bricks and games

truly transmedial to and fro
This is a moc [my own creation] interpretation by afol [adult fan of LEGO] m_o_n_k_e_y of the Vic Viper. This fighter spaceship is a signature element of the Gradius games, a series of scrolling shooters by Konami. The first game of the series was released in 1985, the latest in 2011. So over the course of a quarter of a century versions of the ship appear in more than two dozen computer games for different platforms.
    Within the LEGO scene the Vic Viper has a massive and very productive fandom, originally inspired by the late Nate ‘nnenn‘ Nielson. November, or, more correctly in this context: Nnovvember is the month of the Vic Viper. Here is pasukaru76‘s 2011 compilation of 255 Vic Viper interpretations by 135 builders:
Nnovvember 2011
Last year there were 193 Vic Vipers by 88 builders. Clicking through to Flickr you can view the posters in their original size and have a detailled look on every ship.
    But spillovers between computer games and the LEGO universe happen both ways—meanwhile with the fanbase directly involved. LEGO CUUSOO is an online idea collection system asking fans ‘to submit and vote for their favourite ideas for new LEGO products.’ If a submitted idea gets a specific numbers of supporters, the idea will be reviewed by a committee at The LEGO Group ‘composed of designers, product managers, and other key team members.’ If the idea passes the committee it will be made into an official product. As I understand it, CUUSOO, which is still in beta, first was launched in Japan: ‘It took our first launch, the Shinkai 6500, 420 days to reach 1,000 votes in Japan. Hayabusa took 57 days to 1,000.’ On the international launch the critical number was raised to 10,000. As you might know the indie game Minecraft has a substantial fanbase … the LEGO Minecraft project reached 10,000 supporters on CUUSOO within 48 hours.
    There’s yet more to and fro. Here’s a trailer for a computer game made into an animated movie by means of LEGO bricks and minifigures:

Just like to make the confusion of media and categories, the transgression of boundaries, perfect, the stop-motion movie is featured and distributed by Although ‘machinima‘ means ‘the use of real-time 3D computer graphics rendering engines to create a cinematic production. Most often, video games are used to generate the computer animation.’


cyberanthropology reviews

Now that some reviews of my book Cyberanthropology have seen the light of day, it makes sense to begin to collect them [naturally they’re all in German]:
    The Titel-Magazin was first with Ein Buch mit System! (27 September 2011). As short as enthusiastic—and it is very short.
    Next came Karl-Heinz Kohl’s review in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: Völkerkunde war gestern, Cyberanthropology ist heute (16 November 2011). Unfortunately behind a paywall on the FAZ-server, but has the full text of the review online (and posted a short notice).
    On 30 November 2011 SWR2 radio aired a review by Martin Zähringer. You can listen to it [2.0 MB | .mp3] or read it [30.4 KB | .pdf].
    And just yesterday Martin Lorber posted a review on EA’s Blog für digitale Spielkultur: Buchvorstellung: Cyberanthropology von Alexander Knorr.
    Boris Uehlinger’s review of Cyberanthropology in Buch & Maus 1/2012: 36.

ACKERMANN, ANDREAS. 2012. Knorr, Alexander: Cyberanthropology [book review]. Anthropos 107 [2012/2]: 632-633.
PISSIN, ANNIKA. 2014. Book review: Cyberanthropology. Digital China 16 January 2014.

tri knot

The above was uploaded to YouTube by McGreyling on 22 September 2010 and shows how to tie a before unknown inverse tie knot. Like Edeity’s knot, Henry Hu’s Hen Tie, and Lord Whimsy’s Merovingian it is of size 11. In the video McGreyling doesn’t stick to the convention of having the tie’s wide blade hanging to the right (from the wearer’s point of view). So, for sequencing I mirrored the movements in the video. In Fink-Mao notation McGreyling’s knot reads like this:
    Ri Co Ri Lo Ci Ro Li Co TRi Lo TCi [ET]
    In order to get the nice pattern atop the knot, McGreyling does two through-the-loop movements, marked by T—the [ET] means ‘Eldredge Tuckaway,’ the method Jeffrey Eldredge devised to get rid of the excess narrow end in a clean fashion.
    McGreyling hasn’t named the knot, but asked for ideas for a name. Well, we could christen it ‘Trinity.’ That way we would stay within the Matrix-universe of tie knots … from the ‘Merovingian’ to ‘Trinity.’ But my favourite name would be the ‘Tri Knot.’

via comment by Alexander Rabitsch—tnx

who’s bad?

zeph’s pop culture quiz #7
Who's Bad?
What’s the name of the villain?
    Just leave a comment with your educated guess—you can ask for additional hints, too. [Leaving a comment is easy; just click the ‘Leave a comment’ at the end of the post and fill in the form. If it’s the first time you post a comment, it will be held for moderation. But I am constantly checking, and once I’ve approved a comment, your next ones won’t be held, but published immediately by the system.]

UPDATE and solution (13 December 2011):
Frankly, I have no idea how he’s doing it—Alexander Rabitsch again posted the correct answer in an instant: The villain is Fantômas in the movie of the same name (Hunebelle 1964). During the final chase of the movie Commissioner Juve (Louis de Funès) and the journalist Fandor (Jean Marais) at a filling station highjack the above pictured BMW 507 and continue speeding after Fantômas (played by Jean Marais, too). But the master villain in the end escapes by means of his own submarine. Here you can see him giving orders to the submarine’s skipper:
Fantomas addressing the skipper of his submarine

HUNEBELLE, ANDRÉ. 1964. Fantômas [motion picture]. Paris: Gaumont.

beyond westworld

Yul Brynner in 'Westworld' (Crichton 1973)
Yul Brynner always has been one of my all-time favourite actors. So it is hardly surprising that his impersonation of the Gunslinger in Westworld (Crichton 1973) is one of my favourite robots. Marking the naturalistic android to be artificial only by way of the metallic eyes—see above—was a stroke of genius. The sequel Futureworld (Heffron 1976) followed. Unfortunately Brynner returned just for a short dream sequence. Both movies I saw as a kid on television and have them on DVD since long. Just recently I got to know that a television series was produced, set out to carry the story on—Beyond Westworld (Crichton 1980). Five episodes were produced, of which only three went on air. Then the project was cancelled. As of now I couldn’t lay my hands on the series. If somebody knows something …
Detail of a promotional poster for 'Westworld' (Crichton 1973)

CRICHTON, JOHN MICHAEL. 1973. Westworld [motion picture]. Century City: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
CRICHTON, JOHN MICHAEL. 1980. Beyond Westworld [TV series]. Five episodes. New York: CBS.
HEFFRON, RICHARD T. 1976. Futureworld [motion picture]. Los Angeles: American International Pictures.

inverse in time

Vincent Kartheiser as Philippe Weis in 'In Time' (Niccol 2011)
Due to public demand I created the category sartorial and the tag dandyism. For starters I hauled over five according entries from ye ole xirdalium. In detail and with background information, pictures, sequences, diagrams, and movies you now can read the, more or less, full story of the inverse tie knots (in chronological order): merovingian ties, more merovingian ties, the eldredge, eldredge variant, and finally eldredge reloaded.
    This comes in time with In Time (Niccol 2011) still in the cinemas—at least over here in Europe. I thought I had spotted it while seeing the movie just recently. So I hunted for high resolution screenshots. Above is a detail of the best I could find so far. It shows the story’s time-loaning millionaire Philippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser). Have a close look at his tie knot—looks unusal, doesn’t it? Seems like cyberpunkish villains like Weis and the Merovingian do share similar tastes in tie knots.

NICCOL, ANDREW. 2011. In time [motion picture]. Century City: 20th Century Fox.


'Decommissioned' by Alex Fojtik
This vig[nette] by Alex Fojtik simply is called Decommissioned and once again proofs that it is possible to create poetry out of LEGO bricks. It immediately reminded me of the robot soldier turned gardener in Laputa: Castle in the Sky (Miyazaki 1986):
The robot gardener in 'Laputa: Castle in the Sky' (Miyazaki 1986)
Since 2001 a life-sized replica of one of those robot soldiers can be seen in the rooftop garden of the Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo. Life-sized in his case means five meters tall:
Life-sized statue of a robot soldier from 'Laputa: Castle in the Sky' (Miyazaki 1986) in the rooftop garden of the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo
Life after people, robots after people, technology after people … here’s what I saw at boingboing this week:
Future Fossils
Cory Doctorow writes: ‘The Bughouse Future Fossils series are a set of highly detailed, weathered concrete castings of near-contemporary technology, from DJ turntables to film cameras to Atari joysticks. They’re a nice memento mori—a weighty-but-whimsical reminder of our own technosphere’s doomed frailty. ‘

MIYAZAKI, HAYAO. 1986. Laputa: Castle in the sky [anime]. Tokyo: Toei Company.

graeber’s debt

Detail of the cover of 'Debt: The first 5,000 years' (Graeber 2011)
David Graeber‘s book Debt: The First 5,000 years (2011) just arrived on my desk. Unfortunately at the moment I don’t have the time to sit down and read it in peace. Nevertheless I skimmed through it, read a bit here and there, and then couldn’t help but beginning to read it from the front cover on.
    It won’t be long and Graeber will owe me hours :-)
    There are books with which I do maintain a love-hate relationship. While reading those I constantly do have the impression that there really is something more than worthwhile, original, and important in them. But I have a tremendously hard time to really grasp those ideas I sense. That’s because under pains I have to labor myself through overly complicated prose. Have to struggle with a style which is on the brink of illegibility, sometimes well beyond. In particular I do have in mind Foucault‘s ‘Archaeology of Knowledge’ (1972 [1969]), Saïd‘s ‘Orientalism’ (1978), and Bourdieu‘s ‘The Logic of Practice’ (1990 [1980]). Foucault is the worsed. There can’t be a shadow of a doubt about the quality of the ideas contained. But the style of writing is abysmal.
    Not so with Graeber’s ‘Debt.’ Quite to the contrary. Although the ideas, knowledge, and conclusions Graeber conveys are far from being simple or trivial, his prose is clear as glass and perfectly understandable. Above that ‘Debt’ is an interesting, even thrilling read. Deep insights, perfectly readable for both, the specialized anthropological audience, and the wider public.
    But Graeber can’t be reduced to the role of plebeian tribune. He is the kind of engaged intellectual Sartre and Bourdieu demanded. And his is an engaged anthropology of the kind Thomas Hylland Eriksen demands (2006). Plus, Graeber is a high profile scholar praised by the elder sages. Maurice Bloch wrote about Graeber: ‘His writings on anthropological theory are outstanding. I consider him the best anthropological theorist of his generation from anywhere in the world. I have never made such a strong claim for anybody in any reference I have written.’
    After Margaret Mead and Clifford Geertz it seems that anthropology again has a superstar, being read and being effective far beyond the boundaries of anthropology and academia. Deservedly so.

BOURDIEU, PIERRE. 1990 [1980]. The logic of practice. Stanford: Stanford University Press. First published as Le sens pratique. Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit.
ERIKSEN, THOMAS HYLLAND. 2006. Engaging anthropology: A case for a public presence. Oxford, New York: Berg.
FOUCAULT, MICHEL. 1972 [1969]. The archaeology of knowledge. London: Tavistock Publications. First published as L’Archéologie du Savoir. Paris: Gallimard.
GRAEBER, DAVID ROLFE. 2011. Debt: The first 5,000 years. New York: Melville House.
SAÏD, EDWARD WADIE. 1978. Orientalism: Western conceptions of the Orient. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.


HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory
The very first issue of HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory has been published! HAU is ‘an international peer-reviewed, open-access online journal which aims to situate ethnography as the prime heuristic of anthropology, and return it to the forefront of conceptual developments in the discipline.’ The times of being banned from high-end anthropological articles by paywalls, moving walls, and so on, has an end. And the line-up of authors in HAU Vol 1, No 1 is impressive—for example: David Graeber, Marshall Sahlins, Marilyn Strathern, Maurice Godelier in the ‘Translations’ section, E. E. Evans-Pritchard and Julian Pitt-Rivers in the ‘Reprints’ section, …

initially via entry at