Sunday, February 27, 2011

Exploring the Default Mode Network

Hans Berger, inventor of the electroencephalogram was one of the first people to theorize that the brain remains perpetually active, even across a wide variety of mental states. Whether we are awake, sleeping, focused or daydreaming our brain is always hard at work. Obviously there are key differences between these states both physically and subjectively. But how do these differences translate into brain activity? Recent fMRI investigations have shown consistent patterns of activations in people's brains when they are awake (but resting) and this has been deemed the "Default Mode" or "Resting State" network. This animation explores some relevant theories theories its activations and potential applications of the research.

The whole project took about 4 months to complete. Of course, I blame my snail's pace on whichever task-positive networks failed to inhibit default mode connectivity (teehee really bad neuro humor). That and the fact that this was my first full length frame-by-frame animation! But seriously, that's why the audio is so terrible. If anyone knows how to export a Flash CS4 file and retain decent audio quality I'm all ears (my Google-fu has failed me).

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Thank God for the Catfish

Heed the tagline. Don't let anyone tell you what it is.
I solemnly swear that all mind-vomit in this post has been edited down to strictly spoiler-free content (except for the part where Snape kills Dumbledore). Then again, if you're one of those people who insist on stalking IMDB or Wikipedia before investing time in a movie you'll probably still enjoy it. The "twist" they advertise can be seen from a mile away and it's still difficult to prepare for how emotionally affecting it's going to be. Here, have a trailer: 

Despite what those clips might lead you to believe, the film relies on a lot more than suspense to keep your attention. I think what makes this documentary particularly compelling is its execution and its sincerity. Somehow they've managed to capture our generation's intimate and unbelievably complex relationship with technology. From dissecting the hyperrealistic nature of our online interactions to exposing how the internet has become a fundamental tool in the way we conceptualize and define what's real. Seriously, this film is like an American Beauty for Millennials. And hands down, the best part is that they don't even openly discuss it. I'm a big fan of subtlety; I tend to appreciate movies more when they develop a theme or message without addressing it in a long preachy monologue. 

Of course, following in the footsteps of every mindfuckumentary ever been made, the first and most pressing question on everyone's mind remains, "Wait, so was that actually real?" Let me answer your question with another question, "Does it fucking matter?"  If this film is fake -- as in, staged or scripted, contrived-- the the writers are brilliant. If it's real? It is the single most unsettling thing I've seen in quite a while. So whether you like your cinema verite or PoMo, I submit Catfish as a masterpiece.

Plus, after you finish watching, dear reader, we should chat about it! Like how movie itself is a ******* (meta as shit, yea?). And how ******* ***** it is that the ****** ****** was ******. Also, confession: I can actually relate to that. I've **** * **** ******* used to ***** ********** *****. But that's a whole 'nother story.
See? No spoilers. I promised.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Now, due to a construct in my mind

That makes these songs and their lyrics,
Symbolic of my entire existence.
It becomes important for me,
To make a playlist.*

Inspired by Nat, I've compiled a list of songs that were written for and/or about me. Basically, tunes that either perfectly capture what the voice in my head wishes it could say or somehow describe my life experiences with eerie accuracy. Not to be confused with my "Favorite Songs Ever Ever Ever" playlist, which is coming soon. And this, kids, is what I do after midnight.

Also here's the designated coverart and tracklist with blurbs so I can look back at this post in 20 years and giggle. Oh, life.

Mr. Mastodon Farm- Cake Because everyone's attributed life-shattering significance to random external events at some point in their life, right? God, we're weird.
Breathe - Anna Nalick Honestly the best advice I've ever gotten from the radio.
Do You Realize??? - The Flaming Lips "The sun doesn't go down /It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round"
Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games- Of Montreal Oh hi there, blogname!
Winter Wonderland - Animal Collective Exposing ridiculousness of existential denial.
Why Do I Keep Counting? - The Killers Good question.
Trouble with Dreams- Eels "You never know when to hold on or when to let go. "
Dinosaur- Whitey A refreshing take on the circle of life.
Apartment Story - The National *Happy sigh* It just is.
Flagpole Sitta - Harvey Danger "Hear the voices in my head / I sweartogod it sounds like they're snoring"
Like a Rolling Stone - Bob Dylan Psh. No blurb necessary.
Rock N' Roll Lifestyle - Cake. Way to make me self conscious about loving concerts, CAKE.
Time to Pretend - MGMT I love every single thing about this song. 
Feel Good Hit of the Summer - Queens of the Stone Age Or Fall. Or Spring. JUSTKIDDINGGUYS
Never Be Alone - Simian deliciously depressing song about friendship #1
All My Friends - LCD Soundsystem deliciously depressing song about friendship #2
Butterflies and Hurricanes - Muse "Your time is now." (Also +10 for chaos theory reference)
The Past is a Grotesque Animal - Of Montreal "At least I author my own disaster" (Even though Kevin Barnes authored the sentiment)
C'mere - Interpol Yup.
Tear You Apart- She Wants Revenge Yup.
Change your Mind - The Killers Also, yup.
Romeo and Juliet- Dire Straits "Yeah, I used to have a scene with him." 
Conquest- White Stripes bwahahaha. 
Red Flags and Long Nights - She Wants Revenge "You can rent a space inside my mind / at least until the price becomes too high"
Waters of Nazareth - Justice Shh. It doesn't need words, it speaks the language of my soul.

*to the tune of Mr. Mastodon Farm
**image from I LEGO NY