Archive for the 'lectures' Category

A note on Sopa/Pipa

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

We all know most of the decisions made in the U.S. congress have a direct impact on the rest of the world. Even though most of our countries suffer from some degree of internet censorship, and some people might suggest that we should protest our own disastrous legislations first, the state of the internet in the United States is something we all use to our advantage, something worth protecting, and a good-enough example to look after for some. Perhaps it’s time for the world to take a stand and USE THE INTERNET to tell the U.S. congress that people everywhere have something to say about the decisions they make, like for example, that SOPA/PIPA belongs in the toilet.

I am not going to black out my site because, honestly, I don’t think anybody will care, but in case you happen to see this today (or any other day), I leave you here in the hands of Science Fiction superstar Cory Doctorow, delivering a keynote where he paints a pretty good picture about the current state of things. Additionaly, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has more information on this and other issues central to your freedom online.

Update: The same Cory Doctorow just posted another video on boingboing, where the Khan Academy explains the implications for legitimate sites in a world where SOPA/PIPA is law.

Update Two: Clay Shirky’s take on SOPA/PIPA “Get ready because more is coming”:

Millions of Markets

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

This is an update to a previous note on some video work I recently finished for the Center for Transportation and Logistics at MIT. The videos are now available in the FutureFreightFlows YouTube channel. I chose Millions of Markets to be featured in this post because it offers an interesting vision at the gateway of the Technological Singularity. Regardless of the questionable veracity of its claims, the so called Technological Singularity is a fun thing to fantasize about. I really can’t wait to be synthesized, augmented, cloned, and uploaded.

Here is the official explanation of the project, as found in the FutureFreightFlows YouTube channel:

This video is one of four fictional newscasts to be aired on 2 November 2037. They are all part of the Future Freight Flows project run at MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL) for the National Academies. Four separate future scenarios were developed over the course of a year through a series of focused expert panel sessions, practitioner acid testing, and industry wide surveys. The key driving forces and critical uncertainties were identified and formed the basis of the underlying scenarios. While originally designed to be used for freight transportation planning, they can be employed for a wide variety of different planning purposes. To find out more, visit FutureFreightFlows at MITCTL or send email to future[at]mit[dot]edu.

Finally, here is a flickr group with photos from the shoot.

Chris Claremont for breakfast

Friday, April 17th, 2009

I will always be amazed by the incredible personalities that come across my way at MIT. This morning I attended a Master Class by Chris Claremont of X-Men fame organized by CMS.

The following lines are directly quoted from the “about” section in Claremont’s own website. I think they say a lot about his contribution to the superhero genre, and the reasons why he was able to give life to some of the most memorable female characters in superhero history.

The central theme of Chris’s X-Men stories is prejudice. The X-Men are both blessed and cursed with genetic mutations that set them apart from the rest of humanity. Some of those mutations are very visible. Some can remain hidden. How each superhero responds to their physical self, and how humanity reacts in turn, is a purposeful stand-in for racial, religious and ethnic tensions in the real world. This core theme has been widely recognized as giving Chris’s X-Men lasting relevance to the larger social context.

Chris is well known for his progressive treatment of women in a genre that oftentimes relies on stereotype. Active, intelligent, courageous women characters such as Jean Grey, Kitty Pryde, and Storm have made Chris’s X-Men as popular with women readers as men.

The class was scheduled early [I should say early for me], and I woke up late, so I had to skip breakfast in order to get there in time. Surprisingly, only two MIT students showed up, leaving Claremont with a comfortable audience of three people to work with: me, a girl named Jennifer that can draw Manga like a pro, and another dude called Chris.

Claremont wasn’t planning to talk about his work or theorize about world building or visual storytelling. Instead, he wanted us to spend the following couple of hours with him and his partner Beth Fleisher brainstorming a superhero plot from scratch. We were lucky to have been such a small group. It made it very easy for us to interact and exchange impressions and ideas.

Beth played the roles of editor and moderator, filling the blackboards with notes from our discussion that eventually became an outline for a 5 issue miniseries.

Right before the end of the class, Beth wrote our names in the blackboard next to the title of the story, added a copyright sign, and took a picture of the whole thing. Over the course of the class, Claremont and Beth made a few interesting remarks about copyright and creator-owned work, and I remember having a really good question I wanted to ask him about all that, but I never found the right time to speak it out, and overtime it diluted in my head under a pile of considerations about super celebrities, indian deities, natural disasters and post apocalyptic global politics.

Version Bêta

Monday, December 15th, 2008

I just came back from a quick trip to Geneva, where I was invited to give a talk about Creative Social Systems in the Centre pour l’image contemporaine, as part of the Artists in Labs discussion sessions in the Version Bêta Biennial 2008. I was sad to find out that the Centre is approaching it’s final days of existence due to recent economic adjustments in Switzerland. It was evident to me that both the Centre and the Biennial provided an important hub for the comprehension and appreciation of the new media in the arts. I had an incredible time and met with a number of interesting people that gave me valuable feedback and shared their own work and ideas with me.

I was lucky to arrive the day Geneva celebrates L’Escalade, the most important festivity of the year there. Tradition tells the story of a French invasion in 1602. Back then, Geneva was protected by a wall. In order to invade the city, the French mercenaries prepared themselves to climb the wall, but never expected the wrath of Geneva’s housewives and their top secret culinary weapon. Hundreds of cauldrons of hot vegetable soup were dropped on the French invaders from the top of the wall, burning them with carrots and mushrooms and beets.

The best part of this traditional celebration comes after dinner. A cauldron made of dark chocolate is filled with marzipan vegetables and placed in the center of the table. The eldest and the youngest in the table hold hands on top of the chocolate cauldron and smash it while reciting “Ainsi périssent les ennemis de la République!” (Thus perish the enemies of the Republic). Dark chocolate and marzipan mushrooms accompanied with an espresso and mulled wine. Can life get better than that?