[A simple pipe i built: news items published on both the new york times and guardian website are filtered to give me all items referencing Barack Obama]

An informational mash-up,  an instant cartography of your interests flung around the ethernet as through plumbing and/or ancient aqueducts, really simple syndication (aka acronymically rss) and other feeds trail-blazing and filtered according to each and every one of your transmedial needs. MAP OUT YOUR MEDIA…—

Self-described as “an interactive feed aggregator and manipulator”, YahooPipes allows you to construct your very own internet feeds by  patching together any # of various modules (the boxes in the diagram above which contain feeds, filters etc…) with pipes in any fashion you want. If you purely want to collate all your national newspapers and view the stories concerning an election, this is simple. Hardcore pipers may enjoy filtering blogs and podcasts to find information about a certain region of Peru (for example?) using geographical data search engines provided by Yahoo here. Not only this, but you can view your pipe output in an interactive map:

[YahooPipes combined w/ GoogleMashUpEditor to represent all feeds geographically; see here]

What a wonderful conceptual refraction of Moog’s original idea for the modular synthesiser, which could create produce a then obscene number of sounds due to its “patching” nature: it consisted of separate modules connected by wires, which could be connected in multifarious fashions:

[Man meets Moog at digitalmedia]

This idea of “patching” has infiltrated many levels of the creative process, most notably that of electronic music. A vast amounts of electronic music software is based around this idea. One only needs look as far as Miller Puckette’s Pure Data and Max/MSP:

[a pure data patch, courtesy of trac]

An example which is probably more suitable for those with less interests in code is Isadora, a piece of software intended for artists whereby one can have interactive control over all forms of digital media, e.g. moving one’s arm up and down to trigger different audio-visual effects. Connecting the patches in a different configuration could change the ways in which bodily movements effect the environment.

Of course, anything that can be done with Isadora can also be achieved in Pure Data. I just recently wrote a patch in Pure Data which allows anybody to sing into a toy duck in order to mix videos. I probably should post that soon…

[A maxpatch from TransAtLab]

Where were we?! This patch-based phenomenon rearing its head in the form of YahooPipes and the ability build online maps-of-sorts signifying the movement of the media YOU want to read around your internet. The next step is finding an intelligent way to make this truly interactive– how about the ability to “play” websites like musical instruments as demonstrated here:

[Finally found a use for the NY Times:a chap using the monome, an open source controller, to play html data of the nytimes website for real! see lily]

Combine such fantastic conceptual arrangements with YahooPipes and suddenly you are able to construct your own cacophony of cartography, your very own subterranean-representation-via-none-other-than-the-apt-metaphor-of-plumbing, maps and sounds and blistering html data, code transferred sonically and all this, all of this, mind you, to tell you that Barack Obama is ahead in the polls.

[Moog and machines from eer-music]

[patching a human body to a —– from Media Theory etc…]


[page 299 from zak smith’s Illustrations for Each Page of Gravity’s Rainbow]

A footnote to and above the last post: the submarine factory and base underneath built into and under the base of the mountain in Balaclava distinctly reminded me of the Mittlewerke in Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, where the German V2 rockets were manufactured—

In under parabola and parable, straight into the mountain, sunlight gone, into the cold, the dark, the long echoes of the Mittelwerke. (299)

The shape of the two main tunnels, well over a mile into the mountain, is the shape of the letters SS strentched lengthwise, the double integral. I recall something (from somewhere) about the tunnels mimicking the helices of DNA but cannot find it in the text…. or quite on the internet…. anybody?

A while back I made a comment on the  underground musings of BLDGBLOG in which I mentioned Pynchon’s most recent novel and then went on:

On another note, Odessa, Ukraine was built of limestone mined around the city so there are catacombs all around the place. these create a giant labyrinth (i don’t know if it is connected; i doubt it) which was most famously inhabited by those resisting the Nazis during WWII. The point being people inhabited the place previously taken by the stone underground while others literally lived inside the stone in the form of houses above the stone. Wierdly enough, Odessa is not just a city name, it is also an acronym for Organisation der ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen, or “Organization of Former SS-Members”.

[Mittelwerke Map from HyperArts: “It appears to be a piece of evidence from the Nuernberg trials, or some similar proceeding, with English imposed over an original German map. It’s from Keith Mallory and Arvid Ottar, The Architecture of War (1973), p. 264. They credit the Institution of Royal Engineers.]

In reference to the elongated SS,

That is one meaning of the shape of the tunnels down here in the Mittelwerke. Another may be the ancient rune that stands for the yew tree, or Death. The double integral stood in Etzal Olsch’s subconscious for the method of finding hidden centres, inertias unknown, as if monoliths had been left for him in the twilight, left behind by some corrupted idea of “Civilisation” in which eagles cast in concrete stand ten metres high at the corners of the stadiums where the people, a corrupted idea of “the People” are gathering, in which birds do not fly, in which imaginary centers far down inside the solid fatality are thought of not as “heart”, “plexus”, “consciousness” (the voice speaking here grows more ironic, closer to tears which are not all theatre, as the list goes on…) “Sanctuary”, “dream of motion”, “cyst of the eternal present”, or “Gravity’s gray eminence among the councils of the living stone”. No, as none of these, but instead a point in space, a point hung precise as the point where burning must end, never launched, never to fall…

Doube integral is also the shape of lovers curled asleep…

[the first beam, courtesy of CERN]

The operations underground have begun, the first beams of subatomic particles have circumscribed their paths around the 17km tunnel deep beneath the Alps, both clockwise and anti– the world still stands. Only later in the year when the first high-energy particle collisions occur, will we have any chance of verifying the existence of the God particle, the Higgs boson.

This is not a post about physics, theoretical or otherwise, and is certainly not a post about science as we know it; all i wish for us to do together is marvel at a particularly striking example of the phemonenon of building underground, an anti-topographical case study in the sense of the surface no longer matters, landforms rendered meaningless as we travel down to view concrete, steel, superconducting magnets and beam pipes—

And this all contained in a 17km circumference underground tunnel which is, at some points, 175 metres below the surface of the earth. A tunnel underneath the Alps which crosses the Franco-Swiss border 4 times due to the work of 2,000 scientists from 34 different countries.

[the beam hitting the collimiters at point 5, courtesy of CERN]

This reminds me of a multitude of subterranean loci, including

  • the underground cities of Cappadocia (which contained a fair amount of agriculture, all things considered, and whither Christians fled Roman persecution);
  • the tunnels Mao had built under Beijing over twenty odd years when he was fearing Soviet attack. These tunnels actually stretch to other cities and come up under such varied locations as the Forbidden City and any number of Peking duck restaurants. Once completed, Soviet Russia attacked Afghanistan and so the tunnels were rendered virtually useless— now their presence causes newly constructed under-planned buildings to fall;
  • the underground city in odessa, ukraine. this place is striking since the buildings  above ground were constructed using the limestone dug out to create the dwellings below: a darkening-subterranean-mirror-image-of-sorts, although in fact a reversal of this, occupied space emptying upon reflecting in the surface of the earth, the full light of day becoming its very own negative with this downward shift.

[Cappadocia, the image telling of its own source]

And many more. What was the city of Balaklava, Ukraine, and is now part of Sevastopol was, under Soviet rule, a closed military base. Yes, it’s called Balaclava. Anyway, in 2006 my mum and i were walking around the base of a mountain there when a woman who claimed to have previously been a Soviet scientist approached us and asked us if we wanted to see the underground facilities. –sure– the eager and  adventurous tourists that we were. We were led through a small hole in the rockface and taken into what it then became strikingly apparent was  a military base carved into the underside of a mountain, in fact, a submarine factory opening underwater onto the Black sea: labs and sleeping quarters, narrow paths of rock with vertiginous ceilings, tracks carved into the ground for the smooth runnings of huge trolleys carrying spare submachinery. the women who led us around had been a Soviet scientist and now buys her bread  by asking the small number of tourists who reach Balaklava if they want to go underground…—

[the LHC viewed arially]

[image courtesy of wired]

[genography: the paths of our ancestors across the globe. image courtesy of wired dot com]

The Genographic Project, a $45 million initiative backed by National Geographic, aims at producing detailed, readable and functional maps (visual and otherwise) of the ways in which DNA has spread around the global over the past sixty thousand years. With a quarter million and growing fast volunteers hailing from the four corners from the earth, the project has already managed to map out some seriously impressive paths across the globe, the primary source of DNA being cheek swabs. You yourself can purchase a starter kit from National Geographic (follow the first link above…), send in a swab and not only discover the many paths your DNA has swept across the globe but participate in and aid this project.

Here we find corroboration that such research is necessarily and intricately intertwined with our histories. To quote,

One study by project scientists Pierre Zalloua and Chris Tyler-Smith has discovered a genetic marker typical of Europeans in modern Lebanese men. The inference is clear they say: this distinctive Y-chromosome was left behind by 11th-century Crusaders when they invaded Lebanon and then settled in the country. A similar sort of genetic legacy has been detected in regions where Gengis Khan ruled and which has been linked to the many male descendants he produced.

These conjectural highways, appropriately (or not?) designated such nomenclature as M343, M174 etc…, paths trodden out and lands rode upon time and time again, necessarily span all the continents bar the southernmost and the Genographic Project’s website has some very interesting interactive visualisations of the interplay between the genography of our multifarious landscapes and the history which is now burnt upon the land: the appropriately named (yes) Globe of Human History and Atlas of the Human Journey.

I would like to see this coupled with Ben Fry’s Genome Valence, which visualises genes themselves, in the sense that it maps out the different sequences of nucleic acids which can occur in various organisms:

[from genome valence, courtesy of ben fry]

[image courtesy of ben fry]

Since 99.9% of the three billion nucleotides which make up the human gemone are the same, what i suggest is an evolving interactive globe showing the paths traced out by all our ancestors, along with imagery capturing data sets which encapsulate those slight variations, that 0.1% which make us all so very different, these superimposed perhaps when your mouse hovers above a particular location at a particular point in time, varying as earth revolves and as the timeline oscillates between then and now. Palimpsests of genetic data fading in and out, meaningful, retrievable.


I am pleased to announce that Australia, the largest island in the world, has just been dramatically increased in size. Martin Ferguson, Federal Resources Minister

Australia, seemingly overnight or in a split second indeed, has grown 2.5 million square kilometres OR twenty times the size of the United Kingdom, the SMH reported last week. However, as always and of course, not all is exactly as it seems: the land granted by the UN, granted after at least 15 years of Australian persistence, is all UNDERWATER. Yes, all of it, and Australia’s control of the land does not extend to the waterways on the surfaces of the oceans in question. What we have, in fact, is an extension of our continental shelf every which way:

Three dimensional land configurations reappearing in differing guises, most commonly seen clad in the language of airspace, Australia is creeping back down into the shores we once slithered out of, returning to the ocean to look for, among other varied resources, OIL OIL OIL!!! Three letters signifying clout in trade and commerce alike, signifying also a commodity to run out of soon enough. All this having been said, Australia does indeed need oil. Nor should any of us ever forget Brendan Nelson’s (current Australian Opposition leader, then Minister for Defense) admission that troops were kept in Iraq for this blackest of worldly golds, reported here. Lest we forget how consumer petrol prices rose when we invaded Iraq.

Of course, the United Nations granting land is exactly how these things should come about, in contrast to Russia mid last year sticking what may as well have been a Soviet flag in the floor of the Arctic ocean, claiming the land in question to be an extension of its continental shelf. Countries such as Canada were, for obvious reasons, seriously pissed off and compared the action to 15th century land-grabbing.

[2007 TIME magazine person of the year: seriously dangerous land-grabber]

Anyway, returning to the Artic’s southern conterpart, the only continent without native human population, Antarctica, we read that Australia will not be mining in its new sub-Antarctic lands. In a world where our ice shelves are melting at an already alarming rate, where the Northwest passage may actually soon open up (trade shifts resultant may be fascinating, however, seriously, the northwest passage is melting…), it is clear that we should not be mining in such volatile regions. This is why the Antarctic Treaty System is so important. I urge you to read about it at Cool Antarctica, a website very informative for those interested in the land.

[the eco-city Masdar, as projected by Lord Foster. Image from Building Design]

–The world’s first sustainable city is on its way!— Lord Foster, architect/Brit/Lord proclaims. And from what the Guardian here tells us, this may not be far from the truth at all. A city powered in its entirety by the sun.

In short, the plans for ‘Masdar’ (Arabic for ‘the source’), revealed late last month, are as follows: a solar power station is to be built in the heart of the heart of the desert in the United Arab Emirates and this station will power the entire construction of the city, a city to house 50,000 people, a city without cars and yet with 3 different levels of potential transport, one for a light-rail, a 2nd for pedestrians and a 3rd for what the Guardian refers to as “personalised transport pods”, a kind of driverless taxi. The roads will be slender and short, the buildings a maximum of 5 stories high and potentially 80% of the roofspace will be used to generate solar power. This all in what is possibly one of the harshest environments on the face of the earth.

[the future! as projected by fosterandpartners.com]


Now this reminds me of two things. The first can be found here and is a plan developed by the Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Corporation to build solar energy plants across North Africa:

More than a hundred of the generators, each fitted with thousands of huge mirrors, would generate electricity to be transmitted by undersea cable to Europe and then distributed across the continent to European Union member nations…

On top of this, the superheated steam (superheated by the Sun!), after driving turbines to generate the electricity, would be used to boil sea water (in effect, a desalination plant), the fresh water vapour of which could be used to give drinking water to African nations in dire need of it. In the end,

The Desertec project envisages a ring of a thousand of these stations being built along the coast of northern Africa and round into the Mediterranean coast of the Middle East.

The plans for Masdar also remind me of Dubai The World, the man-made islands which themselves form an atlas of this our very globe:

[If you haven’t seen this before, yes, people have actually done this.]


Masdar is a phenomenal idea and could well set a precedent for ways in which climate change can and should be battled. But it also strikes me as yet another way way for the United Arab Emirates to try and one-up their counterparts in Dubai, both places striving to have the most amazing cities in the Gulf. It is, however, far more important than Dubai The World which strikes me as an exercise in supreme oil-money-laden idiocy. They, Dubai The World, tell us, tell you, tell me, in hope of increasing tourism in the self-proclaimed ‘desert’s most exciting city’:

300 islands. 386 million tonnes of rock. 232 kilometres of new coastline. 27 km-long breakwater. Like nothing else. Found nowhere else. Epic.

What you see here is neither a heavenly dance of the aeternal Gods nor the Poesie of Nature; both of these descriptions, rather, would be favoured by those inclined to rely on the subtle mechanics of Mortal Poetry, among whose number I usually find myself, however!: the Northern Lights OR the Aurora Borealis (oh yes more poetics, this time the antiquated Aurora, Roman goddess of the Dawn, popping up with an ever-so-wry smile tailed by Boreas, the Northern Wind) have recently inspired in me some strange desire for the fruits of Rational Thought, manifesting in a mega-web-quest for at least a quasi-scientific explanation behind this celestial phenomenomenon. And so, and so we have—

The Aurora Borealis comes about in the following manner:

  • Charged particles (for example, electrons) in the sun’s solar wind collide with atoms in the earth’s upper atmosphere.
  • These atoms gain energy as a result of this collision.
  • The atoms then release said energy in the form of Light and Aurora is once again born eternal.
  • The multifarious array of colours occurs because different atoms produce different hues when excited:

Thus the heavenly dance, the divine jig, the goddess Aurora’s celestial renewal, born again and again no longer to the deafening sounds of Angelic choirs but now and ever to the roaring crash of Ra’s harsh breath. This is the science of the matter, in stark contrast to the plethora of folklore apparent such as the Inuit belief that the Northern Lights were the spirits of the dead playing football with a walrus’ skull.

However, this is NOT the whole story, haha! What else, pray tell, could there possibly be?The New Scientist will inform you in Magnetic Dance makes Auroras glow that the Northern Lights along with their Southern counterparts are not merely

governed by the strength of the solar wind alone, but by the interplay between the Earth’s and the Sun’s magnetic fields,…

Remember the shock-horror-o-my-heavens response elicited from you, a child at the time, by the simple fact that the earth is a huge fucking magnet?!

Well, what the research says is that the earth’s dipole is responsible for all weird and wacky types of ‘space weather’, including the Auroras. Moreover, there is now a single formula to predict the strength of the Lights. Although this is by no means the discovery of the God particle, Poets of the Earth would have us believe this formula akin to the original manuscript of The Art of Fugue.

This is why the Auroras occur at the poles.

Now this is what really interests me: the geological records of the earth tell us that over the last billion years, the poles have flipped many times. This Hegelian nightmare could have absurdly extreme consequences, including the annihilation of Everything as we know it. Right now we are between pole reversals and the next one is long overdue:

[image: check this out]

Were the poles to flip, slowly or ever-so-suddenly, neither you nor I would need to travel to anywhere to see the Northern/Southern Lights, the poles would surely find us, each and every one of us around the globe and just a step behind would be the bright lights, whether they be Aurora in her chariot, the Inuit dead kickin’ around a walrus’ skull or just plain ol’ oxygen, nitrogen, neon and the rest bathing the whole damned world in some of the prettiest configurations of hue, form and texture we ever did see:

[image: from nordlicht]

[image: wow. this is from nasa’s space weather webpage]

[image: of course, of course, a great site here]