Wednesday, June 29, 2005 

Web Content by and for the Masses

Great article at the New York Times, covering recent Web applications such as Flickr, Yahoo's My Web, Technorati and Here are some excerpts:

...From photo- and calendar-sharing services to "citizen journalist" sites and annotated satellite images, the Internet is morphing yet again. A remarkable array of software systems makes it simple to share anything instantly, and sometimes enhance it along the way...

...And if every picture tells a story, that may be only the start. At Flickr, the popular Web photo-sharing service where Ms. Fake, a co-founder, posted the photo, it can be tagged with geographic coordinates for use in a photographic map, or become part of a communal database of images that can be searched for certain colors or characteristics...

...Indeed, the abundance of user-generated content - which includes online games, desktop video and citizen journalism sites - is reshaping the debate over file sharing. Many Internet industry executives think it poses a new kind of threat to Hollywood, the recording industry and other purveyors of proprietary content: not piracy of their work, but a compelling alternative...

...And the announcements keep coming. On Tuesday, Google said it would make available a free version of its Google Earth software program that permits users to view high-resolution digital imagery of the entire planet. A feature of the service will be the ability of user communities to annotate digital images to make them more useful. Other early examples include a user-created map of London overlayed on a schematic of the city's subway system, and a link between Google Maps and the apartment rental and real estate listings of Craigslist, making it easy to visualize where rentals are in neighborhoods or entire cities...

...For Ms. Fake of Flickr, however, the business model is still secondary. "We're creating a culture of generosity," she said...

Monday, June 27, 2005 

Baraka, the Movie

This great movie is a joint work by Ron Fricke's and Mark Magidson's (the guy from the Dead Can Dance videos and concert DVDs).

Released in 1992, it features an incredible journey through 6 continents and 24 countries, showing the beauty and destruction of nature and humans. Ohh, and coupled with an incredible soundtrack including on site recordings of The Monks Of The Dip Tse Chok Ling Monastery, together with music from Michael Stearns and Dead Can Dance.

The quality of the cinematography is outstanding. Shots flip from solitary Monks to crowded streets from great temples to images of war firing a hundred and one thoughts in your mind that you never complete. The film is not just about what you are seeing. It is also about how it is presented.

Baraka is an ancient Sufi word, which can be translated as "a blessing, or as the breath, or essence of life from which the evolutionary process unfolds." Baraka is evidence of a huge global project fueled by a personal passion for the world and visual art. Working on a reported US$4 million budget, Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson, with a three-person crew, swept through 24 countries in 14 months to make this stunning film. One of the very last movies shot in the expensive TODD-AO 70mm format, Ron Fricke developed a computer-controlled camera for the incredible time-lapse shots, including New York's Park Avenue rush hour traffic and the crowded Tokyo subway platforms.


Comunidades de Arte Digital - Phirebrush & Raster

Cobrindo diversos estilos e com bastantes submissões nas areas de ilustração, fotografia, banda desenhada, escrita, música... As comunidades de artistas "digitais" (derivadas da velhinha "demoscene") estão a ficar cada vez mais interessantes. podem ver por vocês próprios as ultimas releases de dois destes colectivos:

Grande parte dos trabalhos são realizados por amadores ou estudantes de design, esperando desta forma divulgar o seu trabalho... E como em quase todo, as novas tecnologias permitem a qualquer pessoa desenvolver o seu talento de forma rápida, e com relativamente pouco dinheiro obter resultados bastante profissionais.

Com estes exemplos, digam lá se o futuro não vos parece prometedor!


Cremaster 3 - Three hour Masonic art film

This has to be one of the most astonishing, visionary and enthralling films ever. It's called "Cremaster 3" (unfortunately only a portion of the film is available on the dvd on sale at Amazon), and it is crypticly enough the final fifth film in the Cremaster Cycle from avant garde artist Matthew Barney.

Matthew Barney was born in San Francisco in 1967. After graduating from Yale in 1991, Barney entered the art world to almost instant controversy and success. He is best known as the producer and creator of the CREMASTER films, a series of five visually extravagant works created out of sequence ("CREMASTER 4" began the cycle, followed by "CREMASTER 1," etc.). The films generally feature Barney in myriad roles, including characters as diverse as a satyr, a magician, a ram, Harry Houdini, and even the infamous murderer Gary Gilmore.

So what makes Cremaster 3 so interesting? It is a 3 and a half hour meditation and meticulous look at Masonic ritual and rites, allegory, and history. Previously the only Freemason stuff I had seen in films were more of the sinister plot devices like From Hell. Unfortunately a lot of Freemasonry in movies is treated as either a sinister plot (From Hell), or trivial (National Treasure), so it is odd to have a film like this that goes above and beyond to capture the essense of FreeMasonry (eternal brotherhood, dicipline, secret trades, etc) yet it still somehow comes off as slightly uncomfortable.

What intrigued me about this film was the extreme dedication toward the evaluation and study of Masonic lore. The film revolves around the figural entered apprentice, adorned in an apron who tries to ascend the Chrysler Building to reach the architect, Hiram Abiff. Every single second and detail of the movie revolves around mythology in FreeMasons, as well as a few things borrowed from Celtic mythology.

The film starts off on the Isle of Giants in Ireland, but quickly goes to underneath the Chrysler Building in the 1920's where de Maloy boys are helping to carry a body to the upper level with older Masons. This is where the more esoteric elements come into play, as repeated throughout the film.

The movie is literlaly obsessed with geometric and architectual redundance, but such is to be expected in an art film...tasks and even the most ornate of things are performed ad nauseum (such as the layering of cement in an elevator shaft, or the forming a cement like Solomon's Temple) .

The hubris of the entered apprentice is followed up through this unusual of settings...the actual Chryslter building (some of th emost stunning visuals are here not seen since Koyaanisqatsi, as may poles give way to hundred foot stremaers coming out the sides of the building).

The overall feeling is one of uncomfortable sinister dread, although I feel it treats the Masonic subject with respect in its painstaking detail. An entire scene of 33rd degre geometric ritual is gone over and over in almost complete banal repetition toward the end for instance.

In sum, this is definately the more cryptic of the art films I've seen, it no doubt will make anyone who sees it curious about older Freemason ideas and thought.


Microsoft publishes Acrylic beta

Microsoft published a free beta of a new program called "Acrylic" they say it's an "innovative illustration, painting and graphics tool that provides exciting creative capabilities for designers working in print, web, video, and interactive media."

Microsofts solution is based on Expression, this program was aquired by microsoft two years ago when they bought the company Creature House (Hong Kong). The first critiques are not all positive. The first beta-testers complain about bad quality, one of the testers sees the program more as an extended MS Paint instead of Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro. However, I really enjoyed "Creature House Expression 3" and I can't Microsoft has spoiled such a beautifull product.

Prices are not known yet. The beta is free to download (77MB) and works until october 1th. You'll have to run windows XP with Service Pack 2 in order to run it.

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