Amplified Materials

Amplified Rebar from Brad Nath on Vimeo.

Today’s the first day of class for my Maker Lab at IC. Last week I sent out a note to the registered students asking them to share work that they like by other makers. One student linked to Brad Nath’s vimeo page. I’d not seen his work before, but I totally dig it.

Nath amplifies materials like concrete and rebar and invites us to play with them. To amplify. What a concept.

I have a friend who is a soundscape ecologist: she puts mics on natural ecosystems to monitor their health. Very cool.

I have another friend who holds microphones up to prisoners and their families and tells their stories on the radio. What a gesture.

And then there are some things that are amplified that should be dialed down, like 45’s twitter feed.

But given the equipment, what or who would you choose to amplify? And why?

When we are afraid

When we are afraid we have two choices:

  1. We can try to ignore the fear and hope that it goes away
  2. We can lean into that fear with a friend and try to figure out how to move through it

If we ignore our fear, it doesn’t go away. In fact, it grows.

But if we lean into our fear, yes it will be hard and uncomfortable. But it will yeild better results.

 

TAKE IT FURTHER

Art Appreciation

If you make art, you need to look at the work of other artists. It doesn’t have to be contemporary work, but you need to look at art. You need to study what it’s made of. You need to teach yourself to see and to speak. To find the words for the different techniques that artists use and the choices that artists make. Then use those words to inspire your own explorations or to describe what you are striving for in your own work.

If you write, you need to read.

If you compose music, you need to listen.

If you make films, you need to watch them. Obsessively.

 

Bernstein conducting

Back when I was in music school, about 100 years ago, I cut my “Stravinsky teeth” on Bernstein’s interpretations. My appreciation for his conducting only grew when I moved to NYC and worked at a classical record store and then at The Met/Lincoln Center.

If you know Bernstein’s music, then you will hear his influences in here. It’s kind of exciting.

 

for fun

I love this setup and passage: https://youtu.be/a9M2oTHa3GM?t=8m25s

 

The worst decision

The worst decision is to not make one at all.

Why do we put off decisions? Fear of being wrong.

Why are we so afraid? Often because we haven’t thought through the consequences.

But if we think through the consequences, we might not be so afraid to make a decision and try it out. The thing you decide on can be an experiment with an evaluation plan. Once you try out your decision and evaluate it, you can then decide to stay on that course or change.

Moving through life is decision making. Not making decisions causes stagnation.

How to Leverage Failure

There’s a lot of talk about celebrating failure in the innovation process. However, failure alone isn’t really enough. You have to use that failure to help you and those around you grow.

There’s a great little piece in the NYTs today on this: Talking About Failure is Crucial for Growth – here’s how to do it right

Failure can help us grow if we use it to connect with colleagues. It offers a great opportunity to ask for help and share our vulnerability. It also offers an opportunity to learn.

So the next time you fail, instead of burying it and pretending it never happened, push through that shame and use your failure as an opportunity to connect and to learn.

 

The Intersection of Craft and Technology at Haystack Mountain School

haystack

Haystack Mountain School of Crafts on remote Deer Isle, Maine was founded in 1950. I had the pleasure of visiting it recently and was delighted to see that they are exploring the intersection of digital technologies with craft.

Glass Instructor Helen Lee is using a microcontroller with an accelerometer that gives audio feedback to glassblowers as they learn to level their rods (upper left).

MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms has implemented a Fab Lab – the only fab lab in a school of craft. They are building a 3D printer for ceramics (lower left), exploring digital mold making, as well as other opportunities for infusing traditional craft with digital tools.

Metalsmithing Instructors Arthur Hash and Elliot Clapp are integrating circuitry and electronics with jewelry and other wearables.

All of this magical exploration is set on a coastal mountainside overlooking the sea. A place of dreams.

TAKE IT FURTHER

Learn more about Haystack Mountain here

Goals Build Trust

When you start a new project, it’s tempting to get right into it. Create those to do lists, assign tasks, and get it done. But according to Leigh Thompson, author of Creative Conspiracy: The New Rules of Breakthrough Collaborationleaders do well to take some time at the beginning of a project to build trust with their team. This is done, according to Thompson, by addressing the 800-pound gorilla in the room: goals. Leaders need to discuss projects goals and get to know the goals of individuals on the team. The latter is often overlooked. The leader also needs to facilitate conversations about expectations from the leader and from the team members. And provide tools for giving feedback throughout the project. 

 

TAKE IT FURTHER

Leigh Thompson’s courses on coursera

 

Ideas and Methods that Work

an excerpt from the book Art & Fear about artistic practice:

As a practical matter, ideas and methods that work usually continue to work. If you were working smoothly and now you are stuck, chances are, you unnecessarily altered some approach that was already working perfectly well….When things go haywire, your best opening strategy might be to return very carefully and consciously to the habits and practices that were in play the last time you felt good about the work. Return to the space you drifted away from and, sometimes at least, the work will return as well.

Processing Anger Through Art

I scan TV music and dance competitions to watch the great performances. This one by a young dancer, Jaxon Willard, is worth watching. Also worth listening to is his explanation of the piece to the judges:

“It’s about my feelings toward my birth mom and how I was angry and felt abandoned by her. But then I also didn’t know how to [trails off – crying] I didn’t know how to share these feelings with the mom I have now because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. So I just suppressed all these feelings. But throughout my journey and though growing, I learned that I can’t just be mad at my birth mom because I don’t know the full story.”

What a courageous and generous act of empathy from this artist to his birth mom. Mature beyond his years.

Judge Ne-Yo is spot on when he describes the performance and the performer as the “epitome of power and vulnerability. You jump in the air and you float.”

In tears, judge Jennifer Lopez calls out the importance of Jaxon’s journey to his art, “Without your story, you wouldn’t be able to be the artist that you are today.”

Processing emotion through your art can make great art. It can also help you heal.