Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Human Forge


Put in four quarters, a wood blank, and art comes out

The inputs are money, wood, information and data, and clever algorithms. The output is recognizably art. But, as the sign asks, does it have soul?


The machine for making art, at Canal Convergence

  1. Insert 1 dollar in the form of 4 quarters
  2. Insert 1 wood blank in chute to left
  3. Push both red buttons at exact same time [ok how exact do you have to be?]
  4. The process has begun. Walk to right side of machine.
This is the Cutting Room

Technically, the inputs also include paint, and power, and new blades or sharpened blades, but let's focus on the wood blanks. They go into the slot where the patron inserts them, then in the cutting room they are trimmed down to size. I'm not sure this step is totally necessary, since I guess once could just spec wood blanks of the proper dimensions to begin with, but then perhaps "necessary" is not a word properly applied to any of this. Much care was put into this tableau. I love the way the saw has an exit shoot with a gratuitous warning sign. The wood blank's movements in the cutting room are elaborate and precise. Then, onto the Paint Room.


PAINTING ROOM

Paint is applied carefully in the PAINTING ROOM, with photographic like results, then the art emerges from the ARTWORK EXIT.
The hand towel with paint smudges: a sign that art has occurred

This art machine was fascinating to me. I'm not sure how many patrons actually considered if their resulting trimmed and painted wood blanks had soul, or not. I did. Is it not possible, for example, that the person of the artist is present in the details and logic of the algorithms, hardware, software, and design which came together to form this machine for making art? The girl holding the painted result in her hands: Toby Fraley did this, if remote in time and space, by making this machine and calling it The Art Forge and having people engage with it in an artistic context for producing an artistic result. Yes? No?

Blanks for making humans. Insert into slot in human forge, inner processing machinery does the rest with this raw material

In an effort to take off some much-deserved but also highly unneeded and unhealthy stress-eating pounds, I sought inspiration and direction in Grant Petersen's "Eat Bacon Don't Jog" book. I knew it was in line with my don't eat processed junk that comes in packages, restrict carbs, eat nuts, eat healthy paleo proto primal concepts that worked great for me before, but wanted to see if its algorithms would work for me. Yes. Yes they did. Or do. Or are. 


The book of eating algorithms which I have programmed into my human forge

Over on the blog that goes along with the book, I posted a comment in response to an NYT article about moderation (the middle way, I guess) being the healthy way to eat, which though long-winded, is probably a shortcut for summing up a longer-winded exposition of my reasoning combined with an actual review of the book and its human forge algorithms, which would be much, much longer, believe me: 

"Moderation of this type might be OK for young people who already have a healthy diet and who are not currently eating, and have not been raised on, the standard American junk food high carb high corn high sugar cheap-to-produce high-profit wide variety highly available factory diet. For them carb moderation stasis might work. I am not young, though, and for the first 35+ years or so of my life was on the steady weight gain, exhaust the pancreas with carbs and junk food and excess calories program. It's too late for moderation for me, and the idea of systematic stasis of diet-exercise-body doesn't work with the body I created and had when I examined how the machine I had created on that diet reacts to carbs by spiking insulin and piling on body fat. If I had a body that reacted nicely to moderate carbs I would look at it differently. Ideal humans might do well on moderate carbs. An actual randomly selected group of middle-aged Americans, on the other hand, I wager would not. I'm doing great on EBDJ and can't wait to try salmon, bacon, eggs, bsprouts and cheese. TJ's has become my regular Saturday stock-up ride. Hope they have some bsprouts today."

A comment to which Grant responded, which is nice. But, if we're just talking algorithms here, inputs, processing, and outputs, similar to the art forging machine, why not just get a subscription to Soylent, or tweak the mix and make DIY Soylent, and (like the advertisement says) Free Your Body, Never have to worry about food again? 

There's a lot of cool stuff going on with Soylent and DIY Soylent, although full disclosure so far I think it's cool from a distance. I would definitely try backpacking with the stuff as a calorie source. I would probably try it for some quick meals when I'm in a rush, and I also like the idea of getting back some lost time which is taken up now by rushing to prepare forgettable, repetitive meals. It all depends on what you want to optimize  your meals for, and also, I must add, whether or not consuming this chemical slurry for weeks or months on end turns out to have long-term detrimental health effects, or not. 

It may turn out to be OK, or more than OK, long-term*. Also, I think most or all of the people drinking it realize they are experimenting with their health and lives, and, in many cases, have the quite logical argument to make that compared to the ramen noodles, pizza, and hot pockets they were living off before, Soylent is relatively speaking health nectar of the gods. Compared, say, to the multiple liters of full-sugar Cola, pizza, beer, and nacho chips diet I bloated up on for years and years in my twenties. I'm very interested to see what the Soylent consumers learn, or turn into, and like I said, will eventually try some Soylent myself.

However, for now, and I think this the reason I included the photo of the delicious fried eggs, sardines, and chunks of white cheddar cheese, I'll stick with real food, and the simpler the better. Give me Greek yogurt made with two ingredients (milk and live cultures). Give me excellent little fishies with skin and bones. Give me macadamia nuts, chia, and some fresh veggies and leaves. Olive oil. Hunks of meat. For now, at least, I'm willing to invest the time to obtain and prepare those. I'm not positive they have soul, but I find the real food very, very satisfying, and as a bonus, following the EBDJ food algorithms has taken pounds off (15 so far) my human forge, and gotten its blood sugar back down out of the prediabetic range, so yeah, bring on the sardines and macadamias. And consider the soul of food.

*blog disclaimer in effect as always
 

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