Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Lighter Side of Lights

The aim: to create a series of go-together lighting solutions in some commonly used areas with easily available materials at a reasonable cost, starting with the austere, minimalistic Modern form-meets-function aesthetic, then screwing it all up with red power cords looking like they were drawn on by your 3 yr old nephew. Boom. The result is lighting with great personality without drastic steps in the addition of superfluous ornament. Basic functional pieces are toyed with: power cord being used as structure in truss-like tension, standard steel bases and rods used as balancing elements, table lamp being used as a crane to hoist a pendant, keeping in the family of the others.

My personal catalyst? I needed something that could be easily applied to my rental without making any changes to the way existing features hang. Thus, I get loads of visual interest without any generic stuff from the big boxes. I am cheap. My cost to put these together is low.

There are a couple RFPs out there targeting affordable lighting, but adding the widely performed social responsibility of eco-consciousness. I DO have a vested interest in cork reforming, as it can cast over and over, and is more than readily available in disposed-wine cork form. Grind it up, heat in your mold at 500deg for some time, and a beautiful, smooth, finished looking shape emerges. If you look at my past example of making liquid-organic shapes from rigid materials, you'll get an idea for what kind of molded-cork aesthetic I'd be seeking. More on that as the experiments continue.

*note: scanner works now, and it turns out it's terrible (i.e. gray patches on the left not part of my original, CLEAN sketch).

Monday, November 5, 2012

On Space Time Foam: Interactive perception altering installation

Courtesy of:
A wonderful example of cybermimetics, Tomรกs Saraceno demonstrates his ability to erase boundaries of geographical, physical, behavioral, and social (rough Italian translation) natures by active participation with the physical environment in a perception altering grouping of bubbles at various levels. The installation instructions tell to refrain from using the top level if faint of heart.

I'll have to add this to the list of works I believe would benefit from the use of projection to aid in perception of materiality and other-worldliness. Maybe even as far as changing the scenery dependent on accomplishing shapes of the surface or position within the space.

Find the Original Post here, and watch the vid for some artist-process insight.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Chase Jarvis on Paradigm Shifts in... construction.

Photo curtousy of

Chase Jarvis, notable Seattle-based photographer, recently made this post on a new residential construction project by 1:1 Arkitektur, wherein they deploy CNC milling efficiency to piece together a fully assembled home, free of traditional connectors such as nails. It is made of 100% wood, facilitated by the automated flexibility in creating complex, puzzle-like shapes for each element to fit together using our industry's latest cutting tool.

I'd especially like to point this project out as a common proponent of seemingly-far fetched methods in design and construction, and for you, as a reader and potential client to these new methodologies, to consider the implication of truly sustainable operations, fueled by emerging technology, as a practical and ideal means to an environmentally-feasible and cost-effective end. 

The original post here:

Friday, September 28, 2012

Techno-round up: physical pixels and digital buildings

Well here we are with some cybermimetic examples from opposite spectra. The first is a physical manifestation of the most fundamental digital unit: the pixel. Installed at the 2012 Hyundai Motor Group Exhibition, the South Korean media arts group Jonpasang used many, many lightweight cubes (approx. 12"x12") controlled by a large artifice at each wall composed of steel grid and stepper motors. The liquidity of the pixel is transformed as texture, image, and sequence IRL. Admittedly due to the bias of my interest in melding physical with virtual simultaneously, I do believe there is a missed opportunity to incorporate digital imagery on the scene in the form of projection or the like. Read more here: Architect's Newspaper via University of Michigan TCAUP

And in honorable mention, not for its provocation in spatial awareness, but for it's practical application in life saving tech, this is MS Kinect sensor adapted for rescuers to wear on their chests in order to develop accurate digital floor plans as they run through! I have a soft spot for Kinect hacking, but this is nonetheless a very exciting prospect. Read more here: Gizmodo via MIT

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Velodrome + TRON = So obvious, so wonderful.

Check out this animation which, apparently, is shown at the start of all lightcycle track cycling sessions at the 2012 Olympic Games. The animation was produced by crystal cg, set to the track Velodrome by The Chemical Brothers.

I wondered if this was a New Aesthetic piece, though not nearly as stylized as digital glitch and early 90s 8-bit-ness. The faceted nature of the human figures on bikes, thus disconnecting them from image of being human, seems to fit the bill.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Monster: The Entertainer's Guide to Interactive Display

Earlier we talked a bit about interaction design as an involved, dynamic, spatial interface where participants can interject and co-mingle their occupied physical realm with a digital projection of their avatar in a virtual environment that surrounds and inflicts on the space to create a novel experience.

Background and due diligence here:

Here we have a Kinect* powered loop sensing position, form, and movement of the user to involve them with their virtual environment while simultaneously existing as part of, or separate to, in physicality. Our example is open-faced, giving opportunity to share the imagery with users, in real time, however improvised the situation might be. Different forms or positions could trigger varying scenes or sequences while the user to either merely conduct those images with their body or react as an additional actor to their virtual selves.

While the above clearly affords an audience, other configurations could be oriented toward the user(s) alone in a more immersive environment. Either way, the result yields a cross between digital mixed media and performance art, allowing levels of storytelling availed through multiple representational genres. Our singer commands presence as his inner Monster moves through space in front of his viewers.

*note: you'll notice the date on the drawings, and the date of the introductory post. Apparently you need to have your all-in-one printer loaded with ink in order to use the scan function. So... Fuck HP. Below, my new scanner:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Typical distraction: 2 T-shirt entries.

Typical, yes. A hiatus from thinking spatially taken through a flatter, quicker creative outlet: things to screen print on T shirts. Both cases are submissions for competitions. Pictured about is Erno Rubik, cubed. Inventor of the Rubik's cube; well, you get the idea. An abstraction (which I think would be dashing even without the handsome architect/inventor's face) of the cube's many colors in the background reminds those of us less familiar with our toy history. This was for the Museum of Math (MoMath), to which there is no retail shop as of yet. Hopefully soon. On a virtual shirt below:

Second, for the band Wilco, sponsored by Out of Print and Veer (and maybe others), to help promote 826, an organization encouraging kids to pursue creative writing, a Don Quixote themed competition making use of the following quote: "I can no more remember one syllable of it than the shapes of last year's clouds." Having been recording some abstract shapes-as-typography in my sketchbook, I thought this would lend itself well to both script and geometric clouds. Of course, I wanted to give 826 more mention than anything, and broke a contest rule by not using the, uh, limited choices provided by Veer. In all seriousness, isn't clip art just a bit too 90s, or am I simply not en vogue enough with the new aesthetic? Enjoy.

On shirt:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Digital Media Interaction with MS's Kinect

Photo of "The Treachery of Sanctuary" on digital media interaction with MS's Kinect
Above is a photo of Chris Milk's installation at The Creators Project show in San Francisco titled "The Treachery of Sanctuary," held a few weekends ago. You can read more about the synopsis here:

It uses light projection to create a silhouette which is then read by a Kinect sensor from Microsoft's XBox 360 gaming platform (Kinect now commonly available as an open source developer tool, read about it here.) and allows the viewer/performer to participate with digital imagery of varying bird scenes. This bares uncanny resemblance to my following sketch, dating back 2 years ago in a post where I posit (digital) Interaction Design as a physical and spatial field, imagining a projection / silhouette / projection combination allowing users to interact with the digital imagery in a literal, physical manner.

That post is found here:

Ironically, I didn't pursue this installation upon the advent of the Kinect, having originally conceived the use of a simple webcam. Thus I am delighted that very technology was used in the development in this interactive, silhouette-morphing piece for The Creators Project SF visit. Those squiggles in the sketch are imagined as birds flying onto the human figure and transforming the image into (other), able to be 'shaken off' by the participant. Very similar to the second panel of Milk's installation where birds, albeit a tad violently, pick apart their user's figure. As a collaboratively funded project by VICE and Intel, there was no shortage of programming knowledge resource, for sure.

But this is not the end-all to the Interaction Design-into-physicality experiment. Continuing on with the human obsession to occupy our virtual environment as a Tron Grid-like space (definition), we can envision launching from past virtual reality environments, bending our 2-D projection screen into a tunnel, thus expanding into three dimensionality, and introducing the actual human as a participatory character in the image itself, not just their silhouette.

University of Michigan's MIDEN used in visualizing digital 3d environments

To do our due diligence, it is worth understanding the current state of CAVE technology, an immersive room    where a stereoscopic 3d jiter is projected making 'the walls disappear' and a digital spatial environment come alive to a single user with a game pad for navigating and glasses for seeing. Not what I'm proposing at  all, as this environment expresses the extreme interiority fascination, either a hyper-Banham-like complex or complete the opposite. Alas, understanding is the key to differentiating, so learn more about CAVE technology, and Michigan's MIDEN here:

What I propose is not an abstraction, much like I see Milk's installment as not a representation of a space that doesn't exist. Instead these objects, with people and digital projection, are the thing itself, interacting in a sort of unscripted performance art. The characters are one or many humans, one or many projected images, and one or many projected silhouettes of the human characters, all interacting, all existing, and all being realized at once, in real time. What comes next is some representation of this cyber/real life - mimetic device. Stay tuned for that! This will be a multi-part series.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Landing in PDX

The new year has brought a new home base for me, and Atelier2112: Portland, OR. PDX promises to be a bountiful land of great design with, as the NYT put it, a small physical, but disproportionately massive artistic footprint. Well done urban design and consistent contemporary-relevant architecture both developer driven and in the boutique. All with a common mix of old and new, historic and fantastic adaptive re-use (a favorite genre of design). But in all honesty, it's the density of amazing food venues that did the most driving. My goodness; so many food trucks.

I'll be looking forward to developing connections with the following groups housed here and Portland, doing great work in keeping their own institutions connected to the community and other houses of design:

Oregon College of Art and Craft (Library) runs a fantastic blog here, addressing the urban territory and bringing access to several facets of their curriculum to the public.

Looking forward to absorbing some of the promisingly curated lecture series' both there and Portland State University's Department of Architecture, where I hope to participate in the pedagogical conversation as well.

And finally, if for no other reason than proximity, like all wonderful art museums, I plan to be spending some time here:

See you at the 4th Thursday open night, THIS Thursday, the 22nd! Looking forward to making new acquaintances here in the city.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bacterial Landscapes: Furthering Materials Development

It's been some time since Thesis 2010 where I delved into bacterial driven material reuse for futures with a rare occurrence of virgin goods. Bacteria material science has since come a long way. While during my research I came upon various species being chameleon-like in their color replication as they grew, now that same logic has been pushed further into man-malleability with this: 

It is a 'living' neon sign composed of millions of glowing bacteria. Researchers at Hasty Lab UC San Diego say “This development illustrates how basic, quantitative knowledge of cellular circuitry can be applied to the new discipline of synthetic biology." Potential architectural applications are exciting - the introduction of functionality without material failure at connection locations. I.e. take a prison (one of my favorite academic programs) where durability and air-tightness in function is necessary, but where advanced warning systems could decrease guard response time and increase their safety and security. Displays and lighting could be integrated directly into neon-capable-engineered-bacteria integrated concretes and other building materials. Exciting seeing the beginning of real-world applications after seeing growing amount of research unfold.

See the video of the synchronized bacteria in action here:

Synchronization is courtesy of bacteria's embedded ad-hoc network style of communicating known as "quorum sensing," aided by gas signals targeted at large colonies of cells to insure no delay in the 'flashing.' The right direction in mitigating the hierarchy of man-made commands with boids' stochastic mode of communicating in nature? I think so. 

Couple it with this experiment:

Image courtesy of

Vast and Undetectable aims to employ bacteria's photosynthesis detection and mimicking to produce answers to our biggest question about the known, and unknown universe though their closer-to-life-origin composition atop rotating images gathered via the Hubble Telescope. The most complex questions can be answered with the simplest solutions, right?

I do have to admit my own experiments yielded great aesthetic similarity to the cosmos:

Out for now. Working on t-shirts instead of architecture, naturally.