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Japanese Designers May Have Created the Most Accurate Map of Our World: See the AuthaGraph

in Design, Maps | February 17th, 2017

“The world is not an illusion,” said Alfred Korzbyski, “it is an abstraction.” You may know Korzbyski for another famous maxim, “the map is not the territory.” Jorge Luis Borges took this idea to its most absurd lengths by imagining in his story “On Exactitude in Science” a map that corresponded in size and scale at every point with the territory. Borges, wrote Colin Marshall in a previous Open Culture post, “illustrated the idea that all maps are wrong by imagining the preposterousness of a truly correct one.”

That observation occurs in the context of a video from Vox that explains why it is mathematically impossible to create a completely accurate flat world map at any scale.



We must abstract; “the surface of a sphere cannot be represented as a plane without some form of distortion,” and so cartographers use a technique called “projection.” The design mapmakers have most popularly used dates to 1569, from a cylindrical projection by Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator.

For either cultural or navigational reasons, this hugely distorted map inflates the size of Europe and North America and makes Greenland and Africa roughly the same size. A long overdue update, the Peters Projection from 1973, improved the Mercator’s accuracy, but at the cost of legibility and proportion.

But last year, architect and artist Hajime Narukawa of Keio University’s Graduate School of Media and Governance in Tokyo solved these problems with his AuthaGraph World Map, at the top, which won Japan’s Good Design Grand Award, beating out “over 1000 entries in a variety of categories,” writes Mental Floss. You can view it in a larger format here.

Instead of abstracting the globe into a cylinder, then a plane, as the Mercator Projection did, the AuthaGraph turns the earth into a tetrahedron, which then unfolds in any number of ways, as you can see further up, and “can be tessellated just like an MC Escher painting… much in the same way that we can traverse the planet without ever coming to an end.” Rather than one focal point—the North Atlantic in Mercator’s case—nearly any place around the earth can be at the center. Versions of the map are already being used in Japanese textbooks, and you can purchase a poster or buy a paper kit that allows you to unfold your own globe-to-tetrahedron-to-rectangle map (see above).

The video above from Ponder explains the AuthaGraph design, which is not—and could never be—100% mathematically accurate, but can, Narukawa writes, with “a further step” in its subdivisions “be officially called an equal-area map.” The concept was important to him because of the urgent relevance of globalist thinking. As he points out, writes Japanese design blog Spoon & Tamago, “A large bulk of the 20th century was dominated by an emphasis on East and West relations. But with issues like climate change, melting glaciers in Greenland and territorial sea claims, it’s time we establish a new view of the world.” Those in the centers of Eastern and Western power ignore the rest of the world at everyone’s peril. It may help to have a much more equitable way to visualize our shared planet.

 

via Mental Floss

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

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Japanese Priest Tries to Revive Buddhism by Bringing Techno Music into the Temple: Attend a Psychedelic 23-Minute Service

in Music, Religion | February 17th, 2017

Many religious leaders would like to liven up their services to attract a younger, hipper flock, but few have the necessary background to pull it off in a truly impressive way. Not so for the Japanese Buddhist priest Gyōsen Asakura, who answered the higher calling after a career as a DJ but evidently never lost his feel for the unstoppable pulse of electronic music. Getting behind his decks and donning his headphones once again, he has begun using sound, light, and the original splendor of Fukui City’s Shō-onji temple to hold “techno memorial services.” You can see and hear a bit of one such audiovisual spiritual spectacle in the video just above, shot at a memorial service last fall.

“Buddhism may be approaching something of a crisis point in Japan,” reports Buddhistdoor’s Craig Lewis, “with 27,000 of the country’s 77,000 Buddhist temples forecast to close over the next 25 years, reflecting shrinking populations in small rural communities and a loss of faith in organized religion among the country’s population as a whole.”



He also sites an Asahi Shimbun survey that found 434 temples closed over the past decade and 12,065 Japanese Buddhist temples currently without resident monks. Can this temple in a small city, itself known for its phoenix-like rise from the ashes of the Second World War, do its part to reverse the trend?

Gyōsen Asakura frames his techno memorial services, however incongruous they might at first seem, as in keeping with the traditions of his branch of Pure Land Buddhism. “Originally, golden decorations in the temple are expressions of paradise light,” he told THUMP. “However, the light of a traditional temple has not changed its form from 1000 years ago to use candlelight, even after electricity was invented. I felt doubtful about that, and then I thought about expressing paradise with the latest stage lighting such as 3D mapping.”

After all, as he said to Japankyo, “people used to use the most advanced technologies available to them at the time in order to ornament temples with gold leaf,” so why not harness today’s technology to evoke the Buddhist “world of light” as well? And in any case, ecstatic sensory experiences are nothing new in the realm of faith, though ecstatic sensory experiences of Gyōsen Asakura’s kind do cost money to put together. And so he, in the way of most religious projects the world over, has asked for donations to fund them, using not a bowl but the crowdfunding site Readyfor. Judging by 383,000 yen (more than $3300 U.S. dollars) he’s already raised, quite a few techno-heads have seen the light.

via Electronic Beats

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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Rufus Harley, the First Jazz Musician to Make the Bagpipes His Main Instrument, Performs on I’ve Got a Secret (1966)

in Jazz, Music, Television | February 17th, 2017

Musician Rufus Harley did the people of Scotland a great favor when he took up the bagpipes. Like the Loch Ness Monster and haggis, outside its country of origin, the national instrument has evolved into a hackneyed punchline.

What better, more unexpected ambassador for its expanded possibilities than a certified American jazz cat?

He certainly stumped the all-white celebrity panel when he appeared on Steve Allen’s popular TV game show, “I’ve Got a Secret” in 1966.



Politician and former Miss America Bess Myerson’s opening question feels a bit impolitic from a 50 year remove:

Is it how well you play it that’s unusual?

“Yes, definitely,” Harley agrees.

Having quickly sussed out that the instrument in question is a woodwind, the panel cycles through a list of candidates – flute?

Oboe?

Clarinet?

No?

A…sweet potato?

Once they start batting around saxophones, Allen issues a brisk corrective:

He wouldn’t be here tonight if he, you know, just played the saxophone and that was his secret because that wouldn’t be too good a secret. 

Point taken.

Something tells me a white guy in a suit and a tie would have elicited less wonder from the panel upon the revelation that the instrument they failed to guess was the bagpipes.

On the other hand, here is a person of color commanding attention and respect on national television in 1966, two days after the Black Panther Party was officially founded.

Harley had had professional training in the saxophone, oboe, trumpet and flute, but as a bagpiper he was self-taught. As the comments on the video above demonstrate, his unorthodox handling of the instrument continues to confound more traditional pipers. No matter. The sounds he coaxed out of that thing are unlike anything you’re likely to hear on the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond.

At the end of the segment, Harley joined his back up musicians onstage for a live, Latin-inflected cover of “Feeling Good.”

Spotify listeners can enjoy more of Harley’s distinctive piping here.

And just for fun, check out this list of bagpipe terms.There’s more to this instrument than its association with Groundskeeper Willy might suggest.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, and theater maker whose latest play, Zamboni Godot, is opening in New York City on March 2. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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Pasta for War: The Award-Winning Animation That Satirizes 1930s Propaganda Films & Features Marching Rigatoni

in Animation | February 17th, 2017

From art director Zach Schläppi comes Pasta for War, an animation that satirizes propaganda newsreels from the 1930s. The plot is simple:

It begins with fresh pasta marching towards the podium. There, the Great Dictator orates. A young recruit envisions formations of dive bombing bow-ties flying above columns of ravioli tanks, while he wades through marinara sauce to battle against utensils at the bottom of the sink. The realisation that he may die ends his fantasy, but his comrades march ever forward, to their impending doom – a towering pot of boiling water.

As Jon Hofferman notes at Animation World Network, Schläppi does a pretty fine job of “re-creating the look and feel of 1930s-era wartime filmmaking, using sepia tones, triumphalist camera angles and slightly stilted editing and narration to good advantage.” Created in 2000, Pasta for War was screened at various animation film festivals and took home a few awards. Hope you enjoy.

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The First Known Footage of Marcel Proust Discovered: Watch It Online

in Literature | February 16th, 2017

Ladies and gentlemen, we present the first known footage of the French author Marcel Proust.

Announced by Professor Jean-Pierre Sirois-Trahan in the latest edition of the French journal, Revue d’études proustiennes, the footage was recorded on November 14, 1904 (nine years before Proust published the first volume in his classic work, À la recherche du temps perdu/Remembrance of Things Past). And it shows Proust descending a stairway at the wedding of his close friend, Armand de Guiche. Look for him at the 37 second mark. He’s dressed less formally (in grey, not black) than the aristocrats joining him at the celebration. I’ve added a close up picture below.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, and Flipboard and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. And if you want to make sure that our posts definitely appear in your Facebook newsfeed, just follow these simple steps.

via Le Journal de Montreal

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