Monday, December 28, 2015

The Uncanny Lover || Technology - Bits | Robotica


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Technology - Bits | Robotica

The Uncanny Lover

By Zackary Canepari, Drea Cooper and Emma Cott | Jun. 11, 2015 | 7:23
Matt McMullen is developing a sex robot that uses technology to create the illusion of sentience. But is it enough to generate real emotions in its user?

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        The New York Times       

      The Year in Music Videos

      In the beginning, music videos were strictly promotional tools. Then they became the thing itself — a song lacked meaning without an accompanying visual extravaganza. That’s still partly true, especially for the few monoculture superstars and consensus cognoscenti favorites that remain. But video as a medium is now more equal opportunity than ever: Thanks to smartphones, everyone is a director or videographer, and videos can be consumed anywhere, anytime, in six-second loops or two-hour concerts. There are still innovative artist-created music videos, but in the modern age, all the musician can really control is the song — what’s done with it once it’s in the world is anyone’s guess. Here are critics’ picks of the best music videos of 2015. Jon Caramanica

      Jon Pareles

      Africa Express “Terry Riley’s In C Mali”

      Terry Riley’s “In C,” from 1964, is a defining Minimalist composition: a steady pulse and a sequence of 53 motifs to be repeated any number of times by any group of musicians. Africa Express, a collaboration between Western and African musicians led by Damon Albarn, was recorded in Mali with balafons (marimbas), koras (lyres), kalimbas (thumb pianos), imzad (one-stringed fiddle), percussion, voices and more, infusing the Minimalism with bits of West African music. The piece’s repetition can make “In C” a kind of meditation, but not in this version. The music dances, and the 41-minute video, using its own set of recurring motifs, stays in constant motion through Mali’s streets, clubs and recording studios.
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      Africa Express Presents: "Terry Riley's In C Mali" Video by Pitchfork

      As a song, “Borders” is starkly functional: two chords, a modal Middle Eastern-sounding hook and verses made from terse, pointed lists — “police shots,” “identities,” “privilege” — punctuated by a deadpan refrain: “What’s up with that?” The video, directed by M.I.A., says more. She sings surrounded by more than 100 young men who climb razor-wire-topped fences, crowd every possible space in boats and sit on coastal boulders wearing the kind of gold thermal wraps seen in photos of refugees: a mass of humanity with an uncertain destination.
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      M.I.A. "Borders" Video by Viralizou

      Alessia Cara “Here”
      Wallflowers are observant, as 19-year-old Alessia Cara proves with “Here,” the antidote to every party-hearty music video ever made. Singing about how she’s “an antisocial pessimist,” over lugubrious descending chords that are part Lana Del Rey and part Notorious B.I.G., she wanders through a house party lighted in miasmic shades of purple, with the other partygoers frozen in place while she details just how shallow they are. Uncool becomes ultracool.
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      Alessia Cara "Here" Video by AlessiaCaraVEVO

      Vince Staples “Norf Norf”
      In his rap, Vince Staples details why he’s an authentic “gangsta Crip” from the north side of Long Beach, Calif., insisting, “I ain’t never ran from nothing but the police.” But his nasal vocal, the strangled way he pronounces “Norf Side Long Beach” and the electronic siren tone at the center of Clams Casino’s production make him sound more bleak than boastful. And the black-and-white video spells out consequences: He’s in a police car as it begins, then cuffed, arraigned, brutally interrogated and thrown into jail, another young black man in the prison system.
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      Vince Staples "Norf Norf" (Explicit) Video by VinceStaplesVEVO

      Rihanna “Bitch Better Have My Money” and Taylor Swift “Bad Blood”
      These two blockbuster music video extravaganzas of 2015 are mostly celebrations of tough women with big budgets. Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” is a lighthearted sci-fi action-adventure parody: full of flying glass, stunts and, mostly, cameos by pop stars, actors and models that Ms. Swift can now call in. It’s about woman power, but also about celebrity, cliquishness, hair and makeup. Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” is angrier, bloodier and just as conspicuous in its consumption; it features a yacht barely smaller than an aircraft carrier. Maintaining an expression of pouty malevolence, Rihanna kidnaps and tortures the pampered blond wife of the accountant who cheated her; at the end, Rihanna is lounging, naked and spattered with blood, on a steamer trunk full of what’s important: cash. The titillation couldn’t be colder.
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      Taylor Swift "Bad Blood" ft. Kendrick Lamar Video by TaylorSwiftVEVO
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      Rihanna "Bitch Better Have My Money" (Explicit) Video by RihannaVEVO

      Ben Ratliff

      Missy Elliott “WTF (Where They From)”
      Now this is a video in the classical mode, the kind that enhances a song and compresses its energy, the kind you don’t forget: Pharrell Williams as a bucket-drummer marionette, mosaic-mirror hoodies, advanced-class face paint, continuous costume changes, subway station dancing, street-futurism.
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      Missy Elliott "WTF (Where They From)" ft. Pharrell Williams Video by Atlantic Records

      Stormzy “Wicked Skengman (Part 4)”
      For the past few years the English grime rapper Stormzy has been making freestyle videos in parking lots in suburban London. The most popular has been this year’s “Shut Up,” watched 15 million times, but the giddiest was Part Four of his “Wicked Skengman” series, posted online in September, in which he plays gregarious host to an excited, circling crowd, and spills forth torrential rhymes over the track of Jme’s “Serious.”
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      Stormzy "Wicked Skengman (Part 4)" Video by StormzyTV

      Grimes “REALiTi”
      It’s an artist-on-tour video, a standard category. But here Grimes, a.k.a. Claire Boucher, travels through Asia, filming from moving vehicles and being filmed. It’s very professional/amateur; she’s sometimes posing and sometimes not, but always herself, with amazing energy.
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      Grimes "REALiTi" Video by Grimes

      Gold “And I Know Now”
      Here’s a brilliant and simple idea: a music video made entirely of camera-phone footage of Black Friday madness in big-box stores, sometimes split into three screens, a Bosch-scape of more violent incivility than you’d see at a Slayer show in the mid-80s. Better still, it’s over a serenely intense song by Gold, the near-metal Rotterdam band — a song restraining its own energies.
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      Gold "And I Know Now" Video by vanrecords

      G.L.O.S.S. Boiler Room, Boston, 9/21/15
      G.L.O.S.S., the trans and queer punk band from Olympia, Wash., put out an enraged five-song demo in January whose songs forcibly turn the standpoint of the excluded into a seat of power. (“I’m not pathetic, I’m not your project, I wasn’t put here for you!” yells Sadie, the band’s singer, in “Masculine Artifice.”) I’d been looking forward to seeing them, but was told by the Brooklyn club where they played in September that the band didn’t want The New York Times to cover them. I wasn’t surprised. I showed up anyway, but too late to buy a ticket. That’s O.K.: If I (mainstream media, but also male, white, cisgender) felt excluded, perhaps I’m feeling something they want me to feel. But there are plenty of videos from the tour online, and the most vivid, best-sounding one I saw is 15 minutes from the Boiler Room in Boston, ending with fans swinging from the ceiling pipes.
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      G.L.O.S.S. at the Boiler Room, Boston, MA - September 21, 2015 Video by attheboilerroom

      Jon Caramanica

      Nicki Minaj featuring Beyoncé “Feeling Myself”
      NM: Hey B, you going to Coachella?
      B: More like #nochella amirite?
      NM: Srsly. Let’s hang. I got a spot with a kiddie pool.
      B: Great. I’ve got this fur jacket I’ve been meaning to get wet.
      NM: I’ll bring water guns!
      B: Are you hungry? I feel like all the food out here is so healthy — it’s like eating air and paste.
      NM: Yeah, the hell with that. I’m bringing burgers and fries.
      B: I guess we have to, like, go to the festival for a minute.
      NM: Fine, but don’t tell anyone.
      B: Oh don’t worry, no one’ll know — the video is a Tidal exclusive. It’s a secret!
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      Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé "Feeling Myself" Teaser Video by TIDAL

      Nicholas Fraser “Why You Always Lying”
      The charm of this Vine was its blend of the comic, the dubiously sexual and the absurd. The comedian Nicholas Fraser stands in the narrow side passage between a house and a fence. His shirt is, for unknown reasons, unbuttoned, its tails fluttering as he dances. “Why you always lying,” he sings in a whiny voice to the tune of Next’s “Too Close,” one of the most starkly erotic R&B songs of the 1990s. There is a 14-second Instagram version (from which the Vine was drawn) and a four-and-a-half minute full narrative video, but the Vine is the thing. Ostensibly Mr. Fraser’s song is about people who exaggerate what they have in order to seem cool, but distilled down to the six-second plaint, it’s a universal call of exhaustion and taunt.
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      Nicholas Fraser "Why You Always Lying" Official Video (Vine) Video by Alex Merman

      Vince Staples “Señorita”
      In which our hero navigates a destitute block teeming with parasites attempting to rob him of energy. He tries to steer clear so he can be heard but also knows he’s speaking for everyone around him. As he raps, people begin dropping dead. They push themselves up against what appears to be a glass wall — they’re trapped. The camera pulls back to reveal a preppy white family watching them as if in a movie theater or museum. This is a neat distillation of the gangster rap paradox by a rapper who is as savvy about the multiple constituencies he’s performing for as any before him. Speaking loudly when surrounded by death is a moral imperative, and also frightening. And it’s all entertainment for people who never have to get their hands dirty.
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      Vince Staples "Señorita" (Explicit) Video by VinceStaplesVEVO

      Drake “Hotline Bling”
      Let’s talk about the colors — cool pink, soothing yellow, spiky green, gentle lavender, warm peach, regal chartreuse, electric turquoise, ice white. The “Hotline Bling” video is about mood and tone, not narrative. It’s a balm, a longing eye and a soft smile, a confident embrace. The only excess in the video is the scale — the hugeness of the colors versus the relative smallness of the star. In the middle of it all, there’s Drake, dancing with astonishing poise, the heir to hip-hop’s throne. Meme him all you want — it only makes him stronger.
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      Drake "Hotline Bling" Video by DrakeVEVO

      Assorted Dab Videos
      The only thing that keeps viral dance crazes from becoming true nationwide phenomena — a new “Macarena” — is complexity. The moves might be easy for slithery teenagers, but tough for their parents, or grandparents, to master (though it can be enjoyable watching Hillary Clinton trying the Nae Nae). But the dab is easy: bend your arm, drop your head into the crook. It’s cheap, effective emphasis, and over the last few months the stuff of rappers, football players, morning news anchors, the elderly, and seemingly pretty much anyone with access to a smartphone. All that’s needed is an Obama dab — Barack or Michelle, either one — to bring the movement to completion.
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      Cam Newton Starts "Dabbin" After Touchdown Video by The Fumble

      Nate Chinen

      Björk “Stonemilker”
      “Find our mutual coordinates,” sings Björk near the start of this immersive virtual-reality experience, seeming to issue the words as an invitation. She’s standing on a rugged Icelandic shore, wind rippling the folds of her yellow gown: a human beacon of survival in a hard, desolate landscape. (The emotional subtext of the song makes the metaphor here ring loud and clear.) Directed by Andrew Thomas Huang, this is a video best experienced with a VR headset and quality headphones, through YouTube’s 360 player or an iPhone app.
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      Björk "Stonemilker" (360 degree virtual reality) Video by Björk

      Kendrick Lamar “Alright”
      Rarely has a messianic complex felt more selfless or knowing than in the case of the rapper Kendrick Lamar, who spends much of this starkly cinematic black-and-white video suspended in air, gliding or hanging or perched. Almost every shot in the film, directed by Colin Tilley with the Little Homies, feels supercharged: with kinetic energy, mythopoetic grandeur and (perhaps most pronounced) defiant moral exhortation.
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      Kendrick Lamar "Alright" Video by KendrickLamarVEVO

      Joanna Newsom “Divers”
      A meticulous investment in artifice, with Joanna Newsom mostly filmed in medium close-up, against a strikingly otherworldly tableau: rocky outcroppings, tufted clouds, slow-blooming eruptions of inky pigment. It’s the product of a collaboration among Ms. Newsom, the artist Kim Keever and the filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson — a statement at once unhurried, hauntingly lovely and dramatically self-aware, with a strong tether to the song’s exquisite lyrics.
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      Joanna Newsom "Divers" Video by Drag City

      Cécile McLorin SalvantWives and Lovers”
      For her unblinking cover of “Wives and Lovers” — a curdled artifact from the early 1960s, by Burt Bacharach and Hal David — the jazz singer Cécile McLorin Salvant devised an ingeniously simple visual concept. This clip has a blank backdrop, a blood-red filter (also as in red flag, red light, flashing sirens) and just two human figures: Ms. Salvant and Storyboard P, the brilliant flex dancer, who turns the song’s distressingly sexist message nearly inside out.
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      Cécile McLorin Salvant "Wives and Lovers" Video by Mack Avenue

      Kamasi Washington “The Epic in Concert”
      Not a music video, per se, but in this case, something better: a two-hour chunk of material from the tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington’s album-release concert at the Regent Theater in Los Angeles. The performance, featuring Mr. Washington’s expanded coterie, including a celestial choir and strings, would be on my list of best shows, had I been present. The video, filmed and produced by NPR’s “Jazz Night in America,” makes it feel as if I had been.
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      Kamasi Washington's 'The Epic' in Concert Video by Jazz Night in America

      The Best in Culture 2015

      More highlights from the year, as chosen by our critics:
      Movies, Television, Classical Music, Classical Albums, Dance, Theater, Art, Books and Performances