Wednesday 5 June 2024

8x8 (11. 608)

i’m too busy helping plot world domination to bother with such run-of-the-mill liberal brainwashing: a day in the life of Mister Anthony Fauci, according to one Congressional representative  

syllabus: a reading list spanning nine-decades—via Messy Nessy Chic  

psychotronics: the prospect of telepathy is once again tantalisingly close—see previously  

foreign accent: TWA’s 1968 campaign to introduce cosmopolitan flair for US domestic flights  

zoonotic: cross-species viral transmission cases is an ominous warning for the public health community—see previously  

the rot-com bubble: the deterioration of tech began with iterative, virtual fetishes—starting with the gig-economy, moving on to crypto, NFTs, the metaverse and now AI, substitutes and replacements that no one asked for 

anagnosology: the science of reading from Alie Ward

look at me, i’m mtg, lousy with stupidity: one of the latest from Randy Rainbow

synchronoptica

one year ago: The Truman Show (1988) plus a follow-up on an Italian archaeological discovery

two years ago: Uncle Albert (1971) plus a selection of British tongue-twisters

three years ago: a preliminary report of the disease that would become known as AIDS (1981), St Boniface, a sophisticated place name generator plus disco lessons

four years ago: generative copy, assorted links to revisit, a zany public service campaign plus a classic from Crash-Test Dummies

five years ago: US national park typography, the palette of dying coral plus clearing up space junk

Sunday 26 May 2024

much sad (11. 584)

Already having to deal with the loss of Grumpy Cat in 2019 and encountering a feline with similar markings, it was a bit mournful to mark the passing of the Shiba Inu named Kabosu—albeit at the ripe and respectable old age of eighteen human years and suffering from various rather chronic ailments (such is the toll of an unnaturally long life)—who was recruited into internet celebrity and launched numerous memes as Doge and a crypto currency that has generated real value for some despite its parody origins.

Sunday 5 May 2024

the santilli film (11. 541)

First screened to invited members of the press and UFO researchers on this day in 1995, packaged and

produced by various media outlets within months and broadcast world wide with several encores and iterations, the pseudo-documentary by British entrepreneur Ray Santilli, despite its poor quality, grainy black-and-white footage and overall incredulity, became a cultural phenomenon and garnering high-ratings, an amateur video likely subjected to as much public scrutiny and debate since the release of the Zapruder film, according to some monitoring the sensation. Purported to show the postmortem conducted on an extraterrestrial crew member found in the wreckage of the Roswell Incident, a military cameraman leaked the footage from 1947 to the producer and promoter. Ahead of a 2006 feature comedy (of the same name) lampooning the infamous hoax, Santilli recanted, admitting it was a fabrication though maintaining it was a “re-creation” inspired by true events and a lost tape. The home video itself was sold as an NFT in May 2021 with the physical master-copy apparently destroyed.

 
synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting plus a classic from The Stranglers

two years ago: more on defining the metre plus the 1984 EuroVision winner

three years ago: your daily demon: Buer, malingering on the metric system plus a modest proposal for solving resource scarcity from 1983

four years ago: Lusophone Culture Day, a view of the village, artist Howard Arkley, more on the unwritten rules of English plus a green office block in Dรผsseldorf

six years ago: the material properties of silk plus self-destructing emails

Friday 16 February 2024

world simulators (11. 353)

Although trialled previously by other platforms to varying success, via Waxy, the new text-to-video generation models from OpenAI’s Sora does seem like prising open another Pandora’s Box. Producing rather crisp and wholly convincing clips up to a minute in length from prompts and instructions, a gallery of samples have been released and for safety and further testing, the vignettes were made by user’s within the company with the participation of a select few artists and cinematographers to assess its strengths and weaknesses. Currently there are no plans to release it to the public and given the pace of change, will probably be impressive for a very short amount of time, though checking out the videos I cannot believe what I’m seeing. Building from adversarial static that transforms over successive steps, the neural network, named after the Japanese word for sky to express its limitless potential, can also extend existing footage forward and backward in time and replace missing frames. The project however has shown difficulty with continuity, the physics of causality and knowing right from left.

synchronoptica

one year ago: the tomb of Tutankhamun (1923) plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: BBS (1978), the moon of Uranus, traditional Japanese chess plus The Simpsons Sing the Blues (1991)

three years ago: more links to enjoy, another North Korean holiday plus Ladybug Ladybug (1963)

four years ago: jamming with barcodes

five years ago: imperial America, more links worth the revisit plus night-mode

Sunday 14 January 2024

stepford authors (11. 265)

We really were in agreement with this comparison of AI plagiarism to the 1975 horror film premising that the human wives of Stepford, Connecticut are having their identities transferred to more able cyborg replicas (to excel at household chores, cooking, sexual acts) without all the shrewish, independent aspects of their personalities that make the slightest bit objectionable to their husbands, having dispatched their biological templates and replacing them. Substituting a human writer with a synthetic one, for the publisher—or any employer for that matter—strikes one as far less bothersome. Meanwhile, the tech giants’ behind large language models arguments for “fair-use,” that machines are digesting and learning from the written word in the same way human readers do and not merely copying them is keeping lawsuits at bay within a legal-framework wholly unprepared and ill-equipped to deal with wholesale violation and lacking attributions—insufficient to even form a rigorous standard to hold the robots to. 

 synchronoptica

one year ago:  the Human Be-In (1967), Davy Jones changes his professional name (1966), ten years of Question Hound plus assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: Davie Bowie’s Low (1977), a short by Gรฉrald Frydman plus training an AI on vintage Batman comics

three years ago: a celebration of donkeys, Trump’s second impeachment, Laocoรถn, the US Congress’ electronic voting machines, marijuana and the munchies, premium pluralisation plus more on snail compasses

four years ago: forty-five-plus years of Fresh Air, US-Iranian relations, for America, separation of Church and State is becoming blurred plus Germany’s Un-Word of the Year

five years ago: pop-up poetry, view from a bus plus Cherubrashka

Tuesday 19 December 2023

9x9 (11. 196)

mister jingeling: a dozen, beloved department store Christmas characters—see also—via Miss Cellania

bubblenomics: pondering the consequences of when AI goes the way of crypto and NFTs 

indefinite causal order: quantum batteries are powered by paradox—via Damn Interesting  

a winter’s tale: selected readings of Christmas ghost stories—via Things Magazine  

the waitresses: the cynical anti-holiday hit Christmas Wrapping that became a festive classic 

infinite jukebox: a clever AI application that extends songs forever  

high ground: study of the competition for space dominance between the US and China suggests America occupy Lagrange points to counter malign ambitions  

52 snippets: facts gleaned from economics and finance from the past twelve months 

snoopy come home: Gen Z rediscovers and identifies with the Peanuts’ character

Saturday 2 December 2023

duck or rabbit (11. 157)

Though this gallery of visual anagrams enhanced by AI and part of a school thesis—via the always engaging Web Curios—relies on many of the familiar tropes of optical illusions, like Einstein-Monroe transformations, reversals, skewed perspective and textual ambigrams, the collection of dynamic paintings and sketches built with diffusion models that one can tweak and re-code to create works of one’s own is pretty spectacular. We agree, moreover with the editorial that one should spend a moment pouring over these examples—as considering the pace of change, the magic is only guaranteed for a limited amount of time.

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit, an unsuccessful space opera, the US Taiwan-Relations Act, celebrity anagrams plus Planet Pizza

two years ago: Angela Merkel steps down 

three years ago: Wonder Woman first appears in animated form, Emil and the Detectives (1931), CBC’s Larry Logo plus Trump’s daughter ostracised 

four years ago: the University of Leipzig (1409) plus outrage and polling

five years ago: more links to enjoy,  Bohemian Hanukkah plus UPA animation studios

Wednesday 29 November 2023

remainds of the day (11. 149)

The three-storey mural by Banksy critical of UK Brexit policies from 2017 executed on an old, condemned property in Dover has been demolished along with the building. Efforts were made to salvage elements like the stars and stencils and a team using LiDAR and photogrammetry technologies was commission to make a three-dimensional scan of the art work earlier in the year—capturing a digital facsimile of the physical wall and paint, but it is unclear whether these attempts at conservation were successful or if the digital reproduction good, with the artist’s consent, be recreated elsewhere.

Saturday 4 November 2023

hypermarket (11. 095)

Via the always excellent Web Curios, we’re informed of an interesting though limited time campaign (now

expired) run by a German discount grocery chain, which although the cynic in me detects a push to collect more consumer data or at least single out the gullible ones for a more pernicious form of targeted advertising and we happily could not take advantage of as we had nothing to swap, struck us as quite brilliant. Fresh4Trash took place during the month of October and invited shoppers to trade in their worthless NFTs for coupons and vouchers for fresh produce. Although no longer on offer, there is a fun Wall of Lame to explore, a gallery of digital art, tokens and coins redeemed for fruit and veg to explore.  Hopefully this campaign will never be repeated—until the next speculative craze comes along.

synchronoptica

one year ago:  the discovery of King Tut’s tomb (1922) plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: haikus on the Periodic Table plus a competition to replace Laocoön’s lost arm

three years ago: the folk etymologies of the hangover

four years ago: a protest rally and ultimatum in East Berlin,  Pigovian subsidies plus the science of voting

five years ago: back in the scent lab,  a love letter to the US Library of Congress plus more links to enjoy

Tuesday 24 October 2023

digitalis (11. 073)

A new data-poisoning tool allows artists to fight back against generative AI by allowing them to make invisible alterations to pixels so when their data is scraped—without consent or compensation—for training, causing the output to verge in chaotic directions. Called Nightshade, these subtle changes could have significant down-stream effects for later iterations of what’s become mostly recursive machine learning. The industry faced with numerous lawsuits over this unauthorised sampling, the application’s creator hopes that this method—which reminds me of trap streets on maps, fake entries in dictionaries and other honeypots—will create a deterrent for such infringement.

Sunday 8 October 2023

๐ŸŒ€ (11. 044)

Via Pasa Bon!’s regular link roundup (lots more to check out there), we are referred to this clever project by Steven Tey that uses artificial intelligence to generate fantastical spiralling compositions (see previously) from a text prompt with a single click. The application accepts very elaborate instructions and really excels in surprising ways. Do give it a try and be sure to share your collaborative creations. 

 

 synchronoptica

one year ago: the cast of Star Trek in an energy company advert plus Saint Reparata

two years ago:  your daily demon: Raum, Baghdad’s House of Wisdom plus a bi-directional typeface

three years ago: assorted links to revisit, Les Misérables (1985), poorly drawn animals plus Trump requires wildlife conservationist organisations to celebrate America’s hunting heritage

four years ago: visualising Wikipedia updates in real time, Trump abruptly withdraws from the Syria-Turkish border, Call Me By Your Monet, The Million Eyes of Sumuru plus discouraging frivolous lawsuits in the Middle Ages

five years ago: the degrading web plus calling attention to the problem of space junk

Wednesday 6 September 2023

pict, png and svg (10. 986)

Although a bit surprised that the fabled auction house is yet trying to make NFTs a collectible, no matter has the public now gets to enjoy a never-before seen series of digital painting from the artist Keith Haring. From Boing Boing, Haring was gifted an Amiga computer in 1986 from his friend Timothy Leary in hopes that the artist would contribute to his project to promote a planned cinematic adaptation of the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer after witnessing Haring engaging with a Macintosh Steve Jobs brought to the birthday party of John Lennon’s son Sean (see also)—mostly to entertain the kids but other guests, including Andy Warhol were rather taken with the medium. Neither above venture quite came to fruition though, Haring was happy to experiment—and proceeds from the sale go to a good cause.

Friday 25 August 2023

proteus effect (10. 963)

Via Web Curios (a lot more to explore in the weekly bulletin), we are directed towards an AI assisted photo editing platform—yes, these are probably a dime-a-dozen and we subject ourselves to a feedback loop of recursive learning and the quandary of creation with such digital personae, indulging a kind of perfection in imperfection and uncanniness, the fidelity degrading over the iterations—but this Human Generator is kind of fun. Like playing with paper dolls, Sims, Miis or Yahoo! Avatars, the application which maps to one’s face if you choose, can be dressed up and altered in a variety of ways with textual and preset inputs to experiment with. Give it a try and share what you come up with—especially if you don’t mind looking a bit thirty and swole, accounting for bias.

 synchronoptica

one year ago: colour television in West Germany plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: Rashomon (1950), St Genรจs, the feud between Salieri and Mozart, more links plus how to cut every cheese

three years ago: Voyager I leaves the Solar System (2012), more links to enjoy, more traditional units of measure plus a Number 10 stand-in

four years ago: premier of The Wizard of Oz (1939) 

five years ago: weekly word watches from the OED,  Letters from Iceland (1937) losing one’s marbles, an early attempt at weather control plus a local kite fest

Monday 29 May 2023

hype cycle (10. 776)

Though never claiming to have the pulse on any trends, we’ve regularly pinned to formerly Twitter and now on Mastodon what we’ve posted one year, two and more years ago for comparison on what’s the latest obsession and really appreciated this thoroughgoing analysis—via the Verge—from the Columbia Journalism Review on how the breathless cheerleading of media coverage for ChatGPT and spin-offs has strong resonance with the valuation and enthusiasm and uncritical reporting that was accorded to the gig and sharing economy, cryptocurrencies and NFTs not so long ago. The coverage follows a particular pattern—promising redundancy and utopia, catastrophe and revolution, playing on the FOMO and belated adpotion principle—before rather than taking a more circumspect turn on the deliverables of said technology but go through a period of sober and rapid withdrawal, pushing instead a narrative of counterfactual bias (wokeism is not baked into to algorithmic suggestions and quite the opposite is the case) over unexamined efficacy.

Saturday 27 May 2023

pompon (10. 767)

Whilst only expected to fetch about five thousand dollars at auction, a portrait of one of favourite canine companions by Jacques Barthรฉlรฉmy Delamarre (the eighteenth century painter whose portfolio limited to pictures of this dog with shaved hindquarters and few other studies of cats and rabbits and not to be confused with Joseph Ducreux—though equally meme-worthy) commanded over a quarter of a million. Not much is known about either the artist or the subject, that is believed to be a Cavalier King Charles—other than the French queen kept a menagerie of pets and this one is as elaborately coiffed as their human, though unclear if they shared the same political views, see also.

Tuesday 7 February 2023

7x7 (10. 531)

business vulnerable: dress codes for your wedding to confound invited guests 

boom and bust: in stark contrast to last year’s showcase dubbed Crypto Bowl, no cryptocurrency ads have been purchased for Super Bowl Sunday  

fanilect: more eggcorns and mondegreens in misheard lyrics to Taylor Swift songs  

gaming like it’s 1927: annual public domain table-top project playing and remixing expired IPs—via Things Magazine  

overworld theme: beatboxer recreates the songscape of Super Mario Bros. 2

only the shadow knows: a noir short by Fabrice Mathieu  

family dining: Facebook to open Metaverse to children to try to rehabilitate flagging interest 

assistant to the regional manager: the Great Resignation and unethical reclassification practises helped create inflated job titles

Wednesday 25 January 2023

beta-testing (10.496)

In an attempt to pre-empt some of the legal and ethical concerns in a field fraught with promise, disappointment and unchecked acceleration that our present concessions to copyright and IP are not fit for, stock picture clearing house Shutterstock has partnered with a suit of text-to-art artificial intelligences to offer clients with existing licensing packages access to a limited dataset used to train the generative AI, promising to compensate artists, photographers, models (contributors) whose work was skimmed, studied. Shutterstock also includes the unenforceable catch-all caveat that generated images must not be used to infringe or misappropriate intellectual property or otherwise generate false, deceptive or misleading imagery—which we can’t whether or not divides the onus and responsibility between publisher and patron.

Sunday 22 January 2023

regal zonophone (10. 489)

Composite artist and computer collaborator—I think these partnerships are called centaurs or reverse centaurs depending on one’s perspective on who is doing the driving—Wen Wormhole sits down for an interview with Messy Nessy Chic to talk about the alternate reality of a “Glam Rock Sci-Fi Universe,” with a touch of wrestle-mania energy added to the prompt, that he’s has helped craft with the power of artificial intelligence—see previously.  Learn more about the creative process, techniques and compounding inspiration at the links above, which Wormhole compares to being an art director of a project. What fusions of reality and alternate universe would you create with the help of AI?

Friday 20 January 2023

can’t do hands (10. 483)

Via Web Curios, we are directed towards a rather nightmarish gallery of the myriad ways that early and contemporary, cutting-edge image generators alike make malformed human hands. It took me a long time to see this mural in Wiesbaden as the interlocking fingers for rebuilding but it did eventually register. There’s uncanny valley to describe the off-puttingness of a simulation that’s just too close to reality but there’s no agreed-upon term for its corollary. What would you call it? Such mangled hammer-toes only are relatable in a society in an era beyond such imitations and manual simulacra. How would you like to be vetted?

Thursday 19 January 2023

7x7 (10. 481)

distressed property: no interested buyers for North Hollywood Crypto House—via Miss Cellania  

rabbit on the moon: some communities following the luni-solar calendar readying for the Year of the Cat

cartoon dynamo: a century later, a 1923 editorial foreshadows automated art 

high stakes brinksmanship: the US Treasury turns to extraordinary measures to avoid default on debt repayments  

peer-reviewed: many scientists disapprove of ChatGPT cited as a contributing author on research papers  

unbuilt: rendered images of Frank Lloyd Wright’s unrealised architecture  

childhood lottery dream home achieved: a selection of properties on the market, courtesy of Zillow Gone Wild