Hungry Hungry HIPPOs

If you are in my generation (this is sam writing)..ahem..you might remember this game:

Hungry Hungry Hippos

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungry_Hungry_Hippos

Well, although the above is technically off topic, ASTRODIME’s current research is on invasive species, weeds, and climate change. In the spirit of that, we will share a picture of a hippopotums eating water hyacinth.

http://blog.wildlife-pictures-online.com/large-mammals/hippo-draped-in-water-hyacinth/

The above link is from Scott Macaskill, a photographer and blogger who posts images of wildlife in Africa. Check his facebook page out for more info: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wildlife-Pictures-Online/

One thing about water hyacinth:

It is considered one of the world’s most invasive plants, according to the Global Invasive Species Database. (Provenance of that web site still unclear, but it does have handy info)

http://www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?si=70&fr=1&sts=sss&lang=EN

It is the topic of my dissertation, water hyacinth. (Me being sam smiley)  In the next few years, one of the long research arms of AstroDime may extend into this inquiry..

In general, AstroDime is currently concerned with our usual topics of communication and transportation, but we are also researching climate change in the Anthropocene era. Yes the era in which human activities CHANGE global climate conditions. Yikes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropocene

In closing, I would highly like to recommend this book which made me both laugh and cry at the same time at human attempts to regulate water ecologies in the early 1900′s. LIFE, I say, is ALWAYS stranger than fiction.

https://read.atavist.com/americanhippopotamus

-sam smiley

Art, critical thinking, ethnography, and STS

Here’s an AstroDime Special Report on the 4S conference (http://4sonline.org) held in San Diego October 9-12, given by AstroDimer sam smiley

My concentration here will be on art and ethnography. I’m not necessarily looking at the big “art and science” question because there are value sets in both the visual arts and in science and technology that are too large for me to break down, and to start by deconstructing those would mean that I would never get down to my personal arts, ethnography and STS detective work.

One session that proved to be important to me was the following:

The work I enjoyed from this panel was Anne Galloway’s ethnographic work with sheep farms, sheep, farmers in New Zealand..and the artwork that has come out of it. It’s truly “situated artwork” and speculative fiction. Her talk was titled “Speculating the Multispecies Internet”.

Her current links for the project are here:

http://www.countingsheep.info

and you can follow her research blog here.

http://www.designculturelab.org/projects/counting-sheep-project-overview/

Another talk from this “Critical Making” panel was on the materiality of data, and making data narratives (Yanni Loukissas and Laura Forlano). I actually found this work (a form of performing data collection in the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, massachusetts) really useful both for STS connections and Qualitative Arts Based Research. They are intersted in “codesigning technoscience” and “hands on ethnography” and do ethnographic scavenger hunts and co-designing workshops. Here is a web site from their recent work in the Arnold Arboretum completed this past June of 2013

http://stsdesignworkshop.tumblr.com/

A note about the organizers of the Critical making panels: The Critical Making movement originates out of the Critical Making Lab in University of Toronto

http://criticalmaking.com/

They put out a great ‘zine called Critical Making

http://www.conceptlab.com/criticalmaking/

The first issue had an insert and parody on MAKE magazine (a sort of commodified DIY guide published by O’Reilly)

I found the concept of critical making really really interesting because it had some of the same critiques of DIY ish “Maker” culture in the U.S that I have thought about..overwhelmingly white, male, and uncritically “making”. The Critical Making group also involves craft in the concept of their work, which I appreciated.  Because when I had followed and read the original MAKE magazines, I noticed that O’Reilly split the concept of craft off from the “maker” concept..(in another magazine called “CRAFT”) effectively reinscribing the gender divide that the “democratizing” MAKEr movement was supposed to bridge. But enough of my ranting..

Back to 4S..another talk that combined the arts and STS for me was actually on another panel..but had a lot in common with the previous aforementioned presentations. It was in the “In Search of ‘lines of flights’  in/to/for/by Latin America and Elsewhere” organized by Ivan da Costa Marques.

Within the first session was a presentation by Wendy Cano (researcher) that involved a collaboration with her sister Frida Cano (artist) in looking at corn as culture, and the uses of trangenic corn.This blog site has really great documentation of the project..an artistic cross cultural exchange on the meaning of corn that took place in Schöppingen, Germany in the spring of 2012. There is a great art book with Wendy’s writing, and also documentation of recipes from that experience. You can find examples in this blog entry: http://fridacano.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/vitamina-t/

My summary from these small samples are this: that the arts in STS can have a few models.. but the most effective models seem to work well with a collaboration of STS methods of research, and artists interested in ethnographic field work.

one model is using art to “co-design” field research such as with the work of Yanni Loukissas and Laura Forlano,

one model is doing critical public art with STS themes such as the work with Wendy and Frida Cano,

one model is somewhat like Anne Galloway’s art and ethnography work.. to create “artifacts” or fictions that result from the research and from collaboration with other artists.

I will close with a totally unrelated post. I was lucky enough to see Donna Haraway present a book Insectopedia by Hugh Raffle. First, I love the book. and I’m not really into bugs.  It has exactly the kind of esoteric bits and pieces I love to follow and file somewhere. Also Haraway’s description of a “tangled coexistence” with insects is totally creepy but real. Donna Haraway talked about digging ticks out of her skin. But somehow it was a lot more poetic.

SLSA 2013 roundup (Postnatural)

Astrodime member sam smiley attended the SLSA conference (Society for Literature, Arts and Sciences) in South Bend Indiana, October 3-6, 2013.  The theme was Postnatural. http://litsciarts.org/slsa13/

What follows is a incomplete summary:

AstroDime is hard at work on finishing INtransit V.7: Invaders!, and we are starting research on INtransit V.8 (most likely weeds). My presentation was on weeds as boundary objects. So this conference (as well as the follow STS conference) was very valuable for the development of these ideas. I also would like to mention there was a great accompanying art exhibit too at this conference.

Since I am actually teaching a class on gaming using a program called Scratch, I  paid attention especially to the gaming tracks:

Digital humanities theorist N. Katherine Hayles worked with a team of  collaborators at Duke University (at the Greater Than Games Lab http://www.fhi.duke.edu/labs/greaterthangames to create an alternate reality game (ARG in the lingo) based on economics and the financial crash in the U.S. in 2008.  It is called http://speculat1on.net (that’s a number 1 for the name)

There was a great talk on Queer Videogame Ecologies..Edmond Chang spoke about queer subtexts in the film Wreck it Ralph. And I got myself online with Minecraft, thanks to Amanda Phillips. I think I also got a lead on another queer game artist:  Electronic Game art by Merrit Kopas
http://mkopas.net/

I went to the first panel of Object Oriented Feminism. (some of my notes)

And a not-to be missed panel with artists Praba Pilar and Adam Zaretsky

Thoughts I left with..and took into the following 4S conference:
If an artist gets trained in social science or visual anthropology..at some point (I did anyway) I became very self conscious about the ethics of representation..I was able to surmount this but..is this…

Hacking Arts

Saturday Sept 28, Astrodime introduced new products at a conference on art and entrepreneurship held at the MIT media lab and hosted by the Sloan School.

We collected new Apps and accessories for the iCAN, demoed our products, and stepped up our marketing with the Astrodime Electronic and Tin Can Marching band.

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INVADERS! Dead Man’s Fingers

AstroDime is doing some work with ideas around Invasive Species in Provincetown, and we will have an exhibit at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies in June 0f 2013. Part of the work that I (sam smiley) am doing is identifying aquatic invasive species in Provincetown.

The Aquatic Invasive Species group (based in Massachusetts) has provided ID cards for Aquatic Invasive Species.

Here’s a link to the main site:

http://www.mass.gov/czm/invasives/index.htm

and to the ID cards:

http://www.mass.gov/czm/invasives/monitor/id.htm

I decided to share an ID card and also my underwater version of the Invader! It is also known as Codium fragile, Dead Man’s Fingers,  green fleece, green sea fingers, oyster thief, and Sputnik weed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codium_fragile

Dead Man's Fingers

Here’s my version, which I would like to call “Space Invaders”

asteroids from AstroDime Transit on Vimeo.

Weeds

Weed Science Society of America

Astrodime Transit Authority is working on a video about weeds.

In February 2011, AstroDime Transit Authority got a press pass to visit the Weed Science Society of America’s conference in Portland Oregon. Astrodimer Lena Munday asked members of the society “What is a weed?”

After two years of sitting on the editing room shelves, sam smiley is editing these series of interviews. Combining audio interviews, images from the conference program, and images from a book about plants written in the 1500′s, this promises to be a meditation on the nature of weeds and weediness.

So what is a weed? STS theorist Susan Leigh Starr might call it  “boundary object”, something that has different meanings to different groups of people.

I’m stumbling across all kinds of great sources, including an online library of public domain botanical books.

http://www.biolib.de/

I’m also looking at Asa Gray’s article “The Pertinacity and predominance of weeds” written in 1879

http://books.google.com/books?id=_48KAAAAMAAJ&lpg=PA234&ots=0iBRBGwJc1&dq=the%20pertinacity%20and%20predominance%20of%20weeds&pg=PA234#v=onepage&q=the%20pertinacity%20and%20predominance%20of%20weeds&f=false

and Gerard’s original text and images from his plant book written in 1633 titled The Herball, or, Generall Historie of Plantes

http://caliban.mpiz-koeln.mpg.de/gerarde/index.html

Bike Stencil paintings!

Here’s a little DIY from AstroDime Transit Authority member sam smiley. Somerville Massachusetts is a great biking community, and smiley took pictures of the bike stencils which are everywhere throughout Somerville. Then she made stencils out of them and created Bike Stencil paintings! A lot of inspiration for this project has been from a wonderful book called Stencil Nation.

Here’s a link to this amazing book:

http://www.stencilnation.org/

Enjoy!

iCAN development in Mexico, Parte Dos

Here are the inventions of the various “startup groups” who are working on iCAN apps and accessories in Mexico City. AstroDime members are carefully considering these proposals, and we will post the winning proposals on our research page. At the bottom of the page is our “request for proposals”

“No Name Inc.”

Don’t know who is in this group.

1) sticker for any map of a subway in the world (app)
2) app with pen and post-it (app)
3) A little bell attached to the iCAN to show you the new calls (app)
4) Interchangable cans with different colors and designs (accessory)
——————————————
Another group with no name
(Don’t know who is in this group)
1) ReciclArte (con Lupa, GPS, Agenda, y T.P.)
“Sobreviviendo con tu iCAN”
[Ilana what does that mean?]
——————————————
Another group with no name:

1) iCAN study (APP)
-repeat ALOUD an interesting sentence of your homework
-repeat what you listen
-repeat what you listen
-repeat what you listen

2) iSOLO:
-Just hum your favorite song
-make sure your voice is sweet
-if your ear hurts, you are making it bad. If you just fall in love with yourself, record your song and be famous.
——————————————
“Wissard Company”
(don’t know who is in it)
the iORACULO
tells your fortune
(APP)
——————————————
“Gato Ruso”
Tania X. Enriquez Jiménez
Norma Briseño Urbina
Paola E. Nieto Paredes
Eugenia B. Sánchez N. Rubalcaba

1)iStalk (you can spy on your friends)
2) iCanMusic (amplify your music through your iCAN!)
3) iBolsa (make your iCAN portable with all of your apps. (Accessory)
——————————————

“Can Trap Software Development: Making everyday life more practical”
Andrea Nuñez
Valeria Vasquez
Ana Mirales
1) App Retro Calculator: it is an abacus you can incorporate into your iCAN
2) App Radio Can: you can listen to all your favorite music, FM radio, etc. just turn one end of the iCAN and approach it to the speaker
3) App Earthquake alert: if you need to be protected from natural disasters. This app can help you detect earthquakes on time. You just fill your iCAN with water and if you see the surface shaking you know you have to protect yourself.
——————————————
“Chungas”
(Don’t know who is in this group)
1) Two people can speak together with their iCANs right next to each other. So that these two people seem like they talk to each other but they talk alone. The objective is to demonstrate that people don’t listen to each other, only to themselves. [Note: We suggested a magnet so that both iCANS would stick together)

2) iFondo
“Soul of the Party”. People can drink a “fondo” of beer in one can.

3) iSleep or iDuermo
If you want to sleep on the Metro, with iCAN you can. You stretch it out, put one end on your knees, and rest your chin on the other side, and then you can fall into a deep dream.

——————————————
“iKit Store”
Daniella Castro R.
Laura Castellanos

Note: this is primarily accessories

-iChain: keep your iCAN wherever you go
-iMirror: if you always want to look pretty buy this accessory (note, i think it is software -sam)
-iSpeaker: Say aloud your thoughts
-iWatch: straps on to the iCAN. For being on time.
-iDrinking Barrel: use it as a straw!
-iSpy: get noticed of the recent gossip
-iHelium: use helium balloons and listen to your amazing words and then listen to your mouse voice
-iCaps: transform your iCAN into a thermos of your favorite beverage

“Loser Corp”
Introducing the iSmoke. Weed and smoke on one side, infinite happiness on the other.

HERE IS ASTRODIME’S ORIGINAL RFP (request for proposals)

iCAN development in Mexico

In April, AstroDime Think Tank Operator sam smiley went to a class at Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana, in Mexico City. The class is called Problemas contemporáneos y nuevas tecnologías en el arte, or “Contemporary problems and new technologies in art” and it is taught by professor Ilana Boltnivik.

La Profesora

First, sam introduced AstroDime’s “Party Line” to the class.

Ligna de la Fiesta

Then sam showed some astrodime videos and students divided into “Startup Company” groups to propose new apps and accessories for the iCAN. Inventions are in the next post.

CanTrap software Development, Inc.

Group 2

Group 3

Group 4

Group 5

Group 6

iKit Store (with another missing person)

Loser, Corp.

Beyond Yosemite

Astrodime members sam smiley, Bebe Beard, and KumaLisa attended a talk of a group who shares the same spirit as AstroDime with respect to their performances and research. It was part of an MIT Seminar on Environmental and Agricultural History. The talk was called “Beyond Yosemite! A Three-part Guide to Reimagining the American Landscape” Jenny Price, of the “Los Angeles Urban Rangers” and a research scholar at the UCLA Center for the Study of Women posed these questions:

“How are artists reimagining widespread and historically powerful iconic American landscape images? How do they challenge these images to envision nature not as an unpeopled refuge but as places we inhabit? I look at three kinds of art works: paintings and photographs that comment on well-known images; participatory public art events that act out new understandings of landscape; and a project, on the L.A. River (think Grease, Terminator 2), that reimagines a landscape by literally remaking it.”

Here is their truly awesome web site.:
http://laurbanrangers.org/site/