Sunday, May 01, 2011

In an unguarded moment, their eyes opened...

Catching up on my print reading! One of may favourite magazines is aperture. The Spring 2011 edition (no. 202) contains an awesome article (page 40) about photography's "secret life as a creative medium" circa 1860. You must see the stunning black-and-white photography by Camille Silvy. Think of Silvy as the Civil War-era version of Andy Warhol. He was an artist who enhanced his works much the same way modern digital photographers enhance theirs with tools like Photoshop. Silvy produced over a million prints between 1859 and 1868.

More B&W ::: Award-winning freelance photog and UAlbany alumni Teru Kuwayama documents history in some of the most dangerous places on the planet. [UAlbany Magazine, Spring 2011, Volume 20, Number 1] Kuwayama arrived in Albany with no career goals "at all," joined the Student Photo Service despite a lack of interest in photography (and initially no intention of joining the group!). Says he: "A year later, I ran the place." Kuwayama's shots are amazing! See them here. You may also check out his Fall 2010 project, Basetrack (on facebook).

The pictures taken by Kuwayama and Silvy capture time in the analog world. And it looks like the lack of our understanding of the digital world may be our undoing.

Get you 2012 thinking cap on now, as you recall Stephen Hawking's waning about broadcasting our presence to outer space? Hawking’s logic on aliens is, for him, unusually simple. The universe, he points out, has 100 billion galaxies, each containing hundreds of millions of stars. In such a big place, Earth is unlikely to be the only planet where life has evolved. Turn to Page 6 of Scientific American [May 2011] and read the appearing dead center of the page. To summarize, gently: for years we've been employing tools like radiotelescopes and SETI to search for life in the stars by trying to intercept what we would define as communication waves or frequencies, but all we have ever "heard" is noise.

Did you know that digital data compression, when transmitted - is NOISE. NOISE, unless you happen to know the codec or can solve the algorithm needed to decipher it. So all that NOISE scientists are picking up with their equipment may very very very well be embedded with alien transmissions! (Hopefully those on other worlds long abandoned the analog technology required to discover US.) Let's hope they did forget - for, if not, perhaps some alien scientist "fooling around" with old analog equipment will turn the tables and find us before we find him... could that be the danger that awaits us as "The end of the world" in 2012?

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