May 26, 2017 § Leave a comment
When I first came across African artist Milumbe Haimbe a couple years ago, thanks to introduction by Cissie Swig, beloved San Francisco art benefactor, her graphic novel “The Revolutionist” was clearly a science fiction. The story is set in the near future on a satellite colony off the orbit of mainland Earth, dominated by a corporation. Social conformity is subliminally reinforced, the economy is purely corporate-driven, exploitation of human by human thrives and the insatiable appetite for sex robots threatens to tip the already delicate social balance. This gives rise to the resistance called Army for the Restoration of Womanhood. The protagonist Ananiya is a special agent in its Covert Operations Division when news spreads that the Corporation is developing a prototype robot that is sophisticated and sexually attractive enough to replace human women altogether. Before long the resistance galvanizes into a full-blown revolution, and Ananiya thrives to become the most unlikely hero on a mission to destruct the prototype before it enters the mass market.
If the story of robots replacing real women sounds far-fetched, I am here to report that Abyss Creations, manufacturer of RealDoll, life-size sex dolls designed to recreate the appearance, texture, and weight of the human form, has launched Harmony AI, bringing artificial intelligence to the dolls the company has been making for 20+ years. “Harmony smiles, blinks and frowns. She can hold a conversation, tell jokes and quote Shakespeare. She’ll remember your birthday, […], what you like to eat, and the names of your brothers and sisters. She can hold a conversation about music, movies and books. And of course, Harmony will have sex with you whenever you want”, as Jenny Kleeman reports for The Guardian after visiting the factory and interacting with the prototype. « Read the rest of this entry »
PULSE | Spring 2017: Science Imagery Oscars, Dementia & Arts, Design in Tech, Innovation Measurement, and the Disruption Myth
March 30, 2017 § Leave a comment
Introducing PULSE: Essinova’s quarterly highlight of insights, news and events at the creative edge across art, science, design, (purposeful) technology, leadership and innovation.
…Tis the Season for Science Imagery Oscars!
(And congratulations Greg and Brian!)
Spring is when both Wellcome and NSF/Popular Science unveil their awards for the best science images, videos and visualizations.
The Wellcome Image Awards are Wellcome’s most eye-catching celebration of science, medicine and life. Now in their 20th year, the Awards recognise the creators of informative, striking and technically excellent images that communicate significant aspects of healthcare and biomedical science.
This year’s Wellcome Image Awards were presented on 15 March 2017, celebrating the scientists, clinicians, photographers and artists who bring science to life through remarkable imaging.
August 19, 2016 § Leave a comment
China’s Creative Economy, through the lens of creative spaces, is the subject of the last installment of our Big Picture series.
- Crowdfunded “Financiers Coffee” Investors’ Club
- Creative Industry Parks
- Non-governmental Museums
- Longquan Temple (and Its Robot Monk)
It was a few days before New Year 2016 when I first heard the word 融合业态 (Rong He Ye Tai)- fusion or convergence of industries – as a latest trend in China. The son of my father’s friend visited San Francisco with his newly-wed wife during the holidays, and I entertained them. I was trying to explain what kind of work I do (or am doing in recent years), and instead of an awkward silence which I thought would ensue, he was unexpectedly turned on by my “explorations between art and science, culture and technology, nature and lifestyle”, a concept I had thought would be too esoteric, convoluted or impractical for anyone in China to care. “融合业态!” He declared, “It’s the ‘in’ thing now!” He went on to tell me how high tech parks are passé now, replaced by creativity and design parks, and cultural incubators; how a real estate or tourist project would get funding more easily, if it had a cultural theme. He urged me to collaborate with the association he was working for, affiliated with the Ministry of Culture.
Sensing my skepticism, he handed me a document a few days later, on red letterhead. It is the State Council 2014  Gazette, on promoting “the integration of cultural creativity and design services with the development of industries”.
I was blown away. The central government is recognizing that the culture industry has the desirable attributes of “high knowledge intensity, high value-add, low energy consumption, and low pollution”, as the country’s economy goes through much-needed transformation. It is encouraging the “deep integration” of culture industries with ‘real’ economy industries such as technology, manufacturing, real estate and retail, as new sources of growth, competitiveness, employment, consumption diversity and higher standard of living. It knows that without culture leading the way, there would be no “Created in China”.
A couple of trips to China in the ensuing months gave me the opportunity to investigate and see with my own eyes. Below I share with you several creative spaces I visited as part of this reconnaissance. It is not a conclusive report on whether the government’s policy is working – much more time and resources would be needed for that – but rather an observation of the physical (and in some cases, business and cultural) environments that creativity is being pursued, along with anecdotal stories. They are not necessarily born out of the Directive – some of these places predated the Gazette by a decade; and the people I spoke to at these places did not necessarily know anything about the policy; but in a uniquely characteristic Chinese way, the Visible Hand of the Government and the Invisible Hand of the Market are certainly at interplay, with the former sometimes directing the latter, while other times shrewdly taking clues and multiplying the latter.
« Read the rest of this entry »
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
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 »
The Big Picture, II – Designers of the Future, Poets for Your Bots, and Anti-disciplinarians: the Emerging World as Seen in New Job Descriptions
April 16, 2016 § Leave a comment
“We cannot foresee at this point which scenario is likely to emerge, and history suggests that the outcome is likely to be some combination of the two. However, I am convinced of one thing—that in the future, talent, more than capital, will represent the critical factor of production.”
– Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum
Well, capital still seems pretty darn critical from where I stand, but that’s beside the point for this installment of our Big Picture series. Continuing from “Part I, The Fourth Industrial Revolution” last week, this issue is a more concrete exploration of the future depicted by Dr. Schwab, through a particular lens – new talents and job skill demands emerging or anticipated at the leading edge of the tech industry.
April 4, 2016 § 3 Comments
By Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum, for Davos 2016
“We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. … « Read the rest of this entry »
April 4, 2016 § 4 Comments
Unlike most of my posts, this issue (or this series, in multiple issues) does not feature specific artworks (which, by the way, many of you have told me to be beautiful–thank you!). Instead, I will share with you news, events and readings I came across in the first quarter of 2016, which collectively form a “big picture” context, helping to demonstrate that Essinova’s exploration into the arts is not just about beauty, although that itself is a worthy cause.
It is a big picture of the next industrial revolution and the future that mankind is entering, in which art and culture will be of fundamental importance not only to the human race as a whole but also to private industry. Philosophically speaking, art (with feelings) might become one of our last bastions of human privilege as machines can replace us in pretty much everything else. On a more practical level, culture and humanities, alongside science and technology, will become part of the very fabric of tomorrow’s businesses, rather than an afterthought marketing flair. This is necessitated by the new demands of solution design, consumer experience and talent development. « Read the rest of this entry »