Friday, December 20, 2013

Steel Drivin' Man

I am done with the semester here at the college. Now that we are on winter break, it is time for Johnny to disappear into sculpture land. I got a lot of shit to do. But before I go...

I've got a glass casting in the kiln. I've got shadow boxes to make for the ongoing mechanicule series. And I'm starting on the figurative logical extension of the mechnicule series, which ties back to the other figurative works, and so I'm world-building as well. I'm hesitant to show the waxes as the whole thing isn't done, and waxes are difficult to photograph, but here's a preview:

The narrative, here, going back to the mechanicules, is that those milliscopic little guys were ubiquitous logistical support for even larger robots (actually the REAL mechanicules are turning out to be proteins, and if I could start over I'd switch to biology because clearly molecular life manipulation is the ultimate in the toy department). The narrative is, once robots and machine reach the complexity of us biological fragiles, it's stands to reason they get even more temperamental than machines are now. So, in my scenario, you got a lazy old cow of a robot being tended to by a human.

And the human is kind of dressed up in a combination protective armor / upholstered somatic mimicry suit. The humans wear soothing tentacle gloves, a haptic interface to not freak out the robot. Think of the human as kind of like a beekeeper and you get the idea. There will be two humans tending to this mechanical bee/cow. One is a pusher and the other the puller. This is the pusher:

He will be cast solid. His hat will be cast separately and welded on later (thus the hole in the hat). Here's the pusher's pointy head the hat will be welded to:

The lazy cow will be cast in three pieces and welded together.  I'm working on the puller, or will be when I'm done typing this.

SUNDAY UPDATE: I'm done with the puller. Here is the completed scenario:
"The Stockmen"

The puller will be tugging on the lazy bee/cow's tentacle, and this tentacle and figure cast together and will be welded onto lazy bee/cow after casting:

The plan is to do three action dioramas using the figures and big robots. You'll see in January when I'm done. Other things.

Charlie Stross wants #bitcoin to die in a fire. Can't really blame him for the sentiment. The one thing I would note is that bitcoin has been latched onto by libertarians. If you read the original paper, bitcoin was supposed to be about a peer-to-peer online currency that didn't require the reputation of an issuing institution to justify trust in it. Yeah, well, that went out the window with the bitcoin wallet, didn't it?

Here's the deal as I see it. It's a commodity. It's going through a series of pumps and dumps. It's flawed. Better designs will appear. The point that is lost on libertarians is bitcoin is not anonymous, and does require an institution to justify trust in it. Also, what libertarians don't get is that free markets are neither efficient nor rational. But, free markets are more robust to corruption and deceit than, say, central planning. In fact, deceit, or as some libertarians like to call it, force and fraud, is the salient feature of capitalism. Screw your neighbor, and caveat emptor are the fundamental credos of business. So, bitcoin as a commodity, or some future version of it, will have a place in the market, seeing as more bad guys than good hold wallets. But it would be nice if a fire broke out just to rattle some ideological cages. Or at least to see what the spam- and malware bots, who now constitute the majority of Internet denizens, do with it. Onward!

A colleague of mine shocked me with the statement that she doesn't want the Dream Act to go forward, because the immigrant workers aren't legal and deserve no protection under the law. Rather than point out that regular Americans constantly flaunt the law, i noted that I would prefer these migrant workers over most Americans. After all, they displayed commendable risk-taking behaviors. They have giant, giant balls compared to, say, hedge fund billionaires, who have never in their life risked life and livelihood with such a gamble. I want these courageous kinds of people in America. And finally...

If I don't get around to posting before the New Year, I'd just to like to thank everyone who reads my shit, and comments. I enjoy the comments and more often than not they provide a great source for more essays. So I thank all of you for that. And on that note...

UBJ mentioned John Henry in relation to robots and art and humans and technology and displacement and obsolescence and the P versus NP problem. Or at least those are my associations with this whole subject that started with 3D printing. You may have different themes and issues to explore.

I would point out that Art is an NP-hard problem, I think, and so less-than-optimal robot approximations exist to solve it, but, not surprisingly, that's what humans do too. Actually, that's what the universe does as well, as far as I can tell.

But I digress.

John Henry was put in a contest with a steam powered machine competitor.

John Henry won.

And then he died. Well, he still won, right? Man versus machine. But no, put in context, man versus other men with machines. Far as I know, no machine yet has a brain that can utilize other machines, and even when that machine with a brain shows up, it will still have its origin point with man.

Point being, as I've said before: people still make the best robots.

Oh, right, and... Santa! The REAL Santa.
That's not Santa! That's Santa!


  1. Fucking WONDERFUL sculpture. I would so love to see your stuff in person. I am in awe of your chops. I am worse than terrible at doing anything 3D. I once tried to sculpt a dragon, out of that kind of clay that never hardens, that green stuff I used to make worms out of when I was a kid, to use as reference for a painting I had to do for a role playing game. I tried. I failed. It looked like a slightly dragon-ish worm.

    I also agree with you, a million times over, about immigrants. I am increasingly depressed and disgusted by my fellow countrymen. The "legal" ones.

    1. Thanks! Again, thanks, and I never tire of the praise, so I won't be deceitful and say something like 'Oh stop, you are embarrassing me". If it makes you feel better, I can't draw or paint worth spit, or at least not recently.

  2. Actually, it DOES make me feel better. A tiny, tiny bit.