Cultural Event #2: Camp Flog Gnaw 2016, November 12th-13th

Last weekend I attended Camp Flog Gnaw Music Festival while in Los Angeles for a wedding. Camp Flog Gnaw is a rap and electronica festival created by Tyler, the Creator and his squad Odd Future. It was the third year of the festival, the first time it was a 2-day event, and it sold out this year. At Camp Flog Gnaw I saw many artists such as Death Grips, Kaytranada, Chance the Rapper, Tokimonsta, Erykah Badu, Pretty Lights, EarlWolf, and A$AP Mob.

Attending Music Festivals may not seem like a cultural event but I would like to again stress that VJing is the route I wish to take with EDP and I feel as though the more I can expose myself to different aesthetics I’ll be better equipped to create. Music Festivals give you a spectrum of talent with a whole range of stylistic design to fit their particular vibe. One can compare and contrast what they liked and didn’t like about the various concert visuals experienced throughout the weekend. For example, Tokimonsta had very interesting visuals but the transitions between them were awkward. A$AP Mob (A$AP Rocky and Co) however had consistent transitions, utilizing glitch art. This is a transition I find most appealing as it keeps your attention. Kaytranada utilized cartoon-y animations as well as soft, retro video footage of women on the beach. Though the vibes were completely different, the transitions weren’t awkward as he used color flares to move from clip to clip. I found myself encaptured with Flog Gnaw’s surprise show mostly do the introduction footage of zipping and unzipping DNA. I felt that more shows should create anticipation with long, hyper-stylized introductory videos as it brought a huge audience and hyped it up without the artist wasting energy. I left Los Angeles with a notebook full of ideas and I can’t wait for the snow to stick so I can get some dreamy, layered footage to accompany the soundtrack to my winter.

Advertisements

Cultural Event #1: Tycho & Lotus @ Red Rocks, Sept. 17th

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I was lucky enough to see Tycho (for the second time) open up for Lotus at Red Rocks this September. While both bands were incredible, Lotus being far more upbeat than one would expect, Tycho’s reveal of both new music and visuals was the most impactful moment of the evening.

While many would argue that going to a concert isn’t exactly culturing, I would heartily disagree. As someone who strives to put visuals, be they animated or unmoving, to the music I love, concert going revitalizes my passion. Tycho is particularly remarkable because there is a mastermind behind the whole project, visually and sonically. Scott Hansen, a visual artist and musician inspired by the work of artists like Boards of Canada and Ulrich Schnauss, spearheaded the group creating all of the recorded music on his own and later touring with a live band. On top of that Tycho’s particular aesthetic was completely designed by Hansen. Each concert poster, all the album and single art work, and every concert visual comes from the multi-faceted Hansen’s brilliant mind. Each graphic, animated and otherwise, perfectly encaptures the vibe that the music gives off. Atmospherically lo-fi, but progressive and futuristic with nostalgic themes that paint the natural world in a modern light. Scott Hansen vision becomes a complete reality with every show and his brand new visuals are astounding.  

Click here to check out a clip of Tycho dropping a new track during their Red Rocks set. 

autocorrect: why my iphone thinks it knows what I’m talking about

autocorrect-tragedy

 

So we have all had some weird autocorrections pop up and disrupt our conversations mid text, as if our iPhones have a mind of their own and they were all former Middle School English Teachers. We have all felt the twang of annoyance when our phones try to control our potty mouths like we’re in 5th grade and we know we didn’t mean to say “duck”. So I was curious to see how modern technology has forged my least favorite component to my iPhone… autocorrect.

So as it turns out it’s a pretty simple algorithm. It’s basically the same as any Word Spellchecker, it compares anything typed against it’s built in dictionary. Compiling an accurate dictionary is really the difficult part. This dictionary needs to be both comprehensive and well-targeted to its audience. It also requires a language model that offers correct word options to replace incorrect words, based on user and context.

Though this violates privacy policies, the most accurate way to create a language model and ideal dictionary is to use words and sentences that are actually typed into a user’s phone. That is how you glean a personalized autocorrect system. But that is, again, illegal due to current privacy policies.

So instead dictionaries are forged from preexisting ones such as Webster’s, only to be updated as the dictionary is. Whatever is typed runs first through the dictionary to see if any words aren’t correct. They are then churned through the systems language model. Language Models are formed by creating a corpus, a large body of text. These corpi are made up of articles from popular media. From these articles, word-use frequency and language structure are factored into a language model that contextualizes whatever we type to see if it makes sense. If our messages pass through both the dictionary and language model we are in the clear, our message is left unscathed. But if there’s a blip in either or both system, we get corrected. Usually incorrectly.

But according to my sources, soon we autocorrect will blossom into a more well-developed system. “As phones get faster and can store larger dictionaries, their autocorrection systems will be able to take a deeper, more meaningful look at your sentence before offering a word choice” (1). Also crowdsourcing seems to be an option on the horizon, which will help humanize the system.

Screen Shot 2016-10-03 at 11.01.33 AM.png

 

(1) Manjoo, Farhad. “How Your Cell Phone’s Autocorrect Software Works, and Why It’s Getting Better.” Slate Magazine. The Slate Group, 13 July 2010. Web. 03 Oct. 2016.

Sea Otters: more than just adorable

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So I don’t need to tell y’all how friggin cute Sea Otters are. It’s pretty obvious, right? Well believe it or not these squiggly little guys are way more important than just their looks (though their looks are very important). In fact Sea Otters are sort of the superheroes of the Kelp Forests in which they roam. Even bigger picture they may in fact be saving the world. One crunchy little snack at a time. Whoa.

You see, Sea Otters eat Sea Urchins. Sea Urchins in turn eat kelp forests. Kelp forests provide shelter and homes for most the aquatic life along the Northwest Pacific Coast. Sea Otters cannot eat all of the Sea Urchins. They just eat enough to keep their population in check. But Sea Urchins can eat all of the kelp. When unsupervised by your friendly neighborhood Sea Otters, these spiky little sea locusts ravage kelp forests and turn them into barren wastelands. These depressing former forests are literally called “Urchin Barrens”. And you thought stepping on one of those little fuckers was bad, imagine getting your whole ecosystem eaten by ’em. But our heroic little Sea Otters do the trick, plucking these spiky little shitheads off of the kelp and nomming on them with their buddies. With otters present, sea urchins lurk in crevices and snack on scraps of kelp.

Kelp is more vital to our planet than one would think. These forests act very similarly to those on the surface. Kelp Forests utilize CO2 emissions, absorbing them out from our atmosphere in the process of Photosynthesis to transfigure them into the energy they need to form their leafy formations. Without these forests sequestering CO2, the emissions would further ravage our planet and Climate Change would get out of hand very fast.

Therefore, pranks (the term for a Sea Otter squad) of Sea Otters are doing their part for their little community which in turn is doing a whole lot for the greater good of our planet. Keep up the good work you guys!

http://seaotters.com/2013/05/why-are-sea-otters-important-no-sea-otters-no-kelp-forests/ 

https://ww2.kqed.org/quest/2014/02/25/balancing-act-otters-urchins-and-kelp/ 

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-7-39-07-pm

The Poverty Cycle

url

Poverty, a noun, defined as the state of being extremely poor. Opportunity, a noun defined as a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something  Poverty is cyclical, due to the lack of opportunity present in the lives of those touched by poverty. Today, education is almost equivalent to opportunity. It opens doors, to jobs, to the bigger picture. In poverty education falls by the wayside.

America’s public school system is based by on property value. Public Education is funded by the money existent in the areas surrounding said schools. Impoverished areas have historically been impoverished. Segregation moved minorities into selected areas, isolating large groups of people into poorer communities that lacked well paying jobs. These areas are still in existence today. Compton, Harlem, and Chicago’s South Side are all examples of such areas. Places that have never had stable job markets. This forces generations of children to suffer. To lack access to opportunity. Public schools in such areas lack funding. They have underpaid staff, a lack of technology, a lack of funding for clubs, sports, and the arts. This discourages students from showing up. High School’s purpose is preparation for the real world, for college education, and jobs. When you have a half-assed system surrounding you, you lack the opportunities that people in successful areas  take for granted. Going to college seems out of reach, finishing High School seems pointless. Because you see what has gone on before you for generations.

This obvious gap in opportunity leads to the continuation of a weaker job market. Students in these areas do not get the successful jobs that other kids from wealthier areas can access. Their education isn’t strong enough to send them to college. Their education isn’t strong enough to show them their possibilities. So they are stuck in the cycle. Working minimum wage jobs, struggling paycheck to paycheck, to pay to put their children through the same system they went through. Crime seems like a gateway out of this cycle. A way to get real money So many turn to it. And thus violence ensues.

If our system changes, opportunity can be shared. Wealth can blossom. Education can flourish. And crime can dwindle.

screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-3-11-08-pm

your mom’s SoftSoap is slowly killing us all

_85814776_c0260742-e-_coli_bacteria_sem-spl

Antibacterial soap is soap that utilizes the chemicals doctors use in antibiotic medication, to fight against the growth of particular bacterium enforcing a particular illness. We see them everywhere… in middle schools, resturants, your grandma’s bathroom. But what we don’t see is how these soaps indirectly strengthen the bacteria they’re supposed to kill and weaken us, who they’re supposed to protect.

Let’s start with the bacteria. Bacteria are the fastest evolving organisms on our planet. Therefore they are incredibly fast learners. While small doses of antibiotics are effective in killing them, constant exposure via soap and other antibacterial cleaning products teaches them how to resist the chemicals present in antibiotics (such as Triclosan, triclocarban, and chloroxylenol). This creates superbugs, bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics are nearly impossible to fight. This turns small illnesses, caused by various bacterium, to be deathly serious. Your strep can now fight against the only thing we know to kill it. Scientists exploring this notion have found that Triclosan in particular is being so overused that bacteria are now able to ignore its effects almost completely.

Now on to us. Antibacterial Soap and other products really do suck because of their strengthening effect on nasty bacterium. But new studies now show that they have an equally shitty effect on us  humans. The chemicals present in antibacterial soap are relatively harmless in the small doses we experience when we receive antibiotics. But in the same way constant exposure via daily use of soap and other products strengthens bacteria it saps us of our vitality. Though we may not think so, humans are incredibly delicate. Our existence is maintained through the continuous upkeep of the various systems within our body, each needing to sustain a specific sort of balance as to keep us alive. Antibacterial soap jacks up our endocrine or hormonal system, the chemicals used stimulate different hormone productions and therefore throws this internal balance way off. Increase in hormones leads to various diseases, including multiple different cancers such as testicular and ovarian.

When paired together, weakened humans and strengthened bacteria are a recipe for disaster. Our bodies won’t be able to fight the diseases as they are incredibly weak and the chemicals we would normally use wouldn’t be strong enough to help. In our weakened state the seemingly smallest of bacterial infections could be life threatening. Antibacterial soap creates a sort of vicious circle, it’s reinforcing feedback goes against the goal of killing bacteria and helping protect humans as it literally does the exact opposite. The system itself is actually balanced out by antibacterial soap. It’s attempts to kill bacteria only help increase the population, thus returning the bacteria population to its natural levels. So, let’s end the the vicious circle. Throw out your antibacterial products. Before it’s too late.

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-11-43-14-am

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3797535/Is-antibacterial-soap-BAD-you.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antibacterial_soap

Thunder Only Happens When Its Raining

Screen Shot 2016-09-19 at 11.28.59 AM.png

We’re out here talking dreams, yo! Whether you remember them or not, everyone dreams. It’s how we process all that we gleaned from consciousness in the previous day or so. Dreams occur once we fall into the deepest sleep, after about 90 minutes or so we fall into REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep. This is the 5th of 5 stages of sleep characterized by, yes you guessed, rapid eye movements! Many have theorized what occurs whilst we dream, most famously so was Sigmund Freud. Freud believed that dreams were symbols for repressed longing that people could not express in social settings and is pushed into our subconscious. Freud’s main belief was these longings were completely sexually based and every aspect of our dreams were symbols for our sexual urges. But Freud’s life spanned across the sexually repressed Victorian age and that really sums up his sexually driven theorization on the human mind. But even still he once said,”Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar” and therefore not everything can be dissected in such a black and white manner. Carl Jung studied under Freud and believed that our dreams were our reflections on our waking selves, allowing us to solve our problems or issues. In 1973, Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley made serious breakthroughs by studying Random Electrical Brain Impulses that occur during sleep, leading them to believe these impulses are directly where dreams stem from. They believed these impulses pulled imagery from memory and our brains didn’t actually create these wild images but had already experienced them and in attempts to better understand memory turned them into a collage of stories. This theory is known as the Activation-Synthesis Hypothesis. When we reach REM sleep our body undergoes a number of physiological changes, including increased heart and breathing rate. Our blood pressure soars, we can no longer regulate body temperature and our brain activity reaches that of when we’re conscious if not more so. Our bodies are relatively paralyzed by the amino acid, Glycine, as if our brains were trying to keep us from acting out our dreams. Throughout the night we go through the 5 cycles repeatedly, with REM sleep getting longer and longer throughout the night. Scientists now believe that REM sleep is associated with learning, mostly due to the fact that infants and toddlers who are constantly learning get more REM sleep than we do. Lack of REM sleep from various causes, such as Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, can result in serious side effects. Following nights of REM-less sleep, people are conscious but only to a certain degree. People suffer from hallucinations, severe exhaustion, and lack in basic functioning (emotionally, sexually, etc). Dreams are pretty vital and it was awesome taking a look into something I’ve never really understood.

Sources:

Lee Ann Obringer “How Dreams Work” 27 January 2005.
HowStuffWorks.com. <http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/dream.htm&gt; 18 September 2016

https://www.quora.com/What-happens-to-someone-if-they-dont-get-any-REM-sleep 

 

lucid-dreams