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27
Jul

To the North! — A. Gavin Zeitz MLA ’18

Hello friends, I have settled into the small coastal city of Reykjavik (ray-k-ya-vik) in the southwest of Iceland. I have ventured to this small Northern country to work with JONAA (https://jonaa.org/) furthering cross-disciplinary collaboration surrounding the Arctic and North Atlantic environments and cultures. I’m interested in the various ways that our northern landscapes are currently being altered by new climate regimes and how culture will adapt or respond to new normals. This includes exploring the various ways tourism has affected Iceland or how new industrial activities may begin in Greenland, or mapping the various stakeholders who contribute to JONAA’s news platform, as well as many other areas of Arctic research. 

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Arctic Jewels JONAA©

The first things you notice in the “summer” here is the extra long days which do a number on your perception of time. My flight from Boston to Iceland was a redeye, but since I was flying East the sun was in a state of perpetual sunrise as I approached morning in the Iceland. My first night in town I explored this phenomenon walking along the harbor. According to the weather app the last light of the night was set to disappear at 00:00 (midnight, military time is standard over here) and the first light would arise at 00:04. You might think this means 4 minutes of darkness, but in actuality it is still quite bright and kind of feels more like early evening until it suddenly becomes early morning. This definitely took some adjusting to, fortunately each night the length of darkness increases though I have yet to see a fully dark night.

My first meeting with the folks at JONAA was very nice Audur, Hlin, and Vilborg are the three women who operate the company in Reykjavik. The rest of the JONAA’S authors, contributors, and members are spread out throughout Northern Europe, Canada, Greenland, and the USA (Maine and Alaska). This nomadic organization of contributors defines their scope and attitude towards the Arctic as region deeply connected to the rest of the world. It was a pleasant meeting as we had a lot of interests in common and had similar thoughts about how to improve the website’s offerings. My primary interest in JONAA from the start was the way they defined what was the “Arctic”. JONAA (Journal of the North Atlantic and Arctic) broadens their scope of the region to include nations and cultures that may lie outside of Arctic Circle but still influence and are influenced by the Arctic. I thought the most interesting way to show this would be to create an interactive map locating where all of the 65 or so articles take place (some are regional and some are site specific). They were fully on board for this. My task was then to compile a database that listed all of the articles that have been published so far and link those to longitudes and latitudes. The idea for the map will allow for on the ground visuals to be paired with a location on the globe and the article which describes more in depths the issues. The next steps after the completion of the database will be to figure out how to translate this into a web friendly map that can easily be embedded into JONAA’s website and updated as new articles are published.

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Aside from work with JONAA I have been able to explore some really beautiful nature areas such as Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet (this is the only place in the world where this rift happens above sea level. I also was able to go on a long drive up the east coast on the Ring Road to see the Jökulsárlón Glacier which is the largest in Europe. Here the receding glacier deposits house sized icebergs into a large lagoon where they float around in their ghostly and luminous blue tones until they eventually melt or are carried out to sea. It has surely been a wildly new place to explore and there is something about Iceland that makes you so aware of time at both geologic scales as well as the everyday human scale. Look forward to sharing more soon 🙂 GZ

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon

Jökulsárlón Lagoon

Jökulsárlón Lagoon

25
Jul

Bobby Joe Smith III, Graphic Design MFA 2020 – Part 2: Rome

Part 2: Rome — Artistic Practice in Space
July 19th, 2018
Bobby Joe Smith III
Graphic Design MFA 2020

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My Maharam Fellowship is divided into two parts. The first part took place in Standing Rock, North Dakota, away from the SaveMoneySaveLife foundation in Chicago, but deeply embedded in one of the communities SMSL looks to serve. I spent my time there conducting research and gathering visual information for my main project, which is to develop a brand that can speak to both Black and Native communities, all while handling various day to day design tasks. The second part of my fellowship takes place in Chicago, a city with which I am almost completely unfamiliar. Between those two segments of my fellowship, I took part in an artist residency in Rome concerned with creating work in public space. The summer residency in Rome isn’t officially a part of my Maharam fellowship, but the practice of navigating a public space, processing that experience, and creating something new from it is entirely related to my fellowship project and to the act of branding an organization in general. Experiencing the culture of SaveMoneySaveLife, how it operates, its history and its hopes for the future, as well as its people, then processing that experience to create a visual identity that authentically reflects the organization is what I hope to do over the remainder of the summer. There’s probably no one way to do this, but the three weeks I spent in Rome will at least give me a framework for unpacking Chicago and the SaveMoneySaveLife organization.

25
Jul

Bobby Joe Smtih III, Graphic Design MFA 2020 – Part 1: Standing Rock

Part 1: Standing Rock
Bobby Joe Smtih III
Graphic Design MFA 2020

Designing a visual identity is challenging. Designing something that has personal meaning to you is harder still, although ultimately more rewarding. There is a sense of ownership over the material that can make it difficult to create enough space to make critical decisions and prevent a desire for perfection from getting in the way of completion. The mission and background of the SaveMoneySaveLife foundation, which is building programs that will help Black and Native American communities, particularly connect with me as a Black and Native American designer. Begining the first leg of the Maharam Fellowship with my tribe back on the Standing Rock reservation in Fort Yates North Dakota reminded me of why I am doing this, to do my best, and also to give myself permission to have fun and make mistakes.

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At different points in my life, Ft. Yates has been home to me. Even though SaveMoneySaveLife’s office is in Chicago, one of the founders, Laundi Keepseagle, shares this home with me. It was therefore important for me to re-immerse myself in this community before heading to Chicago, the home of the other founder. The South and West sides of Chicago may seem like entirely different worlds than the rolling prairie hills of Standing Rock North Dakota. It will be my job as a designer to find the commonalities and while celebrating the unique character and complex culture and history of both places.

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I haven’t been to Standing Rock since I decided to become a graphic designer. It was interesting exploring a place that had twice been home to me with this new lens. I spent a lot of time walking about, taking photos, and observing the professional and vernacular design of the reservation. I looked at everything from road signs, tombstones, brochures, quilts, and traditional and contemporary beading. I found the graphic t-shirts that people wore marking powwow celebrations or Native humor to be particularly interesting.

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I scoured through the library of the local Tribal College—Sitting Bull College—for books on winter counts, modern Native art, and traditional Native architecture. I made friends with the librarian Mark, who gave me leads on where I could find high-resolution images of my tribe, maps, historical documents, and sound files. Mark also plays an interesting role as curator, and recently installed an exhibit on protest posters, photos, and artifacts from the NoDAPL movement which took place two years ago about a mile North from Standing Rock. I also got a tour of the Standing Rock visitor’s center. The woman who runs the center has a wealth of knowledge about the community and surrounding area, and also runs public art workshops and helps connect art buyers with local artists. The program she has built is truly inspiring and a reminder of the talent and power within our communities.

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The three weeks I was in Standing Rock I wanted to expose myself as much as possible to the visual language of my tribe—anything that could be used as potential inspiration while designing a visual identity for SMSL. I had some ideas of what to look for, but also kept myself open to being inspired by unexpected sources. It was important for me to acquire culturally specific graphic information—designs, symbols, colors that were specific to my tribe and region—as opposed to appropriating designs from other tribes or resorting to pan-Indian symbols. Being with the people, getting to feel the place’s rhythm and vibe, all of that which is a part of me will be channeled into my design work for the fellowship.

25
Jul

Bricks Made of Fungi! | Javier Syquia | BFA Graphic Design & BA Chemistry 2021

We did it – we made a brick completely out of fungal mycelia and disposed wood chips!

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The process to get produce such a brick is actually doable for most individuals at home! Though, it took me and a few other members of my team quite a while to figure out… Here’s how we did it:

First, we started with growing plates of mycelium on Potato Dextrose Yeast Agar, or PDYA. This particular mushroom is Ganoderma; we cut a small piece of it from a fully grown mushroom, and plated it on the PDYA to start the mycelium growth. After about 5 days, the whole plate of PDYA should be covered in this white, fluffy material which is the fungal mycelia. This acts as the “roots” of fungi that gather all the necessary nutrients for growth. If the mycelia were then provided with enough nutrients and access to oxygen, the fungus will actually begin to form the fruiting bodies of mushrooms that we are all familiar with.

Though, the mycelia can grow on most things found in a household kitchen, such as used coffee grounds, cooked rice, flour, quinoa, etc.

Next, the mycelia on the plates are chopped up, and placed in a plastic bag with wood chips, some flour (to give the mycelia more nutrients to grow), and some water.

Below are four bags of the fungi with the wood chips on Day 1 of growth.

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These bags are then kept in a dark area for 5 days to grow. After 5 days, the wood chips should be covered with the white, fluffy, mycelia.

We now have our foundation for making new materials! This is then mixed a bit more, and more flour is added to allow the mycelia to grow even more thus strengthening the material. After being placed in molds, we let the mycelia grow for 5 more days. After this, the wood chips should be completely covered in the mycelium, and the material is now baked at 100 degrees celcius to effectively kill the fungus, and to strengthen the material. If the material is not baked and the mycelium is still alive, the bricks may actually begin creating fruiting bodies of mushrooms, which happened with one of our bricks that was exposed with enough oxygen. Though unintentional, this provides insight into the potential of growing edible mushrooms from of walls… wild!

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We also grew the mycelium in some old cardboard boxes, as the mycelium is able to eat through cardboard and effectively become the shape of the box itself.

The white material on the outside of the cardboard box and on the inside of its lid is the mycelium eating the cardboard. If this were left for about a month to grow, it would completely consume the cardboard and take its form. This shows great potential for using old, discarded wood chips and cardboard boxes to create a material that is as strong as wood.

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Now that we have successfully grown this material out of fungus into something that can essentially take the form of any mold that we create, our team’s next goal is to propose how this can actually be implemented on Mars as a habitat for humans.

We are currently exploring the use of cyanobacteria (which is essentially algae) to feed the fungi, and provide it with the necessary Oxygen. This would eliminate the need for taking wood chips to Mars as the habitat itself grows.

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I’m thrilled to see how this project continues to grow, and to explore how NASA may implement this self-growing material on Mars.

Lastly; this is a graphic I made for our team inspired by Mycelium growth! Looking forward to talk more about what it’s like to design within the STEM field for my next post. Till next time~

Header-Myco-Large

24
Jul

Loving Philly! Kalina Winters BFA Painting 2018

This project has been a balancing act for sure. Everything is dependent on me and getting as many things done as possible, as quickly as possible just to make this happen on time. For example I just hired a graphic design graduate from my class, Mei Lenehan, to design the posters for the event. I had to have all the information solidified before she could even start working. But to have all the info just 1 month after I started is very difficult! This problem comes with added stress since one of the artists on the panel also is VERY eager to send out the poster for her email news letter. Poster now underway, venue tentative, but still shopping around.

I keep reminding myself event planners and curators need practice too!

Had a FaceTime with the third artist on the panel that I decided on; Kay Healy. SHES SO COOL and right now in Sweden for a residency! She gave me really good advice also for where to look for future funding as an artist in Philly. this is her:

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She’s in front of her work… isn’t she adorable?! ❤

24
Jul

Bushwick Pride, K. Sarrantonio, MFA 2018, Printmaking

We had a busy week at the Queens office of Make the Road last week as we prepared for two big printing days, one the following week with the Youth Power Project and one on the Weekend with the graduating students of the Adult Leadership School and community members and members of the public at Bushwick Pride.

I began the week by preparing the drawings from the youth and adults, 10 in total, in Photoshop, this meant turning grey pencil marks into bold black lines. When they were finished I had them printed on acetate at a nearby copy store. Next I stretched ten silkscreens, starting with the wooden frames I cut pieces of mesh to fit each one and pulled it taught as I stapled it to the frames. Next I coated the screens with photoemulsion and placed them in a dark area of the basement to dry. Once the screens were dry, Perla, one of the YPP leaders, and I placed the images one by one on the light table I built last summer each with a screen on top and exposed the image to the screen for 6 minutes. The screens were then gently washed with a hand pump sprayer into a large rubber washtub that we later bailed out to the office toilets upstairs.

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The homemade exposure unit in the crowded basement

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freshly washed screen in the basement

I spent the next day preparing patches and posters to print on. Before the weekend we moved the screens, inks, rags, spray bottles, masking tape, paint cups, paint stirrers, squeegees, hinge clamps, blank posters and patches etc from the Queens office to the Bushwick office. On Saturday I arrived at 11am for the Bushwick pride march for Queer liberation and anti-gentrification. After the march was the block party where from 2pm-5pm we printed for free with the public. We made hundreds of prints on shirts, posters and patches.

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Clean up was a mess but everyone went home happy and covered in ink.

23
Jul

From Istanbul to Bekaa | Sara Naja | MArch ’19

Having completed the first part of my internship in Istanbul, leaving was bittersweet. I was eager to get to Beirut and start the second phase, but I had gotten accustomed to being in Turkey. I will be back in Istanbul in a couple of weeks though. I have gotten used to the people in Turkey and getting around not on the subway as it still confuses me. I did some more sightseeing and visited the Grand Bazaar that contains shops of all kinds from clothes to furniture to souvenirs. Part of it is the Spice Market famous for its various teas, herbs, and spices and filled with Arabs. The shopkeepers are persistent and try to convince you to buy from their stores. I could not stop too long at a shop and browse through before walking away to avoid someone attempting to convince me to buy. Moreover, I also walked along the Bosphorus that is always overcrowded with people taking walks, fishing, eating, and all sorts of activities.

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As for Karam House, the modifications on the building in Istanbul began last week and have been going strong. After meeting with contractors, suppliers, and potential mentors, a contractor was hired to oversee the modifications. In addition to that, a mentor was hired who also an architect and helping out with designs and planning. We are working together on finalizing details for the modifications as well as custom items that need to be designed. Moreover, we have collaborated on educational details such as potential studio topics. Topics are in the process of being brainstormed and assessed from playground design to prosthetic design to robotics.

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Arriving in Beirut, I could see the familiar skyline of my hometown from the small airplane window. I have been here for about a week and have continued working on Karam House Istanbul. It has been a hectic week in terms of keeping up with Turkey and starting the new project here. A playground for refugee kids living in camps in the Bekaa valley is nearing completion. There are discussions concerning another playground for the kids in Lebanon as well as one in Turkey. I have been meeting with the local team and visiting the existing playground to assess it through casual conversations with children. It takes some prep for the children to get comfortable enough to talk to someone they do not know. Moreover, the weather is very hot and humid currently in Lebanon and not as much children are playing outside during the day. Some children are in school as well, but unfortunately a lot of them do not attend school and work to help support their families. It is saddening to see children so young being forced to work and living in such bad condition. The playground acts as a space for them to be children and act their age.

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The circumstances of refugees in Turkey are different than those in Lebanon as living conditions are worse in Lebanon. Refugee camps are rare in Turkey, but very common in Lebanon mainly in the Bekaa area due to the higher living expenses in Lebanon. This affects the refugee culture as a whole making them feel more displaced in Lebanon without really fitting in the country and seeing it as their new home. It has been enlightening to use my skills as an architect in such diverse ways especially socially. My experience has been going smooth and very eye opening to the severe problems the Syrian was has caused. Reading about refugees and even watching the news does not compare to seeing firsthand the so called lives they are living now.

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17
Jul

An Ageing Land of the Long White Cloud | Jiguang Shen | BFA Photography 2019

Kia ora koutou katoa! This weekend marks the end of my first three weeks back in New Zealand working with Age Concern New Zealand. It’s been a fantastic start to my fellowship so far and I’ve barely had a moment of respite as I travel across to New Zealand to meet, interview and photograph Kiwis (a nickname for New Zealanders) across the country.

In the first week I travelled to New Zealand’s capital Wellington to meet with the entire Age Concern New Zealand national team and learned about the challenges facing older New Zealanders. It was an eye-opening experience as I spoke to each of the team about how loneliness and elder abuse were two of the biggest problems that government policy makers and support systems couldn’t directly address. New Zealanders can lose their independence as they get older and as a result their ability to travel to meet and socialize with their friends and family can be extremely diminished. This can especially be the case in smaller towns and rural areas where public transport and/or taxi services are limited.

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One of the wonderful participants Shirley Arbuckle-Hart from New Zealand’s Kapiti Coast with her dog Aimee

To address this Age Concern New Zealand offers an Accredited Visiting Service where vetted volunteers from the community are paired with older Kiwis that would like more social contact. The regular weekly visits mean that those participating can have more social engagement and be more connected to the communities that they live in. While this may be something that many of us take for granted, social connection is vitally important for human beings and it can be distressing if you aren’t able to get regular social engagement.

Elder Abuse and Neglect is another issue that is so often under reported and left undiscussed by our society. Both loneliness and elder abuse is a global problem and New Zealand is no different. Age Concern receives over 2,200 referrals of elder abuse each year and many more are estimated to go unreported as many of the abusers can be close family members. It’s a complicated and important issue and only more discussion and public awareness will lead to a reduction of elder abuse cases.

In the second week is when I began to gain some momentum in finding Kiwis over sixty-five that were happy to be interviewed and photographed as part of my investigation into aging in New Zealand. I was able to meet Shirley Arbuckle-Hart and Peter Ward from the Kapiti Coast and it was fantastic to hear about their lives and the rich stories that they all had to share. They were both great sports in letting me take their portraits.

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Another fantastic  participant Peter Ward jamming away from New Zealand’s Kapiti Coast

At this stage I have begun my sessions by first conducting recorded interviews about each participants lives, where I ask them to recount the rich memories and stories they all have. These interviews will go towards supporting the images I make and give each participant a literal voice and platform to contextualize the images of themselves and tell their stories. Once I get to find out more about them and they can in turn find out more about me, I work with each one to have as much participation as possible in creating what I like to call non-candid portraits. These portraits are where each individual will decide what they will be wearing, where they will be photographed, what and whom they might be photographed with in an effort to bring more of their individual personality and identity into the image. I guess in a nod to the history of portraiture before the advent of photojournalism and the unblinking candid style of documentary spurned on by that period, I hoped that a viewer might be able to use these signifiers such as location, costume and objects to learn more about the person behind the photograph.

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A little behind the scenes look through the viewfinder of my Twin Lens Reflex camera that I’m using for the fellowship

In the subsequent visits to see each of the individuals I hope that I will be able to not only create these non-candid portraits but to also follow each of them as they live their lives to capture the more candid moments in their lives. I hope that through the combination of interview, portraiture and candid photography I will be able to better represent these Kiwis over 65 with their unique stories. After a great start I am looking forward to meeting more amazing New Zealanders and I’m off across the Cook Straight to the South Island’s, Nelson next week!

17
Jul

Growing Habitats on Mars | Javier Syquia | BFA Graphic Design & BA Chemistry 2021

It has been about 4 weeks into my internship experience here at the NASA Ames Research Center, and I can happily say that I am enjoying being a part of such an inspirational and thought provoking community! It has been extremely interesting seeing how my background as a Graphic Designer is influencing the ways I approach the research that I have been doing with my fellow team, comprised of Stanford University, Brown University, and Brown|RISD Dual Degree students.

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The Stanford-Brown-RISD Team!

Though the research we are doing is taking place and being funded by NASA Ames, located in Mountain View, CA, all our findings are also going to be presented at the international iGEM Jamboree, taking place this upcoming October. iGEM was started by MIT in the goal of forwarding the field of bioengineering, while promoting collaboration between students at the High School, Undergraduate, and Graduate levels. Teams are encouraged to take their projects into whatever form they’d like, so long as they contribute to iGEM’s Registry of “BioBricks”, which are essentially building blocks for synthetic biology that, for example, allow engineered bacteria to act in ways that scientists want them to.

This year, the Stanford-Brown-RISD iGEM Team, that I am a part of, is focusing on how to build a habitat for humans on Mars. For many years, it has been one of NASA’s goals to bring humans to Mars to continue growing our knowledge of Space. One of the largest hurdles that NASA has come to, however, is the enormous expense that is required of space travel – it cost NASA about $2.78 Million USD per kilogram to send the Curiosity Rover to Mars. This same issue will rise if NASA wants to send humans to Mars, as it would require bringing a large, already built human habitat. But what if NASA did not have to send this habitat to Mars? What if it could be built –– or grown –– on site? Our iGEM Team proposes that through the use of fungal mycelia (the vegetative part of fungi that is analogous to the root system of most plants), a small amount of mycelia spores can be sent within a mold to be grown on-site, thus reducing the cost of space travel.

The use of mycelium to create material is nothing new – it has been done successfully by several researchers and designers. A noteworthy designer that I had the honor of meeting – Phil Ross, founder of Mycoworks – actually developed a form of mycelium that is similar to leather, and is being used to create high fashion items. Ross spoke to me and my team a lot about the hurdles he went through in order to develop this new kind of material, as well as the fact that he even developed materials that were as strong as wood and concrete. There are several other companies and labs that focus on such work, such as Ecovative, that have shown that mycelium can be used to replace materials such as styrofoam, wood, bricks, cement, and more, thus offering a biodegradable and sustainable alternative.

 

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Materials produced by Mycoworks while researching the material capabilities of fungal mycelium.

Though, our iGEM team wants to utilize this increasingly popular material specifically on Mars. Our team is exploring how to use our expertise in Bioengineering to push the boundaries of how mycelium is grown and used. To better explain how our project is taking shape, below is a poster I made that we have been using for some showcases that our team has been a part of.

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The project still has several places that it may go, but I am excited to see how it is really taking shape after working closely with other students in the bioengineering field. What particularly excites me about this project is how much it relies on design – how will this habitat look? What is the best mechanism to get mycelium spores to grow into an actual habitat? How can the strength of this material be tested? How will this material hold in a completely different environment? The design opportunities are endless, and its intertwined relationship with biology and engineering are inspiring me to look at different ways that science and design may intermingle.

Below are a few images of the mycelium being grown on different media. We have found that though it is easier to track growth on PDYA plates (Potato Dextrose Yeast Agar), the mycelium is also able to grow on different food wastes like used coffee grounds, old grains, corn starch, and wood chips.

 

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If the use of mycelium on Earth gains momentum, it would be interesting to see how food waste may be repurposed to grow new materials that may be used for everyday objects!

There’s so much more to talk about and so much more research being done. I’m looking forward to continue to share the team’s progress and my involvement! Till next time~

 

16
Jul

Hello, World! | William Samosir, BFA Sculpture 2018

The Strong National Museum of Play is a grand confluence of colors, historical toy artifacts, interactive playthings, and of course, children who are brimming with summer energy! Inside the cuboid exterior of the architecture, there are sinuous hallways that weaves many different themes, forms, and eras of play into an organic and interconnected collection. Here you can find things ranging from a towering, kinect-operated interactive screen to a glass-display of the first ever, pre-Parker Brothers monopoly board. Rows of vintage dolls and miniature houses; multicolored rows of the most eccentric video game consoles; indoor playgrounds—you name it. By appropriating Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence as an exhibit guideline, the museum ensures that alongside the provision of historical contents, all sensory aspects are catered to in its design. All in all, it was a pleasant task to get myself lost in the museum, simply because the curation lends a visitor the opportunity to revel in a space of childlike imagination, and thus view the world anew through the lens of play.

For this Maharam internship, I am incredibly fortunate to have JP Dyson, the vice-director of exhibit, as my internship supervisor. He had given me a comprehensive tour of the main space as well as different behind-the-scenes operations of the museum. One of the highlights in the tour is the cool-temperature toy collection vault, in which there are rows and rows of artifacts and archives of play, obtained through collaborations with collectors and donators. This space serves as a research archive and a conservation space, and at the same time it confers credibility to the museum’s dedication towards play.

Additionally, JP has also been incredibly generous with imparting information about the museum’s history, trajectories and latest projects. This summer, the museum is undergoing a 100,000 ft. expansion, and recently, in partnership with Rochester Institute of Technology, it just opened an exhibition called Rockets, Robots, and Raygun. This exhibition looks specifically into the ways in which science fiction toys, books, and video-games have captured and influenced people’s perceptions of the future. Not mentioning, there’s a theremin in there too! One of my favorites however, is inside the museum’s permanent installation. It is a physical simulation of a grocery store, where children can play the role of being customers or cashiers—in either cases, handling incredibly convincing pseudo-grocery objects.

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This summer, I am super excited to be performing the role of an artist-in-resident. The main drive for enabling this role is to pilot-test an experimental approach within the not-for-profit framework of the museum, and evaluating its feasibility. Since this type of program is actually the first to ever be carried in the museum, there were several things that had to be rethought and realigned in the context of this program. These include intellectual property rights (who will own the IP rights to the artwork/experiments made in the museum?), a more fluid protocols for safety in between different work spaces, potentially investing in rapid prototyping tools (such as 3d printers), as well as the possibilities of housing an experimental/pop-up type of play installation. While many of these questions are up in the air as of now, it has provided me the challenge of infusing bureaucratic and pragmatic concerns into the experimental practice that I am already familiar with.

All that said, and even though I am filled with excitement to start working alongside the amazing interns and museum teams, unfortunately my post-graduation work authorization has not been approved. And so I was not able to start working just yet. With the outlook of the delay, I am looking to start somewhere mid-July to early August. However, I still conduct weekly hour-long meetups with JP to continue discussing different logistical concerns and experimental possibilities—we talked about the novelty of Johann Sebastian Joust, balancing physical and meditative play, and some of the awesome places for me to check out in Rochester. Alongside that, I started doing a little bit of an off-site research.

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For about a week in June, I delved into the museum’s online publication called the American Journal of Play—something which I think would be a great resource in art schools, if not already; or for anyone interested in play for that matter (also while you’re at it, check out this comprehensive online toy archives and collection provided by the museum!!). Typically, the journal houses interviews, essays, as well as reviews of play-related books. In particular however, I was drawn towards the papers written by play scholars. Three topics piqued my interest, and each one of them deals respectively with green/red play (green as stability and continuity, red as change and disorder), the history and nature of pre-D&D role-playing in the children’ literature the Egypt Game, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of affordance in visuo-spatial constructive play objects (VCPOs, think Legos, Mega Bloks, or Timber Planks). These three concepts intersect each other at many points, but I was specifically drawn to their potential linkage to the language and building blocks of computation. Specifically so, in finding the place for risk, pleasure, collaboration, and play in computation. This non-comprehensive schematic is an abstraction of my hazy thoughts:

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pardon the handwriting! 

How can concepts of world-building also exists in the culture of computation? How can coding afford green and red play? What is playful and imaginative function-making; can you throw and spin a parameter of a function? While I initially planned on making toy objects, this preliminary research and consultations really drove me to investigate the possibility of designing constructive modules that manifest in the form of costumes and wearables—something that honors and occupies the body, and therefore performs a type of role; an identity. But what kind of form and function will the role-playing wearable takes? I am hoping to be able to give a possible answer when I finally start doing my research from the museum’s Playthings magazine collection, researching on the history of pre-computer wearable and role-playing toys. This is where I am going next for my first research:

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A corner dedicated to a compilation of Playthings magazine, all the way from the 1900s!

And thus, I once again return to the awaiting of my work authorization—which will hopefully be approved soon! Apart from all that, it has been a great start here in Rochester. It’s been very warm (but then again where isn’t), but everyone has been very welcoming and friendly, and I have been getting the best suggestions of places to go. The R Community Bikes in Rochester is a great volunteer-operated bike store initiative that helps distribute bike ownership to people who are in need; free lottery-style giveaways and free repairs to those who qualify. The 6×6 Contemporary Art Center provides an interesting business and curatorial model for a more egalitarian representation in art-making—all of the artworks in there is in the format of 6 x 6″, and sells for a flat price of $20. Rochester Jazz Festival had just recently ended, and two days ago I dropped by the Rochester Corn Hill Festival. The festival took place in Corn Hill (the area in which I am currently living in) and they basically just closed off the whole area of the weekend. Bazaars, food, and music! My roommates and I celebrated 4th of July by staying in, cooking food, and playing video and board games. Wegmans grocery is great, Java’s coffee is the hip coffee place in town, and the river bike trail by Corn Hill (the area where I live) is such a nice bike trail to take in the late afternoon.

To top it off I just finished building a new self-assembly 3d printer, and so I might be a hermit in my room for a while to make some fun and weird prototypes. This is a first rendition: a 3D color picker that is eventually going to be a glove/hand-operated type thing. Anyway! Will be posting more updates soon—keep a lookout! :^)

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Hello, world!

-Will