Monday January 22nd 2018



Social Influencers or How Groups Condition, Conscious or Not.

 “A psychologist at a girl’s college asked the members of his class to compliment any girl wearing red. Within a week, the cafeteria was a blaze of red. None of the girls were aware of being influenced, although they did notice that the atmosphere was more friendly. A class at the University of Minnesota is reported to have conditioned their psychology professor a week after he told them about learning without awareness. Every time he moved toward the right side of the room, they paid more attention and laughed more uproariously at his jokes, until apparently they were able to condition him right out the door.”

– W. Lambert Gardiner, Psychology: A Story of a Search, 1970  Image:  Martin Beckett

Mark Changizi: How Not to Get Absorbed in Someone Else’s Abdomen

Mark Changizi and I met on Stumbleupon. His work with the science of creativity, the harnessing of the brain (he just released a new book), and his general intelligence caught my eye immediately.  As I have mentioned here before, Stumbleupon has been a constant source of likemindedness since discovering it in 2007.

Mark and I have been talking about sharing his content on mixingreality for a while.  So yesterday when he commented on my Facebook page with a link to an article he wrote in 2009, I had to suggest this as his initial offering.

Do you ever get caught up in someone else’s life?  Ever spend more energy on someone else’s success, and less on your own?  Human nature, right?  Changizi breaks it down as only a cognitive scientist can.  So with no further ado, I present Mark Changizi’s essay:

How Not to Get Absorbed in Someone Else’s Abdomen.

Male anglerfish are born with an innate desire to not exist. As soon as a male reaches maturity, he acquires an urge to find a female, sink his teeth into her, and grow into her. This evolved because anglerfish live in the dark ocean abyss with few mating opportunities. By giving up his life to be part of the female, the male can reproduce more often. It’s not clear he can appreciate all the sex he’s getting, however, because much of his body and brain atrophies and fuses with her body. Nevertheless, that’s where male anglerfish want to be – that’s a full male anglerfish life. And you thought you had problems. At least you’re not partially absorbed in someone else’s abdomen. Let’s toast our fortune: We are not male anglerfish!

Or are we? Although we have no innate drive to stick our heads into the sides of other people, we do have a drive to stick our heads into groups of people – into communities, tribes, villages and clubs. We’re social primates, and a full human life is centered on the communities we’re in, and our place within them. There aren’t many hermits, and most that are probably wish they weren’t. Communities of people have bulls-eyes on them that are irresistible to us humans. Although communities are necessary for a full life – e.g., family, bowling league, and civil war reenactment society – there are some communities that are especially damaging to one’s creative health. Creative communities – they are the creativity killers. For scientists, for example, their female anglerfish is the community of scientists, a community which is creative as a whole, but which tends to snuff out the creativity of individuals within it. Not only are these creative communities dangerous to one’s creativity, but they seductively attract creativity-seeking individuals into them like moths to a creativity-scorching flame.

That creative communities are alluring to the aspiring creativity maven is not surprising: we all want friends who understand what we do and appreciate our accomplishments. What is surprising, and is not widely recognized, is the extent to which these creative communities are destructive. The problem for the male anglerfish is that his entire world becomes shrunken down, from a three-dimensional world of objects and adventures to a zero-dimensional world of gamete-release. The problem for us is that we’re equipped with a brain that, upon being placed within a community, reacts by severely shrinking its view of the world. Once the psychological transformation has completed, one’s view of the world has become so radically constricted that one cannot see the world beyond the community.

The source of this shrinkage is something called “adaptation,” or “habituation.” When you walk from a bright sunny street to a dimly lit pub, the pub initially feels entirely dark inside. After a while, however, your eyes habituate to the low light level, and you see it as highly varied in light level: it looks dark inside that mouse-hole in the wall, bright where the uncovered light bulb is, and, scattered around the room, you see dozens of other light-levels spanning the dark-light range. This is clearly advantageous for you, because you effectively began as blind in the pub, and minutes later could see. In order to make it happen, though, you underwent a kind of “world shrinkage,” in particular a kind of “luminance shrinkage,” where luminance refers to the amount of light coming toward your eye from different directions around you. When you first entered the pub, all the differing luminance levels in the pub were treated by your visual system as pretty much the same, namely “very very dark”; at that point in time your eyes were habituated to the wide world of luminances found on a sunny day outside. The “sunny” world of luminances differs in two respects from the “pub” world of luminances. First, the average luminance in sunny world is much higher than that in pub world. Second, and more important for our purposes here, sunny world has a much wider range of luminances than in pub world – from the high luminance of a sun-reflecting car windshield to the low luminance of the gaps in a sewer grating. Our eyes have the ability not only to adapt to new light levels (e.g., high versus low), but also to new levels of variability (e.g., wide versus narrow). When you habituate from sunny world to pub world, your eyes and visual system treat the tiny range of luminance levels found in pub world as if they are just as wide as the range of luminances found in sunny world. Your entire perceptual space for brightness has shrunk down to apply to what is a miniscule world in terms of luminance. This kind of world shrinkage is one of the many engineering features that make mammals like us so effective. All our senses are built with these adaptation mechanisms at work, and not just for simple features like luminance or color, but also complex images like faces.

In fact, our heads are teeming with world-shrinking mechanisms that go far beyond our senses, invading the way we think and reason. When we enter a creative community, varieties of adaptation mechanisms are automatically elicited inside us, helping to illuminate the intellectual world inside the community. Ideas within the community that were impossible for us to distinguish become stark oppositions. Similar mechanisms are played out for our social world – the hierarchies we care to climb, and the people we care to impress. At first we don’t appreciate the status differences within the hierarchy, even if we abstractly know them; but eventually we come to “feel” the gulf between each tier. While having these mechanisms is fundamental to our success in tribes, and was thus selected for, our creative integrity was not on the evolutionary ledger. Creative communities are dank pubs, and once we’ve optimized ourselves to living on the inside, our full range of reasoning is brought to bear on a narrow spectrum of ideas, a spectrum that we’re under the illusion is as wide as it can be. And so we don’t realize the world has shrunk at all.

Originally published here on September 18, 2009.  Reprinted with kind permission by changizi.  We look forward to more of his generosity.

Mark Changizi is Director of Human Cognition at 2AI, and the author of The Vision Revolution (Benbella Books, 2009) and Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man (Benbella Books, 2011). His first book was The Brain from 25000 Feet (Springer, 2003), and he is aloof.

Vincent Kohler’s Turnaround Series of Artful Baseball Bats

Baseball is the quintessential American game.  In fact, many non-Yanks I know, look at the game, and wonder at its pace, its simplicity, its invisible complexity, and scratch their heads.

Full disclosure:  I am not a baseball fan.  But I love beautifully worked wood sculpture.

Vincent Kohler’s series, Turnaround has just a hint of irony.  He turns wood on a lathe in seemingly endless combinations creating baseball bats you have never seen before.

Utilizing more than classic maple to create his pieces, Kohler presents us with objects of desire beyond a baseball player’s obsession.  He suggests art in the object as well as the game.

As the season comes down to the end of summer, it seems just the moment to present  Kohler’s work, with only the slightest tongue in cheek.

Download a PDF about the series and read more about the work, see more images, and enjoy some baseball background herevia

Banksy’s Documentary: The Antics Roadshow

We love street art here at mixingreality.

So when a friend sent us Banksy’s new doc, we had to check it, and now we have to share.  Without further ado, (though you might want to skip to :55) Banksy’s The Antics Roadshow:

Biblio: Typographic Bookends Thought Through by Jack Curry

Are you an avid book collector with overflowing shelves, a love of typography, and need to conquer the clutter?  Well then,  Jack Curry has a solution for you:


Problem: In the summer of 2010 I found that my bookshelves were getting to the point of needing proper bookends to keep everything in order. Naturally being typographically inclined, I began searching around for type-centric bookends. However, after much searching I was unable to find anything that caught my eye – lots of woodblock letters or “A & Z” bookend sets, but nothing worth breaking out the credit card for.

Solution: I’m a designer. I design things. Why not design myself some bookends?

Method: I’ve always had this lingering memory from when I was a kid of the big, orange bookends in my dad’s office. I was especially fixated on the way that the shape of the base seemed to have been punched neatly from the body, leaving a radiused rectangle in the upright plane of the bookend. This very concept seemed extremely economical; each unit could be cut from a single sheet of metal, then the base would be formed from the counter space. Leaning on knowledge from my house numbers project – Dash – I knew the type of perforations needed to properly bend stainless steel while keeping it structurally sound.

Process: Using some off-the-shelf black bookends as a reference, I began figuring out how each letter would begin to look if used in the given framework.

Letterforms with open counters – such as A, H, K, et al – lent themselves easily to this system; however, characters with closed bottoms – such as B, C, D, E, et al – proved to be trickier to manage. After several different directions – including a foray into making the entire set proportional as opposed to monospaced (a development which did not last long) – I came to the conclusion that the best solution would be to simply have the foundation of these forms contain both sides of the base, which would swing out in opposite directions; not unlike a gymnast doing forward splits. Using this dual-system of base formation, the letterforms could remain the same width, and the weight-bearing ability of the bookend would not be compromised.

A test batch of letters (spelling out “READ”) were then cut from 16 gauge stainless steel and powder-coated in classic library orange – just like dad used to have.

I’m happy to report that my books have ceased falling over unexpectedly.

Thanks, Jack!

Britain’s Channel 4: Street Summer & the Street Tag App

Definition – Tag: a personal signature, usually vandalism with spraypaint, but can be any graffiti.

Have you ever wanted to tag something?   You know, go out with a spray can and create on a wall or building…but the vandalism part of it gets the better of you?

As part of their Street Summer series, Britain’s Channel 4 has come up with a way to empower the tagger in all of us…while avoiding the vandalism.  Street Tag is a form of augmented reality in a can.

These days, street art plays to a generally broad audience, well beyond urban centers with plenty of street players, taggers and graf artists.

Studio wall tagged with Spray Tag

My computer screen.


We certainly love street art here at mixingreality.  So we tried it out…it’s no Banksy…but with some practice, perhaps there is a tagger in the making.

Do be sure to check out Street Summer series on Britain’s Channel 4 site.  They have a myriad of great programs, videos and art from the UK’s street scene.

Snail Mail My Email Inspires the Written Word

I’m a letter and card writer.  Though, as I spend more and more time communicating online, less and less do I send snail mail.  So this idea is interesting, and may in fact inspire me to create this type of expression more.

As its creators describe it: Snail Mail My Email is a month-long (July 15 – August 15), interactive community art project created by Ivan Cash which seeks to both share the warm-fuzzy feeling of receiving a personalized letter as well as inspire people to send their own snail mail. Anyone with internet access can partake by simply sending an email, after which the very same message will be handwritten and physically mailed to the chosen recipient anywhere in the world, completely free of charge.

So who do you want to reach out and touch?  You may not have the time, the inclination or the creativity to take it to the offline realm, but there are no more excuses with Snail Mail by Email. You can let the sentiments fly with nothing to lose, except a few keystrokes.  And you can see that the results are individual and creative.   I am going to try it, and will let you know what happens…if you do, please let us know too.   Thanks Ivan Cash and your international network of 134 volunteers from around the world. Brilliant.

images via Snail Mail My Email’s flickr stream 

Preston Moeller : Rubberband Chair

Preston Moeller designs playfully upcycled furniture.  During his tenure as a industrial design student  he created the ‘rubberband chair’ which earned him the $3,000 first prize in the Appalachian State University’s 6th Annual Chair Design Competition.

Constructed from a wire frame on which 65, 000 colorful rubber bands are bound, the seat looks like a Dr. Seuss version of furniture.

We love the idea of getting a bit of a bounce out of our day in front of the macbook pro.

See some of Preston’s other work over on Coroflot.


Debra Baxter’s Crystal Sculptures Aligns your Chakras…not

From the Hip : Alabaster, amethyst, smokey quartz, leather

Yesterday I came across Debra Baxter’s work on Google+, while checking out Gerrel Saunders.  He showed an image of crystal “brass” knuckles from 2009, which were intriguing.

Debra Baxter wearing : Crystal Brass Knuckles (I am going to realign your chakras motherf*****)

Exploring Baxter’s site, I found her work from 2011 was just as engaging, if not as provocative.

It can be fascinating when an artist’s oeuvre is clearly about the medium they choose to work with, or not.  In Baxter’s case, interesting?  Absolutely.

Hoping Something Pure Can Last (Obsession Interrupted) : Petrified wood with crystals, alabaster, geode, snake skin, photo, plastic

The challenge becomes, how to use the materials in new and unthought of ways that encourage a new viewing of the medium.

I Saved Venus : Alabaster, concrete

As a jewelry designer, Baxter also has a unique touch.  Her sculptural works ask us to consider the surfaces and edges of hard substances that seduce us with their qualities of light, texture and solid mass, while carrying lots of cultural baggage.  She treads the territory without falling into the woo woo land of fairies and magic wands, by keeping us on our toes with presentation and distance.  After all, one might tend to disarm the room, let alone chakras, with this piece on.

Take Your Medicine : Sterling silver, quartz crystal

Top 10 post on : July 2011 – August 2011

Ranging from the musical and visual wonder of oscillating guitar strings to cameos carved from the creamy center of Oreo cookies, last month’s top posts are eclectic, though with one consistent thread, almost all of them are art oriented.

Thank you for continuing to surprise us with your enthusiasm and support.  This month, we will be doing a number of giveaways.  In the meantime, we hope you enjoy our readers’ favorites of the summer so far.   Stay tuned, stay gold and keep us in the loop while you are mixing it up out there.

1.  Guitar Oscillations Filmed From Inside by an iPhone 4

2.  Reuse Project of the Day Judith Klausner Orea Cameos

3.  Nicholas Kirkwood Keith Haring Capsule Collection

4. Video of the Day : Bashir Sultani Art with Salt

5.  Democratie Creative Street Art for the People to Play

6.  Pictures Speak a 1000 Environmental Disasters Beautifully

7.  Jer Thorp Data Visualization, the Long Tail & Connections

8.  Robotic Seagull Attracts an Actual Flock of Seagulls

9.  Get Cake Homie

10.  Kerry Howley Attracts & Repels with Hair Necklaces

image : sushaki





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