Saturday, October 29, 2005

New Digital Brush Makes the World Your Palette - Yahoo! News

New Digital Brush Makes the World Your Palette - Yahoo! News

New Digital Brush Makes the World Your Palette

Ker Than
LiveScience Staff Writer Fri Oct 28, 4:00 PM ET

Painters used to look to nature for their colors, extracting blues and red from plants and clay. A new digital paintbrush takes the practice to an amazing new level.

Artists can now sample colors, textures and even movements directly from the environment for use in a composition. The eyes in one painting created with the device actually blink at the viewer. They’re digitzed human eyes, from a real human.

The eyes were captured using a unique the new device called the I/O brush. Color, patterns and animated pictures are transferred to a digital screen where they become part of a work of art that can’t be categorized as part of any current genre.

Except for an electric cord snaking out from one end, the device looks like a normal wooden paintbrush with bristles at one end. Its inventors envision adding the ability to paint with sounds and smells in the future.

Started as a toy

Embedded inside the I/O brush is a small video camera surrounded by white LEDs (light emitting diodes) and pressure sensors. The video camera captures any color, texture or movement placed in front of it and sends it to a computer, where the image is saved as part of a digital palette.

The device was developed by a team of researchers at the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The team included Hiroshi Ishii, a media arts and sciences professor, and his graduate students, Kimiko Ryokai and Stefan Marti.

When the group first began developing the brush in 2003, the goal was to use visual arts projects to encourage creative learning in children. The kindergarten students that served as test subjects loved the new toy. When left alone with the device, the children would spend up to a third of their time just looking around for items they could turn into ink.

Among the items chosen were beads, stuffed animals, toys, picture books, leaves and feathers. They even digitized each other, sampling hair, belly buttons, wiggling tongues and of course, blinking eyes.

History repeated

The I/O brush also has a history feature that makes it interactive in another way as well. The computer saves the order in which an artist saves inks. These can be recalled as pop-up movies on the digital screen simply by touching different parts of the painting.

“With this feature, the portrait can take both the artists and audience back through the journey and reveal the stories behind the special palette of colors,” the researchers wrote in a science article about their invention.

This history feature is also intended to remind artists and viewers about the context in which the work of art was created.

The portrait a child creates with the I/O brush in the classroom, for example, will differ from one they create at home because the palette of colors and textures available in those two environments will be different.

Synesthetic art

Future versions of the I/O brush might incorporate sounds and smells, the researchers say. This would allow artists to create synesthetic paintings, where one kind of sensory stimulation is combined with another, sometimes in unexpected ways.

“What would it mean to mix our favorite music with the pattern of our favorite shirt?” the researchers wonder.

Another variation would be to analyze things like the tempo and loudness of sounds and music and then use that information to create visual patterns. Aggressive, fast music, for example, could create dark lines with jagged patterns while slow new age music could result in pastel colors with smooth patterns and high transparency.

Smells could be incorporated too. Users could try to “pick up” the soft smell of a rose, translating its fragrance into a visual pattern that might be completely different from, say, an onion.

First snowflakes of the season

Here in Boston. There's just a few and it's not cold enough for them to stick.

10/29/2005 10:48 AM

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Intelligent Design Dissed and Dismissed! Again!

This time it's the president of Cornell.

AP New York
Cornell president condemns intelligent design

Associated Press Writer

October 21, 2005, 12:03 PM EDT

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Cornell University Interim President Hunter Rawlings III on Friday condemned the teaching of intelligent design as science, calling it "a religious belief masquerading as a secular idea."

"Intelligent design is not valid science," Rawlings told nearly 700 trustees, faculty and other school officials attending Cornell's annual board meeting.

"It has no ability to develop new knowledge through hypothesis testing, modification of the original theory based on experimental results and renewed testing through more refined experiments that yield still more refinements and insights," Rawlings said.


I haven't worked out all the details yet but I'm working on a so called Piss Poor Design theory. The basic idea is that humans are so complex, have so many moving parts and are so dependant on the correct workings of a myriad of chemical and biological functions, not to mention the extremely specific food and environmental requirments, that only a lunatic or a raw beginner could have come up with such a piss poor design. Where's the simplicity? Where's the durability? Anyway, I'm going to work on it when I have time and would like to see it in the schools next year.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Barbarians vs. Self Abusers

Saturday at the Worcester Centrum!!!!!!!! Well it sounds like it might be some kind of whacked out wrestling event or a battle of the metal bands but it's really shorthand for the participants in 'therapeutic' processes that may soon be illegal. And events like these are not public and not even slightly entertaining. The actual venues are treatment facilities run by private contractors working for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Hmm? Compassionate Conservatives - Compassionate Contractors. Well there's something to ponder.

Anyway, here's the rundown in an e-mail from John Thomas, (how positively Victorian), Deputy Director of the Arc of Massachusetts.

"A bill has been filed before the Massachusetts Legislature for the 2005-2006 Session, that would ban painful aversive therapies, including electric shock, that are still being used by a small number of agencies contracted with the state to provide services to people with disabilities. In recent years, effective alternatives have been developed and used to address the type of self-abusive behavior that aversive therapy is primarily used as a treatment for.

Aversive therapy advocates tout its use as a “last resort” for people for whom there are no alternatives methods of treatment. This view has been universally condemned by mainstream disability advocacy, civil liberty and legal rights groups who believe the treatment to be a barbaric form of behavior control. In fact, the ethics of aversives would likely generate public outcry if administered to animals, yet aversives remain legal when used upon human beings in Massachusetts.

The following groups have condemned the use of aversive therapy and support legislation to outlaw it:

American Civil Liberties Union of Mass.
Center for Public Representation
Federation for Children with Special Needs
Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation
Coalition for the Legal Rights of People With Disabilities
Mass. Developmental Disabilities Council
National Autism Committee
Central Mass. Families Organizing for Change
Autism Alliance of MetroWest
Disability Policy Consortium
Disability Law Center
Community Resources For People with Autism
Mass. Families Organizing for Change
Mass. Office on Disability
The Arc of Massachusetts
TASH New England
Mass. Advocates Standing Strong
Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts
Mass. Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee

To see a letter of support signed by these organizations that you may print and give to your legislator, Click Here (requires Adobe Reader - warning, this is a large file) or:

To automatically email your state senator and state representative, asking them to support the legislation, click here to use the Arc Action Center. or:

For more information, contact any of the organizations listed above, or: Polyxane S. Cobb, CLRD,"
John Thomas
Deputy Director
The Arc of Massachusetts PH 781-891-6270 ext. 104
217 South Street FX 781-891-6271
Waltham, MA 02453

The Arc of Massachusetts’ (formerly the Massachusetts Association for Retarded Citizens) mission is to enhance the lives of individuals with cognitive and developmental disabilities and their families. We accomplish this through advocacy of supports and services based in the community.

Please support our advocacy!

Thursday, October 13, 2005


New toy! unblokt is a collaborative writing project. They give you two sentences and you get to sandwich one of your own in between. Click the button and you get two fresh ones. Cool!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Townhead Gallery: Paula Solloway - Tups up Mastiles Lane

From Townhead Gallery via the five minute artcast which is a podcast available at the blog site. Worth a listen.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Anonymous comment lacks credibility

When reading Dionne’s piece, see previous item, I got the impression that he thought Durbin got his head taken off for all the right reasons. But that wasn’t the point of his article it was just the beginning of his argument. The point was that just as it’s improper to question a prospective appointee about their religious beliefs it is also improper to promote a candidate based on their religious beliefs. Why am I writing this? I got this ‘anonymous’ comment today.

“Non-voting supporters (or detractors) of President Bush may use any evaluative criteria that they like, including religion, in judging the fitness of a Supreme Court nominee. Senator Durbin is expressly prohibited from applying a religious test by Article VI of the United States Constitution. That Mr. Dionne ignores this fact speaks volumes of the casual disregard that he and his ilk have for the text of our nation's charter.”
It seems to me Mr. Dionne was perfectly well aware of Senator Durbin’s limits and was not ignoring them at all. The ‘anonymous’ commenter not only chose to ignore this and take the initial argument out of context but then went on to make an unfounded generalization and a sweeping attack not only on Mr. Dionne but also apparently on like minded individuals and the supposed disregard they all have ‘for the text of our nations charter’. Given the nature of the ‘anonymous’ commenter and the facility with which they ignored the text, took out of context, generalized and attacked I have to wonder what casual or even earnest disregard they may have for other texts, including that of our nation’s charter when the ideas expressed don’t agree with their own.

Faith-Based Hypocrisy

From E.J. Dionne Jr. of the Washington Post, a piece on contradictory strategies by the White House.

>>Shortly after Bush named John Roberts to the Supreme Court, a few Democrats, including Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), suggested that the nominee might reasonably be questioned about the impact of his religious faith on his decisions as a justice.

Durbin had his head taken off. "We have no religious tests for public office in this country," thundered Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), insisting that any inquiry about a potential judge's religious views was "offensive." Fidelis, a conservative Catholic group, declared that "Roberts' religious faith and how he lives that faith as an individual has no bearing and no place in the confirmation process."<<