RBN is hard wokr, but god, this Bill Bruford video is stonking, and the sax-as-vocal idea is cracking.