Google is launching a broad new effort to support the arts, in a way particularly appropriate to its role and business, with a project called DevArt that highlights modern artists using technology in general, and code in particular, to create their work.
The project will kick-off as an exhibit in The Barbican performing arts center in London, complete with four separate art installations. To prepare for that, Google is calling for developers to fill one of those spots to exhibit alongside three featured artists who’ve already been chosen to show their stuff, and who are featured in the videos below.
Varvara Guljajeva and Mar Canet
Google commissioned the artists to create brand new interactive installations for the inaugural show, using Google APIs, as well as its web products and services. Some of the technologies involve include Kinect, Unity, WebGl, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Google+, Maps, Twitter and YouTube to name just a few. Those chosen by Google to participate are going to be maintaining an ongoing log of their progress with the exhibits, via Project Pages run by each artist.
If you think you’ve got the coding skills to be the next Hacktisse (that’s terrible but it’s the best I can do) then you can enter to be the fourth exhibitor at this summer’s exhibition via Google’s DevArt website. Submissions are tracked via GitHub, and entries must be submitted by March 28 to be considered, with the winner revealed April 15, 2014.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Last Friday, 40 people gathered at an apartment in lower Manhattan to take a look at a series of works by the artist Alexandra Posen. The pieces — colored wax on paper worked into abstract forms — sat informally against the window, and the group tossed out questions as Posen talked the group through her process.
This isn’t what you think of when someone says “tech startup.”
But a young company called Gertrude is hoping to change that, by turning art experiences into a commodity and becoming a worldwide meetup platform for art salons. It’s named for Gertrude Stein, whose salons drove art discussion in the 1920s.
Founded by ex-Googler Kenneth Schlenker, Gertrude has been hosting private meetups for the last year with curators ranging from the head curator of the Whitney Museum to well-known Chelsea gallerists, and today it opens its event listings to the public.
The site allows curators to post salon listings, which anyone can then peruse and join. The salons are meant to be an open atmosphere for discussion, and the curators might range from major gallerists to the art afficionado next door, although there is an application process to host.
There are a few rules: the salon lasts one hour, only 40 people may attend, and it is led by a curator who has hand-selected a range of ten pieces to discuss.
While other art-oriented startups like Art.sy, Artspace, and Paddle8 deal with the high-end commercial side of the industry, Gertrude is built on the idea that the experience of art is not only more scalable but also holds a wider appeal. Part social, part educational, Gertrude is a meetup platform for people to enjoy visual art at a low cost. And it’s monetizing on that experience.
Referencing the Rain Room that had visitors flocking to MoMA this summer and Jay-Z’s “Picasso Baby” performance at the Pace Gallery in New York, Schlenker posits that art, like music, is increasingly becoming a live, interactive experience.
“A lot of people wanted to create startups in the art world but missed out on the fact that it’s an experience, not a product,” Schlenker said.
Curators have the option to invite select guests before the event opens to the public, but the site requires that at least five slots be left open to prevent it from becoming too exclusive. The host sets the ticket price, which might range from $0 to $175 or $10,000.
Gertrude then takes cut of the sales, which varies based on the ticket price but on average sits at about 25%. If a work of art is sold through the salon, Gertrude takes a cut there as well, although it’s less than the 50% that most galleries take.
Because Schlenker’s strong point is technology, not art, Astrid de Maismont heads up curation for Gertrude, bringing on board curators and art advisors.
In the coming months, Gertrude may add other event formats, including performances, private viewings, studio visits, and dinners with artists.
If the proposition comes off as simultaneously highbrow and plebian, that’s kind of the point. Down the line, the goal is to have the head curator of the Whitney showing well-established artists on the same day that someone in Bushwick shows works from their favorite local artists. While the art world has in many ways been built on opacity and exclusivity, major galleries and auction houses are beginning to realize that that model isn’t sustainable, Schlenker said. Whether big-name curators continue to gravitate to it in an effort to reach a broader audience remains to be seen — not that it’s inherently a good or bad thing.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Originally dubbed ‘the single currency,’ the euro has been around for a decade and was in the works for another decade before it entered circulation in 2002. At the time, it was something revolutionary, a bold initiative that could have failed multiple times along the way.
Yet, it hasn’t become the universal currency and the European Central Bank is now testing the boundaries of the euro. Bitcoin could be the surprising and beautifully designed world cryptocurrency that will take the euro’s dreams to the next level. We will discuss this at Disrupt Europe later this month.
There are a few reasons why the euro will always stay limited in scope. As one can read in 1992′s Maastricht Treaty (the Treaty on the European Union), the euro is “a single and stable currency,” nothing fancier than that. In other words, its creation mechanisms are similar to those of any other modern currency. There is a central bank, there are interest rates.
Moreover, stating that the euro is a “stable currency” is already very political. It refers to Germany’s old traumatism of hyperinflation — at all times, the euro has to avoid inflation. This is probably the most important way the European Central Bank differs from the U.S. Federal Reserve — price stability comes first in Europe. Even though politics and monetary policies are supposed to be separate, this rule proves that it’s not the case.
These days, as everyone can see with Greece’s economic troubles, the only adjustment variable is jobs. When a eurozone country is no longer as competitive as its neighbors, prices stay the same. Consumption falls and the unemployment rate rises. To fight unemployment, many have to accept pay cuts. European governments would rather create a giant help fund than endanger the euro’s stability.
For all these reasons, the euro is just another traditional currency used in a few countries. It shares all the same weak points.
Bitcoin is nothing like that. It was born on the idea that nobody could regulate it. Instead of having a central bank, Bitcoins are just a chain of characters defined by algorithmic rules. Anybody can try to find new Bitcoins and anybody can verify if it is indeed a real Bitcoin or not. All of this is handled by open-source Bitcoin applications and a few proprietary variants.
By definition, Bitcoin is apolitical. It is its greatest strength and weakness. As long as you have access to the right technological tools (a computer, internet access…), you can make transactions in Bitcoins. When the economy thrives or stagnates, Bitcoin will have its own separate trend. As the great crash of April 2013 shows us, it is as volatile as it can get. While it is still early to see significant mainstream Bitcoin use cases, the story of this new currency is a fascinating one.
And we’re excited to reveal that we will hold a panel at Disrupt Europe in late October in Berlin with Shakil Khan (CoinDesk) Pamir Gelenbe (st-ART/Bitcoin London) and Nejc Kodric (Bitstamp). Khan is an expert when it comes to Bitcoin news, while Gelenbe has successfully organized the Bitcoin London conference. Finally, Kodric is the co-founder and CEO of the largest European Bitcoin exchange, and the second one in the world behind Mt. Gox. They will all have interesting thoughts to share on the future of Bitcoin, its caveats and more.
What happens when your Bitcoin wallet value in euros falls by 50 percent in a day? If your company pays you in Bitcoins, it sounds like bad news. The future of Bitcoin as a mainstream currency is unclear. Make no mistake, the euro will remain the dominant currency in eurozone for now.
To avoid disastrous news like that, many countries, including the U.S. and Germany, are trying to regulate Bitcoins. If you really want to use Bitcoins, you’ll have to prove that you’re ready to handle the financial risks.
Back in August, a federal judge in Texas has declared that Bitcoin was a currency and should be regulated just like euros or U.S. dollars. This decision threatened Bitcoin’s utopian concept.
“The only limitation of Bitcoin is that it is limited to those places that accept it as currency,” wrote Judge Amos Mazzant. “However, it can also be exchanged for conventional currencies, such as the U.S. dollar, Euro, Yen, and Yuan. Therefore, Bitcoin is a currency or form of money,” the judge continued.
Similarly, New York’s financial services stated that Bitcoin companies should respect the current financial regulatory guidelines. Making sure that these companies are all on the same page when they operate in the U.S. is necessary to protect customers. Moreover, New York’s top banking regulator wants to write a new set of rules to decrease illegal Bitcoin activities.
“We have also seen instances where the cloak of anonymity provided by virtual currencies has helped support dangerous criminal activity, such as drug smuggling, money laundering, gun running, and child pornography,” Financial Services superintendent Benjamin M. Lawsky said in a statement. ”Taking steps to root out illegal activity is both a legal and business imperative for virtual currency firms,” he added.
Finally, following a parliamentary inquiry, Germany stated that Bitcoin should be considered as “private money.” It has many implications, starting by paying sales tax (VAT). While the conclusions are simple, the execution is more complicated as Germany is a mere member of the eurozone. If Germany really wants to pursue this further, it will probably have to lobby European institutions to change the rules on a European level.
All these rulings prove one thing: Bitcoin won’t be able to remain an unregulated currency for long. It won’t work similarly in every country of the world. Soon, Bitcoin users and companies will have to find a way to avoid tax, and authorities have a say in what you are doing with your Bitcoins.
It is not necessarily a bad thing as using a totally unregulated currency is unsustainable for many industries and use cases. But Bitcoin’s true purpose is not what everyone originally expected.
The Bitcoin network is a peer-to-peer payment network, you don’t need any banking institution to make large transfers. Instead of replacing the euro, the cryptocurrency could become the first meta-currency, a new currency that sits on top of traditional currencies for very specific use cases.
With the euro, European Union member countries wanted to create a second world currency to compete with U.S. dollars. Having a dominant currency has many advantages. According to French historian Jacques Rueff, countries (such as the U.S.) who use a major currency can sustainably keep a negative balance of payments — he calls that the “deficit without tears.”
In many ways, the European Union was successful with the euro. While it hasn’t become the universal currency, no one can deny that the euro is a major world currency. But now that two different currencies matter on a global scale, economic agents need a tool that sits between U.S. dollars and euros. Currently, about 100 percent of foreign exchange transactions involve dollars (out of 200 percent because forex transactions involve two currencies) compared to 64 percent for euros.
Bitcoin can become the common language between USD and EUR. To use Bitcoins in Italy or Ecuador, you don’t have to pay any fees. Moreover, you can exchange some Bitcoins in dollars when you’re investing in Ecuador, or exchange some Bitcoins in euros when you’re investing in Italy. Bitcoin is a money transfer protocol as much as a currency. For now, this aspect is underused but could actually become Bitcoin’s most interesting future prospect.
Disrupt Europe will take over Arena Berlin October 26-29. Tickets are currently on sale here. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, opportunities can be found here. If you are interested in Startup Alley, information can be found here. Join the conversation by using #DisruptBerlin here.
(Image credit: Zach Copley)
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
The Liberator gun made headlines when its creator fired up his 3D printer and created them, building firearms that actually fire out of little more than plastic components that combined cost little more than your average Blu-ray movie. Now, that pivotal moment in the history of DIY 3D printing is being ensconced in a London museum, Engadget reports.
Cody Wilson’s Liberator had its own misfires early on, which destroyed half the case, but later demos showed that it could fired multiple times. As John Biggs explained in a general overview, it technically can be printed at home by anyone who wants one, but not every self-printed version carries the history that these original Liberator models do.
Like Biggs pointed out, homemade guns aren’t new; it’s a long-established hobby, especially in the U.S., with a storied history. But whereas once it required a lathe and other ironworking tools and some kind of dedication and grit, now it pretty much can be managed by casual amateurs capable of spending quite a bit of money on a 3D printer and a proficiency in downloading files from the Internet.
The project being put together by the London Victoria & Albert museum is designed to showcase a range of “contemporary design projects,” of which the 3D-printed Liberator is a key example, and these will be displayed between September 14 – 22. So far, the Liberator hasn’t prompted a people’s revolution or a swell of murders, but getting eyes-on the originals still could be a story to tell the grandkids someday depending on how things shake out.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Curiator, a new app launching today at TechCrunch Disrupt SF, is not the first website that aims for people to discover and buy art, but it hopes its beautiful design, interactivity, and intelligent algorithms will mean that it will be the first to actually work.
As co-founder Moenen Erbuer sees it, the art world was one of the earliest industries to take advantage of the growth of the Internet; but as we have seen time and again in technology, sometimes being an early mover is not always the best position. “The online art world is stuck in 1995,” he says simply. Indeed, before I turned my attention to the world of technology, I worked for an art magazine, and I remember all too well the clunky websites full of too-heavy image files, glitchy marketplace joint ventures full of false purchases and dodgy work, and “galleries” of digital-specific art that too often bore little relation to beautiful work that you could see, if you could make a trip to a gallery in the flesh. It wasn’t pretty.
Co-founded by former Google engineer Tobias Boonstoppel and Erbuer — who himself comes from a background in design working at digital agency AKQA — Curiator is made with all the polish and savviness that you would expect from people who know both how the Internet works, and what makes people click with digital content.
Taking a page from Pinterest with its Masonry layout and dynamic grid, Curiator borrows in other ways from some of the later innovations in how many visually led e-commerce sites pick up information about new users: It initially takes the user through a page where it asks you to make a selection that you like from a page of options. Curiator then uses this to produce a wider selection of work that you may like, which becomes the basis of your collection. As with other social media services, you can follow other people’s collections, and others can follow you, or you can browse art by categories, specific names or through the whole river.
One of the most eye-catching parts of the site is its sharing tool. When you see a picture you like, you click on it and drag. Up comes a menu on the picture that lets you drop the image directly into your own collection; or to share it to Facebook, Google+, Twitter or Pinterest; or to download the image; or send it by email. It’s a nice way of making it very easy to move picture data around.
The social aspects, both with sharing work and also following people and being followed, is part of what sets Curiator apart from what it views as its closest competitor, Artsy, which Moenen describes as “having gone all-in on a recommendation engine and too focused on sales.”
For now, Curiator is focused mainly on getting more people on its site, uploading pictures, sharing them and adding them to their collections. This will help make the site not only richer for everyone to use, but will help Curiator pick up more data on what users want to have. This, in turn, will help Curiator with the next step in its development: adding a marketplace so that users can not only share artwork that they like to have in their “virtual” collections but also then use those “wishlists” — which may include museum pieces and other work that is not for sale — to generate lists of art that is there for the buying to become a part of users’ actual, offline lives.
The impetus for Curiator comes from two different areas. The first was Moenen and Boonstoppel’s own experiences, and those of their friends, in trying to collect art.
“A lot of people who have made a little money start buying art, but it’s an intimidating institution, going to galleries, fairs and auction houses. You see something you like, but don’t know if the price is right, or if it’s any good. If you’re not serious about art already, it’s hard to be confident about your own taste,” Moenen explained. He says that some people resort to hiring consultants, but that’s not to everyone’s taste. Others look to their friends to see what they buy. “So we decided, could we create a product that does both of those things, but for everyone?”
The other is that the two have dabbled in other projects before where people could send links to each other, which, when opened, created a way to let you track what that friend browsed via that link. This gave them ideas about how they could apply those learnings in a single site, even though none of that earlier code is being used in Curiator.
So far, in its limited beta, Curiator has seen some decent traction for the site, with a 17 percent retention rate, with many more people contributing work than they had anticipated. Users can either upload through the site, or use a Curiator bookmarklet to collect works from around the web.
There are no plans “ever” to add features like advertising to monetize the site, Moenen says. “We want the interface to be like a museum. When you start to put in ads, quality control is a challenge.”
Check out the video below, and also some questions from the judges:
Questions from the judges:
What kinds of sales do you plan to host on the site, when you launch them? Referral sales, getting a commission from sales from galleries, will be an opportunity. The other will be Curiator acting as a dealer or agent for artists. The third will be offering a platform for art owners to sell their own collections.
How do you deal with provenance and other kinds of authenticity questions on sales? We will cross that bridge when we come to it.
Is this aimed for total novices or experts? Ideally we want both using this.
Who do you see as your biggest competition, and how do you for example battle Pinterest? Amazon, Pinterest, Artsy are competitors. Pinterest is not specifically for art. And we have special ways of indexing users and artists.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Remember turning the corners of your class notes into flipbooks with a sequence of tiny drawings? iPad app Loop recreates the glee of watching your doodles come to life by making it easy to create frame-by-frame animations. Loop, which costs a dollar in the App Store, is the creation of Universal Everything, a studio known for its large-scale digital installations, and is based on the sketches used by head artist Matt Pyke and collaborators to plan visual concepts.
The beauty of Loop, however, is that it is about as unintimidating as an art app can get. Its user interface features a very limited set of tools, including an onion skin tool, a button that lets you duplicate your last frame and an eraser, but no undo feature. Loop’s fanciest feature is the ability to import a guide movie to trace over, but with only three ink colors (black, red and blue) and 45 frames available, it’s not like you’ll be recreating Studio Ghibli masterpieces on your iPad.
Loop’s limitations, however, are liberating. I love drawing apps like Paper by FiftyThree and Procreate, but as a non-artist, I always feel as if I’m wasting their feature sets. On the other hand, I felt free to indulge my penchant for hastily-drawn stick figures and crude five-petal flowers on Loop. Anticipating seeing them come to life added to my giddiness. One of the first gifs I made with Loop is below:
Once you are done with your animation, you can export it as a gif and email it, save it to your camera roll, submit it to Loop’s gallery or post it to Tumblr.
My main quibble with Loop is that the gifs it creates are tiny (about 183KB), which means if you decide to spend time on a more complex animation, most details will be hard to see in your final product. The “import guide movie” feature distorted the aspect ratios of the video clips I tried to use, a quirk I hope Universal Everything will fix in future updates. I’d also like the ability to upload a guide image instead.
These minor complaints aside, Loop is the most fun I’ve ever had with an art app on my iPad. In fact, it’s the most fun I’ve had with drawing since I was a kid doodling away in my class notebooks.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch