5 Intriguing Things: Monday, 12/9

The flatness of gestalt change, the possibility of surveillance reform, the last person with smallpox, the resistance, and Andy Warhol's Amiga art.
From Transitions (Lauren Marsolier)

1. The mindbending, unnerving flatness of Lauren Marsolier's digital images.*

"We undergo what could be called a gestalt change. These transitional periods often feel like being in a place we know but can't quite identify. As we try to adjust to a post-modern society marked by speed and the implosion of boundaries between image and referent, appearance and reality, we repeatedly get this feeling of disorientation and dissonance.

We have been introduced to a new stage of abstraction, a dematerialization in which images and signs take on a life of their own, divorced from our former notion of the real. The loss of concrete connections to the objects of our senses creates a void within us, and unleashes a flow of new and elusive perceptions. Giving them the visual characteristics of a landscape is my way to explore them."


2. The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza does his typical deep reportage on Ron Wyden and the possibility of surveillance reform.

"The history of the intelligence community, though, reveals a willingness to violate the spirit and the letter of the law, even with oversight. What’s more, the benefits of the domestic-surveillance programs remain unclear. Wyden contends that the N.S.A. could find other ways to get the information it says it needs."


3. Photos of the last people in the world to have smallpox.

"Since smallpox was only transferred from person to person, the last infected person was the last link in the chain of transmission and represented the end of the disease in a country."


4. Trying to imagine "Our Drone Future. But will there be a resistance?

"In the near future, cities use semi-autonomous drones for urban security. Human officers monitor drone feeds remotely, and data reports are displayed with a detailed HUD and communicated via a simulated human voice (designed to mitigate discomfort with sentient drone technology). While the drones operate independently, they are 'guided' by the human monitors, who can suggest alternate mission plans and ask questions."


5. Andy Warhol on his love for his Amiga, from the January/February 1986 issue of Amiga World

"How do you friends feel about computer art?

Andy: They all like it. They have been using xerox, and they can't wait until they can use this, because there are so many people into xerox art. You do it and then take the stuff to the xerox store and do the prints there. Jean-Michel Basquiat uses xerox. So, if he could be printing out on his own machine, he would be using this."


* This is what I imagine Thomas Pynchon's DeepArcher looks like. The anti-textured horizonless infinity slash nothing. 


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Presented by

Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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