243 results for “Back to the Tribe”

How AI is reshaping electronic music

Linda Valenta
September 12th 2019

The idea that AI can compose electronic music may sound a little off to people. It raises essential questions about creativity as a product exclusive to humans: can an AI be creative? Can it be musical? Can it compete with human-made melodies? Does it need to?

More and more, AI has set foot in the realm of creative industries. From an AI writing the next GoT book to IBM’s Watson creating a trailer for a non-exisent sci-fi thriller. And that’s …

The New Technology in Agriculture: Trees

Jack Caulfield
January 15th 2018
New technologies are changing the landscape, but the latest trend reshaping rural environments and agriculture is agroforestry: the art of planting trees.

Next Nature Habitat VR Wins Sweden VR Award

NextNature.net
September 13th 2017
Our Next Nature Habitat VR experience has won the Sweden International Virtual Reality Award in the category Best 360 Video!

Supermarkets Are Our New Savannah, Especially During Natural Disasters

Megan Ray Nichols
September 11th 2017
Before a natural disaster hordes of people crowd in supermarkets and fight over the last supplies. It mirrors the savannah with cliques and groups trying to get the available food, water or shelter.

Greetings from the Ciptagelar Village

NextNature.net
August 16th 2017
A series of photographs from the Ciptagelar village in West Java, Indonesia.

Fellow Day 2017: Next Habitat

Ruben Baart
July 4th 2017
Last week, our NNN fellows gathered to discuss the Next Habitat; how will we work in the future? And how does this affect our personal lives?

Interview: Lining Yao, Interaction Designer and Maker of Novel Materials

Alessia Andreotti
June 29th 2017
We recently interviewed Lining Yao, Chinese interaction designer who uses organic materials as a technology that brings us back to nature.

Smell of Data Episode 4: Training the Instinct

NextNature.net
June 22nd 2017
In the fourth episode of the Smell of Data series we come to understand how instinct plays a crucial role to our safety.

Smell of Data Episode 3: Warning Mechanism

NextNature.net
June 12th 2017
The third episode of Smell of Data documentary, exclusively featured on nextnature.net, follows the investigation for a more instinctive Internet.

Smell of Data Episode 1: Digital Jungle

NextNature.net
May 31st 2017
Introducing part one of the Smell of Data documentary series: Digital Jungle.
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The idea that AI can compose electronic music may sound a little off to people. It raises essential questions about creativity as a product exclusive to humans: can an AI be creative? Can it be musical? Can it compete with human-made melodies? Does it need to?

More and more, AI has set foot in the realm of creative industries. From an AI writing the next GoT book to IBM’s Watson creating a trailer for a non-exisent sci-fi thriller. And that’s not where it ends: the music industry also got involved when that same Watson was used by award winning producers to create country rap, not to mention a Eurovision song created with machine learning.

Electronic music, too, is affected by the algorithmic technologies that revolutionize the way humans relate to the arts. As a discipline that has technology at its very core, electronic music is bound to cross paths with the ways of AI. From DJing to producing and from contriving DJ names to directing music videos, algorithmic agency is growing stronger each day.

The subsequent question is how humans pertain to these technologies and how the arts and AI can be treated as a symbiosis, rather than a dystopian binary. Put differently, how can we embrace AI as an instrument we can work together with, rather than an autonomous entity overruling human creativity?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MKAf6YX_7M

Music has always been technological

There has always been a link between music and technology, as essentially it revolves around counting and measuring the rhythm, as much as it relies on instruments.

Clapping their hands, our early ancestors used their body as an instrument to create rhythmic music. As our predecessors found out that they could smack sticks or stones to enhance the beat without hurting their hands, drums were invented.

Fast-forward to the 20th century, elaborate drum kits emerged at the intersection of African-American brass bands and western instruments. The technology of the bass paddle made it possible to use both hands and feet to incite sound, hence evolving the drum kit as we know it now.

The instrument was further technologized when companies like Korg and Roland started producing drum machines on a massive scale. The genres that emerged from these instruments diverged, but essentially, both the drum kit and drum machine serve as a technology to produce the rhythms and sounds that we know as music.

Are algorithms are the next DJs?

In the same line, DJing has undergone changes when the vinyl decks were complemented by USB-driven CDJs. Though the technologies changed, the art of DJing remains present – just in different ways.

In this day and age, AI is the upcoming technology broadening the horizon of (electronic) music. On a day-to-day basis, algorithms are already silently ruling our music taste through auto-playlists like the ones developed by YouTube, Spotify and Apple Genius. In a way, algorithms are already our next DJs.

But not only are these algorithms able to curate music to our likenings; they are also able to flawlessly mix our favorite tracks together. Recently, a Spotify playlist was born that tests an automixing feature with the help of AI. The Drum And Bass Fix playlist seamlessly beatmatches two tracks when shuffle is switched on.

Not into drum and bass? Then try curating your own beat-matched set or mashup by using Rave DJ. This online application allows you to upload a YouTube or Spotify playlist with the use of algorithms. It then creates a smooth mix of even the most obscure track combinations.

Naturally, tech giant Google also engaged with algorithmic advances within the electronic music industry by developing an AI synth named NSynth. This open source synthesizer uses Google’s network to reproduce the qualities of sounds and instruments, which feeds its algorithms. Though based on neural networks, it actually comes as a hardware product with a touchscreen pad.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsZc4Q_eDk4

Will AI outmix humanity?

These tools may seem futuristic, but there are plenty of artists already utilizing AI to produce music. At this year’s Transmediale, UK DJ and producer Actress even granted his AI offspring complete artistic agency by giving it a stage name: Young Paint. Together, they enacted a live audiovisual performance that was mostly based on real-time improvisation, but they also captured some collaborative ventures on a mini-album via his new label Werk__Ltd.

According to electronic musician Olle Holmberg, it is just a matter of time before we will be following AI DJ’s and producers on social media, after attending our favorite algorithmically driven gigs – which is basically already happening with the advent of virtual influencers.

Based on the semantic traits that can be found in Hardwax’s database of DJ names, Holmberg recently published a list of DJ names generated by an AI. Though a DJ name might seem trivial, it does show that AI is capable of mimicking and further developing our club experience based on our current ideas of what clubbing should be like.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_4UqpUmMkg

Team human

There is an uncanny objection to these kind of technological advances, assuming they would violate our authentic ‘humanness’, when in fact it is in our very human nature to be technological. Speaking, writing, reading counting, singing – these are all cultural technologies; so are DJing and producing.

The cycle that drove us from drum kits to drum machines is the same evolutionary force driving humans to interact with AI in creating new musical works of art. Within this framework, AI basically is our next nature’s cultural technology.

Scholar and electronic music composer Holly Herndon, who built an AI recording system to help with her latest album, addresses the pervasive narrative in which technology is dehumanizing and instead proposes to ‘run towards’ technology, but on her own human terms.

This brings us to the crucial debate revolving around AI: we often forget how algorithms are technologies developed by humans. If algorithms become dehumanizing vehicles, they can only be so because the human system made them that way. 

[post_title] => How AI is reshaping electronic music [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => ai-reshaping-electronic-music [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-09-12 15:44:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-09-12 14:44:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=119866 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 79990 [post_author] => 1425 [post_date] => 2018-01-15 10:29:48 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-01-15 09:29:48 [post_content] => A lot of exciting new technologies are changing how we view agriculture: farming in silicodrone farmers, self-driving tractors. But not every innovation is quite so flashy and futuristic. The latest trend reshaping rural environments is pretty down to Earth: agroforestry, the art of planting trees.

Protecting the soil

A big problem faced by farmers across the world is wind erosion of the topsoil. This soft layer of soil, into which crops are planted, is vulnerable to being carried away by high winds. When this happens, it's obviously disadvantageous for the crops.But it's a problem farmers usually have to just live with. Lynn Briggs and her husband own a farm in Cambridgeshire, in the UK. "Most people round here think it's pretty normal for the earth to just blow away" says Lynn. "They seem to think it's what happens and you just have to live with it".The Briggs are part of a growing movement of farmers trying to bring agroforestry to the English countryside. The practice, which involves planting lines of trees at various points in a crop field to protect and enrich the soil, sees little use in England, and has no official backing from policymakers - yet.Aside from this lack of government support, farmers also tend to worry about the trees' effect on the crops. A common fear is that they will cast shadows over the crops, depriving them of light. This is less of a concern in the warmer climates where agroforestry is already in use, but English farmers have to work hard to maximize the sunlight they're receiving. Of course, the problem is easy enough to sidestep by planting the lines of trees from north to south, not east to west.Another concern is that the trees' roots will compete with those of the crops for valuable resources. But studies have shown that tree roots actually pull their energy from much deeper in the ground, meaning there's little overlap.

Permaculture?

In fact, agroforestry looks like a pretty good technique for English farmers, just as it has already proven to be for many others. Depending on the trees planted, the farmer also has access to new resources - fruit, timber - which can supplement their income while other crops are growing, or even be used directly to generate energy for the farm.And the trees have all sorts of ecological benefits not offered by a regular "monoculture" farm. Aside from protecting the soil, these rows of trees can also improve biodiversity, capture carbon dioxide and conserve water.The technique has its roots partially in a larger movement called permaculture, which stresses the need for agriculturalists to think of their activities not in terms of individual actions, but as a whole sustainable ecosystem. Proponents of the philosophy emphasize that our choices should be guided by examples provided by nature itself, and strive to integrate with, rather than replace, natural ecosystems.Agroforestry, based on the simple principle of planting trees, is gaining ground across the world. It's a reminder that in our technological era, not every innovation has to be cutting-edge. Sometimes, changing the world is as simple as planting a tree.Source: The Guardian [post_title] => The New Technology in Agriculture: Trees [post_excerpt] => New technologies are changing the landscape, but the latest trend reshaping rural environments and agriculture is agroforestry: the art of planting trees. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => technology-agriculture-trees [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-18 10:58:15 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-18 09:58:15 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=79990/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 77264 [post_author] => 367 [post_date] => 2017-09-13 09:35:45 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-13 07:35:45 [post_content] => And the winner of the Sweden International Virtual Reality Award in the category Best 360º Video is... Next Nature Habitat VR!Our immersive experience allows us to travel through four different future environments, asking the question: what does it mean to live in a next nature? With the VR, we aim to stimulate debate on how we want to live in the future. According to the jury, the Next Nature Habitat VR "skillfully utilizes the VR medium and narration to take the viewer on a captivating thought-provoking visual trip about alternative habitats for humankind". Congratulations to all the winners and finalists of the Sweden VR Contest 2017 and thanks to everyone who contributed to the development this production. Did you missed it? Watch the trailer above and ask yourself: where would you live?Looking for more? You can book the Next Nature Habitat VR installation for your event! Have a look at this page for more information. Want to stay up to date about the latest NNN news, events and projects? Make sure to join Next Nature Network and never miss a thing! [mc4wp_form id="72385"] [post_title] => Next Nature Habitat VR Wins Sweden VR Award [post_excerpt] => Our Next Nature Habitat VR experience has won the Sweden International Virtual Reality Award in the category Best 360 Video! [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => habitat-vr-wins-sweden-virtual-reality-award [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-09-13 09:49:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-09-13 07:49:02 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=77264/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 77218 [post_author] => 872 [post_date] => 2017-09-11 09:26:10 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-11 07:26:10 [post_content] => News stations and websites show what happens before a big storm hits: supermarkets run out of water, bread and other staples. Hordes of people crowd in and fight over the last supplies. It mirrors the savannah with cliques and groups trying to get the available food, water or shelter. Stores don't handle natural disasters any better than individuals.

Stores don’t know how to prepare

Grocery stores, especially large chains, are ingrained in a typical delivery system. Different trucks and deliveries come on certain days. But what if they're going to need extra? Most of the time it's inconvenient or even impossible to get an additional delivery of something you know the store is going to need if there's a hurricane on the way. There's a limited amount of goods and a lot more people that are going to want them.While emergency plans would make things a lot easier, how many do you think actually implement them? The employees are scrambling just as much as the patrons, making things even more chaotic.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="4076"] Image: Daniel Case (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]

Keep a pantry stocked

You'll most likely see stores get cleaned out before a hurricane or a big snowstorm. These are events that meteorologists can track and give people warning before they're going to hit. Things like tornadoes or tsunamis are sudden incidents that don't give people time to buy a bunch of stuff to prepare.This is why it’s always best to keep a disaster pantry at the ready. If it's a storm without warning, you won't have time to go to the store to prepare. Even if you do get a warning, that means you're facing the thousands of other people that want to stock up too. If you keep a pantry stocked, that means you won't have to fight off the crowds at the grocery store to buy out what you want and you won't have to worry if a quick storm hits.One size doesn't fit all here. Take the size of your family and how much they typically eat into account before building up a pantry. You can stock slowly, picking up extra items each time you go to the store instead of all at once. Water is one of the most crucial things. Also, focus on nonperishables and canned/packaged foods that will last a while - even past expiration dates. Canned veggies and fruits, rice, peanut butter, dried milk, beans and tuna are all good options.You don't want to have to venture into the savannah of the grocery store if you don't have to. Be smart and make sure that you're ready before a disaster strikes. You'll be able to breathe a sigh of relief while watching videos of everyone fighting over that last jug of water. [post_title] => Supermarkets Are Our New Savannah, Especially During Natural Disasters [post_excerpt] => Before a natural disaster hordes of people crowd in supermarkets and fight over the last supplies. It mirrors the savannah with cliques and groups trying to get the available food, water or shelter. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => natural-disasters-supermarkets-savannah [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-09-14 09:25:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-09-14 07:25:02 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=77218/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 76530 [post_author] => 367 [post_date] => 2017-08-16 20:00:25 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-16 18:00:25 [post_content] => Summer is in full swing and what better time to share with our readers the fascinating traditions of the local community of the Ciptagelar village in West Java, Indonesia. This village is the home of the first ECO Coin Award winner Yoyo Yogasmana. We received a series of unique photos from Adelaide Tam, student at the Design Academy of Eindhoven who spent two months with the Ciptagelar Kasepuhan community.[caption id="attachment_76541" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Daily performances take place in the village until late at night.[/caption][caption id="attachment_76543" align="aligncenter" width="640"] The members of a music group have a rest. They mostly drink coffee during their breaks.[/caption][caption id="attachment_76545" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Drying coffee: the locals grow their own coffee in the village. They cultivate coffee plants as a commercial product and sell it to visitors and cafes in cities in Indonesia.[/caption][caption id="attachment_76544" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Schoolgirl uniforms.[/caption][caption id="attachment_76542" align="aligncenter" width="640"] A man washing his goat. Normally, families have one to two goats and they sacrifice them during religious events.[/caption][caption id="attachment_76546" align="aligncenter" width="640"] The village unspoiled landscape.[/caption]Located at 1.400 meters above the sea level, the Ciptagelar village is one of the eight traditional villages in West Java. The local community is worldly celebrated for its wisdom, rituals and ancestral values and for the way they live in close harmony with nature to protect the environment.Ciptagelar was also the first village connected to the Internet, which led artist and activist Yoyo Yogasmana to share his knowledge to preserve over 130 existing rice varieties without any use of insecticides with the digital domain (for which NNN granted him the first-ever ECO Coin in 2015). “The community was very pleased to receive the Award” Yoyo said“This was an important token of appreciation that presented our work to a large audience around the world”.[caption id="attachment_76535" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Known for its post-harvest ceremony Seren Taun, usually done in August, the Ciptagelar village members express their thankfulness for the succeses of their harvest.[/caption][caption id="attachment_76538" align="aligncenter" width="640"] The ceremony takes place in front of the king's rice storage house, where everybody is welcome to have a free meal.[/caption][caption id="attachment_76536" align="aligncenter" width="640"] The kitchen of the king’s house.[/caption][caption id="attachment_76537" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Women volunteer to work in the house to serve food for the king, but also for the visitors.[/caption][caption id="attachment_76539" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Preparation of the meal in the kitchen.[/caption][caption id="attachment_76540" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Enjoy, or selemat makan as they say in Malaysian.[/caption]Cover photo: Teenage boys doing mask with leftover coffee. All photos by Adelaide Tam.Do you want to stay up to date about the ECO Coin and other NNN projects? Make sure to join Next Nature Network and never miss a thing! [mc4wp_form id="72385"]  [post_title] => Greetings from the Ciptagelar Village [post_excerpt] => A series of photographs from the Ciptagelar village in West Java, Indonesia. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => ciptagelar [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-21 10:14:37 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-21 08:14:37 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=76530/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 76049 [post_author] => 873 [post_date] => 2017-07-04 20:53:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-04 18:53:00 [post_content] => Consider this, the office might be an ‘environment’, but it is not a proper human habitat. Yet, most of us spend at least eight hours a day, five days a week in this place following the strict regime of scheduled events and forced break times - how to cope with that? Last week our NNN fellows, artists, designers, researchers working in and around the next nature theme, gathered to discuss the Next Habitat. How will we work in the future? And how will this affect our personal life? Has modernity fully domesticated us? During a day-long program in the Dutch woods we explored the magical realm of the Office Garden.[caption id="attachment_76143" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Freshly made STROOOP waffles by food designer Chloé Rutzerveld.[/caption]Ecopreneur Frank Gorter, host of the day, invited us to his cabin in the forest-rich Veluwe, a green stretch in the province of Gelderland in The Netherlands. Frank explained his plans to turn the family estate into an ecological paradise, where a bio-based economy would define a circular village that embraces nature as a force for recreation. In the long run, “we need to develop an ecological intelligence” Frank said. “I see a huge potential if we embrace ecological value” (to learn more about ecology in relation to economy, make sure to visit our ECO Coin project page). “What if forests are their own enterprises?” artist Govert Flint wondered, imagine a forest with its own bank account that determines itself whether trees get cut or not.[caption id="attachment_76145" align="aligncenter" width="640"] NNN director Koert van Mensvoort leading the discussion.[/caption]To follow, Govert Flint gave a presentation about his work and shared with us his research on human emotion in relation to body movement. Govert is known for his dynamic exoskeleton chair and more recently for Enrichers, his collective effort to propose a sustainable design movement based on the use of environmental simulation to increase wellbeing. He wondered how we come to live so strictly to our agendas that we even plan our emotions. "We need an office environment to make us happy" he said. Well, take a look at his work and you will understand his statement. "We are currently trying to develop spectacles to simulate daylight" socialpreneur Peter van Eijndhoven replied, as prolonged exposure to overhead lights has negative effects on our bodies. "Maybe we should just be working outside" Govert concluded.[caption id="attachment_76141" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Govert Flint, Dave Hakkens and Pauline van Dongen.[/caption]Artist Lonneke Gordijn from Studio Drift closed the morning session. “All our work is about movement” she said. “We take nature as our starting point - when is something alive and when is something dead?”, Lonneke shared some insights on how Studio Drift is managing their operations, but also took us on a tour to Drift’s work, from picking dandelions to a flying concrete brick. "We read about it in a book, to make a flying house in the future" Lonneke said. "We wanted to give the concrete a new reality; even though it was flying, the concrete block felt very natural at one point".[caption id="attachment_76147" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Lunchtime! Koert van Mensvoort and Frank Gorter lighting the fire.[/caption][caption id="attachment_76149" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Fashion designer Pauline van Dongen.[/caption][caption id="attachment_76151" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Back to the tribe! Rain or no rain, the fellows roast their veggies on fire.[/caption]After an inspiring morning and a tasty lunch, the fellows divided in three groups to speculate upon Office Garden future scenarios. And what better place to do that in a KantoorKaravaan? These trailers equipped with Wi-Fi, coffee machine and other work-related necessities turn nature in your office![caption id="attachment_76153" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Group 2: Frank Gorter, Peter van Eijndhoven, Chloé Rutzerveld and Koert van Mensvoort.[/caption]An Office Garden scenario for the future... It might sound abstract, but luckily our fellows are an ingenious group of people with a sharp tongue and a relevant eye. The first group envisioned a sensible environment that moves the user closer to the surrounding world. "How can physical activity perform?" was one of their questions. Imagine your environment bringing materiality to life. The second group delivered biorhythm-based self-driving office capsules, where virtual calendars synchronize with other users and bring together people by means of energy, productivity and expertise. In this scenario, companies will not employ people anymore; it becomes one big skill database. The third group imagined a mini-wearable surface that can turn each surrounding into a workspace. We will no longer need screens or office supplies, we can simply wear them on our bodies.And that's a wrap! The NNN Fellow Day 2017 was full of inspiring talks, shared knowledge and synergetic collaborations. We are lucky to be surrounded by such a group of talented people who help us dream, work and live in the next nature.Want to know more about our fellows? Make sure to check out their pages on our website. Do you have an idea for an office scenario for the future? Share it with us in the comment section below!Thank you Govert Flint, Peter van Eijndhoven, Lonneke Gordijn, Pauline van Dongen, Leanne Wijnsma, Dave Hakkens, Chloé Rutzerveld and Frank Gorter for participating in the Fellow Day 2017.Photos by Nichon Glerum [post_title] => Fellow Day 2017: Next Habitat [post_excerpt] => Last week, our NNN fellows gathered to discuss the Next Habitat; how will we work in the future? And how does this affect our personal lives? [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => fellow-day-2017 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-04-18 10:40:32 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-04-18 09:40:32 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=76049/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 75776 [post_author] => 809 [post_date] => 2017-06-29 10:23:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-29 08:23:38 [post_content] => Real innovations are high tech but analogic, they are created by mixing biology, genetics and design to save energy and resources. This is the concept behind Lining Yao’s work, Chinese interaction designer and maker of novel materials and interfaces. She recently completed her PhD at Tangible Media Group, MIT Media Lab in Boston, where she focused on pushing Human Computer Interaction towards Human Material Interaction, and she is now Assistant Professor at HCII Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.We met her in Milan, where she gave a lecture at Meet The Media Guru, the Italian platform that invites innovators from all over the world to share their ideas and projects (last April NNN director Koert van Mensvoort was also their guest).“I don't have a definition of my work, but I think traditional disciplines have a blurred boundary currently, and we are inventing a new discipline”. Yao operates somewhere between design, engineering and science and uses organic materials as a technology that brings us back to nature, to the original form of life. “I think we could alter nature with technology in a positive way. Going forward, with the same respect to nature as our ancestors did, but with a scientific understanding of nature across scales and from the bottom up. Going forward, we return to nature but a programmable nature”.

Going forward, we return to nature but a programmable nature

Yao takes advantage of the adaptability characteristics that exist in nature to create products that react to different environments, without using energy or electricity. This way even a pinecone can become a smart material. “When the rain wash the pinecones out from the tree to the ground these pinecones are closed, if you pick them up and let them dry they will open, but if you put them back into water they will close again. A little humble pinecone is a nature grown smart material, because it transforms and responds to water opening and closing, and this transformation is reversible and does not need electricity”.

A humble pinecone is a smart material

Similar to how a pinecone behaves, some bacteria called bacillus subtilis natto expand and contract depending on the humidity levels detected in the surrounding air; the more humidity, the bigger the bacteria gets. Yao uses these bacteria as natural actuator to create bioLogic Second Skin, a garment that reacts to the wearer’s sweat opening and closing, “the bacteria expand and contract in the presence of moisture, like nano-engines”.[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/142208383[/vimeo]“On a daily basis we use motors to make things move, responsive and interactive, but how can we learn from nature to build sustainable and smart systems?”. This question drives Yao’s research “Transform Materiality” to explore how to use nature energy stimula to transform material and make them behave smartly.
Everything can be scientifically designed
“Everything, including aesthetic, can be scientifically designed”. The synthetic bio-skin fabric reacts to body heat and sweat, causing flaps around heat zones to open, enabling sweat to evaporate and cool down the body through an organic material flux. Based on the natural phenomenon of hygromorphic transformation, we introduce a specific type of living cells as nanoactuators that react to body temperature and humidity change. This process creates a new ecology between the cloth and the human body, the cloth becomes part of the human ecosystem”.[caption id="attachment_76016" align="aligncenter" width="1080"]Lining Yao Second Skin bioLogic Second Skin.[/caption]Her latest bio-design principles application is related to food. “We called it Transformative Appetite, we wanted to program food to interact in smart ways”. Together with her colleagues at MIT, Yao designed a futuristic pasta made of a 2D printed edible natural material that turns into a designed 3D shape when dunked into boiling water. Again, a natural element, in this case water, is used as stimulant to trigger the transformation process. “With our flat pasta we can save 67.3% of shipping and packaging space and reduce the costs. This is very important, that’s why Ikea makes its flat furniture and then bother us to assemble them”.
How can we learn from nature to build sustainable and smart systems?
Yao’s programmable pasta is made of gelatine, cellulose and starch. Gelatine naturally expands when absorbing water, giving the researchers a way to manipulate the food. In order to achieve controllable bending behavior, the team introduced ethyl cellulose strips as both shape constraints and water barriers on top of the film.[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/199408741[/vimeo]“Food is very interesting because it’s a bridge between people form all over the world and with a different education, it’s a universal topic that makes us designers able to contribute to people’s daily life. That’s why we picked food as our context to explore programmable materials”.[caption id="attachment_76013" align="aligncenter" width="779"]Transformative Appetite Lining Yao Transformative Appetite Pasta.[/caption]Yao’s work offers a vision of a future upstream form the more popular digitized alternatives. “We manipulate materials not to artificially replicate them, but to use them right after they have been adapted. We create changeable, malleable and controllable objects that are totally natural. The application of these properties in our living spaces could save a lot of energy. We could develop a world where humans won’t need to learn how to use interfaces anymore, because the interfaces will automatically respond to people and environments”. A world that is technological, but also natural at the same time.Featured image: Meet The Media Guru [post_title] => Interview: Lining Yao, Interaction Designer and Maker of Novel Materials [post_excerpt] => We recently interviewed Lining Yao, Chinese interaction designer who uses organic materials as a technology that brings us back to nature. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => interview-lining-yao [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-01-25 10:02:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-01-25 09:02:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=75776/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 74285 [post_author] => 367 [post_date] => 2017-06-22 10:00:35 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-22 08:00:35 [post_content] => In the forth episode of Smell of Data documentary series we'd like to introduce you Lola, a sniffer dog trained to recognize the smell of money. Through the lens of the four-footer we come to understand how Lola appears to be well aware of smell, it becomes instinct. And exactly this instinct is what keeps her safe - and we could learn a lesson from it. Want to know more? Make sure to watch all episodes. [post_title] => Smell of Data Episode 4: Training the Instinct [post_excerpt] => In the fourth episode of the Smell of Data series we come to understand how instinct plays a crucial role to our safety. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => forth-episode-of-smell-of-data [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-21 12:29:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-21 10:29:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=74285/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 74280 [post_author] => 367 [post_date] => 2017-06-12 09:20:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-12 07:20:44 [post_content] => Tune in for the third episode of Smell of Data: Leanne Wijnsma's documentary on the search for a more instinctive Internet. Today we are exploring the sense of smell as a warning mechanism. We will look back at the development of the smell of gas and how we are trained to recognize such odor as a potential hazard. We will also pay a visit to the harbor of Rotterdam, where so-called "e-noses" are employed to detect toxic fumes. Missed the previous episodes? Watch them here. [post_title] => Smell of Data Episode 3: Warning Mechanism [post_excerpt] => The third episode of Smell of Data documentary, exclusively featured on nextnature.net, follows the investigation for a more instinctive Internet. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => third-episode-of-smell-of-data [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-12 09:20:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-12 07:20:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=74280/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 74273 [post_author] => 367 [post_date] => 2017-05-31 12:00:32 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-31 10:00:32 [post_content] => We warmly welcome newly appointed fellow Leanne Wijnsma to the Next Nature Network. Her award-winning project The Smell of Data, a scent dispenser to warn Internet users from digital hazards online, was developed in partnership with NNN, and has been broadly covered by (inter)national media outlets. Exclusively for our readers, Wijnsma made a documentary series following her search for a more instinctive Internet. We will share it on nextnature.net in a five-part weekly series. Introducing part one: Digital Jungle. [post_title] => Smell of Data Episode 1: Digital Jungle [post_excerpt] => Introducing part one of the Smell of Data documentary series: Digital Jungle. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => smell-of-data-documentary-1 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-31 22:15:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-31 20:15:02 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=74273/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 ))[post_count] => 10 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 119866 [post_author] => 1860 [post_date] => 2019-09-12 09:34:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-09-12 08:34:24 [post_content] =>

The idea that AI can compose electronic music may sound a little off to people. It raises essential questions about creativity as a product exclusive to humans: can an AI be creative? Can it be musical? Can it compete with human-made melodies? Does it need to?

More and more, AI has set foot in the realm of creative industries. From an AI writing the next GoT book to IBM’s Watson creating a trailer for a non-exisent sci-fi thriller. And that’s not where it ends: the music industry also got involved when that same Watson was used by award winning producers to create country rap, not to mention a Eurovision song created with machine learning.

Electronic music, too, is affected by the algorithmic technologies that revolutionize the way humans relate to the arts. As a discipline that has technology at its very core, electronic music is bound to cross paths with the ways of AI. From DJing to producing and from contriving DJ names to directing music videos, algorithmic agency is growing stronger each day.

The subsequent question is how humans pertain to these technologies and how the arts and AI can be treated as a symbiosis, rather than a dystopian binary. Put differently, how can we embrace AI as an instrument we can work together with, rather than an autonomous entity overruling human creativity?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MKAf6YX_7M

Music has always been technological

There has always been a link between music and technology, as essentially it revolves around counting and measuring the rhythm, as much as it relies on instruments.

Clapping their hands, our early ancestors used their body as an instrument to create rhythmic music. As our predecessors found out that they could smack sticks or stones to enhance the beat without hurting their hands, drums were invented.

Fast-forward to the 20th century, elaborate drum kits emerged at the intersection of African-American brass bands and western instruments. The technology of the bass paddle made it possible to use both hands and feet to incite sound, hence evolving the drum kit as we know it now.

The instrument was further technologized when companies like Korg and Roland started producing drum machines on a massive scale. The genres that emerged from these instruments diverged, but essentially, both the drum kit and drum machine serve as a technology to produce the rhythms and sounds that we know as music.

Are algorithms are the next DJs?

In the same line, DJing has undergone changes when the vinyl decks were complemented by USB-driven CDJs. Though the technologies changed, the art of DJing remains present – just in different ways.

In this day and age, AI is the upcoming technology broadening the horizon of (electronic) music. On a day-to-day basis, algorithms are already silently ruling our music taste through auto-playlists like the ones developed by YouTube, Spotify and Apple Genius. In a way, algorithms are already our next DJs.

But not only are these algorithms able to curate music to our likenings; they are also able to flawlessly mix our favorite tracks together. Recently, a Spotify playlist was born that tests an automixing feature with the help of AI. The Drum And Bass Fix playlist seamlessly beatmatches two tracks when shuffle is switched on.

Not into drum and bass? Then try curating your own beat-matched set or mashup by using Rave DJ. This online application allows you to upload a YouTube or Spotify playlist with the use of algorithms. It then creates a smooth mix of even the most obscure track combinations.

Naturally, tech giant Google also engaged with algorithmic advances within the electronic music industry by developing an AI synth named NSynth. This open source synthesizer uses Google’s network to reproduce the qualities of sounds and instruments, which feeds its algorithms. Though based on neural networks, it actually comes as a hardware product with a touchscreen pad.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsZc4Q_eDk4

Will AI outmix humanity?

These tools may seem futuristic, but there are plenty of artists already utilizing AI to produce music. At this year’s Transmediale, UK DJ and producer Actress even granted his AI offspring complete artistic agency by giving it a stage name: Young Paint. Together, they enacted a live audiovisual performance that was mostly based on real-time improvisation, but they also captured some collaborative ventures on a mini-album via his new label Werk__Ltd.

According to electronic musician Olle Holmberg, it is just a matter of time before we will be following AI DJ’s and producers on social media, after attending our favorite algorithmically driven gigs – which is basically already happening with the advent of virtual influencers.

Based on the semantic traits that can be found in Hardwax’s database of DJ names, Holmberg recently published a list of DJ names generated by an AI. Though a DJ name might seem trivial, it does show that AI is capable of mimicking and further developing our club experience based on our current ideas of what clubbing should be like.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_4UqpUmMkg

Team human

There is an uncanny objection to these kind of technological advances, assuming they would violate our authentic ‘humanness’, when in fact it is in our very human nature to be technological. Speaking, writing, reading counting, singing – these are all cultural technologies; so are DJing and producing.

The cycle that drove us from drum kits to drum machines is the same evolutionary force driving humans to interact with AI in creating new musical works of art. Within this framework, AI basically is our next nature’s cultural technology.

Scholar and electronic music composer Holly Herndon, who built an AI recording system to help with her latest album, addresses the pervasive narrative in which technology is dehumanizing and instead proposes to ‘run towards’ technology, but on her own human terms.

This brings us to the crucial debate revolving around AI: we often forget how algorithms are technologies developed by humans. If algorithms become dehumanizing vehicles, they can only be so because the human system made them that way. 

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