CULTURE

Infinite Stupidity

Topic: 

  • CULTURE
http://vimeo.com/79349612

"A tiny number of ideas can go a long way, as we've seen. And the Internet makes that more and more likely. What's happening is that we might, in fact, be at a time in our history where we're being domesticated by these great big societal things, such as Facebook and the Internet. We're being domesticated by them, because fewer and fewer and fewer of us have to be innovators to get by. And so, in the cold calculus of evolution by natural selection, at no greater time in history than ever before, copiers are probably doing better than innovators.

INFINITE STUPIDITY

[12.15.11]

A tiny number of ideas can go a long way, as we've seen. And the Internet makes that more and more likely. What's happening is that we might, in fact, be at a time in our history where we're being domesticated by these great big societal things, such as Facebook and the Internet. We're being domesticated by them, because fewer and fewer and fewer of us have to be innovators to get by. And so, in the cold calculus of evolution by natural selection, at no greater time in history than ever before, copiers are probably doing better than innovators. Because innovation is extraordinarily hard. My worry is that we could be moving in that direction, towards becoming more and more sort of docile copiers.

MARK D. PAGEL is a Fellow of the Royal Society and Professor of Evolutionary Biology; Head of the Evolution Laboratory at the University of Reading; Author Oxford Encyclopaedia of Evolution; co-author of The Comparative Method in Evolutionary Biology. His forthcoming book is Wired for Culture: Origins of the Human Social Mind.

Mark Pagel's Edge Bio Page


[32:33 minutes]


INFINITE STUPIDITY

 

[MARK PAGEL:] I'm an evolutionary biologist, and my work draws me to the big events that have shaped the history of the world. Some of these we agree upon, and others are right under our noses, and yet we take them for granted and we may not appreciate what a force they've been in our evolution. One of those is the human capacity for culture. It might easily be the most important event in the history of life.


Cities as Gardens

Topic: 

  • CULTURE
http://vimeo.com/79350913

"Up until 10,000 years ago there were no permanent settlements and all human groups lived by hunting and gathering. Then agriculture was discovered and everything changed. Now a small number of people could supply food for the rest and the first cities arose. Every since that time there has been a steady movement of people out of our original arcadia and into cities, such that now over half the world lives in them. But why given that cities have historically been targets of attack and places of crime and where diseases fester and spread?

A Rough Mix: Brian Eno & Jennifer Jacquet An Edge Conversation

Topic: 

  • CULTURE
http://vimeo.com/105810756

"Here we are in my studio. What I am working on at the moment is a rough mix for a piece of music for a totem pole. Usually one is asked to do music for films but this is for a totem pole. I call this piece of music Jennifer Financial Talk 3 and in fact it's a soundtrack for the project Jennifer is working on which is called a "Shame Totem", and we don't yet know exactly what form this shame totem will be presented in which gives me a few problems as a composer because obviously I would compose differently for different scenarios." —Brian Eno

A Rough Mix

[11.22.11]

Here we are in my studio. What I am working on at the moment is a rough mix for a piece of music for a totem pole. Usually one is asked to do music for films but this is for a totem pole. I call this piece of music Jennifer Financial Talk 3 and in fact it's a soundtrack for the project Jennifer is working on which is called a "Shame Totem", and we don't yet know exactly what form this shame totem will be presented in which gives me a few problems as a composer because obviously I would compose differently for different scenarios. —Brian Eno

 

Throughout the 19th century, native tribes that spanned the north coast of North America erected shame totem poles to signal to the community that certain individuals or groups had transgressed. This art is resurrected with a modernized, garish, digitally rendered 3-D shame pole to represent the most shameful corporations—chosen with the assistance of 500 people based in the U.S. who surveyed about the corporations that have most negatively affected society. —Jennifer Jacquet

JENNIFER JACQUET is a Postdoctoral Researcher, Fisheries Centre/Department of Mathematics, UBC, whose research interests are in environmental sustainability (particularly fish), the evolution and function of guilt, honor, and shame, and the role of information technology in shaping environmental action. 

Jennifer Jacquet's Edge Bio Page

BRIAN ENO is an Artist; Composer; Recording Producer: U2, Cold Play, Talking Heads, Paul Simon; Recording Artist. 

Brian Eno's Edge Bio Page


INTRODUCTION

by John Brockman

Composer/artist Brian Eno and Jennifer Jacquet, a postdoctoral researcher who studies "shame", were brought together for the Edge-Serpentine Gallery colloboration for Hans Ulrich Obrist's Garden Marathon, where Jacquet talked about on the role of shame in the original garden, the Garden of Eden, while Eno characterized "Composers as Gardeners"

"The act of making art is something we share", Eno says, and he embraces articulating his artistic process. Two-third's of his voluminous life's work has been done in collaboration, and here in his London music studio he sits with Jacquet to discuss the inspiration and creative process in their collaboration over Jacquet's project: a "Shame Totem". 

As her research of shame, Jacquet has focused on the role of totem poles in native communities as a way of using public scorn and shame to instill societal cooperation. She points out that one feels shame, as learned through the story of Eden, only when one is being watched. She is in the process of creating a 3-D shame totem taking on the behaviors of many of today's largest corporations. 

For Eno, the purpose of adding music to an instillation such as a shame totem, is so that a viewer can understand how to experience the piece in time. In Eno's work, music often serves an ergonomic function, it helps dictate the amount of time one should spend viewing a work of art. Absent knowing where the totem-pole will end up, Eno discusses the factors he considers in reaping a mix, a rough mix.

JB


Cities as Gardens

[11.22.11]

Up until 10,000 years ago there were no permanent settlements and all human groups lived by hunting and gathering. Then agriculture was discovered and everything changed. Now a small number of people could supply food for the rest and the first cities arose. Every since that time there has been a steady movement of people out of our original arcadia and into cities, such that now over half the world lives in them. But why given that cities have historically been targets of attack and places of crime and where diseases fester and spread? The answer is that cities have acted as gardens of our prosperity, creativity and innovations and their continued existence is vital to fitting the projected 9 billion people onto this planet. Surprisingly, they are the new 'green centres' of the world.

MARK PAGEL is a Fellow of the Royal Society and Professor of Evolutionary Biology; Head of the Evolution Laboratory at the University of Reading; Author Oxford Encyclopaedia of Evolution; co-author ofThe Comparative Method in Evolutionary Biology. Forthcoming book Wired for Culture: Origins of the Human Social Mind. Mark Pagel's Edge Bio Page


 


CITIES AS GARDENS

MARK PAGEL: I'm going to talk to you about cities as gardens, continuing our theme of the garden math. And what I want you to realize is that human beings have been on this planet for 200,000 years, and up until 10,000 years ago, the world looked something like this.  

This is one vision of Arcadia. There weren't any roads, not many permanent settlements, population density was very low because all human beings were hunter-gatherers. But then about 10,000 years ago, something happened. Human beings discovered agriculture. And once they discovered agriculture, a small number of people could produce the food for everyone. Enough food for everything. That freed others from the toil of hunting and gathering. 

And what did we do instantly upon inventing agriculture? We began our migration to cities. And so 10,000 years ago, right after the evolution of agriculture, we see this city in Turkey, Catalhoyuk, springing up. And already, by 10,000 years ago, maybe three, four or five, 6,000 people lived in it. Around the same time, another city sprang up, Jericho in Israel. And that impulse somehow, to move into cities, has carried on, slowly at first, but increasing over time, so that by around 1800, three percent of humanity lived in urban areas or in cities.

Composers as Gardeners

Topic: 

  • CULTURE
http://vimeo.com/79332813

"My topic is the shift from 'architect' to 'gardener', where 'architect' stands for 'someone who carries a full picture of the work before it is made', to 'gardener' standing for 'someone who plants seeds and waits to see exactly what will come up'. I will argue that today's composer are more frequently 'gardeners' than 'architects' and, further, that the 'composer as architect' metaphor was a transitory historical blip."

Composers as Gardeners

[11.10.11]

"My topic is the shift from 'architect' to 'gardener', where 'architect' stands for 'someone who carries a full picture of the work before it is made', to 'gardener' standing for 'someone who plants seeds and waits to see exactly what will come up'. I will argue that today's composer are more frequently 'gardeners' than 'architects' and, further, that the 'composer as architect' metaphor was a transitory historical blip."

BRIAN ENO is an Artist; Composer; Recording Producer: U2, Coldplay, Talking Heads, Paul Simon; Recording Artist ( Drums Between the Bells, Small Craft on a Milk SeaEverything That Happens Will Happen TodayAnother Green World).

Brian Eno's Edge Bio Page


On Sunday, October 16th, Edge, at the invitation of long-time Edge collaborator, Hans Ulrich Obrist (HUO), co-director of the Serpentine Gallery, Edge participated in The Serpentine Gallery Garden Marathon, the sixth in the Gallery’s acclaimed Marathon series. We were asked to explore the concept of "the information garden". In addition to HUO, the Edge participants were artist and composer Brian Enopost-doctoral researcher Jennifer Jacquet, and evolutionary biologist Mark Pagel

 


COMPOSERS AS GARDENERS

[BRIAN ENO:] About the time when I first started making records, I was also starting to become aware of a new sort of organizing principle in music.  I think like many people, I had assumed that music was produced, or created in the way that you imagine symphony composers make music, which is by having a complete idea in their head in every detail and then somehow writing out ways by which other people could reproduce that.  In the same way as one imagines an architect working.  You know, designing the building, in all its details, and then having that constructed.

In the mid-'60s, there started to appear some music that really wasn't like that at all.  And in fact, it was about the time I started making music, and I found that I was making music in this same rather unusual new way.  So that the music I was listening to then in particular, in relation to this point, was Terry Riley's "In C" and Steve Reich's famous tape pieces, "It's Gonna Rain" and "Come Out."  And various other pieces as well. 

Of course, I was also familiar with Cage and his use of randomness, and new ways of making musical decisions.  Or not making them.  What fascinated me about these kinds of music was that they really completely moved away from that old idea of how a composer worked.  It was quite clear with these pieces, for example "In C," that the composer didn't have a picture of the finished piece in his head when he started.  What the composer had was a kind of menu, a packet of seeds, you might say.  And those musical seeds, once planted, turned into the piece.  And they turned into a different version of that piece every time. 

On the Science of Cooking

Topic: 

  • CULTURE
https://vimeo.com/82234190

"Cooking also obeys the laws of physics, in particular chemistry. Yet it is quite possible to cook without understanding it. You can cook better if you do understand what is going on, particularly if you want to deviate from the ways that people have cooked before. If you want to follow a recipe exactly, slavishly, what the hell, you can do it without understanding it. As a rote automaton, you can say, "yes, I mixed this, I cook at this temperature" and so forth.

On the Science of Cooking

[10.25.11]

Cooking also obeys the laws of physics, in particular chemistry. Yet it is quite possible to cook without understanding it. You can cook better if you do understand what is going on, particularly if you want to deviate from the ways that people have cooked before. If you want to follow a recipe exactly, slavishly, what the hell, you can do it without understanding it. As a rote automaton, you can say, "yes, I mixed this, I cook at this temperature" and so forth. But if you want to do something really different, if you want to go color outside the lines, if you want to go outside of the recipe, it helps if you have some intuition as to how things work.

Introduction
by W. Daniel Hillis

I have a confession to make: I thought that Nathan Myhrvold had been wasting his time for the last few years. Here was a guy capable of decoding secrets of the cosmos and instead he was spending months perfecting his recipes for Osso Buco and Oeuf en Meurette? I love good food as much as anyone and I have enjoyed many a meal with Nathan , often cooked by him, but I could not imagine that any cookbook could be worth the years of effort that he put into this project.

As soon as I started reading Modernist Cuisine, I realized that I was wrong. Nathan and his team have created a lasting contribution human culture. This is not just a cookbook; it is the culinary Principia.  Nathan uses food as a window into science just as Newton used the motions of the planets. In truth, it serves as a better window, because who among us cannot relate to mysteries of a lumpy white sauce or a fallen soufflé? Nathan takes his readers on a tour of chemistry, microbiology, optics and thermodynamics, all entered through the kitchen. Secrets are exposed, mysteries unveiled, and familiar principles re-explained in a new light.

I do not intend this as book review, but as an introduction to Nathan. Nothing could better serve to illustrate his brilliant and eclectic mind. The multi-disciplinary science, the stunning photography, the lucid prose, the generous credit he gives to his co-authors and the sheer fun-loving insanity of a 2438-page cookbook, all illustrate essential aspects of Nathan's unique personality. Enjoy the feast.

— Danny Hillis

NATHAN MYHRVOLD is CEO and a founder of Intellectual Ventures, a firm dedicated to creating and investing in inventions. Myhrvold is himself an active inventor, with nearly 250 patents issued or pending — including several related to food technology. Before founding his invention company, Myhrvold was the first chief technology offi­cer at Microsoft. He established Microsoft Research, and during his tenure he over­saw many advanced technology projects. He left Microsoft in 1999 to pursue several interests, including a life­long interest in cooking and food science.He is the coauthor (with Bill Gates) of The Road Ahead and the five-volume Modernist Cuisine.

Nathan Myhvold's Edge Bio Page

W. DANIEL ("DANNY") HILLIS is Chairman and Chief Technology Officer of Applied Minds, a research and development company creating a range of new products and services in software, entertainment, electronics, biotechnology and mechanical design. An inventor, scientist, engineer, author, and visionary, Hillis pioneered the concept of parallel computers that is now the basis for most supercomputers. He is the author of The Pattern on the Stone.

 W. Daniel Hillis's Edge Bio Page


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