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An Essay by Miho Nonaka | Kenyon Review Online
[So good. There's really no good way to quote this one, so here are just a few sections.]

"Heavenly Worm

Mrs. Itō, our fourth-grade teacher, drew a new kanji character on the board: 蚕. “Worm from heaven,” she announced, “as you can see.” Heaven splits open like a curtain (天) and inside it dwells the worm (虫). For each student, she took out five worms from her basket and put them in a small paper box to take home. Having just hatched from their eggs, these worms were still covered in little black hairs. That’s why at this stage they are called kego (hairy baby), Mrs. Itō told us. To feed these dark babies, julienne your mulberry leaves first."



"Platinum Boy, 2006

After decades of research, Japanese silkworm breeders discovered a reliable method of hatching exclusively male silkworms. Female silkworms eat more, sleep more, take up more space, and are measurably less efficient in transforming mulberry leaves into silk. The verdict was clear: female silkworms are inferior for silk production.

Silk spinners and kimono weavers are unanimous in their praise of male silk: their thread is consistently finer, sturdier, glossier, whiter, and their cocoons are easier to harvest when boiled.

The birth site of Platinum Boy is literally black and white. When you look at a piece of paper where silkworm eggs are laid, white eggs are the empty shells from which male larvae have already hatched. They will thrive on the diet of tender mulberry shoot which, combined with their spit, will eventually turn into raw silk, translucent like frosted glass. The dark eggs contain female larvae that will never hatch and only keep darkening."



"Ten Thousand Leaves I

Compiled in the mideighth century, Man’yōshū (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves) is the oldest Japanese anthology: more than forty-five hundred poems in twenty books. In the sweltering heat of the attic, I wasn’t looking for any particular motif when I happened on poem No. 2495, composed by Kakinomoto no Hitomaro, a low rank courtier and one of the “Saints of Japanese Poetry”:
like my mother’s
silkworms confined
inside cocoons,
how can I see my love
who lives secluded at home?

Poem No. 2991 is almost the same poem by another poet, simply tagged “unknown”:
like my mother’s
silkworms confined
inside cocoons,
sadness clouds my heart
when I cannot see her

The motif of a silk cocoon as the inaccessible, lyrical interior goes back to the dawn of Japanese poetics. The cocoon encases the image of the beloved, the poet’s longing that keeps building inside, and in my poem it holds the mother as a mythical seamstress, stitching blue in each wrist of her unborn daughter."



"職人 I

I used to blame my grandmother on my father’s side, who was described to me as fierce, frantic, funny, a destructive visionary and unsuccessful business entrepreneur during the critical times of the Second World War. When I felt defeated by the radical pull of my own emotion, I would attach them to the face of the woman I had never met in person, only in a fading picture where she stands next to my young father without glasses, still a student with surprisingly gentle eyes.

My father recently told me during one of our late-night international calls from Tokyo: “Your grandfathers were both shokunin (craftsman), remember? It’s in your DNA, too.” His father had come from a large family of silk farmers. After he left home, adopting the newly introduced Singer sewing machines, he began manufacturing Japanese cloven-toed socks, the traditional kind that used to be hand-sewn, and during the war, he took the assignment to sew parachutes for the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. While he worked under dimmed light, my young father put up his primitive drawing of warplanes on the wall, covered in fine grains of sand."



"Small Things

They say (I love the convenience, but who are “they”?) that attention to detail is a characteristic of the Japanese. I am drawn to small things: tadpoles, silica beads, star sands in a vial, a notebook the size of a thumbnail, fish scales, a nativity scene inside half a walnut shell. I am terribly myopic like my father, and I like things that are near. Large things loom over and terrify: airports, Costco, churches in Texas, the Tokyo Skytree, Mount Rushmore (those granite faces I once believed had surfaced in response to the historic atomic bombing), and that elusive word “global.”"



"Komako

It didn’t occur to me until I tried translating a few passages from Snow Country that the young geisha’s name Komako (駒子) means Pony Child. What inspired the author Kawabata to portray his heroine as a woman of equine grace? We don’t know her family name. On the other hand, we don’t know the first name of Shimamura, who is referred to only by his last name.

I imagine if your family name is a gate to the house, your first name must be its interior. In the days when the first book of Man’yōshū was composed, asking a maiden’s first name was synonymous with proposing to her. Knowing it meant possessing the person.

Komako’s body is translucent like a silkworm, and an unearthly room encloses her fruitless passion like a white cocoon. While writing Snow Country, Kawabata says he distanced himself from Shimamura, who serves merely as a foil to Komako. “As an author, I entered deep inside the character of Komako, but casually turned my back to Shimamura,” he writes in the afterward. “Especially in terms of emotion—Komako’s sadness is nothing other than my own sadness. . . .” And so it is; his heart has become subsumed into her heart."



"Body

I find it impossible to talk about the body (mine and everyone else’s) without sounding embarrassed or oddly distant. I don’t mean to self-deprecate, but it has been almost too fashionable, too charged a topic for me to feel safe around. (A cowardly thing to say—the truth is, no one is safe.)

I won’t pretend my body is a plain blockhouse, or a slab of flesh aching with desire or lack thereof. Who could have taught me to stay at home in my own body all the while I traveled from one country to another, turning from the spontaneous, if careless, music of my mother tongue to the cautious economy of English, reaching out, in the hope of actually reaching and being reached?

For the subjects most critical to me, I find no teachers. Perhaps there is not enough demand? I believe I am badly behind everyone and that I missed an opportunity to ask questions long ago. People my age in this country sound fluent in the body, discussing it with just the right amount of sarcasm and laughter without revealing much, like they have been on intimate terms with it since they learned to speak. I suppose I should have listened to the body harder, without ulterior motives."
mihononaka  silk  essays  canon  howwewrite  2017  silkworms  multispecies  japan  japanese  language  gender  via:ayjay  poetry  writing  fabric  textiles  srg  glvo  insects  history  cocoons  craft  translation  languages  childhood  change  materials  process  form  details  weaving  texture  morethanhuman  shinto  bodies  body  small  slow 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Why Is Japan Still So Attached to Paper? - The New York Times
"Because of the sheer accumulated weight of its past, and the velocity of its rush into the future, Japan offers these contradictions and anxieties of modernity in particular abundance. Japan was geographically isolated for centuries, so the time between the country’s opening — thanks to the gunboat diplomacy of American warships’ arrival in 1853 — and the postwar miracle of reconstruction produced a linear and especially propulsive narrative of an agrarian society becoming one defined by urban futurism. The contrast (and conflict) between ancient and modern is the primary tension in Japan’s modern literary and filmic traditions: rural families experiencing the shock of the city in Yasujiro Ozu’s films of the ’40s and ’50s, or Noh drama in the novels of the Showa-era writer Fumiko Enchi. Everything, from the perfervidness of the country’s electronic manufacturing, the proliferation of its pop culture, the aggressiveness of its building booms — even as a three-decade-long economic decline strips these characteristics of their sheen — seems to serve as a reminder that throughout the postwar era, Japan was a byword for the future.

All of these forces — the past, the present, the future — can be crystallized in one persisting Japanese tradition: the longevity and depth of its papermaking. Perhaps chief among the historical foundations of Japan is that it is a country of artisans, so much so that the national government stipulates requirements for an object to be classified as a “traditional Japanese craft.” The first of these requirements is that an object must be practical enough for regular use, which helps explain the continuing relevance of paper, or washi (which translates as “Japanese paper”). In our digital age, we tend to forget just how practical and versatile the material actually is, and many of its modern uses can be traced directly back to Japan, where the art of handmade washi began with the arrival of Buddhist monks to the islands from Korea in the seventh century.

Since then, washi has been used as stationery, as canvas and as art itself through the rise of origami, which was invented almost simultaneously with washi — but these practices, which remain popular, overshadow just how deeply entrenched paper is in Japanese history. Some 700 years before the Gutenberg Bible, the Japanese were hand-printing Buddhist texts on paper. Before printed periodicals began to appear in Europe in the 17th century as predecessors of the modern newspaper, Japan was printing yomiuri (literally “to read and sell”), handbills that were sold in major urban centers. (Today, Japan maintains the largest circulation of print newspapers in the world, and the second largest per capita.) Paper was the dominant characteristic of Japanese aesthetics, appearing everywhere from domestic rooms to funerals. Paper lanterns were burned at religious ceremonies. Clothing was made from it. It became a popular building material. The shoji screens that were ubiquitous in the Edo period, which spanned the 17th to the late 19th centuries, reflected an appreciation for mood and tactility and, with their lunar opacity, contributed to the clean, mollified serenity that later so attracted Modernist architects like Le Corbusier to traditional Japanese architecture. Even a form of facial tissues, the kind you sneeze into when you have a cold, were used by the Japanese for centuries. Paper has a long history all over the world, but it is to Japan something like what wine is to the French — a national obsession and point of pride. It remains, despite every innovation since, the central material of Japanese culture."



"THE GREAT PARADOX of Japan’s paper culture is that the country was also one of the earliest producers of global technology, particularly with the founding in 1946 of Sony (originally called the Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corp.), a company that could reasonably claim the mantle as one of the original tech supergiants. Having once been a papermaking innovator, the country also became the site of other crucial advancements. The first consumer tape recorders and transistor radios emerged here in the 1950s, and in 1966, the Sony Building in Ginza, Tokyo’s old business district, further transformed the look of the modern city by becoming the first example of “media architecture,” with a facade that displayed video images, a development for screens that was perhaps inevitable in a country that pioneered this technology back when it was still analog.

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In a bit of irony, the first cellular network is also Japanese, introduced in 1979 by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone. This may have helped sound the long, slow demise of print throughout the world, but in a country where the roots of paper are so deep, today the material is still everywhere, even when it isn’t. As in many places in the world, passengers on the subway system scroll continuously on their phones. But the country’s low-tech traditions have not been casually discarded. The same spirit that continues to cultivate beautiful washi also seems of a piece with the strange persistence of meikyoku kissaten, the “masterpiece cafes” where people sit and listen to recordings of classical music on old phonographs. Much like the more famous and trafficked vinyl bars — hole-in-the-wall haunts catering to audiophiles, hundreds of which speckle the streets and back alleys of Tokyo — they reflect a reverence toward a medium and not just the product produced via that medium.

In an age of sharply escalating computerization and digitization of everything into an intangible ether, it can be hard to remember that paper, too, is just another medium, something that acts as a transmitter for something written or typed in the past. Or better, it’s too easy to imagine that replacing paper with digital screens is just moving from one medium to another. Digitization has produced a change not just in what we see and feel but in what we control. The world of new media — of what the left-wing theorist Jodi Dean calls “communicative capitalism” — is standardized in a way that not even the most fantastical efficiency expert could have dreamed. If thousands of families could once make their own paper, it is now only a few monopoly companies that create virtually all the media through which we transmit communication today, and virtually all of it is being data mined in a way that letters never could be. The fetish for media like washi is nostalgic on one account, cleareyed on another: The paper bears an imprint, of the maker and eventually of the user, in a way no digital object ever can. For this reason, those pale, fringed sheets retain a measure of the time, and the sense of self, we are always losing as we rush heedlessly into the future."
japan  paper  history  materials  materiality  craft  artisans  process 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Overgrowth - e-flux
"Architects and urban practitioners, toiling daily at the coalface of economic expansion, are complicit in the perpetuation of growth. Yet they are also in a unique position to contribute towards a move away from it. As the drivers of growth begin to reveal their inadequacies for sustaining life, we must imagine alternative societal structures that do not incentivize unsustainable resource and energy use, and do not perpetuate inequality. Working on the frontline of capitalism, it is through architecture and urban practice that alternative values, systems, and logics can be manifest in built form and inherited by generations to come.

Editors
Nick Axel
Matthew Dalziel
Phineas Harper
Nikolaus Hirsch
Cecilie Sachs Olsen
Maria Smith

Overgrowth is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and the Oslo Architecture Triennale within the context of its 2019 edition."

[See also: https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221902/editorial/ ]

[including:

Ateya Khorakiwala: "Architecture's Scaffolds"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221616/architecture-s-scaffolds/
The metaphor of grassroots is apt here. Bamboo is a grass, a rhizomatic plant system that easily tends towards becoming an invasive species in its capacity to spread without seed and fruit. Given the new incursions of the global sustainability regime into third world forests to procure a material aestheticized as eco-friendly, what would it take for the state to render this ubiquitous material into a value added and replicable commodity? On one hand, scaffolding offers the site of forming and performing the subjectivity of the unskilled laborer—if not in making the scaffolding, then certainly in using it. Bamboo poles for scaffolding remain raw commodities, without scope for much value addition; a saturated marketplace where it can only be replaced by steel as building projects increase in complexity. On the other hand, bamboo produces both the cottage industry out of a forest-dwelling subject, on the margins of the state, occupying space into which this market can expand.

Bamboo is a material in flux—what it signifies is not transferable from one scale to another, or from one time to another. In that sense, bamboo challenges how we see the history of materials. In addition to its foundational architectural function as scaffolding, it acts as a metaphorical scaffolding as well: it signifies whatever its wielders might want it to, be it tradition, poverty, sustainability, or a new form of eco-chic luxury. Bamboo acts more as a scaffolding for meaning than a material with physical properties of flexibility and strength. Scaffolding, both materially and metaphorically, is a site of politics; a space that opens up and disappears, one that requires much skill in making.

Edgar Pieterse: "Incorporation and Expulsion"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221603/incorporation-and-expulsion/
However, what is even more important is that these radically localized processes will very quickly demand spatial, planning, and design literacy among urban households and their associations. The public pedagogic work involved in nurturing such literacies, always amidst action, requires a further institutional layer that connects intermediary organizations with grassroots formations. For example, NGOs and applied urban research centers with knowledge from different sites (within a city and across the global South) can provide support to foster these organizational literacies without diminishing the autonomy and leadership of grassroots movements. Intermediary organizations are also well placed to mediate between grassroots associations, public officers, private sector interests, and whoever else impinge on the functioning of a neighborhood. Thinking with the example of Lighthouse suggests that we can think of forms of collective economic practice that connect with the urban imperatives of securing household wellbeing whilst expanding various categories of opportunity. The transformative potential is staggering when one considers the speed with which digital money systems and productive efficiencies have taken off across East Africa during the past five years or so.

There is unprecedented opportunity today to delink the imperatives of just urban planning from conventional tropes about economic modernization that tend to produce acontextual technocracy. We should, therefore, focus our creative energies on defining new forms of collective life, economy, wellbeing, invention, and care. This may even prove a worthwhile approach to re-signify “growth.” Beyond narrow economism there is a vast canvas to populate with alternative meanings: signifiers linked to practices that bring us back to the beauty of discovery, learning, questioning, debate, dissensus, experimentation, strategic consensus, and most importantly, the courage to do and feel things differently.

Ingerid Helsing Almaas: "No app for that"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221609/no-app-for-that/
Conventionally, urban growth is seen in terms of different geometries of expansion. Recent decades have also focused on making existing cities denser, but even this is thought of as a process of addition, inscribed in the conventional idea of growth as a linear process of investments and profits. But the slow process of becoming and disappearance is also a form of growth. Growth as slow and diverse accretion and shedding, layering, gradual loss or restoration; cyclical rather than linear or expansive. Processes driven by opportunity and vision, but also by irritation, by lack, by disappointment. In a city, you see these cyclical processes of accretion and disruption everywhere. We just haven’t worked out how to make them work for us. Instead, we go on expecting stability and predictability; a city with a final, finished form.

Peter Buchanan: "Reweaving Webs of Relationships"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221630/reweaving-webs-of-relationships/

Helena Mattsson and Catharina Gabrielsson: "Pockets and Folds"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221607/pockets-and-folds/
Moments of deregulations are moments when an ideology of incessant growth takes over all sectors of life and politics. Returning to those moments allows us to inquire into other ways of organizing life and architecture while remaining within the sphere of the possible. Through acts of remembrance, we have the opportunity to rewrite the present through the past whereby the pockets and folds of non-markets established in the earlier welfare state come into view as worlds of a new becoming. These pockets carry the potential for new political imaginaries where ideas of degrowth reorganize the very essence of the architectural assemblage and its social impacts. These landscapes of possibilities are constructed through desires of collective spending—dépense—rather than through the grotesque ideas of the wooden brain.

Angelos Varvarousis and Penny Koutrolikou: "Degrowth and the City"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221623/degrowth-and-the-city/
The idea of city of degrowth does not attempt to homogenize, but rather focus on inclusiveness. Heterogeneity and plurality are not contrary to the values of equity, living together and effective sharing of the resources. Difference and plurality are inherent and essential for cities and therefore diverse spatial and social articulations are intrinsic in the production of a city of degrowth. They are also vital for the way such an idea of a city could be governed; possibly through local institutions and assemblies that try to combine forms of direct and delegative democracy.
]
growth  degrowth  architecture  overgrowth  2018  nickaxel  matthewdalziel  phineasharper  nikolaushirsch  ceciliesachsolsen  mariasmith  ateyakhorakiwala  edgarpieterse  ingeridhelsingalmaas  peterbuchanan  helenamattsson  catharinagabrielsson  angelosvarvarousis  pennykoutrolikou  2019  anthropocene  population  sustainability  humans  civilization  economics  policy  capitalism  karlmarx  neoliberalism  systemsthinking  cities  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  urbanization  ecology  consumption  materialism  consumerism  oslo  bymelding  stability  change  predictability  design  africa  southafrica  postcolonialism  ethiopia  nigeria  housing  kenya  collectivism  dissensus  experimentation  future  learning  questioning  debate  discovery  wellbeing  intervention  care  technocracy  modernization  local  grassroots  materials  multiliteracies  ngos  autonomy  shigeruban  mumbai  bamboo  burkinafaso  patrickkeré  vikramadityaprakash  lecorbusier  pierrejeanneret  modernism  shivdattsharma  chandigarh  india  history  charlescorrea  scaffolding 
november 2018 by robertogreco
New Work: Park McArthur · SFMOMA
"Park McArthur works with and through the social conditions of dependency, often in relation to care and access. This exhibition, the artist’s first solo museum presentation, examines the materials and processes frequently associated with monuments, memorials, and museums, and explores ongoing relationships with a building or place of congregation. New Work: Park McArthur features new and existing work that draws from the granite and wood of SFMOMA’s building, and includes photographs of informal gathering sites such as picnic tables in a public park. The marks and signs used at these sites question the connections—casual, recreational, ceremonial—that bind stone and wood to site, and people and locations to time."



[video]

"Artist Park McArthur discusses her exhibition at SFMOMA, New Work: Park McArthur, which examines how forms of commemoration and sites of congregation, including museums, create meaning and influence memory. She considers hidden histories and issues of access through explorations of materials, markers, and social spaces."

[via: https://twitter.com/e_mln_e/status/1019327517834899456 ]
parkmcarthur  sfmoma  art  architecture  design  materials  renovation  sanfrancisco  access  accessibility  congregation  commemoration  ramps  museums  memory  influence  meaningmaking  meaning 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Reflections on Reggio Emilia (2017) - Google Photos
"In the spring of 2017, I had the opportunity to return to Reggio Emilia, Italy for a study tour of the municipal schools for young children. I was with a cohort of fellow graduate students from PSU and two early childhood professors from the Graduate School of Education. In my travels, readings, classroom observations, and discussions, I was thinking deeply about themes of fascism, conformity, and the danger of a single story, as well as multiplicity, creativity, divergent thinking, and the power of the counter narrative."

[images]

"The Bordercrossings atelier at the Loris Malaguzzi Centre was a profound interactive and collaborative experience, where I witnessed the power of combining natural and digital elements for exploration. I wondered, what stories do natural materials have to tell us? How can we use natural materials to share our own stories? How can the use of digital media extend and push our thinking about the natural world?"

[images]

"At ReMida, the creative reuse center in Reggio Emilia, I spent some time with the materials. I wondered, what stories do reuse materials have to tell us? Perhaps they started out as raw materials... or were they developed for a particular use? Were they used as intended, or in other ways? Or maybe they were not used at all? Do materials have hopes of becoming something else? Do they hold the energy from their past life of joy, hope, disappointment? Can we transform reuse materials by giving them another life, and does the experience change us in return?"

[images]

Encounters with Bruno Munari-

I visited the little bookshop at the Loris Malaguzzi International Centre several times to choose books for myself and for my preschool classroom. It is a place of many treasures. But each time I returned I found myself drawn to one particular author whose name sounded vaguely familiar, Bruno Munari. His work is so whimsical, and full of wonder, and the illustrations spoke to me. I picked up everything I could find...an amazing trilogy, Little Yellow, Little White, and Little Green Riding Hood, another children's book called The Circus in the Mist, and a funny little surrealist picture book called Seeking Comfort in an Uncomfortable Chair. As I was leaving, I was surprised to see my favorite childhood book, Zoo, behind the checkout counter. I pointed to it with delight, and the young lady who runs the shop apologized to me, this book is not for sale, she said. It was ordered for the children of Reggio Emilia. I explained to her that I have a copy from my own childhood. My grandmother kept it at her house for me when I was young and it is my favorite children's book. It is so unusual; unlike any other children's book I have seen. Ah, She exclaimed, that explains your love of Bruno Munari! I looked closer, and yes, Zoo was also written by Bruno Munari. The illustrations are in the same style, and it is written with incredible wit and humor; clearly with a deep regard for the intelligence of children. I have such gratitude for this "full circle" experience that reminded me of all the many ways I feel deeply connected to the work of Reggio Emilia.

[images]"
2017  reggioemilia  brunomunari  lorismalaguzzi  pedagogy  children  learning  education  italia  italy  materials  remida 
february 2018 by robertogreco
marian april glebes en Instagram: “Work in progress. Thinking about materials that, through their relationship to the maintenance and minor catastrophes of daily life, inform…”
"Work in progress. Thinking about materials that, through their relationship to the maintenance and minor catastrophes of daily life, inform on how and why a place is made, a home is made, and for whom/how/what makes a place or home.
This was a dirty towel. It's use was important, vital. It's material history is embedded in it. How do our routines teach us about what we value, and what we waste? Can a rag, or dust, or a tissue be portraiture?"
materials  maintenance  everyday  place  homes  history  time  waste  routines  dust  rags  textiles  marianglebes  2018 
february 2018 by robertogreco
@debcha en Instagram: “I'm not really a souvenir person, but I did come home with some @transportforlondon swag—I think those are real line status magnets…”
"I'm not really a souvenir person, but I did come home with some @transportforlondon swag—I think those are real line status magnets, together with the ubiquitous hazard sign. The print amused me because I recently learned that the reason why the Tube is so hot in the summer is because a century and a half of dumping waste heat, particularly from braking, has raised the temperature of the clay surrounding the tunnels from a cool 15C to a toasty 25C, which makes it much harder to cool now."
debchachra  2017  london  trains  heat  clay  materials  science  subways  transportation  souvenirs  signs 
august 2017 by robertogreco
The Art of Teaching
[via: "The slide deck for the workshop is superb. Such a great experience, so grateful to @tchoi8 & the other participants." https://twitter.com/dphiffer/status/879465006449909760

referencing also: "How I learn to build things. Something I created for @tchoi8’s Art of Learning workshop at @eyeofestival."
https://twitter.com/dphiffer/status/879366496354488322 ]

[video: "Absence is Presence with Distance"
https://vimeo.com/234330230

"As an artist, I work with technology and narrative – formal and relational projects. As an activist, I examine personal and political – practice and praxis. As an educator, I create feedback between plastic and elastic – learning and unlearning. My talk is set at the dawn. We are waiting for the sun to rise and we are full of questions. What’s the role of an artist as an activist now? How can we critique oppressive systems that create the sense of ‘others’ based on ability and legal status? What’s kind of pedagogy can we experiment through alternative schools? How can we create a community among those who have nothing in common? By creating art, we can give form to our intentions, contribute to making the world we want to live in.

( For a companion posting to this talk visit:

https://medium.com/@tchoi8/absence-is-presence-with-distance-c0712aada56c )]
taeyoonchoi  education  teaching  purpose  routine  ritual  silence  flow  conflict  communication  structure  nurture  authority  kojinkaratani  jean-lucnancy  community  howweteach  pedagogy  learning  howwelearn  eyeo2017  unlearning  curriculum  syllabus  sfpc  schoolforpoeticcomputation  art  craft  beauty  utility  generosity  sfsh  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  classideas  cv  reciprocity  gifts  kant  discretion  instruction  discipline  johndewey  bmc  blackmountaincollege  justice  annialbers  stndardization  weaving  textiles  making  projectbasedlearning  materials  progress  progressive  unschooling  deschooling  control  experimentation  knowledge  fabrication  buckminsterfuller  constructivism  constructionism  georgehein  habit  freedom  democracy  paulofreire  judithbutler  sunaurataylor  walking  christinesunkim  uncertainty  representation  intervention  speculation  simulation  christopheralexander  objectives  outcomes  learningoutcomes  learningobjectives  remembering  creativity  evaluation  application  analysis  understanding  emancipation  allankaprow  judychicago  s 
june 2017 by robertogreco
The Book's Undoing: Dieter Roth's Artist's Books - YouTube
[via:
https://www.instagram.com/p/BVvjLT2H3p8/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BVvjG29Hiu_/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BVvjAaJn-YX/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BVvjnzVHe5w/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BVvjSrInD9U/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BVvjdJzHxvT/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BVvl6tNHHor/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BVvlnfqH3XL/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BVwf9BEnyaE/
https://twitter.com/soulellis/status/878787775641911297 ]

[See also:

"Wait, Later This Will Be Nothing: Editions by Dieter Roth"
https://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2013/dieter_roth/index.html

"Dieter Roth - Wikipedia"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dieter_Roth

"There would be no way to translate a Dieter Roth book into another medium-the idea of the works is inseparable from their form as books and they realise themselves as works through their exploration of the conceptual and structural features of a book. —Johanna Drucker"



"In 1960 he won the William and Norma Copley Award, which included Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst and Herbert Read on the jury.[3] As well as a substantial monetary prize, the award included the chance to print a monograph; Roth declined, asking instead for funding to pay for a new work. The end result was his most ambitious book to date, the Copley Book, 1965, a semi-autobiographical deconstruction of the process of book making. In the same year he exhibited at Arthur Köpcke’s gallery in Copenhagen and at the Festival d’Art d’Avant-garde, Paris in 1960, and began an itinerant lifestyle, exhibiting and working throughout Europe, Iceland and America, a pattern he would continue for the rest of his life.

A key breakthrough in his attitude to art was witnessing the performance of Tinguely's Homage to Modern Art in Basel, 1961. The work profoundly impressed Roth, leading to a decisive break with constructivism into post-modern avant-garde practices associated with the Nouveaux Réalistes such as Tinguely and Arman, and the group of artists that were about to become known as Fluxus, including Joseph Beuys and Nam June Paik."
It [Tinguely's Homage to Modern Art] was simply a completely different world from my Constructivism, it was something like a paradise that I'd lost.[15]

Fluxus

Whilst Roth was close friends with many members of early Fluxus,[16] the avant-garde art movement centred around George Maciunas in New York City, he deliberately kept his distance from Maciunas;[17] when asked to add his memories of Maciunas to a biography being compiled by Emmett Williams, he contributed a less-than-complimentary summary;[18] He later told an interviewer;
It was the club of the untalented who made a verbal virtue of their lack of talent so that nobody could say they had no talent. The modesty that they ascribed to themselves was actually a good insight in that sense. Because they had to be modest because they were so incapable." [19]



"Roth would collaborate with his children-especially Björn-for the rest of his life.[27][28][29] In 2010 Hauser & Wirth showed one such collaboration, a selection of collage-assemblages, made from the cardboard mats Roth would place on the worktables in his studios to collect the "traces of domestic activities," such as coffee stains and Björn's childish doodles."



"In his later years Dieter Roth spoke of his typically innovative idea of an academy – an institution unbound to any one place or building or curriculum. As a passionate traveller, he realised that the best experience a young artist can have is travelling and encountering new people and situations. Consequently the Dieter Roth Academy lives there where its members live and work – on several continents. And is always on the move, having convened now in at least eight countries."

"Dieter Roth: Diaries at The Fruitmarket Gallery
2 August -- 14 October 2012"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjnDdvqR2VU

"Dieter Roth Museum"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g19k0t8e7rc

"Dieter Roth: Staying Fresh"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpUtsUnuDIQ

"Dieter Roth: Selves (Retrospective)"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIfO5UYVq0k

"Dieter Roth Film - Trailer"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEJZMC21YSI

"Dieter Roth. Balle Balle Knalle (english)"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYuDtncXdpY

"Dieter Roth: Reykjavik Slides"
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/8386314/Dieter-Roth-Reykjavik-Slides.html

"Dieter Roth Foundation"
http://www.dieter-roth-foundation.com/en

"Dieter Roth, words by Birgitta Jónsdóttir"
https://grapevine.is/culture/art/2005/05/27/dieter-roth/

"Taking the Dieter Roth train is a trip through the essence of art. All is art, everything Dieter did was an expression of art and the train trip takes you on an unforgettable trip, giving the viewer a whole new perspective on art in our every day lives. The redundant gains new life and meaning as he tilts the angle of infinite possibilities of mundane experience becoming something amazing.

The thing that impressed me the most was how one could feel the creative joy in so many of this work. He obviously didn’t take himself to seriously, an undertone of playfulness can be found in all his work, as if he must have had terrible fun within the whirlwind of his creative process."

"Loosening Up: Dieter Roth's Tragedy, by Donald Kuspit"
http://www.artnet.com/Magazine/features/kuspit/kuspit3-22-04.asp

"Dieter Roth, A film by Hilmar Oddsson"
http://www.seventeengallery.com/exhibitions/dieter-roth/ ]
dieterroth  books  artistsbooks  art  artbooks  björnroth  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  classideas  ephemerality  travel  materials  iceland  birgittajónsdóttir  reykjavík  hilmaroddsson  johannadrucker  fluxus  marcelduchamp  maxernst  herbertread  jeantinguely  josephbueys  namjunepaik  georgemaciunas  ephemeral 
june 2017 by robertogreco
This is Anji Play — Anji Play
[previously: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:3c2ce79a5e29 ]

"Love, Risk, Joy, Engagement, Reflection

Anji Play is the internationally-recognized early childhood curriculum developed and tested over the past 15 years by educator Cheng Xueqin. Today, Anji Play is the curriculum of the 130 public kindergartens in Anji County, China serving more than 14,000 children from ages 3 to 6. Through sophisticated practices, site-specific environments, unique materials and integrated technology Anji Play is quickly establishing itself as a new global standard for early childhood education. Love, Risk, Joy, Engagement, Reflection, these are the guiding principles of Anji Play.

[Read more: "The inspiring story of Ms. Cheng's revolutionary movement of True Play" http://www.anjiplay.com/about ]

True Play

A movement of children, teachers, families and communities
In the kindergartens of Anji, children lead their own play and self-expression. They chose what, where and with whom to play. Self-determination in play, ownership of discovery and learning in play and the time and freedom to express complex intentions in play means that Anji Play is True Play.

Teachers, parents and grandparents support the growth and reflection that takes place in the classroom and bring their inter-generational and inter-cultural experiences of play to the materials and environments both in school and in the community at large.

Anji Play is equitable and universal. Every child in Anji County has access to Anji Play kindergartens. 99.5% of children 3-6 years old in Anji County attend Anji Play schools regardless of their legal status or financial means.

[more: http://www.anjiplay.com/rights ]

Environments

Minimally-structured, open-ended environments allow children to explore, imagine and create. In Anji Play, these environments are designed to maximize opportunities for imaginitive play and contact with natural phenomena and elements. Water, earth, trees, bamboo, ditches, tunnels and hills are among the environmental features that engage children in endless exploration and discovery.

Materials

Minimally-structured, open-ended materials allow for risk, building, discovery and teamwork in Anji Play. Many of the materials are large and substantial and challenge children to stretch their hands and arms as they disover new ways to build their own playscape. The materials of Anji Play were designed over years based on experimentation and observation of their use by the children of Anji.

Activities

Observation, reflection, expression and technology play crucial roles in the practices of Anji Play. Anji teachers are keen observers. During the day, teachers record the play that takes place at school with their smart phones. In the afternoon, during Play Sharing, the photos and videos from that day are projected in the classroom and the children discuss their experiences, insights and discoveries as a group. After Play Sharing, children have access to variety of materials and draw, paint, collage and otherwise express their experiences that day through Play Stories."


[See also:
https://anjiplay.tumblr.com/
https://www.instagram.com/anjiplay/
https://vimeo.com/user37626288
https://twitter.com/anjiplay ]
anjiplay  china  anji  education  children  play  earlychildhood  schools  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  love  risk  joy  engagement  reflection  howwelearn  learning  chelseabailey  chengxueqin  casholman  jesserobertcofino  time  space  environment  materials  rights  childrensrights  responsibilities  expression  peagogy  teaching  howweteach  imagination 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Berlin Biennale | All Problems Can Be Illuminated; Not All Problems Can Be Solved
"“There is no technology for justice. There is only justice.”12 Ursula Franklin answered when I asked her in December 2015, what to do. I reached out because I wanted her to tell me how to act on the perspectives she brings to the traditional story of progress. As someone building internet technologies, working within this received wisdom, I wanted a recipe, something I could share with others (with you!) and throw my body into.

She was warm and generous and incredibly insightful, and she gave me no smooth answers, no simple way.

Central to our conversation was my worry about the massive surveillance capacities enabled by internet technologies and the way in which public assent to surveillance is fueled by the racism and militarism of the now eternal “War on Terror.” What could we do to combat this narrative? What could we do to change the underlying technologies such that they respect human agency and privacy?

Franklin agreed. This is a grave problem. But not a “technological” problem:

“Whether it’s heathens, witches, women, communists, whoever, the institution of an enemy as a political tool is inappropriate. The only solution is an insistence on a civilized democratic society. A civilized democratic society combats this and the wish of an authority to collect personal information on citizens and their activities and loyalties. Whether it’s done by spying, by bribing children, by workplace monitoring, by confession in the confession box of the church—the collection is the issue. The means—the technology—is secondary. The problem is a problem of authoritarian power. And at the root of this problem is the issue of justice, and justice is political.”

While justice can be understood, can be felt, there is no template to follow, or checklist to work through for ensuring a just outcome. The requirements are humility, a respect for context, and a willingness to listen to the most marginalized voices. Let these define the basic requirements of whatever you do. You must “put yourself in the position of the most vulnerable, in a way that achieves a visceral gut feeling of empathy and perspective—that’s the only way to see what justice is.”

Understanding justice, honoring those most vulnerable and including them as authors of any plan that impacts them, is a necessary starting place. But the problems associated with our current technologies won’t be solved by tweaking gears or redesigning mechanisms. A roadmap that centers on justice is only the first step. “For a very long time gadgets and machinery have been anti-people. If one wants to get away from the anti-people component, then you don’t argue technology as much as you argue capitalism.” Even with a view of what justice would look like and could be, attempts at radical change will, of course, be repulsed by powerful actors who benefit richly from the unjust status quo. Political change must be a part of the equation.

This isn’t a frenzied call for revolution. The bigger the scale, the bigger the vision for just change, the more difficult it will be to “get it through” a system in which power is aligned against justice (and, of course, the more difficult it will be to truly understand this vision’s vast impact on vulnerable populations and thus ensure it really supports justice.) Not that working to build practices and plans isn’t worthwhile—it is incredibly worthwhile. But you’re unlikely to have much real impact if you start with a grand announcement. “To proceed in a hostile world,” Franklin suggests, “call it an experiment. Admit that you don’t know how to do it, but ask for space and peace and respect. Then try your experiment, quietly.” In conditions not conducive to success, situate yourself out of the spotlight and proceed subtly, humbly, and be willing to downplay expectations while new forms incubate.

“My favorite word is an old Quaker term, ‘scrupling,’ used as an activity,” Franklin begins, addressing how to approach the vastness of the political and social problems we were discussing. “It comes out of the anti-slavery movement, originally. People would get together to ‘scruple,’ that is, discuss and debate a common problem, something they had scruples about—say, justice—for which they did not have a solution. This is scrupling, and this is something you and your friends can do.”

Gather and talk. Empathize and listen. Don’t chase the spotlight, and accept that some problems are big, and difficult, and that what you’re good at may not fix them. These are not the ways of charismatic executives and flash-bang inventors. These are not instructions for entrepreneurial success. These won’t produce bigger faster newer ways of doing things.

Her parting words were meant to comfort me. “For your own sanity, you have to remember that not all problems can be solved. Not all problems can be solved, but all problems can be illuminated. If the eggs are scrambled, they’re scrambled. You can’t unscramble them. All you can possibly do is cook them and share them with somebody.”"
ursulafranklin  justice  technology  meredithmeredith  2016  efficiency  compliance  listening  empathy  progress  racism  militarism  surveillance  waronterror  democracy  society  humility  inclusivity  inclusion  vulnerability  radicalchange  power  statusquo  politics  scrupling  conversation  problemsolving  jacquesellul  capitalism  consumerism  innovation  quakers  systems  interrelationships  systemsthinking  complexity  culture  materials  art  mindset  organization  procedures  symbols  orthodoxy  luddism  occupywallstreet  ows  resistance  disruption  speed  humanism  science  scientism  legibility  elitism  experts  authority  privilege  experience  civilization  authoritarianism  socialjustice  revolution  peace  spotlight  hardproblems  success 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Assorted Stuff : Wasted Spaces
"When I go to ISTE, I’m mostly looking for interesting and new-to-me ideas for using technology to enhance learning. For adults as well as kids. While you can do much of that inquiry online, there is something about being immersed live in the community that cannot be duplicated digitally.

At the same time I also make it a point to attend sessions by a small group of the same presenters, even if I pretty much know what they’re going to say. Because I also know they are people who will inspire me and jumpstart my thinking in unique ways. One of those people is Will Richardson.

During his ISTE talk, Will compared the very trendy concept of makers spaces with computer labs, saying that schools need a maker culture, not spaces. It was almost a throwaway line, a relatively small point in his talk but also one that got stuck in my warped little mind.

Wiil’s view of maker spaces as the new computer lab* perfectly encapsulates the uneasy, slightly negative feelings I’ve had towards the maker space concept, as the chatter and activity around it has has grown over the past four or five years.

It’s not that I disapprove of the idea of kids as makers. I love it. That’s exactly what school should be. But that’s not how the concept is applied in most schools.

As happened with computing devices, someone’s idea of a “maker space” is set up in a corner of the library, stored in a vacant room, or assembled in a cart rolled between classrooms. With students performing pre-planned activities for a fixed period of time, before returning to their “real” work.

In most schools I’ve observed, maker space is a pull out program for students that we know will pass the spring tests. A reward for completing that real work. An option for kids before or after school, or during lunch. An elective for students with space in their schedule.

Maker space is usually whatever the local advocate says it is. I’m interested in robots, so we buy robot kits. The dollar store had a sale on Popsicle sticks, so we construct towers. The principal bought a 3D printer, so we better use it. (Until the filament runs out and we can’t afford to buy more.)

I’ve seen all of this in schools and more.

A school with a maker culture, however, is one in which students are encouraged to explore all aspects of “maker” that interest them. Music, writing, science, video, coding, drawing, cooking, and many, many more topics that may not even occur to adults who think of “school” in very traditional ways. Auto shop, wood shop, metal shop were maker spaces when I was a kid, all of which have largely been removed from schools in this area.

Once upon a time, all of this was part of a liberal education. Providing kids the opportunity to explore a wide variety of subjects during their K12 years. Making them aware of their options. Preparing them for life, not just for college. I know, it’s an ideal view of school. One that in the real world America of my youth was never perfectly implemented.

That’s exactly what a school built around a maker culture would be. Rather than being a reconfigured computer lab.

*******

*An anachronism that should disappear but only seems to be reconfigured every few years with new devices."
makerspaces  computerlabs  making  makers  schools  education  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  timstahmer  culture  makerculture  cooking  science  woodshop  metalshop  autoshop  drawing  coding  music  writing  teaching  howweteach  classrooms  schooldesign  materials  iste  willrichardson  2016  vi:audreywatters 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Why, O, Why! | Design, research, and retail of products for children
"Children are curious creatures. They are naturally drawn to new things, and it is their innate ability to be in constant wonder. We believe that the word ‘why’ — though simple and easily articulated — is very powerful. We love how it opens up opportunities for discovery, and above all, how the joy of these little discoveries can be shared with others."



"Why, O, Why! (w,o,w!) is a space for design, research, and retail of products focusing on encouraging creativity and imagination in children. We develop play objects, publications, activities, and workshops to create and facilitate meaningful interactions and play experiences.

Why, O, Why! is an initiative by Pupilpeople (Pp.)."



"Why, O, Why! workshops are a series of art and design activity sessions for children, a physical space dedicated to cultivating curiosity and the joy of discovery.

Each of the workshop series focuses on a particular ‘material’ that is versatile enough to allow for a wide range of visually and haptically rich, hands-on, and playful experiences through guided yet child-directed explorations. Other than the learning possibilities each workshop series offer, we hope to leave behind an independent approach and process to learning and discovery, and to encourage the development of interests specific to each child."
pupilpeople  design  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  wonder  children  why  discovery  learning  howwelearn  joy  creativity  imagination  materials  paper  blocks  toys  classideas  workshops 
july 2016 by robertogreco
No. 225: Helen Molesworth, Jennifer Raab | The Modern Art Notes Podcast
"Episode No. 225 of The Modern Art Notes Podcast features curator Helen Molesworth and art historian Jennifer Raab.

Molesworth’s “Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957” is on view at the Hammer Museum through May 15. It is the first exhibition to examine Black Mountain College, an experimental, inter-disciplinary and immensely influential liberal arts college in the mountains of western North Carolina. The school attracted faculty and students from all over the world at a time when World War II was forcing significant global emigration, and thus provided a place where questions of globalism and the role of the artist in society were considered and furthered. Among the artists who spent time at Black Mountain and who are included in Molesworth’s exhibition are Ruth Asawa, Willem de Kooning, Josef and Anni Albers, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Ray Johnson, Jess and plenty more. Ninety artists are included in Molesworth’s show. The show’s outstanding, must-own catalogue was published by Yale University Press.

Molesworth is the chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Her previous exhibitions include “This Will Have Been,” which examined the impact of feminism on the art of the 1980s, and “Work Ethic,” which looked at how mostly 1960s artists merged everyday life with art-making.

On the second segment, art historian Jennifer Raab discusses her new book, “Frederic Church: The Art and Science of Detail.” The book examines how and why Church used unusually detailed passages in enormous paintings to engage contemporary debates about Union, nation and science. Raab teaches at Yale University."

[Direct link to SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/manpodcast/ep225 ]
helenmolesworth  jenniferraab  leapbeforeyoulook  bmc  blackmountaincollege  2016  art  curation  history  education  artseducation  liberalarts  diversity  highered  highereducation  progressive  progressiveeducation  learning  howwelearn  pedagogy  teaching  howeteach  inquiry  modernism  postmodernism  form  process  materials  via:jarrettfuller  interdisciplinary  interdisciplinarity  collaboration  disciplines  ruthasawa  mercecunningham  josefalbers  theastergates  rebuildfoundation  lowresidencymfas  bardcollege  oberlincollege  vermontcollege  bhqfu  noahdavis  undergroundmuseum  mountainschoolofarts  andreazittel  greggbordowitz  artinstituteofchicago 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Maharam | Story | Anni Albers: Hardware
"In 1940, renowned Bauhaus weaver Anni Albers and student Alex Reed created a collection of jewelry from basic household items. They sourced materials from hardware stores and five-and-dime shops such as paper clips, bobby pins, erasers, wine corks, metal sieves, washers, and nuts. By utilizing these objects decoratively and formally, Albers and Reed created a collection of anti-luxury jewelry that proposed a new definition of value.

Albers and Reed first met at Black Mountain College, the legendary experimental art school located in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. The school offered a progressive liberal arts education that fueled the American avant-garde from 1933-1956. Collaborations between teachers, students, and visiting artists were encouraged and, accordingly, Albers and Reed worked and traveled together.

It was during their trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, that they encountered the pre-Columbian jewelry of Monte Albán. The thousand-year-old jewelry was composed of unusual material combinations of precious and non-precious elements—pearls and seashells, rock crystals and gold. To Albers and Reed, this jewelry offered an insight into the wisdom of material value.

Albers and Reed’s collection was born from this logic. They were able to approach material as elemental form, dissociated from its prior purpose. Later associations of industrial hardware as ornament can be found in the punk fashions of the 1970s and ’80s. But rather than seeking to subvert the status quo, the jewelry designs of Albers and Reed had their humble beginnings in the relics of Monte Albán—creating a collection that affirmed ancient aesthetics through forward-focused practicality."
annialbers  bmc  blackmountaincollege  hardware  jewelry  alexreed  materials  diy  classideas 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Scandi Crush Saga - Curbed
"Scandinavia’s focus on the home and family, assertions of democratic principles, and emphasis on traditional craftsmanship fit in well with consumerist ideals of the postwar period. Gordon, a staunch critic of the radical direction American modernism was taking, published a series of articles lashing out against the International Style—another name for the modernist architecture and design that emerged out of Europe in the 30s—which she referred to as "totalitarian," and those responsible for it as "dictators in matters of taste." Such sentiment played on Cold War era politics of the period."



"Today, Scandinavian design is once again riding a wave of success that many say stems from a wider fascination with Nordic countries. Kjetil Fallan, professor of design history at the University of Oslo, attributes the present popularity to the greater visibility of the Nordic lands during the period after the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009.

"When a lot of large stable economies like the U.S. were having major problems, they discovered small Nordic countries were hardly affected by it at all," said Fallan, barring Iceland, of course. He cites a renewed interest in what is commonly referred to as the Nordic model in governance and society, which is typically categorized by a strong welfare state and an emphasis on individual autonomy. Just in the past year, Sweden’s flirtation with six-hour workdays and Finland’s planned experiment with universal basic income have grabbed headlines, further piquing the world’s curiosity. Such publicity may have had trickledown effects on the design field. "There is a tendency," Fallan says, "to equate Scandinavian design as a reflection of Scandinavian society."

Nordic arts and culture, too, have become increasingly popular abroad. "I think it started with a mix of different furniture, interiors, food, music, and film," says Poul Madsen, co-founder of Normann Copenhagen, a Danish interior design brand. "Danes were announced as the happiest people in [the] world a couple of years ago and even Oprah was talking about it," he added. "Suddenly, everything we did in Scandinavia really echoed." Indeed, increased media coverage, the popularity of Danish TV in the UK, and Copenhagen’s cache of Michelin-starred eateries, like world favorite Noma, have been rolled into what Madsen describes as "one big mass of Nordic living."

Even 2009—a shaky year for consumerism in the West—was a success for the firm. Normann Copenhagen’s New Danish Modern furniture series designed and produced within Denmark included Jesper K. Thomsen’s molded beech wood Camping set, which was awarded the Good Design award by the Chicago Athaeneum later that year.

Since then, business has been booming. The company, which sells to 82 countries, has seen export markets up 45 to 50 percent per year for the past two years, although Madsen admits that their pieces are still most successful within Denmark."
design  furniture  architecture  history  materials  scandinavia  sweden  denmark  finland  norway  iceland  nordic  arnejacobsen  eeroarnio  alvaalto  pouladsen  normanncopenhagen  jesperthompsen  kristianbyrge  muuto  peterbonnén  kjetilfallan  nadialassen  olewanscher  hansbretton-meyer  iittala  kajfranck  artek  oliviaöberg  tappiowirkkala  mariannegoebl 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Islamic art inspires stretchy, switchable materials - BBC News
"A new set of "metamaterials" has been created based on intricate, repeating patterns found in Islamic art.

Metamaterials are engineered to have properties that don't occur naturally, such as getting wider when stretched instead of just longer and thinner.

These perforated rubber sheets made by a Canadian team do just that - and then remain stable in their expanded state until they are squeezed back again.

Such designs could help make expandable stents or spacecraft components.

"In conventional materials, when you pull in one direction it will contract in other directions," said Dr Ahmad Rafsanjani, from McGill University in Montreal.

"But with 'auxetic' materials, due to their internal architecture, when you pull in one direction they expand in the lateral direction."

He was speaking to journalists at the American Physical Society's March Meeting, where the research will be presented on Wednesday.

Dr Rafsanjani's search for new designs to create such "auxeticity" found inspiration in the stonework of two 1,000-year-old tomb towers in Iran.

"When you look at Islamic motifs, there is a huge library of geometries," he said.

"On the walls of these two towers, you can find about 70 different architectures: tessellations and curlicue patterns."

Two of those patterns in particular yielded an unusual combination of properties, when Dr Rafsanjani recreated them in a simplified form using a laser cutter and rubber sheets. Not only were these sheets auxetic - expanding in all directions when stretched - but they could snap easily back and forth between stretched and unstretched states.

Rotating units

Such "bistability" is unusual in these materials, Dr Rafsanjani explained. Only a few other examples have been described, and they mostly use origami-like folding techniques.

"These designs are easier to fabricate; all you need is a laser cutter. Depending on the resolution of the laser you could downscale your samples, probably to the micro scale.

"Or you could upscale it for larger components like satellites or solar panels."

He and his colleagues also found they could tweak the properties of the sheets by, for example, changing the basis of the patterns from straight lines to curved ones.

At the heart of the materials' reversible change are small sections of the sheet that rotate as the rubber is stretched.

Rotating units like this - highlighted with colours in the images and video above - have formed the basis of many previous auxetic materials. But Dr Rafsanjani's sheets are unique in the way they snap between configurations.

"We wanted to find structures for these rotating auxetic materials, [such] that when we deform it and it expands, it keeps its deformed shape," he said."
2016  art  islam  islamicart  materials  flexibility  ahmadrafsanjani  metamaterials  auxeticity  patterns  bistability 
march 2016 by robertogreco
crap futures — constraint no. 4: education
"We hesitated a bit before tackling this one, because education is such a vast and complex subject. But as far as constraints on possible futures go, education is impossible to ignore. Skill sets and thought paths are determined at an early age, shaping and constraining future possibilities for entire generations of pupils. (It is worth rediscovering Ken Robinson’s 2008 talk on changing paradigms in relation to educational constraints.) There are serious consequences to enforcing the constraint of economic utility on education, drastically narrowing curricula to what are considered core subjects, replacing older - not to say obsolete or useless - technologies with newer ones in the classroom, and so on. Maslow’s evocative maxim, often attributed to Mark Twain for reasons unknown, comes to mind: ‘It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.’ Today this might be paraphrased as: ‘Give a child a computer, and everything has to be coded.’ Or 3D printed. Or laser cut. Or CNC machined. Obviously the more of these tools girls and boys are given, the better for them and the country they live in.

Unfortunately, recent educational trends in the UK paint a rather bleak picture where constraints are concerned. An article from the BBC on the rise of 3D printing in schools states: ‘the key inspiration … has been what is loosely termed the “digital maker” movement’. But why digital maker movement and not simply maker movement? The article goes on to tell us that ‘"Fab lab" stands for a “fabrication laboratory”, where digital ideas are turned into products and prototypes.’ Again, why digital ideas and not just ideas? What is it about a fablab that needs to be wholly digital and not a hybrid of materials and practices? (Some spaces and curricula do seek to fuse the old ‘shop’ class with the new computer lab, but other concerns may arise - as in the case a few years ago of controversial DARPA military funding to put a thousand DIY workshops in US high schools.)

A UK Government report, meanwhile, that lays out the agenda on 3D printing in education there, includes the following ‘points to consider’: ‘Who will use it? What will it be used for?’ These are good questions, too seldom asked. As for the questions that were not asked, they might include: ‘What will happen to the old machines?’, ‘What will happen to the old knowledge?’ and ‘What is lost in the headlong rush to full digitalisation?’ 3D printing holds an enormous amount of potential, as boundary pushing movements like 3D Additivism demonstrate. But the 3D printer and the laser cutter shouldn’t be the only tools in the box, and deskilling leads to a narrowing of possibilities for everyone.

Roland Barthes, writing in the 1950s about the sudden shift from traditional wooden toys to plastic ones, observed:
Wood makes essential objects, objects for all time. Yet there hardly remain any of these wooden toys…. Henceforth, toys are chemical in substance and colour; their very material introduces one to a coenaesthesis of use, not pleasure. These toys die in fact very quickly, and once dead, they have no posthumous life for the child.

A word of warning to those who would abandon old areas of knowledge and useful materials too quickly."
crapfutures  2016  rolandbarthes  wood  education  children  durability  materials  time  slow  plastic  future  futures  3dprinting  digital  digitization  3dadditivism  fablabs  darpa  diy  making  makermovement  economics  purpose  additivism  fablab 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Plastic Passion: The Civil Engineering Solution to Weak Roadways -
"Asphalt: it fades, dips, cracks, and needs constant repairing. This is the type of degradation seen throughout the large majority of construction work, and this is the type of common problem many have tried to address throughout the history of roadwork and construction. And while there have been solutions, none have been permanent or sustainable. One of the newest and most innovative remedies to tackle the common construction dilemma is the idea of actually using plastic to replace asphalt; IE: plastic roads.

Known as Project PlasticRoad and headed up by Dutch company VolkerWessels, the actual plastic in the PlasticRoad project is made out of entirely 100% recycled materials and is the company’s sustainable alternative to conventional road structures. VolkerWessels’s plastic solution basically turns recycled plastic into prefabricated road parts that can later be installed in single pieces.

Lightweight in design and virtually maintenance free according to the company, using plastic in place of asphalt would reduce construction time by nearly a fraction and last three times the expected lifespan of conventional roadwork. Whereas a typical road can take months to be built, the plastic alternative provides construction with the opportunity to cut time in half and complete road work within weeks instead of months. According to VolkerWessels, using plastic as an alternative construction material opens up innovations typically limited by asphalt, such as:

• Power generation
• Quiet road surfaces
• Heated roads
• Modular construction

In addition to plastic’s advantage of being a lightweight material, it also acts as an appropriately durable solution that can take wear and tear in a way asphalt cannot. Plastic is unaffected by corrosion and weather and can handle temperatures as low as -40 degrees celsius and as high as 80 degree celsius without difficulty. The green material is resistant to chemical corrosion, too, and is a true portrait of a low-maintenance construction material.

Because of its predicted lifespan and relatively little to no road maintenance, plastic opens up construction roadwork to less time and labor spent on repairs and less traffic congestion within cities.

But one of the biggest advantages of using plastic instead of asphalt is the way VolkerWesssls envisions its design: a hollow space beneath the road that can be used for basic roadway amenities like cables, pipes, wirings, rainwater, and other infrastructural necessities. In the event of flooding or water retention, the hollow space can also be used to keep roads dry by using efficient drainage built into the roadways.

And because we’re talking about plastic and not asphalt, smart elements can be integrated into the prefabrication process of the actual road. Elements like traffic loop sensors, measuring equipment, and connections for light poles would all be possible by using plastic on roads instead of denser, less manageable asphalt.

Construction is in the midst of a technology intervention and process overhaul, and while asphalt will most likely continue to be the dominant material of choice, plastic as a viable and sustainable construction alternative is on the table for discussion. Could this be the beginning of plastic passion? It just might be."
plastic  roads  materials  infrastructure  construction  2015 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Josef and Anni Albers Foundation
"Work with Material

Life today is very bewildering. We have no picture of it which is all-inclusive, such as former times may have had. We have to make a choice between concepts of great diversity. And as a common ground is wanting, we are baffled by them. We must find our way back to simplicity of conception in order to find ourselves. For only by simplicity can we experience meaning, and only by experiencing meaning can we become qualified for independent comprehension.

In all learning today dependence on authority plays a large part, because of the tremendous field of knowledge to be covered in a short time. This often leaves the student oscillating between admiration and uncertainty, with the well-known result that a feeling of inferiority is today common both in individuals and in whole nations.

Independence presumes a spirit of adventurousness—a faith in one's own strength. It is this which should be promoted. Work in a field where authority has not made itself felt may help toward this goal. For we are overgrown with information, decorative maybe, but useless in any constructive sense. We have developed our receptivity and have neglected our own formative impulse. It is no accident that nervous breakdowns occur more often in our civilization than in those where creative power had a natural outlet in daily activities. And this fact leads to a suggestion: we must come down to earth from the clouds where we live in vagueness, and experience the most real thing there is: material.

Civilization seems in general to estrange men from materials, that is, from materials in their original form. For the process of shaping these is so divided into separate steps that one person is rarely involved in the whole course of manufacture, often knowing only the finished product. But if we want to get from materials the sense of directness, the adventure of being close to the stuff the world is made of, we have to go back to the material itself, to its original state, and from there on partake in its stages of change.

We use materials to satisfy our practical needs and our spiritual ones as well. We have useful things and beautiful things—equipment and works of art. In earlier civilizations there was no clear separation of this sort. The useful thing, could be made beautiful in the hands of the artisan, who was also the manufacturer. His creative impulse was not thwarted by drudgery in one section of a long and complicated mechanical process. He was also a creator. Machines reduce the boredom of repetition. On the other hand they permit a play of the imagination only in the preliminary planning of the product.

Material, that is to say unformed or unshaped matter, is the field where authority blocks independent experimentation less than in many other fields, and for this reason it seems well fitted to become the training ground for invention and free speculation. It is here that even the shyest beginner can catch a glimpse of the exhilaration of creating, by being a creator while at the same time he is checked by irrevocable laws set by the nature of the material, not by man. Free experimentation here can result in the fulfillment of an inner urge to give form and to give permanence to ideas, that is to say, it can result in art, or it can result in the satisfaction of invention in some more technical way.

But most important to one's own growth is to see oneself leave the safe ground of accepted conventions and to find oneself alone and self-dependent. It is an adventure which can permeate one's whole being. Self-confidence can grow. And a longing for excitement can be satisfied without external means, within oneself; for creating is the most intense excitement one can come to know.

All art work, such as music, architecture, and even religion and the laws of science, can be understood as the transformed wish for stability and order. But art work understood as work with a substance which can be grasped and formed is more suited for the development of the taste for exploration than work in other fields, for the fact of the inherent laws of material is of importance. They introduce boundaries for a task of free imagination. This very freedom can be so bewildering to the searching person that it may lead to resignation if he is faced with the immense welter of possibilities; but within set limits the imagination can find something to hold to. There still remains a fullness of choice but one not as overwhelming as that offered by unlimited opportunities. These boundaries may be conceived as the skeleton of a structure. To the beginners a material with very definite limitations can for this reason be most helpful in the process of building up independent work.

The crafts, understood as conventions of treating material, introduce another factor: traditions of operation which embody set laws. This may be helpful in one direction, as a frame for work. But these rules may also evoke a challenge. They are revokable, for they are set by man. They may provoke us to test ourselves against them. But always they provide a discipline which balances the hubris of creative ecstasy.

All crafts are suited to this end, but some better than others. The more possibilities for attack the material offers in its appearance and in its structural elements, the more it can call forth imagination and productiveness. Weaving is an example of a craft which is many-sided. Besides surface qualities, such as rough and smooth, dull and shiny, hard and soft, it also includes color, and, as the dominating element, texture, which is the result of the construction of weaves. Like any craft it may end in producing useful objects, or it may rise to the level of art.

When teaching the crafts, in addition to the work of free exploring, both the useful and the artistic have to be considered. As we have said before, today only the first step in the process of producing things of need is left to free planning. No variation is possible when production is once taken up, assuming that today mass production must necessarily include machine work. This means that the teaching has to lead toward planning for industrial repetition, with emphasis on making models for industry. It also must attempt to evoke a consciousness of developments, and further perhaps a foreseeing of them. Hence, the result of craft work, work done in direct contact with the material, can come here to have a meaning to a far wider range of people than would be the case if they remained restricted to handwork only. And from the industrial standpoint, machine production will get a fresh impetus from taking up the results of intimate work with material.

The other aspect of craft work is concerned with art work, the realization of a hope for a lawful and enduring nature. Other elements, such as proportion, space relations, rhythm, predominate in these experiments, as they do in the other arts. No limitations other than the veto of the material itself are set. More than an active process, it is a listening for the dictation of the material and a taking in of the laws of harmony. It is for this reason that we can find certitude in the belief that we are taking part in an eternal order.

1937"

[Additiona sections:

"Work with Material [above]
Weaving at the Bauhaus
On Jewelry
Design Anonymous and Timeless
Material as Metaphor"]
josefalbers  annialbers  bmc  blackmountaincollege  1937  materials  craft  art  jewelry  bauhaus  timelessness  anonymity  metaphor 
december 2015 by robertogreco
FORMcard by Peter Marigold — Kickstarter
"A handy, pocket sized card of strong but meltable bioplastic that you can use to make, fix and modify the world around you."
materials  plastic  plastics  petermarigold 
november 2015 by robertogreco
The Next Black - A film about the Future of Clothing - YouTube
"The Next Black' is a documentary film that explores the future of clothing. Watch as we meet with some of the most innovative companies on the planet to get their opinion on clothing and its future, including: heroes of sustainability, Patagonia; tech-clothing giants, Studio XO; sportswear icon, adidas; and Biocouture, a consultancy exploring living organisms to grow clothing and accessories.

Learn more about the project: http://www.aeg-home.com/thenextblack

Join the discussion on Facebook, Twitter and on the hashtag #thenextblack

https://www.facebook.com/pages/AEG-Global/586037381449750
https://twitter.com/aeg_global "

[See also:
http://www.studio-xo.com/
http://www.biocouture.co.uk/
http://www.patagonia.com/us/worn-wear
https://www.ifixit.com/Patagonia
http://www.patagonia.com/us/worn-wear-repairs
http://www.patagonia.com/email/11/112811.html
http://www.patagonia.com/us/patagonia.go?assetid=106223
http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/ad-day-patagonia-136745
https://www.patagonia.com/us/patagonia.go?assetid=2388
http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2013-11-25/patagonias-confusing-and-effective-campaign-to-grudgingly-sell-stuff ]
design  documentary  fashion  video  clothes  clothing  glvo  reuse  mending  repair  materials  textiles  studioxo  biocouture  adidas  patagonia  recycling  waste  consumerism  consumption  capitalism  biology  wearable  wearables  suzannelee  technology  nancytilbury  suzanne  slow  slowfashion  fastfashion  dyes  dying  industry  manufacturing  globalization  environment  rickridgeway  uniformproject  customization  ifixit  diy  alteration  resuse  repairing 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Prototyping Risks when Design is Disappearing
"Our current unsustainability, especially when understood in terms of materials intensity, is in large part a result of design— whether imposed by modernist design experts or tempered by user- or even human-centered design research. Generative design is not especially culpable—at its best it tries to access what might finally be truly needed by its participants rather than just-another creative-yet-still-feasible idea. However, generative design research’s materials-based techniques do tend to encourage creative innovation mostly with respect to more thing-based solutions to latent concerns (rather than leading to service systems for instance, or structural dissolving of those concerns, such as no-build options, value- or lifestyle shifts, etc).

A second thing to note is that our unsustainability is a massive problem, of a size that demands truly radical responses. It is as if there is a kind of problem beyond wicked: in addition to being complex (a large number of interdependent variables) and wicked (because some of those variables are people, who act in not always fully rational ways and change their minds), sustainability is also just a big problem—solutions will require nation-sized infrastructure rebuilding (fuel switching, city renovation and even relocation) and similarly nation-sized notion re-conceptualizations (new ideas about freedom and autonomy, cost and responsibility, etc). Can we get this level of “Big and New” from processes like generative design research?"



"What is dominant in commercial design at the moment are methods that do nevertheless have proactionary elements, by which I mean a deliberate ignoring of imagining future consequential risks. I am referring here to, for example, Agile and Lean product development. These are distinct forms of design management and each a broad church, but consistent across them is a commitment to accelerated iteration of products released to live markets. Design is driven by real-time feedback on how “Minimum Viable Products” (MVP) are being used. The rationale is that many high consequence risks, and opportunities, are unanticipatable. Rather than imagine or sense what these “blackswans” might be, designers should instead focus on being able to respond immediately to what emerges. These Lean Agile philosophies eschew the grand visioning aspects of proactionary advocates, 
but are sympathetic with the downplaying of risk anticipation. As Joi Ito, head of MediaLab at MIT is fond of saying (though I am not sure of his evidence for this claim), “the cost of assessing risk is 
now often greater than the cost of failing” [7].

If Lean Agile, etc, aim at accessing the realizably innovative, the other end of the design dialectic might be Maker culture. These neo-tinkerers also pursue multiple iterations in order to discover serendipitously new uses for existing combinations of technologies, software and/or materials. There is a similar antivisioning driving these hackathons, and in all the rapid building there is also no anticipation of consequential risk.

In either case, the approaches deploy what could be called a “generalized prototyping.” Lean Agile beta-releases and hacked systems are more than prototypes; they are live products being used by people who are not explicitly structured "



"Transition Design aims to promote staged change, not forever changing.

1. A VISION FOR THE TRANSITION to a more sustainable society is needed. This calls for the reconception of entire lifestyles in which communities are in symbiotic relationship with the environment. Lifestyles are place-based yet global in their exchange of technology, information and culture.

2. The vision of the transition to a sustainable society will require new knowledge about natural, social, and “designed” systems. This new knowledge will, in turn, evolve the vision.

3. Ideas, theories and methodologies from many varied fields and disciplines inform a deep understanding of the DYNAMICS OF CHANGE in the natural and social worlds.

4. New theories of change will reshape designers’ temperaments, mindsets and postures. And, these “new ways of being” in the world will motivate the search for new, more relevant knowledge.

5. Living in and through traditional times requires a MINDSET AND POSTURE OF OPENNESS, mindfulness, a willing-ness to collaborate, and “optimistic grumpiness.”

6. Changes in mindset, posture and temperament will give rise to new ways of designing. As new design approaches evolve, designers’ temperaments and postures will continue to change.

7. The transition to a sustainable society will require new ways of designing that are informed by a vision, a deep understanding of the dynamics of change and a new mindset and posture.

8. New ways of designing will help realize the vision but will also change/evolve it. As the vision evolves, new ways of designing will continue to be developed."
camerontonkinwise  2015  design  sustainability  materials  prototyping  via:anne  openness  mindfulness  collaboration  optimism  criticism  change  technology  culture  makers  makermovement  agiledesign  iteration  vision  foresight  modernism  neomodernism  consequences  systemthinking  criticaldesign  designcriticism 
july 2015 by robertogreco
1 | Adidas Knit These Sneakers Entirely From Ocean Plastic Trash | Co.Exist | ideas + impact
"As engineers work to find new ways to pull some of the trillions of pieces of plastic trash out of the ocean, companies are coming up with new uses for it. Like soap bottles, surfboards, and now shoes: Adidas just released a new prototype for a sneaker woven entirely out of ocean trash.

The sample shoe was made from illegal gill nets dredged up from the ocean by the nonprofit Sea Shepherd. "It's a fishing net that was spanning the bottom of the sea like a wall, and killing pretty much every fish passing by," says Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans, a new Adidas-supported nonprofit that is helping the company develop a larger strategy for fighting ocean waste. "They confiscated this net, and we're bringing it back to life."

Adidas is knitting the shoe using the same innovative technology they use to create Primeknit shoes with zero waste. "Knitting in general eliminates waste, because you don't have to cut out the patterns like on traditional footwear," says Eric Liedtke, Adidas Group executive board member of global brands. "We use what we need for the shoe and waste nothing."

For now, they'll turn to sources like fishing nets and easier-to-reach beach trash for their material source; Liedtke says they have no worries about finding enough to supply the line of shoes when it launches later this year. They won't be using the tiny fragments of plastic that swirl, soup-like, in places like the Pacific Gyre, though that could change as new technology becomes available. "If you want to take it out of the ocean, you can trawl for days and days and get a tiny spoonful of plastic," Gutsch says. "At this point we didn't see a feasible technology. What we believe now is that you can instead avoid the microplastic that's coming into the system."

The bigger aim of the program is not just to recycle plastic into shoes, but to help avoid plastic waste in the first place. Parley for the Oceans is working on new technology both to intercept plastic trash—and to change plastic itself.

"We're going to end ocean plastic pollution only if we're going to reinvent the material," says Gutsch. "We need a plastic that is not the current plastic—it's a design failure. It causes a lot of problems. Plastic doesn't belong in nature, it doesn't belong in the belly of a fish, it doesn't belong out there. The ultimate solution is to cut into this ongoing stream of material that never dies, is to reinvent plastic." Because without a reinvention, the plastic still exists in your shoe, which, presumably, you'll throw out again at some point, putting the plastic back into the system—and potentially the ocean.

A green chemist on the organization's staff is beginning development of a plastic alternative that could dissolve harmlessly if it was thrown out into nature. "That's the ultimate vision, but it's a moonshot," he says. "Right now it's far away. So we do what we can. That means we're going out there and cleaning up as much as we can. We're saving life. Every piece of plastic that we collect, every single piece, can save a bird, a turtle, even a whale."

As Adidas adapts the material, it may eventually start to include it in other products. "We don't have to limit ourselves," says Lietke. "We can put this in T-shirts, we can put this in shorts, we can put this in all kinds of stuff.""
materials  glvo  recycling  adidas  knitting  fishingnets  oceans 
july 2015 by robertogreco
How textiles revolutionised technology – Virginia Postrel – Aeon
"Older than bronze and as new as nanowires, textiles are technology — and they have remade our world time and again"

"In February 1939, Vogue ran a major feature on the fashions of the future. Inspired by the soon-to-open New York World’s Fair, the magazine asked nine industrial designers to imagine what the people of ‘a far Tomorrow’ might wear and why. (The editors deemed fashion designers too of-the-moment for such speculations.) A mock‑up of each outfit was manufactured and photographed for a lavish nine-page colour spread.

You might have seen some of the results online: an evening dress with a see-through net top and strategically placed swirls of gold braid, for instance, or a baggy men’s jumpsuit with a utility belt and halo antenna. Bloggers periodically rediscover a British newsreel of models demonstrating the outfits while a campy narrator (‘Oh, swish!’) makes laboured jokes. The silly get‑ups are always good for self-satisfied smirks. What dopes those old-time prognosticators were!

The ridicule is unfair. Anticipating climate-controlled interiors, greater nudity, more athleticism, more travel and simpler wardrobes, the designers actually got a lot of trends right. Besides, the mock‑ups don’t reveal what really made the predicted fashions futuristic. Looking only at the pictures, you can’t detect the most prominent technological theme.

‘The important improvements and innovations in clothes for the World of Tomorrow will be in the fabrics themselves,’ declared Raymond Loewy, one of the Vogue contributors. His fellow visionaries agreed. Every single one talked about textile advances. Many of their designs specified yet-to-be-invented materials that could adjust to temperature, change colour or be crushed into suitcases without wrinkling. Without exception, everyone foretelling the ‘World of Tomorrow’ believed that an exciting future meant innovative new fabrics.

They all understood something we’ve largely forgotten: that textiles are technology, more ancient than bronze and as contemporary as nanowires. We hairless apes co-evolved with our apparel. But, to reverse Arthur C Clarke’s adage, any sufficiently familiar technology is indistinguishable from nature. It seems intuitive, obvious – so woven into the fabric of our lives that we take it for granted.

We drag out heirloom metaphors – ‘on tenterhooks’, ‘tow-headed’, ‘frazzled’ – with no idea that we’re talking about fabric and fibres. We repeat threadbare clichés: ‘whole cloth’, ‘hanging by a thread’, ‘dyed in the wool’. We catch airline shuttles, weave through traffic, follow comment threads. We talk of lifespans and spin‑offs and never wonder why drawing out fibres and twirling them into thread looms so large in our language."



"As late as the 1970s, textiles still enjoyed the aura of science. Since then, however, we’ve stopped thinking of them as a technical achievement. In today’s popular imagination, fabric entirely belongs to the frivolous world of fashion. Even in the pages of Vogue, ‘wearable technology’ means electronic gadgets awkwardly tricked out as accessories, not the soft stuff you wear against your skin – no matter how much brainpower went into producing it. When we imagine economic progress, we no longer think about cloth, or even the machines that make it.

This cultural amnesia has multiple causes. The rise of computers and software as the very definition of ‘high technology’ eclipsed other industries. Intense global competition drove down prices of fibres and fabric, making textiles and apparel a less noticeable part of household budgets, and turning textile makers into unglamorous, commodity businesses. Environmental campaigns made synthetic a synonym for toxic. And for the first time in human history, generations of women across the developed world grew up without learning the needle arts."



"Textiles illustrate a more general point about technology. The more advanced a field is, the more blasé we are about its latest upgrades. Success breeds indifference. We still expect Moore’s Law to hold, but we no longer get excited about the latest microprocessor. The public has largely forgotten the silicon in Silicon Valley.

New and improved fabric technologies haven’t attracted public enthusiasm since the backlash against leisure suits and disco shirts made synthetics declassé in the early 1980s. ‘Pity poor polyester. People pick on it,’ wrote The Wall Street Journal’s Ronald Alsop in 1982, describing DuPont’s efforts to rehabilitate the fibre’s image.

What ended the consumer hatred of polyester wasn’t a marketing campaign. It was a quiet series of technical innovations: the development of microfibres. These are synthetics, most often polyester or nylon, that are thinner than silk and incredibly soft, as well as lightweight, strong, washable and quick-drying. Their shapes can be engineered to control how water vapour and heat pass through the fabric or to create microcapsules to add sunscreen, antimicrobial agents or insect repellent. Over the past decade, microfibres have become ubiquitous; they’re found in everything from wickable workout wear to supersoft plush toys.

Microfibres are one reason the ‘air-conditioned’ fabrics Loewy and his fellow designers foresaw in 1939 have finally come to pass. These fabrics just aren’t promoted in the pages of Vogue or highlighted on the racks at Banana Republic. They don’t attract attention during New York Fashion Week. Their tribe gathers instead at the big Outdoor Retailer trade shows held twice a year in Salt Lake City. There, outdoor-apparel makers and their suppliers tout textiles that keep wearers warm in the cold and cool in the heat; that block raindrops but allow sweat to escape; that repel insects, screen out UV rays and control odour. By establishing that truly weather-resistant fabrics were possible, Gore-Tex (first sold in 1976) and Polartec synthetic fleece (1979) created an industry where engineers now vie to find ever-better ways to conquer the elements. For instance, ‘smart textiles’ originally developed for spacesuits use microencapsulated materials that melt when they get hot, keeping wearers comfortable by absorbing body heat; when temperatures fall, the materials solidify and warm the body."



"Reducing textiles to their functional properties misses much of their appeal, however. They’ve always been decorative as well, a source of sensory pleasure going all the way back to the sexy string skirts worn by Stone Age women. That’s why dyes have been so important in the history of chemistry and trade.

In our computer-centric era, the pursuit of beautiful textiles has naturally turned to information technology. Over the past decade, inkjet printing on fabric has taken off. Instead of requiring a separate plate for each colour, digital printing registers the entire design at once. So for the first time, designers can use as many colours, and as varied patterns, as they choose. Although it currently accounts for less than 5 per cent of printed fabrics, digital printing has already changed the way clothes look. It’s the technology driving the colourful prints so prominent in recent women’s fashion, as well as the crowdsourced design sites Threadless and Spoonflower.

The customers who’ve embraced those designs don’t think much about what makes them possible. But the very invisibility of textiles testifies to their power. We think of them as natural. The instinct behind ‘wearable technology’ is sound, even if the products so far are awkward. ‘Imagine a textile structured from a blend of different fibres which each function as component within a circuit, for example, battery fibres, solar fibres and antenna fibres,’ writes the US fashion technologist Amanda Parkes in an op-ed for the website Business of Fashion. ‘The material itself becomes a self-sustaining “textile circuit” that has its own power and interactive capabilities, but the embedded technology is essentially invisible.’

If the goal is to shrink the distance between nature and artifice, us and it, no technology is as powerful as fabric. Intimate and essential, it touches every moment of our lives. It is among the greatest products of human artifice. Yet it is also an extension of our skin."
textiles  glvo  virginiapostrel  history  clothing  crafts  culture  technology  2015  wearables  materials  industrialrevolution  fashion  craft  dyes  machines  printing  science  adamsmith  raymondloewy  arthurcclarke  dupont  synthetics  fabrics  fabric  elizabethbarber  williampetty  davidorban  josephmariejacquard  weaving  looms  knitting  spinning  craigmuldrew  jameshargreaves  richardarkwright  beverlylemire  samuelcrompton  1939  vogue  microfibres  gore-tex  polartec  ministryofsupply  mizzenandmain  yicui  materialsscience  threadless  spoonflower  amandaparkes  future  making  cv 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Designing for touch, reach and movement in post-war English primary and infant schools | Catherine Burke - Academia.edu
"
Clothes quickly pile up on the desks as children busily undress for the dance lesson. The first to change are soon by the door, ready to make their way to the hall, their bare feet wriggling impatiently in their shoes for the moment when they can kick them off and spring on to the hall floor. On the way along the corridor the bodies bustle and an animated walk threatens to break into running ... Once inside the hall, a line of shoes immediately appears under chairs lined up along the wall and swift bare feet dart and prance in lively stepping and jumping. Some rush across the space exhilarated by the feel of air against their faces, some pluck their feet off the floor in hops and leaps, and others swing wide their arms in unrestrained gesture which sweeps them high onto their toes, or pulls them into an off-balance suspension that dissolves into the slack of a downwards spiral. Soon the teacher calls for the classÕs attention and the lesson begins." (McKittrick, 1972: 11)."

Introduction

In his seminal work, About Looking, John Berger (1980) succeeded in opening up new avenues of critical discussion focused on visual texts and the impact of such on their makers and audiences. Ways of Seeing reminded us that seeing comes before words and that the infant looks and recognizes before it can speak (Berger, 2008 front cover). Seeing comes before speaking, but touching is a necessary part of understanding, while movement affords freedom and enables choice. As Raymond Tallis has eloquently established, the pointing finger is a fundamental sign of the human mind in the exercise of its powers of observation and discernment (Tallis, 2010). Together, the sense of touch, the facility of reach and the act of movement imply living fully. It has been long noted that the first sense experienced by infants in exploring the world is touch (Charlton Deas 1913-26 in Grosvenor & MacNab 2013). The sense of touch has been examined by scholars in relation to a range of perspectives involving teaching and learning including object lessons (Keene 2008) and tactile engagement in the context of visual impairment (Grosvenor & McNab 2013). Outside of schools, the sense of touch has been used as a lens to appreciate and explore the experience of learning in museums (Chatterjee 2008; Classen 2005; Pye 2008). The principal anatomical parts involved in touch - the fingers and the hand - have been subjected to critical and creative scrutiny within cross-disciplinary discussions about what it means to be human (Napier 1993; Tallis 2010). In a previously published article (Burke & Cunningham, 2011), I explored with Peter Cunningham the significance of hands as part of what might be called the choreography of the classroom. In that piece we noted how the relationship between the hand and cognitive function has been well established and recognized by teachers and others (Sennett 2008). We also noted how ‘critique of how children were encased in unsuitable or uncomfortable school furniture… (was) characteristic of progressive educational discourse during the first half of the 20th century’ (Burke and Cunningham, 2011: 538).

Few scholars have so far paid critical attention to the ways that designers of school buildings have incorporated into the design process notions of bodily movement. One exception is found in the work of Roy Kozlovsky who has examined how interpretations of movement in the primary school environment engaged post-war architects in England. Consideration of the significance of rhythmic movement shifted their metaphorical conceptualization of the eye of the pupil from a technical apparatus to an organic association as a living muscle ‘that requires its own cycle of concentration and relaxation’ (Kozlovsky, 2010: 707). In this paper, I will extend a focus on the sense of touch to embrace the attributes of reach and movement exposed by a close reading of Building Bulletins reporting on English primary school building design during the period 1949-72. The rationale for this is found in the discourses fueling the drivers of educational redesign in post-war education when ‘reach’ became associated with an idea of the child enabled to exercise powers of freedom and self-expression. I will demonstrate how the imagined exercise of touch, reach and movement evidences an understanding, shared among architects working for the Ministry of Education in the post-war government, of how the body of the school child mattered in the transformation of education towards the design of the modern school and the nurturing of the modern citizen (Stillman and Castle-Cleary, 1949). Through an analysis of the content of a series of Building Bulletins, published by the Ministry of Education (later Department of Education), I will show how, for architects, the imagined use, place and disposition of body parts in close (often touching) proximity to the material environment of school, informed their thinking and featured in their planning. Building Bulletins reported on the design of school buildings in general and on certain particular aspects, such as colour or furniture."



"Sensory contexts of touch, reach, and movement

So what, in conclusion, can we say about this scrutiny of the discourse around touch, reach and movement in the Building Bulletins published in the period 1949-72? First, the findings clearly demonstrate how close was the vocabulary of touch, motion and emotion shared by progressive educators and architects during these years. Feeling (touching) the material environment through an imaginary identification with a young child, was a strategy of design. The material — designed — environment of education was perceived as a key pedagogical force in an education which emphasized the role of the senses. This is well captured in the following statement by Alec Clegg, CEO for the West Riding of Yorkshire during these years (1945-74).
'Children learn mostly from that which is around them and from the use of the senses. These impressions so gained will depend a great deal on interests that will vary considerably. If children are interested they will listen more carefully, look more closely and touch more sensitively. With interest there is created the element of wonder, the most precious element of life' (Sir Alec Clegg, 1964).

Close observation of children's active engagement with the material environment they encountered through their skin, limbs and whole bodies was characteristic of educational and architectural discourses regarding the most appropriate contexts for teaching and learning at this time. Second, observable by its absence in the Building Bulletin's commentary on touch, reach and movement is the figure of the school-teacher, within a systematic approach to designing from the body of the child outwards. This sits easily with the progressive image of the school as discussed through visual evidence from iconic school environments in this period (Burke and Grosvenor, 2007). Finally, in examining the imagined settings for touch alongside notions of scale and reach in the context of the built environment, we are forced to address questions of comfort and discomfort, agency and non-agency. In this analysis, the sense of touch leaves its anchor of materiality and comes to appear essential to affording a sense of belonging, allied to a notion of rights to participate in an imagined democratic community."
catherineburke  1940s  1950s  1960s  1970s  schools  schooldesign  multisensory  education  children  learning  progressive  howwelearn  howwteach  teaching  pedagogy  environment  touch  reach  movement  motion  emotion  alecclegg  johnberger  furnitue  color  architecture  design  scale  bodies  body  furniture  christianschiller  materials  difference  accessibility 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Alexandra Lange on craft, making and gender
"The journalists, artists and curators at the press preview for the Museum of Arts and Design's new exhibition, Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Mid-century and Today, were about 90 per cent female – an unusually high percentage, according to the museum's publicist.

But the imbalance seemed about right, in that it reflected the continuing, uneasy, and gendered relationship between people who make things out of yarn, clay or cloth and people who make things out of glass, steel or plastic. The editors of a few blogs seemed unsure whether the contents of the show – four hanging woven-wire sculptures by Ruth Asawa, screen-printed geometric textile designs by Anni Albers, a test panel for the gold-embroidered tapestries for the Ford Foundation by Sheila Hicks, along with work by 39 other artists – even counted as "design" for their purposes.

"In the 1950s and 1960s, an era when painting, sculpture and architecture were dominated by men, women had extensive impact in alternative materials such as textiles, ceramics and metals," reads the wall text.

Starting with the Bauhaus weaving workshop, eventually led by the supremely talented Gunta Stolzl, modern women with visual talent were shunted into creative professions closer to traditional women's work, and many of them found what they made then treated as lesser-than. Half of MAD's collection is work by women, and with this exhibit, curated by Jennifer Scanlan, the museum hopes to expand ideas about who, and what, constitutes mid-century design.

The problem of terminology has bedeviled this work from the start. When the Museum of Modern Art first showed fibre art in the 1969 show Wall Hangings, artist Louise Bourgeois wrote, in the magazine Craft Horizons, "the pieces in the show rarely liberate themselves from decoration." Fear of fibre, it seems, lives on.

The irony is that, while women were largely unwelcome in architecture and industrial design as practitioners, male architects and manufacturers found they couldn't live without them. Most of the highlighted mid-century designers worked with architects to bring nature, texture and colour to their hard-edged spaces, and several worked with manufacturers as designers and translators – for publicity purposes – of new styles and materials for a mass audience."



"Today craft seems to be heading in two directions simultaneously. Handicraft has never been more popular among women – it seems like every third person on Instagram has bought a handloom to ape Hicks or Maryanne Moodie, while companies like Wool and the Gang give you the option of ready-made or knit-your-own trendy, chunky apparel.

There is a renewed interest in personal making that has been nourished by social networks and is now being reabsorbed by mainstream consumer culture, without the politics and made by who-knows-whose hand. Urban Outfitters, which once sold an Anni Albers washer necklace kit, now sells the Magical Thinking Macrame Wall Hanging.

"On the flip side, there's the emergence of technological craft, with which architects seem to feel more comfortable and which does turn up on design sites like this one. (The computer defeminises everything.) Here again screens of various types provide a bridge between the hard and the flexible, the wall and the textile.

Petra Blaisse's contributions to many OMA projects (the carpets at the Seattle Public Library, for example) are machine-made textiles that, like Bertoia screens, humanise spaces as a form of permanent nature. The openwork pattern on her curtains for Machado and Silvetti's Chazen Museum nods to the sheers and geometries popular in mid-century designs.

Danish architect Mette Ramsgard Thomsen calls her work "digital crafting," and her 2012 Shadow Play installation demonstrates another way to introduce softness and hanging into built space. In that piece, long curls of pine veneer were bent into loops, connected with copper wire, and sandwiched between two pieces of glass in a storefront. The effect was like a carved screen, but lighter, and far less effort. It could be included in a new MoMA exhibition called Wall Hanging, one far more antiseptic than its 1969 predecessor.

I'll freely admit my preference for the wilder shores of the handmade, irregular and a little too bright. Even if Louise Bourgeois didn't find it challenging enough on first encounter, the continuing gender politics around craft, as well as the difficulty around the classification of the work of people like Albers, Asawa, Bryk, Hicks, Tawney and Phillips, reveal a spikiness that continues to command attention."
design  craft  alexandralange  gender  architecture  2015  industrialdesign  materials  glvo  annialbers  louisebourgeois  guntastolzl  bauhaus  ruthasawa  art  history  modernism  makers  makermovement  handmade  textiles  petrablaisse  metteramsgardthomsen  sheilahicks  rutbryk  leonoretawney  marywalkerphillips 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Alive | About
"IMAGINE A WORLD WHERE BIOLOGICAL FABRICATION REPLACES TRADITIONAL MANUFACTURE, PLANTS THAT GROW PRODUCTS, AND BACTERIA GENETICALLY RE-PROGRAMMED TO ‘BIOFACTURE’ NEW MATERIALS, ARTEFACTS, ENERGY OR MEDICINE.

This world is happening right now. Today, designers and artists have begun to either embrace or rebel against this bioengineered world and as a result, new design directions are beginning to emerge. The exhibition En Vie – Alive, presents a new design landscape, where fragments of a possible programmable ‘synthetic’ future are confronted with ‘natural’ alternative design perspectives. The quest for a different kind of ecological design models underpins the selection of projects, which range from potential sustainable solutions, to poetic interpretations and extreme provocations.

Created and imagined by leading designers, architects and artists, the work showcased here is decidedly different. These designers create and unravel a future hybrid world, where our everyday products and manufacturing tools will be ‘alive‘.

They operate within a sliding scale of a ‘natural nature’ and a new ‘programmable nature’ in the quest for innovative ecological models. In this exhibition I have created a hierarchy of possible relationships with nature, and designers are grouped around 5 themes.

1/ The Plagiarists: (Nature as a model)

Here we present designers and architects who look to nature for inspiring role models and new engineering solutions. They work with biomimicry principles, imitating processes or behaviour found in the natural world, but working with man-made and digital technologies.

2/ The New Artisans: (Nature as a co-worker)

These designers and architects collaborate with nature. They work with bees, fungi, bacteria, algae or plants and develop new techniques to grow and craft consumer goods. Here, design relates more to gardening and farming than to manufacturing.

3/ The Bio-Hackers: (Reprogrammed, ‘synthetic’ nature)

These designers and artists work in collaboration with synthetic biologists or respond to cutting-edge scientific research in the field of extreme bioengineering. They imagine what the products and interfaces of the future could become with the use of engineered living organisms. Their ideas illustrate a possible future world.

4/ The New Alchemists: (Hybridised nature)

Here, designers, architects and artists propose to explore the merging of biology, chemistry, robotics and nanotechnology to create new hybrid organisms. They combine living (biological) with non-living (electronic and chemical) technology.

5/ The Agents Provocateurs: (Conceptualised and imagined nature.)

This final group of artists and designers explores a provocative far future. Their work encourages a debate around ethical issues related to living technology and high-tech sustainability.

I sincerely hope that this exhibition will inspire generations to come and help establish a map of creative thinkers who dare to imagine new relationships with nature and the living. This project highlights the search for new design frontiers in the quest for new ecological models pertinent for the year 2050 and beyond.

Carole Collet, Exhibition Curator and catalogue editor, Reader in Textile Futures, Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, University of the Arts, March 2013."
design  art  biology  science  syntheticnature  nature  collaboration  biomimicry  carolecollet  hybrids  future  biohacking  fabrication  materials  biomimetics 
march 2015 by robertogreco
GEESE.PROJECT
"From unwanted animal towards usable material. Saving geese from destruction factory's."



"In the Netherlands we deal with an overpopulation of wild geese. At first the geese came to the Netherlands only to hibernate but now a days many of them stay the whole year. Not much of a problem would you think, let’s be happy for the geese. They found a place where they feel at home the whole year around!

Off course there’s a but… The geese cause a lot of damage in the agricultural sector, around airports and they disturb the biodiversity. They cause so much damage and commotion that the government decided to reduce the geese population with an amount of 100.000 a year.

What is going to happen with these geese?

The GEESE.PROJECT is about changing perception of an unwanted animal towards usable material. "

[See also: http://geeseproject.tumblr.com/ ]
geese  netherlands  animals  overpopulation  wildlife  nature  biodiversity  materials  via:anne 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Humane Representation of Thought on Vimeo
"Closing keynote at the UIST and SPLASH conferences, October 2014.
Preface: http://worrydream.com/TheHumaneRepresentationOfThought/note.html

References to baby-steps towards some of the concepts mentioned:

Dynamic reality (physical responsiveness):
- The primary work here is Hiroshi Ishii's "Radical Atoms": http://tangible.media.mit.edu/project/inform/
- but also relevant are the "Soft Robotics" projects at Harvard: http://softroboticstoolkit.com
- and at Otherlab: http://youtube.com/watch?v=gyMowPAJwqo
- and some of the more avant-garde corners of material science and 3D printing

Dynamic conversations and presentations:
- Ken Perlin's "Chalktalk" changes daily; here's a recent demo: http://bit.ly/1x5eCOX

Context-sensitive reading material:
- http://worrydream.com/MagicInk/

"Explore-the-model" reading material:
- http://worrydream.com/ExplorableExplanations/
- http://worrydream.com/LadderOfAbstraction/
- http://ncase.me/polygons/
- http://redblobgames.com/pathfinding/a-star/introduction.html
- http://earthprimer.com/

Evidence-backed models:
- http://worrydream.com/TenBrighterIdeas/

Direct-manipulation dynamic authoring:
- http://worrydream.com/StopDrawingDeadFish/
- http://worrydream.com/DrawingDynamicVisualizationsTalk/
- http://tobyschachman.com/Shadershop/

Modes of understanding:
- Jerome Bruner: http://amazon.com/dp/0674897013
- Howard Gardner: http://amazon.com/dp/0465024335
- Kieran Egan: http://amazon.com/dp/0226190390

Embodied thinking:
- Edwin Hutchins: http://amazon.com/dp/0262581469
- Andy Clark: http://amazon.com/dp/0262531569
- George Lakoff: http://amazon.com/dp/0465037712
- JJ Gibson: http://amazon.com/dp/0898599598
- among others: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embodied_cognition

I don't know what this is all about:
- http://worrydream.com/ABriefRantOnTheFutureOfInteractionDesign/
- http://worrydream.com/ABriefRantOnTheFutureOfInteractionDesign/responses.html

---

Abstract:

New representations of thought — written language, mathematical notation, information graphics, etc — have been responsible for some of the most significant leaps in the progress of civilization, by expanding humanity’s collectively-thinkable territory.

But at debilitating cost. These representations, having been invented for static media such as paper, tap into a small subset of human capabilities and neglect the rest. Knowledge work means sitting at a desk, interpreting and manipulating symbols. The human body is reduced to an eye staring at tiny rectangles and fingers on a pen or keyboard.

Like any severely unbalanced way of living, this is crippling to mind and body. But it is also enormously wasteful of the vast human potential. Human beings naturally have many powerful modes of thinking and understanding.

Most are incompatible with static media. In a culture that has contorted itself around the limitations of marks on paper, these modes are undeveloped, unrecognized, or scorned.

We are now seeing the start of a dynamic medium. To a large extent, people today are using this medium merely to emulate and extend static representations from the era of paper, and to further constrain the ways in which the human body can interact with external representations of thought.

But the dynamic medium offers the opportunity to deliberately invent a humane and empowering form of knowledge work. We can design dynamic representations which draw on the entire range of human capabilities — all senses, all forms of movement, all forms of understanding — instead of straining a few and atrophying the rest.

This talk suggests how each of the human activities in which thought is externalized (conversing, presenting, reading, writing, etc) can be redesigned around such representations.

---

Art by David Hellman.
Bret Victor -- http://worrydream.com "

[Some notes from Boris Anthony:

"Those of you who know my "book hack", Bret talks about exactly what motivates my explorations starting at 20:45 in https://vimeo.com/115154289 "
https://twitter.com/Bopuc/status/574339495274876928

"From a different angle, btwn 20:00-29:00 Bret explains how "IoT" is totally changing everything
https://vimeo.com/115154289
@timoreilly @moia"
https://twitter.com/Bopuc/status/574341875836043265 ]
bretvictor  towatch  interactiondesign  davidhellman  hiroshiishii  softrobotics  robots  robotics  kenperlin  jeromebruner  howardgardner  kieranegan  edwinhutchins  andyclark  jjgibson  embodiedcognition  cognition  writing  math  mathematics  infographic  visualization  communication  graphics  graphicdesign  design  representation  humans  understanding  howwelearn  howwethink  media  digital  dynamism  movement  conversation  presentation  reading  howweread  howwewrite  chalktalk  otherlab  3dprinting  3d  materials  physical  tangibility  depth  learning  canon  ui  informationdesign  infographics  maps  mapping  data  thinking  thoughts  numbers  algebra  arithmetic  notation  williamplayfair  cartography  gestures  placevalue  periodictable  michaelfaraday  jamesclerkmaxell  ideas  print  printing  leibniz  humanism  humanerepresentation  icons  visual  aural  kinesthetic  spatial  tactile  symbols  iot  internetofthings  programming  computers  screens  computation  computing  coding  modeling  exploration  via:robertogreco  reasoning  rhetoric  gerrysussman  environments  scale  virtualization 
march 2015 by robertogreco
BELLACANVAS.COM | BELLA + CANVAS
"Every day, since 1992, we’ve lived by the words BE DIFFERENT. Founders Danny Harris and Marco DeGeorge push BELLA + CANVAS and the team in Los Angeles to challenge the status quo in every way.

Sustainability. No sweatshops. Solar power. Designed and made in L.A. Paper-free warehouse. Yoga classes. Electric car chargers. Laughing. A lot.

BELLA + CANVAS lives to make the best fashion-forward knit tees and fleece in men's, unisex, women’s, youth and baby sizes. 140 styles and 132 colors from the best basics to what’s new and on-trend. Great fits and super-soft fabrics like triblend, flowy, and marble—and introducing NEW acid wash, slub, speckled and mineral wash fabrications for 2015. BELLA + CANVAS is one of the only companies to use 100% combed and ring-spun cotton and fine-gage threads for the softest wear and smoother, flatter high-def printing. It isn’t the cheapest way to make a tee, but it’s the best."

[via: https://cottonbureau.com/products/space-age ]
tshirts  clothing  screenprinting  lcproject  materials  glvo  openstudioproject  t-shirts 
january 2015 by robertogreco
What Reclaimed Wood Meant — Kate Losse
"But if I went to the desert for space, when I got there I discovered another element that is abundant in desert architecture that was visually startling to me in its newness after the hard, gray-green industrial tones of the Bunker. This "new" material-- wood-- seemed so interesting to me that in 2011 I made a Facebook album called Reclaimed Wood to chart the material and its aesthetic progress to popularity, of which I was already certain. The first photos I took were of the ceiling in an old Ice Locker that Donald Judd, the original gentrifier, had purchased in Marfa. Built in the early 1900s, the locker had heavy white stucco and iron walls but the most beautiful, heavy, old, vintage wooden railroad beams in its ceiling; the effect of the wood was to soften what would be a hard industrial space into a pleasing, welcoming, artisanal atmosphere, and this is why Judd bought the building and converted it into an artist workshop and studio space. Judd, in a sense, predicted Reclaimed Wood forty years before everyone else caught on. All of the buildings he purchased in Marfa are masterful, original, unstudied versions of what has now become a national craze: the American industrial building with a soft, artistic and artisanal side. In Marfa these buildings were built for the railroad and then abandoned, decayed, and converted to art functions later. Thus their combined hardness/softness has had decades to develop.

After some months in Texas, I returned to the city and noticed that wood was steadily appearing everywhere and spreading. It began in small coffee shops like Four Barrel coffee shop (along with its textile counterpart, nautical rope, which often accompanies wood as a nod to wood's ship-ly connotations of pirates and sailors) and spread to restaurants and finally, back to the same tech company offices that I had left in pursuit of space and more organic forms. That's to say that the irony of all of this is that no environments have been more committed to retrofitting themselves with reclaimed wood than the very spaces that drive the technology that drives people to seek refuge from technology in more open, organic spaces. As technology filled our lives, so did our lives become increasingly filled with soft wooden beams and forms, a kind of reverse de-industrialization of the technical space using organic materials. We now plant these warm-colored, gnarled wooden objects like talismans amid our screens, a reminder of organic shapes, something to touch that, reassuringly, can't be swiped on.

It is thus that we have reached Peak Reclaimed Wood, where some restaurants and coffee shops are so plastered in vintage wooden planks and beams that there is no room for a single new plank of wood (in these spaces, the wood becomes less an accent than an attempt to create the illusion of living in a cabin, which is a related desire to reclaimed wood, but not identical. The desire to live in a coffee-house-as-cabin-- or to import actual cabins into your tech cafeteria, as Twitter did-- is something like a desire to live in the country or the past, without actually living there). And so, because aesthetics have to shift when they become saturated, what is next?

In my next post I will address what comes after Reclaimed Wood and why I think the next turn will be to 80s Hilton-esque business hotel stylings and what that means about us and what we need now."

[via: https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/549965313295781888 ]

[See also (referenced within: "Facebook IRL: A Short History of Facebook's Design Aesthetic"
http://www.katelosse.tv/latest/2014/2/4/facebook-irl-a-short-history-of-facebooks-design-aesthetic
katelosse  wood  texas  marfa  technology  materials  software  2014  aesthetics  donaldjudd  design  trends 
december 2014 by robertogreco
British Museum - Dr Dee's mirror
[via: http://tinyletter.com/metafoundry/letters/metafoundry-12-propositional-density ]

"Dr Dee's mirror

Mexica*, 15th-16th century AD

This mirror was used by the Elizabethan mathematician, astrologer and magician John Dee (1527-1608/9) as a 'shew-stone', one of many polished translucent or reflective objects which he used as tools for his occult research.

The mirror, made of highly-polished obsidian (volcanic glass), was one of many Mexica cult objects and treasures brought to Europe after the conquest of Mexico by Cortés between 1527 and 1530. Mirrors were associated with Tezcatlipoca, the Mexica god of rulers, warriors and sorcerers, whose name can be translated as 'Smoking Mirror'. Mexica priests used mirrrors for divination and conjuring up visions. Dee had an interest in optics and optical mirrors or 'glasses' as described in his private diary and works. he was also interested in psychic phenomena and, from 1583, worked with Edward Kelly as his medium. Kelly would see visions in the 'shew-stones' of 'angels' that communicated by pointing to one square after another in tables of letters and unknown symbols, which Dee and Kelly transcribed.

The case, made to fit the obsidian mirror with its projecting handle, has a paper label with the handwriting of the English antiquary Sir Horace Walpole, who acquired the mirror in 1771. The text begins 'The Black Stone into which Dr Dee used to call his spirits ...'. He has added later 'Kelly was Dr Dee's Associate and is mentioned with this very stone in Hudibras [a satirical poem by Samuel Butler, first published in 1664] Part 2. Canto 3 v. 631. Kelly did all his feats upon The Devil's Looking-glass, a Stone.'

The British Museum has other objects associated with John Dee (see Related Objects and Information).

*The people and culture we know as 'Aztec' referred to themselves as the Mexica (pronounced Me-shee-ka).

J. Cherry, 'Medieval and Later Antiquities' in Sir Hans Sloane: collector, sc (London, The British Museum Press, 1994), pp. 119-221

H. Tait, 'The Devil's Looking Glass: the magical speculum of Dr John Dee' in Horace Walpole: writer, politi (Yale University Press, 1967), pp. 195-212

, Prag um 1600: Kunst und Kultur, exh. cat. (Wien, Kunsthistorisches Museum; Freren, Luca Verlag, 1988)

N.H. Clulee, John Dees natural philosophy: (London and New York, Routledge, 1988)"
objects  mirrors  mexica  mexico  aztec  obsidian  materials  johndee  occult 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Yes We Can. But Should We? — re:form — Medium
"Quirky has been clever in melding the old-school notion of being an “inventor” with the new-school notion of being a “maker.” But somewhere in the course of entering the pop culture zeitgeist, the warm and fuzzy self-empowered “maker” idea got turned into an engine for output and profit. No idea is too superfluous. Many of the items the company sells are gadgets like “Pivot Power,” designed expressly for plugging in other gadgets. It felt to me that the very purpose of Kaufman’s endeavor was to get more stuff on shelves, or what he referred to as “social product development.

Not so long ago it felt like we were beginning to recognize that as a society, our patterns of production and consumption were not sustainable. Messages like The Story of Stuff went viral, refocusing our collective eyes on our culture’s stunning material wastefulness. But that period was short, and the resolve for change it seemed to herald has all but evaporated. While many innovative companies have been focusing on selling experiences rather than manufacturing goods, the drive to produce more has only accelerated.

Technology has become not only more sophisticated, but access to its bells and whistles has become relatively more affordable and accessible. With this, ideas around designing and making have shifted and sectors of the maker movement have veered from basement workshop projects to the production of i-accessories and other trinkets that make Kickstarter fanboys drool. Just as desktop publishing tools made everyone [think they were] a graphic designer, 3-D printers and the like have empowered legions to be the next Jony Ive. (Not incidentally, why must every last bit of product design be measured by whether it would make Ive proud?)

I won’t point the finger at one company or one discipline but I am struck by the absence of sustainable discourse in the maker movement. Daily, we read swooning odes to the 3-D printer, the CNC router and other cutting edge manufacturing technologies but read almost nothing that approaches these developments through a much-needed critical lens. Every tchotchke is celebrated as if it were as significant as the wheel or the printing press.”



"In Why Things Bite Back, Edward Tenner writes of what he calls the “ironic unintended consequences’’ of human ingenuity, ranging from antibiotics that promise the cure of disease but end up breeding resistant microorganisms, to a new football helmet, designed to reduce injuries, that actually encourages a more violent style of playing, thus creating the risk of more serious injury. We’re experiencing some of these ironies now as we use technology to solve the wrong problems. We’re in a period where almost anyone has the tools to make almost anything – but are we making the right things? Or too many of the wrong ones?

There seems to be a misconception about what 3D printing does and does not enable. Does it allow us to delight a four-year-old by pulling a mini Darth Vader toy seemingly out of thin air? It does. But the object doesn’t materialize from nothing. A 3D printer consumes about 50 to 100 times more electrical energy than injection molding to make an item of the same weight. On top of that, the emissions from desktop 3D printers are similar to burning a cigarette or cooking on a gas or electric stove. And the material of choice for all this new stuff we’re clamoring to make is overwhelmingly plastic. In a sense, it’s a reverse environmental offset, counteracting recent legislation to reduce plastic use through grocery bag bans and packaging redesigns. While more people tote reuasable cloth bags to the supermarket, plastic is piling up in other domains, from TechShop to Target."



"Good design is often defined as being an elegant solution to a clear problem. Perhaps we’re solving the wrong problems — or inventing problems that don’t exist — as justification for our excessive output. Do we need more products? Not really. But we need better ones. So why aren’t we designing them? Why are we reading about so many bad ones? Why, for example, did more than 62,000 people recently pitch in to fund a new drink cooler that doubles as a beverage blender (and triples as a stereo) to the tune of $13,285,226?"
makers  invention  3dprinting  design  makermovement  sustainability  waster  responsibility  allisonarieff  2014  capitalism  profits  production  productivity  output  materials  unuseless  chindogu 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Science teacher: Buckets with holes
"Buckets come as they are, and they do one thing--they hold things. Everything, actually.

In these parts they're generally made of plastic, the residual order of plants that took in the sunshine unfathomably long ago. (Oh, I could give you a number with a lot of zeroes, but let's be honest, none of us beyond the Feynmans and the Einsteins know how big a few hundred million truly is.)

Most of the buckets in my home were likely made in China, because it's cheaper to make them there than here, even with the cost of shipping. I used to work on the docks. I've been in the hold of very big ships. If the ship is big enough, it can carry enough buckets to make shipping costs almost negligible.

But someone making a bucket in China, a long, long away, cannot possibly know why I need this particular bucket today.

But I do. So I modify it.

***

I bottled a bucket's worth of mead today. Eric, who loves my daughter Kerry, keeps a couple of hives in Montclair. He gave me a gallon of honey from his hive. A gallon of honey weighs about 12 pounds, a gallon of water about 8 pounds. There's a lot of stuff in honey that's not water.

Each pound of honey took over 50,000 miles of bee flight, so my melomel took the better part of a million miles of flight to make. Millions of yeast critters took the honey and converted it into mead--those surviving now sit in my compost pile in the backyard. I said a prayer for them, or maybe I said it for me, but I prayed anyway, because something good happened to me that I did not deserve.

My mead bucket has a 3/4" hole drilled near the bottom, so I can put in a plastic spigot (also made in China) that lets me drain the fermented mead in a controlled fashion.

***

I clam. Every couple of weeks I get enough meat from the mudflats around here to feed Leslie and me for a few days. I pray for the clams, too, as I drop them into scalding water. I have no idea what they feel, but I know what I do, and praying helps.

My clam bucket has about a hundred tiny holes drilled in the bottom. I used an electric drill.

The power to drill the holes came from Beesley's Point Generating Station a few miles north of here. It burns coal (made from old plants, but not as old as those that made the plastic for my bucket). It also uses old tires, made from rubber plants likely alive in my lifetime.

And yes, I think of these things as I muddle through my day.
I pray a lot.

***

I teach biology. Our desires change all the time, but our needs are the same as they have been for millenia.

Our needs come down to the stuff of plants, of yeast, of love. Most of what we need I'll never understand, but I teach a very human process that gets us closer to understanding the infinite every day.

But, of course, the infinite can never be understood.

So I pray…"
michaeldoyl  2014  systems  systemsthinking  prayer  supplychains  materials  clamming  energy  networks  zoominginandout  process  everyday  complexity 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Beetles so bright, you gotta wear shades - life - 15 August 2014 - New Scientist
[Compare to "Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it"
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:e722164008e3 ]

"What is whiter than white? These beetles, apparently – because their scales make them whiter than paper. No human technology can match their brilliance using such thin material.

The scales of the Cyphochilus (pictured above) and Lepidiota stigma beetles, which are native to South-East Asia, contain tight, complex networks of chitin filaments (see image below). Chitin is a substance with a similar molecular structure to cellulose, and it builds the cell walls of fungi and the shells of crustaceans as well as insect exoskeletons.

On their own, the chitin filaments reflect light poorly. But researchers at the University of Cambridge and the European Laboratory for Non-linear Spectroscopy in Florence, Italy, have found that the geometry of a filament network makes the whole thing reflect light extremely efficiently. It reflects light of all colours anisotropically, meaning that it bounces the light in one direction only. That makes the beetles' scales appear bright white.

"These scales have a structure that is truly complex, since it gives rise to something that is more than the sum of its parts," said team member Matteo Burresi of the Italian National Institute of Optics in Florence. "A randomly packed collection of its constituent elements by itself is not sufficient to achieve the degree of brightness that we observe."

What sets the brilliant beetles apart from artificial reflectors, though, is that the scales are ultra-thin. Their individual chitin filaments are just a few thousandths of a millimetre thick, minimising weight and so reducing the energy the beetles need to fly. It may not be too long before these beetles are inspiring a host of new materials that will be whiter than white too."
white  color  insects  beetles  reflection  light  2014  brightness  materials  nature 
august 2014 by robertogreco
What are you drawing, Lily?
""When I think about kids watching a TV show like American Idol or The Voice, then they think, ‘Oh, OK, that’s how you become a musician, you stand in line for eight fucking hours with 800 people at a convention center and… then you sing your heart out for someone and then they tell you it’s not fuckin’ good enough.’ Can you imagine?

It’s destroying the next generation of musicians! Musicians should go to a yard sale and buy an old fucking drum set and get in their garage and just suck. And get their friends to come in and they’ll suck, too. And then they’ll fucking start playing and they’ll have the best time they’ve ever had in their lives and then all of a sudden they’ll become Nirvana. Because that’s exactly what happened with Nirvana. Just a bunch of guys that had some shitty old instruments and they got together and started playing some noisy-ass shit, and they became the biggest band in the world. That can happen again! You don’t need a fucking computer or the internet or The Voice or American Idol."

—Dave Grohl, drummer for Nirvana

I was watching my nieces the other day, Madeline and Lily. Madeline is 3. Lily is 4. They both sat there eagerly making things. They didn’t have excuses that they didn’t have the right markers or the right paper or the right idea.

I had run out of blank printer paper, so they started making paper airplanes out of magazine inserts. Madeline was thrilled to draw with whatever utensil she could get her hands on. Lily had found a pink ribbon someone had dropped on the street. She picked up the forgotten trash and later turned it into a kite.

Of course, their airplanes didn’t work. I have no idea on earth what Madeline had drawn. And the kite didn’t have a chance of actually flying. But it didn’t matter. They didn’t care. It was a start and you can see them just get better and better at making these things.

Later I heard of a conversation Lily had with her mom that sums up how little these kids care of perfection, and how much they just care about putting something, anything, that they’ve created into the world.

Lily’s mom: Lily, what are you drawing?

Lily: I don’t know, Mom. I haven’t drawn it yet."
doing  making  art  music  risktaking  joy  howthingswork  nirvana  children  davegrohl  materials  circumstances  perfectionism 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Imagination Is A Perishable Skill on Vimeo
"How do we reach conclusions that cannot be articulated through words? Los Angeles-based conceptual artist Glenn Kaino (UCI and UCSD alumni) heads into his studio, to see how he uses the creative process to explore critical issues facing the world."
materials  imagination  sandpaper  glennkaino  2013  situationist  philosophy  art  artists  conceptualart  invention  losangeles  mavericks  revolution  stones  gems  rocks 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it... - Science - News - The Independent
[Compare to "Beetles so bright, you gotta wear shades"
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:3b1b4eb0b979 ]

"Puritans, Goths, avant-garde artists, hell-raising poets and fashion icon Coco Chanel all saw something special in it. Now black, that most enigmatic of colours, has become even darker and more mysterious.

A British company has produced a "strange, alien" material so black that it absorbs all but 0.035 per cent of visual light, setting a new world record. To stare at the "super black" coating made of carbon nanotubes – each 10,000 times thinner than a human hair – is an odd experience. It is so dark that the human eye cannot understand what it is seeing. Shapes and contours are lost, leaving nothing but an apparent abyss.

If it was used to make one of Chanel's little black dresses, the wearer's head and limbs might appear to float incorporeally around a dress-shaped hole.

Actual applications are more serious, enabling astronomical cameras, telescopes and infrared scanning systems to function more effectively. Then there are the military uses that the material's maker, Surrey NanoSystems, is not allowed to discuss.

The nanotube material, named Vantablack, has been grown on sheets of aluminium foil by the Newhaven-based company. While the sheets may be crumpled into miniature hills and valleys, this landscape disappears on areas covered by it.

"You expect to see the hills and all you can see … it's like black, like a hole, like there's nothing there. It just looks so strange," said Ben Jensen, the firm's chief technical officer.

Asked about the prospect of a little black dress, he said it would be "very expensive" – the cost of the material is one of the things he was unable to reveal.

"You would lose all features of the dress. It would just be something black passing through," he said.

Vantablack, which was described in the journal Optics Express and will be launched at the Farnborough International Airshow this week, works by packing together a field of nanotubes, like incredibly thin drinking straws. These are so tiny that light particles cannot get into them, although they can pass into the gaps between. Once there, however, all but a tiny remnant of the light bounces around until it is absorbed.

Vantablack's practical uses include calibrating cameras used to take photographs of the oldest objects in the universe. This has to be done by pointing the camera at something as black as possible.

It also has "virtually undetectable levels of outgassing and particle fallout", which can contaminate the most sensitive imaging systems. The material conducts heat seven and a half times more effectively than copper and has 10 times the tensile strength of steel.

Stephen Westland, professor of colour science and technology at Leeds University, said traditional black was actually a colour of light and scientists were now pushing it to something out of this world.

"Many people think black is the absence of light. I totally disagree with that. Unless you are looking at a black hole, nobody has actually seen something which has no light," he said. "These new materials, they are pretty much as black as we can get, almost as close to a black hole as we could imagine.""

[See also: http://newlaunches.com/archives/the_darkest_black_ever.php ]
color  black  blackness  light  materials  2014  via:debcha  vantablack  optics 
july 2014 by robertogreco
A DIY Pressure Suit for Near-Space Adventures | Popular Science
"In 2008, Cameron Smith, an anthropology professor at Portland State University in Oregon, decided to build a space suit. He designed the Mark I to protect himself on a high-altitude balloon ride, and so far it’s passed tests in a hypobaric chamber and underwater. Last year, independent space program Copenhagen Suborbitals offered him a potential path to the stratosphere (between about 30,000 and 165,000 feet above Earth). Smith will make a suit for the Danish group this summer, and they’ll help him build a helium balloon craft. Traditional pressure garments can cost upwards of $30,000. Smith’s materials set him back about $2,000, thanks to creative use of junk parts and spare kitchenware. “We’re trying to make it easier for people to get into space,” he says."
spacesuits  diy  2014  cameronsmith  space  spacetravel  wearables  materials  2008 
june 2014 by robertogreco
6, 3: Seasteading
"So Jim is a blacksmith – a word I mostly hear these days in jokes about obsolescence. He lives on a small, rural island where he has the time and quiet to think and work very hard on small things that most people have not imagined. He is also one of the most globalized people I know. I’m counting people who had “major liquidity events” and whose Twitter profiles say their location is SoMa/SoHo or whatevs. Jim is narrowly specialized labor, enabled by things like oligopolistic global shipping companies.

And likewise, my family’s off-the-grid setup – solar panels, their own well, their own garden – relies on solar panel manufacturers, modern well-drilling rigs, and the internet.

Many visitors are offended by this. They have a rhetoric of simplicity that feels that e.g. buying gasoline to run a generator to have electric lights in winter is failing to live up to the promise of living in the woods. But for my family and others, that promise was never made. It’s a projection, an assumption, an outsider’s stereotype. They are not claiming or trying to be out of the world.

What do you get from living on a natural seastead oops I mean small island? Well, you get a different kind of time – a different set of distractions. Not simplicity, but a reallocation of complexity that suits some people. You get too many things to list here. The one I want to talk about is that you see your material dependencies more clearly. That is, you have to carry the gas that you buy. You know where your water comes from, even if it’s just as technologically mediated as a Brooklynite’s water – maybe more – because you have to replace the pump from time to time. It’s not that you have less of a supply chain, it’s that you pay more attention to it because you’re the last link in it. You unload your kit, your cargo, your stuff, from a literal-ass boat that goes across the water."

So here is what I can tell you: our material culture is vast. The substrate of comfortable, middle-class-as-portrayed-in-primetime American life is ginormous, far beyond anyone’s understanding in any depth. Years ago there was a Neal Stephenson Wired story called In the Kingdom of Mao Bell, from which I often think of the line (phrased in terms of Western culture, but mutatis mutandis):
For a Westerner to trash Western culture is like criticizing our nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere on the grounds that it sometimes gets windy, and besides, Jupiter’s is much prettier. You may not realize its advantages until you’re trying to breathe liquid methane.

Which is only to make a point that is easy to make but very hard to appreciate, and I have to practice making to myself in new ways all the time, re-estranging it to re-familiarize it: what we have going here, this system by which roads are paved, you can appeal a court ruling, you can just assume you got the right change back at Whole Foods, Whole Foods exists, etc., is so big and complicated that you can’t appreciate it. At best you can call upon cognitive intercessors, like thinky magazine features on the cold chain or whatever, to mediate between your grasp of the size of the culture and its reality. I say this as someone whose job is partly to look at enormous depictions of material culture – I mean staring at the Port of Tokyo–Yokohama, or Magnitogorsk, is kind of what I do all day, and I still take it for granted.

And the system has tremendous momentum. I am no historian, but my vague sense is that in recognizable form in the Euramerican sphere it goes back to things like the New Model Army and the aftermath of the French Revolution: the establishment of a bureauracy, i.e. a system of applied governance with accountability built in as paperwork and defined responsibilities, as opposed to something at best hollowed out like a nest of sticks inside feudalism.

And when I see bureaucracy around me doing things like getting all fetishistic about a piece of paper, I have to remind myself that yes, this is imperfect, but the point is that we enshrine the word, something roughly permanent and widely legible, as opposed to worshipping the squire, i.e., whatever he feels like today, that we can’t even examine directly to mutually identify and begin to debate whether it’s good. A whig history but I’m a whig."

[Related: http://masochuticon.com/2006/05/24/
via: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/484597685396045824
in this thread: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/484483973767110656
follow-up http://tinyletter.com/vruba/letters/6-16-america-again ]
complexity  canon  interconnectedness  seasteading  frontier  waldronisland  bureaucracy  2014  charlieloyd  slow  change  purpose  purposefulness  civilization  interdependence  seeing  noticing  separateness  libertarianism  capitalism  globalization  materials  systems  systemsthinking  siliconvalley  laws  governance  government  society  nealstephenson  simplicity  distractions  bighere  dependencies  supplychains  legibility  illegibility  coffee  waldron  interconnected  interconnectivity 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Learning From Legos - NYTimes.com
"WHEN I was a boy, my father, an architect, attempted a no-toy policy, with the significant exception that he’d buy my brother and me almost anything — any birthday, holiday or restless rainy Saturday — as long as it was Lego.

And so, if I needed a gun, I made it with Legos. The same with a walkie-talkie. And a lie detector. And all the life-size artifacts — let’s face it, mostly weapons — that were then my heart’s desire. Plus every scale-model spaceship, supertruck, planetary fortress, recombinant Tyrannosaurus and transforming robot.

These days Lego — with its namesake movie’s opening weekend box office of $69 million, and with global sales revenue tripling, recession-proof, between 2007 and 2012 — appears to be something more than just a Danish construction toy based on snap-together plastic bricks. Some of the film’s success comes from the charm of its intrepid construction worker hero and goth-ninja heroine, both remarkably expressive despite the limitations of Lego figurines’ cylindrical heads and hands.

But the film’s celebration of adaptive improvisation and spontaneous mythmaking also resonates deeply with our current moment of so-called maker culture. Thanks to new rapid-prototyping technologies like computer numerical control milling and 3-D printing, we’ve seen a convergence between hacker and hipster, between high-tech coding and the low-tech artisanal craft behind everything from Etsy to Burning Man.

Whether it’s Google’s first server rack having been made of Lego-like bricks (pragmatically cheap, heat-resistant and reconfigurable) at Stanford in 1996, or the programmable Lego bricks developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Architecture Machine Group (later the Media Lab where, no coincidence, my father worked), Lego is literally built into the computational and architectural history of maker culture.

And it is, in a special way, an architectural history. “A small interior world of color and form now came within grasp of small fingers,” wrote Frank Lloyd Wright about his 9-year-old self in a 1943 autobiographical sketch. “These ‘Gifts’ came into the gray house” and “made something live here.” These were the famous Froebel Blocks, educational wooden building blocks in systematic shapes and sizes developed in the 1840s by Friedrich Froebel, the inventor of kindergarten.

“The smooth shapely maple blocks with which to build, the sense of which never afterward leaves the fingers; so form became feeling. These primary forms were the secret of all effects,” Wright recalled, “which were ever got into the architecture of the world.” Wright’s son John would complete the circle, inventing in 1916 the construction toy that came to be known as Lincoln Logs.

Architectural historians have sought origins for Wright’s innovative organic architecture — his long horizontals and pinwheel plans — in the geometries of his toys, even reconstructing his early house designs using the Froebel Blocks themselves.

I suspect that the connection isn’t that literal. But it is certainly primal, and visceral, to do with the idea of making and unmaking, and the complex relationships of parts to wholes, and brokenness to wholeness.

Once, detouring through a parking-lot flea market, I stumbled across some Froebel Blocks from Wright’s era, stacked as tightly and delicately as the dovetail joints of their original wooden box. Froebel Blocks are collectible antiques, but these were flea-market finds and not auctioneers’ goods because they had been methodically defaced by years of scribbled arabesques in Magic Marker, in a child’s hand.

I discovered that these lines traveled continuously from block to block, and that by carefully aligning the distinctly colored arcs and loops of the markings, I could reconstruct all the arrangements into which the blocks had been built — those magic marks the inadvertent blueprints for a forgotten memory palace.

I remember the fugue of that reconstruction, low on the ground below a flea market table. I remember the astonishing intimacy of visiting a stranger’s childhood, and how that intimacy somehow caused me to delay actually buying this treasure. I circled the flea market, and returned to find it gone.

Maker culture, like Lego, is about loss. All building-block toys are about appearance and disappearance, demolition and reconstruction. Maker culture, for all its love of stuff, is similarly a culture of resourcefulness in an era of economic scarcity: relentless in its iterative prototyping, its radically adaptive reuse of ready-made objects, its tendency to unmake one thing to make another — all in a new ecology of economy.

When my brother and I wanted a new toy, we cannibalized whatever we’d made before, which had been made of all the things we’d ever made before that. So of all those years of guns and starships, I have only that Wrightian feeling for form in the fingertips — and the sound, somewhere between rustling and clinking, of a thousand plastic pieces tumbling from an overturned bucket into a disorderly pile, rippling away from a seeking hand.

I remember the last thing I ever made of Lego, far later into adolescence than I should admit. It was a robot that, thanks to double-jointed hinges, could continually reconfigure itself without being disassembled. And in this sense it was anti-Lego, capable of being remade without being unmade. I knew that it was the most I could ever do in the medium, and the end of an era. It drifted back into that bucket.

A quarter-century later I saw the same bucket opened and overturned by a young nephew. And there, like a time traveler, was this same robot. Mostly just its legs, standing Ozymandias-like in a pile of bricks. I reached for it, but not faster than my nephew, who, recognizing an accretion of especially useful pieces, instantly dissolved it with his hands. One of Wright’s secrets of all effects must be this: Because nothing comes from nothing, and nothing goes entirely out of the world, you have to take things apart if you seek to put everything together."
2014  thomsdemonchaux  making  makerculture  resourcefulness  lego  invention  franklloydwright  froebelblocks  froebeltoys  building  construction  unmaking  dissolution  prototyping  adaptivereuse  reuse  scarcity  materials  toys  play  appearance  disappearance  reconstruction  ecology 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Lyndal Osborne: Bowerbird, Life as Art | Art Gallery of Alberta
[See also: http://www.lyndalosborne.com/ ]

"Lyndal Osborne: Bowerbird, Life as Art is a survey exhibition of the work of Edmonton artist Lyndal Osborne. The exhibition traces the almost 40-year career of this nationally renowned artist, starting with early print works from the mid-1970s to the complex, multi-component installations of the present day.

Over the last 40 years, Lyndal Osborne has also developed a remarkable body of large-scale sculpture and installations that have brought her art work to national attention. These sculptural creations are densely woven, deeply layered constructions of natural materials. Through observing, collecting and manipulating material from the world around her, Osborne is able to enhance our understanding of both the natural world and the place in which we live. Consistent in all of Osborne’s work is a fascination with the processes of growth and decay, life and death. Her work speaks of the possibility of infinite transformation, yet, also reminds us of the fragility and impermanence of the world and our place within it.

Lyndal Osborne immigrated to Canada from Australia in 1971 and since that time played a fundamental role in the development and growth of the Alberta art community. She is a strong and active presence in Edmonton, but is also an ongoing contributor to the cultural heritage of Alberta. Osborne was instrumental in establishing both the Printmaking Department at the University of Alberta as well as their Print Study Centre, which opened in 1997. Osborne’s work has been featured in numerous group and solo exhibitions at venues such as: The Rooms (St. Johns, Nfld.), Glenbow Museum (Calgary), the Southern Alberta Art Gallery (Lethbridge); the Kelowna Art Gallery and the Kamloops Art Gallery amongst others; and her print work continues to be included in graphic biennales and exhibitions around the world."

[via: https://twitter.com/adriennepancbc/status/442504603251118081 RTed by @1anhaga]
art  artists  lyndalosborne  2014  alberta  edmonton  glvo  sculpture  installations  materials  growth  decay  life  death 
march 2014 by robertogreco
THE SOURCE | Conversations with DOUG AITKEN [Theaster Gates]
[Alternate link for video: http://www.nytimes.com/video/t-magazine/100000002652911/the-source-theaster-gates.html ]

Gates: "I have this great problem of space. When planners use words like blight and, uh, under-developed, it’s like actually what you’re talking about is available land. It’s just like no one’s really thought about it in those terms."

Aitken: "So tell us about this place that we’re in right now."

Gates: "We call this the archive house. It was just a shell of a building and I had 250, maybe 300 boxes of books in a basement. It really is an amalgam of labor over time that I think has made an amazing reading room."

Aitken: "And this kind of extends outside where I see a garden."

Gates: "I’m hoping that some of that willingness to grow things from very little will, will become hallmark to how we do things here on the block."

Aitken: "A lot of your palette and materials really is, you know, stuff that you find around you–these two by fours, this lumber, these bricks, it’s these, uh, trees have just been milled down into bark that you can put in your kiln."

Gates: "Yeah we talk about like how should these materials work? Like should we plane them, should we mill them? Should, should we sand them? And it’s not so much a story about like recycling this or that. But sometimes it’s just about what happens when you really care for the things that are in your life."

Aitken: "And when I see an exhibition of yours, you know, there’s a white wall, it’s a pristine space. It’s a gallery, it’s a museum. It’s very interesting to kind of see the isolation of the minimalism and like see this kind of like maximal landscape become very minimal."

Gates: "As artists, we’re always given the opportunity or we make the opportunity to say what a thing means. So let’s assume that the double cross in the atrium of the MCA is made from the same materials as this building right here. They function very differently in the world. Like say double cross will live in museums my–is my hope.

Gates: "At the same time, 6901, the building across the street where the guts of that building had in fact made double cross, that it gets to live here, a most excellent building that continues to function for our neighborhood. And I love that the same materials could do either work. It could either let you sit down and watch a good film or it, can help you imagine the sacredness."

Aitken: "So I, I want to come back to something else which I’m super curious about–performance."

Gates: "Yeah."

Aitken: "Yeah. Something's brewing inside."

Gates: "So the monks, which is a combination of great jazz musicians, some gospel players, some great classically trained and soul singers mashed up to, to reflect on the history of black music and to also slow that down so that instead of the whole song we would concentrate on a phrase and then in mantra style work it out."

Gates: "So if I’m thinking about clay and I’m making a pot but it–that’s one thing–but if I sang, I was born with clay in my veins, that turns into I was born with clay–you know, and it, and it’s like let’s just stay there. Let’s just stay there, let’s stay there all night, you know?

Gates: "And then I, I look at them, I’m not–I’m not an object. And they do something and it makes me do something else that makes them do something else. That’s a freaking good connection."
theastergates  dougaitken  2014  urbanism  urban  blight  development  space  cities  archives  art  glvo  houses  collections  reuse  recycling  caring  objects  materials  performance  music  jazz  via:soulellis  place  process  patterns  archivehouse 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Beta-Local
"Beta-Local es una organización sin fines de lucro dedicada a apoyar y promover la práctica y el pensamiento estético a través de varios programas:

La Práctica, una programa post-académico centrado el pensamiento estético y la producción artística mediante el cual becarios de diversas disciplinas llevan un proyecto desde conceptualización hasta presentación mediante procesos abiertos y frecuentemente colaborativos.

The Harbor, un programa de residencias artísticas, a través del cual artistas, arquitectos y otros hacedores residen en Beta-Loca y desarrollan proyectos o talleres.

La Ivan Illich, una plataforma mediante la cual cualquier persona puede proponer una clase que puede ofrece o que quiere tomar,

y un nutrido programa público de exhibicions, charlas, Pin-ups (críticas abiertas), muestras, exhibiciones y publicaciones.

Nuestra biblioteca de consulta, La Esquina está abierta al público un día a la semana y por cita."

[video (in English): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXEfZ3rxEck ]

"Beta-Local is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and promoting aesthetic thought and practice through various programs:

La Práctica, a post-academic study and production program, through which Fellows coming from diverse disciplines take a project from concept to production.

The Harbor: a residency program for visiting international artists, architects, designers and other cultural producers. Visitors to Beta-Local, develop projects, workshops and offer lectures on a variety of subjects related to art and other creative disciplines to the general public and to La Práctica Fellows.

La Ivan Illich, an open experimental school through which the participating public suggests, requests and creates courses and workshops.

and a full schedule of public programming which includes exhibitions, lectures, Pin-ups (open critiques), screenings and publications.

We also have a small reference library, La Esquina, focused on art and designopen once a week to the general public."
puertorico  ivanillich  education  art  arts  learning  colearning  via:javierarbona  studios  residencies  lcproject  freeschools  artmaking  materials  society  research  workinginpublic  tonycruz  pabloguardiola  michymaxuach  toolsforconviviality  conviviality  bosqueauxiliar  tooltotool  collaboration  socialpracticeart  walking  politics  beta-local 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Studio XO
"STUDIO XO OPERATES AT THE INTERSECTION OF SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, FASHION & MUSIC.

Seamlessly integrating new technologies & special effects with innovative fashion design to create digital couture experiences.

We develop technologies & products that capture intimate physiological data, revealing emotional interactions."
science  technoilogy  music  fashion  specialeffects  physiology  technology  materials  wearable  studioxo  emotions  wearables 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Workalong: Critical Design / Design Fiction lecture finally written up. (loooooong)
[A very thorough catalog of "design fiction" examples]

"So futures. Design fiction, critical design, speculative design and all that stuff tends to be based in the future, or a futures, or futures. Why? Because it's a fertile playground and fair game. We're open to the suggestion of future images. It's how advertising works. It's evocative, it compounds hopes and fears and it's malleable. Most work isn't about the future, it's about now, but you can explode the now into the future to make it much more visible and understandable.

The archetypal quote. [WILLIAM GIBSON] This is one of the cornerstones of futures work. Somewhere, someone else has your future, and right now, your iPhone is someone else's future.We have to understand there's no kind of absolute rule for 'the' future. There is no 'the' future. There's just a bubbling and propagating mess of technologies and hopes and fears that sometimes arrange themselves into 'a' future.

So this is kind of where you aim at when thinking about the future. This is the futures cone, another one of those tools or symbols that comes up and over and over again. Uncertainty tells us that the future opens up to possibilities. The Google Glass future vision sits in that green preferable part but is unlikely to happen. Where it becomes interesting is exploring some of those wild cards that sit right on the outside. You lend that perspective to people and you can blow their minds. 'Hey there's this new technology and they say it'll do this, but what if it did this instead.'"



"Right, so this is the end and I want to leave you with some questions that I don't have answers to, having seen all of that stuff.

First up, 'Yes, but is it art?' Most of the projects I showed end up in a gallery. They're not sold in shops or made into real products, so how is this not art? There are cleverer people than I that could answer that question. I believe on some fundamental level that it's design because it uses the language of design to try and attract an audience. Because like I said earlier, it rearranges existing phenomena we can understand to give them new meaning and because it's for other people, not for the creator.

Secondly 'What if? ... Then what?' Critical design poses difficult questions and forces us to confront them, but then what? Once we have the questions and we have the provocation how do we deal with it, individually and societally? I don't know, I'm trying to figure that out.

'How do you measure success?' A question that is coming up more and more. You can measure the success of a normal design project by it's kickstarter funding or by units sold, but here we're not selling units or launching startups, we're trying to get people to deal with difficult things so how do you measure if that works? Well, there's a good spread of projects that get a lot of media attention so I guess that's a success, but is it enough?"
tobiasrevell  designfiction  speculativefiction  criticaldesign  design  futurism  2013  fionaraby  hertziantales  robots  superstudio  williamgibson  bigdog  saschapohflepp  goldeninstitute  power  normalcy  venkateshrao  anabjain  superflux  nickfoster  brucesterling  stanleykubrick  childrenofmen  diegetics  diegeticdesign  davidkirby  revitalcohen  prophecyprogram  stanleymilgram  phillippronnenburg  jamesbridle  berg  berglondon  littleprinter  newaesthetic  liamyoung  vincentfournier  josephpopper  larissasansour  peckhamouterspaceinitiative  cristinademiddel  hefinjones  welshspaceprogram  materials  3dprinting  markuskayser  thomasthwaites  toasterproject  jeremyhutchinson  cohenvanbalen  stelarc  choykafai  sputniko  agathahaines  unnaturalhistory  aihasegawa  synthetics  georgetremmel  shihofukuhara  art  canon  davidbenque  geopolitics  yosukeushigome  zoepapadopoulou  stacktivism  julianoliver  dunne&raby  anthonydunne  posthumanism 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Architect Peter Zellner's Tijuana Experiment | San Diego | Artbound | KCET
""I went to Mexico trying to figure out how to work differently," he explains. "What I took back was learning to work on the fly and learning to improvise, not entering the discussion with preconceptions about the right solution, and sometimes not even showing up with -- this sounds horrible -- with finished construction drawings. Often we worked out things in the field, making the drawings on site."

This is how Zellner found himself in the field with the stonemason, sketching out a tile pattern for the marble shower. Details and material selections were more collaborative than up north. "Some days there wasn't a right answer," he continues, describing an almost artisanal process. "The question was: What materials are available today, for instance knowing what sort of marble we can source, how can we cut it? When you are working with people with 40 years of stone working experience, they're not scared to not know the answer that day. They worked it out on the spot. I learned something from that sort of approach.""

Zellner's shift from a professional paradigm toward a more ad hoc approach may seem anachronistic in an era when digital tools are defining the cutting edge of architecture and the act of building a has become almost a conservative byproduct. (He teaches at technological powerhouse SCI-Arc, after all.) A long history of artistic and architectural precedents underscores his philosophy. For instance, ZELLNERPLUS has no physical office -- it's a post-studio practice. The trappings of the professional atelier have been traded in for a laptop and mobile devices. Zellner cites minimalist sculptor Tony Smith, who phoned in his early 1960s sculptures as instructions to fabricators, as one inspiration for applying art world methodology to conventional architecture practice. And the influence of the L.A. School -- Gehry, of course, but also Morphosis, Studioworks, and Fredrick Fischer -- is there. Beginning in the late-seventies, those architects found experimentation in everyday materials combined with new formal expressions and spatial relationships.

"Experimentation now is understood as kind of the byproduct of toying with software and fabrication techniques, but I'm less interested in this rarefied concept," Zellner explains. "Today, the venues for experimentation are galleries and museums, books, the Internet, and the academy. However, my understanding is -- at least as far as subjective experimentation in Los Angeles from Schindler to the Case Study architects to the L.A. School goes -- that experimentation occurred at the bequest of the client and with all of the associated work and responsibilities. So there was the degree of possibility that things could and should go wrong. I think an experimental approach to making architecture has to account for and embrace the possibility of chance."

"At Casa Anaya, Zellner points out where experiments in poured concrete worked, where they didn't, and where a window was moved during construction. It's the language of details, of process, of labor. "I've always believed that architecture was bracketed by certain things -- and this sounds so banal -- a site, planning, context, the culture that you work within, a budget that you have to address." he says. "But in today's culture none of this makes architecture radical , right? That is at best a little short sighted but in the larger picture somewhat tragic. Many architects have abandoned an interest in the things that give architecture is power and relevance."

Zellner's approach is not a radicalization of architecture, but a deviation--an attempt to reactivate quotidian practice. By delving back into building, he questions the very notion of experimentation."

[See also: http://www.laimyours.com/52800/zellnerplus-casa-anaya/
http://archinect.com/firms/project/102848/casa-anaya/79381640
http://instagram.com/p/ZohFjMRvYx/
http://instagram.com/p/ZohBWoxvYo/
http://instagram.com/p/Zog6_8RvYg/ ]
tijuana  mexico  architecture  construction  peterzellner  mimizeiger  practice  2013  design  craft  collaboration  sciarc  experimentation  materials  casaanaya  california  losangeles  learning  flexibility 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Why is it so difficult and expensive to make your own clothes (or have them made)? | Chez Skud
"I’ve gone on for a long time already, but you can see that modern home-made clothing has most of the disadvantages of industrial clothing (poor durability, fiddly to make, externalities) and few of its benefits (capital-intensive economies of scale).

Home-made clothing may never be able to compete with industrial clothing based on cost alone, however if you aren’t able to wear industrial clothing, perhaps because you don’t fit their mass-produced sizes, or you want to opt out of the industrial clothing system for whatever reason, there are ways to make your own clothing (or have it made) that are more cost effective than the modern, quasi-industrial methods that are promoted through mainstream craft publications and retailers (Australia: Spotlight and Lincraft; USA: JoAnn’s and similar). Best of all, these are a mix-and-match set of skills, materials, and practices that you can do at whatever scale or level of investment works for you. You don’t actually have to dress like an 18th century peasant to take advantage of them. (Of course, if you want to, I fully support your life choices.)

This is quite enough rambling for one post, though, so I’ll put them in a followup. Stay tuned."
clothes  sewing  fabrics  glvo  2013  via:debcha  materials  cotton  capitalism  cost  economics  environment  industry  industrialization  polyester  slavery  viscose  clothing 
november 2013 by robertogreco
What Screens Want by Frank Chimero
"We need to work as a community to develop a language of transformation so we can talk to one another. And we probably need to steal these words from places like animation, theater, puppetry, dance, and choreography.

Words matter. They are abstractions, too—an interface to thought and understanding by communication. The words we use mold our perception of our work and the world around us. They become a frame, just like the interfaces we design."



"When I realized that, a little light went off in my head: a map’s biases do service to one need, but distort everything else. Meaning, they misinform and confuse those with different needs.

That’s how I feel about the web these days. We have a map, but it’s not for me. So I am distanced. It feels like things are distorted. I am consistently confused.

See, we have our own abstractions on the web, and they are bigger than the user interfaces of the websites and apps we build. They are the abstractions we use to define the web. The commercial web. The things that have sprung up in the last decade, but gained considerable speed in the past five years.

It’s the business structures and funding models we use to create digital businesses. It’s the pressure to scale, simply because it’s easy to copy bits. It’s the relationships between the people who make the stuff, and the people who use that stuff, and the consistent abandonment of users by entrepreneurs.

It’s the churning and the burning, flipping companies, nickel and diming users with in-app purchases, data lock-in, and designing with dark patterns so that users accidentally do actions against their own self-interest.

Listen: I’m at the end of a 4-month sabbatical, and I worry about this stuff, because the further I get from everything, the more it begins to look toxic. These pernicious elements are the primary map we have of the web right now.

We used to have a map of a frontier that could be anything. The web isn’t young anymore, though. It’s settled. It’s been prospected and picked through. Increasingly, it feels like we decided to pave the wilderness, turn it into a suburb, and build a mall. And I hate this map of the web, because it only describes a fraction of what it is and what’s possible. We’ve taken an opportunity for connection and distorted it to commodify attention. That’s one of the sleaziest things you can do.

So what is the answer? I found this quote by Ted Nelson, the man who invented hypertext. He’s one of the original rebel technologists, so he has a lot of things to say about our current situation. Nelson:
The world is not yet finished, but everyone is behaving as if everything was known. This is not true. In fact, the computer world as we know it is based upon one tradition that has been waddling along for the last fifty years, growing in size and ungainliness, and is essentially defining the way we do everything. My view is that today’s computer world is based on techie misunderstandings of human thought and human life. And the imposition of inappropriate structures throughout the computer is the imposition of inappropriate structures on the things we want to do in the human world.



We can produce a vision of the web that isn’t based on:

consolidation
privatization
power
hierarchies
surveillance

We can make a new map. Or maybe reclaim a map we misplaced a long time ago. One built on:

extensibility
openness
communication
community
wildness

We can use the efficiency and power of interfaces to help people do what they already wish more quickly or enjoyably, and we can build up business structures so that it’s okay for people to put down technology and get on with their life once their job is done. We can rearrange how we think about the tools we build, so that someone putting down your tool doesn’t disprove its utility, but validates its usefulness.



Let me leave you with this: the point of my writing was to ask what screens want. I think that’s a great question, but it is a secondary concern. What screens want needs to match up with what we want.

People believe there’s an essence to the computer, that there’s something true and real and a correct way to do things. But—there is no right way. We get to choose how to aim the technology we build. At least for now, because increasingly, technology feels like something that happens to you instead of something you use. We need to figure out how to stop that, for all of our sakes, before we’re locked in, on rails, and headed toward who knows what.

One of the reasons that I’m so fascinated by screens is because their story is our story. First there was darkness, and then there was light. And then we figured out how to make that light dance. Both stories are about transformations, about change. Screens have flux, and so do we."
frankchimero  2013  screens  flux  build2013  plasticity  jamesburke  plastic  skeoumorphs  containers  materials  change  transitions  perception  flatdesign  windowsphonemetro  ios7  software  replacement  shape  affordances  grain  design  paper  print  eadwardmuybridge  movement  motion  animation  customization  responsivewebdesign  responsiveness  variability  mutability  mutations  ux  interactiondesign  interfaces  language  ethanmarcotte  maps  mapping  representation  cartography  embodiedmeaning  respresentation  tednelson  computersareforpeople  softwareisforpeople  unfinished  responsivedesign 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Lighthouse: IMPROVING REALITY 2013 - FILMS
"HOW ARE ARTISTS, TECHNOLOGISTS & WRITERS SUBVERTING OUR NOTION OF REALITY?

Lighthouse's digital culture conference, Improving Reality, returned for a third year this September. Talks included tours through worlds that artists are growing rather than making, critical revelations of the systems and infrastructures that shape our world, and narratives of radical alternative futures.

We’ve collected together the videos of the days talks, and invite you to join us in the discussion on Twitter and Facebook, or in any way you’d like. Visit the relevant session to watch the videos, and find out more about the themes, issues and ideas up or discussion.

In between sessions were a set of Tiny Talks, interventions from artists and designers involved in Brighton Digital Festival.

Session 1. Revealing Reality
http://lighthouse.org.uk/programme/improving-reality-2013-films-session-one

Social, political and technological infrastructures are the invisible “dark matter” which underlies contemporary life, influencing our environment and behaviour. This session explores how the spaces where we live, such as our cities, are being transformed by increasingly interlinked technological and architectural infrastructures. We will see how artists and designers are making these infrastructures visible, so that we may better understand and critique them.

Speakers: Timo Arnall, Keller Easterling and Frank Swain. Chair: Honor Harger.


Session 2. Re-imagining Reality
http://lighthouse.org.uk/programme/improving-reality-2013-films-session-two

Our increasingly technologised world, with its attendant infrastructures, is in a constant state of flux. This session explores how artists, designers and writers are imagining how our infrastructures may evolve. We will learn what writers might reveal about our infrastructures, using tools such as design fiction. We will go on tours through worlds that artists are growing, rather than making, using new materials like synthetic biology and nanotechnology. And we’ll see how artists are imagining new realities using techniques from futurism and foresight.

Speakers: Paul Graham Raven, Maja Kuzmanovic, Tobias Revell and Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg. Chair: Simon Ings.


Session 3. Reality Check
http://lighthouse.org.uk/programme/improving-reality-2013-films-session-three

The growing reach of technological infrastructures and engineered systems into our lives creates uneasy social and ethical challenges. The recent scandals relating to the NSA, the revelation of the PRISM surveillance programme, and the treatment of whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, have revealed how fundamentally intertwined our civil liberties are with our technological infrastructures. These systems can both enable, and threaten, both our privacy and our security. Ubiquitous networked infrastructures create radical new creative opportunities for a coming generation of makers and users, whilst also presenting us with major social dilemmas. In this session we will look at the social and ethical questions which will shape our technological infrastructures in the future. We will examine algorithmic infrastructures, power dynamics, and ask, “whose reality we are trying to improve”.

Speakers: Farida Vis, Georgina Voss, Paula Le Dieu, and Justin Pickard. Chair: Scott Smith."
timoarnall  kellereasterling  frankswain  honorharger  paulgrahamraven  majakuzmanovic  tobiasrevell  alexandradaisy-ginsberg  simonings  faridavis  georginavoss  paulaledieu  justinpickard  scottsmitt  reality  art  systems  infrastructure  politics  technology  darkmatter  behavior  environment  architecture  2013  flux  change  nanotechnology  syntheticbiology  materials  futurism  ethics  surveillance  nsa  edwardsnowden  bradleymanning  civilliberties  security  privacy  algorithms  networks  ubiquitouscomputing  powerdynamics  towatch 
october 2013 by robertogreco
NIMS + EUPHRATES: To the scientists of the future | PingMag : Art, Design, Life – from Japan
"Our lives are overflowing with “things”. But can you say what the stuff around you right now is actually made of? To be honest, I’m not even sure what material the keyboard I’m typing this on right now is…

All that “material” in our lives. There is a research center in Japan that specializes in just that. It’s called NIMS — the National Institute for Material Science. And if that doesn’t sound fascinating enough on its own, when we learned that NIMS has teamed up with EUPHRATES, the team that created the now legendary children’s TV show ‘PythagoraSwitch’, to create videos for the new NIMS website ‘The Power of Materials’, we were intrigued.

I went to see Katsuyoshi Ueno from NIMS, and Kohji Robert Yamamoto and Masaya Ishikawa from EUPHRATES to find out more."
pingmag  2013  japan  materials  materialscience  euphrates  nims  katsuyoshiueno  kohjirobertyamamoto  masayaishikawa  science  education  video 
october 2013 by robertogreco
4 Walls International
"4 Walls International’s goal is to promote sustainable community development around the globe. We provide clean drinking water, food access, and safe shelter while addressing infrastructure inadequacies, pollution, urban sprawl stressors, and economic growth opportunities, with one solution. These issues are interrelated, mutually enhancing, and require immediate action on all levels. Inspired by the work of green building inventor Michael Reynolds, we are currently focused on bringing the principles of sustainable development to the US-Mexico Border Region, specifically in our home town of San Diego-Tijuana."

[We met one of these guys at Border Field State Park.]
[See also: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2013/oct/07/building-trash-mend-border-environment/ ]
sandiego  tijuana  border  materials  sustainability  stevenwright  waylonmatson 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Cortex: The 3D-Printed Cast After many centuries... |
"After many centuries of splints and cumbersome plaster casts that have been the itchy and smelly bane of millions of children, adults and the aged alike the world over, we at last bring fracture support into the 21st century. The Cortex exoskeletal cast provides a highly technical and trauma zone localized support system that is fully ventilated, super light, shower friendly, hygienic, recyclable and stylish.

The cortex cast utilizes the x-ray and 3d scan of a patient with a fracture and generates a 3d model in relation to the point of fracture."

[Original post: http://jvnk.tumblr.com/post/54129302624/cortex-the-3d-printed-cast-after-many-centuries ]
via:ablerism  casts  medicine  health  materials  3dprinting  brokenbones  2013  technology  edg  jakeevill 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Mary Button Durell
"This body of work uses only tracing paper and wheat paste as material. At first glance these pieces appear to be built onto a rigid wire frame, however, the process is much more organic and the structure is created from my own hand building. Individual cells or cones that comprise most of the pieces are first formed over molds of various shapes and sizes and then joined together using wheat paste cell by cell. Additional layers of paper and paste are then added for strength and reinforcement which creates the net-like structure around the individual cells.

The translucent quality of the tracing paper allows light to play a significant and dynamic role in the work. In combination with the physical structure of the work, this translucent quality creates an interior, as well as exterior, perspective.
In certain light, however, the translucency of the paper appears to have the visual characteristics of more solid materials, such as oyster shell or marble.

Due partially to the inherent physical aspects of these materials, this body of work has evolved, both in process and form, along decidedly organic lines. These shapes have often been described as biomorphic abstractions or shapes resembling cellular membranes, ethereal bodies and the skeletal structures of underwater organisms."
tracingpaper  paper  marybuttondurell  art  artists  sanfrancisco  materials 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Pitch fever | The Australian
"Mainstone's eyes fix on a globule of pitch with a stem stretching 4cm from the bottom of the funnel, at once falling and solid. This is the ninth drop. It hangs like a tonsil, like a fig, like a bell refusing to toll. Suspended in time. Pregnant. Perfectly pendent. Mainstone inspects this drop five times a day. He is the custodian. He has dedicated 52 of his 78 years on Earth to waiting for a single, majestic splashdown an event he estimates will unfold in the space of one-tenth of a second.

Twice he has come agonisingly close, on drops seven and eight in 1988 and 2000, but physics conspired with calamity and the gods of science laughed in his puzzled face. Now he watches the ninth drop like a sentinel, protects it, cherishes it, stares at it through the cabinet glass the way new mums stare through nursery windows. And the world stares with him. Fixed beside the glass dome is a Logitech video camera with a Carl Zeiss lens streaming live footage of the pending ninth drop to internet audiences across the globe."
pitch  science  materials  johnmainstone  via:debcha  pitchdropexperiment  2013 
may 2013 by robertogreco
minimum force, corporeal anticipation |
“For it is Sennett’s contention that “nearly anyone can become a good craftsman” and that “learning to work well enables people to govern themselves and so become good citizens.” This line of thought depends, among other things, upon the Enlightenment assumption that craft abilities are innate and widely distributed, and that, when rightly stimulated and trained, they allow craftsmen to become knowledgeable public persons.

And what is it that such persons know? They know how to negotiate between autonomy and authority (as one must in any workshop); how to work not against resistant forces but with them (as did the engineers who first drilled tunnels beneath the Thames); how to complete their tasks using “minimum force” (as do all chefs who must chop vegetables); how to meet people and things with sympathetic imagination (as does the glassblower whose “corporeal anticipation” lets her stay one step ahead of the molten glass); and above all they know how to play, for it is in play that we find “the origin of the dialogue the craftsman conducts with materials like clay and glass.”

The assumption that craft abilities are widely diffused leads Sennett into a meditation on our love of those intelligence tests by which we supposedly single out the very smart and the very stupid so that some will go to college and others go to bagging groceries. Sennett points out that such sorting ignores the “densely populated middle ground” where most of the population is actually found. Rather than celebrating a “common ground of talents,” we tend to inflate “small differences in degree into large differences in kind” and so legitimate existing systems of privilege. Thinking of the median as the mediocre creates an excuse for neglect. This is one reason, Sennett argues, that “it proves so hard to find charitable contributions to vocational schools” while currently the wealth of the Ivy League schools is compounding at an astounding rate.”

[from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/06/books/review/Hyde-t.html?pagewanted=all ]
crafy  autonomy  craftsmanship  richardsennett  authority  resistance  force  forces  minimumforce  imagination  sympathy  play  materials  making  middleground  talent  talents  privilege  mediocrity  median  vocationalschools  wealth  knowing  knowledge  understanding  enlightenment  sarahendren  citizenship  openstudioproject  glvo  lcproject  cv  corporealanticipation  learning  work  tcsnmy  progressiveeducation  elitism  2008  lewishyde 
march 2013 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: Spacesuit: An Interview with Nicholas de Monchaux
"I was looking for a way to discuss the essential lessons of complexity and emergence—which, even in 2003, were pretty unfamiliar words in the context of design—and I hit upon this research on the spacesuit as the one thing I’d done that could encapsulate the potential lessons of those ideas, both for scientists and for designers. The book really was a melding of these two things."

"But then the actual spacesuit—this 21-layered messy assemblage made by a bra company, using hand-stitched couture techniques—is kind of an anti-hero. It’s much more embarrassing, of course—it’s made by people who make women’s underwear—but, then, it’s also much more urbane. It’s a complex, multilayered assemblage that actually recapitulates the messy logic of our own bodies, rather than present us with the singular ideal of a cyborg or the hard, one-piece, military-industrial suits against which the Playtex suit was always competing.

The spacesuit, in the end, is an object that crystallizes a lot of ideas about who we are and what the nature of the human body may be—but, then, crucially, it’s also an object in which many centuries of ideas about the relationship of our bodies to technology are reflected."

"The same individuals and organizations who were presuming to engineer the internal climate of the body and create the figure of the cyborg were the same institutions who, in the same context of the 1960s, were proposing major efforts in climate-modification.

Embedded in both of those ideas is the notion that we can reduce a complex, emergent system—whether it’s the body or the planet or something closer to the scale of the city—to a series of cybernetically inflected inputs, outputs, and controls. As Edward Teller remarked in the context of his own climate-engineering proposals, “to give the earth a thermostat.”"

"most attempts to cybernetically optimize urban systems were spectacular failures, from which very few lessons seem to have been learned"

"architecture can be informed by technology and, at the same time, avoid what I view as the dead-end of an algorithmically inflected formalism from which many of the, to my mind, less convincing examples of contemporary practice have emerged"

"connections…between the early writing of Jane Jacobs…and the early research done in the 1950s and 60s on complexity and emergence under the aegis of the Rockefeller Foundation"

"Geoffrey West and Luis Bettencourt—who have gone a long way in showing that, not only should cities be viewed through the analogical lens of complex natural systems, but, in fact, some of the mathematics—in particular, to do with scaling laws, the consumption of resources, and the production of innovation by cities—proves itself far more susceptible to analyses that have come out of biology than, say, conventional economics."
militaryindustrialcomplex  tools  cad  gis  luisbettencourt  janejacobs  meatropolis  manhattan  meat  property  fakestates  alancolquhoun  lizdiller  cyberneticurbanism  glenswanson  parametricarchitecture  parametricurbanism  interstitialspaces  urbanism  urban  bernardshriever  simonramo  neilsheehan  jayforrester  housing  hud  huberthumphrey  vitruvius  naca  smartcities  nyc  joeflood  husseinchalayan  cushicle  michaelwebb  spacerace  buildings  scuba  diving  1960s  fantasticvoyage  adromedastrain  quarantine  systemsthinking  matta-clark  edwardteller  climatecontrol  earth  exploration  spacetravel  terraforming  humanbody  bodies  cyborgs  travel  mongolfier  wileypost  management  planning  robertmoses  cybernetics  materials  fabric  2003  stewartbrand  jamescrick  apollo  complexitytheory  complexity  studioone  geoffreywest  cities  research  clothing  glvo  wearables  christiandior  playtex  interviews  technology  history  design  science  fashion  nasa  books  spacesuits  architecture  space  bldgblog  geoffmanaugh  2012  nicholasdemonchaux  wearable  elizabethdiller  interstitial  bod 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Honor and Folly
"A small-scale, design-focused Detroit inn, Honor & Folly is reminiscent of the way folks used to travel: a few beds above the village pub or restaurant with a hearty breakfast. You'll be immersed in the oldest neighborhood of Detroit - smack in the middle of one of the most thriving blocks in the city. You'll sit next to locals at the bar downstairs—or the coffee shop—and learn about the city from people who live here. Detroiters are a pretty friendly lot.

There's plenty to absorb inside, too. Decorated with Detroit and Midwest-made goods (much of which is also for sale), the space tells a story about the designers, artists and artisans who helped bring it to life."
history  interiors  materials  travel  lcproject  honorandfolley  openstudioproject  glvo  srg  detroit  lodging  hotels  cafes  via:robinsloan  b&b 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Toolkit for Today | Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA)
"Toolkit for Today: Concepts for Contemporary Architecture"

"Concepts can become powerful tools to analyze reality and to develop new practices, confronted with the necessities of the contemporary world. In the notorious juxtaposition between the “bricoleur” and the “engineer”, developed by Claude Lévi-Strauss, the first uses a limited number of tools and materials to perform multiple tasks, reassembling things together in creative ways, while the second invents specific tools for the solution of each new problem that arises.

The objective of the first CCA summer school for graduate students is to critically read a series of concepts developed by theorists and designers to understand their potential as tools for reflection, for the development of new strategies and for the creation of novel assemblages within contemporary architecture and urbanism."
edwardsoja  mohsenmostafavi  reinholdmartin  nancylevinson  momoyokaijima  davidgissen  stanallen  renatasentkiewicz  iñakiábalos  urban  urbanism  toolsforreflection  reflection  reassembly  materials  toolkits  2012  assemblage  toolmaking  tools  engineering  design  cca  toread  books  architecture  claudelevi-strauss  bricoleur  bricolage 
july 2012 by robertogreco
PIXELWHORE.com » Distort Windows
"One-half of an installation that marked the conclusion of Wes McGee and Cathlyn Newell’s Research Through Making grant Glass Cast, Distort Windows explores a number of topics inherent in the warm glass slumping process. The design process and its tools, including an custom fabricated reconfigurable slumping kiln, are as significant to the work as the resultant glass components.

The collaboration brought together a combination of complementary skills that allowed the team to fully integrate design computation, custom manufacturing and artistic intent into a single, coherent workflow. My involvement with the project dealt primarily with the development of the hardware and software components of that workflow."
howwework  make  stebsschinnerer  grasshopper  2012  brandonclifford  lucyolechowski  aaronwillette  matterstudiodesign  alibistudio  wesmcgee  glasscast  making  reasearchthroughmaking  cathlynnewell  materials  collaboration  process  art  glass  via:julianbleecker 
june 2012 by robertogreco
Phil Ross | The Biotechnique of Phil Ross
"My art is driven by a life-long interest in biology. While I was terrible in high-school science and math my education about the life sciences emerged from a wide engagement with materials and practices. Through my work as a chef I began to understand biochemistry and laboratory methods; as a hospice caregiver I worked with life support technologies and environmental controls; and through my interest in wild mushrooms I learned about taxonomies, forest ecology and husbandry.

The creative projects I work on take a variety of forms, though all are based on research, experimentation and long term planning. Recent work has included some videos about live cultures, experiments with growing fungal building materials, and founding and directing CRITTER- a salon for the natural sciences. These diverse projects stem from my fascination with the interrelationships between human beings, technology and the greater living environment."
sanfrancisco  naturalsciences  biochemistry  materials  lifescience  mushrooms  plants  environment  technology  design  artists  sculpture  via:laurenpopp  philross  nature  art 
may 2012 by robertogreco
(Post)Material - Q&A
"(Post)Material is a three-day event that proposes questions and answers for contemporary design practice operating across the wildly varying dynamics of atoms, bits and ideas. Curated by Q&A;, a joint effort between four Helsinki-based design and research studios, and facilitated by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, the event brings together an assemblage of practitioners and academics in a daily talk show at WantedDesign, The Tunnel (11th ave b/w 27th & 28th) on May 19–21, 2.30 pm–4.00 pm every day.

“We tend to talk of the ‘information age’ without realizing that the future is as much about energy and materials as it is about information,” postulated Manuel De Landa in 1994. From design’s perspective, could this historical point in time—a resource-hungry industrial epoch rapidly nearing its expiry date—be defined as the ‘(post)material’ age?"
kokoro&moi  (Post)Material  materials  sustainability  information  volume  clog  teemusuviala  kylemay  roryhyde  okdo  jennasutela  kivisotamaa  cmmnwlth  zoecoombes  seungholee  dong-pingwong  colleenmacklin  finland  sitra  bryanboyer  prototo  marttikalliala  wevolve  villetikka  manueldelanda  designthinking  design  energy  postmaterial  nyc  2012  events  q&a 
may 2012 by robertogreco
More thoughts on writing and making | Design Culture Lab
"Unstable. Shifty. Unreliable.

Yes please!

I love that people and our words are all those things. As I replied to Peter, and would say to Matt, I prefer the sense of potential that comes from this kind of material and making.

It’s less prescriptive. Less efficient. Less technological. Less machinic.

More space to become something, someone else."

"I don’t mean to romanticise words and writing. And I don’t mean to suggest they are divorced from technology or machines or even code.

By identifying what is included in our definitions of making or Making–and asking what is excluded–we might, as Ben Highmore writes in the introduction to The Everyday Life Reader, be able to “find new commonalities and breathe new life into old differences.”

And I’m pretty sure there’s lots more to be thought and said about what gets made, how, when and where it gets made, and by whom it gets made."

[Follow-up to: http://www.designculturelab.org/2012/02/26/hi-my-name-is-anne-i-make-stuff-with-words/ ]
materials  technology  craft  text  benhighmore  everydaylife  patrickness  robertcreeley  poetry  jwarton  peterrichardson  mattjones  makerculture  makers  making  writing  2012 
march 2012 by robertogreco
Hi. My name is Anne. I make stuff with words. | Design Culture Lab
"I’m interested in words as materials for making, and in the written word as an artefact or thing that has been made. I’m also interested in why words (or the written word as distinguished from books) are generally not considered part of “Maker culture.”

Barry’s point was that Maker culture is specifically concerned with hardware, and since I think this definition is generally accepted then words-as-materials have no place there. If Making is about problem-solving, then creative writing has no place there either."

"So, does this mean that if the primary goal of (creative) writing is expression, the only way it can be incorporated into Maker culture is to use words explicitly for problem-solving, or the production of (cultural) solutions? How, exactly, does that differ from aesthetic goals–and especially if we do not distinguish between aesthetics and ethics?"

[Follow-up post here: http://www.designculturelab.org/2012/03/01/more-thoughts-on-writing-and-making/ ]
2012  peterrichardson  knowledge  discourse  glenfuller  kiostark  erinkissane  giovannitiso  tomhenderson  sallyapplin  design  materials  makerculture  makers  making  expression  comments  wordsmithing  writing  annegalloway  ethics  aesthetics  digitalsertão  expandingtext  stackingwords  telescopictext 
march 2012 by robertogreco
Chinese Architect Wang Shu Wins The Pritzker Prize : NPR
"For the first time, the Pritzker Architecture Prize has been awarded to an architect based in China. Wang Shu, 49, is interested in preservation, working slowly and tradition — ideals that sometimes seem forgotten in today's booming China. Wang says in the 1990s he had to get away from China's architectural "system" of demolition, megastructures and get-rich-quick — so he spent the decade working with common craftspeople building simple constructions.

"I go out of system," Wang says, "Because, finally I think, this system is too strong."



"Handicraft is important, and Wang says he doesn't like "professionalized soulless architecture as practiced today." He says he works more like a traditional Chinese painter. When he accepts a commission, he studies the city, the valley and the mountains. Then he goes home and thinks about it for about a week, without drawing. He says he drinks tea every day to stay calm, so his architecture doesn't become too strong and overwhelm the landscape."
informal  purpose  values  luwenyu  hangzhou  meaning  tradition  reuse  materials  simplicity  slow  cv  heroes  china  amateurarchitecturestudio  amateur  handicraft  craft  preservation  design  architecture  2012  pritzker  wangshu  craftsmanship 
february 2012 by robertogreco
russell davies: again with the post digital
"And then, this morning, when struggling to think of a good ending to this, I heard a brilliant talk by George Dyson – describing the early history of computing unearthed from correspondence between Turing and Von Neumann. And I thought I heard him cite this quote from Turing. I wasn’t quite fast enough with my pen to be 100% sure and I can’t find it on Google, but I think this is what he said. And, if it is, it’s exactly what I mean and we can leave it at that. What I think he said is this: “being digital should be more interesting than just being electronic”. I’m sure that meant something slightly different in the middle of the last century but the words are useful and simple now, they’ll do for me as a tiny rallying cry; being digital should be more interesting than just being electronic."
russelldavies  2011  alanturing  georgedyson  andyhuntington  papernet  internetofthings  brucesterling  mattjones  screenfatigue  newspaperclub  boredom  materials  physical  digital  embodiment  embodieddata  spimes  post-digital  iot 
november 2011 by robertogreco
A Geologic Evening in the Geologic City « FOP
"The bookmark reframes the NYC MetroCard through its geologic constitution. The MetroCard’s “intelligence” pre-dates the Earth. Tiny iron bars within the card’s magnetic strip are arranged to point up or down, storing transit data (when a card was purchased, how many rides remain etc.). The MetroCard’s iron was born of supernovae, billions of years ago. Ironically, the geologic intelligence of this material, traveling through incomprehensible spans of time  and distance, is what facilitates passage into and throughout New York City’s subways today. Yet, hydrocarbons that have been brewing since periods such as the Devonian and Permian are what fuel the production and compose the substance of the plastic of the card itself.  With each MetroCard swipe, Pre-Earthian iron, transformed primordial life forms that arrive to us as crude oil, and Anthropocene plastic, assemble intimately to become a tool of urban transit."
smudgestudio  geologiccity  nyc  metrocard  fop  friendsofthepleistocene  geology  urban  earth  history  time  perspective  longonow  bighere  materials  brooklyn  bookmarks 
november 2011 by robertogreco
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