Wednesday, May 11, 2016

sleepless in HK

Three necessary survival items for 1AM in Hong
Kong: a guidebook, ibuprofen, and cheap snacks.
i crashed hard tonight way too early. when i woke around 1030PM, i decided to go for a walk around the Wan Chai district.

the Hong Kong lifestyle starts late in the day in comparison to my American routine. it is really common for a business not to open until after 10AM, but the place is alive until late, late.  after 11PM while wandering the alleys and streets it is not uncommon to discover a popup market splayed unto the roadway that would normally be unforgivingly ruled Hong Kong's red taxi cabs during the daylight hours. i see all manner of produce, fish, and other wares exotic.

during the late mornings and afternoons the street bustle is extreme and you either get in line of get out of the way, but after 10PM the attitude eases. the night is still overly warm and sticky, but a tad more pleasant now that the sun has been abolished; and with it, the human
flow slows to a stroll, there is time for you to indulge, taste, read. main streets have many little late night food stalls with all the many variations of chimeric asian cuisines. the night becomes bejeweled with neon and led lighting and a hot dirty day is erased.  one more stop for me into the local ubiquitous 'circular initial' convenience store for a cheap sticky cold treat to snack on, while i sit in the apartment shared space to handle emails and communications from my Western world.

field trip

this morning, i talked with Jhave Johnston, poet, filmmaker, and Assistant Professor at the School of Creative Media at City University of Hong Kong. He is the author the recent release,  Aesthetic Animism (MIT Press).

Jahve has generously offered to meet with us at Mo Tat fishing village on Lamma Island just south of Hong Kong primarily for a training expedition with the sub. he has also offered to give us a little tour. i can't express enough how lucky i feel and how generous the CUHK CMC community is being.

there is a pier we can set up on. we will be headed out on Saturday morning. we will ride a ferry out to his place, practice the procedures of running the ROV snapping pictures, and water sample analysis. looks like it is going to be a rainy one, but at least it is warm.

Dim Sum Labs

yesterday evening some of our team for ISEA2016 ventured out to Dim Sum Labs: Hong Kong's First Hackerspace / Makerspace. DSL hosts a couple open nights a week and Tuesday's are the HackJam night. the DSL members were very inviting and i felt very at home; the makerspace aesthetic of bits and bobs and stacked equipment. they were my type of peeps. we visited for about 45 minutes discussing 3D printing, scanning, membership organization, equipment availability, and where to get the best deal on electronics. they told us to come back by anytime while we were in town. i will be back.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

battling the Monsoons to repair the ROV

the whole team loaded up this morning to go visit Jane Prophet at City University of Hong Kong. Ivan Zhao and Annick Lung who work with Jane gave as a little assistance to repair the ROV damaged in air travel.

we jumped the transit system and headed to Kowloon to sync up with the CU team about 10AM. the Hong Kong MTR is amazing and deserves it own post later. when we exited the train station it began to gently rain. soon the storm turned into a maelstrom of water moving parallel to the ground. we ducked under cover as best we could  but the MTR lets out on the opposite side of campus from the CUHK Creative Media Centre. using the buildings and walkways as cover we crossed about 2/3 of  the trip as the rain grew harder. we finally found one more covered walkway which ended about 100 feet from the CMC front doors; as we turned the corner there was Jane and some of her students with umbrellas ushering us into the building. Jane got us a moment to sit and gave us tea to smooth the trauma, but we soon got right to it.

enter, Ivan Zhao, brilliant research assistant to Professor Prophet, who had already cut us multiple copies (and 3d Fdm printed some too) of the file to replace the damaged piece. he consulted with us on the repair and found me a rotary tool to carve away the old piece. Annick Lung also joined us and was very helpful; she helped us make contact with another CUHK professor to advise us on chartering a boat for later in the week.

between the intense rains and the intensity of the repair, the afternoon flew. after getting back from our battles, we found ourselves in a local Hong Kong cafe over heaping plates of eggs, noodles, barbecue pork, and milk tea. reminded me of this:

Monday, May 09, 2016

Heroes in our midst

Yesterday, I was reeling abut the damage done to the submarine ROV I brought to HK.

Thankfully my hero, amazing artist and Mensch: Jane Prophet has graciously offered to host us visit the labs at City University of Hong Kong to laser cut the replacement part to repair the submarine. I was so stressed all yesterday.  Jane called me in the late afternoon and connected me with her Senior Assistant Ivan.  I am truly fortunate to have such generous colleagues who can make opportunities like this happen.

Ivan is the man; we worked out issues with the file and he confirmed with me. He also gave me a listing for an acrylics place in HK, so if I need to totally rebuild this tube we may have options.
We will be heading to CUHK at 11AM tomorrow. Wish us luck!!

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Hong Kong... we have a problem.

Bits of the OpenROV collar on left. 
Sure maybe it isn't  as critical as an oxygen scrubber in my tiny tiny capsule, but upon arrival I discovered that the airline had really jostled the OpenROV equipment so hard that one of the battery tube connectors had been broken. NOT GOOD!!!   It seems that the Delta boys/girls threw the box around pretty hard and another component smacked the tube. I have ruminated on the issue and I have had several thoughts on mitigation. Add a cushion in that void, don't check the Pelican Box, etc.
Battery tube collars seen on the bottom left.

The problem is is with that circular piece seen at the bottom left of the image I stole from OpenROV (thank you guys). These rings retain the battery cap. No bueno!!!! UGGGGGH. 4000 miles to HK, something like this I guess is part of the program...

Time to solve this, NOW!!  So I spent a few sleepless hours until 3AM trying to find some google listings for acrylic and laser cutting outfit but I think there maybe a translation problem. It is unclear if these firms do one off jobs or there are other kinds of solutions. i have put a call into my contact at City University of Hong Kong, maybe she can help us with connecting us with a local group. I am also trying to sync with the local Makerspace: Dim Sum Labs.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Turbidity Paintings hardware build begins

image from OpenROV
I began the build of the OpenROV 2.8 kits today with the immense moral and artistic assistance of Colleen today. the kits are the hardware for a new project called Turbidity Paintings by myself and collaborator Sara Gevurtz that investigates the notions of primacy of perception (Merleau-Ponty) as common root of all art and science.

i was awarded a Florida Research Fellowship in November which included a seed fund to purchase the hardware and get the project kicked off.

we proposed that in the act of capturing abstract images underwater we would also be creating a database of images that could be analyzed by water quality researchers. the title, Turbidity Paintings, is a nod to this idea—turbidity is the measure of particles in suspension in a water column. our project will use two OpenROV units to capture these images and other key water quality data such as nutrients, dissolved oxygen, etc. these data will be used to name the abstract images merging the images into a concurrent state of data and aesthetic object. See:

the project has gotten some interest in art/science communities and hopefully i will be announcing some other exciting news soon. it has also garnered some attention by environmental science and i have a research assistant from Dr. Matt Schwartz at UWF Earth and Environmental Sciences. we began collaborative research initiative and i will be working with Haley, a production/research assistant from that department.

Colleen and i put in a good 4 hours today; here's a timelapse of Build Day 01. We estimated about another 10 hours of build time until we can hit the pool for testing and learning to drive.