Curiosity (and art) is Addictive

A new theory based on some old research is that our drive to figure things out can be as addictive as doing drugs. If you’ve ever had to deal with a complex problem and found the solution you know that particular feeling of success.

it turns out that our brains react to learning new things (which solve a problem we have) in a similar way we react to opiates.

Biederman hypothesized that knowledge addiction has strong evolutionary value because mate selection correlates closely with perceived intelligence. In other words, addictions and cravings might stem from this need for knowledge. Even more interesting is the relationship Biederman believes exists between this same mechanism and art.

Biederman’s theory was inspired by a widely ignored 25-year-old finding that mu-opioid receptors – binding sites for natural opiates – increase in density along the ventral visual pathway, a part of the brain involved in image recognition and processing. Viewing art and understanding the beauty behind actually activates the same areas in the brain as a drug-induced high.

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A Competition and Journal Looking Into Philosophy and Games

Game Praxis

Games are a very popular cultural medium with a reputation for not being very “deep”. Game Praxis is a new project I’ve co-founded to encourage game makers and players to ask big questions through gameplay. It’s a game competition and a journal focused on philosophy and games.

The goal is simple: generate more interesting content about how games can be used to explore bigger questions. For the first run of Game Praxis pre-existing games can be submitted so if you’ve already made a game that you think should be considered you can do so.

The Game Praxis mission:

Should you choose to accept it? Marx observed philosophers have interpreted the world when the point is to change it. Much the same could be said for the game industry. We need to build more than better worlds, we need to build a better world. We see crunch, the precarious careers of late capital, and a troubled and troubling apprehension of gender in game and the game industry as symptoms of an underlying pathology of the spirit. In the game industry, the measure of success is money. With all due respect to our invocation of Marx, we aren’t against the production of surplus value but we believe there are more creative ways to evaluate games, game industries and our lives in game.

Check out Game Praxis!

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PULP: Using Old Materials for New Movements

Art is fun and it can be even more fun when it contributes to changing the world. PULP is an organization that welcomes people (beginners to pros) who are into art and want to make art that uses pre-used materials. This year they’re throwing a party!

PULP: paper art party 2015 is an interactive art and design exhibit integrated with a live music show. The party brings together artists of all fields, musicians, activity groups, and hundreds of guests. We will be raising funds and using our collective design expertise to help a charity in Toronto. Past events have supported the Street Haven at the Crossroads’ women’s shelter and Architecture for Humanity.

This year, the event will take place at Jam Factory Co. situated in south Riverdale within the Greater Toronto Area. The event is set to take place on May 23rd, 2015.

Check out PULP.

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Cuba Gets New Art Installation: WiFi

Cuba has really poor internet connectivity and it costs a lot of money to connect to the web. The thawing relationship between the USA and Cuba is bound to make it easier to develop the country’s telecommunications infrastructure (cheaper to run a cable from Florida than elsewhere). This is one of many benefits from the beginning of the end of the bizarre American embargo of the island nation.

For now, the artist Kcho is launching an art installation to prepare people for the coming rise of the internet in Cuba.

Cuba’s state telecom agency Etecsa has granted approval to the artist Kcho to open the country’s first public wireless hub at his cultural centre.

Kcho, who has close ties to the Cuban government, is operating the hub using his own, government-approved internet connection, and paying approximately $900 (£600) per month to run it.

Kcho told the Associated Press he decided to offer free internet at the centre, which opened in western Havana in January, in order to encourage Cubans to familiarise themselves with the internet.

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An Art Gallery for Destroyed and Stolen Art

The Museum of Stolen Art is an online museum that showcases artwork that has been destroyed or stolen in conflict. The new museum couldn’t exist at a better time as ISIS destroys sites of great importance to humanity, and before them the Taliban in Afghanistan destroyed a lot of ancient sites. War always brings destruction and the invasion of Iraq over a decade ago also saw many works of art destroyed or go missing.

By showcasing the missing works we can still enjoy them digitally and hopefully it sends one more message about how evil war is.

The third exhibit to launch the museum “celebrates” some of art history’s most infamous stolen paintings, including Rembrandt’s The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, Vermeer’s The Concert, and many of the works lifted during a 1990 spree at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. While taking a digital stroll through the museum, patrons can access an audio guide to learn more about the history of the pieces. As Schneider’s website states “The goals of the museum are to give visibility to art that is otherwise impossible to see on a museum wall, and also to familiarize the public with stolen items in order to assist in the their recovery.” Schneider hopes that this tool will eventually be used as a supplementary database for organizations like the FBI and Interpol in fighting art crime. The images on her site are often culled from their vast web archives, and, as the digital docent at the Museum says on the site, “If you see any of these works in real life, please report it to the International Police.”

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