Haunted hands and foraging swarmbots

Paul Raven @ 24-06-2011

Couple of freaky videos to set you up for the weekend, both courtesy of New Scientist. First up, PossessedHand is a device whose inventors hope will help musicians (and, one assumes, other folk who do fiddly stuff with their hands) get their muscle memory up to scratch more quickly:

And secondly, here’s a gang of super-simple “Kilobots” that display cooperative swarm behaviour as the result of very simple programming:

Apologies for the last few days being a bit content-thin; lots of balls in the air at the moment, and I’m doing my best not to drop any. Have a good weekend! 🙂

 


The sheen will fade: the half-life of post-Empire celebrity

Paul Raven @ 04-04-2011

As something of an implicit footnote to Brett Easton Ellis’s diagnosis of post-Empire celebrity, it’s worth remembering that if you’ve relied on the [whatever]sphere to raise you up, then it retains the power to swiftly lower you back down again, and that your fame may not translate from your native medium to all the others as you rush to monetize your moment in the sun. (Your best bet seems to be to attempt to recreate the medium in which you were successful within the confines of your new beachhead.)

Bob Lefsetz has a typically grandstanding analysis of Sheen’s attempts to jump the gap and become a brand/meme independent of the hierarchical Hollywood-and-TV world:

Charlie Sheen made the mistake of thinking the audience was on his side.  This is what happens when you descend from your showbiz perch, step out of the television and enter the realm of the people, you find out we’re all equal.  And that if you don’t give a great presentation, we tear you down from your peak.

[…]

Let this be a lesson.  If you’re one of the privileged, don’t intersect with the public.  Fly private, live behind a gate or a guard, avoid publicity.  Because the throng is there, waiting to pounce on every misstep.

[…]

Don’t equate the initial demand for Charlie Sheen’s live tour with longevity.  It was a stunt, no different from Bobby Riggs playing tennis with Billie Jean King.  To do it again is just creepy.  You made your money, go home.

But someone at Live Nation was only thinking about money.  Connecting fame with theatres.  There was no consideration of show, of value for money, only gross receipts.  That’s how low we’ve sunk.

But the public is not having any of it.

To a certain extent (and to take a very very callous view of things), Sheen was unlucky enough to be upstaged by a media event of quite literally earth-shaking proportions. But even had the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear-crisis combo not rolled in from the outfield and stolen the top slot on the global meme-stack, he’d not have lasted long. A one-trick pony should never try to top the bill.


Posthumous cover-versions by famous musicians?

Paul Raven @ 05-03-2010

Dovetailing neatly with that piece about the Emily Howell program that composes pieces in the style of famous composers as well as its own, here’s another software company who are trying to develop software that will analyse a musician’s playing style from their recorded putput, and then reproduce other songs in the style in which they might have played them.

Or, to put it another way: they want to let you hear how Jimi Hendrix would have jammed out any national anthem you care to name. They’re not quite there yet, though:

As things stand now, Zenph’s technology looks at actual old recordings to find out how a performer played a certain song, and is not capable of figuring out how a musician would play a new part. “We hope — but we can’t demonstrate today — that after we’ve done several re-performances of a given artist, we will understand enough about that individual’s musical style to be able to suggest how that style might manifest itself in the performance of a work that the artist never actually performed,” said Frey, clarifying that today Zenph’s software only reproduces performances, it doesn’t create them.

That faint hint of white noise you can hear? That’s the sound of thousands of copyright lawyers rubbing their hands together in anticipation.