The Big Picture, IV – How about a 21st Century Florence? Or for that matter, a new Hangzhou?

June 10, 2016 § 1 Comment

Athenian bowl, Chinese Song Dynasty compass, Michelangelo drawing, image of brain as circuit

“Silicon Valley’s continued success depends, ironically, not on some shiny new gizmo but on learning the lessons of history.”

“What jumpstarts a golden age is not necessarily what keeps it going. The good ones manage to change fuel sources midstream. The Renaissance was initially powered by the recovered ancient texts, but the Humanists who discovered them soon generated their own ideas, their own intellectual momentum. Silicon Valley, if it is to survive, needs to find alternative energy sources, new ways of being creative and not simply new creative products.”

– Eric Weiner, Geography of Genius

“History is a mirror for the future!”

– My parents. Or maybe Chinese axiom?

So it appears that the Bay Area has an art scene undergoing transformation, with exodus and influx both at play. My roundup in the last installment of the Series didn’t even include the Stanford Arts District — the one-stop, four-institution arts compound at Stanford University that is quickly ascending in national significance, with three new buildings in three years (at a cost of $235 million), adding to the existing Cantor Arts Center.

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The Big Picture, III – Venture Capitalist Steps in on San Francisco’s Art exodus; Big Art Meets Big Tech in Silicon Valley’s First Serious Gallery

May 7, 2016 § 4 Comments

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This installment of our Big Picture series zooms in on Silicon Valley.

As the 2010’s enters its second half, something curious is going on between tech and art, in the oft-proclaimed “innovation capital”.

On the one hand, angry protests from San Francisco’s art community, against the new monied tech elites driving up real estate prices and edging out artists and other creatives, are still ringing in the ear. A personal anecdote (other than the fact that non-artist regular people like myself can hardly afford housing here too): just yesterday I was calling a string of art supply stores for a gift I’m planning on buying for a friend in China, only to find out that half of them have moved from their previously listed locations – the one in downtown Palo Alto has moved to Redwood City, after losing its lease to a “social networking company”; the one in San Francisco is in the process of moving to Oakland, vacating space for a condo development (perhaps  targeting employees of that social networking company). All-too-familiar stories, about the exodus of art. « Read the rest of this entry »

Beauty and Brains. The Nerd Wears Prada. My “Smart Jewelry” Reconnaissance.

January 16, 2016 § 2 Comments

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The first week of 2016 found me in Las Vegas, to attend CES, the giant annual Consumer Electronics Show, for the very first time.  In the sea of gadgets large and small, I wandered in the area designated for “wearables”.

Wearables have not, before now, really grabbed me, in spite of my coverage of health technology for years, and enthusiasm for the category in the tech world and beyond.  I tried out a Fitbit last year for a few days initially, then in a few more short stretches of heightened self-motivation, but have let it collect dust on my night stand ever since.

Just around New Year’s I learned of “smart jewelry,” and we featured two collections — Ringly and Tyia — in our Lifestyle gallery.  They made me realize why I had stopped wearing the Fitbit – many times I had been embarrassed by the unsightly plastic on my wrist, compromising my outfit.

With no better plans for my last afternoon at CES (my presumed primary mission having proven a bust the day before), I decided to just take it easy and see if I could find anything else like Ringly and Tyia that may actually be, well, “wearable”.  I’m glad I did – these last few hours made the whole trip worthwhile.

I now share with you my review and stories of five “smart jewelry” makers, including my picks from CES; as well as my thoughts about this new generation of “wearables”. « Read the rest of this entry »

A Day at A Travel Hackathon; and An Evening of Dance, Science, and Interactive Tech

November 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

IMG_4096_editedThis past weekend, we proudly exhibited interactive 3D data art created by Kineviz, during Emirates Travel Hackathon hosted at Runway Incubator in San Francisco, where 300+ developers and designers built innovative travel-centric applications aimed at improving customer experience, in competition for a trip to Dubai and various tech and cash prizes.
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LAST Festival Art Expo Highlights

October 28, 2015 § Leave a comment

The 3rd installation of the L.A.S.T. Festival, organized by Thymos Foundation and originally conceived by Piero Scaruffi, took place over the weekend of October 16 to 18, at Stanford University.  The L.A.S.T. Festival celebrates the confluence of art with the multiplicity of new media technologies and nascent sciences that are transforming sociality and experience in the 21st century.

The Festival featured four programs:

  • Interactive multimedia art installations that break the “Do not touch!” taboo of the traditional museum and are meant to let people experience something they never experienced before
  • Inspirational talks by luminaries on cutting-edge technology and science, including Artificial Intelligence, Synthetic Biology, Nanotech, Space Exploration, and Neuroscience
  • Live performances
  • Interactive workshops or talks by artists

Click to watch video recordings of the talks.

And here are some photos of the art installations.  Click on the images to learn more about each installation. « Read the rest of this entry »

A Birthday Dreamscape | Act II: Quantified-self, Lifelogs and Someone Else’ Mindscape

July 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

Act I –  Voyage to the edge of the universe

Act III – The hybrid Here and Now

Epilogue – The comfort of my cake


Act II – Quantified-self, lifelogs and someone else’ mindscape

I don’t quite know how “generations” worked, be it human and digital cross-bred or purely digital procreation.  But at this point, my mind stops to care.

However fast technology develops, superhuman upgrade will unlikely be readily available at the end of MY lifetime.  More than “Our” place in the Universe, what I really want to know is “My” place in the Universe.

Perhaps starting with a smaller, simpler question: “why am I lying in bed thinking about these things, when I’m supposed to be sleeping?”

Yes, know thyself first!

Last autumn I went back to corporate employment to take a sabbatical from entrepreneurial independence.  Besides health insurance, a benefit of this sensible move has been perks such as a free Fitbit.  A wearable laggard, I finally wrapped one around my wrist, courtesy of my employer.  The nights before my birthday, my teal-colored Fitbit records my sleep pattern like this:

20150410 sleep log per Fitbit web

20150410 sleep log per Fitbit phone_IMG_2894 « Read the rest of this entry »

A Journey into the Deep. On World Oceans Day

June 8, 2015 § Leave a comment

Today is World Oceans Day, a day to celebrate the “Blue Heart” of our Planet, which covers almost 71% of its surface, is the principal component of Earth’s hydrosphere, forms part of the carbon cycle, regulates climate and weather patterns, served as the impetus for the emergence of life 39 billion years ago, and continues to provide the life support system for all known species on Earth, supplying half of our oxygen. I have selected a stellar collection of ocean arts and designs, created by four multi-talented individuals and teams, to honor the occasion.

Underwater Photographs

Jim Kirklin
Oceanographer, software engineer, and nature photographer
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Purple Ring Top Snail (Calliostoma annulatum), Monterey Bay, California

With an advanced degree in geophysics and a career that has included time with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and work on research projects in 3 different oceans, as well as a number of years working with a startup developing a new class of autonomous vehicles used in the ocean, Kirklin has developed an intense interest in the ecology of the ocean and its varied marine life. He has also been photographing nature and wildlife most of his life and an avid SCUBA diver for the last 20 years. Sooner or later these three interests were bound to intersect in underwater photography, resulting in stunning images of ocean life in the waters off California, Florida, Carribean, Solomons, Micronesia and Galapagos Islands, etc.

A selection of these images can be seen in our Visual Arts gallery. Kirklin’s works give us a glimpse of the beautiful and mysterious life in the world’s oceans, only 5% of which has been explored. The ocean is the habitat of 230,000 known species, but over two million marine species are estimated to exist.

Kirklin’s underwater photography has won awards and been featured in shows on the Central Coast and Sonoma, California. « Read the rest of this entry »

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