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Nature

This category contains 80 posts

Reverse image search

Biologists have worked out how to use Google’s “reverse image search” to scour scientific papers for similarities between microscopic samples they have photographed and photographs reported in scientific papers by others — on the basis of image matching. This is very powerful. Can practitioners of art and design find equally useful applications of readily-available image matching technology? This weekend marks the … Continue reading

You have reached your destination

It sounds final. “You have reached your destination,” says my car SatNav. Achieving a goal is melancholic in several respects. Some achievers realise there’s nothing left. It’s not going to get any better. Then some think their achievement doesn’t accrue all the benefits they expected. Freud also explained melancholy as a tendency to focus on losing something, even if it is … Continue reading

Brainwalks

How can EEG (electroencephalography) help us understand people’s responses to outdoor environments? Due to its constraints, the technology lends itself to two tasks. The wearer of the head-mounted EEG technology is either (1) stationary in the environment, passively observing and listening, or (2) mobile. In the latter case, the EEG wearer just walks, slowly and deliberately. I … Continue reading

End of nature

In what sense is nature ended? It is not just that natural environments have been polluted, over-managed, or subjected to human control, but nature has changed its meaning. This question provides a further touch point for nature and semiotics. Writing in the 1980s, environmental writer Bill McKibben said of nature that it  “is now a category like … Continue reading

Less of one and more of the other

The natural is in opposition to the artificial — or so we think. Some oppositions lie at either end of a spectrum, with gradations between. e.g. light versus dark. That’s an opposition with an inverse relationship. The more light you add to an image, the less dark it is. The louder things get, the less quiet; the hotter, the less … Continue reading

Inmate takes over the asylum

One Republican senator said after the historically “extraordinary” unpresidential press conference this week, “He (@realDonaldTrump) should do this with a therapist, not with the country” (The Hill). The occasion came across as an open and public catharsis. The rest of the world got drenched in the outpourings of his singularly troubled unconscious. Long term care institutions (asylums) for psychiatric patients are mostly … Continue reading

Network Nature

The blog medium invites disclosures about work in progress. So here’s the how the table of contents is shaping up for my new book: Coyne , Richard. Network Nature: Digital Technology and the Semiotics of Place. London: Bloomsbury.  The draft is due end of March, including 30 illustrations, and it is on track so far. Table of … Continue reading

Garage labs and biohacks

The domestic garage is adjunct space without heating, insulation and wall coverings. It’s often physically connected to the rest of the home, but homeowners treat it as an outside space, or at least a buffer between inside and outside. Garages are less common in inner city dwellings (where I live), especially where there are row houses, terraces, flats and older … Continue reading

Unaugurate

To inaugurate is “to take omens from the flight of birds.” At least, that’s how the OED explains the word’s derivation — from the Latin inaugurāre. Nature as a source of signs related to events that might affect human beings comes under the category of what the American Pragmatic Philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914) called an “indexical … Continue reading

No retreat: 360 video and the visible camera operator

“There’s no more behind the scenes,” said a colleague as we discussed 360 video. The camera operator can’t hide behind the camera, but has to retreat some distance away, unless they are content to be part of the act. That explains why 360 camera operatives need to control the 360 camera with a hand-held smartphone … Continue reading