Tag Archives: Music

Simon Fraser University’s Jay Vidyarthi exhibits Sonic Cradle at TEDActive 2012

The Sonic Cradle, Simon Fraser University (SFU located in Vancouver, Canada) student Jay Vidyarthi’s project which combines music, meditation and modern technology, will be exhibited from Feb. 27 – March 1, 2012, at TEDActive 2012 in Palm Springs (US).

This is a Sonic Cradle video (available from the Sonic Cradle website) which gives viewers a sense of the project and includes some interviews with people who’ve been held in the cradle,

Sonic Cradle from Jay Vidyarthi on Vimeo.

The Feb. 10, 2012 news release from SFU provides more details,

 “The idea grew from my desire to explore how technology can be used to free us from the stress associated with information overload,” says Vidyarthi, who is pursuing a master’s degree in SFU Surrey’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology.

Vidyarthi and his supervisor Bernhard Riecke, who heads up SIAT’s new iSpace lab, have been invited to display Sonic Cradle as part of the prestigious TEDActive TechArt exhibition. During the week-long conference participants will be able to try 15-minute meditative sessions.

Vidyarthi, who is also working with co-supervisor Diane Gromala, director of SFU’s Transforming Pain research group, says the project was accepted despite being primarily a design research artifact rather than a piece of art.

Developed last spring, Sonic Cradle provides a digitized compendium of musical sound bites from 30 musicians from across North America, including recordings of falling rain, flute and guitar arrangements, meditative chimes and even spoken poetry.

Breathing stimulates the sound patterns, which are unique to each ‘cradle’ visit, says Vidyarthi, a musician who earlier studied psychophysics and neuroscience at McGill University.

The researchers plan further study on how the system physiologically affects people. The creation of a handheld mobile version of Sonic Cradle is also possible.

As the one who has spent the most time in Sonic Cradle, Vidyarthi says, “when you remove all the distractions, it can feel something like leaving the planet.”

You can find out more about the TEDActive 2012 programme here and there’s more about the Transforming Pain research group at SFU here.

Music, art, and science

I recently stumbled across a couple of artistic and musical items about science on nanopublic (Dietram Scheufele’s blog) in a posting from Wednesday, May 12, 2010, When art meets science: “Symphony of Science.” (ETA, May 19, 2010: link to specific post) There’s  a reference to an interview with Adam Bly, founder and editor of SEED MAGAZINE (science-oriented magazine) talking about “What science can learn from the arts” on the Big Think website. It’s an excerpt from a 2008 interview with Bly, a Canadian born in Montréal, Québec, now living in New York City. In the same item, Scheufele features a video titled, “Symphony of Science” (SOS) from the website of the same name. From the SOS website,

The Symphony of Science is a musical project headed by John Boswell designed to deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form. Here you can watch music videos, download songs, read lyrics and find links relating to the messages conveyed by the music.

The project owes its existence in large measure to the wonderful work of Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steve Soter, of Druyan-Sagan Associates, and their production of the classic PBS Series Cosmos, as well as all the other featured figures and visuals.

So there it is: music, art, and science.

Nanotechnology enables robots and human enhancement: part 3

There’s another way of looking at the robot situation. Instead of making machines more like people, why not make people more like machines? That seems to be the subtext when you read about human enhancement and, like yesterday’s discussion about robots, you find yourself talking to a transhumanist or two.

Tracy Picha writing in Flare magazine’s August 2009 issue (The Future of Our Body) starts her article with an anecdote about Aimee Mullins, a record-breaking paralympian (and double amputee), wearing prosthetic legs to an event that boosted her standard height from 5’8″ to 6’1″.

As the story goes, Mullins reconnected with an old friend who had known her only at her shorter height. “Her mouth dropped when she saw me,” recalls Mullins, “and she said, ‘But you’re so tall!'”

“I know, isn’t it fun?” was Mullins’ reply.

“But, Aimee, that’s not fair.”

Picha finishes off the anecdote after a discussion of augmentation and enhancement that includes the story of a guy in Finland needing a prosthetic to replace part of a severed finger and choosing one that has a USB port in its tip. She goes on to discuss a subculture of people who embed magnetic chips into their bodies so they can sense magnetic and electromagnetic fields thereby giving themselves a sixth sense. There’s also a discussion with a transhumanist and a contrasting view from Susie Orbach, author of Bodies. Orbach has this to say,

… the body has become a casing for fantasy rather than a place from which to live.

It’s all becoming a metaphysical question. What is it to be human? I have misgivings about all this talk about enhancement and, as mentioned yesterday, improving the human genome.

Meanwhile, Picha’s article is thought-provoking and it’s in a fashion magazine, which bears out my belief that a lot science communication takes place outside its usual channels.  In one of my papers, I likened science communication to a conversation with several threads taking place.

Government studies such as the one from the UK (July 27, 2009 ETA this should read European Parliament not UK) that Michael Berger on Nanowerk Spotlight recently featured are definitely part of this conversation. From Berger’s article,

The authors of the study do not rely on the still widespread conceptual distinction between “therapy” and “enhancement”, but instead, in line with recent political statements on the issue, adopt a notion of human enhancement that includes non-therapeutic as well as some therapeutic measures.
Defining human enhancement as any “modification aimed at improving individual human performance and brought about by science-based or technology-based interventions in the human body”, they distinguish between
1) restorative or preventive, non-enhancing interventions,

2) therapeutic enhancements, and

3) non-therapeutic enhancements.

Faced with the often highly visionary and strongly ideological character of the debate on human enhancement, one must strive for a balance between advancing a rational discussion through critical analysis of the relevant visions and normative stances, and taking a close look at the diversity of HE technology and their actual social, technological and political significance

Berger’s article is well worth reading and  links to the report itself and other articles that he’s written on the topic. Monday, July 27, 2009, I should be wrapping up this series.

In keeping with today’s ‘fashionable theme, I leave you with something musical from Manolo’s Shoe Blog. The writer who is not The Manolo, recently posted on one of his favourite rock songs (and one I’ve always loved), Runaway by Del Shannon. The posting is poignant and touching. Manolo has included two versions of the song, one sung by Shannon in the 1960s and again in the 1980s (this one includes part of an interview about the song Shannon wrote so many years before). Both are well worth checking out as you can see how an artist matures and develops over time. Seeing both enhances the experience of listening to each one. Go here.

EMI and nanotech plus fashion and nanoparticles

Now I can guess why I haven’t heard back from EMI (music and recording label), after asking them for permission to put an MP3 version of Flanders & Swann song (unintentional wordplay, at first), ‘First and Second Law’ on my Nanotech Mysteries wiki (the project I’m developing for my dissertation). The song is about the first and second laws of thermodynamics (there aren’t that many physics songs and thanks to Richard Jones for mentioning it in his nanotech book, Soft Machines) and it would fit in well with how I see my nano wiki developing. Apparently, EMI hold the rights which should mean a simple request and a ‘yes or no’ answer. That’s what I thought until this morning when I saw an article in the New York Times (here) by Tim Arango.

There was a takeover last year and the transition has not been smooth. At the moment, they’re planning on dropping about 1/3 of their workforce. I guess the employees have had more pressing concerns than replying to my request. Of course, the music industry seems to be in disarray as they’ve been hit with the music downloading situation which has led to questions about copyright and payments. (It’s more complicated than that and you might want to check out Techdirt (at www.techdirt.com) which comments and keeps track of these kinds of issues.) The whole thing really strikes home given the Canadian government’s recent copyright bill which will make criminals of almost everyone in the country.

The whole discussion seems ironic to me because when I was researching a paper on technology transfer about 15 years ago there was a lot of speculation as to why there was so much pirating and exchange of ‘free’ software in Asia. The consensus at the time was that these were cultural issues. Funny, the spirit that led Asian people to copy paid-for (or pirated) software and give it fot free to their friends seems remarkably similar to what we see happening globally with music. Maybe it’s cultural, maybe it’s something else.

A New Zealand researcher has found a way to introduce gold and/or silver nanoparticles into wool creating some unusual colour effects. The article with more details is available at the Nanowerk website here. If the article is to be believed you might be able to buy a $200 to $300 scarf woven in gold or silver (particles) in the not too distant future. It’s a little disconcerting that there aren’t many studies to determine if it’s healthy for humans or what the impact of these nanoparticles (which are in all kinds of products currently available) might be environmentally. It’s good to hear that the US Dept of Energy has awarded a $400,000 grant (details here) to researchers to look into these issues.

If you are interested in some pretty nanopictures, there are some ‘nano flowers’ here at Nanovida, produced by a PhD student Ghim Wei Ho. He works at Dr. Mark Welland at Cambridge University.

I didn’t find any Canadian nano today.