This Machine Loves #Pepsi!

When Woody Guthrie scrawled “This machine kills fascists” on his guitar, it became an enduring adage to the revolutionary minded. He was a folk-singer, far ahead of his time. Richly associated with protest, he foreshadowed the posturing of Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Billy Bragg and the rest. Accordingly, his lyrics and music carry as much weight and relation today as they did close to a century ago. That’s why it’s such a shame that he couldn’t be around to help out PepsiCo, leaving us with Kendall Jenner in his place.

Just imagine it. Instead of some modelling mimzy, crooning through crowds with the sincerity of a cold-caller, we’d have Guthrie championing peace like only he can.…   [continue reading]

The Internet Should be a Communist Utopia. It’s Not, Because of the Filter Bubble

When you talk about the filter bubble, you’re talking about something quite specific. It’s the heavily curated ecosystem of the internet. A set of rules that filter all of the world’s information and organize it into what algorithms expect you to want to see — algorithms that suggest your next video on YouTube, or show you an article on Facebook.

At first, it can seem like a user friendly way to prioritize and curate the internet according to a set of personalized boundaries. You only see relevant content, and it brings order to the sprawling, chaotic internet.

In the era where fake news and propaganda virally populates Facebook — the world’s biggest news aggregation platform — it’s gone from being a user-friendly convenience to a threat to how we perceive the world around us.…   [continue reading]

Super Deluxe: Editing as Part of the Art

It was only recently that I wrote about how damaging editing can be to comedy. Often chaining or dulling the creative process, there’s a lot of evidence for its oppressive implications. On the other hand, it’s only fair to discuss how liberating it can be for expression. In fact, creators like Super Deluxe have shown how effective it is when used constructively. There have been hints of it for years. Even Chris Morris, as shackled as he was, could reconstitute existing material into something new and interesting. To finally tie up connections to the previous article in this arc, here’s a prophetic example of Morris doing just that:

Examples go back far further too.…   [continue reading]

I’m Not Saying Andy Tyrrell Should Join Twitter

This is written in response to an article here by Andy Tyrrell, my father.

Est Pater meus, cunnus; it is true that my father is a cunt. Puffed up by the bitter fats of aged failure, only a taxi driver could spit such vitriol at something he doesn’t understand. This is why, as a hackney carriage operator himself, Andy Tyrrell concentrates on pedantry for the base of his criticism. None of this is to denigrate his obvious intelligence either, which is clear from his rampant eloquence.  Where my dad falls down, however, probably lies in the fact that he has no Twitter account.…   [continue reading]

I’m Not Saying Ben Brandall Should Kill Himself

Errare humanum est; it is true we all make mistakes and, from time to time, such mistakes can lead to disastrous events. I am reminded of the architect, John Weeks, who built Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow, in the 1960’s. Upon completion, the building was considered so ugly by everyone, including the Queen, that John, wracked with guilt and shame, threw himself from the roof of the six floor maternity unit to his demise.

The above story is not true. It is, in fact, urban myth. John Weeks did, indeed, build the hospital and everyone did think it was ugly, but John did not carry out the legendary, almost poetically, suggested justice upon himself.…   [continue reading]

Neural Network Art: From AI Nightmares to Alien Volcanoes

As we’ve seen from many Twitter bots, software is more than capable of creating captivating art.

But art created by neural networks moves past basic random patterns, using millions of source images, and AIs so advanced they can create surreal landscapes from scratch, paint portraits of dog-men and model alien volcanoes on planets we can’t closely observe.

In this post, I’m going to explain how neural networks — software designed to emulate the human brain — generate images, and speculate what that could mean for the future of art and entertainment.

…   [continue reading]

Viral Videos and Hyperreality: How Attention is Manufactured On a Massive Scale

Viral videos are a strange cultural phenomenon.

They’re your classic fail compilations, your controversial quotes clipped out of interviews, your Cat Falls in Bath, Disembowels Owner (MUST WATCH!!)s. Or — more interestingly — a document of some tiny, insignificant moment that was never ready to be scrutinized by millions.

Videos go viral by chance: they happen to be picked up in the right place at the right time, someone will get it up on the front page of reddit for a few hours, and it’ll blow up. Millions of views overnight, coverage from every major news outlet on the planet, and some drugged seven-year old babbling nonsense in the back of his dad’s car is suddenly world famous.…   [continue reading]

The Yellow Brick Road of Internet Hysteria

Communities have a habit of obsessing over breadcrumb trails.  It’s an impulse within us that goes back far further than the internet.  However, with the advent of social media, this hysteria has been easier to track.  It’s impressive just how quickly these self-proclaimed “detectives” can get to work.  You can always count on teams of basement dwellers to decode any stray ARG.  As I’ve recently stated, this can be a great way of engaging a fan community.  That’s all just marketing though, in essence.  Deep in each of these explorers’ hearts must be a wish that something more hides in the folds of mystery.…   [continue reading]

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur: How a Failed 70s Obscurity Was Brought Back to Life

Comics intimidate me.

There’s nothing like almost a full century of universe-building to make you feel like you’re at the center of some huge, complex web of references and in-jokes designed to keep the insiders in and the outsiders out.

When I saw the first issue of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, I’d not heard of either character before and imagined that there’d not be any references to miss. As if I needed more proof that the world of comic books has a high barrier to entry for a pedantic completionist like me, I was wrong.

After reading #1, I realized it was full of allusions to past releases that I had no idea existed.…   [continue reading]

Farewell Hilary Shaw

On Tuesday 20th December, at 5:30 pm GMT I stood up and stretched, working out a crick in my back which had settled after 9 hours in the same chair.

The work call had just ended, with my next post set up and scheduled, ready to go the next day automatically.

On a whim, I decided to check my Twitter, expecting some kind of backlash at the Rogue One review that went live the day before.

“@Ben__Mulholland Hi Ben Mulholland”

This message from Gabriele Palmer seemed a little odd, mainly because I had (and still have) a paltry amount of followers – I’m not important enough to make spam worthwhile or to inspire any real interest in striking up a conversation out of the blue.…   [continue reading]