Thursday, March 26, 2009

Swing Dancing at The Radio Show

My fiancee Vanessa and I are swing dancing for "The Radio Show," showing now at the Gladstone Theatre in Ottawa. We dance on stage at the beginning and at intermission, and a bit in the lobby before the house opens. We're not in every show, but we will be at the pay-what-you-can show on the Sat. March 28, 2009 - 2:30 pm matinee.

Cell-phone photo credit my man Ali Arya

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Convergence of mobile technology

E-books will eventually take over, and print media will vanish. This I'm very sure of. What's not so sure is that there will continue to be specialized e-books. 

The dominant e-books right now are the Sony and the Amazon Kindle. But, it turns out, competing with both is the iphone. 

It also turns out that the top portable computer game consoles are the Sony PSP and the Nintendo DS. Oh, and the iphone. 

People don't want to carry around a million gadgets. I think in the future we will all have under 4 computers. What I'm most interested in is exactly how many there will be and what there sizes will be. Because size is how we will differentiate them. 

It could be desktop, laptop, netbook,  phone, watch, implant.

It could be house/intelligent environment, wall, netbook, phone, watch.

I can't wait to see.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Jim Davies pictured in Ottawa's "Xpress"

I'm in the Xpress this week regarding an article on Ottawa's improv scene.

The flowers I'm holding I gave to my fiancee Vanessa later that night. I'd bought them on the way to the photo shoot.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fascinating Audio and Video Sampling

Sampling like I've never seen it. Audio and video of youtube videos, mashed together into one hell of a funky song. If it gets taken down, search youtube for "Mother of All Funk Chords" and you might find it.

It's so amazing I wonder if it could blossom into a new art form.

I liked it so much I posted it to facebook and e-mailed it to a few friends. Sorry if you got it more than once.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Just Enough Distraction: Boredom, Music, Doodling

I just read an interesting article
about doodling. It reports a scientific finding that people who doodle are better able to retain what they're hearing when hearing something boring.

It turns out that if you don't doodle, you are terribly bored, and detach completely, zone out and think about something else entirely. This results in your retention of nothing. However, there are some tasks, like doodling, that take up just a little of your attention. Enough so that, in combination with the boring thing you're listening to, you are not terribly bored overall. This allows you to pay some attention to what you're hearing. Doodling helps you pay attention.

This aligns perfectly with my menton theory (forthcoming).

I remember when I was working on my dissertation project, I was programming day after day. It sometimes got boring. If I listened to music I would get distracted. But there were certain kinds of music, mostly instrumental, that would not. I described it as being just entertaining enough to keep me from being bored programming. I think this study is vindicating this interpretation.

Pictured: a doodle of a Zeta, one of the mythological aliens that some people think are abducting people.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Possibility of Proprioceptive Art

Many art forms take advantage of certain of our senses. The graphic arts, such as painting and sculpture, are visual. Music and spoken-word is auditory. Performance arts are often multimodal, involving vision and audition. Writing is an interesting case, since words can be taken in visually or audibly, but the real art is in the meaning of the words as interpreted by the audience.

Proprioception  is our sense of the relative locations of the parts of our bodies. As far as I know there is no art form that takes advantage of this (though there are some things going on that could be classified as this, such as the mp3 experiment at What might a proprioceptive artwork look like?

Just as music has notation, dance has notation as well. One popular kind is called Laban notation. We can look at a notation of how to move as a work of art, where the instantiation of the art involves the audience engaging in the physical activity described. 

For example, here is a simple one:

Title: Exhaustion
1. Get on the floor, on your hands and knees
2. Hang your head
3. slowly move your torso up and down

Ths idea is that performing these actions makes the audience feel some sense of what it means to feel exhausted.  Certain body movements are associated with certain kinds of feelings. For example, bending your arm is associated with acceptance and joy, and extending your arm with rejection (Koch, Holland, & van Knippenberg, 2008).  

It could be that dance already does this to some extent. When people observe others doing physical motion, it activates the motor parts of our brains (and possibly mirror neurons, if we have any)  (Fadiga, Craighero, & Olivier, 2005). 


Fadiga, L., Craighero, L.,  Olivier, E. (2005). Human motor cortex excitability during the perception of others' action.  Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 15: 213--218.

Koch, S., and Hollond, R.W., & van Knippenberg, A. (2008). Regulating cognitive control through approach-avoidance motor actions. Cognition, 109, 133-142.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Watchmen movie is coming. Don't read "Watchmen."

People are very excited about the Watchmen movie that's opening soon. A lot of people think now is a good time to read the award-winning comic book that the movie is based on. A lot of people are wrong.

Watchmen is one of the most celebrated comic books ever made. It's likely that the film will not be as good as the comic book. Your mind is attuned to change. Thus, if you read a great comic book and then see a decent film, you will be disappointed with the film.

On the other hand, if you see a decent film and then read a great comic book, you're like "even better!" See the suckier thing first.

I read Watchmen years ago, and I'm looking forward to reading it again. After I see the movie.

This is a policy I follow with books too. See the movie first. Rarely the book is worse than the movie. In this case, read the book first, if at all (e.g., The Devil Wears Prada, The Bridges of Madison County, V For Vendetta).

I've heard one good objection to this policy: that when you read the book, you get your own images of what places and characters look like, and if you see the movie first your imagination gets hijacked. This doesn't apply to me, really, because my imagery when I read is pretty minimal, and tend to skim visual description anyway.

However, note that this reasoning does not apply to a comic book, because unlike a novel it comes with its own imagery to hijack you. So see the movie first.