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March 16, 2011

"nothingtoodoo" — Terence Koh

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Excerpts from Roberta Smith's March 10, 2011 New York Times review follow.

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Terence Koh is an artist of many moods, most of them flamboyant or aggressive.

In his art, though, Mr. Koh, who was born in Beijing in 1977 and grew up in Canada, practices a kind of gleeful asceticism, one that mixes parody and spirituality while riffing on a long line of 20th-century purist-provocateurs starting with the Dadaists.

With "nothingtoodoo," his first solo show at the Mary Boone Gallery, Mr. Koh gives his ascetic side full reign, to disconcerting effect. He is performing a kind of abject penance that is hard to dismiss, even if you may initially want to; it is too quiet, unsettling and self-effacing. It involves a fair amount of physical discomfort, if not downright suffering, and in its own way it too is hard to look at.

The show consists of Mr. Koh [above and below], dressed in white pajamalike clothes, slowly circling a beautiful cone-shaped pile of rocky solar salt — 8 feet high and 24 feet across — on his knees. Not his hands and knees, his knees. Staring straight ahead, his upper body motionless, he circumnavigates the salt almost nonstop during the gallery’s public hours — eight hours a day, five days a week — and has been doing so for four weeks. Occasionally he lies prostrate on the floor; the gallery says he started using kneepads after the first week.

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This is performance art reduced to a bare and relentless rite in a space that has been stripped down to a kind of temple. (Its regal proportions help.) Most furniture has been removed from the reception area; a wall of shelves usually arrayed with catalogs is empty; skylights provide the only illumination. The monumental mound of salt — a preservative and curative that can also inflame open wounds — conjures altars and offerings, as well as pain and healing.

There’s a "for real" quality to "nothingtoodoo" that performance art achieves only rarely. Mr. Koh’s painful circling thwarts many of the expectations associated with the genre. It is not especially sensational or funny or entertaining. It doesn’t involve bravura skill or derring-do. There is little to watch, in either a visual or voyeuristic sense — nothing to do — although the salt, the unusually austere gallery and Mr. Koh’s self-contained concentration definitely create their own atmosphere.

In his statement Mr. Koh refers to a perfect mountain of salt" at the show’s beginning that will be a "a perfect field of salt" by its end. According to the gallery Mr. Koh initially intended to level the pile of salt with either his hands or his knees as the work progressed. This part of the plan is not being executed and does not seem humanly possible. I already wish Mr. Koh — whose movement seems increasingly tentative and whose prostrations are becoming more frequent — would stop while he still has knee joints.

His performance resonates, even under these rarefied circumstances, with a history of principled abstinence and self-inflicted pain. Is it really art? It definitely emphasizes the philosophical nature of Mr. Koh’s work, previously conducted with a fair amount of camp and posturing. All along he has raised questions about the nature of art, the role of the artist (and the artistic persona) and the condition of otherness. Here he may have "othered" himself right out of the art world into a larger sphere of symbolic action.

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Excerpts from Linda Yablonsky's February 24, 2011 New York Times T Magazine story about Koh's piece follow.

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As a designer-label ascetic who boasts a white, monkey-fur coat and white-on-white suits, Terence Koh has no trouble getting attention. But it isn’t just his monochromatic taste that turns heads. The ceremony, elegance and debauchery of his sculpture and performance work, which can involve white chocolate, potato starch, white sugar, blinding white light and bodily fluids, also draws crowds. For his current show at Mary Boone’s Chelsea gallery, however, visitors are leaving him pretty well alone.

That’s because Koh is avoiding all contact with them. For the run of the show, which is called "nothingtoodooterencekoh," he has taken a vow of silence. And frankly there isn’t much to shout about. Though he is present every day during gallery hours, Koh’s act is so quiet that people sweeping aside the heavy white curtain blocking the entrance to the exhibition space may not even notice him right away.

What they do see immediately is a mountain of rock salt – 45 tons of it, imported from the Salar de Atacama, an ancient salt lake in Chile. It takes up most of the gallery, lit only by what daylight is coming through the skylight. Once they start walking around the mountain, they will come across the artist lying prostrate on the floor beside it or inching around it on his knees [below].

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He repeats these actions throughout the day without a break, raising not even a murmur from his bewildered audience.

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Terence Koh's "nothingtoodoo" continues through March 19, 2011 at the Mary Boone Gallery, 541 West 24th Street, Chelsea; 212-752-2929; maryboonegallery.com

March 16, 2011 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Band-Aid Ring

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Designed by Michelle Lopez.

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Sterling silver.

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$315.

[via Fancy]

March 16, 2011 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

OldWeather.org — Can World War I Royal Navy logbooks help forecast the weather of the future?

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Wrote Rachel Saslow in an October 18, 2010 Washington Post story, "A bunch of British scientists needs help digitizing the weather information from World War I Royal Navy logbooks, and they're asking anyone with a few spare minutes to help. The Web site Zooniverse.com, which coordinates "citizen science" projects, launched OldWeather.org on Oct. 12.

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"The goal of Old Weather is to make century-old weather data available to researchers and historians so they can create more-accurate climate change models. 'If we wish to understand what the weather will do in the future, then we need to understand what the weather was doing in the past,' says Clive Wilkinson, coordinator of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, in a video on the site.

"To join, you need to sign up for a Zooniverse account, a painless process that takes about two minutes. Then jump right in and choose one of 238 WWI vessels, choosing from among battleships, cruisers, sloops and others. The site provides video tutorials on how to read logbooks, such as where to find the latitude and longitude, the date and weather readings. Scientists need human eyes to complete this project because computers aren't great at deciphering the nuances of handwriting.

"The folks behind Old Weather, including the University of Oxford and the National Maritime Museum, anticipate human errors, too. They hope that by 'crowdsourcing' the logbooks, each entry will be looked at by multiple people and mistakes will be filtered out."

 

March 16, 2011 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

French Toast Bread Stamp

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"Having toast for breakfast again? Why not make it 'French' toast this time by using this supercool French Toast Bread Stamp? It won't transform your boring toast into delicious French toast but it will make your toast tres magnifique."

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$3.98.

March 16, 2011 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: RIBA the Robot Nurse

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Excerpts from a post on KurzweilAI follow.

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RIBA the Robot Nurse, developed by the Human-Interactive Robot Research program — a joint collaboration project by Japan's RIKEN and Tokai Rubber Industries, Ltd (TRI) — is a prototype nursing-care assistant robot. RIBA (Robot for Interactive Body Assistance) is the first robot that can autonomously lift up or set down a real human from or to a bed or wheelchair. RIBA, the "soft" robot, does this by using its strong, humanlike arms and a novel tactile guidance system with high-accuracy tactile sensors.

Much has been said about the engineers' choice to make RIBA a cuddly teddy bear, rather than a humanoid nurse. The robot's developers analyzed this issue carefully.

"We adopted a clean and friendly appearance for RIBA, similar to that of a giant white teddy bear, because a mechanical appearance would not have suited nursing-care situations and a humanoid appearance may cause psychological discomfort to the patient."

"About research for determining the appearance, we just asked people at RIKEN and Tokkai 'which one is your favorite?' among some choices. You can see the choices in the picture [below]. The teddy bear type [far left] got the highest votes."

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Among the choices proposed for RIBA's appearance, people preferred the teddy bear. Surprising? Maybe not. Research has shown that the more humanoid a non-human entity (like a robot or a virtual person) appears, the more unsettling it can be to the real people interacting with it. This psychological phenomenon is called the "uncanny valley." It means that when virtual people appear highly unrealistic, the humans interacting with them suspend belief and enjoy the interpretation — a caricature of life. But when you cross the realism threshold, making the virtual people or robots seem "almost but not quite real," the audience feels revulsion.

Regardless of why, it's clear to robot designers that people feel more comfortable interacting with a non-threatening toy, cartoon, or pet-like character — softening our reflexive distrust of a robot's inherently creepy, autonomous, non-human intelligence. It's no wonder next-generation helper robots making their way into our hospitals, parks, and home environments look more like Short Circuit's "Johnny 5" than "Bishop" from Aliens.

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RIBA's basic specs: The robot uses tactile sensors with 128 sensing-elements for each upper arm and 86 sensing-elements for each forearm; has 4 sensing-elements per hand; 2 vision sensors; 2 microphones; one DC motor; one NiMH battery; weighs 400lbs and can carry a tested payload up to 134 lbs. (Images: RIKEN-TRI Human-Interactive Robot Research program)

March 16, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What is it?

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Answer here this time tomorrow.

Clue: inedible.

Another: not intended for restraint or punitive measures.

A third: in some dimensions, about the size of a breadbox.

March 16, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Facebook FaceScanner

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Wrote Marcus Reimold, "While coding Locally over the last few months, we have found an interesting code snipe on Facebook which allows Facebook to scan your face using your monitor as a scanner. We don't know what they intend to use it for but we think you should know and so we copied the code to this site." For the test to have the best results, come very close to your monitor and don't move too much in the process of scanning." Wasn't there a movie about this, a really scary one, not that long ago?

March 16, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Grillage Chair — François Azambourg

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"Origami-style outdoor chair made from a single sheet of creased metal mesh can be fitted with an upholstered cushion for indoor use."

$1,005.

[via the Wall Street Journal]

March 16, 2011 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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