Final work from the class last year, the product of a collaboration between the Parks Department, The Columbus Amsterdam BID, and Lincoln Square. These modular, mobile, interactive wind harps were installed across the street from Lincoln Center and later during the 106th Street Family Days. The colorful wind harps were made from off-the-shelf roofing material and each produced a distinct tone when ambient wind from the street funneled down the Broadway/Amsterdam Junction passed through the apertures and reverberated through the hollow column, plucking the various string widths and producing sound of various, distinct pitch. The concept was adapted from the design of Aeolian Harps – passive wind instrument which many people “find alludes to higher realms”. These also worked as improvisational instruments, that could be played on the street by passersby. The bright colors created a welcoming sight which invited participation and the strings made the foreign-seeming objects instantly recognizable as a harp/guitar like stringed instrument.
Images from the three-day event in Queens, sponsored by the great team at the Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning and with Joaquin Reyes.
The Inflato Dumpster is a radical new conception of what constitutes public space in New York City. This site-specific work creates an open, engaging street-level structure that acts as a mobile learning laboratory through creative programming events that reflects the diversity of its location. The project takes advantage of digital design and new lightweight fabrication techniques to create a framework for small group discussion and engagement.
The project includes 165 square feet of enclosed space with maximum dimensions at 17’ height by 12’-6” wide and 24’ long. The main element is an inflatable membrane containing 2000 cubic feet of volume, weighing less than 20 lbs. Made from a combination of lightweight inflatable materials and a modular city dumpster, the Inflato presents a subdued silver, semi-reflective surface from the outside, while the interior creates a gold, brightly gilded interior.
The Flux 2016 exhibition invited 19 artists to study the effects of art in public spaces and provokes conversations regarding art’s role in community, participation, commerce, and urban renewal.
This was a preview exhibition of the Inflato project before its full activation (complete with pre-fab metal base) on the 165th Street Pedestrian Mall.
Presented here is a (losing) competition entry for a re-design of the ubiquitous “urban shed” – the pole and plywood constructions temporarily thrown up to protect pedestrians from falling building debris during facade renovations. They are an interesting typology, both because they are everywhere and are also built using pre-fabricated components in a completely market driven approach, every element has been pared down to cost per protective surface. Every couple of years someone tries and re-thinks these things, but due to the cost and existing, entrenched interests, these re-designs never go anywhere. The argument I was trying to push was twofold: 1) taking advantage of an existing material that already relates to street protection could offset costs, and 2) that the design would be exciting enough that building owners could reap some economical benefit through a boost in traffic flow by putting up something like this. Project text below:
A city manifests itself through its architecture, its built form represents its values and priorities. This ideas competition hosted by the New York Building Foundation is an amazing opportunity to explore how the city and building owners will proceed to treat what is in many ways the most modest and ubiquitous of architectural elements, but one that we all encounter each and every day – the construction shed.
The questions before us are simple, will the form of the shed continue to be dictated by that which presents the perceived lowest cost per sf? This is a notion dictated more by complacency and inertia as opposed to New York ingenuity and data-driven metrics. Or, will the shed evolve into a form as slick and scaleless as the latest glass and steel construction, furthering the ever expanding gulf between New Yorkers and relegating architecture and engineering to the realm of a luxury item. Or, will it pursue a sustainable, iconic, human-scaled solution, which can adapt to changing needs in neighborhoods as diverse as ours?
The proposal included here envisions a future construction shed built from reclaimed NYPD wooden sawhorses. These sawhorses were retired in 2007, but they are still available for donation and hold a prominent place in the collective consciousness of the city. Their familiarity with New Yorkers imbues them with an ingrained acceptance to their position as part of the urban streetscape – like seeing an old friend again, but their novel use here, elevates the basic construction assembly into an uplifting form that makes the shed into something more than pure tectonics.
They also present us with an opportunity to acquire a readily available, highly-durable material for a low-cost. In a practical sense, the sawhorses in their previous life as crowd control devices had to withstand a number of structural requirements. Here, the existing sawhorse connection techniques – slotting, nailing and screwing – are used again, this time to withstand a vertical load through multiple connecting load paths and redundant connections that will meet and exceed Section 3307 of the New York City Building Code. Wood also allows for ease of assembly through cutting of pieces and through the use of inexpensive attachments and fasteners as required.
Lastly, this design represents the transformations inherent in the evolving city over the last 50 years. The NYPD wooden sawhorse material here is no longer one that restricts movement and creates artificial barriers in urban space, but rather it is put to a new purpose, one that enables free and open movement while providing shelter and protection for all.
The Inflato Dumpster was back as part of the 6th Annual Bloomingdale Family Days located in my neighborhood, steps from my apartment in fact. Many thanks to the Columbus-Amsterdam BID and Budget Dumpster for the generous support. It was a great turnout and a really successful event.
Please see this link for more about this ongoing project.
Building off of previous work that looked at real-time sound visualization, the intention of this exercise was to create a series of physical objects that legibly conveyed the transformation of sound into a landscape. Four specific indicative moments of recorded sound were rendered as a topographic form in Processing, then 3d printed. Any piece of real-time or recorded sound would work, however, these prototypes were chosen because they highlight special snippets or short moments during signature songs that could warrant further observation of the ordered or chaotic underlying sound structure. Once printed, each piece creates a striking object that allows for ease of visual comparison.
The four selections shown here include:
1) “Young Americans” – David Bowie. The brief pause at 4:19. (youtube link) Also, per Jennifer Egan in A Visit to the Goon Squad: “This is a lost opportunity. Hell, it would’ve been so easy to draw out the pause after ‘…break down and cry…’ to a full second, or 2, or 3, but Bowie must’ve chickened out for some reason.”
2) “Ride of the Valkyries” – Richard Wagner. The introduction of the main theme including the arrival of the brass instruments. (youtube link)
3) “Mood Indigo” – Duke Ellington. Jimmy Hamilton’s introduction on the clarinet. (youtube link)
4) “Sonified Starlight” – NASA. Translation of light waves emanating from star KIC 7671081B into an audible pattern via NASA’s Kepler Input Catalog. (soundcloud link)
Lastly, drop me a line if you’d be interested in your own 3D printed soundwave.
“Sonified Starlight” – NASA. Translation of light waves emanating from star KIC 7671081B into an audible pattern via NASA’s Kepler Input Catalog. (soundcloud link)
“Young Americans” – David Bowie. The brief pause at 4:19. (youtube link)
“Ride of the Valkyries” – Richard Wagner. The introduction of the main theme including the arrival of the brass instruments. (youtube link)
“Mood Indigo” – Duke Ellington. Jimmy Hamilton’s introduction on the clarinet. (youtube link)
This was the third in a series of quick experiments using a personal 3D printer. The goal here was to construct a 3D printed piece to interact with an existing physical landmark displaying complicated surface geometry. This lion with an enigmatic mein was chosen because the complicated contours would provide the framework for a compelling proof of concept. The building is named after one artist, but it was the surreal Belgian artist who often explored enshrouded objects that provided the inspiration for this form.
1) Collect a series of photographs to describe the object
2) Generate 3D model in 123D Catch
3) Use cloth and wind simulation effects in Maya to deform a plane
4) Bring the deformed mesh into Cura to prepare for 3d printing
5) 3D Print on an Ultimaker2
A small selection of the amazing work the group produced in class this semester. Click on the images above for more information.
This is an inflatable classroom installed inside of a dumpster. It is the first installation – the beta version – launched over three days in late-September at 109th Street and Amsterdam Avenue in the Bloomingdale Neighborhood of Manhattan. The project includes 165 square feet of enclosed space with maximum dimensions at 17’ height by 12’-6” wide and 24’ long. Over the three days the project was activated, over 500 people in the neighborhood interacted with the installation through a number of events and workshops including: a musical performance by Amani Fela, documentary screening by filmmaker Simone Varano and a 3D printing and modeling work session. The total project budget was $4,200 (including equipment rental) – the majority of said budget was funded via Kickstarter, a process we are deeply skeptical of in regards to urban projects, but used nonetheless. The intention is for the project to continue to periodically activate and further explore how it fits within this neighborhood. This project was created with friend and design partner Joaquin Reyes, and is part of a Columbia University course I teach titled “Hacking the Urban Experience.”
The main element is an inflatable membrane containing 2000 cubic feet of volume. This inflato is made from a combination of two lightweight materials. The first is a clear polyethylene. This is an inexpensive, common and biodegradable plastic material that will allow views both from and out to the street. The second material is a mylar film used in both emergency hiking blankets and spacecraft. Dual-sided – silver and gold – the inflato presents a subdued silver, semi-reflective surface on the exterior with a gold, brightly gilded interior. The street side is more opaque, while the sidewalk side is more open allowing views and a surface to project images onto. The transparent side also allows light to filter down through the canopy of the sidewalk maple tree from above. There is a strong evocation of being under a shaded tree.
“Go inside a dumpster?!?!” – An understandable response given by roughly a quarter of people when told they were welcome to go inside. I think the dumpster helped because it kept the project in the realm of the recognizable, and fed into the transgressive feeling of being inside of an off-limits space. Connotations of trash aside, there’s a shared awareness of the spatial interior dimensions of a dumpster, unlike, say, “an inflatable classroom” or, even worse, “a new paradigm of public space,” which could be just about anything. Or maybe it just lowered the bar so much, that when people stepped not into a rusted metal box, but rather a glowing vaulted space, they couldn’t help but feel like they had been transported.
So there’s certainly an interest in transforming existing banal street structures, but also being drawn to the idea of turning something typically associated with waste and discarded materials into a space for something exciting and new. This, in turn, led to exploring the invisible lightness of the inflatable in relation to the hard steel of the dumpster and the heavy demolition work of machines and tools. This juxtaposition of heavy/light and new/used became a key hot-air-balloon-like diagram of the solid base paired with the weightless membrane.
Maybe there’s also a metaphor here about “recycling” knowledge. The goal of this thing being a new type of classroom space meant that knowledge was not just passed down to a captive audience, but that what’s taught is something that could resonate out like ripples and eddies in a stream – emanating from the central mixing chamber of the dumpster. Repeatedly cycling back and forth amongst everyone that came through. For example, we avoided anything overtly didactic – an early idea of streaming neighborhood demographic data was rejected on the grounds of being too overt – instead favoring a more subtle approach such as that taken with the films screened by Simone Varano. Not only are the films challenging documentaries that deal with authenticity, music and living in the city, but anyone that sat in a dumpster and watched them took away the notion that a theater is not only the AMC on 84th street, but that this can be a valid means of projection and expression. Seeing a construction dumpster on the street in New York invariably indicates change, whether a new condo going up or a renovation going in. Either way, the endpoint is often exclusionary in nature. In this project, the dumpster still indicates a temporal event, however, we hope that it triggers a ripple of aftereffects that will germinate practical ideas and actions that are more inclusionary and empowering for the neighborhood. This is something that has to be iterated on and pushed further in future installations.
There were also pragmatic reasons for using the dumpster. It gave us a solid structure to anchor the inflatable, to resist any uplifting wind loads barreling down the avenue or traveling up 109th from Columbus, which is at a significantly lower elevation. Parking Day by Rebar is a big influence, but is limited by short time allotments provided by the meter and single parking space limitations. The dumpster allows us to take over a few parking spaces at approximately 160 square feet of New York real estate (bigger than my bedroom) for a fairly significant chunk of time. Which of course leads to questions of….
With the DOT’s generous help, we were able to successfully navigate some of the overlapping permitting requirements and submit a Street Activity Permit to the City. These typically take two weeks to receive for small events that do not require any street closures. The application fee is $25. However, hauling companies of course do not pull Street Activity permits before dropping dumpsters on the streets. The obvious difference being people aren’t expected to be hanging out in them, just throwing their trash in them. There’s some gray area here that we think is interesting and can be explored further.
It was all very friendly and inclusionary. By the third day when I was walking down the street, carrying a large jumbled pile of plastic and mylar to the dumpster, random people would be calling out to me asking when and what was going on inside that day. I’d be remiss not to point out how great it was interacting with people. We were thrown into the neighborhood and had to have a concise explanation for what we were doing. Any pretentiousness or BS descriptions wouldn’t cut it. But that was what was most exciting: Seeing what happens when actual other human beings interact with the thing – kids, moms on the way from the store, students, the elderly, drunks, lifelong and newly-arrived residents, football fans (on Sunday outside the bar), and so on – all with opinions and critiques, but all interested in what was going on. Urban street life in the area moves fast and seems complicated but it’s actually pretty easy to jump into the thick of it.
As an introduction to the neighborhood, afropunk group Amani Fela opened with a music set on the first night, and seemed totally unfazed to be playing inside of a gold dumpster. The percussion had people lining up to check it out. Unfortunately, one thing that was not anticipated – but in hindsight now seem obvious – was that most people assumed that this was one of the following: a private event, an event requiring admission or some type of corporate event. (There were also a few inquiries as to whether this had anything to do with ConEd testing a mobile containment unit, however that one was not as widespread). Peoples’ initial reactions were an unfortunate acknowledgement that, as a society, most of us assume that if something is going on in the street, they must have to pay up somehow to check it out. Overcoming that ingrained skepticism and convincing people this was free became a constant struggle. A large signboard with “FREE TO ALL” was brought out and prominently displayed. By the third day, word had spread and people had heard about the Inflato via friends and neighbors. Without being prompted they would walk right in. It’s a start.
Department of Urban Betterment: John Locke and Joaquin Reyes
Inflatable Fabrication: TW2M Fabrication
Dumpster Supplier: Budget Dumpster
Street Activity Permit Support: NYC Department of Transportation and the City of New York
Photography: Jackie Caradonio
Special Thanks to: Columbus Amsterdam BID, Simone Varano, Amani Fela, Delia Reyes, Mugi Pottery, Ultimaker.
There were 240 individual triangles, which required more than 300 hours to assemble.
Local filmmaker Simone Varano sets up for a screening of her documentary series dealing with music, culture and neighborhood issues.
Workshop attendees learn about modelling and building models using a consumer grade 3D printer.
Amani Fela, unfazed by the surroundings.
Difficult not to anthropomorphize this thing coming into being, but maybe that’s one of the things that’s cool in working with a dynamic structure – the weightless way it subtly sways in the breeze or will ripple in the backdraft of a speeding car or contracts and expands when someone enters much like a giant lung. People always liked to put their hands on the silvery metallic membrane and push in, feeling the negative pressure resistance from inside. This is in contrast to the hard steel of the dumpster in that the silver of the inflato gently reacts and responds to touch.
“should any one wish for information on the origin of those draped matronal figures crowned with a mutulus and cornice, called Caryatides, he will explain it by the following history. Carya, a city of Peloponnesus, joined the Persians in their war against the Greeks. These in return for the treachery, after having freed themselves by a most glorious victory from the intended Persian yoke, unanimously resolved to levy war against the Caryans. Carya was, in consequence, taken and destroyed, its male population extinguished, and its matrons carried into slavery. That these circumstances might be better remembered, and the nature of the triumph perpetuated, the victors represented them draped, and apparently suffering under the burthen with which they were loaded, to expiate the crime of their native city. Thus, in their edifices, did the antient architects, by the use of these statues, hand down to posterity a memorial of the crime of the Caryans.”
Vitruvius (De Architectura)
The six maidens stood unmolested for 2,500 years, until a year into the 19th Century, Lord Elgin of Scotland came to saw and chisel one away, kidnapping her for the purpose of decorating the grounds of his estate. A second was spared a similar abduction only by virtue of suffering extensive damage in the Lord’s clumsy attempt to disentangle her from the stone, eventually ending up smashed amongst the other marble ruins of the Acropolis, before undergoing a haphazard reconstruction. Severely degraded by the Athenian air pollution of the late 1970′s, the five remaining sisters were removed in 1978 and replaced with carefully reconstructed replicas. For the past 3 years, the conservators at the Athens Museum have undergone a round the clock restoration effort to eliminate the centuries of soot and grime. Lasers excise millimeter by millimeter of foreign matter before reaching the original apricot-colored patina of the ancient marble.
Caryatids are architectural elements, taking the female figure to support a building’s entablature. The six that make up the Caryatid Porch of the Erechtheion on the Acropolis at Athens are the most famous and most widely photographed.
Here, photogrammetry software was used to construct a 3D mesh model of the fifth Caryatid – Maiden E – and 3D printed. Having never had the pleasure to visit Athens myself, the 3D model for this print was generated from images of the Porch of the Erechtheion as found through a Google image search. The GIS photos have all been taken after 1978, and are themselves images of copies – the original sisters having been secured and replaced with ersatz, in-situ replicas. Therefore, this print is in effect a copy of multiple of copies and degradations, both due to time and translation into varied mediums. There has been a translation from original marble to a lesser replicated stone, to a series of flat images, to a software’s algorithmic understanding and reconstruction of 3d depth, and ultimately to a plastic, physical print. Within that gamut of transformations there is ample room for glitches and anomalies to present themselves, however the loss of resolution and additional artifacts only serve to reinforce the confinement and fusion between form and weight.
*3D Printed with an Ultimaker2 Machine
1) Purchase waffle from bakery across the street (optional)
2) Save paper bag
3) Take sequence of images to describe all sides of object (the paper bag)
4) Load into Autodesk 123D Catch and create 3D mesh file
5) Export and clean up in Rhino
6) 3D Print
7) Welcome cactus to its new home
*3D Printed with an Ultimaker2 Machine
My design for “Singing in the Rain” was commissioned by the NYC DOT as part of the Urban Art program to Beautify Barriers throughout the city. The site is located just South of the theater district and Times Square at 36th St and 9th Ave in Manhattan, and references musicals – especially one in particular – as well as motion, animation and street rhythm. The piece will be up for 1 year and made use of a series of movable stencils of figures with articulated joints to allow for variation in the 200′ barrier length. 20 awesome volunteers of all ages participating in the NYC Cares program (many who had never picked up a paintbrush before) were able to arrange the stencils and finish painting the design in 4 hours based off of a series of detailed instruction sheets.