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Motorized Glass

January 6, 2010

in Music,Place,Sound

I went to see Transference last weekend, and it’s not the kind of work I’ll try to summarize in words.

The tone of the bowls is enchanting, but so is the clicking and tapping of the motors which turn them.

The piece is installed right next to the entrance, so the ebb and flow of people adds another layer to the work. Though I must say: talking loudly about your latest knitting project in the middle of a sound installation is sort of like flicking the lights off and on in the middle of a movie theater.

I feel like I’m channeling Rodney Dangerfield: “Sound gets no respect!!!”

From the second floor of the museum, it’s a quite different experience: almost all tones, and none of the tiny sounds. I prefer the first floor.

Does a sound installation count as craft? Megan Driscoll explores that question and has some great photographs of the piece.

Transference can be heard and seen at the Museum of Contemporary Craft through January 9th. (On the east side of the North Park Blocks.)

Hurry, Portlanders! (But please take your time once you get there…)


Snowfall at Dusk

December 29, 2009

in Image,Place,Senses

I actually choked on a snowflake earlier this evening, but my cold, wet walk was worth it.

Snowfall in Portland (Dusk)

This evening in Portland

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I went momiji-viewing late this afternoon, and there was just something in the air, or the light, or the drizzle, or the combination that seemed like an ending.

Can fall be over already?


Some gleanings from cre8camp Portland last Saturday, which is described as:

…an unconference for creative industries professionals. It is an ad-hoc gathering for participants to learn, network and share in an open environment with discussions, demos and interaction all led by the attendees.

Note: Sorry, I didn’t catch everyone’s name, so where I haven’t given credit to a specific person, I’ll give joint credit to the people on this list.


The final grid! On your mark, get set...

The Final Grid (photo by @stevek on Flickr)

  • In the vote to determine the day’s schedule, I was amused that the “Productivity” session received zero votes. Are we just all GTD’d out?

Oregon Creative Industries

Marketing and Self-Promotion

  • Market to behaviors, not demographic slices.
  • Check out the social media, but don’t stay at the big sites like Facebook.  Follow through to where the real communities are having conversations.
  • The importance of self-awareness: Have a complete and well-formed sense of your own identity before presenting it to the world, where it will be diluted by perception, context, etc.

Getting Unstuck

  • Make a piece of art, and give it away.
  • Bram Pitoyo: Break the work down into categories and properties, e.g. light or dark. Focus on overlooked facets.
  • Ask people to describe a sample or a prototype, which will highlight the specific attributes that they like or don’t like.
  • The first round of edits and drafts is not a time to be thinking of words like “failure” — that’s too early.

Emerging Trends

  • The idea of transmedia storytelling: How can new devices and media give us the ability to pick up the narrative on one device where we left it on the last one? For example, the Kindle knows the last page you read on your iPhone. Can this reduce the overhead of managing all these different gadgets and systems and channels in a significant way?
  • John Hartman: All online social activity tends to lead back to face to face meetings.
  • Whether it’s a website or Twitter, there are many ways to use each tool. When proposing communication projects, present examples not just in the same subject area, but also in the style that fits the situation.
  • Unanswered question: Should devices sense and behave differently based upon the physical and social context? At what point does that become social engineering? And if overdone, does it preclude interesting accidental “misuses” of new gadgets?
  • Social media as an opportunity to “reify the corporate entity”: what is the role of personality in the social media presence of large organizations? (sisoma deserves an award for the most casual and unpretentious use of reify I’ve heard in a long time.)
  • supnah, on the question of converting the unconverted or leaving them be, referred us to his post Why You Should Tweet, A Conversation I’m Sick Of.
  • Want to know if anyone is clicking-through the shortened links you post to Twitter and elsewhere? Snurl, hootsuite and were suggested.

Finally, thanks to Steve, John, Bram and all the sponsors for bringing everyone together.

As in life, I’m sure I missed more than I heard.  You can read more here:

A Pair of Post-Event Thoughts


I got a little grumbly in the “Emerging Trends” session about the dark side of electronic medical records. Anyone who has completed a patient information form for the xth time knows how silly our system is, and the statistics show the astonishing share of healthcare spending that we waste on paperwork and bureaucracy.

On further reflection, the root of my concern is that using technology and better information management to make a dysfunctional system more ‘efficient’ won’t make it more effective. When the boat is already leaking and listing and not able to properly accommodate all its passengers, the answer is not “all ahead, full.”

As Larry Lessig discovered in his attempts to make IP law reflect the realities of the 21st century, it is difficult if not impossible for a broken policy-making apparatus to make good decisions. Of course, we did just have an election, Lessig is trying to change congress, Tim O’Reilly just announced the gov2.0 summit, and there are lots of other smart people like PDF and MAPLight working on it, too.


As part of the Getting Unstuck discussion, Chad Mortensen suggested that when you hit a wall, come up with other ways of looking at the wall, or go around it.

Thinking on this later, it reminded me of that old Schoenberg/Cage story: Arnold Schoenberg told John Cage he was terrible at harmony, and if he continued in music, we would constantly come up against that wall. Cage replied that he would dedicate the rest of his life towards banging his head against it.

That sense of persistence and determination reminds me of yet another John Cage story, which I’ll paraphrase as briefly as I can: Cage was playing a recording of Buddhist chant to a group of students, who found it boring. And he said: “If it’s boring after two minutes, listen to it for four. After four, listen to it for eight…”  After a few more iterations, he said: “And suddenly, you will find that what you thought was boring had been beautiful all along.”

In other words, keeping banging your head against the wall until it is beautiful. (Figuratively speaking!)

Hmm, new project idea: A John Cage story for every occasion…

Watch out “Chicken Soup for the _____’s Soul” people!

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