Saturday, October 23, 2010

BEST robotics

This morning I am at the UWF Field House to help judge the BEST robotics competition, a high school level games to develop a Robotics project. The theme/narrative this year deals with addressing production techniques and problem solving as well as the actual robo-games. The folks seem nice but seem a bit cautious. So it will be very interesting to see if they warm up to me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

damn! i was totally sucked in

tonight Christina McPhee posted some research on the CFP for Placebos for Art. I was really thrilled and wanted to apply to this show but is truly appears to be a complete hoax; McPhee has uncovered many curious pieces of embedded information:

"--I checked the medical references. They appear to be fictitious. The institutes, medical schools etc mentioned do not seem to exist. The pharmaceuticals don't exist. There is a Dr. Kristina U. who is a prof at University of Puget Sound, they mustve picked her name out of random searches for a cool doctor name.

-- I especially appreciate how close 'Behring' is to 'Schering,' which does fund a lot of art in their own self-interest. It's also amusing how the title is "Placebos for Art" but is asking for "Art Placebos." The latter is certainly more innovative. The world is full of 'placebos for art.'

--They at least have enough funding to buy an e-flux ad...

--very amusing! now what if e-flux is yesman-ized...

-- was seriously considering entering the pharmakon library. i mean. Get down"...

This is brilliant and McPhee deserves high praise for the discovery of this!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

spam art is the new black

have you ever received a beautiful spam message? i have received examples that have been puzzling, engaging, clever, poetic, and even one supposedly from the Office of Homeland Security (bless those Nigerian scammers). yesterday a most comely example of spam came to my in-box. the filter did exile it to my junk folder, but because of the subject line that referenced twitter i felt the need to just check on it. i found a very attractive image built from text forms and underscores(only a few were links):

sure. that's right. it wanted me to go to sites which would have installed keyloggers onto my machine whilst it was selling me knockoff Viagra and Celebrex, but i am intrigued by this idea of the aesthetically pleasurable spam message. i started to think that this might be a good class assignment... spam art

Sunday, October 10, 2010

mud + electricity = ??

on Friday, my colleague Adam Shiverdecker and i started a workshop collaboration between students enrolled in the Architectural Ceramics class and the Digital Multimedia (read PhysComp.) class. the idea sprung from Adam's observation that i desired my students to think more about design, fabrication, and presentation and Adam's desire to see his students add kinetics and interaction to the methodologies he was teaching.

at 10:00, we jetted from the faculty meeting to start. Adam set up the teams; he had all members trade contact info with all their teammates I was of course assisted by my two trusty henchmen (ok... lab assistants) Dan McSwain and Juan Rodriguez. additionally Carleton Haack from the ceramics department jumped in form his side and they deftly assisted me in getting kits out to each student group and setting up electrical for the soldering.

the students were furnished with schematics, drawings, and keys to all the components of the Quickly bot1 2. my PhysComp. students took the lead teaching their team members about soldering technique, circuitry, and components whilst Dan, Juan and i patrolled looking for questions and assisting in small ways. the group hummed with small conversations about the methods of using simple techniques to learn basic electronics.

Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.

as the first hour and a half drew to a close, one or two teams (of 13) had a fully function circuit exhibiting the light following behavior. and after a ten minute break Adam took the reins and held a hour demo of the slip casting methods. it was the bomb! my students helped a bit when he needed and extra hand and they were suitably intrigued about the ideas about making a complex body for the Quickly. and they got a good idea of the process of going from model to mold to casting.

we ended the workshop with the blueprint of how we wanted them to progress. they have 4 weeks until the 2nd workshop:
  1. by next Friday they will have a model of the structure they will use in the project.

  2. they will make a cast of the design next weekend because the mold needs one week to cure before casting

  3. on the 3rd week they will cast and fire slip castings from the mold

  4. on the 4th week they will present a working model and we will do robot races :D

  5. by finals week everyone of the team will have their own edition of the project

i believe our small experimental equation is going to bear out ceramics + digital = teh awesome, but we shall see.


this past weekend i was directed to the fact that the TED organization was offering the license to groups, schools, associations, etc to use there franchise/brand to TEDx or local symposiums. anyone/group can set-up a mini-symposium under the umbrella of the Ted brand. they claim that despite the fact that different event can be very sculpted to the particular community all of the TEDx events have certain things in common:

* TED's celebrated format: A suite of short, carefully prepared talks, demonstrations and performances on a wide range of subjects to foster learning, inspiration and wonder -- and to provoke conversations that matter
* TEDTalks videos: A minimum of two pre-recorded talks from the acclaimed TEDTalks video series will be shown (these talks are available free on
* Bias-free programming: Lack of any commercial, religious or political agenda 1

i am a huge fan of the TED programming. i have definitely been inspired by the speakers and presentations in the past. lately though, i have had a sneaking suspicion about the chatter about the altruism of the program. this spring i was dismayed with the way Sarah Silverman was treated by TED's self-titled curator Chris Anderson.

TED while full of great speakers with awesome world changing ideas and projects is also Anderson's ego project; how could he have not known what he was getting in the talents of Silverman. albeit Silverman's humor (a satire of ugliness and insult) is not everyone's idea of entertainment, but did Anderson really expect her to be on 'good behaivor' for the rich people who can afford to attend in person. it is actually more obscene to expect an artist to change their talent because the King has asked them to dinner. and Silverman reported that she was very hurt by the commentary because she was also a fan of the TED talks.

so this brings me back to the TEDx claim that it is "Bias-free programming: Lack of any commercial, religious or political agenda"... for reals?

the shame is that TEDx would be an awesome opportunity to frame a locally sourced, DIY, emergent symposium and have it benefit from the intellectual capital that has been built by the great thinkers of the TED series. i am so repulsed by the behavior of the curator to Silverman, that i just don't know if i can get on board. so i make a modest proposal:

i encourage those who have subjects which may be too tough for the mainstream to start using the TEDx brand. let's have a frank TEDx about Sado-Masochistic Sexual fetish, let's have a TEDx on Intelligent Design, let's have a TEDx on Anarchism, let's have a TEDx by the KKK...
and we will see if the TED management really believes in (and practices) the intellectual freedom they espouse or whether this is only for the politically retarded.

follow up 22:34 10/10/10
meer minutes after i sent this i found this blurb:

"TED does not grant licenses to those associated with controversial or extremist organizations. TEDx events may not be used to promote spiritual or religious beliefs, commercial products or political agendas. Hosts may not affiliate the TEDx or TED brand with other conferences, or with commercial endeavors."

sigh... i guess i got my answer: as long as it is ok with their political/moral views...