Braninless Intelligence

After reading 1/3 part of Mycelium Running, a fungi bible by Paul Stamets, I’m amazed by how efficiently and fast the mold responds toward its food. It must be one of the reasons that fungi are used to earth’s Clean-Up. In a maze of having oat in the exit, within only 8 hours, the brainless slime mold, Physarum polycephalum, first occupied the whole area and then found the shortest ways out, by natural appealing to food.

mold maze

I looked further into Physarum polycephalum, and found out a research, by Chris Reid of the University of Sydney, state that..

As polycephalum moves through a maze or crawls along the forest floor, it leaves behind a trail of translucent slime. …a foraging slime mold avoids sticky areas where it has already traveled. …is a kind of externalized spatial memory that reminds polycephalum to explore somewhere new.

Spatial memory function! This interests me a lot. There are already a lot of experiments about using slime mold to run the metropolitan traffic system, and found they amazingly similar. I want to do something like that, with same spirit. I want to fungus to guide my route!

My initial idea about fungus project is to make a helmet/hat out of mushrooms. Literally having mushrooms growing on my helmet/hat. Because what intrigues me the most about fungi at first, is its appearance and the emotion it makes me feel, I think it would be a good point to start with, its looks and psychological impact. But then I went just really confused… Is it even meaningful?

So, if I combine both appearance and behavior of fungi together as the theme for my project, will it be more meaningful and complete? Right now in my mind is…. I’ll wear that mushroom helmet/hat, and follow the route of slime mold.

Isn’t it super weird?

Application_What’s your definition of time?

a glass of wine and a clip of time.

a glass of wine and a clip of time.

It’s a response to Einstein’s Dream, written by Alan Lightman. Einstein’s Dream is a novel depicts several kinds(approximately 27, I counted) of world views, based on Time. In one world, time is circle that bends back, in one world cause and effect are erratic, and in one world time has changed plans thus sometimes people can glimpse the future. Beautiful and sad stories happen. Being a fiction novel, the book well translated the vision of Einstein in an artistic way.

As for my thoughts  –time exists in each individual’s mind. We can decide our own setting of time, just like what the book depicts. It might flows backward, or it might be in what people live just one day. Once our mindset changes, we can live in whatever kinds of the world the book depicts, and of course in the world you define.

Right now, I live in the world where everyday is the day before due. Chased by deadline, sometimes I work hard to try to win the race against time. Like trying to occupy all the seats in a hall against time. Compared to my rush and anxiety, time moves on gracefully in its pace. Or sometimes, I ignore the existence of deadline in the  “Oh Whatever” way. I explore the environment leisurely and spend time admiring surprising details of life. It’s like comfily curling in a sled, and let time drag me forward. I still do my work, and it probably just turns out being ordinary, but I’ll never be left behind. I can choose to be either kind of person. It all depends.

But this is not my ultimate dreamy setting of time. The one which is closest to my ultimate dreamy setting, SO FAR, would be –time is like the video clips you can stroll around on Youtube. Sometime at night, after all the work, it’s time for a glass of wine and a clip of time. Vividly, you see the beloved eyes from your grand grandmother, the ones without wrinkles, and you interpret the words from her that you couldn’t before. Or it’s a chilly random night, you and he continued the first acquaintance at bar to a 24/7 breakfast branch. You re-cover the taste of alcohol with eggs and pancake, and re-cover the talks of non-sense with visions of future. Or it’s an unexpected museum visiting, and you re-feel the shocks and touch of amaze from the first time of seeing the workpiece of your all time favorite artist.

In this closest to ultimate dreamy definition of time, that each clips of time is reachable, I can hold the one I thought I’d never be able to hold again, and I can recapture the sudden emotion pulse I thought I’d never be able to feel it again. Dose it sound too beautiful to be perfect? What’s the drawback of this? And what’s your ultimate(or the closest)dreamy setting of time? Those are the questions I’d love to quest you guys 🙂


Web_Free On Internet?

Response to Long Live the Web: A Call for Continued Open Standards and Neutrality.

From this article I learned the idea of internet isolation. It has never occurred to me, about being locked in the social media website. Internet is amazing because any person can share information with anyone else, anywhere,  and each piece of information has it’s address– URI, which is accessible for everyone. And this related to me deeply because during the first homework of Web(building website w/ html), because it’s the first time I felt the existence and importance of URI, and therefore was more shocked to realize that, each information we send through Facebook, Twitter, etc. doesn’t really have its own URI!! Quoted– “…the more you enter, the more you become locked in.” It was really a horrified moment when I read through this.

But, then I thought about something probably being equally important… what about privacy? Quoted– “…walled gardens will never better than the open world.“, it seems quite right at the first glance, but… really? For the outside world, of course it’s wonderful that you can go where ever you want, but personally, we all need personal place. Probably not a good metaphor, but I think most of the people will agree walled gardens are not that bad, sometimes even lovely?

It’s really an interesting human behavior that people post personal info and feeling on the Facebook/Twitter, and then ask for privacy. It’s this kind of humanity that makes this problem complicated, but at the same time makes this world more vital and life 🙂


V&S_4_Reading_In the Blink of An Eye

First of all, as one-shot scene mentioned in the reading, here’s an one-shot scene I’d love to share, from movie Atonement by Joe Wright. I respect it more after filming by ourselves.

After this project, I find editing is much more easier than filming actually. Just like cooking, without good and fresh materials, you can’t make a cuisine. It helps a lot if you have all the materials you want on hand, thus the things like “in the middle of cooking finding that you don’t have onions at all and you either have to deal with it or just stop cooking and walking out to buy one” won’t happen on you.

There’re two points I find relatively interesting in the reading.

  • Like sleeping therapy, editor helps director to make description more clearly(when things don’t go as what director originally think about, director will defend for it then thus become more aware of the theme/thoughts). It’s so true. We’re both the directors and editors in this class project, and when we started editing, we kind of rethought about the whole concept and became more aware of the shots we missed.
  • Filming and editing are like learning foreign language. You know it well enough but it’s always difficult to speak or even write it. Sometimes you just have to let it go and speak whatever come across your mind, or you’ll be framed by the grammars and then stuck. And this happens in filming/editing as well. A lot of things didn’t follow the script at all. Storyboard and script become a big concept to follow, and improvisation gradually dominates all. But I’m not sure if it’s a good thing, because it seems professional movies and animations follow the script strictly. Some of the final shots look exactly the same with storyboard. That’s probably because they spend a lot of time in the pre-production and sometimes it takes years, so they can make sure what they really want clearly and then be able to follow the script. And maybe it’s also related to the scale. It costs hugely so you don’t have space to waste, and it needs clear descriptions for a lot of staff to follow. And it makes me wonder, is it normal and good to improvise in small scale production? For either filming or editing?

Below is my first editing work, and since it’s a fantasy told by reconstructing clips of movies, it’s relatively simpler than filming and editing at the same time.


There’s an old Chinese saying– “Water can carry a boat; it can sink a boat”, and I think it can also describes technology perfectly. There’s no black-and-white judgement for technology, and in my opinion any innovation is neutral. It is human that makes the difference. For example, text message can be an excuse to avoid talking to someone(causing isolation), but at the same time it’s efficient to send quick and clear information(saving time). It all depends on how human use it.

But, I don’t mean that inventors don’t need to be aware of their doings. At least not in the vicious way. Inventors cannot control the usage of their invention by others, but at least they should, or try, to hold an intention to make this world better. Villains are not welcome to this world, sorry.

V&S_01_Copy and paste ourselves!

Before I start my feedback to the Video and Sound week_01 reading/video-admiring, let me introduce you the “70 Million” by Hold Your Horses, one of the millions(or countless) of sweet and juicy fruits of plagiarisms!

Before this essays/videos assignment, I had an impression that America was strict about copy write and filing law suits about it every single days. And now I know they only represent business. Free spirits exist behind those ugliness and I feel awesome to be here, because I buy the spirit that plagiarisms is inevitable and it dose make good works. Just like before writing a good movie screen, screenwriters must read/watch tons of scripts/stories/movies before, and it’s a lie to say they aren’t affected at all. Indeed, I might hesitate or even be angry about the plagiarisms if it’s about my works. BUT. Since this hasn’t happened on me so I’m good.

Also, there’s one thing really turns me on–“Most artists are converted to art by art itself.” quoted from Jonathan Lethem’s The Ecstacy of Influence: A Plagiarism. In my ITP two years I’ll keep copying and pasting myself, and wait to see what will I become in the end of this journey.

There’s another things I want to mention, that’s in Kirby Ferguson’s Embrace the Remix video, he said that “… Creativity doesn’t come from within, it comes from without. We’re not self, we’re dependent on one another…” Isn’t it one of the important core notions of ITP, to collaborate? We rely on each others, building ideas based on other ideas. For me, the process is like building a pyramid. We collect “resources” to construct bases, layers after layers, and in the end we reach the point of the pyramid and finish our works. Everyone builds his/her pyramids, with different heights and shapes.


In the first week of PComp reading, 1) Crawford’s “The Art of Interactive Design” ch01, ch02, 2) Bret Victor’s “A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design”, I’m gonna post about the question assigned from Tom, some random thoughts through the reading,  and some inspiring words. Let’s begin!

Answers to the questions(duh)

After this class’ discussion and exercise, and reading Chris Crawford’s definition and Bret Victor’s rant, how would you define physical interaction? What makes for good physical interaction? Are there works from others that you would say are good examples of digital technology that are not interactive?

  • Unlike general interactions(such as conversations etc.), the physical interaction involves materials, such as devices, chemicals, and living things. It’s a back and forth dialogue, and in the end it leaves impacts on the participants.
  • Good physical interaction won’t make its participants wander off. Participants interact with their most intuitive parts, and the experience won’t be diluted through the whole process by meaningless designs of the physical interaction.
  • The non-interactive digital technologies I can think of so far are 3D movies, tv, videogames, …, since the result of them are all set up and cannot be changed despite the different input contributed by different users.


Random thoughts–

  • In the first class of PComp, I found that professor Tom emphasizes “feedback” a lot, much more than others, during the class and within the words of the syllabus. And when I read through the first few sentences of “The Art of Interactive Design”, I suddenly realized that’s because feedback makes good interaction, and that’s the key to PComp. In PComp, we learn how to transform one element into another element with electronics as media, and at the same time, we are media too! We transform others’ thoughts into our thoughts, and we let other know ours. Along the loop of communication, amazing ideas bump out, just like what good interactive technology does.
  • Satisfying, joy, determine the level of interaction. → Good interactive device make users hard to stop using it.
  • I found myself match perfectly and miserably with the awful/disappointing listener/thinker/speaker described in “The Art of Interactive Design”! OMG I feel so sorry… That’s not my intention! Dear friends please keep talking to me, and I’ll learn the experience and improve just like what those hi-tech hard/softwares do.
  • Seeing “…Dancing alone to the music is not interaction; it is participation.” makes me wonder how cool will it be if dancers can interact with music, which means music will be affected by dancers’ moves as well! But questions are: besides the basic movement recognition, how to detect dancers’ emotions and how music responds? It’d be really interesting!
  • If movies can be interactive, it might turn out to be boring? Because audiences love unexpected stories. And not everyone can be a witty screenwriter.
  • My example of interactivity: Living. Characters: Human, Environment. Process: Human’s behavior build environment; environment affects human. It’s a loop.
  • Regarding the video “Vision Of The Future”, if people in the future rely heavily on the control panel which handles everything nicely for you, wouldn’t it deteriorate human’s intelligence/capability as well? But I still love one of its device, the transparent refrigerator. It’s fancy yet at the same time meaningful/eco-friendly, and it’s a small design to easily avoid cold air leaking.


Inspiring lines–

*Interaction: a cyclic process in which two actors alternately listen, think, and speak.
*Once words have been written down, they are scattered everywhere.
*Interactivity designer regards the thinking content of software as its function, and the user interface regards as its form.
*Interactivity design people are younger, less technical, and stronger in the arts/humanities.
*I’m not saying that we should eschew graphics, sound, or video; I’m saying that we shouldn’t make these factors the selling points of our work.
*A tool converts what we can do into what we want to do
*Pictures Under Glass sacrifice all the tactile richness of working with our hands, offering instead a hokey visual facade.
*With an entire body at your command, do you seriously think the Future Of Interaction should be a single finger?