The Null Device
Interactive art vs. animal rights A Danish art gallery director is facing trial for animal cruelty after hosting an exhibit featuring goldfish swimming in a blender. The artist who created the exhibit, Marco Evaristtis, said that he wanted to make people "do battle with their conscience" when confronted with the switch. Throughout the course of the exhibition, two members of the public decided to press the switch (out of curiosity, disbelief that the blender could be live, or sheer sociopathic callousness; who knows?), killing the live goldfish. The gallery director is being sued for failing to cut off the electricity supply to the blender, which he says he didn't do as not to interfere with the artist's vision.
Dot Boom, a card game based on the dot-com boom: (via bOING bOING)
Each of up to five players takes the role of a major venture capital firm (like Eine Kleine Perkins or noidealab!), investing in dubious companies like iPotemkinVillage and Thiefster, and trying to take them public. The game is over when the "dotCrash" card comes up, at which time the player with the most money wins.
If interested, download the Microsoft Word files, print them and make your own cards.
CSS Zen Garden; a demonstration of what can be achieved visually just by tweaking CSS stylesheets. Hmmm... (via bOING bOING)
Adam Casey (of Seascapes of the Interior fame) just pointed me to this: The Secret Books, which appears to be a photographic art/coffee-table book inspired by Jorge Luis Borges. Some very nice photographs there; reminiscent of Dave McKean's found-object collages, or perhaps Joseph Cornell's boxes.
I recently picked up a book titled Jennifer Government, by a local author named Max Barry, after seeing it mentioned on bOING bOING. It's ostensibly a satire of globalisation, in which the world has become corporate-America-as-seen-from-Australia (complete with everyone speaking with Californian accents), everything is privatised, and the government's only remaining role is to prevent crime (for those who can pay the bills, anyway). Which sounds like an interesting premise; pity that the book didn't make the most of it.
The book is let down by a lack of psychological realism. Had the author populated the universe with plausibly rendered people, rather than cartoonish stereotypes, these premises could have been a very good springboard for an exploration of the human condition in the age of corporate hegemony, of extrapolating globalisation to its dystopian conclusion and exploring the myriad consequences of the way things are going. However, Jennifer Government has all the psychological realism of a Looney Tunes cartoon. Characters have next to no inner life, and are guided by the most one-dimensional motivations (greed, for example, or parental responsibility; all these things one can assign a short name to and employ by the book).
IMHO, a better treatment of the same idea is K.W. Jeter's Noir. Curiously enough, while Jeter's premises (the dead being reanimated to work off their debts) are more outlandish than Barry's (people's surnames being changed to their corporate employers' names), Noir requires less suspension of disbelief, because the scenarios and events therein have plausible psychological motivations, as opposed to happening by fiat of the author.
Not that Jennifer Government isn't entertaining, in a throwaway sort of way, just that it takes an interesting idea and squanders it, using it as little more than a McGuffin and/or a comedic prop. An amusing thriller it may be, though it falls short of being the sort of speculative fiction I expected.