Tin Can Telecommunications at NAMAC

On the last day of NAMAC,  Astrodimers MaryAnn, sam, Bebe, and Julia (with some assistance from Walter) did a  demonstration of cutting edge tin can technology at the Park Plaza Hotel. You would be surprised how many people don’t believe tin can phones work!! Sadly we didnt have a chance to demo our Party Line or Wire tapping techniques but we did make the iCAN available. Here’s a few quicky cell phone pix..

Bebe tries out the iCAN

Bebe tries out the iCAN

Maryann and Bebe talk to themselves near the NAMAC table.

Maryann and Bebe talk to themselves near the NAMAC table.

Love on the Line

This is one of a short series of interviews on artists who are featured in our special and upcoming edition of INtransit: Can You Hear Me Now. G. Melissa Graziano’s animation, Love on the Line was featured on Cartoon Brew. It is an amazing work out of cutouts, featuring long distance love in the Victorian era

What inspired you with the original storyline?
I was driving around Westwood (the area of L.A. where UCLA is) and I had what I
thought was a funny image pop into my head: a very prim and proper Victorian
gentleman doing a Tex Avery take (bugging eyes, huge salivating tongue, wolf howls)
as he talks to his prim and proper girlfriend over the telegraph. Later that day, I
did a sketch of the idea in my sketchbook. About six months later, when I needed an
idea for my second-year film, I went back into my old sketchbooks and found the
drawing. I thought it was a good, simple idea and decided to run with it.

How did you come up with the title?
It’s about two lovers sending messages on a telegraph line. I thought “love on the
line” was a commonly used phrase that just fit the premise perfectly. I don’t
actually know where it comes from.

What interested you with the Victorian era setting?
I thought about the characters and why they would be apart, and
why they’d even have access to telegraph machines, since not everyone did in those
days–the telegraph was more akin to a courier service than a telephone service. So
I had Phineas’s father be a major player in the newly-constructed cross-continental
American railroad system. It wasn’t really important to the story, but it gave the
setting a bit more authenticity. As for Elizabeth, her family is just ridiculously
wealthy and very high on the social ladder, so I figured her parents would be the
first in their neighborhood to have their own telegraph machine in their parlor.

How did you make the set for the animation?
I did a lot of reseach on Victorian era furniture, architecture, wallpaper designs
and paintings. I designed the sets in Photoshop first, then painted the backgrouds
in watercolor on huge sheets of watercolor paper. I painted the furniture separately
and then cut it out and pasted it onto the set; I only just started using watercolor
paint as a medium when I started this project, so I wanted to make sure I could
control how my set looked as much as possible. Both sets are flat so that I could
lay the cut-out puppets on top and shoot the animation with a digital camera
suspended above the set.

What excites/interests you as an artist/animator?
I love using different animated media to tell stories in ways that I can’t do any
other way. It’s really exciting to take two different things and put them together
in ways no one has seen or done before. I always try to have the medium I’m working
in match with the story. In this case, I tried to use a paper doll technique to tell
a story that takes place in the 1870s because the Gibson style is iconic for that
time period. I didn’t use that exact aesthetic, but it inspired me to creat my own
designs. I almost used silhouettes, but decided against it in the end.

Interview by sam smiley

Love on the Line can be seen on Cartoon Brew at http://www.cartoonbrew.com/brewtv/loveontheline.html

The iCAN and the iPhone

On Saturday, March 21, the intrepid AstroDames did a Happening Event on Newbury Street in Boston, Massachusetts, going up Boylston Street, and ending at the Apple Store. Our research objective was to find out what initial consumer response would be to the iCAN.

Julia testing the iCAN and text messaging for a customer

Julia testing the iCAN and text messaging for a customer

We met at the Tealuxe (AKA our Green Room) on Newbury Street. We put on our vests and starting walking down the street.
We had some compliments on our system from a woman on Newbury Street. We also almost bumped into several shoppers, clad in black, talking on their cell phones. When Maryann and Julia had their iCANs, we noted that they were having the problems of crowd avoidance while talking on the iCAN.

We headed up Boyston with Bebe and the trusty AstroBike (TM) carrying our equipment and refreshments. The gentleman to the right and between the pillars asked us if he could try the iCAN (TM). we gave it to him, and he said into the phone “Can you hear me now?”. Our studies show that lots of people are compelled to say “Can you hear me now?” when talking into a tin can.

Maryann and Julia couldn’t resist trying out our new “talk time” option.

Unlimited minutes with the AstroDime Plan

Unlimited minutes with the AstroDime Plan

We finally parked ourselves in front of the Apple Store, where much to my surprise, lots of tourists were already taking pictures. (kindof like going to the Hard Rock Cafe).

oooo ahhh - sound of trumpets

oooo ahhh - sound of trumpets

Maryann and Julia were still using their AstroDime talk minutes.

Julia and Maryann testing the iCANs in front of a giant iPhone

Julia and Maryann testing the iCANs in front of a giant iPhone

Bebe suggested we test out our new text messaging feature, which we expect to add on to the after-Beta version. Preliminary feedback has been pretty good..although some of the messages get stuck en route. But that’s why they call it Beta, right?

Security came out from the Apple Store..a tall gentlemen who told us that since Apple owns the ENTIRE sidewalk, we had to move on. As we disputed this, a guy pulling out of a parking space in front of the store offered us his parking spot (he still had an hour left). We moved the 4 of us and the bike into the spot, only to be yelled at by people in cars who wanted the spot. (NOTE: we still had 1 hour of time!)

Not wanting to be run over, we moved out of the parking spot next to the bike parking, still across from the Apple store. We were getting cold and decided to pack up. AS we were preparing to leave, a woman who introduced herself as the “Bitch of Boylston Street” told us we had every right to be on that part of the sidewalk, and if the security personel came out again, SHE would call the police on our behalf.

We thanked her, but by now we were REALLY cold and needed to get coffee or something. Maybe we’ll take her up on her offer next time!

-sam smiley

Tin Can Telecommunications at NubLabs

Nublabs is ..how do you explain it? an art, science, education and pranks collective that hosts twice monthly talks at various venues around Boston.

Their web site is http://www.nublabs.com and their blog is at http://www.nubtalks.wordpress.com/

AstroDime will be presenting on Tin Can Telecommunications, followed by a talk by nublabbers on Prank Science. Check it out!

Time: 7-10pm
Date: Sunday 11.9.08
Location: Tapeo on Newbury Street

Introducing the iCAN

AstroDime think tank operators and engineers sam smiley and Gina Kamentsky designed the first prototype of the iCAN, a telecommunications device where you can actually here yourself think (if you speak out loud that is)

Here’s our beta version:

our pvc and tin can masterpiece

our pvc and tin can masterpiece

You can actually bid on it on Ebay until November 6.

Check it out on eBay!

Video in a suitcase

Here are some pictures from AstroDime’s installation on Oct 17-19. Basically, Bebe, sam and Ali projected video in a suitcase, put Queen Victoria’s and President Buchanan’s voices in tin cans, and hung the vests.

Here's the big picture.

The gallery space was pretty interesting.

Video in a suitcase

Video in a suitcase

President Buchanan in a can

President Buchanan in a can

Transatlantic Messages

AstroDime is busily working on its commemoration of the transatlantic cable of 1858. Having re-enacted it on Bumpkin Island with tin can telephones and human performance artist repeaters, we are also looking at the artifacts from the actual event. Here’s a map of the actual transatlantic route from Ireland to Newfoundland.

transatlantic cable route between Ireland and Newfoundland

transatlantic cable route between Ireland and Newfoundland

Amid much fanfare, President Buchanan and Queen Victoria exchanged congratuations. Here is the text of the message from Queen Victoria and President Buchanan. Queen Victoria’s message took around 17 hours to transmit.

THE QUEEN’S MESSAGE.“The Queen desires to congratulate the President upon the successful completion of this great international work,in which the Queen has taken the greatest interest. The Queen is convinced the President will join with her in fervently hoping that the electric cable which now connects Great Britain with the United States will prove an additional link between the two nations, whose friendship is founded upon their common interest and reciprocal esteem. The Queen has much pleasure in thus directly communicating with the President, and in renewing to him her best wishes for the prosperity of the United States.”

“Washington City. To Her Majesty, Victoria, Queen of Great Britain:—The President cordially reciprocates the congratulations of Her Majesty, the Queen, on the success of this great international enterprise, accomplished by the science, skill, and indomitable energy of the two countries. It is a triumph more glorious, because far more useful to mankind, than ever was won by conqueror on the field of battle. May the Atlantic Telegraph, under the blessings of Heaven, prove to be a bond of perpetual peace and friendship between the kindred nations, and an instrument designed by Divine Providence to diffuse religion, civilization, liberty, and law throughout the world. In this view will not all the nations of Christendom spontaneously unite in the declaration, that it shall be forever neutral, and that its communications shall be held sacred in passing to the place of their destination, even in the midst of hostilities?

Bumpkin Island Telecom reenactment a success!

The Bumpkin Island attempt to connect Hull and Bumpkin via tin can telephones to commemorate the Transatlantic cable of 1858 was a success! Ali started us off by camping on Thursday, August 28 and the rest of the group joined throughout the weekend. We actually did it twice, once on Friday Night and once on Saturday. Technically, the Friday nite one worked better in terms of sending the message, but the Saturday one had the better light for videotaping in. The Boston Globe did a big ol’ writeup, and the Weekly Dig gave us good pre publicity on their calender. Here’s some photos to give you a feeling for the proceedings:

a few toward Bumpkin Island

a view toward Bumpkin Island from Hull

Queen Victoria with her message

Queen Victoria with her teleprompter.

President Buchanan waiting for the message

President Buchanan waiting for the message

the two can method (not as easy)

the two can one person method

waiting for a message

the two can two person method

winding up for the day.

Tin Can Telecommunications on Bumpkin!

Art Encampment on Bumpkin Island
Saturday, August 30 through Monday, September 1, 2008
Bumpkin Island Artist Encampment highlights the Boston Harbor Islands national park area
as a venue for creating and exhibiting art

BOSTON, MA – The Berwick Research Institute and Studio Soto, in partnership with the Boston Harbor Island Alliance and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), invites the public, free of charge, to view and participate in a unique art experience in the Boston Harbor Islands national park area. Starting Thursday, August 28, 2008 (Labor Day weekend), ten artist teams will create installations, performances and sculptures on Bumpkin Island, engaging the public as performer, apprentice, collaborator and honored guest.

Artists participating in this unique temporary community in Boston’s largest national park area will utilize the basic tools and supplies that they can physically carry on to the island, including everything needed to sleep, eat and drink. All other materials will come from the resources/elements of the island, leading to projects that will be a distinct expression of the island environment. Following the dictates of the Homestead Act, which became an instrument of western expansion in the mid 1800s, artists will build a shelter, live on the land for five days, and “improve” the land via a site-specific, temporary project, installation or performance. Projects will reflect the island’s natural resources and human history, and explore themes of the cultural context of homesteading and artist community.

The public is invited to experience the results of the encampment from August 30 – September 1. 2008 Bumpkin Island Art Encampment projects and artists are:
Astrodime Transit AuthorityBebe Beard, John Gayle, Ali Horeanopoulos, Mary Ann Kearns and Sam Smiley – ATA will reprise and expand upon its successful 2007 Tin Can Communications Co. strategies and celebrate the 150th year of the first attempt to lay the Transatlantic Cable.
The CamoufleursHanna Rose Shell and Dan Hisel – Drawing on artisanal weaving techniques, military concealment strategies, and bird nesting practices, the camoufleurs will transform their land, and its particular human and natural ecology, into a camouflaged homestead environment. Then creating mixed-media concealment cloaks, they will navigate the island, seen and unseen.
Leave one for your ancestors, one for your children, and take oneTiffany Dumont, Else Eaton, Raymond Garrett, Rory Jackson – Artists forage island materials to create three interactive, multimedia installations based on past, present and future. Artists will encourage visitors to add to the pieces, forage responsibly, and participate in performance.
New England Expeditionary AllianceDedalus Wainwright, Bryan Long, Michael Andelman and Jeff Cleary – A scientific mission that will map Bumpkin’s metaphorical, literal, and sensual parameters, Alliance members will lead expeditions, generate hypotheses, establish a classification system, create analysis, and give lectures on their findings.
Shore Wind Organ Jason Sanford – Using handmade wooden organ pipes and whistles, the artist will create a responsive musical instrument activated by island winds and visitor interaction.
The Honorable Bumpkin Island CompanyJack McGrath & Jane Van Cleef – Armed with a charter granting them the right to establish a trading post on Bumpkin, HBIC will purvey vital, excellent goods to homesteaders and visitors, bolstering the new island economy and exploring the practice of shopping.
Survival KitGabe Moylan & Rachel Roberts – Using the Federal Emergency Management Association survival kit provided to disaster victims, artists will supplement food rations with wild edibles, create a shelter, and explore spiritual recovery.
Spirits in the House: Then & NowSharon Haggins Dunn – Using natural materials such as sand and mud, the artist will create a pinhole camera. Captured images will illustrate change and continuity of natural and human forces over time.
Stone House, Urban CityWenxiong Lin, Lynn Lee, Jens Stenger, Annie Wilker – Juxtaposing two themes of time (history and modernity; reality and romanticism), the artists will create a model urban city in the stone farmhouse ruins, and frame windows of the naval mess hall ruins with brightly colored curtains.
Tactilist TheatreErik Conrad – Arranging island objects arranged according to tactile values and narratives, this participatory installation/performance concludes with a magical ribbon that visitors manipulate to activate small fans, sounds and rhythms that will change based on those present.
The 2008 Bumpkin Island Art Encampment is presented by the Boston Harbor Island Alliance, a non-profit in support of the Boston Harbor Islands; the Special Projects Incubator of the Berwick Research Institute, a non-profit which provides alternative programming and exhibition space for artists who work outside the commercial world and is funded by the LEF foundation; and Studio Soto, an artist-run performance/screening/exhibit space for ideas in Fort Point; and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Getting to Bumpkin Island and back:
From Boston Long Wharf (next to the Marriott, adjacent to Christopher Columbus Park)

· Take ferry to George’s Island and transfer to the Southern Loop Inter-Island shuttle

· Departs Long Wharf every hour, on the hour, starting at 9:00 am.

· Inter-Island Shuttle from George’s to Bumpkin departs 10:30, 1:10 – overnight campers may take the 3:50 boat.

· Inter-Island Shuttle from Bumpkin to Georges departs 12:15, 1:45, 2:55, 4:25, 5:35

· Return boats from George’s Island to Long Wharf leave every hour on the half hour, last boat is at 5:30

From Quincy, Fore River Shipyard

· Take ferry to George’s Island and transfer to the Southern Loop Inter-Island shuttle

· Departs Quincy Monday – Friday 9:10, 11:15, overnight campers may take the 1:10 or 1:45 boats; Saturday – Sunday 9:20, 9:50, 11:00, 11:30, overnight campers may take the 1:20, 2:05, or 3:15 boats.

· Inter-Island Shuttle from George’s to Bumpkin departs 10:30, 1:10 – overnight campers may take the 3:50 boat.

· Inter-Island Shuttle from Bumpkin to Georges departs 12:15, 2:55, 4:25, 5:35

· Return boats from George’s Island to Quincy depart Monday – Friday 9:35, 11:40, 2:20 or 2:55; Saturday – Sunday 9:45, 10:15, 11:25, 12:55, 2:45, 3:25, 4:40, 5:15, 6:10

From Hingham Shipyard

· Boat goes directly to Bumpkin

· Departures at 9:00am, 11:40am, 2:20pm, overnight campers may take the 5:00pm boat

· Return boats are at 11:05am, 1:45pm or 4:25pm

From Hull, Pemberton Point

· Boat goes directly to Bumpkin

· Departures at 9:55am, 12:35am, overnight campers may take the 4:05pm boat

· Return boats are at 12:15am or 2:55pm

Admission to the park is FREE. Ferry fares: Adult $14.00, Senior (65+) $10.00, Children (3-11) $8.00, Children under 3 free, Family 4-Pack $42.00. Inter-Island Shuttle is $3.00. For more information and for ferry schedules see www.harborexpress.com.

AstroDimers installing AstroCan phone system

Bebe working on an installation

Gina testing one of the phones

-Sam looking confused

-Ali thinking over installations at headquarters

-John and Jode wading through bushes to install a system.

-Maryann on her way to Bumpkin for reenforcement