Monday, December 10, 2012

Using Tiny Planet Mobile App for Teen Art Project

Tiny Planet Japantown, San Jose
Tiny Planet Cupertino
Mayfair Community, San Jose Tiny Planet

Recently I have been exploring the mobile app Tiny Planet and, while it is kind of a novelty app, I think it can be used to engaging students in a discussion about the boundaries of neighborhoods and communities. Are these boundaries hard and fast? Are they blurred? In what contexts are neighborhood bounding lines fixed and in what ways are they blurry and moving? By taking photos of key landscapes in their communities and then taking the photos into the Tiny Planet app, students see their photos of neighborhood transformed into little planets, detailed swirly marbles floating in the sky. The resulting images speak to the notion of neighborhoods as worlds onto themselves.

A collage of these "neighborhood planets" in a public transit setting would playfully engage the viewer in questioning the existence of distinct edges to communities. These little planets are intriguing distortions of our environments. Perhaps this twisted lens can playfully highlight that we move through many communities in our daily lives and that our neighborhoods really are not islands or worlds onto themselves.

A wall of these planet would engage the viewer (waiting for the train or bus) in trying to identify the locations of the photos. The installation would invite the viewer to think about issues of community isolation, community openness, the youth perspective (as pictures are taken by teens), about the preciousness of neighborhoods, and perhaps can in some way engage the viewer to think about how we move through these spaces and connect them. We connect these dots. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Concept Sketches for Reserch Center

Recently, I had the opportunity to submit design sketches for the creation of a large art installation to hang in the atrium of a new neurological research center. It will be exciting if this project comes to life. I would welcome the opportunity to reflect on cellular level forms in a large scale installation. A few years back I created an abstract Neuron Kimono that also reflected on neuron cells.

The wire frame of this new project would be covered with a mixture of old kimono fabrics, rice bags, recycled denim and Asian food wrappers. Layers of colored organza fabric would be stitched over the first layer of collage materials. The layered organza will reveal, in varying opacity, the textured materials below. I will also explore integrating Japanese sashiko stitching and Chinese knot cording to represent enzymes and electric impulses.

Below is the beginnings of a small scale model. Each banners will be 7 ft x 3 ft.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Japantown Mural Project Dedication

I am finally posting a few images from the dedication of the Japantown Mural project. Here is my mural, Noodle Sipper. My daughter was my model and she poses here in front of the digitally printed fence mural during the Obon Festival. The Japantown Mural Project was coordinated by Tamiko Rast of Rasteriods Design. There are around 60 panels and 30 artists involved.
A Keepsy book was created to celebrate the dedication and you can see it here:

Here is an earlier posting on the development of this mural panel, Noodle Sipper.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Seeking Shelter Public Art Installation!

This past weekend the Seeking Shelter bus stop shelter came to life as a public art installation at the ZERO1 Biennial Art & Technology Biennial. Below are some images of the project.
Installation set up on Friday Sept 12, 2012
Solar lights illuminate the roof of the structure at night.
Hanging wall garden and youth designed patterns reflecting on local community. QR codes link to website pages with student statements about their designs.
listening to the Seeking Shelter Design Challenge SoundCloud set
Playing on the "Mr. Potato Head" side of the bus stop shelter. People used MakeDo components to add shelves and vases.
Above: de-installation of the roof. It takes a village!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Instagram and Wall Garden

Experimenting with window decals and Instagram and Printsgram for the Seeking Shelter installation walls. Below is the decal film I bought at Staples with a Printsgram set printed on it. I envision people sharing Instagram images of Silicon Valley and printing them on window decal film at the ZERO1 Biennial. Visitors will stick them to the bus stop shelter installation.
Below is the back side of a polygal wall with images showing through.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Can on a string phones & wall gardens

I am very excited that Monkey Wrench Design is donating two cans on a sting phones to be used into the Seeking Shelter installation at the ZERO1 Biennial.
  1. The public will be invited to plug in their mobile devices and search specific tags in SoundCloud and listen to the audio there.
  2. The public will be invited to submit audio recordings of what they would like to see in a bus shelter (these statements they will tag with "seeking shelter"). I am so jazzed about this integration. I am beginning to sketch out how this set up will look. Here is my first concept sketch below. 

Below is a sketch of the back side of the bus stop installation. It will have various interactive components:
  1. The bus stop will have a herb wall garden of recycled plastic bottles. There will be a QR code link to a google form for people to submit recipes.
  2. Youth designed radial patterns reflecting on community as well as and instagram image will be made into window decals. Visitors will submit the instagram images and I will print on window decal film for them to place up on the walls. These will light up like stained glass at night.
Wall garden test using polygal, Makedo parts and water bottles.
Above, starter plugs bought from Glow Hydroponics. The goal of the installation is to inspire youth to think outside the box and envision what they would add to a bus shelter.  The bulk of the project is the Seeking Shelter Youth Design Challenge that will launch in the fall.

Above is the structure so far. It will be painted soon.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Seeking Shelter Installation Construction

This week I have been working with my father and children in constructing the Seeking Shelter installation for the ZERO1 Biennial. My father took my design sketches and has created the components that will come together to form the bus stop shelter. It has become a family affair with my children and dad helping.

My father testing out the layout of the roof attachments temporarily on short lengths of tubes. The final pillars will be 8 ft tall sonotubes generously donated by Pacific Paper Tube Inc.

Cole and my father work on designing connection points of pillars to roof.
Measuring for polygal walls.
Emily and my father priming part of the roof structure.
Emily and I are priming roof component.
David Okada cutting the base of the bus shelter.
The base of bus shelter is beginning to take shape. The base will be assembled from three panels that connect to each other with pop out pin hinges. These initial construction came together seamlessly due to my father's great planning and labeling of the parts which he hauled up to San Jose from his L.A. workshop. In a few weeks we will continue priming all the components and paint the final colors. I also hope to be getting polygal plastic for the walls of the structure.

One wall of the bus stop shelter will be an interactive surface projection using a wii remote interactive surface set up. Another wall of the shelters will invite visitors to add laser cut vinyl window decals. Another wall will have a hanging garden that is similar to this design of a hanging water bottle garden. All of these activities are to inspire youth to envision ideas for their creations for the Seeking Shelter Youth Design Challenge.
Cole creating a water bottle planter. Rows of these will be hung in rows from the outside of the shelter on one wall. We are planting mint, lettuce and some other plants.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Seeking Shelter Installation/ More Model studies

David Okada has been busy making another rough model study of my concept for a public participatory bus shelter installation that will be a part of the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial in September. He surprised me by sticking in scale figures that are my mom, sister and my children! The roof here does not reflect the shape or materials of the actual installation. The roof will be more dynamic that what is seen here.(see earlier blog postings) The final roof is made of pvc tubes and will be covered by floating polygal shapes sandwiched between mesh.
The stickers in this model (he used translucent Zip-A-Tone...remember that medium!) represent vinyl window decals that the public will stick to the polygal walls. I will be taking youth pattern reflections on local community and will be translating them into vector files (Illustrator) so that I can laser cut colored vinyl film, hopefully at the TechShop, to create the decals.

How will people interact with this installation?
  1. They will add vinyl decals (of various sizes and colors) to the walls to create a colorful collaborative collage. At night the shelter will light up like stained glass. (day and evening activity) This idea is inspired by the Obliteration Room by Yayoi Kusama.
  2. Using a wii remote interactive surface set up, the public will explore creating a large mural of patterns created from local photos. This will be on one wall of the shelter. (evening activity)
  3. Using Makedo connectors, the public will add components of polygal and cardboard to grow the space and to add their ideas of what other features it could have. (day and evening activity) We will be adding pre-drilled holes to the polygal to facilitate the connection of Makedo parts.
Table activity of small scale model making:
At the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial, there will also be tables set up at which the public can create small scale models of innovative bus shelters they envision. I just posted info in this lesson plan at Instructables. 5th graders I taught this school year will be assisting in teaching this workshop at the festival. We will have a diorama in which to photograph the festival creations and upload them to a flickr set for sharing with the schools participating in the Seeking Shelter Design Challenge.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Seeking Shelter Installation Roof Design

Top view of roof
Underside view of roof
My dad, toy designer David Okada, has been busy working on creating the roof framework for the Seeking Shelter installation that will be a part of the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial. He heat bent pvc tubes to create the arch drawn in our sketches. The wooden discs will anchor the roof to the pillar supports. The thin wooden strips are channels for the polygal walls to slip into.

As a former VP of Boys Toys at Mattel and as a former Director of Inventor Relations at Mattel Toys, my dad has a deep knowledge of materials and construction techniques for both prototyping and for final design constructions. I am very lucky to have him working on this project!

We will be painting both the wood and pvc tubes. I will be sourcing the sonotube support pillars and polygal wall materials in the next few days. In the coming weeks we will be considering how we will possibly integrate Makedo elements into the pieces so that festival attendees can add their building ideas to this bus shelter. I also will have a wii interactive surface setup on one of the bus shelter walls so that people can create dynamic mural patterns on the walls using Repper and photos youth have taken of Silicon Valley.

At tables nearby, we will have model building workshops where people can create prototypes of multipurpose bus shelters, photograph them in a diorama and then upload the images to a flickr site to share as inspiration images for the Seeking Shelter Design Challenge.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Wrap It Up! Youth video interviews with mural artists

Mural design using archeological artifacts (cow bones for soups and porcelain bowl fragments). Artifacts are from dig site from within the fence area.
QR codes on mural wrap will link to videos hosted on Next Vista for Learning.
A youth video project will launch in the fall that will engage San Jose Japantown youth in interviewing 30 or so local mural artists. The collaborative mural will be a digital fence wrap on the fence bounding Jackson, 6th, Taylor and 7th Street. On the project site, , I am slowly building out the project and lesson plans.

Google SketchUp/Seeking Shelter

 In the last few weeks I have been conducting Google SketchUp workshops with 5th graders at two schools, one in Cupertino and the other in San Jose, California. I am working with 132 students. Students are learning how to create solid geometry forms from plane geometry shapes and are thinking about creating a 3D space that people move through. They will be creating their vision of bus shelters. On the surfaces of their structures they are applying their pattern designs reflecting on community.
 What I learn in teaching these workshops has led to revisions in lesson plans on the Slot Shelters site in the Google SketchUp workshop section. I have been fortunate to bring in HP tablets loaded with SketchUp in to the classrooms. The Krause Center for Innovation has been very generous to loan me these computer for these workshops. In the coming weeks student designs will be uploaded to the SketchUp 3D warehouse.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Maker Faire Educator MeetUp

Yesterday I attended the Maker Faire Educator MeetUp at the San Mateo Fairgrounds. I was only able to attend one hour as I had two school open houses to attend, but, wow, what a great preview! It was very inspiring.

Marc de Vinck, Director of Product Development for Makezine, invites educators to experiment with LED lights and batteries.
The first station I came upon was this visually inviting one with colorful LED lights and batteries. This is a great hands on lead-in exploration to introduce youth to electrical circuitry. It is also inexpensive. Marc de Vinck told me that best way to source the LED lights is by searching for bulk LED lights is on eBay (about 1.80 for pack of 15 lights). The lithium batteries are from IKEA and a pack of 8 is $2.00. A roll of duct tape from Home Depot is around $4.00. So for about $17.00 (including shipping costs) you can conduct this really memorable and fun exercise in a classroom of 33. There are cool collaborative public art projects using these components. I saw this video quite a few years ago, but it is stuck in my head:
I would love to do a project that integrates these LED throwies (the most expensive components are the rare-earth magnets...the cheapest that would work are around .15 cents each)

The other booth/station I spent a lot of time at was hosted by BrainSpaces in partnership with the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Their Maker Faire project invites youth to envision a better school locker. Their project site is elegant and so very well structured to walk one through the design process. It was incredibly inspiring to chat with Kelly Tanner of Brain Spaces and I wish I had know about this project earlier. It overlaps a lot with what I am doing in the Slot Shelters project and the Seeking Shelter Design Challenge.

You can see in the image below how engrossed educators were in exploring Google SketchUp to create their lockers.

As I walked to my car I took a picture of a public art project that will be installed during the Maker Faire. To me this dandelion sculpture (I think it lights up at night) really symbolizes the Educator MeetUp; teachers will return to their classrooms with seeds of inspiration for projects to engage their students with in the coming academic year. We have the summer to stew upon ideas. Can't wait to see what grows from these seeds of thoughts planted.