Sunday, October 3, 2010

Zero 1 Symposium - Friday Ghostly Reflections...

Overall, I enjoyed the opportunity to attend the Symposium and get insight into the various works that embodied the overall theme of Zero1 this year, "Build Your Own World". I will admit that the first half of the day left me entirely disheartened, but more from the bureaucratic standpoint than the artistic. Artistically I was inspired and in absolute awe. The concept of building a piece of art that translates scientific data into a substantial and approachable data concept AND would convey those concepts clearly for 100 years is a daunting and admirable task. I really searched my mind and my creativity both during the symposium and after to wrap my brain about how *I* would have done that.

It should come as no surprise to anybody reading this that I study stuff. All kinds of stuff. One of the things that I am really facinated about is how old things go on to become old. I used to live in a 1909 Craftsman House and always wondered if the builders really thought about what it would be like as it aged. I suspect they didn't really put much thought into how it would survive and focused more on how it should be. In regards to the basement foundation, modern convience additions, long term material availablity and some other issues, I wish they had put a little more thought into what the future might entail but I think they did okay. One of my favorite buildings in San Jose is the Old Church of Christ Science on the north side of St. James Park. Beautiful Neo-Classical architecture example from the 1890's, massive collums and a central dome. City engineer says at this point all that is holding it up is the termites holding hands.

The builders of that, like the builders of my old house, probably didn't think about what 100 years in the future would look like. I suspect that they would be quite surprised to find their Neo-Classical church covered up in plywood and surrounded by a cyclone fence. When I asked, if wholly by the slim chance, Diridon should end up not being a destination in 100 years, instead of getting the artists/scientist's take, I got the bureaucrat. Having spent a decade of my life being a much more intimidating bureaucrat than she, I was less than impressed with her party line adherence that Diridon would always be a destination. While I don't actually doubt her, I don't care, and wanted to know what the artists thought about how the work would last and stand on its own. Bureaucrats are easy to access, artists are less so. In the end, we all don't know what the future will entail and my question was lost amongst the shuffle of my property taxes towards the cause. I support the arts daily and I'm noticing that my city is rarely operating in my best interest. I will support the project if not it's keepers...though my tax dollars go to support them as well. Curious that. Might be worth a letter to the Mercury News after all.

Jade Chang was awesome and witty. In pulling my notes out for this write up I found her blog information and will make a point of following that. Out of all the talks, I found hers to be the most rational and adhere best to the theme of Zero 1. To recap, she covered random acts of public improvements through art. Some were nefarious, like the modification of a freeway sign for greater clarity by a muralist with an adgenda. Some were just for fun, like the piano stair project. I too find myself wondering how I can make the world a better place through a random act of artistic kindness...sounds just too delicious of a concept to entertain through my sometimes larcenous but well intentioned heart. Keeping my eyes open but I must admit, the beauty would be to DO something and never tell a soul that you had made some or many people's lives a little better. Keeping my eye on Ms. Chang in the future. Good stuff....thanks to Shannon for letting us experience Zero 1!

Global Warming Symposium

The Global Warming Symposium was not necessary what I was expecting. I expected to hear about new technologies as well as new ways to reduce the use of fossil fuels. Rather the symposium was a regurgitation of what I already knew about global warming.  The three teams that introduced their 100 year old projects consisted of different fields such as engineers, artists, and others. The collaboration of those various fields into each particular project seemed odd to me. I figured that one idea initiated the project but as the different team mates brought their own ideas the initial idea might have been lost. I'm not to say that the pieces that they intend to produce may not serve their purpose rather I'm concern if all the money is put into good use. Most people should have a vague understanding of the issues affected the world at large and the children not so much. I guess making these structures be initial ways of introducing the local youth about issues at hand might work. My understand of their particular projects was simply that they are using art, and the collaboration of different fields, to last a hundred year period an during that time attract different audience representations on issues affecting the now and then concerning depleting resources and issues that will continue to affect the world.

Friday, October 1, 2010

01 Post........finally.

There is a reason I don't keep a personal blog--I sort of hate writing in them and can never remember to update them when I'm anywhere near a computer and can do anything about it. Apparently that applies to school-related blogs as well....but I've got me, my zero-one notes, and an internet-connected laptop all together in one place now, so here it is:

Jahnavi's Zero-One Thoughts:

First, like many of my classmates, I was disappointed by the presentation qualities. I had not attended the event before and from the way people had been talking about it I had expected something a bit more polished. I know these people are all artists not public speakers, but it's very hard to pay attention to a talk when the speaker, however knowledgable, is wandering all over the place and it seemed like a lot of the speakers went up in front of the mike unprepared.

Perhaps because of that my favorite group presentation for the Diridon Station climate clock was that given by Usman Hawk's team--the group that was not actually present and had therefore had to prerecord their talk. I felt like I came away with a clear sense of what they wanted to build and why. They wanted to create a self-building, self-maintaining park that drew that worked with the project goal of measurement, computation, and communication. They would have three main robotic devices/attractions: 1) named Huey (and yes, the goofy working names made me smile), also known as the accretion mounds, builds tower out of junk pulled from the air, making larger, thicker ones on bad years. 2) Dewey/sampled box in which 10,000 cloned daffodils (to avoid any genetic variation in results) are planted in batches of 100 every year on site and harvested and saved as a sample of the air that year. 3) Louie/data packer crawls (very slowly) around the park pulling up dirt and packing it into soil sample cubes (with a neat daily data point stamped into the side for kicks) as another measure of the areas health. I like the idea of localized visual feedback devices as art--it's like getting a report at the end of the year. The public could look at the proposed pieces and see how well they (and everyone around them) have done for the year in terms of atmospheric pollution. I think it has potential to work in terms of changing people's actions a bit: I personally do not like to see visible reminders of my failures and I think that seeing a giant mound/tower of crap that was pulled out of the air on a bad year would make me try harder to avoid contributing to it as much the next year. I was also charmed by the concept--I like the machines built from super simple parts and processes that should side-step becoming obsolete and that largely draw their power from nifty things like the sun, temperature change, being wound like a clock, and so on.

I had no idea what the second group (Wired Wilderness) was presenting by the time they got to end of the their presentation, aside from the fact that whatever it was would involve a series of artists. They were one of the more wandering groups--my notes are full of key words and catch phrases for them, but I didn't feel like I came away with anything at all.

The last group presented their Organograph. I felt like they explained themselves well enough, but for some reason it just didn't capture my imagination like the first idea did--it sort of sounded like a fancier version of the Children's Discovery Museum with a focus on climate. The only bit that really charmed me was the part about wanting to tap into the visceral connection to time humans get from the ticking of a clock and the way it seems to link heartbeats and the passage of time and that was only a minor aside.

The panel was very hard for me to get interested in. I did like Joel Slayton's introduction about paradigm shifts and wanting a project that dealt with computing and sustainability as such, but then it just got very dull and the nature of the answers again made the presenters seem less than perfectly prepared.

The artist presentations after lunch were much more fun. "Particle Falls" is a pretty neat idea, and again I like the localized visual feedback idea--people don't like to see that they're messing up, it's a good sort of reminder to change. I also quite enjoyed Robin Lasser and Marguerite Perret's presentation on "Floating World"--the piece is lovely and I liked the idea of an encampment for displaced voices on all levels. I also really liked the descriptions of the public's interaction with the piece--very cool. I had to leave after Robin's presentation to go throw my grandmother's birthday party, and apparently I missed one of the better talks as a result.