What is Leisure & Entertainment 2.0?

Should new modes of Leisure & Entertainment be created (or anticipated) that do not vector in on “industrial” entertainment models of production, distribution — even genre? That is, why would we expect that the forms of media apparati that are dominantly understood as “entertainment” or as “leisure” be able to accommodate the modes of of such media today?

Should DIY (or amateur) media production (or even DIY craft, DIY electronics, etc.) aspire to emulate or work within, say, Hollywood standards (or standards of commodity craft or electronics)?

Goal: Understand the possibilities for a reconfigured sense of what Leisure & Entertainment are in such a way that these new practices are aligned with an apparatus that is better suited to these new practices. What would that new kind of Leisure & Entertainment look like?

Trackback: Thoughts provoked by the first ACC DIY Speaker Series conversations.

Device Art

I just read through a short, incisive little essay by Machiko Kushahara called Device Art: A New Form of Media Art from a Japanese Perspective in the v6, n2 issue of intelligent agent.

There are a couple of things that resonated in the piece, mostly the way the piece starts by explicating this notion of device art as a kind of theory object (here we go again..) that allows for what Kusahara describes as a re-examination of the relationships amongst art, science and technology. That is, the practice of creating a kind of media art that dices, slices and re-arranges what we understand to be art, what we understand to be science and what we take for granted as technology. I’m also intrigued by the Kusahara’s description of the cultural distinctions between Japanese cultural traditions in this area, versus what I understand about American cultural traditions surrounding device technologies and creation practices.

Many of the concepts in there I think are relevant for the projects that end up happening at IMD — it’s a short read that I highly recommend.

Why do I blog this? You know — the familiar sense that there are things we make that are framed as media art, some things framed as engineering technologies or science research. Personally, I would like to do both simultaneously, a sentiment I think I share with many others.

Obviously, these goal are in the life-long category. That’s hard, but certainly not impossible. You have to be able to reframe your work in a variety of contexts, which means being able to talk about your work (literally, or write about it) fluently in many idioms. (Many of the artists mentioned in the essay do that expertly — Maywa Denki being the one with whom I am most familiar.)That’s a challenge, which can be overcome through diligent practice. That is, as an exercise, frame your work as a media art, engineering design, contributing to long-term science research, etc. Naimark framed this notion as a variety of pitches to different sorts of people. It was something like, making your project resonate with a film producer, venture capitalist, media arts curator, your parents and a kindergarten teacher in 3 minute pitches?

DIY at Foo Camp, and Why Chumby Matters

I was deliriously fortunate to have been invited to spend the weekend at Foo Camp a weekend ago and equally fortunate to have met a number of hardware makers and hackers including Nathan Siedel from Spark Fun and Colin Cross, engineer by day and open cell phone developer by night.

[wikilike_img src=http://static.flickr.com/89/227229729_caf0f1d0cd_m.jpg|align=thumb tcenter|width=180|caption=Nathan Siedel, Spark Fun Electronics|url=http://www.sparkfun.com]

[wikilike_img src=http://static.flickr.com/75/227226498_7539ffa997_m.jpg|align=thumb tleft|width=180|caption=Colin Cross, Open Cell Phone Hacker|url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/julianbleecker/227226498/]

[wikilike_img src=http://static.flickr.com/64/225599650_01abe8638c_m.jpg|align=thumb tcenter|width=240|caption=Tux Phone|url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/julianbleecker/225599650/]

One of those brilliant makers is bunnie of the eponymous “bunnie studios, LLC”, who is the tech brains behind the Chumby. Chumby is a small, craft hack friendly device that plugs into the wall, and plugs into a wireless, 802.11 network. It’s got an LCD display with touch screen, a squeeze sensor, a USB port and an ARM-based processor. It runs Linux, has an Adobe Flash player — suitable for running network enabled Flash Lite content.

[wikilike_img src=http://static.flickr.com/86/228818319_d21c632668_o_d.jpg|url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/33515138@N00/228818319/in/photostream|width=500|align=thumb tcenter|caption=Chumby & Coffee]

It doesn’t require a torx wrench or rivet shears to take apart, has web-based forums dedicated to hardware and software hacking itself, has instructions for how to build your own (from schematics to a bill of materials) and has no keyboard.

These last points are why Chumby matters. Whether or not the business plan behind Chumby Studios takes hold (meaning, sustains a thorough-going commercial enterprise), the move toward open-hardware and open-source designed objects is very exciting. It’s an important progression toward empowering DIY cultures, in several senses — you can make it yours by changing it to suit your needs, sensibilities, aesthetics; you can more easily make it yours by participating amongst a community like-minded participants who may lend suggestions or advice; you share what you’ve done amongst others, an important character of communities of common interest; you don’t have to completely lock your attention to it the way you do with most typical computational and networkable devices, which require you to stare continuously at a screen and bang at keys on a keyboard.