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Screaming meaning machine - click opera
February 2010
Wed, Aug. 23rd, 2006 12:00 am
Screaming meaning machine

The meaning machine screams on. When I'm not churning out daily narratives here at Click Opera, I'm churning them out elsewhere. Here are two recent stories you may have missed. I've lifted the most interesting chunks of them, and summarized the comments they attracted. It's funny how, even though my subjects change, my themes remain pretty constant: a basic respect for otherness, a love of everything cheap, bizarre and incidental, and a certain amount of unashamed cheerleading for eco-utopianism.

AIGA Voice: Museum frames strangeness strangely

"One moment you’ll be in an expensive, freshly-designed series of halls telling the story of the dinosaurs with slick cut-away multimedia graphics, the next you’ll find yourself in a neglected cul-de-sac featuring Maori masks from 19th century New Zealand, all framed with sans serif typefaces, dry transfer lettering, salmon pink display cases, green carpeting and walls that meet the floor with rounded corners—design signifiers from the early 1970s. What’s so wonderful about the Natural History Museum is the way its narrative is always portraying differences (and differences, often doomed ones, are very much the theme of any museum or zoo, a place, like Bedlam, where we come to see the Other rendered as a kind of Freak Show) differently.

"Whether we encounter endangered differences via an airline or a museum, they’re likely to be staged with a fascinating blend of science and showbiz—and all taped together with the grammar of ... well, whatever design tropes were current last time anyone could afford a revamp. Those of us who find a certain poetry in otherness of presentation as well as otherness of content—who spot the streamlined metallic lettering designs of 1947 with as much excitement as we spot a stuffed giant panda chewing bamboo in a synthetic forest—can only hope that the Natural History Museum remains poor enough to stay rich in strangeness."

Comments: One appreciation of retro strangeness, one complaint about exoticization by museums, someone blaming the shift towards interactivity for flattening the museum experience, someone agreeing but blaming designers for forgetting "distinction and individuality", someone asking for more images, an URL for a New York Times article about two approaches to science displays in California, an URL for some Flickr pictures of the NY Natural History Museum, and a correction telling me a Maori hall I'd identified as 1970s was actually opened just three years ago.

Wired News: Power From the People

"For the environmentally conscious, it's a thrilling idea. Suddenly a typical city looks like a series of energy-generating opportunities currently being missed. All those people walking, cars driving, elevated iron bridges vibrating as the trains roll across -- aren't they a bit like wind, sun or waves just waiting to have their energy harnessed and turned into power?

"Although it may not yet be economically viable to install big piezo networks all over our cities, some people are working on energy harvesting and scavenging projects, and in some cases there are already products you can buy... It's fascinating to imagine a future in which almost nothing goes to waste, and power gets recycled in highly efficient loops. It raises all sorts of questions I'm sure Jacques and Pierre Curie, who discovered piezoelectrics in 1880, never got around to thinking about. Who really owns energy? Should we start thinking of walking (or just standing still and vibrating) as a commodity we could sell, or a gift we should give? If I'm powering your train station with my body, shouldn't I get the occasional free ride?"

Comments: Someone thinks the ants in a film called "Ant Bully" use piezo electric crystals at some point, someone asks why the Japanese gather electricity from the floor and not from a rotating mechanical turnstile, someone suggests they should build homes with power-generating gyms to slim down the population, and someone else says that better use of batteries would allow people to partially power a TV by pedalling an exercise bike.


(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Dave Nold
Wed, Aug. 23rd, 2006 01:17 am (UTC)

Bauxite Museum, Bauxite, find the post office on hwy 183 and take the turnoff south, 501-557-2997. You won't find this museum unless you're looking for it, but it's worth looking for. Most of the museum is purely of local interest, high school athletic championship trophies and the like; but there's lots of stuff like 19th century surveying equipment, aluminum industry and mining history, collections of obscure soda bottles and so on. Of special interest, Bauxite Teeth. Last visited 6/97.

Sadly, no website for this one. But now you know how to get there.

There are glimpses of it in a little movie I made. Come to think of it, it's a movie about two museums.

ReplyThread Parent

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

Wed, Aug. 23rd, 2006 12:32 am (UTC)

Hopefully the process of making piezoelectrical devices isn't more environmentally damaging than the power systems they would replace :O

Wed, Aug. 23rd, 2006 01:34 am (UTC)

made me think of this: notions of expenditure.

Wed, Aug. 23rd, 2006 07:10 pm (UTC)

found 20 euros today.

ReplyThread Parent
Wed, Aug. 23rd, 2006 05:57 am (UTC)

i just love my pecker luminous. i bet u could run an apple with it.


Wed, Aug. 23rd, 2006 06:05 am (UTC)

here is one for zz top. clitocibe illudens. draw the curtains.



Wed, Aug. 23rd, 2006 09:52 am (UTC)
Stainless Stephen for Reference

Can I pin this interesting article to your blog, as a precaution, in case it disappears from its original home on the net - The idea being that I will still be able to refer to it here? Jamie Skinner

Comic was 'stainless, painless brainless, shameless, aimless'
By Martin Dawes

STAINLESS Stephen, a half-forgotten Sheffield comic who was one of the country's top radio entertainers, will be remembered in a "music hall marathon" next month.
His trademarks were a waistcoat made of stainless steel, bowler hat, revolving bow tie and peppering his topical jokes with spoken punctuation marks.
The former Crookes schoolmaster – real name Arthur Clifford Baynes – had an opening routine which went: "Good evening, comma, ladies and gentlemen, comma, this is Stainless, semi-colon, semi-conscious Stephen, comma, speaking to you…"
He died 35 years ago and is now only remembered by light entertainment historians.
Duncan Miller, who is staging a 24-hour Music Hallathon at the Cutlers' Hall over September 9 and 10, says: "We shall be doing something of him in our top two shows on the Saturday night – Made in Sheffield and the Golden Greats.
"I have two recordings of him. He was good for radio and lightly amusing."
Stainless was born in Sheffield in 1892 and after being demobbed from the army in 1918 returned to the city to work as a teacher, at the Crookes Endowed School in 1922, moonlighting as a comic at weekends and holidays.
He made his stage debut at the Palace, Luton, in 1921 but really took off by doing turns on the old pre-BBC Sheffield radio station 2FL.
He stayed at the school until 1935 when he moved to be nearer the BBC in London.
Duncan says: "I've been told that lessons he took would be rather light on a Friday while he wrote his script."
The waistcoat idea came from a walk down Sheffield High Street early one Sunday morning after a radio broadcast when he noticed a chromium shop front being fitted.
He got Firth-Vickers to made him a waistcoat (and hat band) of chrome and he first appeared on stage with it at the Sheffield Empire.
However, the famous author and reviewer JB Priestley complained that it dazzled the audience so he had a replacement made in not so reflective material by Rootes of Coventry.
Stainless, who topped a poll of radio comics in 1932, is said to have picked up his punctuation patter on a wartime army signalling course. It was a technique later made famous by the Danish-born comedian Victor Borge.
While he appeared on cigarette cards, advertisements for tinned fish and was on the bill at the London Palladium's Royal Command Performance in 1945, the comic with a passing resemblance to George Robey never made it into films, although he appears briefly in the 1933 short Radio Parade.
Retiring in 1952 to become a gentleman farmer in Kent, he described himself as "stainless, painless, brainless, shameless, aimless, semi-conscious and approaching semi dotage."

ReplyThread Parent
erasmo spicker
Wed, Aug. 23rd, 2006 10:32 pm (UTC)
About the exotic

Did you read this interview with Jorgen Leth (the co-director of "the five obstructions"):
I found many connections with the themes of this blog.
¿How did you find the movie?


Thu, Aug. 24th, 2006 07:11 am (UTC)
please read Nick.... and comment..

Check out recent quicktime clips on www.onegoodmove.org ..

In recent posts, I really wish you would separate the United States with the United States government.

Your time in the US should have in one way or another let you know that what the people want is not always immediately reflected in the united states government. This is something I hope changes with the advancement of democracy and communication.

In early colonial United States, leaders were elected to travel to Washington to vote. The impetus for few select leaders was travel time.

Now strangers are voted into office based on key issues. -One man gets the gay marriage vote, the other gets the anti welfare vote.

Eventually I hope that voting is somehow returned to the populous by way of the internet or other means. -An example might be that every morning everyone votes for the first 30 minutes of the day.

What you should know, is that almost every educated youth in the US is against our current administration and feels quite embarrassed about the overall situation. Many of us feel that the EU is the fountainhead of world progress.

Right now the US has more chances than ever to have democratic house and please know that there are many well read individuduals in the us that fight for change. We are very close to winning that goal.

Right now the US is dealing with mostly problems and egos created from cold war tactics. MOST notably is our dealings with Iran in 1952. This is something that many are aware and fight to change.

Please separate your usage of the United States as a noun by noting either its people or its government.