A Futuristic Conclusion to HIGHRISE

HIGHRISE is back with another look into how we humans live in our built environments. We’ve looked at HIGHRISE before (Out My Window and One Millionth Tower) and this last iteration is just as captivating.

We are becoming a vertical—and digital—species. Billions of us live in highrises, and three billion of us are connected to the Internet. Universe Within takes us into the apartments, hearts, minds and computers of vertical citizens around the world to reveal the digital human condition in the 21st century. Trapped in our highrise units, can we find love, hate, peace, God, community—or a better world—online?

Stories include a mother in Ramallah who tries to stay connected with her family in Gaza; a team of competitive video game players in Seoul who live, work and train together in a highrise compound; a Mumbai teenager who records corrupt government officials in the hopes of saving her building from illegal demolition; as well as young Iraqi refugees in a Toronto suburban highrise, taking part in a “Girls Learning Code” program to learn how to create video games.

Check it out.

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From Mafia Home to Art Gallery

Italy is home to the oldest operating museum, the Uffizi, and the country is (probably) home to the oldest operating mafia. But it may come as a bit of a surprise to find out that an old mafia home is being converted to a new museum.

In an ongoing and complicated effort to stop the influence of the mafia on Italian society a former mafia mansion seized by the police is being converted to an art gallery. This is not the first time that old property belonging to mafia crime lords has been converted to something that benefits all people.

Today, construction crews are busy turning the Coppola residence – seized by the Italian state following his arrest in 2012 – into the area’s first museum.

A temporary exhibit called The Light Wins Over the Shadow, which takes its inspiration from Caravaggio, will open on 22 June and will include works of art from the Uffizi and other galleries. The exhibit will be dedicated to the memory of Peppe Diana, a local priest who was shot in the head by Camorra members in 1994 as he prepared for mass.

“Only through the promotion of civil society can we build a community that will always be ready to protect itself from this kind of infiltration,” Natale told the Guardian, as he participated in a memorial ceremony in nearby Castel Volturno for a local businessman killed seven years ago for resisting the Camorra.

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Band of the Month: The Holy Gasp

Hey!
May’s band is The Holy Gasp!

The most musically important band I’ve heard in quite a spell, The Holy Gasp’s party mix of Afro-Cuban surf punk wizardry grabs you quick and hard, and doesn’t let you go.
Check out their refreshing approach to getting a message across with body-moving protest songs to sing-and-shake along with.

Band of the Month by Greg O’Toole

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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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