Tuesday, March 29, 2011

RePost: Beer, and the Bucolic Beauty of Bruegel

This following piece is all about tagging information to images uploaded online. I wrote this in 2008 and am wondering what the barrier is to obtaining a pair of the "meta-information goggles" I imagined once upon a time. Photosynth is up and available for use through Microsoft, but none of the "saints are labeled." As I am about to make extensive travel around this pale blue dot I want to know how I can tag meta-information to photos most effectively. Will Facebook eventually be the source of this data set? Did Blaise Aguera y Arcas sell out? Have we already moved into the age of meta-tagging? Are people and their willingness to share or lack thereof the limiting factor? Is there a webspace to post meta-information aside from Facebook I am unaware of? I guess Foursquare with their "tips" feature sort of addresses this request. I would like to see more seamless transparency so we can all see what the rest have seen or thought they saw! Enter the ARGUS!


The "winter landscape with a bird trap" painted in oils by Pieter Bruegel the Elder in 1565 testifies to what I consider immortality. Though the bones of Bruegel have long since returned to dust the preservation of his works allow his spirit to echo through recorded history. Along with digital record keeping the propagation and iteration of art will undoubtedly change forever as we are now passing into an age where social commentary will literally be attached to these echoes fully accessible to the curious observer. The following TED talk by Blaise Aguera y Arcas explains the attachment process and how social networks will add infinite detail to any object in the world with a story behind it. Imagine looking at the world through goggles that display any known history relating to that object.



In many ways society is already testing a beta-version of these "goggles" with the rise of you tube and other video sharing sites. The interface is the only cumbersome part. When a person sees a sculpture in a city square the vast information relating to that sculpture is entombed in libraries and brains throughout the planet. In the present day the "user" has to take the initiative to look up all those historical tales that give the piece a context on their own. What if all that information automatically displayed in your mind's eye just by glancing at an object? This would make going into a thrift store like having a microscopic assessor from the "antiques road show" sitting on your shoulder. The next step will be to bypass this information selection process and simply attach the relevant video/audio/smell-o-vision to the content on a users radar.
Of course, no person should be denied the privilege of an unadulterated view of cultural objects, but choosing to experience this type of contextual depth could speed general education exponentially. I use Bruegel as an example of the tagging process because, as the northern hemisphere is swinging away from the sun into the frosted part of the year, these winterscapes remind me that people have hustled and bustled and thrived through the cold for all of history. Viewing and thinking about this work on a blog in 2008 makes me realize that universally accessible collaboration across centuries is possible now even while we continue to learn how to collaborate in real time. In my mind, Bruegel = Belgium = Beer. During the summer of 2004 as I spent two weeks in Leuven, Belgium I became increasingly fascinated by the tome of culture Bruegel's simple recording of folk life in 16th century Flanders represented. Here were people from nearly 400 years ago alive in front of my eyes. There were many other historical pieces of art to which I wish I had added digital anecdotes as a family friend explained them and lead the tour of Leuven the home city of Inbev-Anheuser-Busch (then called Interbrew.) I was also entrenched in the Flemish appreciation for brewing good beer. Today the theme of collaboration and beer seemed to be jumping out at me. As the Rock Mountain Collegian student newspaper proclaimed their approval of an ingeniously sustainable green business initiative undertaken by Fort Collins' own New Belgium Brewing Company. The initiative involves collaborating with Seattle-based Elysian Brewing Company by sharing each others' equipment in order to brew at the others market hubs. An elegant amber collaboration I might say so myself. While reading this article I was immediately taken back to a table at the choice city deli where I had shared a bottle of Signature Ale with the same friend who had so enriched my experience in Belgium. This was a brewmasters collboration bewteen the Port Brewing Company of San Marcos California and De 'Proef' Brouwerij of Lochristi-Hijfte, Belgium. The Signature Ale was Belgian-American Collaboration and drinking it with great friends from Belgium made the idea of an otherwise forgettable beverage affect me. So in some way all these thoughts are on the same plane; Bruegel, Belgium, Beer, and all mean collaboration. And here I have giving three increasingly concentrated stories of beer co-operativeity and each on the terms designated by their size. Large: InBev and Anheuser-Busch - Corporate takeover. Medium - New Belgium Brewing Company and Elysian Brewing Company co-operation. Small - Port Brewing Company and De 'Proef' Brouwerij - collaboration. The latter extolled virtue is at the center of Tom Paine's Ghost.
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