Weekending 03182012

In Geneva, Nicolas returned from SXSW 2012 to give an afternoon workshop with students at the Swiss Institute of Technology in Lausanne (part of their semester project)… and work on the game controller project with Laurent Bolli. There’s indeed a new opportunity to show some joypads in a design exhibit. Since the official ones are currently on display at the Swiss Museum of Science-Fiction, there’s a need to find new angles… which we worked on last Friday. Apart from that, the book about this project is moving slowly (introduction ready, chapter 1 being half-baked) and we had phone calls with potential clients about ethnographic research for new product development.

After SXSW 2012, Julian headed back to Los Angeles Julian to jump back into working on the Project Audio stuff. Hardware for Marshall Stack should be done by the end of this week. There was also some work in the model shop to find space and make a business case for a new set of machines — a pick ‘n place machine for the electronics bay which will make assembly and prototyping cycles much faster. Otherwise, there was a fun interview on usethis.com.

And Fabien returned from vacation last Sunday.

Week Ending 052110

Stamen Aphorisms

Good to my habits, I’m nearly a week behind weeknotes. No matter — they are more notes-to-self than anything else.

Last week — the one that ended on Friday the 21st — was a week of busy-bodying some knowledge for a small audio electronics prototype, which included remembering how the heck Op-Amps work. Clearly I was in need of some making activities because this one became obsessive. ((I haven’t been in the shop in weeks and I’m becoming symptomatic.))

Matt Biddulph visited the studio, which was awfully nice to be able to share some of our work with a sympathetic earball, and then to hear of what he is doing in and around the Nokia battleship.

Started reading Obliquity in the hopes of finishing it to write up a small review but, well — it’s another one of those business books that was derived from a newspaper essay and probably should’ve stayed at that. There’s not much more that should be said, unless you’re into endless examples shoe-horned into a principle, about taking the *oblique approach to achieving a goal, enjoying the journey, following your curiosity and passion. And this translates, in the business idiom, roughly to examples of those who claim to have gone after what they believed rather than shareholder value and profits, which, in the examples, are shown to just *come when business leaders just do what their heart tells them to do. Actually kinda silly, really. I mean that in the kindest way, but, you know.. ((I was hoping for something closer to The Craftsman. ((Parenthetically, I found this other Obliquity: Speculative Fiction from the Pacific Northwest while poking around for the business-y Obliquity..maybe I should read that instead as a purgative.

Those are the highlights, I would say.

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Week Ending 051410

Not A Drill

Well, the house is proving a persistent but not at all unwelcome distraction from blogging stuff, but that’s okay. Managing to set up even a M*A*S*H*-like *Man Lodge was mitigated by, like..unpacking scores of boxes containing mostly books, old disk drives or bits and bobs from the old Laboratory workbench. But, alas — the embryonic Laboratory / Man Lodge is clear enough to hold a desk, stereo and bicycle with room to pace contemplatively whilst sipping a tincture of Port in a purloined *Oriental Brewery beer glass ((evening) or mug of coffee ((morning)).


Last week felt the blitz from weaving my brain back and forth between meeting builders and minding some quite engaging and provocative studio projects. Lots of fun in the studio these days. Maybe the second time in the *two years ((the anniversary for being a proper, full-time Nokian passed on Friday)) that I felt that a big project really was a big project. ((Not to say the others were not — rather that the calibre of engagement, requirements, expectation and leadership might suggest that this is not a drill.))

So — there’s been lots of work getting into the material, defining the shape and contours of it. This is the work of describing to ourselves what it is and what it means — moving from intuition and the vague vernacular of the *top-level, into the material itself. You run across the dips and bumps and questions that can only come from digging deep into the material in a very materialistic way. How do you translate intuition and instinct into something that is communicable beyond a vague — “it’s kinda like”? Clearly it takes time and a willingness to get beyond the unease of not knowing how to talk about something, or even those moments when you think — you know what? This is the stupidest thing in the world — no one will like this. We’ll be ridiculed.

In the midst of doing this it becomes clear that design cannot be done without the designing. You can’t just write or PowerPoint it. If you don’t break a sweat or nick a finger — if *you don’t — you’re not doing the design work. The things you find out from materializing an idea rather than just screenizing it — if you don’t get into the material itself, make the thing and keep making it over and over — you won’t find the depth of it.

And — you can’t just specify requirements, or get all high-falutin about the implications, or assume because you’ve stated your point but haven’t been able to enroll others in your mission that you’ve done the work. Cause, like..you haven’t. So..that’s that.

That current flowed through the week itself.

Then there was this crazy crit session at the USC Architecture School. Wow — Neil had his hands full. The architects he brought in were, like..I don’t even know. Rarely even handed with the students — maybe that was just apparent to me. I don’t really believe in critiquing by pummeling. Anyway — I said all I need to say in an earlier post. But — that was something I did last week.

The Drift Deck work continues apace, although we missed our call last week because of various and sundry commitments to other things.

There was a bit of play getting back into *Max/MSP for some prototyping ((never ceases to amaze me how Baroque that thing is — what a wrestling match)) and *Logic which is exploding heads in the Laboratory.

That’s it.

Continue reading Week Ending 051410

Week Ending 04232010

Saturday April 10 17:30 Ver.1.01

Well, I missed the Week Ending last week so I’ll capture a couple of the things that happened then, now.

There were a cacophony of tasks to be done, some fun, some that should’ve been fun, and all that tipped me into a level of activity-stress that translated into too little sleep and various physical ailments. These aren’t complaints at all — just a note-to-self to either learn how to manage multiple concurrent fun commitments, or spread them out like butter on a baguette.

There was a Skype lecture between here and Seoul given for a design seminar at Art Center Nabi. That was a curious thing — to lecture with the audience *sort of* there. Basically akin to talking to yourself, or rehearsing a lecture. I’m not sure I could do that again, comfortably. Aside from the challenges of dialing back my weird circumlocutions and the litany’s I dispense midtalk while trying to remember what my next point should be, or might’ve been had I not forgotten it moments earlier — it’s just a bit impersonal. Or maybe it was just the fact that it was 11 in the evening after a proper day in the studio and I just wanted to have a belt and fall asleep.

It was a roilingly active week in the studio, with this sense that there was an intense and focused round of design work on the horizon, and the sort — systemically speaking — that Nicolas and I had pondered would be an ideal way of working, especially after we both made a turn from academic and formal approaches to making things. Looking at the world obliquely, learning from new perspectives and points-of-view, redefining or differently defining what *success and *achievement might be — not just up-and-to-the-right. Somewhat in line with this talk at Lift in 2008 7.5 Rules for Working Together. I’m quite excited by the prospect this bit of work allows for a more skunky/stinky untoward refrain to the normal ways in which things are done. A bit — tip-of-the-spear actions.

Via our weekly Skype, forward progress continues on the iPhone edition of The Drift Deck, with Jon Bell and Dawn Lozzi taking that bull by its horns. Of course, we’re all excited by the prospect of a second life for The Drift Deck — and curious by the translation of a physical deck of cards into its electronic kin. There are a couple of iterations already. Engaged simplicity is the goal. There were discussions that I prompted around game mechanics — don’t know why I, in particular, would be bringing this topic up — and I think the conclusion is that it is what it is. The deck, is the deck.

The Apparatus for Capturing Other Points of View was sent to LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial, where it — and the material produced — will be in an exhibition next month. ((More on that in the appropriate week note)). That was an epic undertaking — I mean the operational mishegoss of sending an 8 foot pole to Spain. DHL took it in stride..literally.

@ibogost was a house guest as he had some weird lecture to do, and that meant snifters of Port in the kitchen talking about #OOO, the shapes of things and a discussion of knob-turned-to-11 materializations of social practices, which is something I’m trying to figure out how to talk about beyond just saying that and, as it turns out — it might make more sense to materialize the “talk” about that than to just talk about it. And he’s on this *Carpentry thing, which I think would be our point of contact on this whole Object-Oriented Ontology vector he and his 12 friends appear to be all hopped-up about. ((They had a seminar on it last week — I hope it was captured in something ≫ 140 character tweets. ((That’s the 12 other people all hopped up on #OOO, and I might be number 13 based on our boozy conversation.))

Saturday April 10 17:30 Ver.1.01

This actual week — all that except @ibogost’s visit was the week before — started off with performing the duties of guest critic for the Art Center College of Design’s Media Design Program’s thesis year projects. That was a completely full day — almost 10 hours — of crits. Good work all around, with some curiously strong failures and seductively tenuous successes. Despite the work, which I certainly enjoyed in total, the crits were lots of fun, tiring and engaged. That culture of this sort of design critique was something sorely missing at the Interactive Media Program, leastways when I was there and I reflected on that contrast in the back of my mind. It’s something that is a way of working in the studio, frankly and only adds to the work. Patient, mindful intervention; conscientious and respectful criticisms; hard intellectual and creative framing that is only meant to make the work better.

The rest of the week consisted of some low-key efforts to have Design engage Research differently. We’ve been doing roughly monthly, completely casual, completely self-initiated link-ups with the Research part of the organization, mostly because there are friends there and it’s nice to share and discuss projects. Never really looking for *actionable points of collaboration — the collaboration is in the discussions. For me professionally, The Laboratory is much more interested in finding ways of working than specific things to work on, although sometimes specific things to work on are the ways you understand how different disciplines do what they are disciplined to do. Later in the week when there was another link-up, I found myself a bit sensitive to these different ways of working — Research wants a particular kind of action to unfold rather than action-as-reflection. It’s all sorted out somehow — we just need to make it, and that will be that. Rather than the *crit and the conversations that wonder in the first instance — why this and in this instantiation? Or — let’s throw out all that *work and start fresh with the possibility that we will come back to it at some point. Or, the journey rather than the finalé.

It all ended with a confidential review and excitement about the approaching National Pretzel Day, as well as the book launch of Digital Blur at The Architectural Association on Tuesday evening.

The Week Ending 150110

Saturday January 16 15:51

From here, the next week begins. Sayulita, Mexico to repast, float, read, drink and celebrate with friends, a friend’s birthday.

The week began with the Microsoft Social Computing Symposium, 2010 edition. I’ve put my notes from the event here in the immediately preceding blog post.

Back in the studio on Thursday and Friday to tidy up a few loosened ends with the Trust project and coordinating some final assembly particulars with Tom, Simon and the fine folks at the prototyping family house Aeolab for the second clock. The industrial design is fantastic and lovely which only complements the provocation of new interaction rituals embodied in the object itself. Next Tuesday should be close to the last hand-off of hardware and I suspect we’ll begin machining next week, and finalize some decisions about stock and some workarounds to avoid a rather expensive block of acrylic.

I did a share on the project in-house on Friday, sort of slipping and sliding over the story and the communication — it’s been probably a month since I’ve been up in it, what with the holiday break and all. Soon, it’ll be back on the tip of my tongue.
Continue reading The Week Ending 150110