Archive for the ‘Lifestyle’ Category:

Berlin Are Turning River Spree Into The World’s Biggest Swimming Pool

The Flussbad Berlin association are sick to death of walking around Berlin, so they’ve decided to turn the whole place into a giant, 750 meter swimming pool, one which will run alongside the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Museum Island, in the historical centre of Berlin.

Artist rendition of what the Flussbad will look like. Source: Flussbad Berlin

Artist rendition of what the Flussbad will look like. Source: Flussbad Berlin

The idea of a swimming in Berlin’s city centre isn’t new or surprising at all. It’s natural, provocative, used to be common practice and has already been somewhat replicated; the Badeschiff, Eichenstraße 4 allows citizens to swim in a “sanitary environment” near the Spree river, resembling a sizeable lido, slap bang in the middle of the canal, with lights emanating from the surface.

Flussbad Berlin however, aim to reanimate the entire side-canal of the river Spree, between Schlossplatz and Bode-Museum, one of Berlin’s biggest underused brownfield areas and turn it into an all natural sustainable swimming pool, also known as a Flussbad.

Providing plans go ahead, the 750 meters of canal which runs along Fischer and Museum Island will be transformed into an underwater biotope, utilising a natural reed bed filter to purify river-water, feeding into a pool which stretches from the upcoming Humboldt-Forum via ‘Lustgarten’ all the way to the tip of Museum Island at the historic Bode-Museum.

Bringing Berlin into the 21st century does however present a few issues: the project does mean a fundamental re-evaluation of the river’s significance to the city, renewing antiquated relationships between the city and river from which it once grew; which seems like an inevitable sacrifice, considering the projects noble intentions.

The project stands for a sustainable, integrative, and considerate urban development, for an observant and intelligent approach to natural resources, and for a link between the historic city and the living present.

Adhering to a utopian ideology, Flussbad Berlin aim to adapt utilisation of river water so people can once again restore the ecological integrity of the river Spree.

Unfortunately, the plot of water currently belongs to the federal government, pending political and administrative permissions. Although the project is still in it’s conceptual stages, as of September, stands as one of only three projects submitted to the federal urban development funding program for consideration. Check out their website for up to date information.

The Badeschiff floating public swimming pool in Berlin. Situated in the East Harbour section of the River Spree.

The Badeschiff floating public swimming pool in Berlin. Situated in the East Harbour section of the River Spree.

#FutureHype: Japan Begin Tests On Magnetically Levitating Hovertrain

We are living in the “information age”, whatever that means. Between the birth of humanity and the year 2003 five exabytes of information were recorded by humans. Now, in 2014, we humans record more than five exabytes of new information every two days.

What we think we know today may not be at all certain tomorrow, but one thing is for sure: we’re living in the future. So that you can be ready for whatever the future holds, each week we’ll search high and low online to bring you the best futuristic content from the worlds of science, art, design, architecture, computing and robotics.

Welcome, to #Futurehype. This week, Japan’s new MagLev trains.

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311mph Means London To Paris In 40 Minutes

Japan has long been at the forefront of robotic, automobile and aerospace technology. Lately however, the Japanese have been leaving a serious impression on the world’s train enthusiasts with their new Lo Series of high speed magnetically levitating trains.

Just last week a new train was tested by The Central Japan Railway Company on the Yamanashi Maglev Test Line between the cities of Uenohara and Fuefuki. It is estimated that the new trains will eventually run between Tokyo and Nagoya by 2027. Each sleek and speedy train will consist of 16 carriages, carrying up to 1,000 passengers and the run of more than 200 miles should only take a minimal 40 minutes.

If the trains are successful in Japan, and by all accounts they will be, then it is logical to assume that this technology is not far from being implemented in Europe. The top speed achieved by the train is a staggering 311 miles per hour. To put that into context for non-English readers that’s more than 500km/h. Here are some mock-up examples to show you how fast that really is:

London – Paris journey could take as little as 40 mins.

Paris – Barcelona: 1hr 30mins.

Rome – Moscow: 4hrs 45mins

And the arduous, London – New York: 11hrs 8mins.

New First Person Perspective Makes GTA Controversial Again

Intense violence, blood and gore, nudity, mature humour, strong language, strong sexual content and the use of drugs and alcohol; it’s just another Wednesday in Liberty city.

Players of the Grand Theft Auto franchise may be interested to know that the a new feature – first person mode – is being rolled out along with the latest installment of the aptly, if obviously, titled Grand Theft Auto 5.

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The new feature puts players firmly in the driving seat which, besides making the game more entertaining, means more realism and more moral objections to some of the gnarly shit players are forced to do while on a mission. GTA is controversial enough already; talk about a “game changer”.

Now you can enjoy all the killing sprees, virtual sex and abhorrent behaviour you like from the comfort of your sofa. As if the sex scenes weren’t visceral before the transition…

GTA 5: First Person Sex Scene

If not handled correctly by the developers, the new perspective could result in the death of the franchise in the long run. When we say death of GTA, we use Death in the same sense as a deck of tarot cards. Nothing could completely kill off a franchise as big as GTA but a revolution in perspective could certainly mean the death of the game as we know it.

Grand Theft Auto only achieved peak notoriety when the designers at Rockstar Games decided to make the tricky transition from an aerial perspective to what has become known in gaming as ‘third person view’. With the change came a new wave of interactivity. We can expect the same thing for GTA 5′s first person mode.

Recently a spokesperson for the company gave the following comments at a press conference. Rockstar said:

Grand Theft Auto V for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC features hundreds of additions and enhancements including 1080p resolution at 30fps on PS4 and Xbox One.

GTA 1: Original Trailer

Of course the true beauty of GTA has always been the freedom to choose how aggressively or immorally you want to pay it. For the most part robbing banks, kidnapping prostitutes, assassinating crime lords and other elements of the game remain optional. Hopefully the first person view will remain purely optional too.

The ability to switch between the the two modes at your discretion could make an invaluable contribution to the aesthetics of the game. However, for those of us who prefer our video games to be a little more cinematic, this could seriously mess things up.

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#FutureHype: The Rise Of The Robot Security Guards

We are living in the “information age”, whatever that means. Between the birth of humanity and the year 2003 five exabytes of information were recorded by humans. Now, in 2014, we humans record more than five exabytes of new information every two days.

What we think we know today may not be at all certain tomorrow, but one thing is for sure: we’re living in the future. So that you can be ready for whatever the future holds, each week we’ll search high and low online to bring you the best futuristic content from the worlds of science, art, design, architecture, computing and robotics.

Welcome, to #Futurehype. This week, robot security guards.

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Would You Trust A Robot To Keep You Safe?

Despite looking like a Dalek from British television’s Dr Who the Knightscope K5 Autonomous Data Machine has been designed and outfitted to safely predict and prevent crime in your local community.

Since the release of Knightscope’s original concept designs some seven years ago numerous challenges have been put forward to the company about the jobs that could be lost by security personnel when their ominous machines take over. Now, today, the Knightscope is very much a reality. And it turns out it’s not quite as scary as we thought it would be.

Every year, crime has more than a trillion dollar negative economic impact on the United States. It is estimated that the implementation of machines like these could dramatically curb the nation’s crime rate, with some scientists arguing that crime could drop by as much as 50% if the machines were to be rolled out to the public. Of course, where’s the humanity? Are we really going to just bend over and let machines tell us what to do?

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The Knightscope team testify to the fact that the onboard computer inside the robot will use “predictive analytics” to provide a “commanding but friendly” physical presence when guarding or surveying a given area. In other words, by flashing bright red at you and constantly recording your face this emotionless droid (with a top speed of 24mph) will simply scare you so shitless that you will be deterred from committing crime altogether.

Immediately the design and nature of this robot evokes memories of films like Minority Report and iRobot and let’s face it – our visions of the future are never pretty. But the chances of this machine taking over our lives or judging people indiscriminately for pre-crimes is actually pretty slim.

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The first stage of implementation will involve installing these robots in corporate campuses, shopping centers and with private security companies. All the tedious and monotonous monitoring will be handled by the K5 leaving the strategic, “hands-on” activities like bullying and intimidation to gruff burly security blokes you’d usually expect to push you around. That is, until those guys are replaced by the K6.

Scared? Don’t be. Or do be. It doesn’t matter because by 2020 this, or something like this, will be in schools, hotels, auto dealerships, stadiums, casinos, law enforcement agencies, seaports and airports. The robots are coming!

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YouGov’s New Tool Judges People Based On Their Music Taste

A few years ago, me and a friend had formulated this intuitive game based around the bands booked to perform at the O2 Brixton Academy; when an act came through we would aim to establish the headline band based on the herds of fans roaming the streets of Brixton.

A lot of the time (because we’d never heard of the band) we got it wrong, but there were a few exceptions. My Chemical Romance was accurately assumed by the hoards of adolescents, aged between 12-18, dressed all in black, wearing too much eye make-up, stood waiting for their mates outside the local jerk food cafe, explaining how everything was “Kawaii”. I admit, it was slightly judgmental, although a thoroughly enjoyable past-time.

Fast forward five years and online research specialists YouGov have generated a tool which pretty much does something similar, analysing data from 190,000 of their UK members to help profile people, with what they call “a greater granularity and accuracy than ever before.”

Noel Gallagher fans enjoy football, fighting, shopping in Lidl and thinks "adverts are a waste of time." Source: YouGov

Noel Gallagher fans enjoy football, fighting, shopping in Lidl, buying Ralph Lauren clothes from Urban Outfitters and thinks “adverts are a waste of time.” Source: YouGov

The comprehensive algorithm is able to tell you information such as: the average Morrissey fan is a left-wing man in his mid 40s who most likely works as a teacher in Yorkshire, eats nothing but vegetarian food, shops in Waitrose and describes himself as misanthropic, apathetic and withdrawn. Again, its slightly arbitrary but seemingly accurate.

Presumably, this nifty new advance is targeted at brands, so they can determine whether or not to use Peter Andre to advertise their new cologne, Bastille to endorse some shepherds pies or Justin Bieber to sport the new range from Primark. Although, what started out as a commercially viable tool, has spiralled into an addictive application for personal gratification in determining how true most stereotypes are.

Morrissey fans appear to be earnest vegetarians, with the exception of one chicken curry. Source: YouGov

Morrissey fans appear to be earnest vegetarians, with the exception of one chicken curry. Source: YouGov

The in-depth categories of research are split into: Demographics, compiling an overall critique. Lifestyle, which holds information about what food and hobbies they enjoy. Personality, which presents what kind of things they tweet about. Media, which sources they rely on for news. Brands, Entertainment and Online Activity, which illustrates where they shop, who entertains them (TV/Radio) and what brands they’re most likely to dress in.

Intriguingly broad and suspiciously meticulous, many of the statistics seem to be explicitly reflective of the artist; with the exceptions of a few. Some of the sample sizes are so small that the subsequent statistics deviate between surely incorrect to quite simply ludicrous. As Joe Zadeh quite rightfully explains “A lesser publication might use these tiny samples to make some pretty disingenuous claims.”

Fans of Wu-Tang live in London, stand politically to the left and most likely work in Retail. Source: YouGov

Fans of Wu-Tang live in London, stand politically to the left and most likely work in Retail. Source: YouGov

Other than easy marketing observations for corporate giants, what can we gain from this?

A lot of the information seems pretty self explanatory, but did you know that Miley Cyrus‘ fan base comprises a demographic normally considered to be males aged between 18-24, who spend almost 50 hours a week online, reads Nuts magazine and works in construction. I assume they’re not too fussed about the music, rather infatuated by scantily clad women.

It doesn’t stop at music either. You can search a plethora of TV personalities, political parties and types of food. UKIP seem to enjoy the works of Cliff Richard, Rod Stewart and every episode of ‘Dad’s Army’, while Rihanna’s fan base spends their time watching Eastenders, Celebrity Big Brother and seemingly idolising Tulisa Contostavlos. And of course, Wes Anderson fans.

Wes Anderson fans consider themselves cultured, thrive off of diversity, tend to procrastinated and are often facetious. Source: YouGov

Wes Anderson fans consider themselves cultured, tend to procrastinated and are often facetious. Source: YouGov

The World Has Eaten Too Much Chocolate And Now There’s None Left

Christmas, along with your beloved advent calendars, may be absent entirely of chocolate this year due to industries falling short on demand. It sounds drastic, but you may want to start stockpiling a few bars if you want to pursue eating your way into type 2 diabetes this holiday season.

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Ebola, ISIS and now this; and we only have ourselves to blame. Last year, the world ate roughly 70,000 metric tons more cocoa than it produced.

By 2020, the not-so-distant future, it’s estimated that this number could reach 1 million metric tons, two million in 2030 and multiplying each decade until there’s no more chocolate left and we’re all overweight, starved of confectionary, willing to do anything for one more fix.

According to some of the world’s largest chocolate makers, including Mars, Inc. and Swiss-based chocolate giants Barry Callebaut, people are consuming more cocoa than farmers are able to produce, stating how:

“A global shortage of chocolate may well be on the cards.”

There’s also a damning state of disarray with supply issues. Seventy percent of the world’s cocoa is produced in the Ivory Cost and Ghana and growing conditions of late in West Africa have not been great.

Drought has ravaged many cocoa plantations, while the International Cocoa Organisation estimate that a fungal disease, known as frosty pod, has also wiped out between 30 percent and 40 percent of global cocoa production.

Cocoa prices have risen more than 60 percent since 2012 and chocolate makers have been forced to adjust by raising the price of their bars. Hershey’s were first, but others soon followed. 

As a side note: apparently China are being accused of making chocolate more expensive for everyone, simply by gaining a healthy appetite for the stuff. There’s also a company, originally named Italo Suisse, who are gaining some media attention.

They changed the name of their chocolate to ISIS after establishing the company had little affiliation with either Italy or Switzerland. Unfortunately they failed to realise the connotations of this would become deeply disastrous with the emergence of the Islamic State and are planning on changing the name again to Libeert.

Wellcome Collection Opens The Doors To ‘The Institute Of Sexology’

From the work of sexual scientists Masters & Johnson to the legendary 1950′s experiments of social documentarian Alfred Kinsey there is seemingly no shortage of research, evidence and paraphernalia examining our messy and often misunderstood relationship with sex.

In an attempt to distill everything we have learned about sex, science and art down to it’s most basic elements London’s renowned Wellcome Collection gallery will be hosting the ‘Institute of Sexology’ a new exhibit exploring sexuality, erotica, film and photography for the next twelve months.

The Institute of Sexology

The gallery, open every day, describes itself as a “free destination for the incurably curious” and has not let its reputation slide for the latest project.

As well as displays of research material, archive films and authentic diagrams the event will also feature literary work from great thinkers like Magnus Hirschfeld, Sigmund Freud and Marie Stopes alongside artistic endeavours from contemporary artists Zanele Muholi, John Stezaker, Sharon Hayes and Timothy Archibald.

The work featured in the show is so extensive (and sexy) that the Wellcome Collection have made it available to the public until 20 September 2015. Roughly speaking it will be split up into three distinct parts so that you won’t have to see it all at once and explode in a flurry of sexual frustration.

Researching Pornography

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Pornography is a fascinating subject in that it is both widely consumed and widely condemned by the public. This has been the case for centuries and still holds true today.

For this portion of the exhibit the curators and archivists have gathered a wide range of porn from all over the world in an attempt to cross examine what got people off in different cultures, times and social circles. Two avid researchers, Feona Attwood and Clarissa Smith, will be dissecting and discussing the cultural conditions that make people enjoy porn.

Cruising For Art

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The term “cruising” is notorious gay slang for finding someone to have casual sex with. This section of the show will deal with the complex theme of homosexuality, both sexual and romantic.

This selection from the exhibit will also feature live performance pieces, dance and maybe even some drag from some radical and uncompromising performers. One particularly interesting element promises to uncover the hidden meaning of the “gay bandana and the various symbolism and associations behind the different colours.

Uncovering Freud

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“Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar” – nobody has left such an indelible mark on our understanding of sexuality as the late, great Sigmeud Freud.

Now, researcher and author Stefan Marianski (of the Freud Museum, London) examines the mysterious life and poignant work of the ‘Godfather of psychology’ as well details and accounts from his own messed up sex life.  Freud’s legendary therapy room has been recreated for the event along with memorabilia from his life and times.

If this is the sort of thing that interests you, and lets face it why wouldn’t it? Then get yourself down to Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London at any point in the next 365 days. Warning: This show includes exhibits and live events of a very sexual nature. After all, that’s the point.

The World Is Your Oyster, Now For Even Cheaper

Along with the decision to start all-night underground services next year, TFL has surprised Londoners once again with some good news. As of 2015, Pay as you Go Oyster travellers will enjoy cheaper fares, whether you’re using your Oyster card or a contactless payment card. 

Pay as you go travel fares will be capped at a lower price. Also, all day caps for travel between Zones 1 to 2 will fall to £6.40 from £8.40 and those trekking out between Zone 1-6 will see the PAYG cap reduced from £15.80 to £11.70. 

Oyster Card holder design by Malika Favre

However, nothing in life comes free. Single rides on the underground will go up by 10p, making a trip into Zone 1 go up to £2.30. Single bus fairs are also going up by 5p.

TFL has put through the plan to help London’s horde of part time workers, whose irregular hours meant they were getting ripped off by weekly or monthly passes. Mayor Boris Jonhson signed the decision just 3 days ago. Maybe part of his obsession to make London a more easily travelled city or maybe he just didn’t want to piss off the TFL after previous strikes. Who knows? But it sounds good.

Finally, London is giving your weary wallet a rest.

Norma Bar and Rod Hut Oyster Card holder designs

Read More >>> #FutureHype: What London’s Tube System Will Look Like In Five Years

NOWNESS: Callie Barlow Documents The Beauty Of Female Bodybuilders

While the popularity of male bodybuilders has waxed and waned over time, veering from the immense popularity of the physique in the late 70s and early 80s to the challenges it has faced since masculinity has undergone a makeover for the 21st male.

Male bodybuilding may have survived the 21st century redesign of masculinity but one thing has remained, that female bodybuilding is considered unsightly and ugly. Something which filmmaker Callie Barlow attempts to dispel in her video starring veteran bodybuilder Colette Nelson.

Collette Nelson

Filming Collette as she goes through a gruelling routine, the video which acts as the music video for Desert Sound Colony’s ’I Get Fixed,’ shows that to be ripped doesn’t require Collette to forgo anything that would generically be considered ‘feminine’.

Collette, who works also as a make-up artist and cites similarities between the poses required for bodybuilders to those struck by models in a fashion shoot. Speaking to NOWNESS Callie said:

 

There are parallels with modeling, you have someone pushing their body in a certain way, and they are aware of their body all the time. There are definitely health risks, and some women take it too seriously. Colette is a good role model because she pushes a more healthy, well rounded lifestyle. But it’s all about beauty, it’s all about the image.

 

Documenting Collette’s strict regime, you can watch the video below.

NOWNESS: Body Beautiful by Callie Barlow

Are You A Witch? How Can You Be Sure? The British Museum’s Witchcraft Exhibit

In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII issued a papal statement titled “Summis desiderantes affectibus” (“Desiring with supreme ardor”). The official decree recognised the existence of witches, stating, “many persons of both sexes, heedless of their own salvation and forsaking the Catholic faith, give themselves over to devils male and female.”

Today witches are less of a commonplace occurrence. The passing of time coupled with a widespread understanding of science has led people to doubt the existence of magic altogether, making witches the sole preserve of silly kids TV shows and camp Roald Dahl books.

Witch burning in Derenburg, Germany, 1555

Witch burning in Derenburg, Germany, 1555

It wasn’t until the release of Kenny Ortega‘s Hocus Pocus in 1993, which starred Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker, that we began to see witches as less of a frightening prospect and more of a whimsical novelty.

Despite the efforts of Sabrina the Teenage Witch and her two crazy aunties, witches can still be a worrisome concept for people to wrap their heads around. The late ninties were littered with movies (like Bewitched) and TV shows (like Charmed, Hex) which glamourised witches as young sexy and powerful. However, nothing has left such an ominous mark in our psyches as the 1999 low budget horror flick The Blair Witch Project.

Detail of The Temptation of Saint Anthony, Hieronymus Bosch, between 1495 and 1515

Detail of The Temptation of Saint Anthony, Hieronymus Bosch, between 1495 and 1515

Witches & Wicked Bodies

The British Museum is home to some of the strangest, rarest and more enigmatic artifacts from our collective treasure trove of world history. From ancient mummified Egyptian pharaohs to the rudimentary tools used by Paleolithic cave men the selection of precious and archaic items on display is practically endless.

For their next trick the magicians who run the place have decided to launch a new exhibit titled Witches and Wicked Bodies showcasing the dark, demented history of all things witchcraft.

A kind of Hogwarts for history nerds, the exhibit takes a frank look at the culture, context and stories behind the medieval beliefs in witches, daemons and the occult.

The Wich No.1, a litograph by Joseph E. Baker, 1892

The Wich No.1, a litograph by Joseph E. Baker, 1892

The history of England is particularly linked to witchcraft. For example, Technically, England’s Witchcraft Act of 1735 was still legally enforceable up until 1951, when it was replaced with the Fraudulent Mediums Act.

King James I of England published a book in 1597 called Daemonologie which threw his support behind the practice of witch hunting. During his reign the king personally presided of some 150 witch trials, burnings and executions.

This exhibition will examine all this as well as the portrayal of witches and witchcraft in art from the Renaissance to the end of the 19th century. It promises to feature prints, sculpture and drawings from numerous artists including Dürer, Goya, Delacroix, Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, as well as classical Greek vessels and Renaissance maiolica.

The portrait of Katharina Guldenmann, by an unknown painter in the 17th century. She was an alleged witch and the mother of Johannes Kepler

The portrait of Katharina Guldenmann, by an unknown painter in the 17th century. She was an alleged witch and the mother of Johannes Kepler

The British Museum will keep the doors open on this exhibit until the 11 January 2015. It’s free too. On a side note: Hocus Pocus 2 could be here sooner than you think.