Archive April 2012

DeSForM — The most inspiring thing I’ve seen in years aimee whitcroft Apr 24


I am a very lucky girl.  Last week, I managed to drag myself from my Lair of Sickness to attend the now-annual 2012 DeSForM (Design Semantics of Form and Meaning) conference.

Phillip Beesley Holozoic Series: Vesica (premiering worldwide at the City Gallery)

Phillip Beesley Holozoic Series: Vesica (premiering worldwide at the City Gallery)

And what a treat it was, if nothing else remining me of how much I’d like to retrain in this space some day(a dream of mine since attending the R.C.A. Design Interactions graduate show in a London park in 2009).

The conference, held in Wellington this year*, took place over three days.  Days one and two were the academic portion, in which academics and artists presented their papers.

Day 3, to which I got to go (thanks to Mohawk Media!) was the ‘professional programme and panel discussions’ part of the conference, in which a number of speakers gave 20 minute talks, as well as discussions and panel chats, about their experience in industry. The day was split into six parts: Interaction Design, Transmedia, Technology and Entertainment, Immersive Environments, Culture Jamming, Fabricating Futures and a number of panel discussions which included not only the ‘professionals’ in industry, but also the artists and academics, including Beesley himself**!

There was far too much for me to adequately share in a blog post, so I’ll o this instead:

I made a Storify story of Day 3.  You can also see Storify stories for Day 1 and Day 2, courtesy of the wonderful @vickytnz (behind whom I was sitting, and who made me realise how badly I need a much faster computer for this sort of thing).  And yep, she also made Storify stories for Neil Leach, Day 3 and the Day 3 panels, too!

Keep your ears peeled for an upcoming g33kshow broadcast about DeSForM, and there will also be videos of the panel discussions posted in the near future, too.  So watch this space!

Things to go and see

The City Gallery is hosting a related exhibition for the next 3 weeks, showcasing the work (amongst others) of experimental architect Phillip Beesley.  In fact, Beesley is exhibiting the premier of his Holozoic Series: Vesica. You NEED to see/experience/touch/interact with/be entranced by this

The foyer of VUW Design School on Vivian Street is bursting with a number of exhibits exploring the themes talked about at DeSForM. From interactive computer programs like Threaded, to 3d, lit printouts of brain waves, from steampunk tamagotchies to explorations of the space between nature and artificial construction, this is also something to go and have a look at over the next 6 weeks.


* And Wuxi, China in 2013!

** Who is wonderful to hear speak.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he is synaesthetic, given the way he clearly tastes and savours his words as he uses them :)

nerd nite 10: Of the Strange, the Alien and the Device aimee whitcroft Apr 20


Well, I know have a full linup and details for nerd nite Wellington #10, which is happening this Monday, 23rd April, from 6pm at Hotel Bristol.

nerd nite 10 poster

Click to enlarge, and feel free to print out and spread around (it's made at 72dpi, A2 dimensions)

Details are already available on the nerd nite Wellington website, Facebook page etc, but I figured I’d share them here, too :)

I’ve changed the format a little and will only be having three speakers from now on, but this one promises to be a good’un, covering quantum mechanics (from a Sciblogger!), Mars (from a Sciblogger!), and the journey from ‘respectable engineer to broke artist’.

And we’ve also got previous speaker Andrew Stephen, who will be bringing along his ZX Spectrum, since Monday is its 30th birthday, and giving a brief commemorative speech.  Which may include games he/other nerd nite attendees wrote for it back in the day :)

And thanks to Brett Wilkins for this edition’s new and improved title!


What is Existence? The following is a scientific answer.
Roger Hanson

The early 20th century view of existence as described by Newton and Einstein, is merely the front-stage show in this Universe. Underpinning this is a more fundamental physics, quantum physics, operating back-stage, where the seemingly impossible becomes possible. Without quantum physics, living organisms, for example, could not exist. Dr Hanson will raise the curtain and reveal what is going on.

Dr Roger Hanson has a PhD from Cambridge University. In 2011 he delivered a presentation on The Evolution of Universes to the Flamsteed Society at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich London. He is author of a book, The Cosmic Engine and writes a weekly science article for The Taranaki Daily News and The Marlborough Express. He is currently writing a less academic version of the The Cosmic Engine for the non-scientist.


Kiwimars: NZ’s space race
Elf Eldridge

Welcome to NZ’s burgeoning space industry! Well maybe ‘burgeoning’ is too strong a word…perhaps ‘non-existant’ is a better phrase! Nonetheless, during the last 2 weeks of April, 6 Kiwis are winging their way to Mars. For two weeks, these intrepid Kiwi-naughts will east, sleep, exercise and communicate as if they were marooned on the red planet, whilst inhabiting the most Martian place on Earth: the deserts of Utah. Kiwimars is the latest in a series of NASA experiments to test the habitability of the Martian surface. Mission controller Elf Eldridge will tell how and why the mission came into being, relay messages from the crew and provide a brief insight into Kiwimars living conditions. Elf will look at the science behind the experiments they’re doing, the implications for the the future colonization of Mars, the possibility of a New Zealand with an active part in space research, and wil digress breifly into talking about Ice caves under Austria.

Elf is a Physics PhD student with the MacDiarmid Institute with a keen interest in all things sciency. He’s been interested in space ever since wanting to sell ice-creams on the moon as a child, and now works at Carter Observatory, which is as close as he can currently get.

See you on Mars….


Zen and the Art of DIY Electronics
Richard Dennis Bartlett (aka Rich Decibels)

Rich tells the story of how his love of weird noises took him from respectable engineer to broke artist, and shares some of the lessons he learnt along the way.

Rich Decibels is an electronics nerd with a passion for open source, DIY, and teaching people how they can make anything.


As always: it’s a free event, so bring everyone you know who likes to know more! Just bring money for beer and food :) Talks start at 6:30pm, but seating fills fast, so the closer to 6pm you get there, the better your seats.

See you there!

So you think science is hogwash? aimee whitcroft Apr 05


I think this piece almost perfectly sums up why I struggle not to become Quiet and Sarcastic* with anti-science people.

Click to enlarge (a bit).


You stare into your high definition plasma screen monitor, type into your cordless keyboard then hit enter which causes your computer to convert all that visual data into a binary signal that’s processed by millions of precise circuits, which is then converted to a frequency modulated singal to reach you wireless router where it is then converted to light waves and sent along a large fibre optics cable to be processed by a super computer on a mass server which then sends that bit you typed to a satellite orbiting the earth that was put there through the greatest feats of engineering and science, all so it could go back through a similiar pathway to make it all the way here to my computer monitor 15,000 miles away from you just so you could say

“Science is all a bunch of man made hogwash.”



Although I must admit, I thought that was going to end with ‘so you could post amusingly-titled photos of your cats.’**


* Or, depending on levels of contact with humanity, beer, caffeine, blood sugar and so on, Table thumping and Sweary.

** Not that I think that’s a bad thing in any way :)  After all, lolcats have given us so much, including the lolcat bible.



nerd nite Wellington 10, featuring Mars, quantum mechanics and Mad Makers aimee whitcroft Apr 03

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This month’s edition of nerd nite Wellington looks to be a cracker. Or, possibly, a corker.


  To celebrate the 10th edition,we’ve got people talking about making mad gadgets (and noises with them), KiwiMars and quantum mechanics. April 23rd, from 6pm.

And two of them are Scibloggers!  Elf Eldridge and Roger Hanson, to be precise.

More details soon – keep an eye on this blog, or the nerd nite twitter stream, Facebook page (And Facebook event) and/or website.

For those not familiar with the nerd nite format – it’s a series of talks (3-4* speakers per event) wherein people stand up and speak for about 20 minutes on a subject about which they’re geeky (read: passionate). It started in the States years and years ago (and at least one of the chapters is now sponsored by The Big Bang Theory), and has since spread into Europe, too. I’ve been running the only Southern Hemisphere chapter – in Wellington – for, well, 10 nerd nites Wellington now. Yikes :)

I hold them approximately every two months, and you’re all welcome!  They’re free, and are always held at bars so that people can talk, eat, and enjoy themselves.  Nothing of the stuffy old lecturehall here!

Talks so far have ranged from topics such as cryptic crosswords and scrabble, to geoengineering and the use of video editing as a tool for propoganda.  And a bunch in between! Details of all of the talks, and links to the videos we were able to take of many of them, are once again on the nerd nite Wellington website.

If you would like to speak, would like to _hear_ a particular person speak, or have a subject for which you’d like me to find a speaker, give me a shout.

And if you like writing? Well, we’ve got some plans in that space too (for the worldwide nerd nite group) so again, give me a shout!


Currently, I’m calling it the ‘we’re still thinking of a name for it’ edition, but I’ve also received the awesome suggestion of ‘Of the Strange, the Alien and the Device’.

Think you can do better?


* I’ve made the decision from now on only to have three speakers, having generally had four in the past.


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