Neri Oxman is well known for a plethora of things around Mediated Matter and creating Material Ecology. As an associate professor at MIT Media Lab, she’s a well-recognized artist, designer, and architect that speaks, most famously, about the intersection of design, technology, and biology. I want to focus specifically on her collaboration with another prolific female designer, Iris Van Herpen. Anthozoa is a wearable feat of 3D printing technology where they created a custom program to enable printing in both rigid and soft materials.
For this week’s Looking Outward post I’ve chosen to write about Kate Hollenbach, an artist, programmer, and educator based in Chicago and Los Angeles. The project that really interested me by her is called phonelovesyoutoo. The project was done over one month, where she recorded her own cell phone front camera every time she used her phone. In her database, she put together all the videos arranged like a calendar, and played each tile proportional to the time of day it was recorded.
A video showing phonelovesyoutoo.
I was intrigued by this project because I think our phone usage is something that we hardly notice albeit it being one of the things we do most. I thought it was interesting to note the similarities and differences between clips in the project–a lot of her facial expressions are very similar, while the scenery around her changes. I think that has implications as to how we are spending our time–when we are on our phones, we have no emotion despite the changing world around us.
Mimus is a curious industrial robot coded not to follow instructive movements, but to explore and respond to her surrounding environment from data collected through sensors. Placed in a glass room, Mimus interacts with people walking around her by approaching them and moving along with their movements. The designer, Madeline Gannon, intended to respond to the fear that robots are taking work away from humans. She believes in “a more optimistic future, where robots do not replace our humanity, but instead amplify and expand it”. In her works, robots are treated as living creatures with emotions rather than objects, and she works towards a relationship of empathy and companionship between man and machine.
Madeline graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a Ph.D. in Computational Design and have since then been developing projects with natural gesture interfaces and digital fabrication. Some of her other works, for example, Tactum, allows people with little to none coding knowledge to be able to participate in the design process with very intuitive gestures. Her work intends to blur the line between man and machine and to break the stereotypical idea of dominance, and to prove that co-existence and collaboration can better amplify our human capabilities.
A female practitioner that caught my attention is the architect, Meejin Yoon. One project that i found very interesting is a design competition entry, the +(plus) Bridge. The project was designed with the efforts of Eric Howeler and J. Meejin Yoon to help promote the vibrant lifestyle on the river in Boston. By connecting different modes of transportation, the structure was to increase activity for harbor viewing and waterway crossing. People are given the chance to go abroad on an infrastructure that extends out into the river. With green features and various sitting areas, more public spaces are encouraging people to come out.
The reason this project got my attention is because our architecture studio semester project is about reviving a site within the Allegheny river. This project sparks various ideas that would help be draw people onto a site that is quite secluded. Mashing up green properties and various properties to increase human activity is a great idea to revitalize my site.
A woman I found interesting is Jenny Sabin – she is an architectural designer who uses computational design as the main driver in her design process. She studied ceramics and interdisciplinary visual arts from the University of Washington. She also holds an M. Arch from University of Pennsylvania. Sabin also holds many awards and fellowships, as well as founding multiple studios at Cornell. Her project, Lumen (created with a team of 20+ people) was the winner of the MoMA’s Young Architects Program in 2017. Lumen is a responsive structure that responds to environmental factors, as well as social context. It’s made from recycled materials, such as textiles & yarns that absorb light that active its micro climate. The experiment is held together by tension, which is calculated by sun, site, materials, program, and morphology through structures. Lumen goes through a lot of experimentation to create a spatial environment that is delightful for all its users, and goes through many transformations through every hour of the day. Click here for a link to the project
This week, the project I have chosen to investigate is ‘Liminoid Garden’ by Filipa Valente. Filipa Valente is a Portuguese interactive artist who is based in Los Angles. She studied architecture and media art and architecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL (London), and SciArc (Los Angles). Valente primarily creates dynamic light architectures, through she also works in experience design, architecture, product design and animation.
‘Liminoid Garden’ features mechanical blooms that are fitted with electronic controllers. Such controllers receive real time data regarding temperature, light and pollution conditions from the outside, and translate the data into varying physical movements and light qualities in the interior installation space. What I admired about Valente’s project was how the installation managed to be so beautiful but reflective of real world conditions and contexts by almost personifying the blooms. I also admire how the piece encourages and fosters audience interaction in a way that allows viewers to develop a constantly changing relationship with the installation, since the data inputs breathe new life into the piece.
Different from traditional architecture, architect Jenny Sabin’s Sabin Design Lab in Ithaca, New York investigates the interaction between architecture and science. They apply theories from biology and mathematics to designs, fabrication, spatial inventions and materials. The firm is a combination of engineers, architects, designers, artists, and even scientists. The scales of their work varies, from installation to a building facade. I find the form of their projects very appealing because it is dynamic and organic. It seems random but also has order and system to it.
The newest project Lumen creates a space I really want to experience. It is very interesting because of the fabrication materials, the shapes of each element and how the structure come together.
Precarious was created for the National Portrait Gallery exhibition Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now, which opened in May, 2018.
This is a screen shot of the project, which tracks and visualizes silhouettes of people as they move through the museum. What’s different about this, though, is that the camera looks down on figures and tracks them from above. ( you can see in this screen shot, someone has figured this out and spread their arms wide.) The project is meant to show boundaries and how people push them and track over them. Camille Utterback works in installation art, meant to be interacitve and create dialogue about physicality. Utterback combines various sensing and display technologies with the custom software she writes. I like her work and this project specifically because bodies and patterns are really interesting, but other projects I’ve seen based on movement are sometimes really cluttered and not visually appealing, because movement is so unpredictable and abundant. This project however, is both visually pleasing and looks super fun.
Rachel Binx is a data visualizer and designer currently working at Netflix. At one point, she worked on a project called Meshu, which creates clothing accessories based on locations that a person marks. They’re meant to be reminders of trips or places from home. The location data is interpreted through Mapzen and comes from OpenStreetMaps.
After attending Santa Clara University for Mathematics and Art History, Binx worked at Mapzen, NASAJPL, and Stamen Design, before landing at Netflix. She works to produce physical objects or computational visualizations out of data that is meaningful to each person. Binx’s dedication to making data concrete and beautiful to keep its meaning is so inspiring to me!
Nancy Burson is an artist and photographer who uses morphing technology and digital manipulation in her works, which are often politically and/or socially charged. One project of hers that I am particularly interested in is Human Race Machine, which I think is extremely relevant in the current political climate as well. Originally, she created a software that would ‘age’ an image in order to track missing children for law enforcement; using similar software in facial recognition and facial alteration, this project is an interactive display which allows the user to see what they could look like if they were of a different race. As described on its website, “the concept of race is not genetic, but social”– her project is an extremely powerful tool for social reflection, and discussing diversity and issues of race of ethnicity. Although this was originally created in 2000 for the London Millennium Dome, the elegant software used to shift and change a human face and place oneself in the literal ‘face’ of another is still pertinent today, as human compassion and understanding is challenged by polarization and radical idealism.