Category Archives: space

INSIDE MY BRAIN I PAY NO RENT.

BRAIN 01 ENTRANCE

THIS IS MY BRAIN, AS SEEN FROM OUTSIDE ON A SUNNY AFTERNOON.

Welcome to my brain! Or even better: welcome to an attempt to its spatial representation! You can look at the following images as a big architectural metaphor, a cognitive map or an illustrated trip.

It’s just a personal interpretation, of course, but what’s interesting in this project is that I gave my brain “carte blanche”. Yessir! Since the beginning, my project became its project. My gray matter was totally free to select the pictures that better represented itself.

It was not easy for me to step aside and let it do it but, you know, the brain can do everything in complete autonomy, being it the only subject that analyzes itself, and the only place that is entirely self-built. This circularity is so amazing to me that when I happen to think about it, I’m not sure whether it’s me – or my brain – to be more intrigued.

As you know, our mental evolution has been so fast that the brain lost its personal notes on the way. It was probably too busy in setting up all the wiring for its 100 billion neurons, and so today there’s not a map nor an instruction manual to help the brain to unveil its own secrets and understand how its wunderkammer really works. But I’m going to stop here. I don’t want to bore you to death with scientific details. All I want to do is to let you enter into my brain, have a quick look, and tell me what you think. Enjoy the journey!

BRAIN19 narrow curve

I AM SURE YOU NOTICED THE MINUSCULE DOOR AT THE BASE OF THE DOME (FIRST PICTURE).  WELL, THAT’S THE ENTRANCE, AND AS SOON AS YOU STEP IN, YOU’LL HAVE TO FOLLOW A CIRCULAR PATH WITH CURVED WALLS MADE OF CALCIFIED CONNECTIVE TISSUE. DON’T BE AFRAID: THAT’S MY SKULL.

BRAIN 06 little man

AT THE END OF THE CIRCULAR PATH YOU’LL FIND A LARGE ROOM: THIS IS THE BRAIN’S MAIN DOORWAY WHERE A FACELESS SENTINEL WILL CHECK YOU OUT. NOT SURE WHO IS HE, BUT I KNOW HE’S THERE TO FILTER REALITY AND MAKE SURE THE LIMITED CAPACITY OF MY MIND IS NOT CONTAMINATED BY UNNECESSARY GROUND NOISE.

BRAIN 04 stairs

BEYOND THE VELVET CURTAIN YOU’LL FIND A SPIRAL STAIRCASE GOING ALL THE WAY DOWN. THE INSIDE OF THE BRAIN IS DIMLY LIT AND THERE ARE NO COLORS BESIDE BLACK AND WHITE. THE LIGHT’S TREMBLING QUALITY IS DUE TO THE ELECTRIC ACTIVITY OF NEUROTRANSMITTERS WEAKLY FIRING IN THE DARK.

BRAIN 03 tunnel

AT THE END OF THE 13,263-STEP STAIRCASE, BE PREPARED TO ADJUST YOUR EYESIGHT TO DARKNESS. THE DEEPER YOU GO, THE MORE ANTIQUE EVERYTHING LOOKS. MY REPTILIAN BRAIN FEATURES A MAZE OF CREEPY TUNNELS WHERE YOU CAN EASILY GET LOST. IT’S ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA, WHILE YOU WALK, TO MARK THE WALLS WITH A PIECE OF CHALK OR BACKTRACK YOUR PATH WITH BREADCRUMBS.

BRAIN 05 corridor

PLEASE ACCEPT MY ADVICE! ONCE YOU CHOOSE A DIRECTION, STICK TO IT AND DON’T BE TEMPTED TO TURN LEFT OR RIGHT, OR YOU’LL END UP NOWHERE. IF YOU DO AS I SAY, YOU’LL ALWAYS FIND A ROOM OR AN OPEN SPACE WHERE YOU CAN REST, DRINK A CUP OF TEA AND LOCATE YOUR POSITION.

IF YOU LOOK DOWN HERE, YOU CAN HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT YOU REALLY SEE INSIDE MY BRAIN. IT’S NOT A STATIC STATE OF MIND BUT A RATHER KINETIC ENVIRONMENT WHERE YOU ARE CARRIED AWAY BY MY OWN THOUGHTS.

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BRAIN 02 main hall

YOU SEE? EVEN A LONG AND CLAUSTROPHOBIC CORRIDOR MAY LEAD TO AN UNEXPECTED PLACE LIKE THIS ONE. THIS IS THE HYPOTHALAMUS THAT CONTROLS MY SLEEP. IT’S AMAZING TO REALIZE THIS GLAND IS THE SIZE OF AN ALMOND, YET, IT LOOKS SO SPACIOUS FROM THE INSIDE. MY BRAIN CELLS NICKNAMED THIS PLACE “THE NAP LOUNGE”.

BRAIN 20 library

MEMORY IS NOT ARRANGED, AS YOU MIGHT IMAGINE, LIKE THE LIBRARY PICTURED ABOVE, WHERE BOOKS ARE NEATLY DISPLAYED BY TOPIC OR ALPHABETICAL ORDER. THE BRAIN REQUIRES A MUCH FASTER RETRIEVAL OF INFORMATION, SO YOU’LL BE AMAZED BY THE POSSIBILITY TO FLOAT LIKE AN ASTRONAUT AND ZOOM ALONG ‘BOOK PIPELINES’ LIKE THE ONE HERE BELOW.

BRAIN 07 tunnel of books

INFORMATION IS CONSTANTLY GATHERED, COMBINED, REARRANGED AND DISCARDED, AND EACH CONTENT IS SAVED IN MANY PLACES, JUST IN CASE. MY BRAIN MAKES A BACK UP OF EVERYTHING BUT, ON THE OTHER HAND, IT’S HOPELESS TO REMEMBER WHERE THE STUFF HAS BEEN STORED.

BRAIN 08 guggescale

THIS STRANGE BUILDING IS CALLED THE ‘DILEMMAS’ HOTEL’, AND THAT’S BASICALLY WHERE ME, MYSELF AND I ARE SORTING OUT OUR MAJOR DIFFERENCES. EACH ONE OF MY SELVES SHOUTS FROM ONE OF THESE BALCONIES, WHEN TRYING TO WIN AN ARGUMENT. IF YOU HAPPEN TO PASS BY, PLEASE, MIND YOUR BUSINESS AND KEEP WALKING.

BRAIN 09 escalator

IF YOU LIKE ESCALATORS AS I DO, YOU’LL FIND PLENTY OF THESE INSIDE MY HEAD. EACH ONE WILL TAKE YOU UPSTAIRS, TO A DIFFERENT AREA OF THE CEREBRAL CORTEX. THIS FLOOR HAS BEEN TOTALLY RENOVATED TO HANDLE COMPLEX ACTIVITIES SUCH AS LANGUAGE, ABSTRACT THINKING AND VISUAL  PROCESSING.

BRAIN 17 roots

EVERY NOW AND THEN YOU’LL BUMP INTO OLD DENDRITES LIKE THESE. THEY REST IN PEACE INSIDE A SORT OF ZEN GARDEN SURMOUNTED BY A LIGHT ROOF. MY DEAD NEURONS ARE USELESS – I KNOW – BUT I KEEP THEM NO OTHER THAN FOR A SENTIMENTAL REASON.

BRAIN 10 sinapsi wilderness

SINCE THE VERY DAY I WAS BORN, I ‘VE BEEN LOSING ABOUT EIGHTY THOUSAND NEURONS PER DAY. (IF I TELL YOU I STILL HAVE 98% OF THEM YOU CAN EASILY CALCULATE MY AGE). ALL TOGETHER, MY NEURONS FORM AN EVER-CHANGING LANDSCAPE OF BRANCHES AND MUSHROOM-SHAPED UNITS THAT CREATE NEW IDEAS AND RETRIEVE OLD ONES. RABBITS ARE FREE TO GO AROUND, HERE.

BRAIN 11 exit

I COULDN’T IDENTIFY THIS SPACE. MY BRAIN SELECTED IT FOR A REASON IT DIDN’T WANT TO TELL ME. IT MIGHT BE A MAINTENANCE ROOM OR AN EMPTY SLOT. THE BRAIN, AFTER ALL, IS FILLED WITH EMPTINESS.

BRAIN 12 corpus callosus

THE CORPUS CALLOSUM PICTURED ABOVE IS CONNECTING LEFT AND RIGHT HEMISPHERES. THIS GOTHIC PLACE, WITH ITS 250 MILLIONS AXONS, GUARANTEES PROPER COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THE TWO PARTS. FROM ITS WINDOWS YOU CAN ENJOY A SUPERB VIEW, ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT, WHEN DARKNESS IS ILLUMINATED BY REM’S ELECTRIC STORMS.

BRAIN 13 lost memories

THIS IS THE CLOSET OF FORGETFULNESS, WHERE IRRELEVANT MEMORIES ARE GRADUALLY ERASED. I AM NOT VERY GOOD IN ORGANIZING MY STUFF AND I END UP WITH HUNDREDS OF SCRAPPY ROOM LIKE THIS.

BRAIN 14 ambitions

THE AMBITIONS’ PALACE IS A VERTICAL, ENDLESS STRUCTURE. I NEVER MADE IT UNTIL THE TOP. THERE’S NO LIFT TO TAKE ME UP, AND THE STAIRS SPIN INTO A MIST THAT IS SPELLING ONLY TROUBLES. NOT FOR ME, THANKS.

BRAIN 18 stairs to nothing

LOOKOUT STAIRS ARE DEFINITELY MY SLICE OF PIE. FROM HERE, IN A CLEAR BRAIN-DAY, YOU CAN CONTEMPLATE THE SURROUNDING, GATHERING YOUR THOUGHTS. THIS LOOKOUT, FOR EXAMPLE, GIVES A GOOD LOOK INTO THE  PLAINS OF MY TEMPORAL LOBE.

BRAIN 15 aisle

ROOM AFTER ROOM, YOU’LL SOON DISCOVER THAT MY BRAIN IS NOT SO DIFFERENT FROM ANY RUN-DOWN HOTEL AROUND THE WORLD. EINSTEIN, AFTER ALL, SAID WE ARE USING ONLY TEN PER CENT OF OUR BRAIN’S POSSIBILITIES AND, HONESTLY, I USE ONLY A FRACTION OF THIS PERCENTAGE.

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I TOLD YOU THE BRAIN IS ALL BLACK AND WHITE. WELL, THERE’S AN EXCEPTION: THIS IS MY PRIVATE HYPERSPACE. PEOPLE WHO NEVER TOOK DRUGS SAY DRUGS ARE BAD BUT I DON’T THINK SO, ESPECIALLY WHEN I’M ON A GOOD TRIP. NATURAL STUFF LIKE AYAHUASCA OR PEYOTE CAN OPEN NEW PERSPECTIVES IN YOUR LIFE.

BRAIN 16 big hole

THIS IS THE END OF YOUR JOURNEY AND I HOPE YOU ENJOYED IT. YOU CAN EXIT MY MIND THROUGH THE LACRIMAL BONE BUT, PLEASE, WATCH YOUR STEP AS YOU CLIMB YOUR WAY OUT, SINCE THIS IS THE MOST FRAGILE BONE OF THE FACE. LEAVE A BRIEF NOTE, IF YOU WISH. IT WILL HELP ME TO IMPROVE THIS PLACE.

THANK YOU FOR VISITING!

BRAINPOWDER

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HOUSTON, NOW WE HAVE A PROBLEM!

 

Neil Armstrong has left the planet, once more. This time for a one-way journey to a place, somewhere in outer space, where he belongs in every respect. It’s difficult to separate his life from the myth of the greatest of all adventures. Neil may be considered a hero but we are sure he wouldn’t have liked this definition. Still, he is the man who started, on behalf of everybody else, the exploration of other worlds. Barely 21, Neil was already in Korea, serving as a fighter pilot; he took off from a sea carrier 80 times on different missions. He graduated from Purdue University as an aerospace engineer, got a Master Degree in Aeronautics from the University of Southern California and, before being selected as an astronaut by Nasa, he worked at the Dryden Flight Research Center as a test pilot, flying on the Bell x-1, X-15 and several other rocket prototypes and experimental aircrafts. Two weeks before turning 39, he was the first man to set foot on the Moon. What a life history!

We would like to remember him as the best pilot and astronaut in the history of the United States. Not only for his courage, extraordinary skills and intelligence, but most of all for his humble personality. He flew higher than anybody else, always keeping a low profile. Even when he landed on the Moon, back to that July the 20th, 1969, his feet were firm on the ground. He refused to talk to journalists, he didn’t sign autographs, he declined political offers and didn’t even write a book (even if there is an authorized biography).

At the moment of take off aboard the Saturn V, considered by every astronaut of the Apollo program as the scariest moment of all, his heartbeat didn’t go over 100. Traveling to the Moon keeping the right trajectory was like hitting a fly’s eye with a pin from a distance of 3 miles. Armstrong, along with Collins and Aldrin, calculated the right path with a sextant and a computer smaller than a Commodore 64. He always kept it cool even in the direst situation, always doing the right thing at the right time. He didn’t talk too much and his quietness was almost embarassing, at times. Neil’s  heart stopped yesterday, August the 25th.

May his spotless conduct and virtue be an example to present and future generations. In a moment where movie stars, pop stars, sport stars and many other instant celebrities think that life is a show, Neil’s small step is there to demonstrate all of us Modesty always shines brighter than any Ego. But now lets’ all look up to the sky! The Moon is weeping, tonight.

The Brandpowder Team

(images and footage, courtesy of Nasa archives and Wikipedia).

SOME MAPS.

Cartography, sometimes, can be a form of art. It can introduce us to a parallel world where man represents himself under thousands forms. Every map is thus a metaphor of reality, an invention, a creative interpretation of space and things in the theatre of time. Maps give name to the unnamed, chart the uncharted, disclose the arcane. It’s a god-like activity, the blossoming of an inebriated intellect.

Above: A few samples from a series of geological maps of the Moon, plus pictures of Mars’ surface. You can browse the complete collection at the US Geological Survey website and, if you are a map lover, you should check also Radical Cartography. But be careful. The risk is to get lost.

Below: dimensional comparison between the US and Europe. It’s worth to notice that Washington ends up facing Iran, while Miami enjoys the beautiful climate of the Red Sea; California goes back to its Spanish etymology; The Great Lakes mix their sweet water with the salty Black Sea; British Columbia, meanwhile, becomes more British than ever and Texas finds some more oil in North Africa. May this ironic overlay of territories be of good omen for a closer relationship among different countries and cultures.

Above: the US’ contour as it would appear if placed along different latitudes. Below: a tiny section of Antarctica. A barren landscape covered by ice, where mountain’s peaks surface like small islands from a frozen sea.

All maps courtesy of USGS and radicalcartography.net. Many thanks to both of them for sharing a thought provoking point of view on the world we all live in.

The Brandpowder Team.

UFO PAINTING

If you don’t believe in UFO, read this. You might change idea about reality, science fiction and what’s in between. This is the true account of Karl Mutbesitz, a 49 year old German painter who lives in Saguaro Shadows, Arizona, abducted by aliens in 2009 and kept inside a space ship for two days. After being released, Karl was able to provide the local police with a detailed description of his days in captivity: ” I was hanging around a dimly lit room with rounded, icy walls and a metal floor that produced an artificial gravity through minuscule suction caps that kept puncturing my feet”. Karl also said the aliens were tall dudes that didn’t look like aliens but like “an advanced breed of human beings”, and that they were very kind with him. “They taught me many tricks and made me drink a sort of knowledge soup that gave me instant wisdom.” Brandpowder got in touch with Karl not so much for the close encounter’s story, but simply to look at the paintings Karl started to produce ever since.  The opening picture (above) was attached to the fridge in Karl’s house, a small cottage overlooking the Saguaro National Park. “You can keep it, if you want,” he said. Strangely, he didn’t show any interest for the photo and we asked him why. “It’s a fake,” he said. “I placed it there so that people stop asking me about the fucking ufo. Want to see it? – I tell ’em – Look there! On the fridge.” Karl chuckles, pouring Napa Valley wine into our glasses. We asked him about his paintings. The aliens, somehow, made him an instant celebrity and his oils are now contended by Art Galleries in America, Japan, China, Russia and Brasil. A painting with the “mut” signature can easily sell for 2,000,000 dollars.

Heart #41 (oil, 40×60 in) sold.

Heart #55 (oil, 40×60 in) sold.

Heart #07 (oil, 40×60 in) sold.

Karl Mutbesitz in his summer open-air studio.

“Each painting,” he explained, “is an individual representation of aliens’ hearts.” “They don’t have a bloody pumping mechanism like we do. They have a spinning crystal which vibrates in synchronicity with the Universe. It’s like a qasar, you know.” We nodded, mainly not to disappoint the artist. We are not saying we don’t believe him. It’s just we are not advanced enough to grasp the full meaning of the cosmic theory. Nevertheless the paintings are beautiful, smooth and sharp at the same time. Karl told us to get closer and place our hands a few inches from the canvas. “Can you feel the energy?” he asked. We concentrated for a while but we didn’t. May be because we have been drinking too much wine but Karl has another explanation for it. “You need to close your eyes and create a void inside your mind. Then you may start feeling the heartbeat of the Universe.”

Heart # 161 (oil, 40×60 in) sold.

Heart #18 (oil, 40×60 in) sold.

Heart #61 (oil, 40×60 in). Starting price: U$ 1,750,000

We went for a walk. Karl wanted to show us the place where everything took place. We reached a flat plain swept by hot winds, where saguaro cactuses posed like spiky surrenders to an imminent alien invasion. We asked Karl whether other people, beside him, witnessed the 2009 event. “No one, apart myself and Frederick. He’s never been the same ever since.”  Who’s Frederick? – we asked.  “My dog,” Karl said. Initially we thought he was trying to pull our leg, but he was damn’ serious, while talking about him. “Frederick doesn’t bark anymore. He is into a contemplative state of mind, now. He sleeps all day and, when night comes, he just looks at the starry sky. That thing freaks me out.”

Frederick has not been the same ever since.

A page from Karl’s sketchbook, detailing part of his extraordinary experience.

We left Karl and New Mexico with the promise to publish a story about him and his paintings. We are not here to express an opinion on Karl’s extraterrestrial adventure, first because we are not experts on such matter, secondly because a huge amount of LSD was circulating in Tucson in those years. The only thing we can say is that Karl’s artwork is something out of this world.

The Brandpowder Team, 2012