14 Mar 2015

All posts from 14 Mar 2015


“Rainworks: Rain-Activated Art” by Scott Morris

Comm Lead student Scott Morris created a mini-documentary about artist Peregrine Church, who paints street art that only shows up when it rains. Hidden when dry, these messages or images appear on sidewalks all over Seattle and are meant to brighten your day, even when it’s gray and rainy!

The video, which went viral, was part of “COM 583: Multimedia Storytelling” assignment and is now a part of Morris’ Waka Waka Studios portfolio.

For a map of all Seattle Rainworks, go to: http://rain.works
Got questions about Rainworks? Check out http://rain.works/faqs/

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“Rainworks: Rain-Activated Art” by Scott Morris

SXSW Interactive: Five Incredible Artists From Paola Antonelli’s Keynote

Featured image above by Ars Technica (CC by NC-ND-2.0)

What do ancient Mayan gum, menstruation simulators, and glasses that let you write with your eyes have in common?

They were all featured by Italian author, editor and curator extraordinaire Paola Antonelli in SXSW Interactive 2015’s first keynote session, as outstanding examples of work at the intersection of art, design, and technology.

Currently ranked as number 98 in Art Reviews list of the hundred most powerful people in the world of art (a fact of which she was sure to remind the audience), Antonelli is also the Senior Curator of the Department of Architecture & Design, and the Director of R&D at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City.

Although she spoke to a massive audience, much of her esoteric information on art and tech seemed to only resonate with a small portion of the attendees. As she began speaking about the “classic entanglement of quantum design,” “parkour among genders,” and “Björk as the classic quantum designer,” my attention started to wander and the images on the screens became more interesting than what she was actually saying.

By no means, though, was the whole speech was a loss. Antonelli pointed out some fascinating exhibitions and projects that tangibly connect complicated science and mathematical formulas to artistic outputs. Below is Antonelli’s curated list of the most interesting artists, groups, and technology found in this space:

Hella Jongerius

hella jongerius SCSW

Hella Jongerius: Image by Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Within seconds of pulling up her slide on Dutch industrial designer Hella Jongerius, Antonelli declared her one of the “greatest designers alive.” Jongerius’s work focuses on combining opposites – new technology and handmade objects, industrial manufacturing and craftsmanship, and the traditional and the contemporary.

One example Antonelli gave of Jongerius’ work was her chicle objects. Chicle is a substance that Mayans used for chewing gum for thousands of years, and even today a small amount of chicle is still used to make chewing gum. Jongerius applied the chicle to a variety of ceramic, glass and sculpture pieces, as seen in the photo here. This particular collection emphasizes the relationship between natural materials and handmade objects carefully crafted with skill.

You can learn more about Jongerius on her website, here, or by following her on Twitter.


Sputniko!, née Hiromi Ozaki, is a Japanese/British artist and designer known for her work in critical design. Her work focuses on the social, cultural and ethical implications of new technologies, often through a feminist lens. Antonelli discussed Sputniko!’s Menstruation Machine, which is meant to simulate the experience of a five-day period. The metal device is complete with a system of electrodes that stimulate the lower abdomen to mimic cramping, and even comes with a blood dispensing system so wearers get the full period experience (so fun!). The device is currently on display at MoMA.

Synthetic Aesthetics

Synthetic Aesthetics is a group of biologists, designers, artists and social scientists brought together by the University of Edinburgh and Sanford University. The group explores the ways in which biology, art and design interact. One of their most interesting (and grossest) projects include “human cheese” produced with bacteria and microbes from people such as food writer Michael Pollan. Others include creating seeds with custom DNA that have been tailored to thrive in certain environments and training bacteria to grow into consumer products. You can learn more about Synthetic Aesthetics (and see their other cool projects), here.

Silk Pavilion

Continuing the art meets biology theme, Antonelli showed a video from the Silk Pavilion project, in which scientists and artists at MIT’s Media Lab used silk worms to create a giant silk sculpture dome. The primary geodesic structure consists of 26 polygonal panels made of silk threads laid down by a machine, but then scientists deployed actual silkworms to lay down their own silk, creating a second structure. Learn more about the project here, or watch a video of the worms in action, below:

Graffiti Research Lab – The Eye Writer

Perhaps the coolest thing Antonelli spoke about, the Eye Writer uses open source eye-tracking technology to allow people who have become paralyzed to draw with just their eyes. The project was created by members of Free Art and Technology (FAT), OpenFrameworks, the Graffiti Research Lab, and The Ebeling Group after teaming up with the LA-based graffiti writer known as Tempt1. Diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2003, he is completely paralyzed except for his eyes. Now, with the device, he can continue making his art. You can learn more about the project (and see it in action!) at EyeWriter.org

eye writer tempt1 SXSW

The Eye Writer in 2009: Image by “urban_data” (CC by 2.0)

Stay tuned to Flip the Media for more coverage from SXSW Interactive in Austin!

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SXSW Interactive: Five Incredible Artists From Paola Antonelli’s Keynote

SXSW Interactive Day 1: Al Gore Terrifies and Harry Knowles Geeks Out

Editor’s Note: We’re kicking off our main coverage SXSW Interactive 2015! We’ll have continuous updates from the Flip team through the end of SXSW Interactive, so keep checking back for more stories straight from Austin.

by Kirsten O’Brien and Fritz Kessler

Fritz Kessler: One overnight flight, one sleepless night, and the Flip the Media team is in Austin for SXSW Interactive. Kirsten, what did you think of day 1 – was staying up for a solid 24 hours straight worth it?

Kirsten O’Brien: I’d say so, I think we got a nice overview of different sessions. Al Gore’s lecture on climate change was terrifying, but at times it did feel a little elementary. However, it did make me think more about the impact humanity is having on the Earth, so that’s definitely a plus.

My second session (which I’ll have more coverage of later), hosted by MoMA curator extraordinaire, Paola Antonelli, included talk of Bjork and some super awesome examples of art meeting science and design, so that’s rad. Overall, I’m excited about the next four days; there’s always so much to see.

FK: Yeah, I’m excited, too. Day 1 felt like a solid teaser to me, some nice talks, nothing mind-blowing, but clearly indicative of good things to come. That said, let’s talk some more about those first two sessions…

Al Gore Freaks Out SXSW

Al Gore Fritz Kessler SXSW Interactive

Al Gore addresses the SXSW Interactive 2015 crowd: Image by Fritz Kessler

KO: Former Vice President Al Gore is not one to mince words: the takeaway from his featured session on climate change emphasized the fact that yes, we’re ruining the planet with our fossil-fuel addiction, but there are ways to save ourselves from what will surely be the tragic extinction of all humanity in which everyone burns to death and freezes to death at the same time. It’s a terrifying reality, but made palatable by Gore’s optimistic outlook of the future, and the fact that we as a society have made concrete strides toward more sustainable forms of energy.

Al Gore SXSW Interactive Fritz Kessler

Pic of an insane storm from Al Gore’s scary slide deck: Image by Fritz Kessler

He noted that 6.5 million jobs have been created that directly or indirectly support the renewable energy industry, and that real estate tycoon and bazillionaire Warren Buffet sold off his almost $4 billion stake in Exxon Mobile. Plus, his Tennessee accent was as strong as ever, and it’s hard to be scared when someone with a drawl that thick is telling you the world is burning up with the intensity of a thousand suns and in the next sentence, telling you it’s all going to be okay — maybe.

Even with all the doom and gloom, though, some of Gore’s facts seemed sketchy. He mentioned that 50,000 people died in a massive wildfire that overtook an area east of Moscow, including those who died of “related causes,” in Russia in 2010. But, this New York Times story includes a much lower number, stating “at least 28” had been killed.

At the end of the day, Gore is a politician, and politicians are known to twist words and facts, especially to suit their own agendas. Luckily for us, Gore is on our side.

FK: Yeah, I’m glad he’s on our side too (there were audible gasps of shock from the audience at some of his facts), but I agree with your skeptical eye here. If anything, I found myself both starstruck, and a little unmoved. Gore’s talk is indeed frightening and he’s surely an expert in the field, but the whole thing felt a little too practiced, like a band that’s been playing the same hit song for 20 years.

Climate change is, of course, the cause deluxe of our time, and, as Gore noted in his talk, the future of the planet absolutely relies on, among other things, action from people like the innovators here at SXSW. But, as a lecture, I just would have liked a little more Gore, and a little less terror.

Geeking Out on Film with Ain’t it Cool’s Harry Knowles

Harry Knowles Fritz Kessler SXSW Interactive 2015 Aint it Cool News

Brett Hart and Harry Knowles at SXSW Interactive 2015: Image by Fritz Kessler

FK: “Some things in life you don’t do for money, you do for love.” One sentence, from producer Betty Buckley, encapsulated the panel discussion featuring Harry Knowles, “Heed Geek” of leading nerd-culture website AintitCoolNews.com and his TV series Aint it Cool with Harry Knowles, along with the show’s creative team, including Buckley, director/producer Brett Hart, and producer Jaime Gallager.

Working under the premise that, as Knowles put it, “a lot of today’s film geeks fell in love with film in the 80’s,” the show is a shot on a set that’s something like a mashup of the basement from Gremlins and Pee-Wee’s playhouse, and takes viewers through wild explorations of Knowles’ favorite films and film genres with guests like Danny Boyle and film critic Leonard Maltin. Formerly produced in association with Nerdist, the show is now broadcast on local Austin PBS (which, as Knowles pointed out, means a lot less dirty language than the Nerdist incarnation – don’t even think about trying to say “friggin” on PBS).

Knowles is a fascinating guy – big, wild haired, wheelchair bound, and doubtlessly creditable, at least in part, for helping to push geek and comic culture further into the mainstream. His show is clearly a passion project for all involved and not a money-maker – hell, Hart’s production company is called “Sweat Equity Productions.” All that said, there wasn’t much to the panel here beyond hearing them talk about how much they love making the show, and watching Knowles passionately, often hilariously, digress into many film-related asides. If, like me, you’re a fan of Knowles and Aint it Cool News, then that was probably just fine with you, but if you weren’t…then why were you at this panel, anyway?


Stay tuned, we’ll have more great coverage from Austin coming up soon!

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SXSW Interactive Day 1: Al Gore Terrifies and Harry Knowles Geeks Out