Dead Cat - the work of Matthew Gaffen


Change: Soft Power (or the power of art) and the Future

It's been quite some time since I've posted, and although I'm still working on projects nothing is coming to light at the moment that I am willing to share. I've also been so busy that I have been unable to keep tabs on the TED talks recently and thus have spent today catching up.

Change is the theme of this post, something we are going to have to deal with a lot of in the near future. This first talk is given by Mallika Sarabhai and deals with what you might term 'soft power' in a very direct way. I didn't include the talk on soft power here as I don't really want to touch too much on the economy in this blog. I think Mllika has the right idea, as she expresses toward the end of the talk. The arts play a very important role in culture, they affect the way we see the world, the way we act and what's important to us in our lives. I think that it's incredibly important that people realise exactly how much power art has to produce change in culture, not just within academia.

This second talk was given by Magnus Larsson, and concerns a technology that I would love to play with in a future project. The power to turn sand into stone over a very short period of time using biocalcification. The application here not only presents a possible way of halting our expanding deserts, but provides habitable living quarters for people and places to grow trees and plants. Apparently the transformation from sand to stone take about 24 hours. I really want to try making some sandstone now. If anyone who happens to read this knows anything more about the technology, or how to identify and get hold of bacillus pasteurii, please let me know.

This next one has a lot of relevance to my previous TED post in terms of how we eat and what we consume. Oil is quite obviously running out, and we are going to need to find a way of surviving without it. Instead of pitching some crazy technology that requires loads of government funding, Rob Hopkins talks about practical ways of confronting this challenge in a very personal but effective way.

Finally I'd like to post here Tom Wujec's talk on the 13th century astrolabe. I find this talk incredibly intriguing and would love to have a go at creating an astrolabe myself. The earliest known computer, I think it encourages a more tactile involvement with how we perceive time. It's incredibly nostalgic, and quite probably a little impractical. But I think that as Tom mentions, progress is just another word for change. For everything we gain, we lose something too. I believe it's important to find a balance.

I hope this has been an enlightening post. Check back soon for a little something more on music.

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