Personal Work

Thoughts on Understanding Media

September 25, 2017
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Something about McLuhan’s ideas really resonated with me as an artist and as a creator.  There was a utopic optimism in his words directed at artists and the purpose of their work.  I don’t know if what he said can be applied to all creative thinkers and artist types, but I do agree that there is a role for artists to question and to be critical off media, culture, and what can be called the common discourse.  He wrote: “No society has ever known enough about its actions to have developed immunity to its new extensions or technologies. Today we have begun to sense that art may be able to provide such immunity.”  I would agree with this sentiment and gesture to artists, that it is their responsibility to be critical of new technology and the affect of new media on the society who uses it.  I would also probably extend that the artists’ role is not limited to only questioning new media, but also the content and ethics around media and the role it plays in driving people and their ideas.  I would hope that for all artists, their work is a gesture to motivate society in a more positive direction for the betterment of society and the civilians within that society.
I did struggle, and have struggled at ITP, with one provocation. McLuhan says that, “(e)lectric technology is directly related to our central nervous systems, so it is ridiculous to talk of “what the public wants” played over its own nerves. This question would be like asking people what sort of sights and sounds they would prefer around them in an urban metropolis! Once we have surrendered our senses and nervous systems to the private manipulation of those who would try to benefit from taking a lease on our eyes and ears and nerves, we don’t really have any rights left. Leasing our eyes and ears and nerves to commercial interests is like handing over the common speech to a private corporation, or like giving the earth’s atmosphere to a company as a monopoly.”
Although I agree with his sentiments.  I do find that commercial art and design is capable of appealing to larger groups through popular aesthetics.  I wonder how aesthetics can be used to target larger audiences with less popular sometimes antagonistic ideas.  I liked this quote which McLuhan includes from Bernard Lam’s The Art of Speaking.  He quotes, “A Discourse cannot be pleasant to the Hearer that is not easie to the Speaker; nor can it be easily pronounced unless it be heard with delight.”  The notion that aesthetics as a vehicle can offer more to the digestion of an idea than the idea alone is something I would like to continue to explore.  How can an idea which maybe adverse to popular thought be delivered in a way that is pleasing and more tempting to swallow?
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Newtown 2050

March 20, 2017
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Collaborators: Marina Zurkow, Nick Hubbard, Rebecca Lieberman

Above: Map of the surrounding area of Newtown Creek.  Map shows rising tide predictions for 2050 as well as the currently documented city owned green spaces and community gardens.

The purpose of this project is to understand the current situation of the Newtown Creek area as a government SuperFund site, as well as to try to imagine what the creek can be and what we can do to activate change in the area for its sustainable future.  The main issue is that the creek and its problems are not very accessible to the local community.

Issues and interventions along the Gowanus Canal, in contrast, are a lot more well known to the Gowanus area community.  Artists and designers have created ad hoc systems to mitigate street run off and canal pollution.  Newtown 2050 is a mapping project designed to encourage bottom-up participation with the Newtown Creek clean up in a similar way that has been exhibited along the Gowanus Canal.

Above: Selection of images of Gowanus Canal interventions and ad hoc green spaces.

There are two parts to this mapping project.  Part one will be to make a survey map, a physical printed map, that I can use to collect data of informal green interventions.  ….more soon…

Image of Unity landscape generated from Mapbox data.  

Above: Rhino import from Unity-Mapbox.  View East Williamsburg towards Manhattan and Long Island City, Queens.

Above:  Newly modeled Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, Location of the Newtown Creek Nature Walk site, and the Newtown Creek waterway.  View from Greenpoint to Manhattan and Long Island City Queens.

Above: Newtown Creek Nature Walk Rhino model space, satellite map from google, and ground view from nature walk.

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Newtown 2050

March 17, 2017
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Collaborators: Marina Zurkow, Nick Hubbard, Rebecca Lieberman

Newtown 2050 is a project originally started by Marina Zurkow, Nick Hubbard, and Rebecca Lieberman.  The project started off as a post-naturalist project examining Newtown Creek, a U.S. Super Fund site which has been heavily polluted over the last century.  The original project was a walking sound tour concentrated on the Newtown Creek Nature Walk, a park located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  The sound tour was intended to be a artistic platform to make the creek and its history more accessible and engaging.  This project and it’s potential engagement has expanded.

I was brought on to make a VR piece examining a possible future Newtown Creek in the year 2050.  We asked ourselves, what kind of bottom-up interventions could reclaim the creek from industry and what types of ad hoc participation could clean up the creek and mitigate further damage?   I will make a physical printed map that will allow us to survey with QGIS.  We will take this survey map around the creek via bike to talk to workers and locals from the area and “map” unquantifiable information and collect data from marginalized communities.  The second part of the map, is to make an interactive 3D map of the space that shares the same data from the physical survey map.  I plan on using either Tangram by Mapzen or Unity with Mapbox.

 

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Soft Robotics Material

February 23, 2017
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MaterialConnexion had a large collection of soft conductive filament/ink which could be embedded or affixed to soft surfaces.  I am interested in how these soft circuits could be used with silicone casting methods to create silicone objects with new material properties and performance.  Embedding the conductive circuits within the silicone could create more structure and less elasticity in areas of the silicone membrane diversifying the silicone functionality.  I wonder if it is possible to also embed actuators  or other rigid components to build in mechanisms otherwise usually adhered to the exterior surfaces.  I’m not sure if I will will use these materials for my future projects.

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