Saturday 13 September 2008

The future of sex, caring, nursing, um... women?

Female robots.

"I see faces, understand voices and make facial expressions. At the moment I am just a machine, but someday I may be fully alive and aware."

Kiddy voice, looks a lot like daisy lowe

I kind of dig Eva

Sinister child woman

Conservative hockey mom

For the gentleman who likes his android in a plastic miniskirt

Ok. And there are some male versions too. Compare and contrast. Discuss. Comment!

Cycling robot

Village people go Michelin: I am not sure this is the future

Fiddlin bot

Thursday 11 September 2008

Show news!

I have a number of posts in various states of undress, but today I am up to my goolies in trying to find a dvd burner that is compatible with apple, and that can also be shipped to me by tuesday (or in-person pickupable in Dublin or London over the next couple of weeks. This is proving more tricky than you might think.)

Meanwhile, show news! I will be performing my one minute one woman show, Ode to a Daisy, as part of the Project Brand New's Magic Moments series in the Dublin Fringe Festival on Wednesday, September 17th! The time is 3 pm, the place is the Fringe Festival Offices, on Sackville Place. I would be delighted to see you, and have you see me.

Other show news: I have a couple of still movies showing at the Enniskillen Arts Festival, from the 26th September to the 5th October in the foyer of the Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. My movies are Rose and Milla from my "This is Where" series of still live movies. They will be live on my site within the next couple of weeks. I'm really excited to be showing at the Portora school: it is an old private boys school that is celebrating its quatercentenary this year (ie. 400 years old!). Oscar Wilde and Sam Beckett both went there. My work will be projected in the foyer! This is seriously thrilling. There are lots of cool gigs and stuff happening in Portora over the course of the festival, Eliza Carthy and Andy Irvine are both playing there, so lots of people will be milling through. Come on up!

Wednesday 10 September 2008

What is this love stuff? Or, jealousy makes for better sex.

It is official, Howard Jacobson says so. He says:

"People will tell you: "We've been together now for 40 years, never had a cross word, she's never looked at another man, I've never looked at another woman." And there's enough of Felix Quinn [the lead character in his new novel] in me to think: "well, that would be a bit dull".... Jealousy quickens. And to miss the quickening of jealousy, is to miss a big part of erotic life. I'm sure you can settle down and have a nice domestic life without jealousy.' A pause. A wicked smile. 'But - why would you want to?'"
He says that jealousy is the 'quickening' of love. The glue, the proton, the enzymes, the baking powder, the bit that makes the heart beat faster. I kind of have a soft spot for a species that needs things to kick its arse in gear and couple up. Here's Jacobson on desire:

"Intense desire is living in constant fear of loss. Can you love someone properly, without fearing that you'll lose them? I doubt it. I doubt it. With love grows this real sense of danger. The world will take it from you! And one way to lose someone you love, is to death, or an accident, or any kind of mishap. And the other, is to infidelity, which is another kind of mishap."
But what is the stuff that is getting quickened? What is this love stuff? So there's a moment when we recognise that we feel 'love' for somebody, the romantic version also, that really only occurs in moments. A minute after the fuzzy wuzzies and we're having a blazing row with that person, the flame of passion flickers with the wind. That's a different kind of love to the the love that finds the lover in a myriad of forms, whatever happens to be around.

Is the addict in love with his dealer? Is that love? Maybe it is... It's perceived need, it's a craving that flows through the body, and the perceived one who can soothe and supply what is craved. That's often how romantic love at least, is perceived, experienced. A feverish surge of drythroated desire. Most people would probably not think of it as love. Who is to say?

Tuesday 9 September 2008

Matter. Anti-matter. Bang. Repeat.

When word started to filter out into science-ish blog land a few months ago, about the impending Large Hadron Collider deadline, the beginning of the experiments to generate little big bangs in a circular 17 mile long tube around Geneva, I was quite surprised. Because I had heard first about the LHC something like 15 years ago when I was piss young, and however I heard the news then, I just assumed that it was already happening. Of course I didn't call it the Large Hadron Collider, or even the LHC, and I didn't know the organisation organising it was called CERN, or any of that stuff that is so readily available to me online today, right now, as I type and fact-check and seek links to pepper through this post. Look at how beautiful it is.

Back then, and since I heard about it, CERN's Large Hadron Collider has been a part of my repertoire of conversational metaphors. I was deeply excited about it when I heard about it, and I have been talking about it ever since. A typical CERN moment might run something like this:

[time: 5.30 am, place: somebody's attic flat in Ranelagh or a shotgun house in Algiers Point, New Orleans, and the kind of 15 hour conversation that is a rolling stream of inspiration and widening energy]

Lucy: And that reminds me of this thing that they've built, somewhere in Switzerland, Zurich I think, and they have this machine that circles the city, way underground, and it recreates the big bang several times every hour! Imagine that! The origins of our existence, the moment of the birth of the whole manifest universe, happening quietly underground, in a lab in the middle of Europe...

The layers of the concept just kind of blew my mind every time I thought about it. I've even met Swiss people and talked about it to them, and they have all nodded and smiled sagely, yes, that's the LHC, yes, that's right, we are a very advanced people with our chocolate and our watches and NOW, OUR LHC!! But nobody mentioned the fact that it wasn't actually in operation yet.

So now it's really really happening, like, tomorrow. And actually, the fact that it hasn't been really really happening for the past 15 years has been kind of blowing my mind all over again, for the past couple of months.

One of the possible outcomes of these little hourly mini-recreations of the origin of the universe is that there might (tiny possibility, granted, but cool enough to mention) be created a tiny tiny baby black hole that will rapidly suck up all the spacetime around it, and thus gobble up the solar system, and god knows, maybe the galaxy in which we live. Wow. Awesome (in the biblical sense, not the californian surfer dude sense. Hm. Actually, both). This is how we would die. But can you imagine the moments just before? Seeing the black hole gulping up the galaxy from the inside around? Imagine how that would look? "A stream of atoms descending toward the abyss..." That ain't no pixillation, baby...

So they start sending particles around tomorrow in a clockwise direction, then the next week they'll send them anti-clockwise, just to get the Collider nice and warmed up. It'll be a few weeks before they start banging them together. First, some tests around the track. So. In a couple of weeks time, keep your eyes peeled. If you're gonna get spaghetticised, you'd probably want to at least catch a glimpse of the spectacular view.

Monday 8 September 2008

Do something

We are a heaving house of hounds at the moment. Everybody is on their holidays and everybody has left their pooch with us, because we treat them nicely and let them stay in the house. We now have everybody's pooches in the house. The house is saturated of pooch.

I am getting ready to take Dolly, Smudge and Fluff out for a walk. Together. I have become each of their replacement 'go-to' person. They are each lovelorn and competitive for my affection. Particularly Dolly and Smudge. Dolly sniffs Smudge intently when I am stroking her, as if to find out what she has that Dolly doesn't.

Then Dolly makes her groovy twirling arse dance, and looks at me expectantly.

When I am cooking, one or other of them will come and sit by my ankles, facing out into the room, defying any other pooch to come near. Molly meanwhile is in full tilt nervous breakdown mode, very very dramatic. Tiny tiny pooch and her whole body heaving.

Molly, Dolly and I went running last night. Molly got very very excited and passionate and then it all got overwhelming for her and she started to snarl and nip at Dolly. Of course Dolly wasn't keen on any of this shit at all, and snarled back, and looked at me like, do something.

They all look at me like, do something. When somebody comes into the kitchen, there are usually 3 expectant dogs, staring at them, saying do something. When they hear a vehicle driving in, they all bark, do something.

So I am the one they have figured out is their best bet for long walks in the tall grassy wildish fields around here, and they are all keen to be my favourite. This morning, I felt that I had an inkling of what it might be like to be Hugh Hefner or somebody, with all these small pooches vying with each other for my affection and attention, sniffing each other's arses for hints and information, before nudging the other one out of the way and placing their head on my leg.

Sunday 7 September 2008

Insects Live Furiously

Today I am inspired by insects. It doesn't take much. But I am going to London soon and this is one place I think I will have to visit while I am there (except that it doesn't open until early next year... groo). One house. 17 million insects. Right in the middle of the city. This is very very exciting. This is the kind of thing that would make a gal move to London. Just to be close to them. Just to visit them every day. Just to be near humans who say things like, "The point is that I have a huge amount of admiration for these kinds of flies." The scientist in question is talking about maggots that go to live in human corpses that he then collects and investigates.

This article is so full of people who are passionate about insects. It makes me long for the tribe. There is a place there called the Insect Information Service and it is staffed by a man who is the " 'go to' man for the whole world's bugs." Hurrah! Here is what he says: "There are 23,500 insects and spiders in Britain and no one knows all of them, but I know most... My single mission in life is to make people more aware of the life around them. It mystifies me that people are interested in what's on Mars when all of this stuff is at their feet to be handled and touched." Swoon.

And there is a female mite specialist, who is married to the Curator of Cockroaches. This needs to be made into a movie.

So it is a long article. This is the anecdotal visceral emotional core of it:

"Hall is the country's leading forensic scientist, his speciality being the study of maggots in flesh wounds to discover the precise time of a murder.

He is a wry and engaging figure, a man who should be a TV drama series. He greets me with a selection of fattened maggots in pots, a kind of juju necklace of maggots removed from the rear end of a sheep, and a series of graphic photographs of wounds (mostly in live animals) in which maggots are making hay. In among the photographs are a couple of pictures of his own legs and arms with livid sores.

'I had a personal experience of some of this after I came back from Bolivia one time,' he explains matter of factly, 'along with the maggot of a botfly in my leg. They can eventually get quite large,' - he opens a 2in gap between thumb and forefinger - 'so I could feel this movement and I could see the tip of the maggot coming up to breathe and going back down.'

What did he do?

'Well you can't really squeeze them out, because they have these backward facing spines. You need surgery. I had a couple in my arm, too. I discovered if you put Vaseline over them they can't breathe and tend to back out of their own accord, eventually.' "

Ok, I've just realised that the insects will actually be dead, not living, and so, the whole heartbeatingly exciting spectacle of Lucy wandering blissfully through an eight storey cocoon of fucking and fighting insects has vanished in the space of a paragraph. London can breathe its smoggy air safely again. But I like this bit a lot:

"In the heart of the new building the Natural History Museum will also be putting its greatest living wonders on show: its staff of 220 scientists will be presented in full view of the public.

At intervals, along the winding descent through the dramatic cocoon, these rare creatures will be viewed behind glass at their work stations, preparing petri-dishes, peering through microscopes, eating lunch, perhaps grabbing an afternoon nap. At various points the public will have the opportunity to interact directly with them, to ask questions and to examine experiments."