Combining issues around utopia, environmentalism, and contamination, Kim Holleman will be exhibiting some of her micro-environments at Front Room Gallery in Brooklyn, opening this Friday. Working with vintage scientific beakers and bottles, Kim’s “faux-scientific archive” presents us with miniaturized landscapes that comment on mankind’s chemical footprint, but show that truly defiant biology will grow almost anywhere. “Think ships in a bottle, 2.0,” she says, alluding to the process that the contents of these beakers are not simply put in place, but are grown over time, and therefore create their own stasis and aesthetic.
Front Room Gallery
147 Roebling Street, Brooklyn
Opening: Friday, January 20, 7 – 9 PM
Exhibition: January 20 – February 19, 2012
image by Christian Benke
Vienna is old. They even, as my host Fin said, “dug up this area to show that we’ve been around since the Romans. We’ve been around for a long time.” The statues are gorgeous, the streets are clean and well-lit, and the buildings are HUGE. I mean massive, like, excessively so. There’s a thriving art scene, too, something called Museum Quarter and a plethora of government grants for really weird things. It’s hard work, though. Artists here must document, be accountable, and meet deadlines.
With such a thriving and supported creative scene, why did Metalab (oh, you want English? They care.) emerge, and why has it done so well? Metalab moved into their first (and current) space back in 2006, after a year of planning, becoming one of the first truly extroverted spaces in Europe.
Whoa whoa whoa – extroverted? How can a space be extroverted (or, introverted, for that matter)? Well, let me tell you about some things. There are clearly some activities that require a high barrier of entry in order to participate. Lasers. High voltage. Hacking the Gibson. And you want people around you can trust to not kill you, or in more traditional hacking, to not reveal your identity. And that means a pretty deep level of knowledge and trust. So, for a long time, and still in some places, you 1) have to know what you’re doing 2) know and care that there is a group of people out there doing similar things and 3) have access to those people. It’s a necessary system in some cases. But it does tend to leave out the n00bs. And thus, spaces like Metalab, extroverted spaces, are born.
Metalab has a board (as mandated by their structure under government regulations), a core mailing list which addresses actionable infrastructure questions, about 180 members, and an uncountable number of active non-members. They welcome anyone in so long as someone with a key is present. And I do mean anyone, including this blue-haired nomad. People don’t have to pay dues to participate, to host an area, or to attend a class. You just… show up. The (functional) assumption is that if you see value and have extra monies, you’ll support the space. And it works.
Some people do have issues with the self-organized structure, however. They ask who they should talk to before moving ahead with an idea, if they can move a table, if they can start a project. Michael, one of their board members, seems to enjoy the fact that some members don’t know he’s on the board, to the members he needs to guide towards the do-acracy model of the space. That model of activity has produced such projects as the Graffiti Research Lab, with their famous L.A.S.E.R. Tag.
GRL is no longer what he’s most proud of, though. That would be the recent conversations around things like geek depression (that’s him with the crazy hair. No, the other crazy hair. Not Mitch), queer hackers, and politics. He says “it’s like the hacker movement is finally growing up – realizing that we’re people, preparing to care for each other through coming issues. We’re turning these spaces and communities into more positive environments.” He’s also excited about the constant international exchange happening at spaces, specifically Metalab. The core crew of hackerspaces.org are either current, past, or honorary members of Metalab.
This is one of my favorite examples of a space that blurs the line between “hacker” and “maker.” It’s rather obviously about more traditional hacking models, but also takes an active role in the creation and re-appropriation of tangible objects. They are political but accessible. The phone booth is their logo. It stands for many things. Public infrastructure (what hackerspaces should be). Changing into a superhero (or your true self, Kal-El/Superman/Clark Kent arguments aside). Matrix reference (connections between a perceived and an actual world with battles to be fought). Phreaking (one of the original forms of hacking). Metalab took theirs to Camp in ’07 and hooked up to deck network, and again in ’11 as well as HAR.
Check them out the next time you find yourself in Vienna.
Livestreaming Journalists Want to Occupy the Skies With Cheap Drones…
It may not sound like much: A video blogger bought a toy helicopter.
But the blogger is 25-year-old Tim Pool — an internationally known journalist who attracts tens of thousands of viewers to his live-stream broadcasts from Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, DC, LA and other cities. (His feeds and archival footage are also aired on mainstream networks such as NBC.) He and his partners hope that the toy chopper — the $300 Parrot AR Drone — will be one step toward a citizen-driven alternative to mainstream news.
Predictions For 2012…
In 2011, the “person of the year” was the protester. What’s 2012 going to have? More protests and ways to cover them. Low-cost, citizen made UAVs will make appearances. The operators will be first on the scene, to protests and to the natural disasters. Drone Journalism. To watch, stream, record, report, sense and to watch the watchers. The cellphone video cameras from the street will have wings.
Clever idea from Eric Rochow of GardenFork:
[O]ur oven uses used clay brick and 24″ angle iron we cut from a old bed frame. You have to heat up the oven for an hour to get it up to temperature. The brick pizza oven has to be on sturdy sawhorses or cement blocks. We used cement tile board to insulate the plywood table from the heat of the brick oven.
GardenFork Plywood Boat
On Friday, I wrote about the development of amorphous or “glassy” metal alloys, in which the atoms are packed together with no regular crystal structure. At the microscopic level, almost all metals are made of crystal grains, which can be bigger or smaller depending on how the metal has been heat treated. Amorphous alloys, recall, are extremely unusual among metals because they can be cast without forming crystal grains at all.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are single crystal (SC or SX) alloys, which are mixtures of metals that can be cast in such a way that the entire object is essentially a single giant “grain,” i.e. one continuous crystal. Among minerals like quartz, large objects composed of a single crystal are fairly common; you also may have seen the large ingots of artificially-grown single-crystal silicon, known as “boules,” from which wafers are cut to make microchips and other semiconductor devices.
But when it comes to metals, single-crystal objects are outside of most people’s experience. Forming single-crystal metal objects requires both special alloys and special casting techniques. The alloys are almost always nickel-based, with as many as nine minor metal components including five or more percent chromium, cobalt, tungsten, tantalum, aluminum, and/or rhenium. The casting method is known as “directional solidification,” and involves carefully cooling a cast metal part starting at one end to guarantee a particular orientation of its crystal structure. That orientation is chosen, naturally, based on expected stresses in the finished part.
The primary application for single crystal superalloys is the manufacture of jet engine turbine blades, which must endure tremendous forces at extremely high temperatures for prolonged periods of time. Under such conditions, metals with a grain structure tend to “creep,” or slowly deform, along grain boundaries. Because single-crystal alloy parts have no grain boundaries, however, they are highly resistant to this kind of wear.
If you’re interested in reading more, check out the excellent online primer on nickel-based superalloy technology maintained by The University of Cambridge’s Dr. Harry Bhadeshia.
Mounting a digital drum controller on an exercise bike may seem silly, at first, but personally I consider it one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. It makes what used to a be a tedious chore into something joyous—more like dancing or marching in a drum line than “working out.”
To use the machine, start the click track at a comfortable riding tempo (which for me is about 120 bpm), and operate the pedals in time to the beat. Then start using your hands, without losing time with your feet. The mental problem of coordinating all four limbs to make interesting rhythms is completely absorbing, and the time flies by. Since installing the drumpads, I’ll often keep riding long past my planned exercise period because I’m enjoying working out whatever pattern I’m developing so much.
As your strength, wind, and coordination develops, you can increase the challenge by adjusting the bike’s resistance setting, the speed of the click track, and the complexity of the rhythms played with your hands, respectively. You can plug in an amp and shake the ground with your sound, or plug in a set of headphones and work out in the middle of the night without disturbing family members or housemates. It’s great for your Rock Band chops, too!