- By Michael
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Today was the first workshop for the Tembusu Food Garden group. Since arriving in Singapore, I had been eating an average of 1-2 coconuts a day. The husks and shell created quite a bit of waste, so I had been trying to think of what to do with them as they don’t compost easily. One idea was to get a machine that grinds them in to fibers to use as a planting medium. The issues with this is that the husk needed be dried first and since the humidity is so high it would require a dehydrator, so ultimately the energy need to do this at small scale didn’t work out. A couple people had mentioned using them as planters, so I decided last minute to try it out with some of the students. First thing that morning I went over to the local Corona nursery which has been around for over 60 years! It really has a spectacular selection of plants, though was lacking in the way of seeds and food baring plants.
My favorite was this particularly exotic specimen.
The concept of this workshop was to have the group think about ways of designing food growing systems based on accessible and repurposed materials. We broke down this idea of the coconut, both culturally and as a design object. What we found is that there was a strong association between coconuts and relaxation and vacation, which makes a lot of sense considering the amount of electrolytes in coconut water help rehydrate and rejuvenate the body and provide a soothing effect. As a design object, the most obvious function of a coconut was as a container, so it made a great planter!
Another topic we discussed was the increasing disconnection between ourselves and the production and preparation of food. Again we used the coconut as our example. No one really knew how to break open the coconut or had done it before. One of the students, Sean, successfully attempted to open the coconut after a bit of a struggle (as you can see from the video). His only knowledge had come from the memory of how his father did it in the past. Sadly, knowledge passed down though our parents and ancestors is becoming decreasingly common. Parents often rely on the education system to teach their children, yet this education does not provide much of the basic knowledge necessary for survival. We’ve become reliant on industry to provide our basic needs.
The students each had the opportunity to break open their own coconut, fill it with soil, and plant their first seed.
- By Michael
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I just discovered the news of the passing of Red Burns who founded the ITP program over 30 years ago. I had the opportunity to participate in the program during the 30 year anniversary. Thought I probably didn’t get to interact with Red quite as much as I would have liked, I still felt her impact by proxy though the classmates I was and still am constantly surrounded by. There are those who leave life with unfinished business. I believe Red Burns left this earth having done what she came here to do. These short but sweet words really say it all.
- By Michael
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Could you leave everything behind and start from zero again? Pick one thing, and one only, and be absolutely devoted to it? Make it the reason for your existence, the thing that contains everything, that becomes everything, because your dedication to it makes it last forever? Could you? -Frederico Fellini
5 years ago to the day I arrive in NYC without knowing anyone. Now, I have become inextricably entangled with hundreds of passionate people, many of which are very dear to my heart and played a major part in who I am today, from my values to my character to my professional and social life. I have (temporarily) ripped myself from this web or rather, taken a step back to look at my own passion for food systems and sustainability from a fresh perspective.
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in square holes. You are the ones who see things differently. You’re not fond of rules. And you have no respect for the status quo. I can quote you, disagree with you, glorify or vilify you. About the only thing I can’t do is ignore you. Because you change things. You push the human race forward. And while some may see you as the crazy ones, I see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. -Apple Inc (remixed)
I feel incredibly lucky to have developed the relationships I now have. My first year in NYC, as is for many, was a struggle. The differences in culture between Los Angeles and NYC, I may as well have been in a different country. But I learned to adapt. Riding my bike through the city, the psycho-geographic map began to form in my head. Living at Mckibbin Lofts and getting my masters degree at ITP gave me the opportunity to meet numerous creative intelligent people, many of which I now consider very close friends. These are two of the many ways I was able to integrate myself into a city with potholes (both literal and metaphorical) down every road. But the struggle remains. A friend was recently caught in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting and shot in the chest. Thankfully, he lives to tell about.
Everything feels like touchdown on a rainy day. But they’re waiting for us at the gate and we can’t let them down. -James Blake
Don’t let our lack of freedom get in the way. Fly free, but most of all remember you are only on piece of of a larger puzzle and without the others the picture ceases to exists. By committing ourselves to realizing how our part of the image matches with another results in a symbiotic relationship that we call “collaboration”—a force that multiplies, not adds, our strengths into something of unimaginable power.
We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. -The Great Dictator
There are many in NYC whose stress on the inner soul has destroyed a sense of greater collective spirit. This is not a judgment on their character but simply an explanation of the affects from a specific geographic location impacted by social, political and, economic factors. Yet there there are also many who are selflessly fighting for unity and equality. How does one reconcile this? We must not let the fire of revolution burn dim. Walk the walk.
Complacency is the enemy of progress. -Dave Stutman
See you back on the other side and don’t forget to wear your helmet.
- By Michael
An interactive web-based application that allows you to mix user generated audio samples recorded in New York City. In this urban environment we are hyperstimulated by many sounds. These sounds are often interpreted as noise and we adapt to this through creating filters that push these sounds further from our conscious.
At the same time these, many of these sounds are what define our city life and the urban environment. How can we reclaim these sounds and gain a better understanding of how to interpret them?
If we record the soundscape, we can then begin to create a vocabulary that describes the sounds we capture. Though the power of user generated content, we can begin to catalog these sounds and create deeper connections between signifier and the signified.
- By Michael
Community web development for Windowfarms, an open source hardware system that promotes and educates urban agriculture and sustainability. Using various google APIs, web tools are quickly prototyped and implemented to serve the R&DIY community that supports the Windowfarms project. Tools include a educational sponsorship program registration and pledging as well as a custom online instructional site that supports user translation into other languages. I work as part of the Windowfarms core team in other faculties such as publicity and exhibition installation as well.
- By Michael
photo by Tom Igoe
This wifi connected chessboard allows you to play against others around the world who are connected via another chessboard or a web game interface. Each board contains a unique ID that is registered with a username created by the owner of the board. They can then request to connect to other users via SMS or telephone interface.
Opponents moves are indicated on the board through the illumination of the spaces. The board also warns of illegal moves through simple light patterns. Beyond normal two person game play, the board has other features such as playing against the computer and learning mode. A key element to the board was to maintain the traditional aesthetic and manner of gameplay while allowing the ability to transcend physical space. This board also becomes more interesting when left in a public space such as a cafe where user can casually play with anonymous opponents, creating interesting social relationships.
- By Michael
Juncture is a participatory, public space, media environment about historical memory, cultural identity, and collective recognition in Los Angeles. The core content component of the environment is the Remapping-LA interpretive media database, containing thousands of historical images, videos, and sounds enriched by layers of metadata including temporal and geographical information, descriptive texts, and extensive tagging. Junction is a collaboration between REMAP/UCLA, California State Parks, Walt Disney Imagineering, and CENS/UCLA. Contributions included conceptualizing the interface mock-ups, participating in creative development, and producing online and print content.
- By Michael
What began as a simple end of the year party ended in a culmination of art, music, community, history, technology, and last but not least—tacos. UCLA’s TFT course in Interactive Multimedia teamed with REMAP to explore the history of Los Angeles through the integration of cutting edge Nokia N83 mobile devises and Cisco Systems WiFi grid. We used these devices to map Los Angeles in innovative ways using GPS and REMAP’s massive image database.
Monumento 872 was, at it’s core, a way of sharing these “maps” with the community. Though the collaborative conception of our class, this event was born. We could not have made it happen without the support of the REMAP team, especially Vids Samanta and Jeff Burke. Vids was the key programmer who developed the Python software for the Nokia Devices. They were loaded with a “GPS medal detector” application. When you came in proximity of a defined GPS location, your device would be fed a “hidden treasure” in the form of historical information and images about the location you were at.
The event was a huge success with a turnout of over 1000 people of various sub-cultures from across Los Angeles. It took place a Chiperaki and the adjacent historical park just north of Chinatown. The event include various music artists performing in the park, a mixed media art show, taco truck, and the interactive devices.