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Friday, July 27, 2012

Pigs Bladder Football

Leave it to the Brits. Pig bladders have for centuries been used in the manufacturing of sports equipment. Light, solid, and stretchable, they made perfect airtight membranes inside the first footballs. Artist John O'Shea is now going back to this traditional method, fusing it with cutting-edge biotechnology to create the first football made with a pig bladder entirely grown in a lab..Commissioned by the Abandon Normal Devices (AND) Festival and funded by the Wellcome Trust, Pigs Bladder Football was inspired by the first successful transplant of a bioengineered organ, a urinary bladder, in 2006. August 30-September 7, 2012, CUBE (Centre for the Urban Built Environment), Manchester; Abandon Normal Devices Festival, August 29 – September 2, 2012, throughout Manchester, Liverpool, Lancashire, and Cumbria.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tom Chatfield: 7 ways games reward the brain

We're bringing gameplay into more aspects of our lives, spending countless hours -- and real money -- exploring virtual worlds for imaginary treasures. Why? As Tom Chatfield shows, games are perfectly tuned to dole out rewards that engage the brain and keep us questing for more. Tom Chatfield thinks about games -- what we want from them, what we get from them, and how we might use our hard-wired desire for a gamer's reward to change the way we learn

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Get the picture? Art in the brain of the beholder - 17 July 2012 - New Scientist

Get the picture? Art in the brain of the beholder - 17 July 2012 - New Scientist by Kat Austen

"My child could have done that!" Wrong – neuroaesthetics is starting to show us why abstract art can be so beguiling

STANDING in front of Jackson Pollock's Summertime: Number 9A one day, I was struck by an unfamiliar feeling. What I once considered an ugly collection of random paint splatters now spoke to me as a joyous celebration of movement and energy, the bright yellow and blue bringing to mind a carefree laugh.
It was my road-to-Damascus moment - the first time a piece of abstract art had stirred my emotions. Like many people, I used to dismiss these works as a waste of time and energy. How could anyone find meaning in what looked like a collection of colourful splodges thrown haphazardly on a 5.5-metre-wide canvas? Yet here I was, in London's Tate Modern gallery, moved by a Pollock.

Since then, I have come to appreciate the work of many more modern artists, who express varying levels of abstraction in their work, in particular the great Piet Mondrian, Paul Klee, and contemporary artist Hiroshi Sugimoto. Even so, when I tried to explain my taste, I found myself lost for words. Why are we attracted to paintings and sculptures that seem to bear no relation to the physical world?

Little did I know that researchers have already started to address this question. By studying the brain's responses to different paintings, they have been examining the way the mind perceives art. Although their work cannot yet explain the nuances of our tastes, it has highlighted some of the unique ways in which these masterpieces hijack the brain's visual system. 

The studies are part of an emerging discipline called neuroaesthetics, founded just over 10 years ago by Semir Zeki of University College London. The idea was to bring scientific objectivity to the study of art, in an attempt to find neurological bases for the techniques that artists have perfected over the years. It has already offered insights into many masterpieces. The blurred imagery of Impressionist paintings seems to tickle the brain's amygdala, for instance, which is geared towards detecting threats in the fuzzy rings of our peripheral vision. Since the amygdala plays a crucial role in our feelings and emotions, that finding might explain why many people find these pieces so moving.

Click this link  to read the whole article

For a fun look at how artists hack your brain:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How Creativity Strengthens Community by John Eger

ArtsSmarts, a non-profit helping schools across Canada use the tools of arts integration, recently announced its plans to explore the larger issue of the role of the whole community in fostering creativity.

Through their annual confab this fall, entitled "Cultivating Creative Communities: Arts, Education and Spaces for Successful 21st Century Learning," the effort asks "how (can) arts-in-education programs serve as catalysts for reimagining spaces that cultivate creativity and innovation?"

The concept of teaching the curriculum through the arts -- arts integration -- is not new and has been a staple in many educational programs in America for some time. So it's not surprising that Canada, through its many provinces, established arts integration as a vital and necessary part of the nation's educational strategy over 20 years ago.

In a way, it's not fair to compare the U.S. with Canada.

They are different countries and of a different size. The U.S. does have The Right Brain Initiative in the Northeast, Arts for All in Los Angeles, Big Thought in the Dallas area and the A+ Schools Program in North Carolina, among other initiatives.

It is too early to tell how America is responding to President Obama's Committee on The Arts and Humanities report called "Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America's Future Through Creative Schools." It unveiled the Committee's thinking about the important connection between art and culture and creativity, and promised an agenda for reinventing education in America.

Yet few countries have embraced the powers of the arts, and particularly arts integration, as an essential ingredient in fostering engagement and as Dana Gioia, former Chair of The National Endowment of the Arts, once said, nurturing the "pleasure, beauty and wonder" of learning.

Creativity is clearly a core competency for Canada's ArtsSmarts, a skill most in demand by employers around the world.

Among other findings the Obama Committee came to after over two years of study and research was that "arts integration" works, and that the "field of arts integration' (could be accelerated) 'through strengthening teacher preparation and professional development, targeting available arts funding, and setting up mechanisms for sharing ideas about arts integration through communities of practice. In this recommendation we identify roles for regional and state arts and education agencies as well as private funders."

Arts Integration, sometimes referred to as arts infusion, is about interdisciplinary education using the tools of the arts. As a unique consortium of arts organizations expressed it in a report called "Authentic Connections" such interdisciplinary work in the arts enabled students to "identify and apply authentic connections, promote learning by providing students with opportunities between disciplines and/or to understand, solve problems and make meaningful connections within the arts across disciplines on essential concepts that transcend individual disciplines."

Canada, believing that a mechanism for sharing ideas about arts integration through communities was essential, formally established ArtsSmarts in 1998 concentrating on art integration exclusively.
ArtsSmarts, importantly, is an organization that relies heavily on its partners and their communities of artists, teachers, parents and students, to work collaboratively in establishing programs in the schools. Perhaps for this reason, ArtsSmarts sees itself more like the Chicago Arts Partnership in Education (CAPE), which likewise, involves everyone in unique collaborations depending on the interest and desires of each community.

The organization has formed 16 key partnerships active in all 10 provinces that work with a total of 110 community partners and organizations. Together with their partners they have
"impacted the lives of over 475,000 students, 21,000 educators, 8,500 artists and 2,800 schools in 300 communities across Canada. In 2010-2011, our national network of partners completed 282 projects involving 22,672 students in 148 rural and 138 urban schools, facilitated by 370 artists, 1,164 teachers and 737 volunteers."

More regions of the world are coming to the realization that education is everyone's concern, and that the role of art-based training is critical to success.

Communities that fail to see the connections between education and economic development are left behind in fashioning strategies to compete in the world. Now that we are entering a new era in which creativity and innovation are the new drivers, failure to reinvent the city-the region-into a "creative community" will suffer as well.

Follow John M. Eger on Twitter: 

Bubbles in Space “Mad World” Mastermind Michael Andrews Collaborates with High Tech Hig-School Kids On New Video

Bubbles in Space on

Psychedelic flashes of Hello Kitty and Albert Einstein blend into vignettes of summery nostalgia in Josh Hassin’s animated music video for Michael Andrews’ “Bubbles in Space.” Comprising 3,000 frames hand-drawn by more than 100 students from San Diego’s High Tech High International, the flipbook-style piece was based on a live-action film Hassin and retro-pop singer-songwriter Andrews shot with their children, but takes Andrews’ lyrical concept of new fatherhood to an unexpected place. “I have a little girl, Mike has a little boy, and we think they’re so cute,” says Hassin, who has created videos for the likes of indie rock bands Metric and Celebration. “The school kids drew them and put crucifixes on their foreheads and other crazy stuff. But this is what goes on in their brains. So we just let that roll—it’s honest and that’s what this is about.” A prolific film composer with credits including Donnie Darko, which featured his breakout cover of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World” with Gary Jules, and Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know, Andrews is currently working on the score for Mira Nair’s new film adaptation of Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Ahead of his new album Spilling a Rainbow, the musician talked us through his pregnant musical journey, from being uncomfortably numb to stealing love songs.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Susan Cain: the Power of Introverts

This Ted lecture from 2012 helps us see how both introverts and extroverts are a necessary part of creativity.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Practice and Skill - Mental and Physical - Design and Craft

This excerpt was taken from
Practice. Rather than being the result of genetics or inherent genius, truly outstanding skill in any domain is rarely achieved with less than ten thousand hours of practice over ten years' time.

"For those on their way to greatness [in intellectual or physical endeavors], several themes regarding practice consistently come to light:

1. Practice changes your body. Researchers have recorded a constellation of physical changes (occurring in direct response to practice) in the muscles, nerves, hearts, lungs, and brains of those showing profound increases in skill level in any domain.
2. Skills are specific. Individuals becoming great at one particular skill do not serendipitously become great at other skills. Chess champions can remember hundreds of intricate chess positions in sequence but can have a perfectly ordinary memory for everything else. Physical and intellectual changes are ultraspecific responses to particular skill requirements.
3. The brain drives the brawn. Even among athletes, changes in the brain are arguably the most profound, with a vast increase in precise task knowledge, a shift from conscious analysis to intuitive thinking (saving time and energy), and elaborate self-monitoring mechanisms that allow for constant adjustments in real time.
4. Practice style is crucial. Ordinary practice, where your current skill level is simply being reinforced, is not enough to get better. It takes a special kind of practice to force your mind and body into the kind of change necessary to improve.
5. Short-term intensity cannot replace long-term commitment. Many crucial changes take place over long periods of time. Physiologically, it's impossible to become great overnight.

"Across the board, these last two variables -- practice style and practice time -- emerged as universal and critical. From Scrabble players to dart players to soccer players to violin players, it was observed that the uppermost achievers not only spent significantly more time in solitary study and drills, but also exhibited a consistent (and persistent) style of preparation that K. Anders Ericsson came to call 'deliberate practice.' First introduced in a 1993 Psychological Review article, the notion of deliberate practice went far beyond the simple idea of hard work. It conveyed a method of continual skill improvement. 'Deliberate practice is a very special form of activity that differs from mere experience and mindless drill,' explains Ericsson. 'Unlike playful engagement with peers, deliberate practice is not inherently enjoyable. It ... does not involve a mere execution or repetition of already attained skills but repeated attempts to reach beyond one's current level which is associated with frequent failures.' ...

"In other words, it is practice that doesn't take no for an answer; practice that perseveres; the type of practice where the individual keeps raising the bar of what he or she considers success. ...

"[Take] Eleanor Maguire's 1999 brain scans of London cabbies, which revealed greatly enlarged representation in the brain region that controls spatial awareness. The same holds for any specific task being honed; the relevant brain regions adapt accordingly. ...

"[This type of practice] requires a constant self-critique, a pathological restlessness, a passion to aim consistently just beyond one's capability so that daily disappointment and failure is actually desired, and a never-ending resolve to dust oneself off and try again and again and again. ...

"The physiology of this process also requires extraordinary amounts of elapsed time -- not just hours and hours of deliberate practice each day, Ericsson found, but also thousands of hours over the course of many years. Interestingly, a number of separate studies have turned up the same common number, concluding that truly outstanding skill in any domain is rarely achieved in less than ten thousand hours of practice over ten years' time (which comes to an average of three hours per day). From sublime pianists to unusually profound physicists, researchers have been very hard-pressed to find any examples of truly extraordinary performers in any field who reached the top of their game before that ten-thousand-hour mark."

Author: David Shenk  
Title: The Genius in All of Us
Publisher: Anchor
Date: Copyright 2010 by David Shenk
Pages: 53-57
The Genius in All of Us: New Insights into Genetics, Talent, and IQ
by David Shenk by Anchor
Paperback ~ Release Date: 2011-03-08
If you wish to read further: Buy Now

If you use the above link to purchase a book, delanceyplace proceeds from your purchase will benefit a children's literacy project. All delanceyplace profits are donated to charity.    

Saturday, July 7, 2012

VW Floating car

Sponsored links: The Volkswagen Hover Concept Car is a pod-like zero-emissions vehicle that uses electromagnetic road networks to float above the road.

The "People’s Car" project allowed Internet users in China to post ideas about cars of the future. From the 119,000 ideas received. three vehicle and technology concepts were produced and are now on display at the 2012 Beijing auto show. Watch this brave a Chinese couple hover around the city in the first (computer animated) test drive of this Volkswagen concept car. 
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