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Keep calm must stop

Keep calm must stop

I just sat down to watch telly, with a cup of tea and a biscuit. All settled in, I switched on the box, only to be assaulted by an advert of horrific proportions. It was for a new CD compilation called Keep calm and stay cosy. The more I watched, the more it felt like my brain was being nailed to a plank. Utter drivel. If you purchase such a CD, you should also forfeit the right to ears and, whilst we are at it, eyes. The only place that I ever want to see that CD is in a cupboard, in a skip, on fire.

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Dan O'Hara on Ballard, Cyberpositive, and the skeuomorph

Dan O'Hara's interests are both varied and, certainly for us, profound. Part of the O(rphan)d(rift>) collective that released the seminal Cyberpositive in 1995 ("... probably the first Deleuzean technotheory novel"), O'Hara has gone on to extensively study and write about a number of key themes within socio-technological discourse.

Dan O'Hara - photo courtesy Luke Robert Mason

15 years after the publication of Cyberpositive, we invited Dan to talk about the intervening period, as well as focus on a range of interests including skeuomorphism and the life and works of J.G. Ballard.

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Christin Bolewski: New forms

Journeys in travel is a database video installation by digital media artist, experimental filmmaker, and lecturer, Christin Bolewski.

Stills from

In this interview, Christin tells us about the work, how databases work with linear and nonlinear film to create new narratives, and how digital film technology offers opportunities to create radically different forms of film.

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Macro media fireworks

If Guy Fawkes were alive today, he would surely be part of Anonymous.


With its use of the stylised Fawkes mask group from V for Vendetta, the group hasn't failed to see the connection. with a series of actions taking place on and around 05/11/12.

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Jonathan MacDonald: the fallacy of singular personas

In c.275 B.C Aristarchus had already calculated the earth was a revolving sphere in orbit around the sun. Around that time, Eratosthenes had correctly calculated the circumference of the earth and another guy called Hipparchus had worked out (within a few miles) the moon's diameter and its distance from the earth. Then in A.D 259, all the Greek pagan schools were closed down and replaced with the learnings from Genesis 1 and 2. No longer would such heresy be spoken of in public, let alone taught to younger generations.

Jonathan MacDonald. Photo by courtesy of Jonathan MacDonald

Big thinkers were ridiculed and laughed out of town - if they weren't burnt at the stake first. Those who rebelled with the 'new thinking' were seen as delusional, and all the way up to 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, the speeding up of his boat was considered to be due to sailing downhill across the flat earth, rather than anything to do with the planetary system. The fresh water in the Pacific wasn't due to the approaching land but the product of the 'rivers of paradise'.

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Use the invisible force

"The more you do, the more experienced you become at knowing what might work and what might not work. I am always excited by accidents. There have been many occasions where I have had a very clear idea that it was going to be one thing, and then I discovered that it didn't work; but what comes out of that mistake or accident is something that I would not have thought of otherwise. Being open to serendipity, allowing things to emerge without so much of a fixed form that I am working towards, can be a very beneficial process."

“Ray Lee” by Village Underground, CC licence http://www.flickr.com/photos/villageunderground/8135466487/

The way in which artist, composer and performer Ray Lee finds, distills and implements his ideas is not magic. It isn't unique. But, it is rather special. Transforming ideas into a piece of work for an audience can often take years of discovery, experimentation and craft. What comes out, however, is worth the wait.

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How to be effective in advertising

Last night's IPA Effectiveness Awards celebrated the best of the UK's ad campaigns over the past year.

Image copyright IPA http://www.flickr.com/photos/theipa/8138013061/

43 awards were handed out, of which 8 were special prizes. It's highly probable that at least some attendees were tiddly before all 43 were handed out, so for those people - and those that did not attend - we have the full list.

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Big Art

You may recall a TV series, The Big Art Project, which aired on Channel 4 across the last decade. It was the first time that a broadcaster had worked directly with the UK's arts councils and local authorities in order to find locations for artworks, appropriate funds to create them, and develop a structure where local residents could work directly with artists in a state of co-development.

Big Art Mob

Not only has the project survived in terms of its artistic product, but a digital offshoot is going from strength to strength. Big Art Mob was commissioned by Channel 4 to catalogue the UK's public art; with around 500 (now 2000) active users, it survived in a calm, steady way, still funded by C4 until the end of last year. The dilemma that creator Alfie Dennen had, was if and how it has a future outside of C4.

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Spreadable media

The Marmite Prize is back - an open competition for painters that embrace a spirit of co-operation and the DIY ethic.

Virginia Verran, P L I N Y c/o Marmite Prize

Nothing to do with Unilever, the name refers to the French for cooking pot, with the prizewinner receiving exactly that (albeit of a rather splendid, handmade variety).

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Win a digital edition from Peter Saville

Peter Saville is one of the UK's most well-known graphic designers.

Peter Saville

Most well-known as a designer of record covers, we're giving you the chance to win one of Saville's latest works.

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The future is here

In the mid-90s, we fed on a diet of cyberculture. It was something exciting, different, and promised a future of the self far removed from a world of monolithic governments and corporations.

Luke Robert Mason. Photo by courtesy of Luke Robert Mason

Reality is always more pragmatic. Given the multi-device, always-on culture that many of us now live in, 'cyberculture' is in fact abundant, omnipresent. A seminal 1995 conference is being revived to address what our futures now look like, and how we should live in them.

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Open space

Tim Berners-Lee and Nigel Shadbolt's Open Data Institute formally launches later in the year. Having snapped up an 5000sq ft office in Shoreditch, the organisation was faced with the question that many of us with smaller offices would love to ask: what to do with all this space?

Covered Market, Oxford by Ratti Maribo, CC Licence http://www.flickr.com/photos/rattibo/259727971/

This is where you come in. The ODI has opened a call for data-generated artworks to fill it.

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100 hours of solitude

For 100 hours straight, I'm going to write whatever you ask me to – live on webcam, with every keystroke appearing online as I type, while I maintain a vow of silence in complete isolation in the Yorkshire farmhouse that was once home to Ted Hughes.

Photo c/o David Varela

Those 100 hours will also need to include some sleep, but if I get a lot of requests, that sleep could be minimal.

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Digital ad spend increases again

IAB UK reports that, once again, digital advertising spend has enjoyed quite spectactular growth.

Yellow flower display on Great Charles Street Queensway by Elliott Brown, CC licence http://www.flickr.com/photos/ell-r-brown/4920885391/

On the day that the UK economy has been projected to shrink once more, digi ad spend has grown by 12.6% in the first 6 months of this year alone, almost £300m more than the first half of 2011.

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Not-so-mellow yellow

The Tate Modern is the unfortunate recipient of a bit of mindless tagging.


In this case, the tagging was of Mark Rothko's 1958 work Black on Maroon, part of a number of Rothko works owned by the Tate and donated to the gallery shortly before the artist's suicide in 1970.

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Tales from the crypto

3 days, 20 people, much coffee and a considerable amount of cake were involved in the creation of this little epic: the Crypto Party Handbook.

Crypto Keys by Andy Armstrong, CC Deed 2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/andyarmstrong/6067565108/

Spanning 392 pages and hot off the metaphorical press, it's a handy guide to anyone that wants to guard and protect their privacy - and their right to privacy - in a digitally-networked era.

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A legion on film

Released this month is We are legion, the story of Anonymous and the wider technocultural movement known as Hacktivism.

Still from

The full-length film, featuring the "ultra co-ordinated muthafuckery" of Anonymous, is released into US cinemas this month, with a full online released scheduled for October 30.

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Art brutes

Given the increasing attention the convergent point of art and technology, the Observer turned 2 pages over to an art/tech hack event at the Mozilla London HQ.

Whitechapel Gallery by Trevor, CC licence http://www.flickr.com/photos/770/3425357862/

Part of 3Beards' Digital Sizzle series of events, this one seems to have ignited wider interest and, thankfully for a hackday, some rather interesting products came out of it. 

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Win a gold pass to Webit

Webit is coming around again, and this time it's in Istanbul.

Webit photo by eAcademy http://www.flickr.com/photos/50608043@N04/5142600516/in/photostream/

It's one of the biggest digital conferences in Europe, and we're pleased to offer you (yes, YOU) the chance to win a Gold pass to it.

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