Via the New York Times’ Lively Morgue blog, “In 1955, a 14-year-old with ambitions to go to the moon built a robot he named Gismo, winning the Industrial Arts Competition run by the Ford Motor Company. Gismo walked, talked and waved his arms, and he cost $15 to make. He was one of 72 examples of craftsmanship by teenagers on display at the Waldorf-Astoria.” (via silencematters)
So what’s wrong with us now? Can our kids still do this? Are they less educated? Less mechanically inclined? Are the tools of manufacture too complex and removed from them? Are the skills of manual labor devalued bu their surrounding people and culture?
I think the entire system of early childhood development and education is completely out of alignment with reasonable expectations for the life goals of the majority of American children and teaches them to devalue rudimentary materials and skills that were the grist for the mill of human innovation for millenia. I am percolating and bringing together ideas from a number of directions in which I’ working at the moment and hope to arrive at a cohesive early childhood educational philosophy in the next year or two.
Virginia Postrel has an opinion piece in Bloomberg exploring how 3D mapping and rapid prototyping are bringing difficult to see pieces of art into the classroom. Surprisingly or not, institutions like the Met and Getty are engaged with Makerbot to create libraries of accessible 3D digital files that can output scale reproductions of 3D works of art. Intellectual property and authenticity issues surrounding reproduction are sure to arise as they have since the birth of industrialization (see Walter Benjamin’s 1936 essay Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction) but I’m heartened by the generosity with which art institutions seem to be willing to open their doors via any means available. Even Makerbots.
Today I am inspired by rumors I heard about John Travolta. So on this day after a momentus day in the history of our nation’s socio-political landscape, I too am coming out of the closet and prepare to be wed. To web.
The truth is, I have always wanted to know how to program a website. There. I said it, it’s out. Yes, yes, I am valued by my clients as a brick and mortar kind of design/build guy, and I can be frequently heard calling myself a luddite, but secretly I look at html/css class schedules at 3rd Ward and buy intructional books at Barnes & Noble, and shamefully keep them spine-in on a shelf by the bed painfully wondering when I will ever be able to program a website myself like those other cool kids and cease to be a slave to their plug-ins and cryptic jokes all riddled with m-dashes and back slashes.
ell, today all that changes, now that I have found Jessica Hische and Russ Maschmeyer’s instructional site Don’t Fear the Internet (with videos!). Full discloser: I have had a design crush on Hische for a while now. Her skills are sick. And I have come very close to working with Russ. I contacted Russ via Liz Danzigo at SVA Interaction Design because I needed a programmer, well, because– wait for it– I don’t know how to program a fucking website!! But again, today all that changes. Those two are geniuses. Check out the site. Extremely clear. While watching one of the videos I almost started crying as I considered the world of code that would suddenly demystify in front of my eyes. Matrix, here I come….
It’s always a pleasure to be invited back to Pratt at year’s end to be a guest critic at reviews. There was some really strong work this year.
Brooklyn Tech, as it’s known, has some great stone work on its facade, with inspiring machine age iconography. The building was built from 1930-33, at the exact time as Rockefeller Center, and its exterior iconography is of the same post-crash, WPA vintage and spirit, calling people to work hard and to excel in sciences, technology, industry and American innovation. We seriously need a big ass booster shot of that stuff in this country. Read more on wikipedia… and marvel at the facilities originally housed inside for educating young New Yorkers in real trades.
Henry Cutler, the Brooklyn transplant industrial designer/owner of Amsterdam based Workcycles has a great piece on the stages of teaching children to ride a bicycle. Read for yourself… (by the way, check out that badass cross frame Opa in the background of the photo above. Gorgeous.)
Ron Gabriel’s 2011 design thesis from SVA focuses on the three parties involved in the war that is the streets of NYC: pedestrians, cyclists and automobiles. His work focused on one intersection in particular and in a fascinating video he highlights the turbulence and near misses of how the three parties use and abuse traffic laws. Personally, I’m pleased to see someone take an examined and seemingly unbiased eye to all involved parties and suggest that it is not just cyclists that need change, but pedestrians and drivers. I look forward to digging further into his work and conclusions. But take a look at this video for sure….
It’s a real honor to be able to announce the new Products of Design MFA program at SVA beginning Fall 2013 and to be a part of its accomplished faculty. Department chair and mastermind Allan Chochinov has put together an amazing cast of characters to carry forward his mission to teach design with less emphasis on artifacts and greater emphasis on systems and consequences. The role of design and designers is changing and Allan has been a passionate and inspiring voice for moving the study and practice of design in a new direction. I am proud to have been his student and to call him a mentor and even more proud that now that he has his platform he has asked me to join the cause.