Dullahan is a strange sort of product. It isn’t functional, but it’s incredibly interactive and futuristic, with a good deal of aesthetic appeal. Call it a miniature interactive installation if you will, the Dullahan is a vertebral unit that can be strapped to a human’s back. Through a variety of sensors, the Dullahan can tell when the spine is in an incorrect posture. A series of LEDs light up in blue and red, indicating where the vertebral bones are in correct and incorrect positions, so that you don’t slouch or stoop. The only catch is that since it’s such an aesthetic 3D representation of the spine, you can’t really test it sitting down, or leaning back against a rest.
Still, pretty neat, eh! What if one day you could have electronic tattoos that connect to your spine and use this tech to help you achieve better posture?! Why, just call me Asimov!
In the audiovisual field, it’s hard to top the virtuosic collaboration of Christopher Bauder and Robert Henke. Robert Henke, known to many as Monolake, has himself taken on lasers as visual instrument alongside his signature electronic sounds (controlled in Ableton Live, the software he co-founded). But pair him with long-time collaborator Christopher Bauder (of WHITEvoid), and you have an epic duo.
What’s striking about their work is the careful, meticulous construction of synesthesia. Each noise, each flash of light or movement is carefully choreographed so as if to seem fused. “Kinetic light show” is the term WHITEvoid uses for the result. It’s a combination of mechanical movements (in this case, orbs that can shift up and down in saves), lighting (here, lasers), and spatialized sound.
The approach goes back to ATOM, which set light-up balloons in a dance of sequenced rhythms, accompanied by Robert’s unmistakeable, minimal sounds. The effect is obsessive-compulsive, to be sure. Oddly, on some level, it’s not terribly showy – despite the grand scale. It’s about precision – a point hammered home in the Deep Web by the lone orb that frames the start and end of the performance.
And maybe that’s why I’ve found some people are split on their response to the Bauder/Henke work. There’s a decided avoidance of narrative. (raster-noton told me in a panel in June that their tendency toward abstraction stemmed perhaps from a rejection of propaganda in the DDR – but Robert and Christopher are from West Germany, not East.) That even disappointed some, in particular, because of the reference to the Deep Web – in this case, evidently more pun than political statement. This isn’t some data visualization of people using Tor or something like that; it’s a spatial poem in light and sound.
But give yourself over to being entranced by it, and it’s as though you’ve just stuck your head inside a modern digital Oskar Fischinger work. The physical presence of the orbs gives that sense of real immersion, of getting intimate with this otherworldly creature of color as it undulates above your head. Color palette, orb, and beam can interact as compositional elements with sound to form different spatial-sonic constellations, constructed into phrases and larger sections like a symphony.
In Berlin, there were two versions – a meditative, sparse installation rendition, and then a more extravagant live performance. Robert was also able to “jam” on the materials from Ableton Live – and following the ovation after the premiere, did just that as the audience departed, a gleeful smile on his face.
The technology is no small feat. That involved producing perfect sonic effect in the reflection-happy former power plant of Kraftwerk, and years of experience in tuning the high-speed motorized winch system (on Christopher’s side) and high-power lasers (on Robert’s). Software is custom-created in TouchDesigner, that ubiquitous choice of high-end AV work.
But even with all this technology, you aren’t given a sense that the instruments themselves are meant to dazzle: this isn’t about laser light or orbs, so much as it is about those producing an effect of pure abstraction. And the scale, too, almost seems necessary to contain the volume of the work rather than the other way round. I think it’s notable that Robert is equally effective as a performer working with just one laser.
It’s a celebration of discipline, not extravagance. But by being such, it’s also richly sensory – because you can let yourself get lost in hue and timbre.
And since I missed out on the Ballets Russes, I think I’m lucky to be alive for this artistic meeting.
More images, courtesy WHITEvoid:
KINETIC AUDIOVISUAL INSTALLATION AND PERFORMANCE
BY CHRISTOPHER BAUDER AND ROBERT HENKE
COMMISSIONED BY THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS LYON
Deep Web is a monumental immersive audiovisual installation and live performance created by light artist Christopher Bauder and composer and musician Robert Henke. Presented in enormous pitch dark indoor spaces, Deep Web plunges the audience into a ballet of iridescent kinetic light and surround sound. The work was presented as a preview at CTM 2016 Festival Berlin and will be followed by its original presentation at the Festival of Lights Lyon in December 2016.
The generative, luminous architectural structure weaves 175 motorized spheres and 12 high power laser systems into a 25 meter wide and 10 meter high super-structure, bringing to life a luminous analogy to the nodes and connections of digital networks. Moving up and down, and choreographed and synchronized to an original multi-channel musical score by Robert Henke, the spheres are illuminated by blasts of colourful laser beams resulting in three-dimensional sculptural light drawings and arrangements in cavernous darkness.
The installation brings together decades of separate research and experimentation by two artists with unique visions and passions for sound and light, and by innovative companies working in these fields. High-end laser system manufacturer LaserAnimation Sollinger provided the technical expertise and development for this very specific spatial laser setup. The high precision motor winch systems with real time feedback and the main control software are provided by Design Studio WHITEvoid in collaboration with Kinetic Lights. This novel combination of computer controlled kinetic elements and laser systems allows for setting animated end points to normally infinite laser beams. DEEP WEB uses light as a tangible material to construct threedimensional vector drawings in thin air.
The work was originally commissioned by the Festival of Lights Lyon 2015, and developed in cooperation with local producer Tetro. Due to the festival’s cancellation after the tragic events in Paris, Berliners had the unique chance to attend an exclusive preview before the project will be presented in December 2016 in Lyon for the Festival of Lights 2016.
An artist and designer working in the fields of light and installation art, media design and scenography, Christopher Bauder focuses on the translation of bits and bytes into objects and environments, and vice versa. Space, object, sound, light and interaction are key elements of his work. In 2004 he founded the multidisciplinary art and design studio WHITEvoid, which specializes in interactivity, media, interior architecture, and electronic engineering.
Bauder has brought his installations and performances to art events and spaces around the world, including Centre Pompidou Paris, MUTEK Montreal, Festival of Lights Lyon, Luminale Frankfurt, The Jewish Museum Berlin and The National Museum of Fine Arts in Taiwan. He is best known for his city-wide light art installation “Lichtgrenze”, created in 2014 together with his brother Marc, for the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall and his large scale kinetic live shows ATOM and GRID. Both in cooperation with Robert Henke.
Alongside his numerous releases as Monolake, Robert Henke is also well known for the music, audiovisual installations and performances he has been creating under his own name since the early 90s. Due to his background in engineering and fascination with the beauty of technical objects, the development of his own instruments and algorithms has always been an integral part of his creative process. Henke also co-developed the omnipresent Ableton Live music software, which since its invention in 1999 has become the standard tool for electronic music production and completely redefined live performance practice.
His installations and performances have been presented at Tate Modern London, the Centre Pompidou Paris, PS-1 New York, MUDAM Luxembourg, MAK Vienna, the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Australia, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, and at countless festivals.
Girl, bye! I’m gettin’ me an Ecocapsule. It’s the first truly independent house, powered by solar and wind energy!
Because of its small size, it can be placed nearly anywhere on the planet and easily moved for a change of scenery! It contains everything needed for prolonged off-grid stay: efficient design, high performance thermal insulation, dual yield power system consisting of solar array and wind turbine, massive batteries to store surplus energy for a later usage. Everything is controlled by smart home system optimizing energy consumption.
Additionally, the spherical shape of the Ecocapsule is carefully formed to minimize heat losses and maximize collection of the rain water and morning dew. Membrane water filters installed inside are designed to purify 99,999% of the bacteria and rendering any natural water source suitable for drinking.
Even though small in size, each Ecocapsule can comfortably house two adults. Its efficient spatial layout allows you to enjoy convenience of typical creature comforts in off-grid conditions. A built-in kitchenette with running water, flushing toilet and hot shower are just a few luxuries of this remote hotel room in the wilderness.
Plenty of storage space also fits all your sport or research equipment. The Ecocaspule can be used not only as cottage, skiing hut or pop-up hotel, but also a small power plant or charging station for your electric vehicle.
Thanks to poor dental hygiene, micro-fossils were trapped in
ancient plaque on their teeth. The researchers say these plaques
contain plants — cereals, in fact — that weren’t thought to
be part of people’s diets for another four centuries.
The discovery of domestic cereals in Mesolithic people’s diets
means that social networks between local foragers and the first
Neolithic communities probably extended further than
archaeologists originally thought, due to how deep into the
Balkan hinterland they were found.
“At the time of the discovery we had the sense that these groups
of complex hunter-gatherers were in contact with other more
distant locations,” Borić said. “We found beads made of
marine gastropods that come from coastal areas in Greece and the
Adriatic, hundreds of kilometres away from the region for
When the robot uprising happens, I don’t know which side Donald Trump’s TelePrompter will be on. But I can’t help but think that at the very least Trump’s TelePrompter is currently trying to tell us something. This photo was taken earlier today at a rally in North Carolina.
What are you trying to say, little TelePrompter? Is it a warning? A message from the future? Spit it out. Should we be concerned?
When someone has lost a hand, particularly the dominant one, it can be a real challenge to do the simple clicks and drags that all of us take for granted on our desktops and laptops. A German design team has created a device to remedy this, detecting signals from the user’s remaining muscles and translating them into common digital gestures.
Even the best prosthetics lack the fine motor control that allows for efficient operation of mice made for smaller, more pliable digits. And forget about holding a mouse steady between thumb and finger while using a third to scroll.
This isn’t just an annoyance; with computer use critical to practically every job now, having a prosthesis entails a great deal of retraining or workplace accommodation, neither of which many employers are likely to relish (equal opportunity hiring notwithstanding).
Shortcut — you’ll forgive these Germans their dark sense of humor — removes the necessity of physically performing those tiny movements. Instead, the user equips the inside wrist of their prosthesis with a watch-like wristband. This has an optical sensor in it, and acts like a wireless mouse when the user moves their prosthetic around.
But further up the arm is the clever bit. Some prosthetics use a muscle signal detection wristband akin to the Myo to identify a number of gestures — making a fist, raising the hand up, pointing — that the user still remembers the “feel” of. They can activate that gesture by attempting to do it, and the latent muscle signals created as their limb attempts to do so are detected and passed on to the prosthetic, which will itself recreate that motion.
The Shortcut team instead maps these movements to mouse gestures while the accessory is active. Imagine making a quick pinching motion, and the muscles in your arm will twitch in predictable fashion, which the software sends on to the computer as a click. Pinch with your second finger and it’s a right click. Scroll up and down by bending your wrist.
These motions are familiar; at the tips of our fingers, so to speak. They simply have no fingers to act on. So repurposing them in this way is both ingenious and practical.
The team prototyped the device with a 3D printed case and wired Arduino, but the final product should be wireless — who wants to plug in their arm while they work? The designers, David Kaltenbach, Lucas Rex and Maximilian Mahal, are design grad students at Weißensee Academy of Art Berlin. Shortcut won them the STARTS prize, awarded by Ars Electronica. I’ve asked the team for a little more information on where the project is going, and will update this post if they get back to me.
Her story seems inconceivable. She has no GPS tracking and is an unknown in the world of record-breaking thru-hikes. But this weekend, on the heels of Karl Meltzer, Kaiha Bertollini trekked to the top of Springer Mountain at the southern end of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia and proclaimed a world record time of 45 days, 6 hours, and 28 minutes.
And she says she did it self-supported.
If her claims hold up, Kaiha “Wildcard Ninja” Bertollini just broke every record ever set on the Appalachian Trail. Not only would this be the fastest self-supported through-hike of the A.T. (beating Heather “Anish” Anderson’s 2015 record of 54 days), but it even tops every supported hike (beating ultra-running legend Karl Meltzer’s day-old record of 45 days, 22 hours, and 38 minutes).
We reached out and spoke with Bertollini today, and she provided some insights into her endeavor. While the verdict is still out among the A.T. community as to the veracity of her claims, her story is incredible, and it begins with a sexual assault in 2010.
Ultra-Runner Karl Meltzer Breaks Appalachian Trail Record
It took 45 days, 22 hours, and 38 minutes, but today (Sunday, September 18, 2016) ultra-runner Karl Meltzer broke the record for the fastest supported thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Read more…
No GPS Tracking
Why would a hiker with the goal of setting a through-hike record not carry a GPS? In her own words, Bertollini said she didn’t know she needed one. Her goal at the outset was 53 days (as she posted on Facebook on August 2). That time would have beaten Anderson’s and opened her FKT attempt to public scrutiny.
But finishing faster than Meltzer was not in her original plan, and her hike will certainly raise more eyebrows, and questions, as the world begins to peer into her undertaking.
Bertollini did not leave the virtual trail of breadcrumbs marking her path. What she may have left is a trail of evidence, the stops at shelters and hostels along the way, and her meetings with other hikers on the path.
In 2010 while I was serving in the military I was sexually assaulted by multiple men in my unit while stationed at Fort Stewart Army Base in Hinesville, GA. The events of that night forever changed the way I connect with the world around me. However, with time the events from that night also lead me down a path of self-empowerment, self-love, and self-respect that no one will ever be able to take from me again. Although, some things will never be the same. I am no longer afraid to speak out against sexual assault and oppression of any kind. Standing up for all of our rights to exist.
She was discharged from the Army on March 2, 2012. She then continued to battle with post-traumatic stress disorder, brought on by the sexual assault, she said.
“That whole part of my life, trying to work, moving to Atlanta from Savannah. Dealing with PTSD. I was arrested twice, but the charges were dropped. It was a dark time for me,” she said on Monday.
Then she hit rock bottom.
“In 2015, it was a shitty year,” she said. “I lost my dog, lost my job. I’d worked hard to become financially secure, but when I lost my job, I lost everything.”
And then, on New Year’s Eve, she met a thru-hiker for the first time.
“A friend introduced me to another friend who had just done a SoBo hike,” she said. “We talked all night about the trail. He had that trail sparkle that most thru-hikers do. I had nothing holding me back. I asked my mom if she’d watch my dog. My friend held onto my clothes, which was all I had.”
“Told the bank to repo my truck, and left it in Pearisburg, VA.”
And that was the start of her journey.
A Hike South, Then North, Then South Again
From there, she hiked to the A.T.’s southern terminus for the first time, covering 180 miles of Virginia.
“I was just going to walk to Georgia,” she said. “As I was hiking, I was like, I want to finish! I get disability, but it’s not enough to live on at home. It is enough to live on on the AT.”
She reached the southern terminus in early March, then headed back north after catching a ride with a trail angel named Sparky up to Pearisburg, where she’d originally started, to finish the rest of the miles to the terminus in Maine.
“I was going north and there was nobody out there. I was by myself for like 9 days,” she said.
She arrived at the top of Katahdin in Maine on August 4. She said those five months on the trail hardened her for the return south in which she made this proclaimed record time.
“That was mile-zero for myself,” she said of the turn around from north to south that through-hikers call a Yo-Yo. “I just turned around and went for it.”
What’s This AT Record Hoopla, Anyway?
For the uninitiated, the Appalachian Trail is a 2,190-mile trail that stretches from the top of Mount Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia.
While most hikers take several months to hike the length of the trail, called a thru-hike, each year a few folks set out to dash the trail as fast as possible.
It’s important to note that the ATC, the management organization of the trail, does not recognize any speed records. These are unofficially kept by hikers and fans. Those who do try for records tend to build evidence of their achievements in a variety of ways. They often list their intentions on bulletins like Fastest Known Times billboard and carry SPOT or similar GPS tracking devices through the trips.
Photos taken on the route, and eyewitness accounts, add to the credibility of the story.
Bertollini is now relying on those who met her on the trail to verify her claims.
“Hostels that did mail drops can verify that I did it,” she said. A friend who’s hiked the AT previously sent mail drops to Bertollini, who used that food, and food purchased along the way, to complete the southward trek.
Little Outside Help
In the world of thru-hiking, most do it on their own, in “self-supported” fashion, by shipping food to drop points. Others — mostly athletes hoping to set a record or run a super fast pace — hike with a crew who brings their food and gear. That method is considered “supported.”
Bertollini hiked self-supported, which makes her blistering pace all the more remarkable, and also questionable. Her only outside help came from trail angels, people who pass out small items or favors to anyone hiking the big distances.
“I had some trail angels leave things along the way like trail magic,” she said. People who knew where I would be by my mileage and left stuff. Calamine lotion for poison ivy. I had stinging nettles, which I thought was poison ivy.”
She claims to have hiked steadily, sleeping only when exhausted. This equates to just a few hours a day, in two- to three-hour segments.
“Walking all day or night on very little sleep, after so many days and nights, I just couldn’t sleep. I’d walk until I was literally so exhausted that sleep took over,” she said. “I did it by myself. Hoka donated four pairs of shoes. Zpacks donated a shelter, because I didn’t have one on me.”
On Meltzer’s Heels
Ultra-running legend Karl Meltzer was just a day or two in front of Bertollini as she made her way down the trail, and she said she was very aware of his presence.
“I’ve been trying to catch that S.O.B. the whole time,” she said. “I had this fantasy that I would catch his crew. He summited a day before me” at the southern end.
Bertollini never did catch Meltzer, but if her time holds up, she did beat him, even though she had no crew to speak of.
We reached out to Meltzer, and to Scott Jurek, a renowned ultra-runner who set the previous A.T. supported record and served on Meltzer’s crew, for comment. Neither men had responded by the time of publication, but we will update this story with comment if they respond.
I don’t know anything about her, so I can’t really comment on the authenticity of her claims. However, it would be quite an incredible feat to hike the AT unsupported in a faster time than Karl Meltzer’s current supported time (45 days 22 hours). GPS documentation is pretty essential for situations like this.
Indeed it is. Furthermore, Fastest Known Time guidelines followed by many athletes have been in place for some time. They include stating intentions publicly, and with current record holders, inviting public participation, and meticulous record keeping.
Bertollini did state her intention, on her website.
On August 4, 2016 after completing a Northbound hike from Georgia to Andover, ME, I will turn around and complete a Southbound thru-hike in less than 90 days, but also attempt to break the record and fastest known time of fifty-four days and seven hours set by Heather “Anish” Anderson last year. This will be the hardest thing I have ever attempted to do physically and mentally. I hope my story gives others the courage and strength to speak out publicly against sexual assaults, rape culture, and gender inequality. I want to create a bridge that connects these victims to the positive benefits of fitness as a lifestyle and permaculture and the tools offered to them while they seek their own paths towards self-empowerment, love, and respect.
Thus, some elements of Bertollini’s are easily verifiable. Others, most notably her specific track through GPS hard data, are impossible.
“Hostels that did mail drops can verify that I did it,” Bertollini said.
Lonely On The Trail
While well-known athletes like Meltzer and Jurek meet fans on the route and are supported by sponsors like Red Bull and Clif Bar, respectively, Bertollini was mostly alone out there.
“I’m an introvert. I have a hard time with attention, I really do. I was hoping to deflect it to the bigger issues,” she said, meaning to her Hike Of Our Lives project. “But this was loneliness that I’ve never felt before. The loneliness was really hard. I walked and cried a lot of the time. My emotions are everywhere. I’ve never felt this way before.”
End Of The Trail
Now that the hike is completed, Bertollini faces the new challenge of defending her FKT claims.
She’s put the call out on social media to ask those who saw her along the trail to come forward and validate some of her claims. With such short time between her finish and the time of publication, GearJunkie cannot verify or refute her record.
Regardless how history washes out, and whether her feat is regarded as a record, carries an asterisk, or is outright rejected, her mission to give victims the courage and strength to speak out publicly against sexual assaults, rape culture, and gender inequality appears well intentioned.
“I don’t view myself as a professional athlete, this is something I did to raise awareness of a bigger issue,” she said, adding that she thinks the community of people she met on the AT will verify her claims. “I’ve never felt so supported in my life. I feel like everybody has my back for the most part. Everything is as documented as I could get it and still be able to walk.”
We’ll be following Bertollini’s story, and we hope to hear from others with insights into the endeavor.