There is exactly one meal a year in which I actually look forward to having some boiled potatoes (with codfish and greens): Christmas dinner.

Have a Merry Good Time, everyone!

The Y2K Mix, as the name implies, was a digital mixtape I made for New Years’ Eve 2000. Heavy on IDM and electronica, I find it quite a time capsule for a feeling of technological optimism — a 1999 in high spirits despite fears that the Y2K bug would launch nuclear missiles & etc. — that contrasts heavily to our current state of techno-pessimism (or techno-realism), despite a general sense thare are no immediate existential threats posed by technology (fears of AI notwithstanding). 

Remember how in 1999 the Segway was going to utterly change our cities and way of life, while being a step towards Back to the Future-style hoverboards? And how the Segway turned out to be a ridiculous device used by senior tourists and mall security, ‘hoverboards’ are poorly manufactured electric skateboards, and for a car to be ‘eco’ or ‘green’ means it’s as untrustworthy as a piece of Windows ME-era warez?

Technology mirrors society, so pessimism toward tech is pessimism toward the forces that shape it and how it’s used. Perhaps the Segway would have been a great solution for personal transportation if it hadn’t be ridiculed by everyone invested in cars. Perhaps we could have had clean nuclear fusion energy if a couple of nuclear accidents hadn’t frozen nuclear power in its early technological stages — as if we all still travelled in 1930s aeroplanes because a few DC-2s crashed — while everyone seems very willing to forget oil and coal generate global warming and incredible amounts of misery and cancer and death as they go about their usual business. Perhaps this future could have been as awesome as the future of the 1990s, a nanotech utopia with Star Trek-like universal guaranteed income for all, as the fruits of automated labour were shared.

We need renewed technological optimism. I’ve been listening to the Y2K Mix again lately, struggling with my cheapo $20 headphones’ Bluetooth connection at the gym. Remembering how sixteen years ago I had first published it online as a 32kbps Real Audio stream.

Things that never cease to amaze: Demoni by Theodore Ushev, in which vynil records are turned into Zoopraxinoscope discs through the syncing of the camera shutter with the record player’s rotation.

Ushev is the author of the incredible Sleepwalker (trailer) I watched at this year’s Cinanima animation film festival (where Demoni had won an award a few years back): as if Oskar Fishinger’s classic films had art by Joan Miró, but in an effortlessly undated way. Nice.

Douglas Trumbull’s Entertainment Effects Group team filming a close-up of Sean Young’s eye for Blade Runner.

Despite being yet another much-unneeded sequel, now that it is confirmed that Blade Runner II is happening, I am hoping Denis Villeneuve will be able to pull it off. Sicario was one of the best films I’ve watched all year, but somehow I can’t see the director making that leap, and it’s worrying to see Ridley Scott announcing the opening scene of Blade Runner II will be something that was deleted from the original Blade Runner script — but on the other hand, I’d love to watch a film including some of the things that the original movie didn’t take from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, like mood control, the synthetic animals thing (including Deckard’s envy of his neighbour with the organic horse) or that scene where he is taken to a police station staffed by replicants.

So, while we wait to see if II will be any good, enjoy this awesome article full of neat tidbits about the original Blade Runner at Cinephilia and Beyond.

Cameron’s World may well be the ultimate collage of 1990s web psychedelia, made from assets found in old Geocities websites. The best way to experience it, though, is definitely in the Windows 93 web browser.

Every August, the Assembly demoparty reminds us the scene is still around, and perhaps reaching larger numbers of people than ever as one can just go and watch demanding demos such as this years’ winner, Monolith by ASD, as streaming YouTube videos captured from the authors’ very high-end rigs, rather than downloading and having a hard time running an executable on an underpowered four-year old laptop such as your humble narrator’s.

Still, there is something that is lost in that ‘video-ization’ of demos: the notion that what one is watching is not pre-rendered CG, but realtime code — mathematics manifesting as audiovisual aesthetics as one watches. So take also a look at the winner of the 1KB Intro competion, BLCK4777* by p01/ribbon: that is one kilobyte of code - that is, 1024 bytes or roughly a quarter of a page of purely unformatted text — making all that stuff happen in your browser. Just wow.

I’m spending some time playing with, erm, ImagePlay. Video processing is quite slow, even when compared to Processing, but still it is quite a good learning tool.