Inspiration & Cohesion

This week turns out to have two sides again.  Wednesday’s class brought the everyone together with a real sense of cohesion for the first time.  Not only did everyone deliver unique designs and research, but they also got to know each other and began to build connections across their work.  Lots of parallel and complimenting ideas were shared, as well as a few laughs.  The day also included some training on WordPress and laser cutting.  It’s always great to see the excitement when someone learns a new tool, but the laser cutter has an extra “magic” factor with it’s immediate and satisfying results.  Towards the end of the week, it was great to have several new designs and prototypes underway.  It feels like everyone on the team is on the same page now and moving towards the completion of their initial prototypes.  From here, we really need to continue refining and narrowing down the possibilities.  I look forward to reviewing everyone’s work on Wednesday and making some final decisions on our next steps.

The other half of the week revolved around inspiration.  This week is a big design and creation week for myself as I plan to work on a new series of diatoms that we will prototype for the system.  My inspiration was running low at the beginning of the week, but certainly kicked into high gear by the middle.  It all began after hearing back from Joel Dittrich after his recent projection mapping workshop at UCSC.  He informed me of the upcoming video projection extravaganza that the Exploratorium was arranging in partnership with Obscura Digital for it’s grand opening on the Embarcadero, this past Wednesday and Thursday evening in SF.  Check out this video for more details:

The most amazing part of their projection mapping installation for me, was the laser etched microscope slide with the facade of the Exploratorium engraved into it, allowing channels for living phytoplankton to swim through it and be video taped for the mapping projection.  Check out this photo to see the finished results:

As an added bonus, I also got to see Miwa Matrayek perform a new series of works in progress and her reknowned piece Myth & InfrastructureShe is part artist, part magician, part slight of hand master, part animator.  A unique balancing act that really pushes the boundaries between the viewer, the performer, the light and the screen.

There was also a pretty outstanding series of interactive exhibits inside the Exploratorium dedicated to Phytoplankton and balance.  The stand out was the Algae Chandelier (see the image at the top of this post).  It really reminded me of John Roloff’s Original Depositional Environment.  The added pumps on the seat to send air bubbles through it, added a nice bit of interaction, but made me wonder if it it was just for visuals or if the air bubbles helped the algae grow.  Either way, it was pure inspiration.

If all that wasn’t enough, as an early b-day gift to myself, I went to see Laurie Anderson with the Kronos Quartet perform Landfall this evening at the Bing concert hall at Stanford.  I’m still processing it all, but themes ran through grand scales of time, wrapped in evolutions of language and animal species with a bit of Laurie Anderson’s wonderful humor and irony thrown in.  The room itself was incredible both visually and sonically and the immersive solid blocks of colored lighting blended with unique combinations of shortened language and iconography, formed a multi-sensory space where my mind flowed through a soundtrack and imaginative storyline from the future, good or bad.

I can’t wait to see what pops out the other end of all this wonderful inspiration…

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