Skip navigation


warning: Creating default object from empty value in /var/www/vhosts/ on line 33.
Original author: 
(author unknown)

They keep things out or enclose them within. They're symbols of power, and a means of control. They're canvases for art, backdrops for street theater, and placards for political messages. They're just waiting for when nobody's looking to receive graffiti. Walls of all kinds demarcate our lives. -- Lane Turner (41 photos total).
Note: You can now follow @bigpicture on the social network, where you own your own data. If you'd like to try it out, we've also got some free invites for our readers.
Workers clean the curtain wall of the 40-story National Bank of Economic Social Development in Rio de Janeiro on December 12, 2012. (Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images)     

Your rating: None

We've posted before about researchers exploring slime molds as a kind of bio-computer capable of some amazing accomplishments in information processing. Recently, computer scientist Andrew Adamtzky of the University of the West of England in Bristol and his colleagues used a slime mold to devise optimal interstate highway systems for the United States, Britain, Mexico, Brazil, the Netherlands, and Canada (above). He will detail his latest slime systems in a forthcoming issue of the scientific journal Complex Systems, "devoted to the science, mathematics, and engineering of systems with simple components but complex overall behavior." For a teaser, check out Adamatzky's recent op-ed in the New York Times, titled "The Wisdom of Slime."


Your rating: None


TEDxBristol 2011 took place on Thursday 8th September 2011, at the MSHED Museum, in Bristol, South West England. Find more of our talks, the videos, the audio and the TEDxBristol experience, online at: More information about the other Music Performers at TEDxBristol 2011, can be found online at ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Developed by Bristol based company, nu desine, for almost one year, the AlphaSphere is a brand new electronic musical instrument. It changes the way that musicians interact with music technology, through a revolutionary touch interface, and a unique spherical design. More information online at: Join us for an exclusive performance of the AlphaSphere, by up-and-coming bristol-based artist, Whitepatchboy, who is currently recording his debut EP with the AlphaSphere. This performance is one of the first opportunities anyone in the world will have to see and hear the AlphaSphere in action! ABOUTTEDx: In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

More in

Your rating: None

Against Detroit’s “industrial exoskeleton,” Resident Advisor has a new documentary short film examining Detroit’s musical revival, an electronic cultural phenomenon that brought healing and new life to a city whose economic livelihood had imploded.

The film is beautifully shot, and wisely starts with Motown and its connections to the auto industry, not simply with an out-of-context look at electronics alone. From those roots come the rich musicianship Detroit offers, a level of musicianship perhaps not generally associated with electronica. The film logically turns to the electronic revolution – and some reminders of just how fresh and modern the tracks sound, even if the, erm, fashions haven’t dated as well. This cultural invention against economic collapse seems about the most fitting picture of America in general one could find – at once cautionary tale and promising parable.

The dead husks of architecture and civic scene prove a silent, empty backdrop. And there’s a tragic side – the week in which England’s police and youths clash to destructive effect, there’s an ongoing inability to reconcile the warehouse music scene with police seeking to shut down raves, a pervasive sense of the city as failed even as the rest of the world might imagine its culture as vibrant. (Yes, I’m certain some Detroit residents are tired of being portrayed as some sort of wrecked quasi-war zone. Let me say this, instead: every major metro area in the US, and many smaller ones, has an area ravaged by economic change, just as America in general has serious challenges facing its poor and unemployed. The most dramatic images aren’t simply emblems of Detroit, but of those crises everywhere.)

But most hopeful, perhaps, is seeing a new young generation embrace accessible computer music technologies, the optimistic tick-tock of an Ableton metronome and a kid’s hands all over a Maschine drum pad controller. The early fathers of Detroit techno were able to produce a musical revolution because machines for the first time became affordable; who knows what musical imaginings these kids are cooking up in hours spent after school, or what greater focus and discipline that can give to their other work. (I can speak for myself: without music to calm me down, to give myself a center, to act as emotional and spiritual outlet, it’s hard to imagine how I ever would have done anything else.)

Detroit from above: Sensor L7 ETM+ on NASA’a Landsat satellite peers at the Motor City from space in December 2001, courtesy the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

It’s wonderful documentary making, and a great editorial contribution on Resident Advisor’s part. Now the next question: can we find a way to make this kind of music vibrancy heal our cities and communities, at a time when economies are in freefall, Americans are out of work in absurd numbers, London is setting fire to warehouses of records, and a thousand other invisible crises worldwide threaten to pull neighborhoods apart? Detroit’s music to most might be some vague recollection of now-extinct Motown or music at parties; when music lovers start to tell a richer story, maybe that role for music will be more widely appreciated.

Some of the interviewees: Brendan Gillen (Ectomorph), RJ Watkins and Henry Tyler (The New Dance Show), Jon Dixon and DJ Skurge (Underground Resistance), Josh Glazer (Urb Magazine), Luke Hess and Brian Kage (Reference), and Mike Huckaby, among others. New sounds and new names are mixed in among the older sounds and veterans. (Kudos to the crew – John Fisher was DP; Patrick Nation and Daniel Higginson produced and directed.)

Oh, and Derek Mahone, age 11. Remember that name.

Real Scenes: Detroit [Resident Advisor]

From the other side of the pond, and poignant given ongoing unrest in the UK, here’s Real Scenes: Bristol. It makes a worthy companion to the Detroit piece. As RA puts it:

The eyes of the world have turned to the UK in recent years and have found some of the most exciting, genre-defying young artists to emerge from electronic music. But while London’s scene can be fractious and hard to pin down, there seems to be something in the air in Bristol that unites its participants. Whether they’re creating dubstep, house, techno or something else entirely, the cross-pollination in Bristol is unique. In RA’s first official entry into video, we journey to Bristol to explore how the city has flourished in recent years, discovering why this small metropolis is one of the most influential electronic music outposts in the world today.

(Apologies to Bristol; I should probably wax just as poetic about your town, but happened to miss the release of the earlier film when it came out!)

Real Scenes: Bristol [Resident Advisor, July 5]


Your rating: None