technology

Posts tagged
with technology



History Science

Researchers Digitally Unfold a Renaissance-Era Letter Using X-Ray Technology

March 4, 2021

Grace Ebert

A 3D rendering of the letter as it unfolds. All images via Unlocking History Research Group archive

Six centuries after it was penned, the contents hidden inside a Renaissance-era letter plucked from a trunk at The Hague are finally readable. The correspondence, which we now know was likely spurred by questions about an inheritance, was part of a larger collection of nearly 600 letterlocked notes, a complex method that involves meticulously folding, rolling, tucking, and adhering the paper into its own envelope. Prior to the advent of other sealing practices, this security measure ensured that no one transporting the note became privy to its contents.

According to an article in Nature, a group of MIT researchers, who work as Unlocking History, digitally unraveled the letter, which otherwise would have to be opened by cutting through the paper, damaging the object and potentially leaving it unreadable. Instead, they employed a particularly sensitive X‐ray microtomography scanner designed for dental practices, including mapping the exact mineral content of teeth. After scanning the paper, researchers constructed 3D models alongside an algorithm built to determine specific folding patterns, allowing them to open the note without physically altering the artifact.

Dated July 31, 1697, the letter contained a request for a death certificate from a man named Jacques Sennacques to his cousin Pierre Le Pers, who lived at The Hague. “His request issued, Sennacques then spends the rest of the letter asking for news of the family and commending his cousin to the graces of God,” researchers said. “We do not know exactly why Le Pers did not receive Sennacques’ letter, but given the itinerancy of merchants, it is likely that Le Pers had moved on.” It’s unclear why this letter or the hundreds of others, which are written in Dutch, English, French, Italian, Latin, and Spanish, never reached their recipients.

Head to Vimeo to watch Unlocking History unfold replicas of infamous and fictional correspondence—the collection spans from Mary Queen of Scots to Harry Potter to Beethoven—and dive further into the practice on the group’s site, where you’ll find folding guides, a lengthy history, and an entire archive of discreet missives. (via Science Alert)

 

The scanned letter from July 31, 1697

Digital rendering of the letter as it unfolds

The trunk at The Hague that contains hundreds of letterlocked notes

 

 



Design History Illustration Music

Inside Information: Cross-Sections of Retro Technology Reveal Historical Moments of Iconic Objects

October 2, 2020

Christopher Jobson

The distinctive Arriflex 35 IIC is one of the most significant motion picture cameras of all time, and a favourite of the Hollywood new wave of cinematographers of the 60’s ad 70’s. The hand held camera was famously beloved by Stanley Kubrick whose 1971 cult classic, A Clockwork Orange, was shot almost entirely on the Arri 35 IIC.

As part of an ongoing series titled Inside Information, UK-based design studio Dorothy explores some of the most iconic designs in the areas of film, music, personal computing, and fashion through clever “cutaway” infographics. Each illustration reveals a miniature isometric world packed with historical moments from famous concerts that used the Vox AC30 amplifier to films that utilized the Arriflex 35 IIC handheld camera, which transformed movies forever. All five of the Inside Information graphics are available as three-color litho prints on its website. (via Colossal Submissions)

 

Released in 1959 to meet the demand for louder amplifiers, the Vox AC30 was quickly adopted as the amp of choice for bands like The Beatles, The Kinks and The Stones, helping to define the sound of the ‘British Invasion’ when the popularity of British rock ’n’ roll bands spread to the States. Its appeal has continued through the decades with bands like Queen, U2, The Smiths, Oasis, Blur, Radiohead, Arctic Monkeys all counted as loyal Vox fans.

The Nike Air Max is a bona fide design classic. Designed by Tinker Hatfield and released in 1987 it has, in its 30 plus years of existence, established a cult following. Inspired by the architecture of the Centre Pompidou, it was the first trainer to offer a window to the sole, kickstarting a revolution in sneaker design.

The Minimoog was the world’s first portable (and affordable) synthesiser. Billed as ’The Moog for the road’, it revolutionized music, acquired a cult-like following (which it still enjoys to this day) and quickly became the most popular synth of its time.

The Apple Macintosh (later know as the Macintosh 128k) was launched with an Orwell inspired commercial directed by Ridley Scott, and introduced to the world by Steve Jobs on 24th January 1984. It blew our tiny little minds and for many heralded the beginning of a lifelong love affair with all things Apple.

 

 



Animation

An Intimate Short Film Highlights 2020's Crises through Exquisitely Surreal Scenes

September 22, 2020

Grace Ebert

Set to subdued music, Nicolas Lichtle’s short film titled “à la fin…” is an unusually ethereal depiction of the crises climaxing in 2020. The delicate animation flows through a series of lightly-hued scenes that explore reactions to COVID-19, the wildfires raging across the planet, and the endless distractions of technology. “It’s a moment of introspection, very intimate, staged through a succession of small moments imbued with poetry, absurdity, and sometimes surrealism…” Lichtle writes.

Many of the anonymous characters’ faces are obscured by a plant, digital device, or cloth mask, and they undertake both mundane and bizarre tasks that critique contemporary life: An unassuming man runs on a treadmill while someone stands nearby to douse him with disinfectant, a figure with a bowling ball head shouts through a megaphone at upright pins, and two women happily wave at a distant earth set ablaze.

Lichtle is based in Paris and has an extensive collection of films on his site. Follow his critically-minded projects on Vimeo. (via swissmiss)

 

 

 



Animation

The Attention Economy: An Animation Visualizes the Endless Onslaught of Digital Distractions

September 21, 2020

Grace Ebert

If you’ve scrolled through Twitter while reading Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing or Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism, you understand the wide-reaching grip technology has on our attention. A new project by London-based animator Olga Makarchuk visualizes the daily abundance of digital distractions, from texts to social media pings to neverending email. Through quirky illustrations that are constantly in motion, “The Attention Economy” captures the modern desire to scroll endlessly and grab a device when there’s a moment of downtime. It’s based on research from James Williams, a former Google employee, who’s critical of the ways companies capitalize on distraction and have turned attention into a commodity.

Makarchuk has worked with a variety of media organizations and brands to tell a diverse array of stories ranging from the effects of anthropocentrism to the life of an Olympian. To watch more of her work, head to Vimeo and Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Katsumi Hayakawa's Congested Cities Are Constructed with Scrupulously Cut Paper Buildings

August 21, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Bonsai City” (2014), paper, inkjet printing, fake grass, acrylic elements, 8 x 118 x 21 1/2 inches. All images © Katsumi Hayakawa, courtesy of the artist and McClain Gallery, shared with permission

Meticulously cutting each piece by hand, Katsumi Hayakawa crafts dense cityscapes and urban districts from white paper. The Japanese artist assembles towers and various cube-like structures that are positioned in lengthy rows, resembling congested streets. Dotted with primary colors and metallic elements, the sculptures evoke electronic equipment like microchips and motherboards, which references the relationship between modern cities and technology. Hayakawa’s use of an ephemeral, organic material further contrasts the manufactured nature of both urban areas and technological inventions.

To explore more of the artist’s projects that are concerned with the complexity of modern life, head to Artsy.

 

“Fata Morgana” (2014), paper, inkjet printing, glitter, 25 1/2 x 119 1/2 x 51 1/2 inches

“Bonsai City” (2014), paper, inkjet printing, fake grass, acrylic elements, 8 x 118 x 21 1/2 inches

“Bonsai City” (2014), paper, inkjet printing, fake grass, acrylic elements, 8 x 118 x 21 1/2 inches

“Intersection” (2017), watercolor paper and mixed media, 29 7/16 x 59 1/16 x 5 1/2 inches

“Intersection” (2017), watercolor paper and mixed media, 29 7/16 x 59 1/16 x 5 1/2 inches

“Fata Morgana” (2014), paper, inkjet printing, glitter, 25 1/2 x 119 1/2 x 51 1/2 inches

“See from the side 3” (2014), paper, wood, acrylic reflective sheet, acrylic mirror with blue film, 8 3/4 x 50 1/4 x 11 inches

 

 



Art Design

Utilizing Modern 3D Printing, Artistic Duo Rael San Fratello Constructs Coiled Earthen Architecture

August 18, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Rael San Fratello, shared with permission

Modern architectural building methods and Indigenous materials converge in the latest endeavor by Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, titled “Casa Covida.” The earthen structure is part of a MUD Frontiers/Zoquetes Fronterizos that centers on Pueblo de Los Ángeles and the ways technological advances can work in unison with historic mud-based designs. “Casa Covida” contains a bathing pool, sleeping areas, and fireplace seats for two.

To create the three-room home, the duo employs a custom, portable robot that they transport to various sites, allowing them to dig soil and other materials and immediately shape it into the necessary structures. Utilizing clay and mud, the building process is informed by the practices of Ancestral Pueblo peoples and Indo-Hispano cultures of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. When wet, the natural materials are layered in zigzag-like coils. The undulating, textured facades generally are made with a few rows to provide insulation from the nighttime cold.

MUD Frontiers was a recent recipient of a 2020 Art + Technology grant from LACMA. It strives to consider “traditional clay craft at the scale of architecture and pottery. The end goal of this endeavor is to demonstrate that low-cost and low-labor construction that is accessible, economical, and safe is possible,” a statement says.

Based in La Florida, Colorado, and Oakland, respectively, Rael and San Fratello are known for subversive projects at the intersection of art and architecture, like the neon pink teetertotters slotted through the U.S.-Mexico border wall. Follow their latest sustainable works on Instagram. (via Hyperallergic)