Author Topic: Fractals  (Read 29386 times)

Cramulus

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Re: Fractals
« Reply #45 on: May 22, 2009, 03:02:32 pm »
reminds me of these guys, who do art using colored post-it notes.

http://weburbanist.com/2008/01/24/more-unusual-art-from-everyday-materials-16-post-it-note-pranks-sculptures-and-murals/

I think that's cool - pixelated art in a non digital medium

Sheered Völva

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Re: Fractals
« Reply #46 on: May 22, 2009, 07:18:22 pm »
One other question: is there hardware/software that allows you to literally paint a digital image?

yes, it is the blessed program Microsoft Paint

it is the way and the light



and the wrath


the WRATH




Thanks for the tip.  But I'm thinking in terms of literally putting paint on a canvas.  I'm not planning on going out and buying the hardware and software that would be required to do such a thing; I'm just curious if the technology exists.

I had an idea a while back that I still haven't put into practice. Involved taking an image and reducing the palette to maybe 8 or 16 colours then magnifying it until each pixel was a fairly large square and numbering these in a grid. Next thing is reproduce the grid dimensions on a wall and then paint in the squares in corresponding colours.

I figure if the squares/pixels on the wall were about 2 inches across it would look pretty abstract from close up but you'd see the picture clearly from a bit of a distance.

Cool idea. Do it and post a pic of it for us spags!

Sheered Völva

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Re: Fractals
« Reply #47 on: May 22, 2009, 07:23:33 pm »
reminds me of these guys, who do art using colored post-it notes.

http://weburbanist.com/2008/01/24/more-unusual-art-from-everyday-materials-16-post-it-note-pranks-sculptures-and-murals/
(Partial Quote)

I find that awesome, even covering furniture with post-it notes.

But what they really need to do is post-it note a toilet. With the paper already there, you wouldn't even have to wipe!

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Re: Fractals
« Reply #48 on: May 24, 2009, 10:27:55 pm »
volva, the technology you think about indeed does already exist, check out Aaron

http://www.kurzweilcyberart.com/

you can even download a free trial copy, that doesnt actually hardware-paint, but it does simulate the brushstrokes that the computer program models.

apart from the hardware side, the program itself is also very interesting, because it's actually capable of painting a wide variety of scenes with people and objects in them.
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Sheered Völva

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Re: Fractals
« Reply #49 on: May 25, 2009, 01:47:44 am »
volva, the technology you think about indeed does already exist, check out Aaron

http://www.kurzweilcyberart.com/

you can even download a free trial copy, that doesnt actually hardware-paint, but it does simulate the brushstrokes that the computer program models.

apart from the hardware side, the program itself is also very interesting, because it's actually capable of painting a wide variety of scenes with people and objects in them.

Thanks. I checked it out, but it said, "AARON no longer available for downloading."  Maybe the program can paint, but someone has trouble making proper sentences.

But there's not only a program that paints its own paintings, there's a program that writes its own poetry.

Frankly, this stuff scares the hell out of me.  How long will it be before people go the way of vinyl records?
« Last Edit: May 25, 2009, 01:49:29 am by Sheered Völva »

Triple Zero

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Re: Fractals
« Reply #50 on: May 25, 2009, 03:50:23 pm »
I wouldnt be too scared, the Generative Art movement has been breaking away at the boundaries between art, man, machine and process for decades. AARON is really good, however.

Do you know these cheap paintings you can get in interior design stores? The shorelines or abstract figures etc. They are made by people that continously produce paintings that are generally "likeable", it's more work than art. Is it art? Well maybe, probably, but not very "high art" (whatever that means). IMO, AARON is currently at about this level of artfulness. The sole thing that makes AARON more "interesting" or "artsy" than these mass-produced paintings, is that they are painted by a computer. Which is pretty cool.

The Generative Art movement (that also produce a lot of fractal-like artwork, btw) therefore focuses not only on the end-result of the work, but also on the process that produced it, and subsequently, the person(s) that designed this (usually algorithmic) process.

This actually goes for a lot of (non-generative) art. The "story" behind a piece plays a huge role in determining the artistic "worth" of it. For example, anyone that can hold a brush can paint the red/blue/yellow/white/black square designs that Piet Mondriaan made so famous, but it is the fact (story) that Mondriaan started out with sketches of actual complicated real-world scenes and then kept on simplifying until all he had left were squares in primary colours. This was Mondriaan's idea (or rather the idea of the "Nieuwe Stijl" movement), and the particular simplifications he picked sort of mirror his artistic personality. You could emulate it with a computer program, but it would not be the same. Not because the painting itself would be inherently different, but for the sole reason that the history, the process of making the painting, would not be the same. You can't measure this quality as a property of matter, it's like a love letter, or that sea shell you picked up as a souvenir from your beach vacation. Have the letter be generated by a computer program, with the same style etc, it still was not written by the person that loves you. Order the shell online, and it won't be that particular one you spotted on the sunset walk on the last day of your vacation.

In other words, the one thing cannot replace the other, because they are not the same things :-)

Mind you, I'm not saying AARON is not art, I think it is. But on an artistic level it doesn't compete with people that happen to paint similar paintings, because AARON's paintings are special because they come from a computer program, whereas these other people's paintings may be special (or not) because of any kind of reason.
Purely on the level where people want to buy a "pretty picture" to hand on the wall for interior design, AARON competes, but if that scares you, so will reproductions of famous paintings.

I found a couple of interesting links if you want to read more about AARON's process:
http://www.generative.net/pipermail/eu-gene/2004-February/000819.html (check the PDFs)

oh and because it is my firm belief that it is impossible to delete anything from the internet (it's like taking urine out of a pool), I took up the challenge to dig up the AARON screensaver:
http://www.yousendit.com/download/MnFoOGNSZ1BlM1NGa1E9PQ
I scanned it for viruses and tested it, seems to be the genuine thing (I had to spelunk through some dusty and dark corners of the net to find it, so you can never be too sure).

have fun with it ;-)
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Sheered Völva

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Re: Fractals
« Reply #51 on: May 25, 2009, 07:50:30 pm »
Triple Zero: I agree with you, to an extent.  That sea shell which reminds me of that great vacation at the beach may mean a lot more to me than to someone who finds it in a box after I'm dead.  Even less if it gets thrown out and someone sees it in a trash bin.

But I think most people who look at a painting or a photo online or in a magazine don't care about its background.  They don't think, "Hmm, I wonder what the story is behind this?  I'll research it online."  I think most people just see a photo or a painting, and either like it or don't.

And there's always been what I consider great art that's not really art.  Think of the classic, "I think that I shall never see/a poem lovely as a tree."  A single tree is an incredible piece, and yet it's not art.  But let someone make a sculpture of a tree or paint a painting of one, and it is.

I think art involves an interpretation of something, even if it is just shapes and colors.  Interpretation means thought, and computers, at least so far as we know, can't think.  But if a human can't tell the difference between human-generated art and something made by a computer program, is there a "real" difference?

And unfortunately, this isn't just a philosophical discussion.  It can determine whether or not  someone goes to prison.  There's the legal test of art/obscenity in America (from Chief Justice Warren Earl Burger, who restated the constitutional definition of obscenity in Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15, 93 S. Ct. 2607, 37 L. Ed. 2d 419.)
Quote
The basic guidelines for the trier of fact must be (a) whether the "average person, applying contemporary community standards" would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest …, (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

Twelve people on a jury, who are likely those who usually look at a piece and don't think much about it, have the legal power to decide whether or not a given work is artistic enough or not.  If they don't think your art's good enough, you go to prison.

In 1975, a Texas court decided that the movie "Deep Throat" wasn't artistic enough, and labled it obscene.  I find it ironic that virtually every porn movie made now makes "Deep Throat" look like a masterpiece.

This leaves another question: if a computer gets to where it can make porn movies (which, considering what computers can already do, seems likely to me), can their product be considered art?

Sheered Völva

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Re: Fractals
« Reply #52 on: May 25, 2009, 07:53:24 pm »
Triple Zero: Thanks for the link to the AARON program. I would be hestitant about downloading it, but you checked it out. Cool.

Cramulus

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Re: Fractals
« Reply #53 on: May 25, 2009, 08:21:54 pm »
The engine which determines how the computer makes the art - that was written by a human. If you ask me, the human is the artist whose tastes and mind were poured into all those pieces.


authorship in a digital world seems problematic too


like
these fractal images in this thread
              - did I "make" then? Or did a computer make them?

If it's a compromise, is it fair to credit the programmer as co-artist? All he did was build the tools...



if true, then
   for apophysis (the fractal flame generator) :
            the programmer is a community of people. Who gets credit there?



I do

I take all the credit  :ECH:

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Re: Fractals
« Reply #54 on: May 25, 2009, 11:12:12 pm »
Triple Zero: I agree with you, to an extent.  That sea shell which reminds me of that great vacation at the beach may mean a lot more to me than to someone who finds it in a box after I'm dead.  Even less if it gets thrown out and someone sees it in a trash bin.

But I think most people who look at a painting or a photo online or in a magazine don't care about its background.  They don't think, "Hmm, I wonder what the story is behind this?  I'll research it online."  I think most people just see a photo or a painting, and either like it or don't.

well yeah, that's why I gave the example of the mass produced interior design paintings. if someone would restart the AARON project or make a better one, I'm pretty sure they could program something that could compete with those (AARON is nearly a decade old, afaik).

So in that case we are in agreement. There is no difference.

But, in the case of the interior design paintings of abstract colourful sunsets and shit, the artist probably gets paid by the hour and a significant part of the production cost will be in the materials, transport and packaging. If AARON would take over the job of the artist, it would just cut out one man in a chain of many. It might cut costs a littlebit, but not much.
I personally wouldnt mind if that happened, and oh, similar stuff might very well be already happening (but perhaps kept secret). Did you ever see a pattern in cloth or wallpaper or something, often in a public building and you wonder what human mind could have come up with something as trite and almost completely but not entirely ugly? It might have been a computer! ;-)

Now, if a computer could come up with real, creative and innovative artpieces, that I can understand to be something you might be scared of. What if the computer ends up doing it better, should humans just give up making art? Perhaps you could compare it to meeting an alien civilisation that is all enlightened and beautiful and such, and they sing songs that are, by definition, more beautiful than anything any human could ever produce. Would we give up? Should we? Will Hakim Bey's "Art Sabotage" army rise up and genocide the aliens? :)

Interesting question. Another question is, whether it is actually possible to create art that is always more beautiful than anything else. Because beauty is not a linear scale, and in the eye of the beholder.

I think it also has something to do with quantity and quality. I find personally that, with art (how I see art), increase in quantity decreases the worth of an individual piece, even if the quality stays the same. This is exactly what Cram talked about a few posts back. He's playing with this fractal program, and the first few images were totally awesome to him, but after playing a while, he finds out that nearly ALL of the images that come out of this program are awesome. And Cram feels a sort of disappointment. Even though he has more awesome stuff than before. What now?

A computer making art would be able to generate art in enormous quantities.

I found this too (and ENKI might as well) when generating random texts according to programmatic rules. If you somehow limit yourself to generating only five paragraphs, you actually have the ability to stop and ponder them for a while, and appreciate their beauty. If you let the program run and generate thousands, you'll have a really large block of text. I have found that even just imposing an artificial limit on the output rate of such a program seems to increase perceived aesthetics to me.
This may be one of the reasons why a lot of generative artists do not just use computer random number generators, but get their random data from all sorts of weird sources (video images of plants growing, neurons from rat brain, etc), this limits the rate with which they can generate artwork, even if they mangle the datasource beyong recognition, and additionally it adds a nice "story" background to their artwork (which sometimes makes me feel they're trying too hard, but sometimes they also hit the background story in a real poetic or ironic fashion, which makes it extra cool).

Quote
And there's always been what I consider great art that's not really art.  Think of the classic, "I think that I shall never see/a poem lovely as a tree."  A single tree is an incredible piece, and yet it's not art.  But let someone make a sculpture of a tree or paint a painting of one, and it is.

i don't know. im gonna go with a bit of maybe logic here and say it is in some sense and it isnt in some sense. i think it's a whole different discussion that is probably not very pertinent to your initial statement about being scared of automatic painting machines.

I think art involves an interpretation of something, even if it is just shapes and colors.  Interpretation means thought, and computers, at least so far as we know, can't think.  But if a human can't tell the difference between human-generated art and something made by a computer program, is there a "real" difference?

Quote
And unfortunately, this isn't just a philosophical discussion.  It can determine whether or not  someone goes to prison.  There's the legal test of art/obscenity in America (from Chief Justice Warren Earl Burger, who restated the constitutional definition of obscenity in Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15, 93 S. Ct. 2607, 37 L. Ed. 2d 419.)
Quote
The basic guidelines for the trier of fact must be (a) whether the "average person, applying contemporary community standards" would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest …, (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

Twelve people on a jury, who are likely those who usually look at a piece and don't think much about it, have the legal power to decide whether or not a given work is artistic enough or not.  If they don't think your art's good enough, you go to prison.

In 1975, a Texas court decided that the movie "Deep Throat" wasn't artistic enough, and labled it obscene.  I find it ironic that virtually every porn movie made now makes "Deep Throat" look like a masterpiece.

This leaves another question: if a computer gets to where it can make porn movies (which, considering what computers can already do, seems likely to me), can their product be considered art?

huh now where did this come from?

we were still discussing whether it's art if a computer generates it, and if a computer generates a movie, I don't see what difference it makes whether it's porn or not.

I also don't really see what the law in Texas has to do with it. They don't get to decide (for everybody) what is art and what is not, just whether someone (that is tried in Texas) goes to prison or not.
And if twelve people decide something is not art, and they are in a jury, and this happens in a country where the decision of a jury creates precedence, it does not mean that something "is not art" in the general sense, it just means that the judicial precedence has been made that the law doesn not consider this particular thing as "art", pertaining to the relevant laws etc etc whatnot.

That's law, it's logic, rules, it does stuff, that's how law works. Fascinating topic, really, but I don't see what it has to do with our discussion.
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Sheered Völva

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Re: Fractals
« Reply #55 on: May 29, 2009, 01:19:42 am »
I see patterns and especially faces everywhere, although I think faces are often purposely snuck into designs as human beings tend to respond to faces.  But I've also seen "pictures" in wood grain, which presumably is not designed by humans.

I understand Cramulus' illogical but yet very human feeling that having more great fractals lessens their value and makes each one seem less great.  If I receive one diamond ring as a gift, I may think "awesome!"  If I date a billionaire who gives me one a week, each one is just one more diamond ring.  If I eat steak every day I won't appreciate it as much as if I get it once a year.  And the feeling may be biologically-based--hunters and gatherers will focus today on what they're less likely to be able to get tomorrow.  That same inbuilt response can apply to collecting anything, including art.

I threw in the legal references because we were discussing the subjective aspects of art; can a computer make art or does it take a person, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, etc.  It's a matter for philisophical debate, but doesn't necessarily have much application in the "real world."

But legally, it can.  The subjective judgment of a random group of trained, professional art critics can make or break an artist's career, maybe.  (It doesn't seem to have hurt Thomas Kincaid, who claims to be the most collected living artist in spite of critics calling his work kitsch).  But the subjective judgment of a random group of untrained jurists can make or break a person's freedom.

So it got me wondering.  Because in America the artistic value of a piece can determine whether or not its considered obscene and thus prosecutable, would a jury consider porn made by a computer to automatically be non-artistic?

Sheered Völva

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Re: Fractals
« Reply #56 on: May 29, 2009, 01:36:45 am »
The engine which determines how the computer makes the art - that was written by a human. If you ask me, the human is the artist whose tastes and mind were poured into all those pieces.
I think this could apply even more to elephants that paint paintings sold at zoos.  Someone made the paint brush, someone made the paint, someone chose which colors would be available to the elephant, and someone decided when the elephant had painted enough and took the brush and paint away.

But with fractals, someone designed a computer program, which generally would not be considered art.  You wouldn't expect to go to an art museum and see a sheet of 8.5  by 11 inch paper with programming code hung on the wall (at least I wouldn't; for all I know, it's been done).  If someone designed a program that randomly shot colors of paint on a canvas, would the programmer be praised as an artist?  I doubt it.

But in the case of fractals

authorship in a digital world seems problematic too


like
these fractal images in this thread
              - did I "make" then? Or did a computer make them?

If it's a compromise, is it fair to credit the programmer as co-artist? All he did was build the tools...



if true, then
   for apophysis (the fractal flame generator) :
            the programmer is a community of people. Who gets credit there?



I do

I take all the credit  :ECH:
The matter of who deserves credit has changed with the medium; I agree.  If a modern-day painter paints a painting (is that redundant?), we list that person as artist, not the one who made the brushes, mixed the paints, made the canvas, etc.  And yet without those tools, the painting wouldn't exist.  The same goes with a wood carver who uses a knife made by someone else.

But with a computer program, the program wasn't just a tool used by the user, in this case you, Cramulus.  The program, written likely by a team of people, actually created the image.  But the user, Cramulus, decided which of those images to post here.  And if the user can change some of the random variables in the program, then the user in a sense becomes one of the programmers.

But again, as in my previous comment, if one person sold this as their art, it would ultimately come to a jury or a judge to decide.  In this case, they would decide who gets the money.

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Re: Fractals
« Reply #57 on: May 29, 2009, 11:16:17 am »
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But with fractals, someone designed a computer program, which generally would not be considered art.  You wouldn't expect to go to an art museum and see a sheet of 8.5  by 11 inch paper with programming code hung on the wall (at least I wouldn't; for all I know, it's been done).  If someone designed a program that randomly shot colors of paint on a canvas, would the programmer be praised as an artist?  I doubt it.

Computer programs, and in particular the sort you are describing here, have been generally considered "art" themselves by the artistic computing community for ages.

You don't see code printed out on sheets hung to a wall in a gallery for the same reason as you don't see musical scores printed on sheets in a gallery.

The programmer of the program that randomly shoots paint at a canvas would definitely be considered an artist, depending on the artistic merit his work has. For a comparison, again consider music. John Cage has created several musical pieces that consist of instructions to roll dice or flip coins or something in order to determine the score to be played. This is directly analogous to a computer program (= instructions). And John Cage, the writer of the program is indeed considered the artist.
Btw, some famous classical composer, could have been Bach, had already done something similar. He wrote parts of scores, that would be reordered depending on some random source (might have been a stack of cards or dice, I'm not sure).

So it got me wondering.  Because in America the artistic value of a piece can determine whether or not its considered obscene and thus prosecutable, would a jury consider porn made by a computer to automatically be non-artistic?

I'm not sure because I'm not at all familiar with the practical workings of the American jury-system. But, giving it some consideration, I think the answer falls apart in two categories.

First, what they most probably will do, which is, judge the piece on whether their personal tastes classify it as "obscene" or not. So that will most probably come down to a per-jury-member decision based on the ratio of hardcore fucking scenes versus aestetically pleasing softcore erotica. This may not be the "proper" way to judge the law but that's what you're gonna get if you let a bunch of random people with no legal training decide on these matters. Do juries really get no training? At all? Not even a 30 minute crash course powerpoint into the basic concepts of law and ethics? Or a flyer? And then they put it to a vote, right? And the assumption is that if you take the majority vote of a bunch of people with no idea what they're deciding about, you get something fair :lol:

Anyway, second is what they should decide if they take into account the letter of the law and the intention of the law. Then combine that with a factor of how important it is to punish the case in order to keep society safe and deter further criminal behaviour. But this is right about where my knowledge of your culture fails. See if the law just said "porn is obscene and therefore illegal", it would be easy. Some middle-eastern countries have this. Given something that may or may not be porn, decide using the amount of skin/boobage/organs/pubic hair or whatever the precedent tells you, and make a judgement. But as soon as you add the clause " ... unless it's art." it stops making sense and IMO you wrecked the fairness of the legal system.

Really, just consider it for a moment. Stop thinking of whether a computer generated it or not. Stop thinking about porn (or at least try to ;) ), and just consider this statement for a moment:

"X is illegal .. unless it's art."

Now imagine. X is something you actually deeply consider to be morally wrong. Murder, rape, child pornography, etc. What do you think of this law now? For me, the words "dangerous loophole" come to mind.
Then imagine X is something you really don't consider wrong, but some other people do. Filesharing, pornography, smoking cannabis. What do you think now? For me, if I didn't know better, I'd think "ha one step closer to winning the battle", or something.

Do you see what's happened now? The law is considered fair by neither of the fronts. The law is also vague and arbitrarily gets some people into trouble and lets others go free. Whether this is considered just, depends purely on the particular case and the moral stance of whoever considers it.

Which, afaik, is exactly the sort of unclarity the Law is supposed to prevent.

So in this case, it's not a law about obscenity of porn that's the problem, but a bunch of artist hippies that managed to wreck the system by adding the clause ".. unless it's art" to the law.

In a way, that's Strife and Discordia, of course. But if you consider the above for a few moments, it's not exactly making people more "free", but rather lull them into justifying the system to be more arbitrary.
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Cramulus

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Re: Fractals
« Reply #58 on: May 29, 2009, 01:42:31 pm »
Excellent post, zilch.

My one bone of contention is that those artists were making a legitimate point with that "...unless it's art" clause. That's vagueness saves the artist because every written definition of pornography will be incomplete. You just can't write an airtight definition of anything, much less porn, or art for that matter. So juries don't have any non-subjective criteria to evaluate whether something is really porn or really for-real artistic expression. Those aren't neat categories anyway. There's tons of art depicting, say, a naked woman. If I hang it on a wall, people will come to see it. If I print it in a magazine, people will jerk off to it. This could be the same photograph. (therefore the art vs porn discussion is very much about context, often moreso than content)


I have this evil plan to get for-real art removed from museums. I'll just send someone to the museum every day to jerk off to that piece. They'll get arrested of course. But after 10 or 15 people are compelled to drop trow and flog the dog as soon as they see the art, juries will have to decide it's porn, right?  :lol:

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Re: Fractals
« Reply #59 on: May 29, 2009, 02:55:15 pm »
Well, yes, if you decide pornography to be illegal, you shouldnt make a law that vaguely outlaws "pornography", but it should be more clearly stated as "a realistic depiction of a sexual act" or "a depiction of bodyparts X Y or Z, not covered by cloth" (or whatever)

and yes in the latter case you're going to run into trouble with pics of women breastfeeding their kids, and a lot of beautifully artistic paintings.

tough luck.

in the Arabic countries they can't publically display all paintings by Gustav Klimt either. but at least you get all that filth out of public view in a more or less fair way.
Ex-Soviet Bloc Sexual Attack Swede of Tomorrow™
e-prime disclaimer: let it seem fairly unclear I understand the apparent subjectivity of the above statements. maybe.

INFORMATION SO POWERFUL, YOU ACTUALLY NEED LESS.