MAKH (c) Rama Hoetzlein, 2004


Rama Hoetzlein (c) 2004 & 2014
Machines, motors, tape players, and cinematography

MAKH is a convergence of ‘Making’ and ‘Machinima’. Making follows the makerspace movement and ethos; creation through DIY design, mechanics, and electronics. Machinima is the development of film making and narrative through the use of record video game play. MAK’H is a combination of these trends – a convergence of ad-hoc mechanics and cinematography. A central theme in makh is the democratization of film making, and the notion that anything animate, whether it be video games, animals, or machines, can lead to visual narrative. Makh re-imagines making as a process in which the completed object irrelevant (there is no finished), and re-imagines cinematography as narrative derived from anything animate.


Rama Hoetzlein (c) 2007

Quanta is conceived of as a novel database for a visual internet. Developed as a prototype in 2007, this system originally explored the notion of application-style, smooth navigational interfaces and data visualizations for semantic content on the web.


Ch 1. Introduction and Summary of Contributions
Ch 2. Background and Context
Ch 3. Integrative Strategies
Ch 4. Databases and Systems
Ch 6. Ontology and Classification
Ch 7. Knowledge Visualization


Knowledge organization is the problem of arranging and classifying what we collectively know as a society in ways that can be easily understood and communicated to others. The issues addressed in this thesis include the representation and storage of knowledge, semiotics, ontology, classification, systems for knowledge organization, and the visualization and aesthetics of knowledge systems. The Quanta software system is presented as a generic framework for the integrated storage, organization and visualization of human knowledge in interdisciplinary contexts.

Novel contributions are made to both technical and conceptual aspects of knowledge organization. Technical contributions include a hypergraph structure for the storage and efficient representation of knowledge, comparative zoomable timelines for the visualization of events in time, circle packing with dynamic loading to visualize trees, and a distributed architecture and protocol for social knowledge systems. Conceptual contributions include a new measure of meaning in data systems, the data-semantic ratio, an analysis of the relationship between the semiotic triangle and the datainformation-knowledge triangle, and motivations for knowledge visualization as a field of study.


2007, Hoetzlein, Rama. “The Organization of Human Knowledge: Systems for Interdisciplinary Research”. Masters Thesis. Media Arts and Technology Program, University of California Santa Barbara.

If you would like to use any images or video in other works, such as books or articles, please contact me.

Figure 1. Map of the Yangtze River, showing color variations along its length. Colors selected from Google maps. Click for detailed image

Recently an article in Slashdot revealed some alarming photos of the Yangtze River Turning Red, and apparently has “baffled officials” and caused people to start collecting samples. Speculation suggests that it may be red tide or pollution.
This article will explain exactly why it’s red..

Tracing the article’s history is somewhat revealing..
1) Slashdot’s article “China’s Yangtze River Turns Red”.. which refers to..
2) International Business Times article “Yangtze River Turns Red: Photos Of China’s Once Golden, Now Scarlet Pathway”.. which refers to..
3) Daily MailOnline article (UK source), “The river that DID run red: Residents of Chinese city left baffled after Yangtze turns scarlet”which refers to..
4) Photos by ChinaFotoPress by Barcroft Medi..

Here is an example of one of the images of Chongqing city, where the Yangtze and Jialin River meet..

Chongqing city with exaggerated color, where Yangtze and Jialin River meet. Photo by ChinaFotoPress.

Shortly after these images were released, Slashdot readers discovered that several pictures had obvious artifact which revealed that the colors were painted in and manipulated. Certainly the amount of red was increased beyond what was actually photographed.

The photograph which was specifically identified as a hoax by Slashdot readers is here:

The white arrows indicate places where color bleeding is caused by a Photoshop user accidentally increasing the red color outside the area of the bottle.

Here is the location in the above photo of Chongqing as it appears in Google maps. The color in these google maps photos has not been manipulated in any way (overlay text was added for city names).

Notice the discoloration of the Yangtze river from the Jialin river photo is evident in this satellite picture, and the dramatic transition where they mix. Colors are as they appear in google maps.

Let’s zoom out and see how these rivers are colored across a larger length..

Here Chongqing is at the center, and the two rivers enter from the north (Jialin) and south (Yangtze). It is clear the difference in color is present even 20 miles upstream from Chongqing.
We can continue to trace the Yangtze river until we arrive at this point…

Here we see a clear transition in color on the Yangtze itself that takes place near the town of Longhuazhen. Downstream of the Yangtze is to the upper right (moving north), and upstream is to the lower left (coming from south west). Notice the fairly obvious change in color from blue to red. However, this location is not exactly at one of the nearest cities along the river. The color in the river change lies at point just downstream of Longhuazhen, which we can zoom into here.. and we find this..

This image is from the north bank of the Yangtze just above Longhuazhen.
Mystery solved!
What we find is a mining operation with very rich red soil. It is clear that the redness of the river is caused by discharge from mining. I don’t know what company is operating here, or what is being mined. These are interesting questions. However, it’s important to point out that this kind of blue-red transition happens several times along the Yangtze river – and in fact on most rivers in the world now. The cause is pollution.

From an environmental perspective, of course it is alarming that the Yangtze is polluted. The question here is, to what degree the river is naturally red versus polluted red by mining.. One should ask: How many tons of red soil is being released into the river by mining, and what effects does this have on fish and human health. More importantly, is anything being released which is not soil, but which are chemical additives resulting from the mining process?

It is much more alarming, in my opinion, that the article entered the mainstream because none of the major media sources bothered to investigate the validity of the original photographs. The authors saturated the red color to such a degree that they do indeed look alarming. These major media networks did not do even the minimum amount of investigative journalism.

A more interesting article would be one which reports on a scientific study of how much actual, measured pollution there is on the Yangtze compared to other rivers in the world. I’d like to know that.

So what of the news that the “Yangtze River Turns Red”? The idea itself is misleading. The Yangtze river is 3,918 miles long. Does this mean to imply the entire river has turned red? If not, then what makes this area so special? It seems none of the articles asked these rather basic questions. Most likely the redness is no more or less than it is at several blue-red transitions along the length of the river, where the cause of redness is clearly pollution after each city it passes through. The question, which I don’t know the answer to, is whether there is something unusual which is happening now with the Yangtze beyond the kind of pollution which occurs on most rivers throughout the world.

See my recent article in the Huffington Post for more details:
Yangtze River Turns Red – Biblical Curse or Industrial Pollution?

For those who living in warm climates, keeping in shape comes naturally. Just go outside for a run, bike, hike or walk whenever you feel like it. Its a lot harder to keep in shape in winter climates where it goes below freezing for months. Typically, I find that I gain 15 lbs in winter, because I spend a lot of time sitting around trying to keep warm. Weight that I then have to loose again in summer. I’d like to stay fit in winter too. Here are some tips.

1) Don’t imagine that you will run or do physical exercise outside. You might have some romantic notions of wearing sweats and jogging in the snow, but when its <20 degs its really cold. This makes your muscles tense, and lungs chill.¬†It can be dangerous to breath freezing air deeply, as it makes you dizzy and can cause fainting. So keep it all indoors.

2) Start with light, indoor jogging. Don’t ¬†stretch first, as your cold muscles may sprain or tighten. Jog lightly for 30 mins to warm up your whole body. You don’t need any machines, just stand in front of TV, or watch a movie, and jog for 30-40 mins.

3) Now that your body is warm, you can get warmed up.. do stretches as you normally would. In the cold this is especially important before any weight training. Stretch your legs and back especially, as these get very stiff in winter.

4) If you want, after jogging and stretching, add any weight training. I usually include some crunches, push-ups, curls and bench presses.

5) Warm down by jogging again for 30 mins. Drink lots of water afterward.

6) After exercising, see if you can find some fruits and vegetables. In the winter, produce is much harder to find, but even some apples and a banana is better than potatoes and rice which are more often consumed in cold weather. Your body wants to gain weight in winter, so starchy foods are more common. You can fight it with a healthy diet, but it must include winter weather exercising.

Having access to a gym can help, but its not really necessary. I find going to the gym takes too long, as I have to drive from work, to the gym, in the freezing snow, and then exercise, then get into cold car again and drive home. I think its much easier to have a home routine in the winter, which avoids an extra trip in the snow.