Archive for December, 2006

Bimbotown!

December 3, 2006

Bimbotown

I’m in Leipzig, Germany at the moment. Last night I went to Bimbotown, which is both a nightclub and a physical manifestation of everything that’s right about this city.

It’s an abandoned warehouse on the edge of town, absolutely enormous, and full of industrial machinery and detritus. Despite it’s size, there’s no big empty space like in an English club – most of the main room is full of coffee tables, armchairs and sofas.

Around the edge you get these crazy contraptions made of old hydraulic systems. Most of the sofas and armchairs buck like a startled horse at random intervals. The bar stools leap into the air when people on the other side of the room press buttons. There’s a coffee table that walks.

There’s a convoy of beds that drive themselves around the entire club, occasionally dissapearing through a hole in the wall to emerge somewhere else a few minutes later. We took a ride on one and it carried us across the dance floor, bumping people out of the way.

I tried to tell people how crazy this was, and how impossible this would be in the UK or the US. We have a nanny state, and it doesn’t take well to this kind of thing.

A couch descends from the roof, about to land on someones head, and a guy just taps her on the shoulder to let her know. In the UK there would have to be safety barriers, alarms, helmets and safety stewards. You have to cling on to the sofa if you’re riding it – in England there would have to be harnesses.

The way it’s run wouldn’t work here either – the people who organise it live in the place, and run this night once a month to make some money. In the UK this place would have been commercialised to death, opened every night and been ruined within a year.

All this craziness was supplemented with VJing from Piotr Baran, a set from Surf Punk band Yucca Spiders and various performance artists.

If you come to Liepzig, then time it so you can go to Bimbotown.

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Machine Making – Free Drugs and Communication?

December 2, 2006

Research into self-replicating rapid prototyping machines could create a production singularity, after which free objects, communication and medicine could be the norm.

Rapid Prototyping

The Industrial Age centralised the production, increased the quantity, and homogenized the design of manufactured goods. Traditional arts and crafts techniques dwindled to niche markets, and factories creating hundreds of thousands of identical items a day became the norm. Products became significantly more complex, and now it would be impossible for consumers to make most common household items themselves.

However, a paradigm shift may be on the way in the form of cheap rapid prototyping machines for the home. Cheap because you don’t have to buy one, your neighbor can ‘breed’ you one via self-replication.

The designers behind these machines have a formidable but admirable goal; to democratise the production of household goods. The Rep-Rap project at Bath University vocalises this goal with its slogan, “Wealth without money.”

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